science + technology news

The making of Final Fantasy

July 11, 2001

Final Fantasy’s hyperreal animation was achieved by Honolulu-based Square USA, using Maya for animation authoring and RenderMan for rendering.

Square animators used four Silicon Graphics M 2000 series servers, four Silicon Graphics Onyx2 visualization systems, and 167 Octane workstations.

Special challenges — realistic flowing hair and follicles, the physics of how cloth wrinkles and drapes as the body wearing the fabric moves, the fluidity… read more

New Markets for Biotech

July 10, 2001

The next big producers of biotech crops could very well be nations in the developing world. Countries such as China and India are now gearing up to commercialize dozens of genetically modified plants in the next few years.

But some developing nations, concerned that agricultural exports could be negatively affected by existing or future bans on plant biotech in Europe and elsewhere, are putting the brakes on research.

Dispute over number of human genes

July 10, 2001

Two rival teams that cracked the human genome may have underestimated the number of human genes, according to a new computer analysis.

“There are probably between 65,000 and 75,000 transcriptional units,” said Ohio State University’s Dr Yuan.

A transcriptional unit is a length of DNA that shows strong evidence of being a gene but which requires future verification.

Flowing liquid revealed as quantum wave

July 9, 2001

Researchers have shown that a liquid, ultra-cold helium-3, demonstrates quantum interference, just as the classic “two-slits” experiment shows that a beam of light is a quantum wave.

This quantum interference is identical to the interference between light waves, electrons, atomic beams and electrical currents in solid superconductors. It had never before been observed in a liquid.

The findings by UC Berkeley researchers was published in Nature… read more

Nanotube single-electron transistor is ideal for molecular computers

July 6, 2001

The first single-electron transistor (SET) to operate at room temperature have been developed. Its minute size and low-energy requirements should make it an ideal device for molecular computers, as reported in the 29 June issue of Science.

SETs only require one electron to toggle between on and off states. In contrast, transistors in conventional microelectronics use millions and are limited in packing density because of… read more

NSF seeks reliable quantum-chip-making process

July 6, 2001

The National Science Foundation is seeking a quantum-chip-making process that will work with any one of the quantum-computing architectures being proposed today.

Today, researchers experimenting with quantum computer chips must craft their own process technology. The problem: quantum dots store information in domains that are only a few square nanometers, containing 50 to 10,000 atoms per stored quantum bit (qubit).

Individual devices can be hand-assembled using a scanning… read more

Smart Walker Strolls Ahead

July 5, 2001

A smart walker that will guide users, providing assistance with steering and braking, has been developed by a research team at the University of Virginia’s Medical Automation Research Center.

The prototype uses a laser scanner to sense the environment, detecting a user’s intentions primarily via pressure monitors in the handles. If a person loses footing, the walker will detect the high force and burst of speed, then hit the… read more

Atoms perform a quantum flip

July 5, 2001

Quantum dynamical tunnelling — in which atoms can jump back and forth between two stable states of motion without passing through the zero momentum state — has been demonstrated by researchers.

The phenomenon could form the basis of a quantum computer.

A.I.: Kurzweil Says Thumbs Up

July 5, 2001

In this Wired News Radio interview, Ray Kurzweil says A.I.: Artificial Intelligence offers a good glimpse of things to come.
The show can be listened to via download or stream.

Army looks to nanotechnology, robotics

July 3, 2001

The U.S. Army plans to use nanotechnology to develop an interactive, protective uniform for soldiers and nanoscale methods of releasing drugs and preventing infectious diseases. It’s also planning robotics systems to do more of the dangerous work.

News Tip: Anthony Zidek

Quantum dots to barcode DNA

July 3, 2001

A system for bar-coding DNA using brilliant crystals called quantum dots could revolutionize our ability to identify genes in the human genome.

A group at Indiana University in Bloomington has developed a way to embed quantum dots in tiny Styrofoam-like beads attached to DNA to create unique labels. The paper
appears in Nature Biotechnology.

The dots are semiconductor crystals of cadmium selenide wrapped in shells of… read more

Wireless artificial heart implanted

July 3, 2001

University of Louisville surgeons made medical history yesterday, cutting a damaged heart out of the chest of a terminally ill patient and replacing it with an artificial pump that has no wires to the outside world, according to a unconfirmed report.

The plastic-and-metal heart, called the AbioCor, uses an implanted battery that powers the motor. It recharges from a coil that transfers energy through the skin.

Previous devices… read more

Nanotubes are the new superconductors

July 2, 2001

Nanotubes exhibit superconductivity below 20 degrees Kelvin, Hong Kong University of Science and Technology researchers have reported in Science magazine.

The superconductivity is due to enhanced coupling between phonons and electrons.

The real-life future for A.I. robots

July 1, 2001
Flesh Fair: orgas vs. mechas

Some researchers believe the A.I. film’s robots are a reasonable approximation of where robotics is headed.

Ray Kurzweil believes human emotions, especially love, are half a century away from being replicated by machines. Should that day arrive, says Kurzweil, machines will have become human.

The robot-boy David expresses an unrequited love for his human owner, all the while wishing he were “a real boy.”

To… read more

‘Artificial personality’ to get psychological test

June 30, 2001

A psychological test will be administered to a machine-based “artificial personality” known as GAC (Generic Artificial Consciousness).

GAC — pronounced ‘Jack’ — is being developed at the Mindpixel Digital Mind Modeling Project with the collaboration of nearly 40,000 Internet users, who have input more than 355,000 individual items of human consensus experience. The project’s organizers hope to build an accurate statistical model of an average human mind… read more

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