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The most realistic virtual reality room in the world

May 11, 2006

More than $4 million in equipment upgrades will shine 100 million pixels on Iowa State University’s six-sided virtual reality room.

That’s twice the number of pixels lighting up any virtual reality room in the world and 16 times the pixels now projected on Iowa State’s C6, a 10-foot by 10-foot virtual reality room that surrounds users with computer-generated 3-D images. That means the C6 will produce virtual reality at… read more

The new incredibles: Enhanced humans

May 11, 2006

People with enhanced senses, superhuman bodies and sharpened minds are already walking among us. Are you ready for your upgrade?

They’re here and walking among us: people with technologically enhanced senses, superhuman bodies and artificially sharpened minds. The first humans to reach a happy, healthy 150th birthday may already have been born. And that’s just the start of it. Are you ready for your upgrade, asks Graham Lawton… read more

Shape-shifting car will brace for impact

May 11, 2006

A car that can anticipate a side-on impact and subtly alter its body shape to absorb the force of the crash is being developed by researchers in Germany.

The car will use hood-mounted cameras and radar to spot a vehicle on course for a side-on collision. Once it realizes an impact is imminent, it will activate a shape-shifting metal in the door. This reinforces the bond between door and… read more

Robotic tentacles get to grips with tricky objects

May 9, 2006

Robotic “tentacles” that can grasp and grapple with a wide variety of objects have been developed by US researchers.

Most robots rely on mechanical gripping jaws that have difficulty grabbing large or irregularly shaped objects. Replacing these with tentacle-like manipulators could make robots more nimble and flexible, say the scientists.

The tentacle-like manipulators, known as “Octarms”, resemble an octopus’s limb or an elephant’s trunk.

Mapping a path for the 3D Web

May 9, 2006

With the spread of online games, virtual worlds and services like Google Earth and, people may soon be spending more time, communicating more and shopping more in complex 3D Web environments.

Korea Unveils World’s Second Android

May 9, 2006

Korea has developed its own android capable of facial expressions on its humanoid face.

The 15 monitors in the robotic face allow it to interpret the face of an interlocutor and look back at whoever stands near it. Ever-1 also recognizes 400 words and can hold a basic verbal exchange.

A Question of Resilience

May 8, 2006

“Resilience” — springing back from serious adversity — can best be understood as an interplay between particular genes and environment — GxE, in the lingo of the field.

Researchers are discovering that a particular variation of a gene can help promote resilience in the people who have it, acting as a buffer against the ruinous effects of adversity. In the absence of an adverse environment, however, the gene doesn’t… read more

‘Cyclic universe’ can explain cosmological constant

May 5, 2006

A cyclic universe, which bounces through a series of big bangs and “big crunches,” could solve the puzzle of our cosmological constant, physicists suggest.

At every big bang, the amount of matter and radiation in the universe is reset, but the cosmological constant is not, Paul Steinhardt at Princeton University and Neil Turok at Cambridge University believe. Instead, the cosmological constant gradually diminishes over many cycles to the small… read more

Now you see it, now you don’t: cloaking device is not just sci-fi

May 4, 2006

Mathematicians claim to have worked out how to make a cloaking device to render objects invisible at certain frequencies of light.

The cloaking device relies on recently discovered materials that have a negative refractive index, which effectively makes light travel backwards.

Battery electrodes self-assembled by viruses

May 4, 2006

Genetically modified viruses that assemble into electrodes could one day revolutionize battery manufacturing.

The MIT team genetically modified viruses to create the electrodes. They introduced snippets of single-stranded DNA that caused the viruses to manufacture specific molecules on their outer coating that attach to cobalt ions and gold particles. This combination turns the virus into an efficient anode as they provide an ideal conduit for electrons.

Brain Power

May 3, 2006

The Classification System for Serial Criminal Patterns (CSSCP) combs through police department IT systems, searching for patterns or clusters of data elements that might tie together a string of crimes and give police the data they need to find the perpetrators, derived from analysis of the most successful detectives in Chicago.

The Times Emulates Print on the Web

May 3, 2006

Microsoft and The New York Times have unveiled software that preserves the print edition’s design online.

IBM uses atomic microscope for direct writing

May 3, 2006

IBM has unveiled a new method of direct writing (like an inkjet printer) to substrates that harnesses an atomic force microscope (AFM) to electronically control molecular-scale lithography.

For semiconductors, IBM’s new electronically controlled direct writing method uses AFM positioning accuracy to define complex patterns in a variety of materials with features down to 10 nanometers — five times smaller than today’s e-beam lithography equipment and 10 times smaller than… read more

DARPA announces Urban Challenge.

May 2, 2006

The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) today announced plans to hold its third Grand Challenge competition on November 3, 2007.

The DARPA Urban Challenge will feature autonomous ground vehicles executing simulated military supply missions safely and effectively in a mock urban area. Safe operation in traffic is essential to U.S. military plans to use autonomous ground vehicles to conduct important missions.

Teams will compete to… read more

Shifting constant could shake laws of nature

May 2, 2006

A series of experiments suggests that over the past 12 billion years, the ratio of the mass of a proton to that of an electron may have decreased.

Various versions of string theory suggest that extra dimensions occupied by a particle might affect properties such as its mass. Subtle changes in these dimensions could make physical constants vary slightly, acccording to John Barrow, a cosmologist at the University of… read more

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