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How the brain ‘sees’

May 30, 2001

Neurons in the human visual cortex can detect patterns that are too fine to be consciously perceived, based on research by Sheng He, assistant professor of psychology, University of Minnesota.

Inability to see the too-fine lines is due to a blurring that occurs after the visual cortex receives input.

AI Software to Command NASA Mission

May 30, 2001

AI software will make real-time decisions on a NASA satellite mission in 2002, NASA JPL announced today.

NASA’s Continuous Activity Scheduling, Planning Execution and Replanning (CASPER) software will guide three identical miniature satellites, which will be launched from the Space Shuttle and fly in formation as part of the Three Corner Sat mission.

CASPAR will make decisions based on the images it acquires and… read more

Tiny ‘big bang’ performs quantum computations

May 29, 2001

A fractal interference pattern emerging from quantum waves (a “tiny big bang”) can perform useful calculations, says University of Arkansas physics professor William Harter, who predicted bucky balls in 1986.

“If you pump the electron, say by hitting it with a laser, you can force it to simultaneously occupy more and more of these ascending energy states,” says Harter. If all the stored energy is released in a “pop,”… read more

High-Temperature Superconductors Find a Variety of Uses

May 29, 2001

High-temperature superconductors could allow utilities to triple power capacity without disruptive digging and enable more efficient electric motors and other electronic devices.

Cooled by liquid nitrogen, superconductors are already being used to improve signal reception in cell phone towers and for sensitive magnetic probes in scientific equipment.

Smart dust may help save energy

May 29, 2001

Sand-grain-sized sensors that can measure ambient light and temperature, linked to a wireless network, could help conserve energy, say researchers at UC Berkeley.

Each room in an office building might have hundreds or thousands of these “motes,” which would tie into a central computer that regulates energy usage by turning off lights and air conditioning/heating in empty rooms.

I.B.M. Meets With 52,600, Virtually

May 28, 2001

I.B.M. held a week-long Internet-based brainstorming session called WorldJam last week, with nearly 52,600 employees participating via moderated chat, electronic bulletin boards and online polls.

A major goal: “Study its potential as a social forum for helping clever ideas that people do not know enough about to spread horizontally across I.B.M.,” said an I.B.M. executive.

I.B.M. developed logic games called “thinklets” to prod the imagination, a stick figure… read more

Smart bacteria

May 28, 2001

Genetically engineered bacteria that function like microchip components are being developed at Oak Ridge National Laboratory.

Researchers modified Pseudomonas putida cells to produce AND and OR gates. For the AND gate, they used chemical “inducers” as inputs. One causes a gene to make a protein that the second input inducer must have to express the output enzyme.

In theory, a single cell could do massively parallel computations.

Surgeons See into Their Patients

May 25, 2001

A new imaging and navigation system helps physicians see internal organs, bones, and vessels.

The Cbyon Suite from Cbyon Inc. creates a virtual 3-D model of a patient using data from magnetic resonance images, X-rays, ultrasounds and other types of scans. Doctors can peel through the data layer by layer and pinpoint the location of their surgical tools within 6 mm.

$500,000 Lemelson-MIT Prize awarded to futurist who makes a career of helping others

May 25, 2001

On April 24, 2001, Raymond Kurzweil was awarded the prestigious Lemelson-MIT prize, the world’s largest single award for invention and innovation.… read more

Nanotubes Fall into Line

May 25, 2001

Nanocrystal arrays of perfectly aligned nanotubes have been produced by a team from the University of Cambridge.

The team created pillars by depositing alternating layers of buckyballs and a nickel catalyst onto a substrate, patterning them with a ceramic mask attached to an atomic force microscope. The researchers then heated the pillars to 900 °C in the presence of a magnetic field. The result was a pattern… read more

DNA photodetectors

May 25, 2001

The DNA nucleoside deoxyguanosine (DG) is being used as an alternative to conventional semiconductor material in experimental photodetectors.

Ross Rinaldi and coworkers at the National Nanotechnology Laboratory of the Instituto Nazionale per la Fisica della Materia in Italy placed DG nucleosides dissolved in chloroform at the juncture of two electrodes. The DG molecules self-assembled into an array of ribbon-like structures between the electrodes.

The DG-based photodetectors are… read more

Dinosaur Robots For Sale

May 24, 2001
Troody, a robot<br />
dinosaur built at MIT

Robot dinosaurs — two-legged robots that can walk in a lifelike way — are being developed for sale to museums and possibly consumers.

Developed at MIT’s Leg Lab, the robots have springy joints, which makes their movements like those of living animals, plus skin, scales, feathers and lifelike, expressive eyes. Currently pidgeon-sized, bigger dinos are on the drawing board.

Biotech’s Bright Hopes

May 23, 2001

About 350 drugs are in late-stage clinical trials, but there are expensive hurdles to federal approval.

Cures for pulmonary hypertension, diabetic neuropathy, and some forms of cancer are among the possibilities.

Virtual products in TV shows

May 23, 2001

Digital technology may be used for the first time to place “virtual” products and other advertising images regularly in scenes of a syndicated television series to be watched by American audiences.

Computer Creativity

May 23, 2001

Computers as poets, painters, and storytellers.

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