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A Sci-Fi Future Awaits the Court

September 22, 2005

At John Roberts’ confirmation hearings last week, there weren’t enough discussions about science fiction. Technologies that are science fiction today will become constitutional questions before Roberts retires from the bench. The same goes for technologies that cannot even be conceived of now. And many of these questions involve privacy.

A search engine for the human body

March 14, 2011

Body Scan

A new search tool developed by researchers at Microsoft indexes medical images of the human body, automatically finding organs and other structures, using 3D medical imagery.

CT scans use X-rays to capture many slices through the body that can be combined to create a 3D representation. This is a powerful tool for diagnosis, but it’s difficult to navigate.

The new search tool indexes scanned data and lists the… read more

A Search Service that Can Peer into the Future

August 25, 2010

timeexplorer

Yahoo’s Barcelona research lab has launched a prototype news search engine called Time Explorer that could evolve into an effective  forecasting tool.

The prototype of Time Explorer was built using a collection of 1.8 million articles released by the New York Times stretching from 1987 to 2007 to stimulate research into new ways of exploring news coverage. Time Explorer generatesread more

A ‘second skin’ military fabric to repel chemical and biological agents

November 29, 2012

Polymer material (credit: Kenneth Carter/University of Massachusetts Amherst)

Military uniforms of the future may offer a new layer of critical protection to wearers, thanks to research by teams at the University of Massachusetts Amherst and several other institutions who are developing a nanotube-based fabric that repels chemical and biological agents.

The researchers say the fabric will be able to switch reversibly from a highly breathable state to a protective one inread more

A secure, private internet and cloud at the tactical edge

August 26, 2013

soldier

DARPA has developed a “private Internet” system that allows soldiers or marines on patrol to quickly share current intelligence information and imagery on their mobile devices, instead of waiting until they are back at camp to access a central server.

Called Content-Based Mobile Edge Networking (CBMEN), the program provides an alternative approach to the top-down focus of most military networks.… read more

A Self-Writing To-Do List

June 11, 2008

A new generation of free online schedulers uses natural-language processing to interpret spoken commands and ordinary written sentences to build calendars and personal organizers.

The organizers are part of an emerging trend away from graphical user interfaces (which can disrupt the work flow) to the ease and simplicity of text-based computing enhanced with natural-language processing.

A semiconductor DNA sequencer

July 22, 2011

Ion Torrent

Startup Ion Torrent has launched its new semiconductor-based sequencing machine — at $50,000, a comparatively inexpensive device.

Most advanced sequencing technologies rely on fluorescently tagged molecules and a microscope to sequence DNA. At the heart of Ion Torrent’s machine are sequencing chips that detect DNA sequences electronically.

This approach removes the need for expensive lasers and cameras. The chips are made in the same semiconductor fabs as computer… read more

A Sharper Future for Retinal Implants

February 2, 2011

hippocampalneuralcells

Research at the Italian Institute of Technology suggests a way to make higher-quality, more biocompatible retinal implants by integrating living neural cells with a soft organic polymer semiconductor. It could lead to a retinal implant that produces much clearer vision.

The researchers grew neural cells in a petri dish directly on top of the polymer. Light shined on the polymer activates the photodiodes, which stimulate individual neurons… read more

A Shift in the Debate Over Global Warming

April 6, 2008

With recent data showing an unexpected rise in global emissions and a decline in energy efficiency, a growing chorus of economists, scientists and students of energy policy are saying that whatever benefits a cap on greenhouse gas emissions yields, it will be too little and come too late.

A Shortcut Through Time: The Path to the Quantum Computer

June 9, 2003

A Shortcut Through Time: The Path to the Quantum Computer by George Johnson (Knopf, 2003) aims to explain how a quantum computer would work to nonspecialists.

The book uses “clocks, tops, and waves to explain a Tinkertoy version of quantum computing that quickly gets the reader involved and hungry to learn more,” according to a review in the June 6 Science.

“The science in the book is fairly… read more

A Silver Coating in the Fight Against Microbes

May 5, 2008

City College of New York researchers have developed paint containing silver nanoparticles, which can kill bacteria and other microbes, and are recommending that hospitals paint their walls and countertops to fight infection.

Bacteria cannot build up resistance to silver nanoparticles as they can to antibiotics, because the nanoparticles destroy the physical structure of cells.

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), more than one… read more

A Simple Plan

May 2, 2001

The Simputer (Simple Inexpensive Mobile Computer), a computer priced and designed for the billions of people without access to computers, has been developed by India-based Simputer Trust.

The prototype features Intel chip, 32 MB of RAM, 16 MB of flash memory, Linux OS, multilingual text-to-speech, picture-based touch-sensitive screen, Palm-like grafitti writing and Internet access via phone line, with a target retail price of $200.

A simple way to cloak objects at microwave frequencies to improve transmission

October 8, 2012

sylinteri

A metal object can be made invisible to to electromagnetic radiation at microwave frequencies by approximately 70 per cent with the help of ordinary plastic, Aalto University researchers have shown.

In practical terms, this means that electromagnetic waves travelling, for example, between two antennas, do not detect an object located in their path, allowing the waves to travel the distance between them despite the obstacle, without any disruption… read more

A simple, non-invasive gene therapy restores sight

Can now safely insert repair genes into photoreceptors in the fine-vision fovea
June 14, 2013

intravitreal_injection2

UC Berkeley researchers have developed an new method for inserting genes into retina cells that is easier and more effective, It could greatly expand gene therapy to help restore sight to patients with blinding diseases ranging from inherited defects like retinitis pigmentosa to degenerative illnesses of old age, such as macular degeneration.

Unlike current treatments, the new procedure delivers genes to hard-to-reach cells throughout the entire retina,… read more

A Simpler, Gentler Robotic Grip

September 28, 2009

(Leif Jentoft)

A simple, soft robotic hand that can grab a range of objects delicately and automatically adjust its fingers to get a good grip has been developed by researchers from Harvard and Yale Universities, and might also be useful as a prosthetic arm.

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