science + technology news

What Will Life Be Like in the Year 2189?

March 5, 2007

A new fictional children’s book, “21st Century Kids” by Shannon Vyff (Warren Publishing, March 2007), explores the idea that two children, killed in a car accident, are cryonically preserved and reanimated in the year 2189.

Vyff’s own children were the inspiration for the main characters in the book and served as sounding boards. They are also featured along with Vyff in an upcoming Barbara Walter’s Special, “How… read more

Europe to unplug from common light bulbs

March 5, 2007

The world’s three largest light bulb makers said they will push European consumers to switch to energy-saving compact fluorescent lamp bulbs in a bid to cut carbon dioxide emissions.

CFLs are three times as efficient as traditional bulbs and last much longer. They estimated that if all inefficient traditional incandescent bulbs sold in Europe were to be replaced with more efficient bulbs, the continent would need 27 fewer power… read more

Microscope discerns atoms of different elements

March 5, 2007

The chemical identity of individual atoms on a surface can now be determined using an atomic force microscope.

Scientists can now look at a mixed material and pick out individual atoms of different elements. The advance will allow researchers to understand the structural make-up of complex materials and help them design new ones with unusual properties.

Virtual-Reality Video Game Helps Link Depression To Specific Brain Area

March 2, 2007

Scientists are using a virtual-reality, three-dimensional video game that challenges spatial memory as a new tool for assessing the link between depression and the hippocampus, the brain’s memory hub.

Push for open access to research

March 2, 2007

Five leading European research institutions have launched a petition that calls on the European Commission to establish a new policy that would require all government-funded research to be made available to the public shortly after publication, via the Internet.

University researchers typically have published their findings in expensive, peer-reviewed publications, which were purchased by those same publicly-funded universities.

The model certainly proved lucrative for large publishers, yet resulted… read more

To Be Almost Human Or Not To Be, That Is The Question

March 2, 2007

Researchers are developing robots that will assist the elderly and disabled, but the vote is split on how human-like they should become.

Podcast: Marvin Minsky On The Future Of Artificial Intelligence

March 1, 2007

In a Dr. Dobbs podcast, AI pioneer and MIT professor Marvin Minsky examines the failures of AI research and lays out directions for future developments in the field.

Brain works more chaotically than previously thought

March 1, 2007

The brain appears to process information more chaotically than has long been assumed.

This is demonstrated by a new study conducted by scientists at the University of Bonn. The passing on of information from neuron to neuron does not, they show, occur exclusively at the synapses, i.e. the junctions between the nerve cell extensions. Rather, it seems that the neurons release their chemical messengers along the entire… read more

First direct electric link between neurons and light-sensitive nanoparticle films created

March 1, 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 (UTMB) 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.

Scientists: Data-storing bacteria could last thousands of years

March 1, 2007

Two Japanese universities have announced scientists there have developed a new technology that uses bacteria DNA as a medium for storing data long-term, even for thousands of years.

They have successfully encoded “e=mc2 1905!” on the common soil bacteria, Bacillius subtilis.

“While the technology would most likely first be used to track medication, it could also be used to store text and images for many millennia, thwarting the… read more

Graphene steps up to silicon’s challenge

March 1, 2007

University of Manchester researchers have created an atom-sized single electron transistor (SET) from a device etched out of a sheet of graphene (a two-dimensional form of carbon).

Current industry predictions suggest that by 2020 silicon devices will have shrunk to about 20 nanometres and have reached their limit in size and performance. It is only after this that materials such as graphene will come into their own. And that… read more

Let Robots Sweat the Boring Stuff

February 28, 2007

In advanced nations like Japan, populations are aging and shrinking. Combine that with ultrastrict immigration control and you get a situation in which “robomediation” makes a lot of sense.

“Personally, I wouldn’t mind living in a world in which all my routine interactions were with robots, and I kept my quality time for human beings.”

Microsoft to Buy Health Information Search Engine

February 28, 2007

Microsoft is buying Medstory Inc. Its search software applies AI techniques to deliver useful medical information to consumers from medical journals, government documents and the Internet.

Star Trek-like ‘Tricorder’ becomes science fact

February 28, 2007

Purdue University researchers have developed a portable sensing system to analyze chemical components, with “numerous promising uses for detecting everything from cancer in the liver to explosives residues on luggage and biomarkers in urine that provide an early warning for diseases.”

The device miniaturizes a mass spectrometer combined with a technique called desorption electrospray ionization.

“We like to compare it to the tricorder because it is truly a… read more

Nanotechnology Seen as Answer to Counterfeiters

February 28, 2007

A government report just released argues that the only way for the U.S. government to stay ahead of counterfeiters is to use nanotechnology.

If this happens, our money will no longer be a printed piece of paper. It will become a very thin, very high-tech machine.

“Say you snap a dollar bill between your fingers and the edges become rigid,” says Alan Goldstein, a molecular engineering professor at… read more

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