science + technology news

House hearings turn skeptical eye on cloning

March 29, 2001

Republican Rep. Brian Kerns of Indiana introduced HR 1260, the “Ban on Human Cloning Act,” to ban human cloning in the United States at a congressional hearing today.

“Even if cloning begins with a benign purpose, it could lead to scientific categories of superior and inferior people,” said Rep. Cliff Stearns, R., Florida.

Brigitte Boisselier, director of Clonaid — an arm of the Raelian Movement, which believes life… read more

‘Crystal Ball’ Volumetric 3-D Display Announced

March 28, 2001

Actuality Systems announced it has created a prototype of a Volumetric 3-D Display. The display acts as a “crystal ball” for the computer — it accepts 3-D data from standard sources and converts it into volume-filling imagery that can be seen from any angle without goggles.

Uses include 3-D display of molecules for design of new pharmaceuticals.

Fiber Crosses the 10-Trillion-Bit Barrier

March 28, 2001

French (Alcatel) and Japanese (NEC) engineers have transmitted more than 10 trillion bits per second through single optical fibers, setting a new record.

Currently, the fastest commercial fiber-optics systems can transmit up to 1.6 trillion bits per fiber.

Of Nanotubes and Buckyballs: Atomic-Scale Building Blocks

March 27, 2001

An IBM scientist described a method of shaping nanotubes to form semiconductors at a recent meeting of the American Physical Society in Seattle. The discovery could lead to computer miniaturization breakthroughs.

NEC scientists also described research in creating “nanohorns,” using carbon molecules shaped like megaphones. These could be used for storage of hydrogen fuel and light emitters for flat panel displays.

For good or ill, rapid change is on the way

March 27, 2001

We’re seeing the pace of change accelerate, exemplified by imminent human cloning, DNA engineering, and increased computer intelligence, as noted by Ray Kurzweil in Talk magazine.

Human Markup Language

March 27, 2001

A Human Markup Language discussion group has been formed to help define XML standards for gestures, thoughts, emotions, and attitudes. There’s an initial proposal.

Computing, One Atom at a Time

March 27, 2001

Scientists are Los Alamos National Laboratory are pushing the state of the art in quantum computing. Currently, they’ve achieved calculations involving seven atoms. This year they are shooting for 10 atoms, allowing for 1024 calculations at the same time.

Robot to counsel families

March 26, 2001

NEC’s new talking PaPeRo (Partner-type Personal Robot) is designed to counsel families.

It has two digital cameras, four microphones, five sensors and a motor that lets it move. It can utter 3,000 phrases, recognizes 650 expressions and responds depending on the speaker.

All Science Is Computer Science

March 24, 2001

Research in physics, biology and other fields of science are becoming increasingly dependent on complex simulations using supercomputers.

Celera’s computerized genomic map required analyzing some 80 trillion bytes of data. Other complex computational modeling projects include the rise and fall of native cultures, subnuclear particles and the Big Bang.

To Store Data, a Hologram ‘Picture’ Is Worth a Million Bits

March 22, 2001

Bell Labs spinoff InPhase Technologies is developing a new data storage system using 3D holograms, due out in a few years. It will allow a CD-ROM size disc to hold 400 gigabytes, enough to store 100 full-length feature films.

The technology will feature an ultra-high-speed data transfer rate, allowing for downloading an entire digitized movie in 30 seconds.

The U.S Defense Department’s National Imagery and Mapping Agency is… read more

Robots Can Learn Much From High-Tech Playthings

March 22, 2001

The current new generation of electronic toys will make children more readily accept robotic assistants in the home or office when they are adults.

Pradeep Khosla, a professor of engineering and robotics at the Robotics Institute at Carnegie Mellon University, believes that robot designers need to make these machines human-friendly and take away the intimidation factor. “A robot must be able to understand humans on their terms. That means… read more

NEMS: Machines Get Tiny

March 22, 2001

The next frontier in machine miniaturization is nanoelectromechanical systems (NEMS).

The devices could be used as ultrasensitive sensors that can detect subtle genetic alterations responsible for a disease or artificial muscles that might replace damaged human tissue. The could also power tiny robots.

Rebels Against the Future: Witnessing the birth of the global anti-technology movement

March 22, 2001

Bill Joy’s warnings appear to be taking root. At the recent International Forum on Globalization’s Teach-In on Technology and Globalization in New York City, 1400 self-declared luddites gathered to form plans to combat developments in genetic engineeering, nanotechnology and computers.

One speaker, Chet Bowers, an adjunct professor in the Environmental Studies Department at the University of Oregon, decried Hans Moravec’s vision of the future in which people could download… read more

Future War: From Ethnic Pathogens To `Nano-Frankensteins’

March 21, 2001

Genetically altered diseases that can pinpoint a specific ethnic group, weather manipulation causing droughts and famines, self-replicating nanostructures that could be inserted into humans to boost a soldier’s performance (such as armor that can heal itself if a soldier is hit), creating “nanofrankensteins” — these are among the technologies that will radically transform future war in the next 25 years, the Potomac Institute for Policy Studies said in a new… read more

Nirvana or Nightmare? Exploring the Technological Future

March 19, 2001

The Stanford GSB Futurist Club will present a WIRED Conversation with Bill Joy, “Nirvana or Nightmare? Exploring the Technological Future,” on Thursday, April 5, 2001 at 5:30 pm.

The event will be held in the Bishop Auditorium of the Graduate School of Business on the Stanford University campus. RSVP by Monday, April 2 to joyevent@wiredmag.com.

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