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‘Nano’ Suddenly a Gigantic Label

June 17, 2003

Nanotechnology has become one of the hottest areas in scientific research, pulling in billions of dollars in government, corporate and foundation cash.

But Eric Drexler, the scientist who coined the term “nanotechnology,” says a lot of what passes for nano is just plain ol’ science, gussied up with a fancy name to rake in the bucks.

Battelle Convenes Experts to Name Top Ten Innovations In National Security and Defense by 2012

June 16, 2003

According to a panel of experts convened by Battelle at the close of the recent war in Iraq, the top ten innovations in technology by the year 2012 will make military action faster and safer — with far less bloodshed and damage — resulting in greater American security at home and around the world.

Computing’s Big Shift: Flexibility in the Chips

June 16, 2003

An emerging type of chip architecture known as adaptive, or reconfigurable, computing, could transform technology, combining the programmability of the microprocessor with the speed of dedicated hardware.

With this new approach, software is able to effectively redraw a chip’s physical circuitry on the fly. Adaptive computing enables a single chip to perform tasks normally requiring several; it can add speed while saving cost and energy, compared to today’s conventional… read more

New noninvasive scanning technique allows for optical biopsies

June 16, 2003

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

The researchers have demonstrated the new imaging technique by making live-tissue intrinsic fluorescence scans of autopsy samples from the brains of patients with Alzheimer’s disease and by imaging mammary gland tumors in mice that serve as models of human cancer.

Scans can… read more

Imaging nerve-cell growth and repair in vivo

June 16, 2003

Biophysics researchers at Cornell and Harvard researchers have proposed a new method of imaging the cytoskeletal infrastructure of nerve cells to map the nervous system as it develops and struggles to repair itself.

The technique allows for in vivo images of the growth of microtubules by detecting the second harmonic generated from microtubules when hit by laser light.

The technique could answer the puzzle about which errant pathways… read more

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

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