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How neurons synthesize proteins from limited number of genes

August 1, 2002

Researchers at Baylor College of Medicine and UK-based Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute have identified a mechanism by which neurons can synthesize a diverse range of proteins from a relatively limited number of genes.

For the Pcdh family of proteins, the diversity is achieved by “alternative promoters and cis-alternative splicing with a low level of trans-splicing,” enabling individual neurons to express distinct combinations of Pcdh genes, and, in turn, proteins.

In an Ancient Game, Computing’s Future

August 1, 2002

Programmers working on Go — which is more complex than chess — see it as more accurate than chess in reflecting how the human mind uses pattern recognition. “Writing a strong Go program will teach us more about making computers think like people than writing a strong chess program,” says David Fotland, creator of “The Many Faces of Go” software.

REBOOTING CIVILIZATION II

August 6, 2002

On July 21, Edge held a meeting, REBOOTING CIVILIZATION II, concerned with information processing and computation as central metaphors.

It included leading scientists commenting on various “universes”: physicist Seth Lloyd (the computational universe), physicist Paul Steinhardt (the cyclic universe), physicist Alan Guth (the inflationary universe), computer scientist Marvin Minsky (the emotional universe), and technologist Ray Kurzweil (the intelligent universe).

The text and… read more

More Memory on the Way

August 6, 2002

Researchers from the University of Southern California School of Engineering have developed a 256-bits “Data IntensiVe Architecture (DIVA)” memory that puts a processor on the DRAM chip, allowing for significantly faster memory performance and eliminating the gap between CPU and memory performance.

Machine brains poised to surpass us

August 7, 2002

Ray Kurzweil believes we are fewer than 30 years away from a time when machine intelligence will surpass our own, he said, speaking at the annual conference of the American Association of Artificial Intelligence.Kurzweil predicted:

  • By 2010, computers as we know them will disappear and be embedded in our clothes and eventually our bodies.
  • Humans will be using computers embedded in the body to augment their
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    Another Dimension

    August 8, 2002

    Two chipmakers are developing 3-D chips to increase semiconductor power and speed by a factor of 10–at no additional cost.
    Tohoku University professor Fujio Masuoka, who invented flash memory, and a small team of researchers plan to have a 3-D chip ready in five years.

    Matrix Semiconductor, with has raised $80 million, says it has already created a 3-D chip that it will start selling by year-end, mainly to… read more

    Playstation 3 chip nears completion

    August 8, 2002

    IBM, Sony and Toshiba have designed a new multimedia chip called “Cell,” touted as a “supercomputer on a chip.” It is expected to be used in Playstation 3 and as future IBM server chips.

    Featuring a multiple-core-processor, the new multipurpose chip will be capable of running graphics, high-bandwidth communication, and multiple devices, and operating at one teraflop.

    Charmed by Six Feet of Circuitry

    August 8, 2002

    Grace, a six-foot autonomous robot, was the star of the recent annual meeting of the American Association for Artificial Intelligence in Canada.Grace performed successfully in the “Robot Challenge” event: start at the entrance to the conference center, take the elevator to the registration desk, register for the conference and then deliver a speech in the auditorium.

    Grace was co-developed by Carnegie Mellon University (overall hardware and software architecture), the… read more

    Black hole theory suggests light is slowing

    August 9, 2002

    Observations of the light from distant, superbright galaxies suggest that the “fine structure constant” was slightly smaller 10 billion years ago, which implies that the speed of light has decreased over time, according to Paul Davies of Macquarie University in Sydney.

    If proved right, this would challenge the theory of relativity and the theory of inflation, which says space expanded extremely rapidly in the first split second after the… read more

    Scientists unravel secrets of long life

    August 9, 2002

    Longevity is related to body temperature, and to levels of insulin and DHEAS (dehydroepiandrosterone sulphate) circulating in the blood, according to researchers at the National Institute of Ageing in Baltimore.

    Men with lower temperature and insulin and those maintaining higher DHEAS levels have greater survival than respective counterparts.

    Coherent Computing: Making qubit superpositions in superconductors last longer

    August 9, 2002

    Research teams have made critical breakthroughs in developing quantum computers. The Quantronics group at the Atomic Energy Commission (CEA) in Saclay, France, and Siyuan Han’s laboratory at the University of Kansas reported qubit chip designs with coherence times at least 100 times as great as those achieved before. Investigators at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) in Boulder, Colo., have come up with a design that they think… read more

    Only the Strong Survive

    August 12, 2002

    Santa Fe Institute research computer scientist Melanie Mitchell is studying how natural systems perform computation and says we can solve some complex problems by letting systems evolve solutions through a process of natural selection.

    Bridging the Language Gap

    August 12, 2002

    The Tongues research project at Carnegie Mellon Language Technologies Institute allows a computer to listen to speech in one language, translate it, and speak in another.

    The system includes a speech recognizer, which turns spoken words into text; a machine translator, which converts the text from one language to another; and a speech synthesizer, which turns the text back into audible words.

    Net Visionaries Seek New Vistas

    August 13, 2002

    Vinton Cerf (co-designer of the TCP/IP protocol upon which the Internet is built) is currently mapping out plans for an Interplanetary Internet.

    “Some of the ideas we’re pursuing will have utility on Earth in the mobile environment, where connectivity is often episodic and the data rates are often low and sometimes asymmetric,” Cerf said at this year’s Telluride Tech Festival in Colorado.
    Tim Berners-Lee (inventor of the Worldwide Web),… read more

    Students tackle rescue robot ‘war game’

    August 14, 2002

    Students gathered Monday around a cardboard mockup of Washington’s train station to try their hand at using robots to search for and assist terrorism victims in the aftermath of an explosion.

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