science + technology news

The Problems in Modeling Nature, With Its Unruly Natural Tendencies

February 21, 2007

A new book by Orrin H. Pilkey, a coastal geologist and emeritus professor at Duke, argues that nature is too complex and depends on too many processes that are poorly understood or little monitored to be modeled using computer programs.

Paranoid androids ‘in 10 years’

February 20, 2007

A panel of robotics experts speaking at the American Association for the Advancement of Science said robots capable of multiple domestic tasks, that can also provide companionship for their owners, will be available within 10 years.

And the scientists claim it is already possible to give robots such “feelings.”

“Emotion plays an important role in guiding attention towards what is important and away from distractions,” said Professor Cynthia… read more

Making the right robot for the right job

February 20, 2007

Within a decade cars could start driving themselves on highways and in less than 25 years automakers may be producing vehicles “smart” enough to chauffeur passengers through city streets, Stanford computer scientist Sebastian Thrun predicted at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

The convergence of key technologies hint that, within decades, robots may be able to perform tasks that were hitherto only fiction.… read more

Jersey scientists find a possible key to autism

February 20, 2007

Scientists at the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey have found that children with autism are unable to metabolize “good” fatty acids due to the absence of a key gene, called GSTM1.

The potential treatment is a kind of “therapeutic cocktail” tailored to each child, which would give them a dose of a “good” fatty acid that they are not able to make on their own.

Polymer Vision’s Readius with rollable display

February 20, 2007

Polymer Vision’s new Readius E Ink display is rollable into a pocket-size device, can display 16 shades of gray, and has 4GB of on-board memory, allowing for storing a large number of books and other documents for on-the-go reading.

It also features USB, as well as GPRS/EDGE and DVB-H connectivity, meaning you can download data wirelessly, too.

The Intelligent Universe author James Gardner to appear on Coast To Coast AM show

February 20, 2007

James Gardner, author of the recently published book, The Intelligent Universe, will appear on the national Coast To Coast AM radio show on Tuesday night Feb. 20 to discuss the meaning of the intelligent universe, the process of cosmic evolution, and the impact of the discovery of ETs on religion.

Self-Assembling Batteries

February 19, 2007

Researchers at MIT have designed a rechargeable lithium-ion battery that assembles itself out of microscopic materials.

This could lead to ultrasmall power sources for sensors and micromachines the size of the head of a pin. It could also make it possible to pack battery materials in unused space inside electronic devices.

Scientists Dubious of Quantum Claims

February 19, 2007

Independent quantum computing researchers said they are dubious of some of the claims made by D-Wave Systems Inc. because the company has not yet submitted its findings for peer review.

The company did not make the machine available for inspection and instead showed video from a remote location.

Grid computes 420 years worth of data in four months

February 19, 2007

An international scientific collaboration has managed to whittle down the equivalent of 420 years of work on a single PC to no more than four months, with the use of Grid computing.

The project, dubbed WISDOM (World-wide In Silico Docking On Malaria), allowed scientists to analyze an average of 80,000 drug compounds each hour, in search for a drug that will combat malaria.

Interstellar Ark

February 19, 2007

“There are three strategies to travel 10.5 light-years from Earth to Epsilon Eridani and bring humanity into a new stellar system:

1) Wait for future discovery of Star Trek physics and go there almost instantaneously

2) Build a relativistic rocket powered by antimatter and go there in 22 years by accelerating constantly at 1g, provided that you master stellar amounts of energy

3): Go there by classical… read more

Asteroid threat demands response, experts warn

February 19, 2007

Aasteroid Apophis, which researchers now say has a 1 in 45,000 chance of hitting Earth on 13 April 2036. Calculations show it would strike somewhere along a narrow track that stretches eastward from Siberia to the west coast of Africa.

The Association of Space Explorers, founded by Russell Schweickart, a former Apollo astronaut, will host a series of meetings to provide the UN with a “decision process” for assessing… read more

Retinal Implant Helping Blind People See Again

February 18, 2007

Some people who became blinded by eye diseases, such as pigmentosa or macular degeneration, are beginning to get some vision back after receiving a retinal implant, called the Argus II Retinal Prosthesis System, from Doheny Eye Institute researchers.

Patients who have damaged photoreceptor cells in their retina received 16 electrodes which were inserted into their eye. Six patients who were blind were able to see light, detect movement, and… read more

Some sweet news: Chocolate could be good for your memory

February 18, 2007

Flavanols found in unprocessed chocolate could boost brain power as well as in treating certain kinds of stroke and dementia, researchers suggest.

The chemicals stimulate an increase of blood flow to the brain, particularly in areas that light up during tasks that require alertness.

Google at work on AI?

February 18, 2007

“When AI happens, it’s going to be a lot of computation, not so much … clever algorithms,” says Google co-founder Larry Page. Given the size of DNA (~600 MB compressed), the algorithms of the brain are “probably not that complicated.”

“To do the perfect search, you could ask any query and it would give you the perfect answer, and that would be artificial intelligence, based on everything being on… read more

Silicon Valley Meets ‘American Idol’ With Prizes to Inspire Inventors

February 16, 2007

A fund-raiser at Google on March 3 is intended to raise a chunk of $50 million to operate the X Prize Foundation, a nonprofit group that already has awarded $10 million to designers of a private spacecraft.

The foundation plans to use the money to develop prizes in fields like medicine, poverty reduction and fuel-efficient cars. But the foundation’s next stage of prize-giving will also include partnerships with venture… read more

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