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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

Entrepreneurs Respond to Fearful Times

October 26, 2001

Tinkerers and entrepreneurs have found a new source of inspiration: fear of terrorism.
New products beginning to hit the market include fish tanks transformed into special glass boxes for opening suspicious mail, a home anthrax-testing kit, powered parachutes for people who live and work in high-rises, a sealed glass case for people to open their mail in, flavored syrups that can be used to cover up the bitter taste of… read more

Anthrax Powder is High-Grade, Scientists Say

October 25, 2001

Scientists in and out of government said yesterday that the anthrax strike on Capitol Hill involved an advanced, highly refined powder that is quite dangerous and not the primitive form of the germ that some federal officials have recently described.

The anthrax was altered from its natural state to reduce its electrostatic charge, a process that prevents small particles from sticking together and to nearby objects, thus making them… read more

Unlocking the Paralysis Riddle

October 25, 2001

Researchers studying spinal cord injuries have observed certain patterns of the human brain that may ultimately enable paraplegics and quadriplegics to regain some motor activity in their paralyzed limbs — or use their brains to control robotic limbs.

Researchers took MRI snapshots of the brains of quadriplegics as they were asked to move their hands, elbows, feet, knees and lips. The images revealed neural activity in all the places… read more

Electron beams could be used to irradiate mail

October 25, 2001

The US Postal Service is installing irradiation equipment in an attempt to destroy biological weapons, such as anthrax, concealed in envelopes and parcels. Electron beam irradiation is a leading candidate technology for this purpose.
A system from Titan called SureBeam uses high-energy electron beams to break down molecules within DNA, either killing a micro-organism or rendering it unable to reproduce. SureBeam bombards its target with energy levels… read more

The Hypermedia Hazard

October 25, 2001

Media and political institutions responsible for providing clarity and coherent information appear to be unraveling under the stress of coping with terrorist attacks, especially the anthrax problems, casualties and resulting hysteria.

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