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World’s nuclear facilities vulnerable, warns UN agency

November 5, 2001

Nuclear plants are vulnerable to attacks by terrorists, according to a stark new warning by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).
The world’s 1300 nuclear facilities are not hardened to withstand “acts of war” like a deliberate hit by a large, fully-fuelled passenger jet, warns the IAEA’s director general, Mohamed ElBaradei.

In the US on October 29, following intelligence reports received by the FBI, the air space around all… read more

Nanotech’s dark side debated

November 5, 2001

In light of the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11 and anthrax headlines, it’s not hard for some to imagine a nightmare scenario involving a new generation of terrorists able to obtain infinitely more powerful nanoweapons.
As nanotech makes the transition from the drawing board to reality, every development brings the fledgling industry closer to the day when many believe government regulations and secrecy will be needed to prevent abuses.… read more

Contrast agents enhance optical coherence tomography to detect tumors

November 5, 2001

Optical coherence tomography (OCT) enhanced by contrast agents, a new approach to improving the detection and removal of tumors, has been developed by scientists at the University of Illinois.

OCT allows for high-resolution imaging of tissue by focusing a beam of near-infrared light into tissue and measuring the intensity and position of the resulting reflections.

To make OCT work better, UI researchers have developed injectable contrast agents that… read more

Pentagon Has a 3-D View to a Kill

November 1, 2001
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<p>3-D wire frame models of the San Diego airport can be rendered from satellite images.

The Pentagon is assembling aerial imaging, geologic, terrain, and intelligence data into a 3-D scene that lets military planners and pilots preview missions, navigating the virtual scene from ground level to 40,000 feet at speeds up to 1,400 miles per hour.

Other software renders 3-D images of cityscapes that allow law enforcement agents to move around in the virtual cities and determine line-of-sight and distances between… read more

First MRI-compatible pacemaker designed

November 1, 2001

Now there’s a solution for cardiac patients with implantable pacemakers who need to undergo magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). Biophan Technologies will announce today that it has developed a fiber optic-based system to replace the current metal wire that connects the pacemaker to the heart.
“This technology solves a monumental problem for pacemaker patients and will become the new industry standard,” says Wilson Greatbatch, co-inventor of the MRI-compatible… read more

Robot See, Robot Kill

October 30, 2001

Scientists are working on a camera that automatically tracks people as they move and focuses on the loudest person in a group. It was funded by the military, which wants to develop robot sentinels capable of automatically returning fire when attacked. The camera was originally developed to auto-focus on speakers during a video conference call or a college lecture.

In defense scenarios, a battery of cameras could be used… read more

Tiny Capsules Float Downstream

October 30, 2001

Tiny capsules that can be injected into the bloodstream and perform corrective tasks, using biological microelectromechanical systems (bioMEMS), have been used to cure rats with diabetes.
A University of Illinois at Chicago researcher has created a nano-scale capsule, using pores on the surface only 7 nanometers across. This is big enough to let the insulin out, but small enough to keep antibodies from entering.

If it works, the nanopore… read more

Net guru’s fragmented future

October 30, 2001

Professor Nicholas Negroponte, co-founder and director of the Media Lab at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, talks to broadcaster Mark Lawson about his vision of a digital future.

Molecular switches a step closer to building a computer from the bottom up

October 29, 2001

UCLA researchers have moved an important step closer to building a computer from the bottom up: They have attached molecular switches on a grid as small as 50 nanometers.
The team has developed a 16-bit memory circuit that uses molecular switches that “work pretty well” on traditional wiring, said James Heath, UCLA chemistry and biochemistry professor and co-scientific director of the California NanoSystems Institute. The process uses chemical assembly and… read more

‘Conflict index’ warns when a nation faces civil war

October 29, 2001

A “conflict barometer” system providing a weekly measure of unrest could predict countries approaching civil war.
Raw material for the barometer is several thousand Reuters news stories. A sentence-analysing program called a parser classifies events into roughly 200 categories. From the category counts, researchers calculate the proportions of events involving civil protests, repressive government actions and outbreaks of violence to give a nation’s “conflict carrying capacity.”

They found that… read more

Developing Warning System for Biological Attack Proves Difficult

October 29, 2001

Designing early warning detectors for biological attacks has proved difficult, but developments are underway.The Army’s Joint Program Office for Biological Defense is currently testing the Joint Biological Point Detection System at Dugway Proving Grounds.

The Department of Energy is trying to use off-the-shelf technology to build a system for use in civilian areas like airports, stadiums and subways and during the Winter Olympics next February. It uses air samplers… read more

Can Congress Convene Online?

October 26, 2001

Spooked by anthrax in the Capitol, public officials and opinion makers are scrambling to figure out how to keep the government running if Congress can’t physically convene. Among the options being considered: having senators and representatives gather online, in “an electronic Congress.”

Security on the Brain, Solutions in the Eyes

October 26, 2001

Amsterdam airport is the first major international airport to introduce an iris scanner to identify travelers.
Holders of a card with the image of their iris captured in a computer code should be able to whip through a special passage and avoid passport control and long lines. All it takes is a few seconds of peering into a video camera, and the computer to recognize that the scanned eye matches… read more

Subliminal study shows subconscious learning is possible

October 26, 2001

Subconscious learning probably is possible, say Boston University researchers, and subconscious learning may affect our conscious decisions — without our realising it.

Takeo Watanabe and his colleagues at Boston University found that people who had watched a particular direction of subliminal dot movement during a letter-naming trial were significantly better at picking it out later.

The finding challenges the idea that attention is an essential element of the… read more

Devastating attacks on the net ‘imminent,’ says report

October 26, 2001

A new wave of devastating Internet attacks is just waiting to happen and there is there is currently little chance of preventing it.
The threat is a variation of the “denial of service” (DoS) attack, commonly used by malicious hackers to block a website by bombarding it with spurious requests. However, the new threat would target routers, key hubs of the Internet’s infrastructure, instead of individual websites.

“We believe… read more

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