science + technology news

Folic acid boosts minds of over-50s, study finds

January 18, 2007

Absent-mindedness in the over-50s is significantly improved when people take folic acid supplements, according to a large study reported in today’s Lancet.

Short-term memory, mental agility and verbal fluency tests were all better among people who took high doses of the supplement for three years, compared with a group given a placebo.

New nano-detector very promising for remote cosmic realms

January 18, 2007

The “hot electron bolometer” (HEB), a superconducting detector of terahertz radiation developed at Delft University of Technology’s Kavli Institute of Nanoscience, offers astronomers important new information about the birth of star systems and planets.

Research removes major obstacle from mass production of tiny circuits

January 18, 2007
Nanoimprinting: liquid droplets on the surface of a silicon wafer are pressed into a pattern, which quickly hardens to form the desired circuitry.

A Princeton-led team has developed Nanoimprint, a form of nanoimprint lithography that uses a nanometer-scale mold to pattern computer chips and other nanostructures.

This technique allows for creation of circuits and devices with features not much longer than one nanometer — more than 10 times smaller than is possible in today’s mass-produced chips, yet more than 10 times cheaper.

Doomsday draws two minutes closer

January 18, 2007

The Bulletin of Atomic Scientists has moved the hands of its Doomsday Clock to five minutes before midnight — the metaphorical marker of the end of humanity.

Two factors prompted the Bulletin’s board to move the clock forward by two minutes: the spread of nuclear weapons and climate change.

The chief reason for the move is the dawn of a “second nuclear age,” in which far more countries… read more

Intel builds 80-core chip

January 18, 2007

Intel’s researchers have produced a research prototype 80-core chip that uses less energy than a quad-core processor and has teraflop performance capabilities.

It expects to be able to produce a chip with 80 cores in five to eight years.

Intel shows 45-nm processor

January 18, 2007

Intel Corp. said it has completed the development of its next-generation, 45-nm process technology, scheduled for production in the second half of 2007.

Pint-sized soldier with a big wallop

January 17, 2007

The U.S. Army is developing a robot that fires a machine gun with half-mile accuracy. Troops operate the machine remotely from a suitcase-size computer that lets them peer through the robot’s five cameras and drive it by tilting a joystick.

The $250,000 robot — known as Special Weapons Observation Remote Reconnaissance Direct-Action System, or SWORDS — is intended as a way to keep troops out of harm’s way.… read more

Researchers first to map gene that regulates adult stem cell growth

January 17, 2007

University of Kentucky researchers have genetically mapped a stem cell gene and its protein product, Laxetin, and building on that effort, carried the investigation all the way through to the identification of the gene itself.

This is the first time such a complete study on a stem cell gene has been carried out. This particular gene is important because it helps regulate the number of adult stem cells in… read more

Robo-builder threatens the brickie

January 17, 2007

Engineers are developing the worlds first robots capable of building a complete house.

One method, inspired by the inkjet printer, involves computer-controlled robotic nozzles which pipe quick-drying liquid gypsum and concrete to form walls, floors and roofs, building the shell of the house in 24 hours.

“This is a harbinger of how we will eventually build large objects (like buildings) from modules constructed by nanoassemblers,” comments Ray Kurzweil.

Brain activity provides novel biometric key

January 17, 2007

An electronic security system that identifies people by monitoring the unique pattern of electrical activity within their brain is being tested by scientists at the Centre for Research and Technology Hellas, in Greece.

The authentication system requires a user to have EEG measurements taken beforehand. The result of each authentication test is compared with the user’s pre-recorded measurements, using signal-processing algorithms.

Memories are made of this molecule

January 16, 2007

European scientists have isolated a receptor molecule called TrkB that initiates a signalling pathway for long-term potentiation (LTP) in the brain of a living mouse.

Scientists Warn of Diminished Earth Studies From Space

January 16, 2007

The nation’s ability to track retreating polar ice and shifting patterns of drought, rainfall and other environmental changes is being put “at great risk” by faltering efforts to replace aging satellite-borne sensors, the National Research Council of the National Academies warned.

By 2010, the number of operating Earth-observing instruments on NASA satellites, most of which are already past their planned lifetimes, is likely to drop by 40 percent.

Can HP fool Moore’s Law?

January 16, 2007

Researchers from HP Labs plan to publish a paper this month that outlines how it may become possible to substantially increase the performance of certain types of chips, and reduce their power consumption, by replacing the communication wires inside chips with a crossbar grid of nanowires.

By removing the traditional interconnects, the size of a given chip would naturally and drastically shrink. Performance would increase, but the chips could… read more

March of the consumer robots

January 15, 2007

Home robotics is a growing trend at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas.

The Future of Robotics

January 15, 2007

Robotics researchers should be working on achieving the visual object recognition capabilities of a two-year-old child and the manual dexterity of a 6-year-old child, says Rodney Brooks, director of the MIT Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory.

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