science + technology news

Study pinpoints area in brain linked to smoking addictions

January 26, 2007

An unusual study of people with brain damage, caused in most cases by a stroke, suggests the compulsion to light up might be driven by the same little-studied brain region, the insula, that helps us make sense of hunger pangs, nervous twitches and all sorts of visceral body signals.

Researchers said the findings identify an important new target for research into the biological underpinning of addiction. It might even… read more

British Breakthrough Highlights Nanotechnology Policy Gap

January 26, 2007

An urgent need for new nanotechnology policy is highlighted by breakthrough results from a recent British government funded project, according to a statement by the Center for Responsible Nanotechnology (CRN).

In the one-week “IDEAS Factory on the Software Control of Matter” project, sponsored by the UK’s Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council, scientists produced three “ground-breaking research proposals that bring the nanofactory concept closer to reality.”… read more

U.S. cities don’t make the intelligence cut

January 25, 2007

For the second year running, no U.S. city has made the list of the world’s top Intelligent Communities of 2007, as selected by global think tank Intelligent Community Forum.

The ICF selects the Intelligent Community list based on how advanced the communities are in deploying broadband, building a knowledge-based workforce, combining government and private-sector “digital inclusion,” fostering innovation and marketing economic development.

The intelligent city finalists are:… read more

Deadly H5N1 may be brewing in cats

January 25, 2007

The discovery, announced last week, that the H5N1 bird flu virus is widespread in cats in locations across Indonesia has refocused attention on the danger that the deadly virus could be mutating into a form that can infect humans far more easily.

Scientists Build Memory Chip as Small as Blood Cell

January 25, 2007

Scientists have built a working memory chip with 160,000 bits capacity that is roughly the size of a white blood cell — about 1/2000th of an inch on a side.

The chip has a bit density of 100 billion per square centimeter, about 20 times greater than current memory chips.

A key component of the memory chip is a molecular switch using rotaxanes.

Touch Screens for Many Fingers

January 24, 2007

Researchers have bigger plans for multi-touch screens than the novel interface on Apple’s iPhone.

Jeff Han, consulting research scientist at New York University, has developed an inexpensive way to make large multi-touch screens accommodating 10, 20, or even more fingers. He envisions applications ranging from interactive whiteboards to touch-screen tables and digital walls–any of which could be manipulated by more than just one person.

Some researchers are even… read more

Do ‘You’ really matter?

January 24, 2007

User-generated content is all the rage right now. But the thought of “You” controlling the media and marketing world is little more than breathless hype.

Hacking the Human Life Span

January 24, 2007

Hope for a fountain of youth may spring eternal, but these days it is surprisingly active among the ranks of highly educated and even scientifically trained professionals — despite what experts say is a lack of compelling clinical evidence for any particular treatment.

Resveratrol, which has protected lab animals from heart disease, cancer, Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases, seized the public imagination in November when two prominent studies showed that… read more

Military Builds Robotic Insects

January 24, 2007

Israel is developing a robot the size of a hornet to attack terrorists. Micro Air Vehicles, or MAVs, are much closer than that.

British Special Forces already use 6-inch MAV aircraft called WASPs for reconnaissance in Afghanistan. The U.S. Air Force sees future MAVs landing and hopping or crawling on the ground like insects, enabling them to get inside buildings to disable power or deliver bombs.

Battery Breakthrough?

January 24, 2007

EEStor claims that its system, a kind of battery-ultracapacitor hybrid based on barium-titanate powders, will dramatically outperform the best lithium-ion batteries on the market in terms of energy density, price, charge time, and safety.

Such a breakthrough would have the potential to radically transform the transportation sector, improve the performance of intermittent energy sources such as wind and sun, and increase the efficiency and stability of power grids–all while… read more


January 23, 2007

Neuroscientist V.S. Ramachandran believes that “other awareness” may have evolved first and then, counterintutively, the same ability was exploited to model ones own mind–what one calls self awareness. He also suggests that a specific system of neurons called mirror neurons are involved in this ability.

Don’t fall victim to the ‘Free Wi-Fi’ scam

January 23, 2007

A hot-spot scam hitting airports across the country allows a hacker to steal the information you send over the Internet, including usernames and passwords.

You could also have your files and identity stolen, end up with a spyware-infested PC and have your PC turned into a spam-spewing zombie. The attack could even leave your laptop open to hackers every time you turn it on, by allowing anyone to connect… read more

How To Change A Personality

January 23, 2007

Devices like deep brain stimulation and psychoactive drugs are already manipulating brain function in millions of people.

And future pharmaceuticals, targeting very specific parts of the brain, will be even more effective and will have fewer side effects. These new brain-control tools open a Pandora’s box of ethical and philosophical dilemmas.

‘Altruistic’ brain region found

January 23, 2007

Using brain scans, Duke University Medical Center researchers have found that altruism appears to be linked to an area of the brain called the posterior superior temporal sulcus.

A Peek Inside DARPA

January 23, 2007

DARPA’s research projects include cognitive technologies that enable systems to reason, learn from experience, explain themselves and reflect on their own capabilities; beneficial bacteria in the gut to protect soldiers from enteric disease; speech technology that can translate with about 50 percent accuracy, expected to reach 90 percent by 2009; and “distillation” technology designed to remove irrelevant and redundant information from masses of translated text, with a goal to go… read more

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