science + technology news

Animation tool puts you in the frame, or the game

March 13, 2007

A 3D animation technique that could take the hard work out of acting has been developed by German researchers.

It allows for directly animating 3D laser scans of people, using the motion of another individual collected using motion capture or using the pre-programmed motion of another character.

Can computers make life-or-death medical decision?

March 13, 2007

A simple formula can predict how people would want to be treated in dire medical situations as accurately as their loved ones can, say researchers.

Kurzweil issued patent for AI poetry-writing software

March 12, 2007

Ray Kurzweil has been issued the first patent for AI software capable of writing poetry.

United States Patent 7,184,949, “Basic poetry generation,” issued February 27, 2007, covers “a method of analyzing an author’s work, including reading a text file, generating an analysis model from the text file and storing the analysis model…a linked data structure.”

The patent has been assigned to Kurzweil CyberArt Technologies, Inc., which… read more

Tracking of Killer Asteroids Runs Low on Money and Short on Time

March 12, 2007

NASA can find and track most of the nearby asteroids that could hit and damage the Earth, but there is not enough money in its budget to finish the project within a 15-year deadline mandated by Congress.

There are about 20,000 asteroids and comets orbiting relatively close to our planet that could deliver blows ranging from destroying cities to ending all life.

Nanoparticle Research Offers Hope of Artificial Retinas, Prostheses

March 12, 2007

The world’s first direct electrical link between nerve cells and photovoltaic nanoparticle films has been achieved by researchers at the University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston and the University of Michigan.

The development opens the door to applying the unique properties of nanoparticles to a wide variety of light-stimulated nerve-signaling devices–including the possible development of a nanoparticle-based artificial retina.

Peering into Video’s Future

March 12, 2007

Video applications already account for more than 60 percent of Internet traffic, says CacheLogic. “I imagine that within two years it will be 98 percent,” adds Hui Zhang, a computer scientist at Carnegie Mellon University. And that will mean slower downloads for everyone.

Zhang believes help could come from an unexpected quarter: peer-to-peer (P2P) file distribution technology.

Scientists say nerves use sound, not electricity

March 12, 2007

Copenhagen University researchers theorize that propagation of sonic solitons is a much more likely explanation for propagation of signal in neurons than electrical impulses.

The physicists say because the nerve membrane is made of a material similar to olive oil that can change from liquid to solid through temperature variations, they can freeze and propagate the solitons.

The scientists, whose work is in the Biophysical Society’s Biophysical Journal,… read more

Worldwide warning issued on mercury-contaminated fish

March 12, 2007

The health risks posed by mercury contaminated fish is sufficient to warrant issuing a worldwide general warning to the public–especially children and women of childbearing age–to be careful about how much and which fish they eat.

The declaration, developed at the Eighth International Conference on Mercury as a Global Pollutant, is a synopsis of the latest scientific knowledge about the danger posed by mercury pollution.

It… read more

Low-cost screening method may lead to personalized diagnostic therapy

March 12, 2007

MIT researchers have created an inexpensive method to screen for millions of different biomolecules (DNA, proteins, etc.) in a single sample–a technology that could make possible the development of low-cost clinical bedside diagnostics.

The researchers’ particle fabrication method gives them exquisite control over the particles’ shape and chemical characteristics. As two streams of monomers (liquid precursors loaded with fluorescent dye or molecular probe) flow side by side… read more

Subliminal advertising leaves its mark on the brain

March 12, 2007

University College London researchers have found the first physiological evidence that invisible subliminal images do attract the brain’s attention on a subconscious level.

Using fMRI to detect the impact on brain activity in the primary visual cortex, they found subjects’ brains did respond to the object even when they were not conscious of having seen it.

“These findings point to the sort of impact that subliminal… read more

Gold nanorods assemble themselves into rings

March 12, 2007

Rice University chemists have discovered that gold nanorods spontaneously assemble themselves into ring-like superstructures.

The finding could potentially lead to the development of novel nanodevices like highly sensitive optical sensors, superlenses, and even invisible objects for use in the military.

US struggles to ensure funds aid fight against bioterrorism

March 12, 2007

More than five years after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, the government cannot show how the $5 billion given to public health departments has better prepared the country for a bioterrorism attack or flu pandemic.

Study Probes Odor, Sleep and Memory Link

March 12, 2007

Researchers have found that an odor smelled while in deep sleep might help consolidate some kinds of memory if the same odor was used during learning.

AI Cited for Unlicensed Practice of Law

March 9, 2007

A web-based “expert system” that helped users prepare bankruptcy filings for a fee made too many decisions to be considered a clerical tool, a California appeals court said last week, ruling that the software was effectively practicing law without a license.

Will Biology Solve the Universe?

March 9, 2007

A new theory by Robert Lanza, vice president of research and scientific development at Advanced Cell Technology, asserts that biology, not physics, will be the key to unlocking the deepest mysteries of the universe, such as quantum mechanics.

“For the first time outside of complex mathematics, this theory explains the provocative new experiment that was just published in Science last month,” he said. “This landmark experiment showed that a… read more

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