science + technology news

Colon cancer stem cells identified

November 21, 2006

Scientists have identified a population of human colon cancer stem cells that can initiate tumor growth and differentiate into mature tumors, according to two reports in Nature.

These cells, representing just two to three percent of the overall tumor, should be the focus of cancer therapies, according to Ruggero De Maria, research director, Department of Hematology and Oncology, Istituto Superiore di Sanita, Rome, who led one of the two… read more

‘Grey goo’ engulfs virtual world

November 21, 2006

Virtual world Second Life was overwhelmed by a flood of “self-replicating” objects dubbed “grey goo” on Sunday.

Big brother is listening to you

November 20, 2006

To prevent fights breaking out, surveillance cameras in the city of Groningen in the Netherlands have been adapted to listen out for voices raised in anger. Microphones attached to the cameras feed the sound signals to software that can detect voices that are aggressive in tone.

In a trial earlier this year, police made three arrests after being alerted by the system

Brilliant Minds Forecast the Next 50 Years

November 20, 2006

What will be the biggest breakthrough of the next 50 years?

As part of New Scientist’s 50th anniversary celebrations, they asked over 70 of the world’s most brilliant scientists for their ideas.

In coming decades will we: discover that we are not alone in the universe? Unravel the physiological basis for consciousness? Routinely have false memories implanted in our minds? Begin to evolve in new directions? And will… read more

NASA Studies Manned Asteroid Mission

November 20, 2006

NASA is appraising a human mission to a near-Earth asteroid, gauging the scientific merit of the endeavor while testing out spacecraft gear, as well as mastering techniques that could prove useful if a space rock ever took aim for our planet.

PROFILE: Cynthia Breazeal

November 20, 2006

On Nov. 22, MIT researcher Cynthia Breazeal will introduce viewers to some of her seminal inventions: the famous toddler-like robotic head named Kismet; Leonardo, a million-dollar joint project with Stan Winston, legendary in Hollywood for The Terminator robots; and a touch-sensitive teddy bear called the Huggable, which may someday comfort patients and assist caregivers in hospital pediatric wards.

Researchers unveil a self-aware robot

November 20, 2006

Scientists have created a four-legged robot resembling a starfish that can sense damage to its body and, on its own, think up a way to recover, such as limping to favor an injured leg.

It generated on its own a new concept of its structure, accurately sensing it had been altered, and then devising a new way to walk using a different gait to compensate for the injury.… read more

Serial Hybrids Are Here!

November 20, 2006

General Motors has announced plans to sell a serial hybrid car, with a prototype available early next year.

A serial hybrid means that the car has two engines, but only one engine is connected directly to the drive train, hence it is a “serial” hybrid.

It is less complex than conventional hybrid cars, because only the electric motor, with its huge range of usable RPM, is connected to… read more

Watching the Insides of a Cell

November 16, 2006

Researchers at MIT’s George R. Harrison Spectroscopy Lab have detected tiny twitches and vibrations in the live membranes of individual cells and neurons by using a powerful and noninvasive imaging technique. The technique could be used in the future to create three-dimensional images, illuminating even finer activities within living cells.

The method uses an optical technique based on interferometry: a laser beam passed through a sample is compared with… read more

Peak Oil Theory faulty: CERA report

November 16, 2006
Source: Cambridge Energy Research Associates

In contrast to a widely discussed theory that world oil production will soon reach a peak and go into sharp decline, a new report by Cambridge Energy Research Associates (CERA) finds that the remaining global oil resource base is actually 3.74 trillion barrels — three times as large as the 1.2 trillion barrels estimated by the theory’s proponents — and that the “peak oil” argument is based on… read more

Robot cars rev up for the city

November 16, 2006

Sebastian Thrun and his team at the Stanford Artificial Intelligence Laboratory are ready to try in-car artificial intelligence, developed for the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) Grand Challenge last year, on city streets in the ultimate test of robot cars.

Next year’s DARPA Urban Challenge will pit robot racers against each other in negotiating a 60-mile course through a simulated city environment.

Reading of The God Delusion in Lynchburg, VA

November 15, 2006

Richard Dawkins read excerpts from The God Delusion and anwsered questions at Randolph-Macon Woman’s College in Lynchburg, Virginia on October 23, 2006.

A Q&A features questions from Jerry Falwell’s Liberty “University” students. In Richard’s tour journal he says:

“Many of the questioners announced themselves as either students or faculty from Liberty, rather than from Randolph Macon which was my host institution. One by one they tried to trip… read more

Charging Batteries without Wires

November 15, 2006

MIT researchers have worked out a theoretical scheme for a wireless-energy transfer that could charge or power devices within a couple of meters of a small power “base station” plugged into an electrical outlet.

The power base station would emit low-frequency electromagnetic radiation in the range of 4 to 10 megahertz. A receiver within a gadget–such as a power-harvesting circuit–could be designed to resonate at the same frequency emitted… read more

Space mirrors could create Earth-like haven on Mars

November 14, 2006

Mirrors in orbit around Mars could be used for “terraforming,” creating Earth-like conditions on a small patch of the planet’s surface, according to a NASA-funded study.

The extra sunlight would provide warmth and solar power for human explorers.

Wearable instrument shirt allows for playing air guitar

November 14, 2006

Australia’s scientific research agency, CSIRO, has created a “wearable instrument shirt” (WIS) that enables users to play an “air guitar” simply by moving one arm to pick chords and the other to strum the imaginary instrument’s strings.

Textile motion sensors embedded in the shirt sleeves detect arm motion and relay it wirelessly to a computer. Custom software then maps motion data to audio samples. The technology is adaptable to… read more

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