Reverse-Engineering the Visual Process

December 19, 2001

Researchers at the Office of Naval Research are using a combination of engineering and neurobiology to model mammalian brain processes.They are learning how the architecture and physiological properties of cells in visual cortex integrate visual cues for target recognition.

“Right now we’re building a cellular-level model of a small piece of visual cortex,” says Dr. Leif Finkel, head of the University of Pennsylvania’s Neuroengineering Research Lab. “It’s a very… read more

Drexler Warns Terror Symposium: Nanotech Has ‘Extreme Downsides’

December 19, 2001

The scientist who coined the term nanotechnology warned Tuesday that development of “extremely powerful, extremely dangerous technologies” must be shepherded by stewards tutored in both its promise and its peril.
“One of my profound hopes is that the new spirit of seriousness about life and death issues that we see in the wake of Sept. 11…will encourage people to pay a little less attention to politics and a little more… read more

Defining the Undefinable: The Living Cell

December 19, 2001

In the controversy of extracting stem cells from human embryos for possible use in the treatment of diseases, researchers must weigh not only the question of when human life begins, but what being alive really means.
Are the following “alive” or not?

  • Monkey eggs that can be chemically treated and modified to the point where they begin behaving enough like embryos to generate stem cells without the addition
  • read more

    Computer crack funnier than many human jokes

    December 20, 2001

    An experiment to uncover the world’s funniest jokes has found that some computer-generated gags can be more amusing than those thought up by humans.

    The Laugh Lab survey is being conducted through a web site, on which members of the public are invited to submit favourite jokes and rate other submissions. They are also asked to contribute information about themselves.

    Five computer-generated gags were contributed by researchers at… read more

    Hearing debates decentralized trading

    December 20, 2001

    On Sept. 11, alternative stock-trading networks stayed active via the Internet and redundant systems even after the New York Stock Exchange closed because of the terrorist attacks on the nearby World Trade Center, witnesses told a House subcommittee Wednesday.The House Subcommittee on Commerce, Trade and Consumer Protection looked into the post-Sept. 11 experience of these “electronic communications networks”–operations with names such as Instinet and Archipelago.

    These ECNs bring stock… read more

    Robo Lobster to Sniff Out Mines

    January 2, 2002

    Teams of sniffer robots may someday scour land and sea, using their artificial snouts to root out mines in places and situations humans would rather avoid.At least this is the goal of a team studying the lobster–a creature considered a paragon of odor analysis–in order to create a robotic version of the lobster’s snout.

    “The idea is that evolution has developed the lobster antennule (nose) to do the job… read more

    The Brain in Winter

    January 2, 2002

    Although some neural functioning is lost from aging, the biggest recent surprise in neuroscience is the discovery of neurogenesis: as the brain ages it creates new neurons.

    Arthur C. Clarke teleports to L.A.

    January 2, 2002

    Sir Arthur C. Clarke, author of “2001, a Space Odyssey,” was teleported from his home in Sri Lanka to the Arthur C. Clarke 2001 Gala on November 15 in Los Angeles, sponsored by The Space Frontier Foundation.

    Travel restrictions prevented Clarke from actually attending but Teleportec’s technology allowed him to join the party and interact with the audience as if he were actually there.… read more

    Cancer: Is a cure within reach?

    January 2, 2002

    The field of cancer is undergoing a sea change, thanks to the genetics revolution that has uncovered many of the defects responsible for causing the disease. Using the latest molecular biology techniques to home in on cancer’s genetic roots, doctors are starting to halt precancerous growths before tumors ever develop and to target cancers that have already started to grow with a precision unimaginable just a decade ago.Some of the… read more

    Top KurzweilAI.net News of 2001

    January 3, 2002

    In its first year of operation, KurzweilAI.net has chronicled the notable news stories on accelerating intelligence. And now we’ve selected the most important of these 724 news stories.

    These serve to document the key breakthroughs for 2001 in continued exponential growth of computation, communication, and other information-based technologies; comparable acceleration in efforts to reverse-engineer the human brain and other sources of the templates of intelligence; similar growth in… read more

    Scientists build DNA nano-devices

    January 4, 2002

    New York University researchers claim to have taken a major step in building more controllable machines from DNA. The researchers say that the new device may help build the foundation for the development of sophisticated machines at a molecular scale, ultimately evolving to the development of nano-robots that might some day build new molecules, computer circuits or fight infectious diseases.
    The research team was led by NYU chemistry professor Nadrian… read more

    Bionic Eyes

    January 5, 2002

    Using space technology, scientists have developed extraordinary ceramic photocells that could repair malfunctioning human eyes.

    Scientists at the NASA-sponsored Space Vacuum Epitaxy Center (SVEC) in Houston are experimenting with thin, photosensitive ceramic films that respond to light much as rods and cones do. Arrays of such films, they believe, could be implanted in human eyes to restore lost vision by serving as substitutes for bad rods and cones.… read more

    Injectable chip opens door to ‘human bar code’

    January 7, 2002

    The VeriChip, a controversial radio-frequency identification chip (RFID), injected through a syringe, could be used as a sort of “human bar code” in security and medical applications.

    Applied Digital Solutions initially plans to sell the chips in South America and Europe for use with pacemakers and defibrillators. Medical personnel could identify and monitor a patient’s implanted devices merely by running a handheld scanner over the patient’s chest.… read more

    20 factors that will change PCs in 2002

    January 8, 2002

    PC World picked 20 trends and technologies that will have the greatest impact on personal computing for business and home use in the coming year or more.
    They include 400GB hard drives, the 1-GHz palmtop, organic-light-emitting diodes to replace LCDs, multimedia instant messaging, high-speed wireless networks in office and home, markup languages for everything, hyper-threading (a more efficient way to use processing power), a third-generation bus that’s ten times… read more

    Solid stops light

    January 8, 2002

    A crystal that holds light could facilitate quantum computing.
    Researchers in the United States and Korea have brought light to a complete standstill in a crystal. The pulse is effectively held within the solid, ready to be released at a later stage.

    This trick could be used to store information in a quantum computer.

    Normal computers store information in simple binary form (1′s and 0′s) in electronic and… read more

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