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Brain scans ‘reveal baby thoughts’

July 30, 2003

Researchers at Birkbeck College and University College London are attempting to answer questions on baby brain development by monitoring brain waves.

Increased gamma-band activity, which is associated with the representation of hidden objects, will “inform fundamental issues about how infants process their visual world,” they believe.

Inventions’ wonderful world on display at Microsoft fair

July 30, 2003

Futuristic projects at Microsoft’s advanced-research division and affiliates include a self-charging robot slave that goes to meetings in your place, a glove that translates sign language into digitized letters, a low-cost way for motor-vehicle departments and companies to create forgery-proof identification cards, and a way to replace remote controls with one device, such as a cell phone or pocket PC.

I Think, Therefore I Communicate

July 30, 2003

Researchers are working on brain-computer interfaces to create a direct link between computers and the electrical signals in the brain of “locked in” individuals so they can operate devices like wheelchairs or use simple word processing programs to express their wishes.

Volunteers equipped with a virtual-reality headset have been able to switch lights on and off, bring a mock car to a stop and turn on a television set… read more

Helping Machines Think Different

July 30, 2003

DARPA wants to build a new generation of computer systems that can reason, learn and respond intelligently to things they’ve never encountered before.

Interim steps include LifeLog — the controversial Defense Department initiative to track everything about an individual — and Perceptive Assistant that Learns (PAL), which could draw on commonsense “episodes” and improve itself in the process.

For example, “If PAL’s boss keeps sending angry notes to… read more

Virtual humans edge closer

July 30, 2003

Avatars seem to be getting ever more lifelike, with more realistic visual appearance, speech, and body motion.

But as an avatar approaches reality, it could fall into the “Zombie Zone,” in which expectations that a character is actually human are suddently “violated by something that slightly wrong in the voice, or the face, or in the way it moves, and it gives you a horrible feeling that is not… read more

Pentagon Abandons Plan for Futures Market on Terror

July 30, 2003

DARPA has quickly abandoned an idea (the Policy Analysis Market) in which anonymous speculators would have bet on forecasting terrorist attacks, assassinations and coups in an online futures market.

AI Depends on Your Point of View

July 30, 2003

The Real-World Reasoning project, a Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency program, is designed to get computers to start examining situations in more than one way, integrating rule-based and probabilistic reasoning as well as game theory and strategic thinking.

It’s part of a larger effort to move toward machines that can think for themselves.

Electrodes in brain to ‘switch off’ pain

July 29, 2003

Breakthrough implant surgery may help patients to control agony caused by major injury.

The “deep brain stimulation” operation involves drilling two tiny holes in the skull so that two electrodes can be implanted deep in the brain. The electrodes are wired to a brain “pacemaker,” a device that sends out low voltage electrical signals to the brain.

The implants are thought to affect the functioning of the sensory… read more

Liquid lenses may shrink feature sizes on microchips

July 29, 2003

New data will assist in the design of optics for liquid immersion lithography, an old idea that recently has attracted new interest as a way to improve image resolution and thus shrink feature sizes of computer chips.

Conventional optical lithography has advanced sufficiently to achieve a resolution of 100 nanometers (billionths of a meter), but there are physical and technical limits to how much better it can get. By… read more

New Directions In Music Tech At Siggraph

July 29, 2003

The 2003 Siggraph conference is under way in San Diego, and the Emerging Technologies booth is showcasing several noteworthy projects in the field of human-computer interaction in music production.

Nanotechnology: sink or swim?

July 28, 2003

In a report published today, a team at the University of Sheffield investigates the scientific reality behind nanotechnology and the current controversy about its risks and rewards.

Economic & Social Research Council press release

Electricity shapes nano plastic

July 28, 2003

Researchers have found ways to use electricity to coax microscopic amounts of plastic to form patterns containing columns and tubes with features as small as 100 nanometers.

The method could be used for plastic electronics, light-emitting diodes, solar energy devices, and optical filters,

The different plastics react to an electric field at distinctly different rates, making one plastic melt before another. The researchers were able to use this… read more

Greenpeace Wades Into Nano Debate With Report That Calls For Caution

July 28, 2003

Greenpeace has entered the debate over nanotech’s impact on the environment and society with a study that calls for the industry to “demonstrate a commitment to (environmental concerns) by funding the relevant research on a far greater scale than currently witnessed.”

Greenpeace explores the idea that “quantum dots, nanoparticles, and other throwaway nanodevices may constitute whole new classes of non-biodegradable pollutants that scientists have very little understanding of.”… read more

Music instruction aids verbal memory

July 28, 2003

Children with music training have significantly better verbal memory, according to a study published in the July issue of Neuropsychology.

The authors, psychologists at the Chinese University of Hong Kong, propose that music training during childhood is a kind of sensory stimulation that “somehow contributes to … better development of the left temporal lobe in musicians, which in turn facilitates cognitive processing mediated by that specific brain area, that… read more

Panspermia: Spreading Life Through the Universe

July 27, 2003

Researchers have found live cells in samples taken at 41 km above the Earth, suggesting a possible extraterrestrial origin.

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