science + technology news

Putting the Brakes on Light Speed

January 21, 2007

Researchers at the University of Rochester have achieved a long-sought goal of slowing waves of light to one-three-hundredth of its normal velocity and using those harnessed pulses to store an image.

Physicists said the new approach to taming light could hasten the arrival of a futuristic era in which computers and other devices will process information on optical beams instead of with electricity.

The researchers created a four-inch-long… read more

Google plots e-books coup

January 21, 2007

Google is working on a system that would allow readers to download entire books to their computers in a format that they could read on screen or mobile devices.

Sony recently launched its Reader, a digital book device with an online book store stocking 10,000 titles. Amazon, the world’s largest online book seller, is also planning to launch an e-book service.

So much space, so little time: why aliens haven’t found us yet

January 19, 2007

Rasmus Bjork, a physicist at the Niels Bohr institute, believes he may have solved the Fermi paradox.

Using a computer simulation of our own galaxy, he found that even if the alien ships could hurtle through space at a tenth of the speed of light, it would take 10 billion years to explore just 4 percent of the galaxy.

Single-pixel camera takes on digital

January 18, 2007

Rice University researchers are developing a single-pixel camera to capture high-quality images without the expense of traditional digital photography.

This “digital micromirror device” consists of a million or more tiny mirrors each the size of a bacterium. The light is focused through a second lens on to one single photodetector. As the light passes through the device, the millions of tiny mirrors are turned on and off at random… read more

Folic acid boosts minds of over-50s, study finds

January 18, 2007

Absent-mindedness in the over-50s is significantly improved when people take folic acid supplements, according to a large study reported in today’s Lancet.

Short-term memory, mental agility and verbal fluency tests were all better among people who took high doses of the supplement for three years, compared with a group given a placebo.

New nano-detector very promising for remote cosmic realms

January 18, 2007

The “hot electron bolometer” (HEB), a superconducting detector of terahertz radiation developed at Delft University of Technology’s Kavli Institute of Nanoscience, offers astronomers important new information about the birth of star systems and planets.

Research removes major obstacle from mass production of tiny circuits

January 18, 2007
Nanoimprinting: liquid droplets on the surface of a silicon wafer are pressed into a pattern, which quickly hardens to form the desired circuitry.

A Princeton-led team has developed Nanoimprint, a form of nanoimprint lithography that uses a nanometer-scale mold to pattern computer chips and other nanostructures.

This technique allows for creation of circuits and devices with features not much longer than one nanometer — more than 10 times smaller than is possible in today’s mass-produced chips, yet more than 10 times cheaper.

Doomsday draws two minutes closer

January 18, 2007

The Bulletin of Atomic Scientists has moved the hands of its Doomsday Clock to five minutes before midnight — the metaphorical marker of the end of humanity.

Two factors prompted the Bulletin’s board to move the clock forward by two minutes: the spread of nuclear weapons and climate change.

The chief reason for the move is the dawn of a “second nuclear age,” in which far more countries… read more

Intel builds 80-core chip

January 18, 2007

Intel’s researchers have produced a research prototype 80-core chip that uses less energy than a quad-core processor and has teraflop performance capabilities.

It expects to be able to produce a chip with 80 cores in five to eight years.

Intel shows 45-nm processor

January 18, 2007

Intel Corp. said it has completed the development of its next-generation, 45-nm process technology, scheduled for production in the second half of 2007.

Pint-sized soldier with a big wallop

January 17, 2007

The U.S. Army is developing a robot that fires a machine gun with half-mile accuracy. Troops operate the machine remotely from a suitcase-size computer that lets them peer through the robot’s five cameras and drive it by tilting a joystick.

The $250,000 robot — known as Special Weapons Observation Remote Reconnaissance Direct-Action System, or SWORDS — is intended as a way to keep troops out of harm’s way.… read more

Researchers first to map gene that regulates adult stem cell growth

January 17, 2007

University of Kentucky researchers have genetically mapped a stem cell gene and its protein product, Laxetin, and building on that effort, carried the investigation all the way through to the identification of the gene itself.

This is the first time such a complete study on a stem cell gene has been carried out. This particular gene is important because it helps regulate the number of adult stem cells in… read more

Robo-builder threatens the brickie

January 17, 2007

Engineers are developing the worlds first robots capable of building a complete house.

One method, inspired by the inkjet printer, involves computer-controlled robotic nozzles which pipe quick-drying liquid gypsum and concrete to form walls, floors and roofs, building the shell of the house in 24 hours.

“This is a harbinger of how we will eventually build large objects (like buildings) from modules constructed by nanoassemblers,” comments Ray Kurzweil.

Brain activity provides novel biometric key

January 17, 2007

An electronic security system that identifies people by monitoring the unique pattern of electrical activity within their brain is being tested by scientists at the Centre for Research and Technology Hellas, in Greece.

The authentication system requires a user to have EEG measurements taken beforehand. The result of each authentication test is compared with the user’s pre-recorded measurements, using signal-processing algorithms.

Memories are made of this molecule

January 16, 2007

European scientists have isolated a receptor molecule called TrkB that initiates a signalling pathway for long-term potentiation (LTP) in the brain of a living mouse.

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