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Light-Emitting Silicon Shines Much Brighter in New Invention

October 28, 2002

STMicroelectronics researchers have succeeded in increasing the efficiency of light-emitting silicon 100-fold, allowing for timing circuits to be built into silicon chips to reduce delays.

Sensors Gone Wild

October 27, 2002

The real goal of a $40 million experiment is to explore the uses of intelligent sensors, a technology whose promise suddenly seems huge. The applications for this “embedded intelligence” are vast and profound. Eventually large swaths of the earth will communicate with the digital realm using millions of miniature sensors. Sensors will be placed in bridges to detect and warn of structural weakness and in water reservoirs to spot hazardous… read more

Tech helps blind ‘see’ computer images

October 25, 2002

A simple touch display for the visually impaired soon could provide access to computer-generated images.

The prototype tactile display is a set of 3,600 small pins, about 10 per inch, which “prints” an image by using an extendable pointer to raise selected pins into a line drawing of the image.

The device is being developed by the National Institute of Standards and Technology. The tactile display also would… read more

Similar patterns in genes, brains, feeding

October 25, 2002

Scientists have used a mathematical algorithm to detect recurring patterns in the networks making up everything from food webs to the Internet to gene regulation in cells.

By uncovering these crucial building blocks of networks, researchers have taken an important step toward unraveling the bewildering complexity of these systems, which they term “motifs.”

Molecules power nanoscale computers

October 25, 2002

IBM Almaden Research Center researchers have developed a new kind of computing process that relies on the motion of molecules rather than the flow of electrons. The logic gates use cascades of carbon monoxide molecules to transfer data.

Devices made in this way have dimensions on the scale of nanometers, several orders of magnitude smaller than existing silicon-based components.

The researchers demonstrated a three-input sorter that uses several… read more

‘Talking books’ get digital upgrade

October 24, 2002

A talking book for the blind with no moving parts has been designed. It will read a volume digitally from a card smaller than a credit card and looks and feels like a book.

Buttons along the edges will enable the blind reader to turn pages forward and backward, skip quickly, insert bookmarks, and search for a remembered passage. The Library of Congress will convert about 30,000 titles, mostly… read more

‘Doorways’ discovered in living brain cells

October 24, 2002

Brain cell membranes contain fixed “doorways” that control the entry of molecules into the cell, new research at Duke University shows.

Understanding this process, and how to control it, could one day lead to an entirely new class of treatments for depression, epilepsy, addiction and other neurological disorders; and preventing pathogens, such as viruses, from entering brain cells.

Thread spun from pure carbon nanotubes

October 24, 2002

A way of making a thread purely from carbon nanotubes has been developed by researchers in China. They say the super-strong, electrically-conducting threads “should eventually be able to be woven into objects such as bullet-proof clothing and materials that block electromagnetic waves.”

The Intimate Machine

October 24, 2002

In the first show of the new Scientific American Frontiers series on PBS TV, “The Intimate Machine,” Alan Alda visits the MIT Media Lab, where researchers are working to make machines smarter, more empathetic and easier to work with.

The series, which premiered Oct. 22, airs on Sundays at 9 PM ET/PT. It can also be viewed online.

Powerful Attack Upset Global Internet Traffic

October 23, 2002

The “largest and most sophisticated assault on the servers in the history of the Internet” on Monday briefly crippled 9 of the 13 computer servers that manage global Internet traffic.

Radioactive battery provides decades of power

October 23, 2002

Tiny batteries that draw energy from nickel-63 radioactive isotopes could provide 50 years of power for micro-devices and electronics, says Amil Lal, who developed the system with colleagues at Cornell University.

“It might be possible to make really tiny microelectronic sensor systems that can be embedded in a building or even in the body,” he says.

Prototype glass sheet computer unveiled

October 23, 2002

A transparent computer processor has been printed on to a flat plate of glass by researchers at Sharp’s Japanese laboratory. Their success suggests ultra-thin computers and televisions could in the future be built entirely on a single sheet of glass.

The new “sheet computer” uses a relatively new material called continuous grain silicon, which conducts electrons up to 600 times faster than the amorphous silicon used in liquid crystal… read more

ID Chip’s Controversial Approval

October 23, 2002

The Food and Drug Administration has decided to permit the use of implantable VeriChip ID chips in humans if it is used for “security, financial and personal identification or safety applications.”

Chip manufacturer Applied Digital Solutions said the FDA has not determined whether the controversial chip can be used for medical purposes, including linking to medical databases. The company now plans to aggressively market the chip for security and… read more

British Concern to Help U.S. Track Terrorists

October 22, 2002

Autonomy information retrieval software will be used to provide an analysis system to help the United States government track suspected terrorists. The software is based on Bayesian statistical techniques, which can search for patterns of information across large masses of data.

Rules for a Complex Quantum World

October 21, 2002

Quantum information science, a new fundamental research discipline combining information science and quantum mechanics, explores “teleportation” of quantum states from one location to another, quantum states to create secure cryptographic keys, and algorithms for hypothetical super-high-speed quantum-mechanical computers.

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