science + technology news

Microphone array aids deaf in discerning speech

June 8, 2001
Widrow with D-HEAR device

Dramatic improvements in speech discernment using signal processing have been developed by Stanford University professor of electrical engineering Bernard Widrow and his students.

Dr. Widrow reported the breakhrough in a keynote speech at the recent annual meeting of the Acoustical Society of America.

The Directional Hearing ARray (D-HEAR) uses six tiny microphones and signal-processing electronics (worn as a necklace) to enable people with profound… read more

Genome Rivals’ Genteel Soiree

June 8, 2001

Genome researchers find software tools for analyzing genomic data are inadequate and there’s no format available to effectively exchange data.

Caution advised in release of genetically modified organisms

June 8, 2001

Scientists and governments should proceed with caution as they release genetically modified organisms into the environment, according to researchers at the Ecological Society of America.

Researchers are concerned that an organism can persist without human intervention and exchange genetic material with unaltered organisms. Other concerns include creating new or more vigorous pests and pathogens, exacerbating the effects of existing pests through hybridization with related transgenic plants or animals, harm… read more

Nanoscience suffers from lack of scientists

June 7, 2001

The U.S. military’s research efforts in nanoscience are being hampered by social attitudes about foreign-born scientists and a continued shortage of U.S. citizens trained in physical sciences, experts and university officials said.

Throughout the 1990s, the number of U.S. citizens getting graduate degrees in physics and related physical science fields has been going down. The military doesn’t have a sufficiently large pool of postdoctoral students to meet the growing… read more

Internet-everywhere access by satellite

June 7, 2001

The Internet can now be accessed from every part of the globe, says Iridium.

Iridium uses a constellation of 66 low-earth orbiting satellites operated by Boeing to deliver communications services anywhere on the globe at 10 kilobytes per second — very slow but accessible on oceans, polar regions and mountaintops.

Bill Joy promos Sun’s new P2P scheme

June 7, 2001

Bill Joy, Sun Microsystems’ co-founder and chief scientist, pitched Sun’s new JXTA peer-to-peer networking “core architecture” at the JavaOne conference.

A new JXTA app called the PeerSwitch “turns clients into routers” — people running this program can give others access to content they’ve downloaded from the Web.

Thanks to JXTA, the Sun execs said, we’ll soon be seeing hordes of peer-to-peer Java programs available on the Web.

Thinking ‘drains the brain’

June 5, 2001

Concentration drains glucose from a key part of the brain, based on University of Illinois research on rats. The effect was more dramatic in older rats, whose brains also took longer to recover.

Researchers said the findings may have implications for the way schools schedule classes and meals.

AI game programming book articles solicited

June 1, 2001

Charles River Media is launching the “AI Game Programming Wisdom” book series. The book publisher of Game Programming Gems 1 & 2 is soliciting articles for the first book in the series, covering topics such as designing agent personalities, expert systems, genetic algorithms, and fuzzy state machines. Article proposals are due June 15.

Robots Square Off for Firefighting Title

May 31, 2001

An annual robot firefighting competition has led to big improvements in speed and smarts in fighting house fires at the recently held annual Trinity College event in Hartford, Connecticut.

It took robots about five minutes to find a fire in the first year of the contest. In this year’s event, some of the robots did the job within 10 seconds under far more complicated conditions.

Tycoon wants to launch private space station

May 31, 2001

A Las Vegas hotel tycoon wants to launch his own space station and is seeking FAA approval.

Robert Bigelow said he anticipates that his Bigelow Aerospace division will be able to launch a full-size space station module into orbit within 30 months.

Bigelow said the private space station would be a destination for space tourists and could be used by drug firms and other manufacturers who benefit from… read more

Neural networks diagnose cancer

May 31, 2001

Artificial neural networks have succeeded in diagnosing cancers based on gene expression signatures for the first time, according to a National Institutes of Health study published in the June issue of Nature Medicine.

Using data from gene chips (wafers filled with DNA that are analyzed to identify which genes are expressed, or turned on), the researchers fed the neural network software 6,000 genes containing 88 types of… read more

Ray Kurzweil: Don’t Fear the Nanofuture

May 31, 2001

Ray Kurzweil talks about virtual reality, nanobots, and Bill Joy’s view of the future.

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

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