science + technology news

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

‘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

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