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The next big thing (is practically invisible)

March 28, 2003

Nanoparticles now turn up in everyday products from tennis balls to sunscreen but some activists are calling for regulation and even a moratorium on some types of nanoscale research.

Sony Seeks Homes for Robots

March 28, 2003

Sony’s humanoid SDR robot can entertain and converse with humans but it’s still in search of a market.

Email traffic patterns can reveal ringleaders

March 28, 2003

A new software technique for looking for patterns in email traffic can quickly identify terrorists or criminal gangs, even if they are communicating in code.

Portrait of a Probable Killer

March 27, 2003

“If scientists’ hunch proves correct, the mystery ‘killer flu’ that has killed more than 50 people in Asia and beyond is an infection like none seen before…. Suspicions are growing that the culprit is an unassuming virus called a coronavirus.”

“Coronaviruses are prone to transformation. They have an unusually large amount of genetic material, as well as enzymes that enable them to shuffle it. A new, more virulent mutant… read more

Fujitsu Labs applies neural networks to robot learning

March 27, 2003

Fujitsu Laboratories Ltd. has developed a learning system for humanoid robots that uses a dynamically reconfigurable neural network to enable efficient learning of movement and motor coordination.

The technology is based on Central Pattern Generator (CPG) networks, mimicking a function found in earthworms and lampreys that mathematically simulates a neural oscillator. This is combined with a numerical perturbation (NP) method that quantifies the configuration and connection-weight status of the… read more

Kurzweil forecasts ‘the end of handicaps’

March 27, 2003

Northridge, CA — “Seeing machines” that provide real-time, intelligent descriptions of the world and “listening machine” sensory aids that convert spoken language in real-time to a visual display were among forecasts by Ray Kurzweil in a keynote at the California State University of Northridge (CSUN) “Technology and Persons with Disabilities” 2003 Conference.

The keynote, “The End of Handicaps,” focused on “the accelerating pace of technology, the handicaps associated with… read more

Smart Dust

March 27, 2003

“Smart dust” devices — tiny wireless microelectromechanical sensors (MEMS) that can detect everything from light to vibrations — would gather data, run computations and communicate the information using two-way band radio between motes at distances approaching 1,000 feet.

Potential commercial applications range from catching manufacturing defects by sensing out-of-range vibrations in industrial equipment to tracking patient movements in a hospital room.

Trapped ions make logic gates

March 27, 2003

Two independent research groups report the creation of logic gates using pairs of “entangled” trapped ions. The researchers believe that these logic gates could be scaled up to include many qubits in a large, workable quantum computer.

Engineers Create World’s First Transparent Transistor

March 27, 2003

Engineers at Oregon State University have created the world’s first transparent transistor. Transparent transistors could open up a range of applications in consumer electronics, transportation, business and the military. They could improve the quality of liquid crystal displays and could be used in heads-up displays, built into window glass or the windshield of a vehicle.

Fujitsu Labs Applies Neural Networks to Robot Learning

March 26, 2003

Fujitsu Laboratories Ltd. has developed a learning system for humanoid robots that uses a dynamically reconfigurable neural network to enable the efficient learning of movement and motor coordination.

The Droids of Sport

March 26, 2003

Robotic competitions are popping up around the world. A new book, “Gearheads,”
examines their universe.

Synapse chip taps into brain chemistry

March 26, 2003

Stanford University researchers have developed “artificial synapses” on a silicon chip.

When an electric field is applied, the neurotransmitter is pumped through an internal pipeline, and a little of it squeezes out of the hole, stimulating nearby neural cells.

This could open the way to neural prosthetic implants that combine chemical and electrical stimulation in one implant. These could interact with cells in more subtle and precise ways.… read more

Aim to create ‘sensitive’ PCs

March 24, 2003

Computers that can recognize and understand human emotions could be about to move a step nearer.

Arabic In, English Out

March 24, 2003

A new device being tested at the Office of Naval Research promises simultaneous machine translation and interpretation, using a blend of voice recognition, speech synthesis and translation technologies.

Surveillance Nation

March 24, 2003

Webcams, tracking devices, and interlinked databases are leading to the elimination of unmonitored public space. Are we prepared for the consequences of the intelligence- gathering network we’re unintentionally building?

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