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Humanoid avatar plays a competitive game of table tennis

January 4, 2007

Scientists have designed and built an immersive table tennis simulation that allows a human to compete against a computer.

The objective was to determine how quick a response time virtual reality systems could achieve using standard hardware components, and with a high immersion quotient, making human players forget they are in a virtual environment.

It’s Alive!

January 4, 2007

Furby inventor Caleb Chung wants to create “an artificial life-form” — something that looks eerily alive and is affected by its environment.

Pleo, a tiny dinosaur, begins as a baby, and its personality is forged by how you treat it. If it uses a high-pitched squeak and you feed it, it will learn to repeat that noise to get fed. Be nice to it and it will become mellow… read more

Hearing Machines

January 4, 2007

While hearing in machines lags far behind vision in machines, the potential is great, and researchers are beginning to make impressive progress.

Nanoscale Cubes and Spheres

January 4, 2007

University of Minnesota have developed a new process for the production of nanoscopic cubes and spheres of silicon dioxide. Instead of building their particles from smaller units, they used the controlled disassembly of larger, lattice-like structures.

Porous nano-objects with defined sizes and structures are particularly interesting, for example, as capsules for enzymes, a means of transport for pharmaceutical agents, or building blocks for larger nanostructures.

Time past, time future intricately connected in the brain: study

January 4, 2007

Researchers from Washington University have used advanced brain imaging techniques to show that remembering the past and envisioning the future may go hand-in-hand, with each process sparking strikingly similar patterns of activity within precisely the same broad network of brain regions.

“Results of this study offer a tentative answer to a longstanding question regarding the evolutionary usefulness of memory,” says Kathleen McDermott, an associate professor of psychology. “It may… read more

The DNA so dangerous it does not exist

January 4, 2007

Boise State University researchers are searching for “primes”: DNA sequences and chains of amino acids so dangerous to life that they do not exist.

They have identified more than 60,000 primes of 15 nucleotides in length and 746 protein “peptoprime” strings of five amino acids that have never been reported in any species, and that represent the largest possible set of lethal sequences.

The next step is to… read more

Inside Seagate’s R&D Labs

January 3, 2007

Recording hard-disk data perpendicular to the plane of the media is expected to peak out at about 1 terabit per square inch. In the next decade, Seagate plans to introduce twin technologies that could offer 50 terabits per square inch.

On a standard 3.5-inch drive, that’s equivalent to 300 terabits of information, enough to hold the uncompressed contents of the Library of Congress.

Nanoparticle Implant Measures Tumor Growth, Treatment

January 3, 2007

An implant containing nanoparticles that can test for different substances and now being developed at MIT could one day help doctors rapidly monitor the growth of tumors and the progress of chemotherapy in cancer patients.

French marchers say ‘non’ to 2007

January 2, 2007

Hundreds of protesters in France have rung in the New Year by a protest, calling on governments and the UN to stop time’s “mad race” and declare a moratorium on the future.

Cows Engineered to Lack Mad Cow Disease

January 2, 2007

Scientists have genetically engineered a dozen cows to be free from the proteins that cause mad cow disease, a breakthrough that may make the animals immune to the brain-wasting disease.

Free Will: Now You Have It, Now You Don’t

January 2, 2007

In making decisions, the conscious brain is only playing catch-up to what the unconscious brain was already doing, Benjamin Libet, a physiologist at the University of California, San Francisco, has found from his research.

Daniel C. Dennett, a philosopher and cognitive scientist at Tufts University, is one of many who have tried to redefine free will in a way that involves no escape from the materialist world while still… read more

5 Disruptive Technologies To Watch In 2007

January 2, 2007

RFID, Web services, greater use of 3D displays, and the use of graphics processors for computation are among the hot technologies to watch for in 2007.

2006: A year of invention

January 2, 2007

A CD-ROM that doubles as a biological weapons detector, body-wired headphones, and a display that takes pictures while displaying images were among the interesting patents awarded in 2006.

Top 10 stories of 2006

December 29, 2006

News@nature.com’s hit-lists of hot news for 2006 include “‘Vegetative’ patient shows signs of conscious thought” and “Hawking rewrites history… backwards.”

Technique quickly identifies bacteria for food safety

December 29, 2006

Researchers at Purdue University have used a new technique to rapidly detect and precisely identify bacteria, including dangerous E. coli, without the time-consuming treatments usually required.

Called desorption electrospray ionization, or DESI, it could be used to create a new class of fast, accurate detectors for applications ranging from food safety to homeland security.

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