science + technology news

A quiet death for bold project to map the mind

March 19, 2007

DARPA has killed the BICA (Biologically Inspired Cognitive Architectures) project to reverse-engineer the human brain.

The brain effort linked experts from neuroscience, cognitive psychology, robotics and artificial intelligence, who wanted to replicate how different parts of the brain interact.

“In some ways, it was like a Manhattan project or the Apollo project. Building a brain is a big task,” said Randall O’Reilly, an associate professor at the University… read more

Robot Code of Ethics to Prevent Android Abuse, Protect Humans

March 19, 2007

The government of South Korea is drawing up a code of ethics to prevent human abuse of robots and vice versa.

The Robot Ethics Charter will cover standards for robotics users and manufacturers, as well as guidelines on ethical standards to be programmed into robots.

The document will also deal with legal issues, such as the protection of data acquired by robots and establishing clear identification and traceability… read more

The sky is falling, really

March 19, 2007

Two potential deflection techniques for asteroids appear to work nicely together.

First we would deflect the asteroid with kinetic impact from a missile (that is, running into it); then we would use the slight pull of a “gravity tractor” — a satellite that would hover near the asteroid — to fine-tune its new trajectory to our liking.

The bad news? NASA doesn’t plan to do it.

A Single-Photon Server with Just One Atom

March 19, 2007

A team of physicists at the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics has built a single-photon server based on a single trapped neutral atom.

The high quality of the single photons and their ready availability are important for future quantum information processing experiments with single photons.

Computers Gone Wild

March 19, 2007

Symantec’s biannual “Internet Security Threat Report,” released Monday, reports that China has the highest number of botnet-infected computers, 26 percent of the world’s total. The U.S. came in second, with 14 percnet of the worldwide total.

Lunar dust ‘may harm astronauts’

March 19, 2007

Scientists are investigating the possible threat posed to astronauts by inhaling lunar dust.

A study suggests the smallest particles in lunar dust might be toxic, if comparisons with dust inhalation cases on Earth apply.

Adobe offers early peek at Apollo

March 19, 2007

Apollo, planned for the second half of this year, is designed to bridge the world of Web applications and desktop computers.

The release of the software is highly anticipated among people who develop so-called rich Internet applications, meaning Web applications that have some of the interactivity of traditional desktop applications.

Full-Mental Nudity

March 19, 2007

Until this experiment, nobody had ever tried to take a picture of free will…

John-Dylan Haynes, a brilliant researcher at Germany’s Bernstein Center for Computational Neuroscience, is using fMRI to look for that core in the brain’s medial prefrontal cortex.

Scans have also been used to identify brain signatures of disgust, drug cravings, unconscious racism, and suppressed sexual arousal, not to mention psychopathy and propensity to kill.… read more

Activity discovered at Yellowstone supervolcano

March 16, 2007

One of the largest supervolcanoes in the world lies beneath Yellowstone National Park, and activity has been increasing lately.

Science fiction movie review: Sunshine

March 16, 2007

It is 2057, and you’re being sent on a mission to the Sun, to save our ailing star from imminent death….

Catalyst could help turn CO2 into fuel

March 16, 2007

A new catalyst that can split carbon dioxide gas could allow us to use carbon from the atmosphere as a fuel source in a similar way to plants.

Artificial lymph node transplanted into mice

March 16, 2007

An artificial lymph node has been transplanted into mice, where it successfully produced immune cells.

The new form of bioengineered tissue marks a significant step towards transplanting an entire immune system into patients dying of AIDS, cancer or other diseases.

Giant Pool of Water Ice at Mars’ South Pole

March 16, 2007

Mars has enough water ice at its south pole to blanket the entire planet in more than 30 feet of water if everything thawed out.

Astronomers have solid evidence that billions of years ago water flowed over the Martian surface. And recently, evidence has pointed to a warming trend as Mars emerges from an “ice age.”

Making memories that last a lifetime

March 16, 2007

Neurobiologists have discovered a mechanism by which the constantly changing brain retains memories.

They have found that the brain co-opts DNA methylation, the same machinery by which cells stably alter their genes to specialize during embryonic development.

In this process, molecules called methyl groups are attached to genes, which switches them off. Conversely, lack of methyl groups enables the genes to remain activated.

Using drugs that inhibit… read more

D-Wave Systems makes quantum-computer video available

March 16, 2007

D-Wave Systems, Inc. has made the video of its 16-bit quantum-computer launch event at the Computer History Museum available online.

(Free registration required.)

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