science + technology news

The Promise of Plastic Transistors

April 13, 2001

Integrated circuits made from polymers could usher in a whole new era in computing.

The idea: plastic circuits could be manufactured simply by spraying them out of ink-jet printers, ushering in an era of lightweight, ultracheap, and flexible computer displays and electronics. “Imagine a large sheet of plastic that could download your favorite newspapers and that you could roll up underneath your arm.”

Nano Gets Boost from Bush

April 13, 2001

President Bush has requested $485 million for nanotechnology research in fiscal year 2002. If approved by Congress, it will fund research in areas from pollution control to biotechnology to space travel.

This month, the National Science Foundation will publish a 400-page report predicting that in ten to fifteen years, the entire semiconductor industry, as well as half the pharmaceutical industry, will rely on nanotechnology.

Laying Down the Law: Q&A with Gordon Moore

April 12, 2001

Intel cofounder Gordon Moore, who coined Moore’s Law (the number of transistors that can be packed into an integrated circuit will double every year), believes this doubling will slow down sometime between 2010 and 2020. He doesn’t see a solution in the works.

In the meantime, what should we do with this increased power? “The one capability that to me will make a qualitative difference in how we do… read more

5 Patents to Watch

April 12, 2001

Growing human organs to ease the deadly shortages facing patients desperate for transplants. Deploying organic molecules to store a million times more data than silicon can. Harnessing the unused processing power on your desktop to attack gigantic computational problems, from genetic analysis to spotting hidden customer trends. Massively expanding the data capacity of optical networks to turbocharge the information superhighway. Modifying plants to grow cheap, lifesaving vaccines.

The editors… read more

America’s next ethical war

April 12, 2001

Politicians and regulators in America are floundering as they try to understand the immense implications of genetic science.

The first human clone could mark a turning-point in humanity’s story, joining genetically modified plants, gene patents, in-vitro fertilization, stem-cell research, and eugenics in prompting a whole series of perplexing ethical questions that will affect politics everywhere.

Robotic insect takes to the air

April 12, 2001

Engineers at Monrovia, California-based AeroVironment have test-flown a prototype of the world’s first robotic insect.

The eight-inches-long “Microbat” is an ornithopter (flaps its wings like a bat). Its ultra-light wings are built out of a thin polythene film and carbon-fibre skeleton.

The design objective: a craft that can fly slowly, change direction with ease and hover in the corner of a room.

Moore’s Law to continue through this decade

April 11, 2001

LIVERMORE, Calif. — Industry and government officials today announced completion of the first full-scale prototype machine for making computer chips using extreme ultraviolet (EUV) light, a breakthrough that will lead to microprocessors that are tens of times faster than today’s most powerful chips and create memory chips with similar increases in storage capacity.

Lithography technology should allow for circuits as small as 0.03 microns, extending the current pace of… read more

UFO cult endorses brain transplants

April 10, 2001

RAEL, founder of Clonaid, the first human cloning company, and self-described “Messenger of Infinity” and “brother of Jesus,” announced today he has given his support to Professor Robert White of Cleveland, Ohio, who hopes to perform brain and human head transplants.

White recently announced he has transplanted a whole monkey’s head onto another monkey’s body. The animal survived for some time after the operation.

Clonaid is owned by… read more

How XML works on

April 9, 2001

On Tuesday, senior researcher Lucas Hendrich will explain at a Boston seminar how XML technologies are used for “innovative presentation of content and a streamlined publishing process.”

XML is used on to generate a knowledge base of “thoughts” (people, places and things), which are highlighted in content and displayed in TheBrain knowledge visualization tool and by the Ramona conversational avatar.

The XML Tools session will be… read more

Joy still urges relinquishment of risky tech development

April 9, 2001

PALO ALTO — In a reprise of his controversial Wired article last April, “Why the future doesn’t need us,” Sun Microsystems chief scientist Bill Joy spoke at a Wired-sponsored event at Stanford University last Thursday.

Joy said the article got little response from the high-tech world. “It came out at the peak of IPOs,” he said, “when they were more concerned with launching”… read more

Aging and the Insulin Pathway

April 8, 2001

New studies show that the insulin-signaling pathway that regulates aging in roundworms serves the same function in fruit flies and yeast.

By manipulating genes relating to insulin-like hormones, scientists were able to extend the lifespan of fruit flies by 85 percent and of yeast by three times.

“If we just could tap into the mammalian version of that system, it might be possible to retard or even reverse… read more

Nanodot Lasers

April 8, 2001

MIT chemist Moungi Bawendi and Victor Klimov of Los Alamos National Lab have developed a way to create quantum-dot lasers from nanometer-size semiconductor particles.

Quantum dots, so called because quantum effects tune the color of the glow to the size of the particle, could be a boon for optical networking by providing lasers and amplifiers that work in a wide range of frequencies.

Bawendi and Klimov have discovered… read more

Sun-Seeking Robot Bound for Arctic

April 5, 2001

A sun-seeking robot created at Carnegie Mellon University will be tested for two weeks starting July 10 on Devon Island above the Arctic Circle in Nunavut, Canada, “the closest thing we have to Mars on Earth.”

The experimental Hyperion robot prototype is part of a $1 million NASA project to develop a Mars robot that seeks sunlight that feeds a solar panel on its back.

Liver on a Chip

April 4, 2001

Researchers at the University of California, San Diego have created silicon chips that support fully functioning liver cells.

“We’re exploring a new generation of devices in which we can maintain cells by controlling the architecture, temperature and chemical environment, and in which we can use sensors located on the same chip to monitor the health of cells,” says Sangeeta N. Bhatia, a physician and an assistant… read more

Extreme Robotics

April 4, 2001

MIT Technology Review is running a series on iRobot, founded by three veterans of the MIT AI Lab: Helen Greiner, Colin Angle and Rod Brooks (who is also director of the AI Lab).

The company is branching out from military robots to consumer products, including the My Real Baby doll, a robotic toy Velociraptor and a Web-controlled robot called the iRobot.

“One iRobot team is building robots that… read more

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