science + technology news

Engineering Bacteria to Harvest Light

March 26, 2007

Commonly used lab bacteria called E. coli can be converted into light-harvesting organisms in a single genetic step, according to new research from MIT.

These findings could ultimately be used to genetically engineer bacteria that can more efficiently produce biofuels, drugs, and other chemicals.

Artificial Intelligence, With Help From the Humans

March 26, 2007

Until computers are more powerful than human brains, people will be able to sell their idle brains to the companies and people who need the special processing power that they alone possess through marketplaces like Amazon.com’s Mechanical Turk — an online service involving human workers and ChaCha — a human-assisted search company.

Jeff Bezos describes the phenomenon as “artificial artificial intelligence.”

Isotope-enhanced food may extend life

March 26, 2007

Oxford University scientists have found that nematode worms fed nutrients reinforced with natural isotopes had life spans extended by 10 percent.

With humans expected to routinely live until 100, this could add a further 10 years to human life.

Food enhanced with isotopes is thought to produce bodily constituents and DNA more resistant to detrimental processes, like free radical attack. The isotopes replace atoms in susceptible… read more

Organic is healthier

March 26, 2007

University of California, Davis researchers have proven that organically grown kiwifruit contain more health-promoting factors than those grown under conventional conditions.

It had significantly increased levels of polyphenols, the healthy compounds found in red wine and colored berries. It also had a higher overall antioxidant activity, as well as higher levels of vitamin C and important minerals compared with their conventionally grown counterparts.

Magnetic system could be key to surgery without scars

March 26, 2007

Physicians at UT Southwestern Medical Center and engineers at UT Arlington have collaborated to invent a surgical system that allows for magnetically maneuvering laparoscopic surgical tools inserted into the abdominal cavity through the bellybutton or throat.

Citizendium aims to be better Wikipedia

March 26, 2007

Citizendium, just launched, is intended to avoid the errors, juvenile vandalism, and lack of accountability of Wikipedia.

Citizendium’s volunteer contributors will be expected to provide their real names. Experts in given fields will be asked to check articles for accuracy.

The Mind-Bending New World Of Work

March 25, 2007

Motion capture is starting to transform how businesses market their products as well as design and manufacture them, with technology similar to that seen in the film “Minority Report.”

The Wiki Workplace

March 25, 2007

The information and communication technologies that are transforming media, culture, and the economy are also reshaping how companies and employees function. New social computing tools such as wikis and blogs put unprecedented communication power in the hands of employees.

Wikis, blogs, and other tools will arrive in the workplace whether companies are ready or not, as younger employees tend to develop their own self-organized networks that cut across traditional… read more

UCF researchers work on spy drones

March 23, 2007

Researchers at the University of Central Florida are working to enable droves of small, unmanned aerial vehicles to operate together in an intelligent, coordinated manner, scoping out enemy troops in combat zones.

Ultimately, flocks of spy planes could team up and pool their resources to yield a more comprehensive picture of the action below.

Robots with rhythm could rock your world

March 23, 2007

A robot blob that dances “soulfully” to different tunes could pave the way for machines that interact more naturally with human beings.

It pick out the beat in a piece of music and move along in time. It can also track the rhythmic motion of a person or another object and move in time to that.

Psychologists have shown that people are more engaging when they synchronise their… read more

Bolt-on ‘superlens’ gives microscope nanoscale vision

March 23, 2007

A “superlens” that refracts light in unconventional ways to let an optical microscope see beyond the normal limit of its vision has achieved a resolution of 70nm, or one-seventh the wavelength of the light used. This is four times better than would be possible with light alone.

Expressive robot computers

March 22, 2007

Researchers who are investigating how far a robot’s physical presence can influence people.

RoCo, the world’s first expressive computer, developed at MIT, has a monitor for a head and a simple LCD screen for a face. It expresses itself using its double-jointed neck, which is equipped with actuators that shift the monitor up and down, tilt it forward and back and swivel it from side to side,… read more

Raytheon Develops World’s First Polymorphic Computer

March 22, 2007

The world’s first computers whose architecture can adopt different forms depending on their application have been developed by Raytheon Company.

Dubbed MONARCH (Morphable Networked Micro-Architecture) and developed to address the large data volume of sensor systems as well as their signal and data processing throughput requirements, it is the most adaptable processor ever built for the Department of Defense, reducing the number of processor types required. It performs as… read more

Cheaper, More Efficient Solar Cells

March 22, 2007

Much more efficient solar cells that make solar power about as cheap as electricity from the electric grid may soon be possible as a result of technology that more efficiently captures and uses light.

StarSolar, a startup based in Cambridge, MA, aims to capture and use photons that ordinarily pass through solar cells without generating electricity. The company, which is licensing technology developed at MIT, claims that its designs… read more

Wiki used to plan wind-turbine locations

March 22, 2007

A wiki is being used in the Netherlands to plan wind turbines. The wiki, extended with a Google Maps plugin, presents maps with proposed wind turbine locations. The goal is to decide on locations for 6000 3-MegaWatt turbines, enough to provide for all electricity in the Netherlands.

When a design has gained enough support, it can become a real wind energy project, and move on to official… read more

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