science + technology news

Man vs. Machine: Are Robots Getting the Upper Hand in Space Exploration?

August 21, 2003

The latest target for space robots is Mars, where two orbiters, a pair of twin rovers and one lander are expected to arrive at the end of this year.

In the future, robots may accompany astronauts to Mars or elsewhere, serving as assistants for base construction and other tasks, or as a precursor to set up habitation and science bases before humans even get there.

Robot spy can survive battlefield damage

August 21, 2003

A self-healing military reconnaissance robot being developed can keep moving even if it gets damaged on the battlefield.

When any of the snake-like robot’s shape-memory-alloy “muscle” segments are damaged, genetic-algorithm software “evolves” a different way for it to wriggle across any terrain.

Kurzweil debates ‘law of accelerating returns’ with Denton, Tuomi

August 21, 2003

Ray Kurzweil, noted inventor, software developer and futurist, will present his work on “the law of accelerating returns” and debate its merits with biologist Michael Denton and innovation theorist Ilkka Tuomi at Accelerating Change ’03.

Twenty-four prominent thinkers will offer their insights from across a broad spectrum of cutting edge disciplines, such as biological computing, nanotech, cosmology, and futurism.

John Koza (Genetic Programming IV: Human-Competitive Machine… read more

DoD Seeks New Chip Technologies

August 21, 2003

The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency thinks Moore’s Law will remain viable for about a decade and is investigating a variety of alternative chip technologies beyond that.

These include alternative manufacturing processes, photonics, MEMS, and carbon nanotubes.

30-year robot project pitched

August 21, 2003

Japanese researchers in robot technology are advocating a grand project, under which the government would spend 50 billion yen a year over three decades to develop a humanoid robot with the mental, physical and emotional capacity of a 5-year-old human.

Matrix Revolutions Trailer Released

August 21, 2003

The new Matrix Revolutions trailer is now available for downloading.

Molecular Manufacturing: Start Planning

August 20, 2003

“There is very little doubt that molecular nanotechnology manufacturing will be developed within the next three decades,” says Chris Phoenix, Director of Research for the Center for Responsible Nanotechnology, and it may be as soon as ten years because of the immense utility and the increasing ease of development.

But there are risks: an unstable arms race, criminal and terrorist activity, invasion of privacy from microscopic devices, gray goo,… read more

Down on the pharm

August 20, 2003

Genetically modified crops that produce drugs are the latest rage. But American farmers are lighting a prairie fire of revolt.

Free online journal gives sneak preview

August 20, 2003

The Public Library of Science has released a sneak preview of the research papers it will be giving away for free from October. Its first journal, PLoS Biology, is a monthly, peer-reviewed journal intended to compete head-to-head with the most prestigious paid-for journals.

Big questions for tiny particles

August 19, 2003

From clear sunscreen to self-cleaning cars, nanotechnology seeps into daily life and starts to raise tough ethical issues.

Computer model forecasts crime sprees

August 19, 2003

A more powerful tool for forecasting crime is emerging from a huge electronic database of six million crimes.

A team from Carnegie Mellon University analyzed the data in two ways: A statistical analysis that spots broad trends allowed researchers to quantify the rules of thumb that police officers often learn from experience; and a list leading indicators — minor offences such as vandalism and trespassing that crime analysts believe… read more

Aggregators Attack Info Overload

August 19, 2003

A new breed of software, called newsreaders or aggregators, is helping manage information overload by allowing users to subscribe to feeds from diverse news sources and blogs.

Gamma-ray weapons could trigger next arms race

August 19, 2003

An exotic kind of nuclear explosive being developed by the US Department of Defense could blur the critical distinction between conventional and nuclear weapons. The work has also raised fears that weapons based on this technology could trigger the next arms race.

One gram of fully charged hafnium isomer could store more energy than 50 kilograms of TNT. Miniature missiles could be made with warheads that are far more… read more

Company Plans Power ‘Valve’ Employing Superconductors

August 18, 2003

To suppress surges, Intermagnetics General plans to use superconductors as valves on the electric-utility power grid, letting their temperature rise to choke off the flow of power. The device would also generate a magnetic field, which further lowers superconductor conductivity.

The idea is to reduce the surge to a level that conventional circuit breakers can handle.

Human-rabbit embryos intensify stem cell debate

August 18, 2003

“Human” embryonic stem cells have been harvested from cloned embryos created by fusing human cells with rabbit eggs, claims a soon-to-be published report by Chinese scientists.

The goal of the experiments: create a new source of embryonic stem cells (ESCs), which can transform into any tissue, making them potential sources of replacement cells for the treatment of many diseases.

Unlike controversial fertilized human embryos, which must be destroyed… read more

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