science + technology news

Without driver or map, vans go from Italy to China

November 1, 2010

Four driverless electric vans successfully ended a 13,000-kilometer test drive from Italy to China — a modern-day version of Marco Polo’s journey around the world.

The vehicles, each with a passenger and equipped with four solar-powered laser scanners and seven video cameras that work together to detect and avoid obstacles, are part of an experiment aimed at improving road safety and advancing automotive technology. The sensors on the vehicles… read more

Without Apology, Leaping Ahead in Cloning

May 31, 2005

Dr. Woo Suk Hwang of South Korea hopes to use animal stem cells to treat spinal cord injuries in rats, dogs and, possibly, monkeys.

If the animal trials go well, he hopes to apply for permission in South Korea and the United States to start conducting human trials in two to three years.

With Tiny Brain Implants, Just Thinking May Make It So

April 13, 2004

Cyberkinetics Inc. plans to implant a tiny chip in the brains of five paralyzed people in an effort to enable them to operate a computer by thought alone.

The chip uses 100 electrodes connected by wires to an electronic device to analyze neural signals and send them to a computer. A future version will use a wireless connection.

With the ‘Bionanoprobe,’ rapid freezing leads to better nanoscale imaging of cells

February 28, 2014


For scientists to determine if a cell is functioning properly, they must destroy it (with X-rays), possibly giving false accounts of how the cell actually works.

Now, researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Argonne National Laboratory have created a new probe that freezes cells to “see” at greater detail without damaging the sample.*

Traditional X-ray fluorescence methods look at cells that have either been… read more

With Terror in Mind, a Formulaic Way to Parse Sentences

March 7, 2005

With CIA backing, Attensity has developed a method to parse electronic documents almost instantly and diagram all of the sentences inside, helping turn chatter into information that is relevant and usable.

With simplified code, programming becomes child’s play

May 16, 2007

Scratch, a new programming language released Tuesday by the Lifelong Kindergarten Group at the MIT Media Lab, gives novices the ability to create dynamic programs without wading through a manual, teaching computer programming concepts while encouraging students to play.

The program is named after the technique hip-hop DJs use to mix music.

With SARS, Antivirus Arms Race Heats Up

May 28, 2003

The development of antiviral drugs has lagged behind that of antibacterial drugs, but a variety of approaches is currently being applied to developing defensive technologies against viruses.

Editorial comment: “Of all the things we can do for GNR [genetics, nanotechnology, and robotics] defense, developing defensive technologies against viruses is the most important right now,” comments Ray Kurzweil.

With robots, you can live forever

July 12, 2005

Futurist Ray Kurzweil believes immortality is ours if we program the human body like a computer.

With robots, a new way to understand strokes

January 16, 2012

Dr. Julius Dewald at Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine is experimenting with electromechanical devices for stroke rehabilitation.

The concept: a robot helps patients extend their arm more than they can now so the brain develops new pathways. Then the robot adds weight, making the limb heavier, so the patient can mirror a situation akin to living without the robot. The goal: robotic devices that cost less than $15,000, affordable for… read more

With prevalence of nanomaterials rising, panel urges review of risks

January 26, 2012

(Rice University)

Nanomaterials have moved into the marketplace over the last decade, in products as varied as cosmetics, clothing and paint. But not enough is known about their potential health and environmental risks, which should be studied further, an expert panel of the National Academy of Sciences said on Wednesday.

And because the nanotechnology market is expanding — it represented $225 billion in product sales in 2009 and is expected to… read more

With Mini in-vivo Robots, Anyone Can do Surgery

February 6, 2008

Scientists have designed a way to allow individuals with non-medical backgrounds to perform minimally invasive surgery using a millimeter-sized camera robot attached to a tether.

Unlike expensive room-sized surgical robots, mini in-vivo robots are inexpensive and mobile enough to support emergency surgeries almost anywhere, from the battlefield to outer space, using telementoring by surgeons via videoconferencing.

With Kinect Controller, Hackers Take Liberties

November 22, 2010

3D Video Capture with Kinect (YouTube)

Programmers, roboticists and tinkerers are getting the Kinect to do things it was not really meant to do, like create “holographic” video images that can be rotated on a computer screen (see video below).

Other creative uses of the Kinect involve drawing 3-D doodles in the air and then rotating them with a nudge of the hand,… read more

With ‘flyover’ 3D rendering and Yelp/Siri integration, Apple Maps makes Google Maps look like child’s play

June 21, 2012


Apple just launched its stunning Maps product, with “Flyover” — Apple’s incredible new 3D maps display, which makes Google Maps look antiquated.

“We built an entire new mapping solution from the ground up,” Forstall said while demoing the product, “It is beautiful. We did all the cartography ourselves.”

In addition to the 3D display, Maps will have Siri integrated turn-by-turn directions. Crucial to the new Maps… read more

With evolved brains, robots creep closer to animal-like learning

February 7, 2013


Get ready for four-legged bots of all shapes and sizes — and for all sorts of uses — that learn how to maneuver through landscapes with the grace of a cheetah, Fast Company reports.

The most nightmare-inducing characteristic of Big Dog, DARPA’s robotic military mule, might be the way it moves so stiffly, yet unrelentingly, over treacherous battleground. Turns out the repetitive mechanical gait that… read more

With an Ultrathin Film, a Big Step Forward for Flexible Electronics

January 20, 2009
(Ji Hye Hong)

South Korean researchers are reporting a significant development in making stretchable thin electrodes out of graphene, which could allow for “smart” clothing and large foldable displays that make reading news online more like reading it in print.

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