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The Singularity Is Near ranks in top-selling science and tech books in 2005

December 17, 2005

After an extended run as #1 on the Amazon.com science, technology, and philosophy lists since its publication, Ray Kurzweil’s The Singularity Is Near: When Humans Transcend Biology ends 2005 as the fourth best-selling science book in 2005, even though published late in the year (September 26).

The book was also selected by the Amazon editors as #6 on their “Best Books of 2005: Science” list.… read more

Stretchable silicon could be next wave in electronics

December 16, 2005

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign researchers have developed a fully stretchable form of single-crystal silicon with micron-sized, wave-like geometries that can be used to build high-performance electronic devices on rubber substrates.

Functional, stretchable and bendable electronics could be used in applications such as sensors and drive electronics for integration into artificial muscles or biological tissues, structural monitors wrapped around aircraft wings, and conformable skins for integrated robotic sensors, said… read more

At Stake: The Net as We Know It

December 16, 2005

Leading Internet companies are gearing up for a clash with the phone and cable giants early next year as Congress begins to redraft the telecom laws for the broadband era, concerned that the network operators will soon be able to put a chokehold on the Web by blocking consumers from popular sites in favor of their own. Or they could degrade delivery of Web pages whose providers don’t pay extra.… read more

Plan matures for partner to genome quest

December 16, 2005

Geneticists are brewing plans for a collective effort, the Human Epigenome Project, that would map subtle changes in DNA that underlie diseases.

As many as half of the genetic alterations that cause cancer, for example, may be “epigenetic” changes rather than mutations — a small molecule simply latches on to DNA in a process called methylation. This does not change the genetic sequence, but it can still shut a… read more

Three Technology Companies Join to Finance Research

December 16, 2005

Google, Microsoft and Sun Microsystems will underwrite a $7.5 million laboratory on the Berkeley campus. The research focus of The Reliable, Adaptive and Distributed Systems Laboratory will be to apply advances in the use of statistical techniques in machine learning to Web services — from maps to e-mail to online calendars — which have become an increasingly important part of the commercial Internet.

Stems cells as drug delivery carriers to the brain

December 15, 2005

Engineered human brain progenitor cells, transplanted into the brains of rats and monkeys, can effectively integrate into the brain and deliver medicine where it is needed, bypassing the blood-brain barrier, University of Wisconsin-Madison researchers have found.

The Wisconsin team obtained and grew large numbers of progenitor cells from human fetal brain tissue. They then engineered the cells to produce a growth factor known as glial cell line-derived neurotrophic factor… read more

Stamps create DNA nanoarrays

December 15, 2005

Ohio State University researchers have come up with a modified molecular combing technique for creating arrays of stretched DNA molecules that could have applications in nanoelectronics, biological or chemical sensors, and genetic analysis and medical diagnosis.

By patterning a large quantity of stretched DNA molecules into a well-defined array of nanowires, parallel and automated analysis may be realized to achieve higher throughput and reliability, they believe.

Power could cost more than servers, Google warns

December 15, 2005

“If performance per watt is to remain constant over the next few years, power costs could easily overtake hardware costs, possibly by a large margin,” Luiz Andre Barroso said in a September paper published in the Association for Computing Machinery’s Queue.

“The possibility of computer equipment power consumption spiraling out of control could have serious consequences for the overall affordability of computing, not to mention the overall health of… read more

Let’s see some ID, please

December 15, 2005

Over 20 million PCs worldwide are equipped with a security chip called the Trusted Platform Module, although it is as yet rarely activated. But once merchants and other online services begin to use it, the TPM will do something never before seen on the Internet: provide virtually fool-proof verification that you are who you say you are.

Some critics say that the chip will change the free-wheeling Web into… read more

Astronomers see sun-like star with possible planet formation

December 15, 2005

Astronomers have spotted a swirling debris cloud around a sun-like star that may be forming terrestrial planets similar to Earth in a process that could shed light on the birth of the solar system.

The star, located 137 light years away, appears to possess an asteroid belt, a zone where the leftovers of failed planets collide.

Scientists estimate the star is about 30 million years old — about… read more

Did humans colonise north Europe earlier than thought?

December 15, 2005

Humans may have colonized northern Europe 200,000 years earlier than previously thought. Stone tools found in eastern England suggest that humans were there at least 700,000 years ago.

Space ‘spiders’ could build solar satellites

December 15, 2005

A mission to determine whether spider-like robots could construct complex structures in space is set to launch in January 2006. The spider bots could build large structures by crawling over a “web” released from a larger spacecraft.

The engineers behind the project hope the robots will eventually be used to construct colossal solar panels for satellites that will transmit solar energy back to Earth. The satellites could reflect and… read more

Faster Plastic Circuits

December 14, 2005

Researchers have built working circuits on plastic that run at 100 megahertz — as much as a hundred times faster than previous ones on plastic.

The Sarnoff/Columbia advance could lead to displays measuring three meters or more diagonally that can also be rolled up and easily transported.

Fast transistors on plastic could also lead to portable phased-array antennas. Such antennas direct a transmission at a precise target, which… read more

Amazon to Sell Build-Your-Own Search Engine

December 14, 2005

For a fee of as little as $1 a day, Amazon will provide access to an index of 5 billion Web pages plus the Internet-based tools to create new twists to mine the information warehouse and present findings to an audience.

New Effort Aims to Unlock Secrets of Cancer Genes

December 14, 2005

The National Institutes of Health is beginning a $100 million pilot phase of a project called The Cancer Genome Atlas that aims to unlock all the genetic abnormalities that contribute to cancer, an effort that would exceed the Human Genome Project in complexity but could eventually lead to new diagnostic tests and treatments for the disease.

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