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A crime-fighting armored glove

June 1, 2011

(Credit: John B. Carnett)

The BodyGuard is an armored glove equipped with a high voltage stun gun, laser pointer for aiming, video camera and flashlight.
A robber is cornered in a dead-end alley. He turns to face the police officer pursuing him, ready to fight. He pauses. The officer’s left forearm is encased in ballistic nylon, and half a million volts arc menacingly between electrodes on his wrist. A green laser target lands… read more

A Critique of Shortsighted Anthropic Principles

May 19, 2008

A new paper in Physical Review Letters from a group of physicists at Case Western Reserve University argues that any connection between the laws of physics and the existence of life is likely to be an illusion stemming from our shortsighted definition of intelligent life.

The paper implies that the anthropic claim that “we observe things the way they are because otherwise we wouldn’t be here to see them”… read more

A crowdsourced artificial chat partner that’s smarter than Siri-style personal assistants

September 10, 2012

The Chorus system. User requests are forwarded to crowd workers, who then submit and vote on responses. Once sufficient agreement is reached, responses are made visible to users. The crowd’s working memory is updated by workers selecting lines from the conversation or summarizing important facts.

Personal assistants such as Apple’s Siri may be useful, but they are still far from matching the smarts and conversational skills of a real person.

Researchers at the University of Rochester have demonstrated a new, potentially better approach that creates a smart artificial chat partner from fleeting contributions from many crowdsourced workers, Technology Review reports.

When people talk to the new crowd-powered chat system,… read more

A Crystal Ball Submerged in a Test Tube

April 12, 2006

A new generation of genetic tests represents some of the first fruit of the long-anticipated genome revolution and could help pave the way to personalized medicine, in which treatments would be tailored for each therapy, potentially making them more effective and less costly.

Such tests are either now available or being developed for purposes like detecting cancer early, monitoring heart transplants and choosing which drugs might work best to… read more

A cure for the common cold?

November 3, 2010

virusdisposal

Landmark research led by Dr. Leo James from the Medical Research Council Laboratory of Molecular Biology (LMB) in Cambridge UK has discovered that antibodies can fight viruses from within infected cells.

This finding transforms the previous scientific understanding of our immunity to viral diseases like the common cold and gastroenteritis. It also gives scientists a different set of rules that pave the way to the next generation of antiviral… read more

A cure for type 1 diabetes

February 14, 2013

Diabetic dog cured from the disease

Researchers at the Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona (UAB) have succeeded in completely curing type 1 diabetes in dogs with a single session of gene therapy by introducing a “glucose sensor” into muscle.

This is the first time the disease has been cured in large animals, a fundamental step towards applying the therapy in humans. The dogs recovered their health and no longer show symptoms of the… read more

A Cyber-Attack on an American City

April 23, 2009

The recent attack on the electronic infrastructure of the Northern California city of Morgan Hill, in which eight fiber cables were cut, demonstrated a severe fault in American infrastructure: its centralization.

Managers of critical services should reconsider their dependence on software-as-a-service rather than local servers, and install two-way radios, stand-alone pager systems, and radio repeaters that enable regional communications.

A dashboard for your body

August 5, 2011

Blood pressure monitor (credit: Withings)

Useful gadgets in the self-tracking or quantified self movement include:

  • Fitbit ($100) monitors movements while you sleep and counts your steps; it sends all the data back to Fitbit’s Web-based tracking program, which displays your activities on precise charts and graphs.
  • MyTrek, a wireless pulse monitor made by Scosche,
  • Withings WiFi Body Scale, an electronic scale with an Internet connection that displays your

read more

A Database for Disease

October 16, 2006

A newly developed genetic “roadmap” promises to streamline the drug discovery process. Called the Connectivity Map, this public database matches drug compounds with diseased cells and the processes occurring within them.

At any point in time, some genes in a cell are expressed, or “on,” while others are not. And a cell’s particular profile of activity is known as its gene-expression signature. When cells are exposed to a drug,… read more

A day at the office in 2013

January 20, 2003

We are at the beginning of an era of pervasive digital intelligence. When RFID and other sensors are pervasive, cost less than a penny, have more chip-to-chip intelligence, and transmit at distances far beyond 15 feet or even 300 feet, the potential for abuse will be significant.

A Deeper Look at Disease

July 12, 2007

VisEn Medical has developed an molecular imaging system that allows researchers to see deeper into the body and look at a wider range of chemical activity than is possible with existing imaging techniques.

It uses fluorescent-protein probes that interact with disease-related proteins in the body and allow researchers to see where they are and in what concentrations.

A Deeper U.S.-India Relationship

November 12, 2010

In his trip to India, President Obama announced Indian purchases of about $10 billion worth of American aircraft, locomotives, jet engines and gas turbines.

In exchange, the President announced American backing for a permanent seat for India on the Security Council.
Washington has also given a green light for high-technology exports to leading government agencies involved with space exploration, defense research and munitions development.

A Deluge of Data Shapes a New Era in Computing

December 16, 2009

Computational power created computational science, which produced
a “fourth paradigm” — the overwhelming flow of data that now requires a computing change, said Jim Gray, a database software pioneer and a Microsoft researcher, a few weeks before he was lost at sea off the California coast in January 2007.

The goal, he insisted, was not to have the biggest, fastest single computer, but rather “to have a world in… read more

A diabetes ‘breathalyzer’

June 12, 2013

A transmission electron microscopy image of the hybrid material revealing the formation of “titanium dioxide on a stick” (credit:

Diabetes patients often receive their diagnosis after a series of glucose-related blood tests in hospital settings, and then have to monitor their condition daily through expensive, invasive methods. But what if diabetes could be diagnosed and monitored through cheaper, noninvasive methods?

Chemists at the University of Pittsburgh have demonstrated a sensor technology that could significantly simplify the diagnosis and monitoring of diabetes through breath analysis… read more

A Digital Health-Care Revolution

January 28, 2009

The more wired the hospital, the better off its patients: there are fewer deaths and complications, and lower bills. That’s the conclusion of a large study of Texas hospitals released earlier this week.

Unfortunately, only a small percentage of hospitals and doctors’ offices in the United States are wired, and the country lags far behind other developed nations in implementing such systems.

However, legislators and health-technology specialists hope… read more

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