science + technology news

Almost Human, and Sometimes Smarter

April 17, 2007

Chimps display a remarkable range of behavior and talent. They make and use simple tools, hunt in groups and engage in aggressive, violent acts. They are social creatures that appear to be capable of empathy, altruism, self-awareness, cooperation in problem solving and learning through example and experience. Chimps even outperform humans in some memory tasks.

Solar Cells That Work All Day

April 17, 2007

Georgia Tech Research Institute researchers have developed solar cells designed to operate at relatively high efficiencies during much of the day.

Its surface consists of hundreds of thousands of 100-micrometer-high towers that catch light at many angles.

A first application is powering spacecraft and satellites, which could benefit from solar cells that don’t require a failure-prone mechanical means of moving the orientation of the cell to keep it… read more

Extreme-living bacteria has genome sequenced

April 17, 2007

The bacterium Syntrophus aciditrophicus, one of the most extreme-survival organisms ever discovered, has had its genome sequenced.

The bacterium performs a key part of the global carbon cycle by breaking down fatty acids in organic matter – a very limited diet consumed by almost no other organisms. The genes now discovered making up its genome are providing clues as to how it survives, and might even improve the efficiency… read more

Learn Like A Human

April 16, 2007

Hierarchical Temporal Memory (HTM) is a novel approach to building “intelligent” machines by modeling the human neocortex, selected by Numenta because it is responsible for almost all high-level thought and perception.

You don’t program an HTM as you would a computer; rather you configure it with software tools, then train it by exposing it to sensory data. HTMs thus learn in much the same way that children do.

Fun and profit with obsolete computers

April 16, 2007

Even as the power and speed of today’s computers make their forerunners look ever punier, a growing band of collectors are gathering retro computers, considering them important relics and even good investments.

In an old barn in Northern California that also houses pigs, Bruce Damer, 45, keeps a collection that includes a Cray-1 supercomputer, a Xerox Alto (an early microcomputer introduced in 1973) and early Apple prototypes.

“For… read more

Post Mortal Syndrome

April 16, 2007

COSMOS Magazine On-line has posted the first of 56 episodes of POST MORTAL SYNDROME, an sf thriller about life- and intelligence-extension by Damien Broderick and Barbara Lamar, available for free download.

“It’s allegorical rather than scientifically exact, a sort of optimistic answer to ‘Flowers for Algernon,’ and is an attempt to reach (and entertain) a large non-specialist audience with some upbeat transhumanist ideas,” Broderick told… read more

Nigerian students power up their laptops

April 16, 2007

The One Laptop Per Child (OLPC) program in Africa and the Middle East has chosen a school 10 miles outside Nigeria’s capital, Abuja, to deploy the company’s first child-friendly laptops in the region.

New Laws of Robotics proposed for US kill-bots

April 16, 2007

Updating Isaac Asimov’s three laws of robotics, a new set of laws has been proposed to govern operations by killer robots.

John S. Canning, an engineer at the US Naval Surface Warfare Center, proposes that robot warriors should be allowed to mix it up among themselves freely, autonomously deciding to blast enemy weapon systems, but permission from a human operator should be sought for targeting humans.

Retinal implant learns to polish the picture

April 15, 2007

Software that can be taught to refine the information sent from a bionic eye to its wearer is being trialled in Germany.

Rolf Eckmiller, a computer scientist at Bonn University, says the secret to improving these implants is to match the signals they produce with the signals that a healthy eye sends to the brain.

In their system, a camera feeds information to a “retina encoder” –software that… read more

Research monkey’s genetic code deciphered

April 15, 2007

Scientists have unraveled the DNA of the rhesus macaque monkey, with the surprising finding that diseases where the same genetic mutation that makes people ill, seem normal for the macaques, despite the fact that they share about 93 percent of their DNA with humans.

The work raises some important biomedical questions, because rhesus macaques are ubiquitous in medical research. Most vaccines and many drugs are tested in the monkeys… read more

Researchers Explore Scrapping Internet

April 15, 2007

Researchers say the time has come to rethink the Internet’s underlying architecture, a “clean slate” that could mean replacing networking equipment and rewriting software on computers to better channel future traffic over the existing pipes, support mobile users and sensors, and deal with hackers.

The National Science Foundation wants to build an experimental research network known as the Global Environment for Network Innovations, or GENI, and is funding several… read more

US military plans to put internet router in space

April 15, 2007

The US military plans to test an internet router in space, in a project that could also benefit civilian broadband satellite communications.

Potential non-military benefits of DoD’s Internet Routing In Space (IRIS) program include the ability to route IP traffic between satellites in space in much the same way packets are moved on the ground, reducing delays, saving on capacity and offering greater networking flexibility.

TED conference makes videos available free online

April 15, 2007

TED, known for its annual invitation-only summit of the “world’s brightest minds,” today made high-resolution videos of more than 100 full-length TED talks available free on its new website.’s impressive new design includes an innovative custom video player. Shown here (click to play): Ray Kurzweil’s TED 2006 talk, “How technology’s accelerating power will transform us”)

This is an important moment in TED’s history,”… read more

Quantum Secrets of Photosynthesis Revealed

April 13, 2007

A new discovery in emulating photosynthesis may allow for creating artificial versions of photosynthesis that would help convert solar to chemical energy at very high efficiency.

Through photosynthesis, green plants and cyanobacteria are able to transfer sunlight energy to molecular reaction centers for conversion into chemical energy with nearly 100-percent efficiency. Speed is the key — the transfer of the solar energy takes place almost instantaneously so little energy… read more

Propellers for Microrobots

April 12, 2007

Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Researchers have developed a novel form of propulsion for microrobots that mimics the way bacteria zip about using corkscrew-like appendages called flagella.

Tests show that the tiny rotating nanocoils–just 27 nanometers thick and 40 micrometers long–are capable of spinning at 60 revolutions per minute and that it is possible to propel an object at nearly 5 micrometers per second.

Such propulsion could be… read more

close and return to Home