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UK to study nanotech benefits and risks

June 16, 2003

The UK Government has commissioned the Royal Society and the Royal Academy of Engineering to conduct an independent study to examine in detail the benefits and risks of nanotechnology.

The study will:

  • summarize the current scientific knowledge on nanotechnology;
  • identify applications of nanotechnology, both currently and potentially, with indications of when they might be developed;
  • consider environmental, health and safety, ethical and social
  • read more

    Nanotechnology: the next small thing

    June 16, 2003

    Governments and venture capitalists invested more than $3 billion in the nanotechnology sector in 2002, according to a report to be published this week by Lux Capital.

    Allen claims success in work on computers that can reason

    June 16, 2003

    Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen has claimed preliminary success in Project Halo, a hitherto secret project to enable computers to answer questions they’ve never seen before and to state their reasoning.

    The project’s early phases are limited to facts in hard science, so Allen’s Vulcan Inc. investment arm stands a better chance of success than did earlier, sweeping AI projects seeking to reduce all human knowledge to computer-readable form, said… read more

    Breakthrough ‘Interface Tuning’ Is Macro Step For Microelectronics

    June 16, 2003

    The ability to make atomic-level changes in the functional components of semiconductor switches, demonstrated by a team of Oak Ridge National Laboratory, North Carolina State University and University of Tennessee physicists, could lead to huge changes in the semiconductor industry. The results are reported in the June 13 issue of Science.

    The experiments demonstrated that the Schottky barrier — the boundary at the edge of a substance where electrons… read more

    Smart cellphone would spend your money

    June 15, 2003

    Intelligent agents now being developed for the new generation of 3G phones will watch how you use your mobile and learn to anticipate your next move, for example retrieving online information, making restaurant or hotel reservations, or buying travel tickets.

    They will recognize when you have a trip coming up in your diary and then ask if you want it to check the availability of flights and hotels.

    Smart Bricks to Monitor Buildings of the Future

    June 15, 2003

    A “smart brick” that can monitor a building’s health and report its conditions wirelessly has been developed.

    They could monitor a building’s temperature, vibration and movement, which could be vital to firefighters battling a blazing skyscraper, or to rescue workers ascertaining the soundness of an earthquake-damaged structure. They could also help monitoring nurseries, daycares and senior homes.

    Robot explores abandoned mines

    June 15, 2003

    Carnegie Mellon University researchers have demonstrated a wheeled robot in an abandoned coal mine. Named Groundhog, it is equipped with an array of cameras, gas, tilt and sinkage sensors, laser scanners and a gyroscope to help it surmount the obstacles it may encounter in mines.

    The robot uses perception technology to build maps from sensor data. It must make its own decisions about where to go, how to get… read more

    Spring-loaded nanotubes could be used in microcircuits

    June 13, 2003

    Multiwalled nanotubes can act like telescoping spring-loaded shock absorbers, opening the possibility of use in silicon circuits and optoelectronic devices, according to an article in Nature Materials Update, June 12, 2003.

    In experiments at Vanderbilt University, it was found that if the inner tubes are partially pulled out and then released, they spring back inside their sheath, oscillating back and forth at a frequency of around 1 gigahertz until… read more

    Darwin and Design: Does Evolution Have a Purpose?

    June 12, 2003

    The “argument from design” for the existence of God has enjoyed a comeback recently in “intelligent design creationism.”

    But adaptation, which has provided the basis of that argument, is not explained by God, but by natural selection, argues Michael Ruse in a new book, Darwin and Design: Does Evolution Have a Purpose?, reviewed by Mark Ridley in Nature, June 12, 2003 (Vol 423 No 6941 pp669-785).

    Some scientists… read more

    Scientists lose track of time

    June 12, 2003

    What time is it? No one knows for sure. In a controversy reminiscent of the Year 2000 bug, experts can’t agree about whether to continue the long-standing practice of inserting occasional “leap seconds” into coordinated universal time, Nature reports today.

    Since 1972, 32 leap seconds have been added to universal time to keep it in synch with the rotation of the Earth as it slows down, which is needed… read more

    Optical biopsies on horizon using noninvasive biomedical imaging

    June 12, 2003

    A new imaging technique that could lead to optical biopsies without removal of tissue is being reported by biophysical scientists at Cornell and Harvard universities.

    The advance enables noninvasive microscopy scans through the surface of intact organs or body systems for diagnoses of cancers and neurodegenerative diseases, for instance.

    The new imaging technique takes advantage of Cornell-patented fluorescence emission microscopy, which produces high-resolution, three-dimensional pictures of tissues with… read more

    Intel takes notebook chips past 3GHz

    June 12, 2003

    Notebooks passed the 3GHz mark on Wednesday. The increase in speed was from a new 3.06GHz mobile Pentium 4 chip, introduced by Intel.

    The new mobile Pentium 4s also include a faster 533MHz bus, boosting performance by speeding data to the processor.

    U. T. Dallas Scientists Spin Carbon Nanotube Fibers with Record Strength and Toughness

    June 12, 2003

    Nanotechnology researchers at The University of Texas at Dallas and Trinity College Dublin, Ireland, have announced a breakthrough in spinning carbon nanotube composite fibers that are tougher than any reported polymer fiber made by man or nature.

    The toughness, or capability to absorb energy, of the UTD fibers is more than four times that of spider silk and 17 times that of the Kevlar used in bullet-proof vests –… read more

    Attack of the Two-Headed Scientists

    June 12, 2003

    One of the largest and most significant laboratory mergers in recent years is the newly created New Laboratory for Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, now one of the largest research labs in the world, headed by Rodney Brooks.

    The merger came about as MIT scientists realized that the distinction between computing science and AI had become blurred over the past few years.… read more

    Intel puts Tri-Gate transistor on fast track

    June 12, 2003

    The Tri-Gate transistor, one of the tools that may let Intel continue to follow Moore’s Law in the second half of the decade, has been placed on the “pathfinder” development path at Intel, meaning it will get incorporated into chips by 2007.

    Tri-Gate transistors avoid leakage (leads to poor battery life and excess internal heat) by increasing the surface area of the gate, which leads to a more stable… read more

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