science + technology news

Intel Prototype May Herald a New Age of Processing

February 12, 2007
Teraflop Chip (Intel)

Intel will demonstrate on Monday an experimental computer “Teraflop Chip” with 80 separate processing engines, or cores, that company executives say provides a model for commercial chips that will be used widely in standard desktop, laptop and server computers within five years.

Such computing power matches the performance speed of the world’s fastest supercomputer of just a decade ago.

For example, it could make it possible… read more

$25 million prize for greenhouse gas removal

February 12, 2007

A prize of $25 million for anyone who can come up with a system for removing greenhouse gases from the atmosphere was launched on Friday.

It calls for devises a system to remove a “significant amount” of greenhouse gases — equivalent to 1 billion tons of carbon dioxide or more — every year from the atmosphere for at least a decade.

It is the biggest prize in history,… read more

An experiment that hints we are wrong on climate change

February 11, 2007

Compilations of weather satellite data by Danish National Space Center scientists indicate that cloudiness varies according to how many atomic particles are coming in from exploded stars, contradicting the theory that the rise in temperatures since the mid-20th century is due to man-made greenhouse gases.

The sun’s magnetic field bats away many of the cosmic rays, and its intensification during the 20th century meant fewer cosmic rays, fewer clouds,… read more

The brain scan that can read people’s intentions

February 11, 2007

A team of world-leading neuroscientists has developed a powerful technique that allows them to look deep inside a person’s brain and read their intentions before they act.

The team used high-resolution computed tomography (CT) brain scans to identify patterns of activity before translating them into meaningful thoughts, revealing what a person planned to do in the near future. They revealed signatures of activity in the medial prefrontal cortex that… read more

Kurzweil: Biotech Will Drive Software Security

February 11, 2007

Software security will be even more important as humans become more of a hybrid of non-biological and biological technology and intelligence, said Ray Kurzweil in a keynote speech Wednesday at the RSA 2007 conference in San Francisco.

This convergence is already happening with neural implants designed for Parkison’s Disease sufferers that are capable of downloaded software updates. “As devices shrink and get more powerful, software security is going to… read more

Thinking Bubbles?

February 10, 2007

Neil Gershenfeld of MIT and colleagues have designed the new technology using the presence or absence of a sequence of bubbles as a substitute for the conventional “on” or “off” binary language of computer circuits, using glass tubes and liquid that perform as microprocessors.

Although still orders of magnitude slower than conventional computers, bubble logic can operate about 100 times faster than existing microfluidic chips, the researchers say. That… read more

Robotic exoskeleton replaces muscle work

February 9, 2007

A robotic exoskeleton controlled by the wearer’s own nervous system could help users regain limb function, which is encouraging news for people with partial nervous system impairment, say University of Michigan researchers.

In a Search Refinement, a Chance to Rival Google

February 9, 2007

On Friday, Xerox PARC is announcing that it is licensing a broad portfolio of patents and technology to a well-financed start-up with an ambitious and potentially lucrative goal: to build a search engine that could some day rival Google.

The start-up, Powerset, is licensing PARC’s “natural language” technology. Powerset hopes the technology will be the basis of a new search engine that allows users to type queries in plain… read more

The Big Bang and the Bucks Set to Collide in Inner Space

February 9, 2007

An international consortium of physicists released the first detailed design of what they believe will be the Next Big Thing in physics: the International Linear Collider, a machine 20 miles long that will slam together electrons and their evil-twin opposites, positrons, to produce fireballs of energy recreating conditions when the universe was only a trillionth of a second old.

The cost: cost about $6.7 billion and 13,000 person-years of… read more

New universes will be born from ours

February 9, 2007

Some physicists have argued that the universe is doomed to be ripped apart by runaway dark energy, while others think it is bouncing through an endless series of big bangs and big crunches.

Now these two ideas are being combined to create another option, in which our universe ultimately shatters into billions of pieces, with each shard growing into a whole new universe. The model could solve the mystery… read more

First quantum computing system running commercial applications live to be unveiled

February 9, 2007
This is the core of a new quantum computer to be unveiled by D-Wave Systems, says Steve Jurvetson, Managing Director of Draper Fisher Jurvetson, a leading venture-capital firm. "It is attached to a Leiden Cryogenics dilution fridge, ready to begin a cool down to 0.005 degrees above absolute zero. This quantum computer employs the resources of 65,536 parallel universes to compute answers in a fundamentally new way."

D-Wave Systems, Inc. plans to demonstrate a technological first on Feb. 13: an end-to-end quantum computing system powered by a 16-qubit quantum processor, running two commercial applications, live.

D-Wave claims it is the world’s first and only provider of quantum computing systems designed to run commercial applications. The event will be hosted in Silicon Valley and Vancouver, B.C.

Engines of Creation 2.0 published as free ebook

February 9, 2007

Free-book publisher WOWIO will announce Friday the publication of Engines of Creation 2.0: The Coming Era of Nanotechnology – Updated and Expanded by K. Eric Drexler, an ebook-only version available free exclusively through WOWIO.

In addition to an updated look and feel for the ebook, Engines of Creation 2.0 has been expanded to include the first known lecture on nanotechnology by physicist Richard Feynman, the landmark open… read more

Here’s a more cerebral reason to lower your cholesterol

February 8, 2007

An unhealthy western diet could harm more than just your waistline — it may also increase your risk of Alzheimer’s disease.

Prince of Wales Medical Research Institute researchers have found that “ABC proteins,” which help control cholesterol levels in arterial walls by expelling cholesterol from the immune cells called macrophages where it builds up, were also present in neurons.

Drugs that increase expression of ABC transporters might slow… read more

Quantum Quirk: Stopped Laser Pulse Reappears a Short Distance Away

February 8, 2007

Harvard University researchers have halted a pulse of laser light in its tracks and revived it a fraction of a millimeter away.

They stopped it in a cloud of supercold sodium atoms, known as a Bose-Einstein condensate (BEC), and then restarted it in a second, distinct BEC as though the pulse had spookily jumped between the two locations.

The technique may someday be used in optical communications or… read more

Mimicking How the Brain Recognizes Street Scenes

February 8, 2007
The Poggio model for object recognition takes as input the unlabled images of digital photographs from the Street Scene Database (top) and generates automatic annotations

A computational model of how the brain processes visual information in a complex, real world task has been applied to recognizing the objects in a busy street scene.

Scientists in Tomaso Poggio’s laboratory at the McGovern Institute for Brain Research at MIT “showed” the model randomly selected images so that it could “learn” to identify commonly occurring features in real-word objects, such as trees, cars, and… read more

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