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The Sensor Revolution

August 25, 2003

Sensor networks promise a mammoth extension of the Internet. Within five years, these sensor computers could be shrunk to the size of a grain of sand and deployed over much of the globe, resulting in thousands of new networks.

Look for them to be scattered across farms and battlefields to monitor minute chemical and temperature changes and slapped onto trucks and shipping boxes to trace inventory automatically. Such networks… read more

Printers Produce Copies in 3D

August 25, 2003

Several companies are developing low-cost three-dimensional printers that could eventually find their way into the home. The machines work by placing layers of a powdery material on top of each other to create a real-life model of a digital image.

Tiny technology hasn’t hit the big time — yet

August 25, 2003

UC Berkeley and Intel researchers are developing TinyDB database technology to acquire information from a network of tiny wireless sensors.

Wireless sensor networks can be used to predict equipment malfunction, prompt users to take medication, and perform environment and habitat monitoring. In 10 years, they will be nanoscale devices.

Because of energy constraints, sensor motes have to deal with low bandwidth and possibly intermittent communication links; they must… read more

Supercomputer Breaks the $100/GFLOPS Barrier

August 25, 2003

KASY0, the first supercomputer to break $100/GFLOPS, has been assembled entirely by students at the University of Kentucky.

A spray-on computer is way to do IT

August 25, 2003

Researchers at Edinburgh University are developing spray-on computers using tiny semiconductor specks the size of a grain of sand that can sense, compute and communicate wirelessly.

They plan to spray the devices on the chests of coronary patients to record a patient’s health and transmit information back to a hospital computer, eliminating the need to lug a large machine around or hospital visits.

Skulls gain virtual faces

August 25, 2003

Max Planck Institute for Computer Science researchers have computerized the process of reconstructing a face from the skull.

The method reverses the process used in facial modeling and animation of shaping anatomical structures to fit a given 3D skin model. It takes less than a day for a computer reconstruction compared to weeks for a traditional clay model.

Enzymes Found to Delay Aging Process

August 25, 2003

Scientists have found a way to rev up a potent “anti-aging” enzyme in living cells, which could speed the development of drugs to extend human life span and prevent a wide range of geriatric diseases.

The compounds seem to have the same anti-aging effect as a drastic reduction in calories. The compound that boosted the anti-aging enzyme the most was resveratrol, an ingredient in red wine that has been… read more

Ocean Sponge May Be Best for Fiber Optics

August 25, 2003

Scientists have identified an ocean sponge living in the deep sea that grows thin glass fibers capable of transmitting light at least as well as industrial fiber optic cables.

Materials scientists hope to duplicate the growth process to avoid problems with current fiber optic manufacturing methods that require high temperatures and produce relatively brittle cable.

Other recent biomimetics discoveries include an enzyme that improves laundry detergent, a glowing… read more

Where is thy sting?

August 22, 2003

Genetic medicine is making enormous strides, and it may hold the promise of eventually making us something closer to immortal.

“Our life expectancy will be in the region of 5,000 years” in rich countries in the year 2100, predicts Aubrey de Grey, a scholar at Cambridge University.

News tip: Walter Purvis

Mere immortals

August 22, 2003

Radical experts believe that, in the next 50 years, 90-year-olds could look like 30-year-olds and feel as fit as a 45-year-old, thanks to an explosion in regenerative medicine, genetic research and biotechnology.

University of Queensland development biologist, associate professor Victor Nurcombe predicts that most births will occur outside the body within a few decades and within 10 years, all babies will be scanned at birth for pre-disposition to disease… read more

Squeezed light breaks quantum barrier

August 22, 2003

Physicists have made a new type of ultra-precise laser pointer by “squeezing” a beam in two directions. They are able to position the beam with a precision of 1.6 Angstroms, almost 1.5 times better than the theoretical limit for a conventional laser.

The team now hopes to exploit the technique in atomic force microscopy, measurements of refractive index and studies of molecules in living cells.

News tip: Walter… read more

Electronic nanotechnology will sustain Moore’s Law

August 22, 2003

A new class of “chemically assembled electronic nanotechnology” (CAEN) electronics devices will be low power and defect-tolerant, provide up to one billion switches on a square centimeter, and be made using chemical self-assembly techniques instead of photolithography.

Fishing for Information? Try Better Bait

August 21, 2003

“Google Hacks: 100 Industrial-Strength Tips and Tools,” by Tara Calishain and Rael Dornfest (O’Reilly & Associates), is the latest resource in a growing industry to help people become better online searchers. It catalogs ways to uncover nuggets of information.

Other rich sources include,,, and

In Frayed Networks, Common Threads

August 21, 2003

The blackout and the worm underscore a far-reaching challenge in managing modern technological societies: the difficulty of reaping the benefits of networks while minimizing their vulnerabilities.

The blackout, the MSBlast worm and the SoBig virus circulating on the Internet this week were similar, causing disruption by generating excess traffic in systems that cannot handle it.

Man vs. Machine: Are Robots Getting the Upper Hand in Space Exploration?

August 21, 2003

The latest target for space robots is Mars, where two orbiters, a pair of twin rovers and one lander are expected to arrive at the end of this year.

In the future, robots may accompany astronauts to Mars or elsewhere, serving as assistants for base construction and other tasks, or as a precursor to set up habitation and science bases before humans even get there.

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