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High-speed robots

November 10, 2005

MIT researchers have proposed a method of making robotic muscles 1,000 times faster than human muscles, with virtually no extra energy demands and the added bonus of a simpler design.

The artificial muscles would be achieved by actuating conjugated polymers on command by sending charges to specific locations in the polymer chain in the form of solitons (charge density waves) that are activated by shining a light of a… read more

The bioweapon is in the post

November 9, 2005

It would not be difficult for a terrorist to obtain complete genes for deadly biological weapon from several biotech firms online, and receive them by mail within weeks without customer screening or investigation, according to a New Scientist investigation.

It raises the frightening prospect of terrorists mail-ordering genes for key bioweapon agents such as smallpox, and using them to engineer new and deadly pathogens.

MIT bioengineer Drew Endy… read more

Some Technologies Will Annoy

November 9, 2005

If you’re waiting for the “home of the future,” filled with talking appliances and complex networks that let all our devices communicate with each other, prepare to keep holding your breath. It’s not that those things aren’t technically possible. It’s just that if we had them, they’d irritate us.

Professional futurists weigh in.

Neural Oscillations …Still Make Waves

November 8, 2005

Synchronous oscillations (SOs) of groups of neurons could be an important extra dimension of neural communication.

A Nanotech Cure for Cancer?

November 8, 2005

The National Cancer Institute, which recently announced two waves of funding for nanotech training and research, sees nanotechnology as vital to its stated goal of “eliminating suffering and death from cancer by 2015.”

The first cancer nanotech applications will likely involve detection. Nanoparticles could recognize cancer’s molecular signatures, gathering the proteins produced by cancerous cells or signaling the presence of telltale genetic changes.

New “Chip” Could Provide Quick Bird Flu Test

November 8, 2005

A new “chip” can test for 11 different influenza strains, including avian flu, in less than a quarter of the time it now takes to diagnose flu in patients.

Samples from suspected human cases of H5N1 are now sent to central laboratories for confirmation, but that takes days. Doctors need to know sooner so they can give patients antiviral drugs within 48 hours to lessen the severity of the… read more

A Special Drug Just for You, at the End of a Long Pipeline

November 8, 2005

The age of personalized medicine is on the way. Increasingly, experts say, therapies will be tailored for patients based on their genetic makeup or other medical measurements. That will allow people to obtain drugs that would work best for them and avoid serious side effects.

U. makes a healing ‘bio-paper’

November 8, 2005

An emerging branch of medicine called “organ printing” takes a patient’s own healthy cells and uses a printer, cell-based “bio-ink” and “bio-paper” to create tissue to repair a damaged organ.

A new NSF-funded study will try first to print blood vessels and cardiovascular networks. Once they prove it can be done, the scientists will look at more complex organs such as livers and kidneys and simpler but more mechanical… read more

Amazon creates artificial artificial intelligence

November 7, 2005

Amazon.com has launched a new program called Amazon Mechanical Turk, through which a computer can ask humans to perform tasks that it can’t do itself, such as identifying objects in photographs.

Researchers Look to Create a Synthesis of Art and Science for the 21st Century

November 7, 2005

Artists play an equal role with research scientists in the futuristic research “collaboratory” being assembled by astrophysicist Larry Smarr, director of the California Institute for Telecommunications and Information Technology, or Calit2, a $400 million research consortium assembled over the last five years.

One current project is to create a pack of “feral” robotic dogs with artificial intelligence capabilities and let them loose in a San Diego neighborhood. The robots… read more

Fab Labs Unshackle Imaginations

November 7, 2005

Advocates of “Fab Labs” think they have the potential to vastly expand the creative powers of tinkerers and usher in a revolution in do-it-yourself design and manufacturing that can empower even the smallest of communities.

MIT’s Center for Bits and Atoms began setting up Fab Labs three years ago as free community resources, using part of a $12.5 million National Science Foundation grant and local financing.

Each lab… read more

Just Googling It Is Striking Fear Into Companies

November 7, 2005

Google’s recent moves have stirred concern in industries from book publishing to telecommunications. Businesses already feeling the Google effect include advertising, software and the news media, real estate and auto sales.

Google could extend its economic reach in the next few years as more people get high-speed Internet service and cellphones become full-fledged search tools, according to analysts. And ever-smarter software, they say, will cull and organize larger and… read more

xMax sparks low power wireless revolution

November 7, 2005

xG Technology has demonstrated wireless broadband 1000 times more efficient than WiMax, and claims the technique could also make wireless LANs that will run for years on watch batteries and could allow anyone to set up as a wireless ISP.

The robot that thinks like you…

November 4, 2005

“Scientists built a robot that thinks like we do and set it loose to explore the world. New Scientist discovers what happened next

“The infant crawls across a floor strewn with blocks, grabbing and tasting as it goes, its malleable mind impressionable and hungry to learn. Before my eyes it is already adapting, discovering that the striped blocks are yummy and the spotted ones taste bad.

“Its exploration… read more

Robert Moog (1934-2005)

November 4, 2005

Motivated by a love for invention and for interacting with the musicians who used his technology, the synthesizer whiz had a profound impact on the music world, as Ray Kurzweil notes.

“In the 20th century, musical devices went beyond such natural ones (which were sometimes electrically amplified) to fully embrace high technology in the form of electronic music synthesis. The first synthesizers appeared in the early 1900s, but they… read more

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