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Solar cell breakthrough claimed

December 7, 2006

A breakthrough in solar cell technology promises to make solar power a cost-competitive energy option and to reduce U.S. dependence on oil.

With funding from the Department of Energy, Boeing-Spectrolab has managed to create a solar cell with 40.7 percent sunlight-to-energy conversion efficiency, said DoE assistant secretary for energy efficiency and renewable energy Alexander Karsner.

Peering Into the Future: Genetic Testing

December 7, 2006

Genetic testing is transforming medicine — and the way families think about their health.

Today gene tests are available for more than 1,300 diseases, including cystic fibrosis and hemophilia. As genetic screening gets cheaper and faster, researchers are hunting down the biological underpinnings of more-complex disorders that involve multiple genes — illnesses that strike millions of Americans every year.

On the list: type 2 diabetes, Alzheimer’s, heart disease… read more

Stem Cells Are Where It’s At

December 6, 2006

There are now more than 1,000 stem-cell therapies in early human trials around the world.

Last month saw the first patient treated with embryonic cells, which have triggered much debate in the United States. After years of being thought of as science fiction, stem-cell therapies are becoming a scientific fact.

Pocket Projectors

December 6, 2006

Microprojector technology could let handheld gadgets like mobile phones and iPods display big pictures. The The Microvision system, composed of semiconductor lasers and a tiny mirror, will be small enough to integrate into a phone or an iPod.

Samsung’s gun-toting robot

December 5, 2006

The Intelligent Surveillance and Security Guard Robot, being developed by Samsung, will guarantee “perfect guarding operation,” in contrast with human guards who are all too prone to succumb to fatigue or inclement weather.

It has two cameras–one for daytime watch and another, infrared one for the night–and a laser rangefinder.

Have Camera Phone? Yahoo and Reuters Want You to Work for Their News Service

December 5, 2006

Hoping to turn the millions of people with digital cameras and camera phones into photojournalists, Yahoo and Reuters are introducing a new effort to showcase photographs and video of news events submitted by the public.

NASA Unveils Strategy for Return to the Moon

December 5, 2006

NASA has decided to pursue a base on the Moon. The space agency rolled out today a strategy and rationale for robotic and human exploration of the Moon, determining that a lunar outpost is the best approach to achieve a sustained, human presence on the Moon by 2020.

The Moon base would eventually support 180-day lunar stays, a stretch of time seen as the best avenue to establish a… read more

Minsky talks about life, love in the age of artificial intelligence

December 5, 2006

MIT computer science professor Marvin Minsky has written a new book, “The Emotion Machine,” in which he argues that, contrary to popular conception, emotions aren’t distinct from rational thought; rather, they are simply another way of thinking, one that computers could perform.

“Being angry is a very useful way to solve problems, for instance, by intimidating an opponent or getting rid of people who bother you,” he said.

Me Translate Pretty One Day

December 4, 2006

Over the past decade machine translation has improved dramatically, propelled by Moore’s law, a spike in federal funding in the wake of 9/11, and a new method called statistical-based MT.

Meaningful Machines, a New York firm with an ingenious algorithm and a really big dictionary, is finally cracking the code.

What Comes After Web 2.0?

December 4, 2006

Today’s primitive prototypes show that a more intelligent Internet is still a long way off.

Most of the current projects are so far from producing practical tools–let alone services that could be commercialized–that it’s premature to say they represent a “third generation” of Web technology. For that, judging from today’s state of the art, we’ll need to wait another few years.

Living view in animals shows how cells decide to make proteins

December 4, 2006

Scientists at Duke University Medical Center have visualized in a living animal how cells use a critical biological process to create unique and varied proteins.

The findings also may offer insight into a number of diseases, including cancer, in which the genetic process — called alternative splicing — goes awry and produces the wrong proteins.

Hawking says humans must look to outer space if race is to survive

December 1, 2006

Humans will have to colonize planets in far-flung solar systems if the race is to survive, renowned physicist Stephen Hawking said.

Because there are no other planets like Earth in our own solar system, Hawking said humans will have to travel to another star to find a hospitable planet to colonize. At the speed of chemical-propelled rockets like the Apollo, the trip to the next nearest star would take… read more

How to Shrink a Carbon Nanotube

December 1, 2006

A research group has devised a way to control the diameter of a carbon nanotube — down to essentially zero nanometers.

This useful new ability, designed by scientists from the University of California at Berkeley and Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, may help carbon nanotubes become more easily incorporated into new technologies.

Carbon globules in meteorite may have seeded Earth life

December 1, 2006

Life on Earth may have started with the help of tiny hollow spheres that formed in the cold depths of space, a new study suggests. The analysis of carbon bubbles found in a meteorite shows they are not Earth contaminants and must have formed in temperatures near absolute zero.

Online world as important to Internet users as real world?

November 30, 2006

The 2007 Digital Future Project found that 43 percent of Internet users who are members of online communities say that they “feel as strongly” about their virtual community as they do about their real-world communities.

The 2007 Digital Future Project found that Internet use is growing and evolving as an instrument for personal engagement — through blogs, personal Web sites, and online communities.

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