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Working Remotely, Robots in Place

May 26, 2003

The most natural way to “meet” when people are not face to face is to use robots, say Hewlett-Packard researchers.

The robot is a surrogate for remote attendees, with the face and the voice of the person who remotely controls it.

Sorenstam’s Got Game, in Reality and Virtually

May 25, 2003

A virtual golf course has been created with the strengths of male and female golfers. It rewards precision, while penalizing shots that are too long or too short, leveling the playing field between men and women.

In a simulated four rounds of golf, golfer Annika Sorenstam was the winner.

Army and M.I.T. Unveil Futuristic Soldier Center

May 23, 2003

MIT has won a $50 million Army contract to form a center that develops combat gear using nanoscale materials.

The high-tech gear that would allow soldiers to become partially invisible, leap over walls, and treat their own wounds on the battlefield.

The unnatural man/A search for meaning in a genetically engineered future

May 22, 2003

Bill McKibben’s new book, Enough: Staying Human in An Engineered Age, warns about the dangers of technological advances in biology (especially germline engineering), nanotech, and robotics. “I am very afraid of these technologies, for a long list of reasons….”

Self-Repairing Computers

May 22, 2003

Crashes happen. Researchers at Stanford University and the University of California at Berkeley are designing systems that recover rapidly when they do — the recovery-oriented computing (ROC) approach.

ROC design principles are based on speedy recovery, better tools to pinpoint fault sources, an “undo” function, test errors to permit evaluation of system behavior and assist in operator training, and selective rebooting to minimize loss of data.

“If the… read more

Alchemy with light shocks physicists

May 22, 2003

MIT researchers have developed a way to shift the frequency of light beams to any desired color, with near 100 per cent efficiency.

The effect uses shock waves passing through a crystal to Doppler-shift the frequency. If it can be harnessed, it will revolutionize a range of fields, for example, turning heat into light or into terahertz rays for medical imaging or improving the efficiency of optical telecommunications networks.


May 21, 2003

Some tiny new machines may be biomedical devices that could deliver drugs to precise targets inside your body, or carry out internal repairs on the spot. Nanotechnologists are working at the level of individual atoms and molecules, either to create new materials with astonishing properties, or to build miniscule machines. Right now, prototypes of these miracle machines exist. Some are made of natural molecules; others are hybrids of molecules and… read more

A Spy Machine of DARPA’s Dreams

May 21, 2003

Going beyond the controversial Total Information Awareness database project, DARPA is currently asking businesses and universities for research proposals for its LifeLog research project, intended to gather every bit of information about a person’s life and activities, index it, and make it searchable.

LifeLog would combine this information with information gleaned from a variety of sources: a GPS transmitter to keep tabs on where that person went, audio-visual sensors… read more

Chimps are human, gene study implies

May 21, 2003

The new study found that 99.4 percent of the most critical DNA sites are identical in the corresponding human and chimp genes. With that close a relationship, the two living chimp species belong in the genus Homo, says Morris Goodman of Wayne State University in Detroit.

It’s a knockout: first rat to have key genes altered

May 20, 2003

Researchers have altered genes in rats to create strains with genetic characteristics of their choosing, a long-sought tool for studying disease.

The animals, called knockout rats, were stripped of a gene that suppresses breast cancer in humans and will help researchers unravel the genetics of the disease. Future knockout rats will help researchers study other cancers and diseases such as diabetes and hypertension.

Roaches today, robots tomorrow

May 20, 2003

Stanford University researchers are building robots that will replicate the cockroach’s remarkable speed and agility, overcoming the drawbacks of conventional wheel-based robotic locomotion.

Connections to Broadband Increase 50%

May 20, 2003

The number of American households that connect to the Internet via broadband cnnections grew by 50 percent in the last year, raising to nearly one-third the portion of home Internet users who now use broadband connections. But the rapid growth rate is unlikely to continue.

Telescopes of the World, Unite! A Cosmic Database Emerges

May 20, 2003

In the past 25 years, the number of CCD pixels (each acting as a miniature astronomical instrument) in all the world’s telescopes has exponentially increased by a factor of 3,000, a beneficiary of Moore’s Law.

The resulting total amount of astronomical data collected every year is doubling; surveys of millions of astronomical objects now contain about 100 terabytes of distributed data in the “National Virtual Observatory.”

‘Our Final Hour’: Global Warning

May 19, 2003

In his new book, Martin Rees, Britain’s Astronomer Royal, gives civilization as we know it only a 50-50 chance of surviving the 21st century.

Risks include bioterror or bioerror, self-reproducing nanoparticles that could eat us and every other living thing on Earth, and certain physics experiments that might be even more catastrophic.

My Son, the Robot

May 18, 2003

Will technology end human life as we know it? Yes, says Bill McKibben in his new book Enough (a warning about the dangers of genetic engineering, robotics, and nanotechnology).

But the book has flaws that make it unresonant: it’s sophomoric, unoriginal, naive about genetic determinism, and “takes it for granted that we are at an inflection point of history, suspended between the prehistoric and the Promethean,” according to the… read more

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