The Robot Evolution

November 14, 2002

MIT’s Rodney A. Brooks is among researchers leading the charge to develop a smarter and more useful artificial creature.

“What we need is low-cost dexterous manipulation,” Brooks says. “Right now we don’t even have high- cost dexterous manipulation.”

Photonic Crystals in Uniforms

November 14, 2002

Photonic crystals may one day revolutionize optics the way the semiconductor revolutionized electronics.

Optical communications systems might someday be woven into our clothing and computers might rely as much on optics as on electronics.

MIT received a $50 million contract the Defense Department to enhance the supersoldier fighting uniform with polymer threads that — by selectively reflecting or absorbing different wavelengths of light — would silently flash an… read more

New Light Shed on Unbreakable Encryption

November 14, 2002

Scientists at Northwestern University say they have harnessed the properties of light to encrypt information into code that can be cracked only one way: by breaking the physical laws of nature. There is growing interest in using quantum cryptography for commercial and military applications because of the technology’s apparent ability to guarantee invulnerability. Quantum cryptography, however, still suffers from one major limitation. As it stands today, all quantum cryptography techniques… read more

Man: 0 Machine: 1

November 15, 2002

Feng-Hsiung Hsu, who worked tirelessly for almost two decades to build IBM’s Deep Blue chess computer, demonstrates in “Behind Deep Blue” that the computer’s victory was not a matter of machine defeating man, but rather the advancement of a powerful tool assembled by human beings.

Earth Simulator is world’s fastest computer installation

November 15, 2002

“The Earth Simulator” in Yokohama, Japan, with a performance of 35.86 Tflop/s (teraflops per second), is the world’s fastest computer installation, according to the TOP500 List for November 2002, released today.

Surgical Tags Plan for Sex Offenders

November 15, 2002

Britain is considering a controversial scheme to implant surgically electronic tags in convicted pedophiles amid fears that the extent of the abuse of children has been massively underestimated. The government could then track pedophiles by satellite, with a system similar to that used to locate stolen cars. The tags can be put beneath the skin under local anesthetic and would also be able to monitor the heart rate and blood… read more

The future of the digital home: Gates at COMDEX

November 18, 2002

At COMDEX today, Bill Gates presented Microsoft’s plan to introduce digital-home “smart” products that are cheaper, more powerful and more portable, from a digital alarm clock to portable monitors that can remotely access a PC from throughout the home.

“At the end of the decade, a terabyte will be the typical storage on a personal computer,” Gates said. Hundreds of gigabytes of data will be able to be stored… read more

Polymers enable ultrafast data transport

November 18, 2002

Scientists at Bell Laboratories’ Lucent Technologies have demonstrated the use of polymers as optical modulators for future fiber-optic communication systems. The devices would be capable of up to 200 GHz transmission, 20 times faster than today’s commercial modulators.

Businesses, Big and Small, Bet on Wireless Internet Access

November 18, 2002

The wireless Internet, based on low-cost Wi-Fi technology, may be the next Silicon Valley success story. Intel, I.B.M. and AT&T are exploring the creation of a Wi-Fi-based network of networks in metropolitan areas across the nation, code-named Project Rainbow. It could put high-speed Internet access within easy reach of Web surfers in most urban areas amd make traditional communications business obsolete.

Supercomputer to Use Optical Fibers

November 18, 2002

The California Institute for Telecommunications and Information Technology plans to announce on Monday a campus-wide supercomputer woven together with optical fibers at the University of California at San Diego.

An example of a new trend in advanced computing known as grid computing, the “optiputer” will initially consist of about 500 processors linked via an optical switching system that will permit parts of the computer to share information at the… read more

Remote control brain sensor

November 18, 2002

Scientists at the Centre for Physical Electronics at the University of Sussex have developed a sensor that can record brainwaves without the need for electrodes to be inserted into the brain or even placed on the scalp.

The new method may enable real-time electrical imaging of the brain could allow for controlling machinery with thoughts alone.

Researchers Laud Robot-guided Heart Surgery

November 18, 2002

Robotic heart surgery using the da Vinci Surgical System has many advantages for patients and doctors, according to research presented to cardiologists at the annual Scientific Sessions of the American Heart Association. The robotic technique requires four puncture wounds, each an inch in diameter. Surgeons use pencil-sized instruments to operate on the heart. They sit several feet away from the patient at a console where they see inside the patient… read more

Ray Kurzweil’s Plan: Never Die

November 18, 2002

Ray Kurzweil has a personal plan for eternal life: don’t die (counting on a low-carb diet, supplements and accelerating medical advances).

“If you combine the knowledge today with the observation that we’re actually on the knee of the curve in terms of acceleration of knowledge and these technologies, and that the full blossoming of the biotech revolution will be here within a couple decades, we can remain healthy through… read more

Fossil unveils wrist-worn Palm OS PDA

November 19, 2002

Fossil will introduce the world’s first Palm-powered wristwatch in mid-2003, with 33 MHz processor, 2 MB RAM, 160 x 160 pixel/16-level grayscale display, IrDA 1.2-compatible infrared port, miniature stylus, and USB interface to PCs.

Black Holes Are Double Trouble for Galaxy

November 19, 2002

Two monstrous black holes are jostling for power in the same galaxy, the Chandra X-ray satellite has revealed. The pair will slam into each other in a few hundred million years, giving the fabric of space-time a good shake. “Today for the first time, thanks to the Chandra X-ray observatory’s unparalleled ability to spot black holes, we see something that is a harbinger of a cataclysmic event to come,” said… read more

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