science + technology news

The High and Low Notes of the Universe

November 3, 2003

The 10-micron-long Cornell nano-guitar, first built in 1997 but only now played for the first time, twangs at a frequency of 40 megahertz, some 17 octaves (or a factor of 130,000) higher than a normal guitar.

There is no practical microphone available for picking up the guitar sounds, but the reflected laser light could be computer processed to provide an equivalent acoustic trace at a much lower frequency. The… read more

Robot Rights

November 3, 2003

“Robots are people, too! Or at least they will be, someday.” That’s the rallying cry of the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Robots, and it’s beginning to become a genuine issue.


  • Would it be moral to impose Asimov’s laws of robotics on an intelligence that we created. Wouldn’t we be creating slaves? And, if so, wouldn’t that be bad?
  • read more

    Logic and memory shown on molecular scale

    November 3, 2003

    Rice University researchers have demonstrated that molecule-sized electronic devices can be used for both logic and memory, despite being randomly wired, error-prone and inaccurately formed at the nanoscale.

    Rice professor James Tour said his work demonstrates that today’s chip makers can achieve increases of two to three orders of magnitude in chip density by leveraging the lithographic tools they already have to form random-access addresses into arrays of nanoscale… read more

    Foreign Demand Increases Chip Sales

    November 3, 2003

    Because of strong overseas sales and rising demand for wireless phones and mobile personal computers, the chip industry finally appears to be on the mend.

    The Semiconductor Industry Association is expected to predict that in 2004 the worldwide chip industry will grow far more than the 16.5 percent to 17 percent that it forecast earlier this year.

    As Uses Grow, Tiny Materials’ Safety Is Hard to Pin Down

    November 3, 2003

    Investors and policy makers are finding that pinpointing the potential environmental and health impacts of nanotechnology could take years.

    The federal government has projected that sales of products based on nanotechnology will reach $1 trillion by 2015. That pace of industrial adoption is on a collision course with the measured pace of toxicology and environmental impact research.

    Researchers create ‘expanded DNA’ molecule

    November 3, 2003

    Scientists at Stanford University have created an “expanded DNA” (xDNA) artificial form of the DNA molecule with a double helix 20 percent wider than any found in nature.

    It is more heat resistant than natural DNA and is fluorescent, which could prove useful in detecting genetic defects in humans by observing fluorescence in a base pair for a complementary strand of natural DNA or RNA in human tissue. A… read more

    Nanomotors realise visionary’s dream

    October 31, 2003

    Researchers at Berkeley at the University of California have created the world’s smallest electrical device: a motor using a multiwall nanotube as axel and bearing.

    Hybrid tunnel diodes could leapfrog Moore’s Law

    October 31, 2003

    Researchers say a new CMOS-compatible tunnel diode process could extend the lifetime of existing silicon fabs by leapfrogging the next node in the semiconductor road map.

    A SRAM circuit using tunnel diodes could reduce the chip component real estate required so as to achieve four times the density of a conventional SRAM memory cell. A process is in place to begin building such devices on standard CMOS fab lines.… read more

    Gene-Expression Atlas Will Provide New Direction for Brain and Spinal-Cord Studies

    October 31, 2003

    Howard Hughes Medical Institute researchers have created a new atlas that would enable scientists to determine when and where specific genes are switched on in the central nervous system (CNS).

    Researchers can use such clues to explore the molecular machinery that coordinates neural development and chart the functional circuitry of the brain and spinal cord. All data from the Gene Expression Nervous System Atlas (GENSAT) BAC Transgenic Project will… read more

    Japan team reports quantum computing breakthrough

    October 31, 2003

    A research team in Japan says it has successfully demonstrated for the first time in the world in a solid-state device one of the two basic building blocks that will be needed to construct a viable quantum computer.

    The team has built a controlled NOT (CNOT) gate, a fundamental building block for quantum computing. The CNOT gate is one of two gates used with quantum bits (qubits). The other,… read more

    Nine eyes help robots to navigate

    October 31, 2003

    Researchers at the University of Maryland say a robot’s navigation skills could be vastly improved by giving it omnidirectional vision, using cameras in the back of their heads as well the front.

    They have developd software that processes images from a set of cameras arranged on the surface of a sphere to give such omnidirectional vision.

    Big Bang sounded like a deep hum

    October 31, 2003

    The Big Bang sounded more like a deep hum than a bang, according to an analysis of the radiation left over from the cataclysm.

    Giant sound waves propagated through the blazing hot matter that filled the Universe shortly after the Big Bang. These squeezed and stretched matter.

    Even though the Universe has been expanding and cooling ever since, the sound waves have left their imprint as temperature variations… read more

    Processing at the Speed of Light

    October 30, 2003

    Lenslet, an Israeli startup, has developed a processor that uses optics instead of silicon.

    It performs 8 trillion operations per second, equivalent to a supercomputer and 1,000 times faster than standard processors, with 256 lasers performing computations at light speed.

    Target applications include high-resolution radar, electronic warfare, luggage screening at airports, video compression, weather forecasting and cellular base stations.

    US develops lethal new viruses

    October 30, 2003

    A scientist funded by the US government has deliberately created an extremely deadly form of mousepox, a relative of the smallpox virus, through genetic engineering.

    The new virus kills all mice even if they have been given antiviral drugs as well as vaccinated. The research brings closer the prospect of pox viruses that cause only mild infections in humans being turned into diseases lethal even to people who have… read more

    Print yourself a roll of semiconductors?

    October 29, 2003

    Xerox’s Palo Alto Research Center has developed a way to use inkjet printing techniques to create cheap, flexible sheets of transistors–a process that could radically change the way flat-panel screens are created.

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