July 28, 2003
In a report published today, a team at the University of Sheffield investigates the scientific reality behind nanotechnology and the current controversy about its risks and rewards.
Researchers have found ways to use electricity to coax microscopic amounts of plastic to form patterns containing columns and tubes with features as small as 100 nanometers.
The method could be used for plastic electronics, light-emitting diodes, solar energy devices, and optical filters,
The different plastics react to an electric field at distinctly different rates, making one plastic melt before another. The researchers were able to use this… read more
Greenpeace has entered the debate over nanotech’s impact on the environment and society with a study that calls for the industry to “demonstrate a commitment to (environmental concerns) by funding the relevant research on a far greater scale than currently witnessed.”
Greenpeace explores the idea that “quantum dots, nanoparticles, and other throwaway nanodevices may constitute whole new classes of non-biodegradable pollutants that scientists have very little understanding of.”… read more
Researchers have found live cells in samples taken at 41 km above the Earth, suggesting a possible extraterrestrial origin.
TNA, possibly a precursor to RNA, can be assembled by natural enzymes, Jack Szostak, a molecular biologist at Massachusetts General Hospital, has shown.
TNA is based on a sugar called threose instead of the deoxyribose found in DNA and the ribose in RNA. Szostak could explore the feasiblity of a TNA-based biology.
The SETI@home screensaver has produced a list of candidate radio sources that deserve a second look. After an equivalent to a million years of computation aided by more than 4 million computers worldwide, the researchers have created a skymap that highlights where to find some of the most promising choices (strong signals or ones that have been observed in the same spot more than once, some five or six times).… read more
China plans to create the world’s third most powerful supercomputer, at 10 teraflops, scheduled for June 2004. It will be a cluster using the Opteron processor from AMD and running Linux.
Oddcast, a company that makes conversational characters, and the ALICE AI Foundation have announced a partnership to create smarter online characters.
One of the first applicationss is an online tutor for teaching English to Chinese people.
The NASA Institute for Advanced Concepts (NIAC) commissioned a study of the construction and operation of a space elevator and Phase I of the report was published in late 2002.
The elevator would start as a 1-micron thick piece of tape made of carbon nanotubes 91,000km long, tapering from 5cm wide at the Earth’s surface to 11.5cm wide near the middle….
Researchers from Australia’s Cooperative Research Centre for Satellite Systems have succeeded in building a computer that can repair itself in space.
The scientists used a combination of smart software and field programmable gate arrays.
In what Australian researchers believe to be a world first, FedSat’s High Performance Computing Experiment has detected a fault caused by stray space radiation, analysed the problem, and restored itself to full capability –-… read more
Attempting to improve on the face-center cubic lattice structure of opals in order to make “photonic crystals,” an engineering professor and his graduate students experimented with ways to pack a small number of tiny spheres.
They discovered that the colloidal particle clusters they made have exotic structures predicted by pure mathematicians in 1995.
The uncanny correspondence between mathematics and physics doubtless prompted “Science” editors to picture the clusters… read more
Scientists have created a technique using biofeedback that dramatically improves the performance of musicians.
The “Neurofeedback” system monitors brain activity through sensors attached to the scalp which filter out the brainwaves. These filtered brainwaves are then fed back to the individual in the form of a video game displayed on a screen.
The participant learns to control the game by altering particular aspects of their brain activity.
New materials and technologies could boost the mobility and safety of U.S. troops.
Scientists at DuPont are developing ways to manipulate light so soldiers could appear to disappear. EIC Laboratories is working on “electrochromic camouflage” — a chameleon fabric that would change colors instantly to blend in with its surroundings.
The new Institute for Soldier Nanotechnologies at MIT is creating new materials and devices molecule by molecule with… read more
Chemists at Rice University have identified a chemical process for cutting carbon nanotubes into short segments. It yields nanotubes that are suitable for a variety of applications, including biomedical sensors small enough to migrate through cells without triggering immune reactions.
The chemical cutting process involves fluorinating the nanotubes, essentially attaching thousands of fluorine atoms to their sides, and then heating the fluoronanotubes to about 1,000 Celsius in an argon… read more