science + technology news

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

Salamander robot uses ‘spinal cord’ to move

March 9, 2007

A robotic salamander with an electric “spinal cord” that controls both its walking and swimming has been developed by researchers at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology.

It could be a forerunner of robots with movements coordinated by an artificial nervous systems, they claim.

Geological knowledge to go online

March 9, 2007

British scientists are leading an international effort, OneGeology, to bring together all the known geological information about every country in the world.

By making the data freely available on the Internet and allowing researchers to track geological features across national boundaries, the project will make it easier to plan international projects, predict earthquakes, and locate natural resources such as oil and gas.

Omega-3s may affect mood and behavior

March 9, 2007

Omega-3 fatty acids are associated with increased gray matter volume in areas of the brain commonly linked to mood and behavior, according to a University of Pittsburgh study.

The researchers discovered that participants who had high levels of long-chain omega-3 fatty acid intake had higher volumes of gray matter in areas of the brain associated with emotional arousal and regulation — the bilateral anterior cingulate cortex, the… read more

Robotic age poses ethical dilemma

March 7, 2007

The Robot Ethics Charter, an ethical code to prevent humans abusing robots, and vice versa, is being drawn up by South Korea.

“The government plans to set ethical guidelines concerning the roles and functions of robots as robots are expected to develop strong intelligence in the near future,” the ministry of Commerce, Industry and Energy said.

Coffee ‘no boost in the morning’

March 7, 2007

University of Bristol researchers say caffeine eases withdrawal symptoms that build up overnight, but does not make people more alert than normal.

The work showed that only people who have avoided coffee for a while will get a buzz from caffeine.

Nano-Batteries That Keep On Going

March 7, 2007

Leveraging nanotechnology research initiated at MIT, A123 Systems has commercially developed a new generation of lithium-ion batteries that deliver up to 10 times longer cycle life, five times more power and dramatically faster charge times over conventional high-power battery technology.

Venture Capitalists Want to Put Some Algae in Your Tank

March 7, 2007

United States venture capital flowing into clean energy leapfrogged to more than $2.4 billion in 2006, well more than double that invested in 2005, and more than triple from 2004.

The ascent of venture capital in renewable energy has reminded some Silicon Valley venture capitalists of the early flow of money into the Internet in the mid-1990s.

Searching for Michael Jordan? Microsoft Wants a Better Way

March 7, 2007

Microsoft has announced plans for new web search technologies.

Mix will allow Web surfers to organize search results and easily share them.

Web Assistant is intended to improve the relevance of search results and help resolve ambiguities in results.

Personalized Search will help determine relevance of search results.

Connecting Your Brain to the Game

March 7, 2007

Emotiv Systems has announced that video-game makers are able to buy Emotiv’s electro-encephalograph (EEG) caps and software developer’s tool kits so that they can build games that, they claim, can use the electrical signals from a player’s brain to control the on-screen action.

However, biomedical experts are skeptical because of problems with lead coupling and transients and interference from strong signals from muscles in the head.

NASA can’t pay for killer asteroid hunt

March 7, 2007

NASA officials say the space agency is capable of finding nearly all the asteroids that might pose a devastating hit to Earth, but there isn’t enough money to pay for the task so it won’t get done.

The cost to find at least 90 percent of the 20,000 potentially hazardous asteroids and comets by 2020 would be about $1 billion, according to a report NASA will release later this… read more

Syria ready with bio-terror if U.S. hits Iran

March 6, 2007

Jill Bellamy-Dekker, an American biodefense analyst living in Europe, says if the U.S. invades Iran to halt its nuclear ambitions, Syria is ready to respond with biological weapons, using a variation of smallpox.

She referenced an April 2000 article published by Syrian defense minister General Mustafa Talas, titled “Biological (Germ) Warfare: A New and Effective Method in Modern Warfare.”

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