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Single-pixel camera could simplify imaging

October 6, 2006

A single-pixel camera that captures complete images by taking many snaps with an array of micro-mirrors could consume less power and produce more compact image files than conventional imaging devices.

The camera switches each mirror randomly between one of two positions — so that they either reflect light onto the pixel or do not. The current version repeats this process about a thousand times in a second, recording the… read more

Biodefence special: Fortress America?

October 6, 2006

Project BioShield has fallen short of delivering biodefence remedies, with a limited range of pathogens that BioShield is targeting and inadequate plans for deploying the countermeasures it does have.

The authorities appear bent on building a stockpile of silver bullets against imagined enemies that may not work or may never be needed.

Making molecular machines work

October 6, 2006

Advances towards the construction of synthetic machines are described in Volume 1 No 1 of a new journal, Nature Nanotechnology.

The article documents approaches taken by several research groups to construct synthetic molecular machines and devices, such as molecular rotors, elevators, valves, transporters, muscles and other motor functions used to develop smart materials.

(Free access)

$10 Million Prize Set Up for Speedy DNA Decoding

October 5, 2006

A $10 million prize for cheap and rapid sequencing of the human genome was announced today by the X Prize Foundation.

The terms of the prize require competitors to sequence 100 human genomes of their choice within 10 days, and within six months those of a further 100 people chosen by the foundation.

The foundation plans a series of prizes to motivate inventors and entrepreneurs, with its first… read more

Software Being Developed to Monitor Opinions of U.S.

October 5, 2006

A consortium of major universities is developing natural language processing software that would let the government monitor negative opinions of the United States or its leaders in newspapers and other publications overseas.

The researchers have complied a database of hundreds of articles that it is being used to train a computer to recognize, rank and interpret statements.

Spooky steps to a quantum network

October 5, 2006

Quantum entanglement, a strange property that links particles however far apart they are, may be used to “teleport” information.

Robot whiskers sense shapes and textures

October 5, 2006

Artificial whiskers that mimic the way rats and seals sense their prey might one day let planetary rovers or uncrewed submarines explore the shape and texture of strange objects they encounter on their travels.

New Opportunities for DNA Design

October 5, 2006

“DNA staples” can be used to build DNA-shape structures, using an atomic force micrsocope, that include other molecules for increased strength or stiffness, or useful features such as actuation.

One way to speed up the process would to use an array of “needles” made out of DNA bricks.

Teens: E-mail is for old people

October 5, 2006

Teenagers prefer instant messaging or text messaging for talking to friends and use e-mail to communicate with “old people,” according to Pew Internet & American life study.

“E-mail is so last millennium,” as USA Today puts it.

Robot cars will race in real traffic

October 4, 2006

The first 11 teams for the Urban Grand Challenge, a race in which robot cars will jostle with real ones along mocked-up city streets, have been announced.

The teams must construct autonomous vehicles to navigate an unfamiliar urban environment in the shortest time possible.

Big bang theorists scoop Nobel prize for physics

October 4, 2006

The 2006 Nobel prize for physics has been awarded to John Mather and George Smoot for their contribution to the big bang theory of the origin of the universe.

The pair were honored for their discovery of the blackbody form and anisotropy of the cosmic microwave background radiation.

Smoot’s announcement in 1992 that his team had observed the long-sought variations in the CMB — and therefore, in the… read more

Huge ‘launch ring’ to fling satellites into orbit

October 4, 2006

An enormous ring of superconducting magnets similar to a particle accelerator could fling satellites into space at lower cost than conventional rocket launches.

It would also be ideal for delivering supplies to support human spaceflight, such as food and water, which are not sensitive to such high accelerations.

And if You Liked the Movie, a Netflix Contest May Reward You Handsomely

October 3, 2006

Netflix, the popular online movie rental service, is planning to award $1 million to the first person who can improve the accuracy of movie recommendations based on personal preferences.

To win the prize, a contestant will have to devise a system that is more accurate than the company’s current recommendation system by at least 10 percent. And to improve the quality of research, Netflix is making available to the… read more

Fire and Mello win Nobel Prize

October 3, 2006

Andrew Z. Fire, a professor in Stanford University School of Medicine’s Department of Pathology and Genetics, and Craig C. Mello, professor of Molecular Medicine at the University of Massachusetts Medical School, have won this year’s Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for uncovering the mechanism of RNA interference.

Fire and Mello made their discoveries in the nematode. They investigated whether double-stranded RNAs might be the trigger for suppression of… read more

Seeing Molecular Machines

October 2, 2006

A fascinating animation of molecular processes in a cell shows a number of molecular machines–ribosomes, motors, and more–working to move molecules and structures around a cell, and even to create the structures.

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