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Calculating the speed of sight

July 31, 2006

University of Pennsylvania researchers have found that a guinea pig retina transfers data at about 875 kilobits per second. Human retinas have about ten times as many ganglion cells, giving a bandwidth of 8.75 megabits per second per eye, comparable to Ethernet speed.

Researchers use text mining to analyze 330,000 New York Times stories

July 31, 2006

Scientists at UC Irvine have used a text-mining technique called “topic modeling” to complete in hours a complex topic analysis of 330,000 stories published primarily by The New York Times.

Topic modeling looks for patterns of words that tend to occur together in documents, then automatically categorizes those words into topics. UCI researchers developed a technique that allows the technology to be used on huge document collections.

The… read more

Newfound Blob is Biggest Thing in the Universe

July 31, 2006

An enormous amoeba-like structure 200 million light-years wide and made up of galaxies and large bubbles of gas is the largest known object in the universe.

Some of the gas bubbles are up to 400,000 light years across. Scientists think they formed when massive stars born early in the history of the universe exploded as supernovas and blew out their surrounding gases. Another theory is that the bubbles are… read more

Japan Bests IBM in Supercomputer Stakes

July 31, 2006

The MDGrape-3 supercomputer at Riken in Japan has been clocked at one petaflop (10^15) floating-point calculations per second — three times faster than IBM’s BlueGene/L, the current fastest supercomputer.

The MDGrape-3 will let scientists screen proteins that can potentially be used to make new drugs.

Electromagnetic space travel for bugs?

July 30, 2006

Life on planets such as Earth or Mars could have been seeded by electrically charged microbes ejected from a planet by bacteria could easily be ejected from the Earth’s gravitational field by the same electric fields that generate auroras or by magnetospheric plasmoids — at speeds capable of taking them out of the solar system and on to the planets of other stars.

Quantum leap

July 28, 2006

Quantum technology effects on the world over the next 20 years will include ubiquitous computers, a human-brain-imitating neural network and true (or near-true) artificial intelligence, and “network-enabled telepathy” (headbands with direct coupling into the right side of the brain).

Coming soon: Google on your brain

July 28, 2006

Our software and data is moving to giant remote servers connected to the Internet while other trends are taking us toward ultimate mobility.

The cellphone is becoming more like a PC while the PC is becoming more like a cellphone. In short, the next great era of computing — succeeding the PC one — will likely be about smaller, cheaper, more-powerful portable devices.

Building a Better Limb

July 28, 2006

A prosthetic arm now in development by Johns Hopkins University and DEKA Research & Development will be as flexible and attractive as a real arm.

It will sense the weight and texture of objects, give the wearer a “feel” for what the arm is doing, and be able to make 22 independent motions, as opposed to the three in current prosthetic arms.

Scientists now building the DARPA arms… read more

Mysterious quasar casts doubt on black holes

July 28, 2006

A controversial alternative to black hole theory has been bolstered by observations of an object in the distant universe, researchers say. If their interpretation is correct, it might mean black holes do not exist and are in fact bizarre and compact balls of plasma called MECOs (magnetospheric eternally collapsing objects).

‘Friendship Solar Array Project’ proposed on Mexican Border

July 27, 2006

Instead of building a wall on the USA-Mexico border just for security purposes, why not build a solar array structure that also provides electric power to border states on both sides and provides economic benefits as well?

That’s what engineer/inventor Ken Clements is proposing with his “Friendship Solar Array Project,” which could “generate about 1,500 megawatts (assuming a 1000 mile array of solar panels 30 feet wide),… read more

Droning On

July 27, 2006

As the costs of 3D printing technology continues to plummet, and the capabilities of fabber systems continue to improve, we’re heading into a world in which 4th Generation Warfare groups don’t have to rely on shipments of weapons such as attack unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), but can simply print up a batch themselves.

News tip: Mike Treder, Responsible Nanotechnology

Biocompatible carbon nanotubes developed

July 27, 2006

University of California at Berkeley and Howard Hughes Medical Institute researchers have developed a means of making CNTs biocompatible by coating them with synthetic synthetic glycopolymers that mimic mucin, the substance on cell surfaces that serves as a lubricant.

They were able to customize the coatings so that carbon nanotubes could be induced to bind only to the surfaces of specific types of cells via ligand receptors. To do… read more

Big Brother 101

July 27, 2006

By some counts, government snoops are sifting through data from a billion or more phone calls and online messages daily. What might they be looking for?

To heal a wound, turn up the voltage

July 27, 2006

Electric fields applied to the skin could potentially speed up wound healing, Institute of Molecular Biotechnology and University of Aberdeen researchers have found.

Surfing the Web with nothing but brainwaves

July 27, 2006

“Network-enabled telepathy” — instant thought transfer between brains via tiny computers in headbands and networks — is one extension of current research in neurodevices, says Stu Wolf, a top scientist at DARPA.

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