science + technology news

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

‘Heat mining’ could be key U.S. energy source

January 23, 2007

A comprehensive new MIT-led study of the potential for geothermal energy within the United States has found that mining the huge amounts of heat that reside as stored thermal energy in the Earth’s hard rock crust could supply a substantial portion of the electricity the United States will need in the future, probably at competitive prices and with minimal environmental impact.

The study shows that drilling several… read more

Nano-wheels seen rolling at last

January 23, 2007

Researchers created a carbon molecule resembling a pair of wheels just 0.8 nanometers in diameter, joined together by an axle only four carbon atoms long.

They used the tip of a scanning tunnelling electron microscope to push individual molecules across a copper surface, which provided a direct readout that shows the wheels only roll when pushed in the right direction.

Exploding robots may scout hazardous asteroids

January 23, 2007

A fleet of exploding probes could prepare the way for warding off hazardous asteroids.

Several of the small spherical robots would land on a single asteroid, some exploding while others listen for vibrations that could reveal the object’s inner structure. Knowing their physical properties will be crucial in devising a mission to divert it.

Coated nanoparticles slip through mucus

January 23, 2007

Nanoparticles coated with polyethylene glycol can quickly slip through human mucus. The results raise hopes for more efficient delivery of a variety of drugs.

‘Yahoo research uses artificial intelligence everywhere’

January 21, 2007

AI is being used in every part of Yahoo’s research, especially since they collect over 12 terabytes of data everyday, according to Ronald J Brachman, vice-president of Worldwide Research Operations.

Fantastic Voyage: Departure 2009

January 21, 2007

An international team of scientists is developing what they say will be the world’s first microrobot that can swim through the arteries and digestive system.

The scientists are designing the 250-micron device to transmit images and deliver microscopic payloads to parts of the body outside the reach of existing catheter technology.

It will also perform minimally invasive microsurgeries.

Neural ‘extension cord’ developed for brain implants

January 21, 2007

A “data cable” made from stretched nerve cells could someday help connect computers to the human nervous system. The modified cells should form better connections with human tissue than the metal electrodes currently used for purposes such as remotely controlling prosthetics.

Connecting the chord to electrodes outside of the brain means the reaction of neurons to non-organic material can be controlled. In the future, the cord could connect an… read more

Anti-satellite weapon used simple technology

January 21, 2007

Relatively simple technology — an ordinary medium-range ballistic missile — suffices to take out a satellite the way the Chinese government apparently did last week.

The US government says China launched a ballistic missile on January 11 that destroyed one of its own spacecraft, a defunct weather satellite, in an apparent test of anti-satellite technology.

The destruction of the satellite is thought to have produced millions of fragments,… read more

How brain protein turns toxic in Alzheimer’s disease

January 21, 2007

The long-suspected link between Alzheimer’s disease and abnormalities in the way amyloid protein is processed in the brain has been confirmed.

Putting a Second Life First

January 21, 2007

Second Life creator Philip Rosedale has elected recently to open-source the software that enables real people to interact with the world.

He’s also preparing to do the same for software that runs its core computers, allowing others to add to Second Life’s virtual terrain.

The objective is to allow it to keep up with demand and extend its business model.

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

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