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Google’s free 3-D service brings views of Earth down to the PC

June 29, 2005

Google unveiled a free, three-dimensional satellite mapping technology Tuesday that is part flight simulator, part video game and part world atlas.

Google Earth allows users to zoom in from space, simulate flying above terrian or a city, get directions, find businesses and share the information with friends.

Google also introduced an updated version of its personalized search that personalizes results based on what a user has searched for… read more

Remembrance of Things Future: The Mystery of Time

June 27, 2005

Einstein-Rosen bridges or “wormholes” — tunnels through space connecting distant points — could allow for time travel, and microscopic holes in the quantum “space-time foam” might be cultivated to grow to macroscopic size, creating a traversable wormhole.

Quantum computer springs a leak

June 27, 2005

Physicists in the Netherlands have shown that efforts to engineer quantum computers around ever-smaller qubits may face significant obstacles.

They have proven that there is a universal decoherence rate for qubits. This means that quantum information will inevitably be lost after a certain time, even without any external disturbance. For some of the most promising qubit technologies, the limit would be about 1 second.

Space station gets HAL-like computer

June 27, 2005

Clarissa, a voice-operated computer assistant, will be used in space for the first time on Monday.

The program will initially talk astronauts on the International Space Station through tests of onboard water supplies. But its developers hope it will eventually be used for all computer-related work on the station.

The program “listens” to everything astronauts say and analyzes how to respond, using a “command grammar” of 75 commands… read more

Half human, half beast?

June 27, 2005

A few human cells don’t make an animal human. But what if it’s 10%, or 50%? Welcome to the moral minefield of human-animal chimeras. (Requires paid subscription)

‘Robo-legs’ help amputees get around

June 27, 2005

Blazing advancements, including lightweight composite materials, keener sensors and tiny programmable microprocessors are restoring remarkable degrees of mobility to amputees.

The line that has long separated human beings from the machines that assist them is blurring as complex technologies become a visible part of people who depend upon them.

World broadband numbers in Q1 2005

June 27, 2005

World broadband lines reached 164 million in Q1 2005, up 52 million lines since Q1 2004.

The United Status leads, with 36.5 milion lines. China remains in second place with 28.3 million, followed by Japan, South Korea, France, and Germany.

Nano-levers point to futuristic gadgets

June 27, 2005

Billions of “Nanomech” mechanical levers could be used to store songs on future MP3 players and pictures on digital cameras.

Nanomech memory, which is nonvolatile, stores data using thousands of electro-mechanical switches, each a few microns long and less than a micron wide.

How the Web changes your reading habits

June 24, 2005

Palo Alto Research Center researchers are developing ScentHighlights, which uses artificial intelligence to highlight sections of text it predicts you’ll be interested in based on your search words.

Chirpy chickadees signal deadliness of predators

June 24, 2005

Chickadees sing one of the animal kingdom’s most intricate alarm calls, a new study reveals, increasing the number of syllables in their battle cry depending on the deadliness of a sitting predator.

Microbes Can Produce Miniature Electrical Wires

June 23, 2005

Researchers at the University of Massachusetts Amherst have discovered a tiny biological structure that is highly electrically conductive.

The conductive structures, known as “microbial nanowires,” are produced by a novel microorganism known as Geobacter. The nanowires are only 3-5 nanometers in width, but durable and more than a thousand times long as they are wide.

The finding could provide new approaches to using microbes to assist in the… read more

Brain Sees Violent Video Games as Real Life — Study

June 23, 2005

The brains of players of violent video games react as if the violence were real, a study has suggested.

It found that as violence became imminent, the cognitive parts of the brain became active and that during a fight, emotional parts of the brain were shut down.

It suggests that video games are training the brain to react with this pattern.

Robo-pups created with curiosity in mind

June 23, 2005

Robotic puppies exhibiting a form of artificial curiosity are being developed at Sony’s research and development lab in Paris, France.

The Aibo pups display an innate artificial curiosity similar to that seen in baby animals. They slowly learn to explore the surrounding world, before playing with toys and trying to communicate with other Aibo dogs.

Each of the new Aibo dogs was given two software control mechanisms. Firstly,… read more

Why your brain has a ‘Jennifer Aniston cell’

June 23, 2005

New research on the activity patterns of single neurons in memory-linked areas of the brain supports a decades-old and dismissed theory tying single neurons to individual concepts.

Livermore supercomputer ranked as world’s fastest

June 23, 2005

Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory now has the world’s most powerful computer, IBM’s BlueGene/L, according to this year’s Top 500 list, announced Wednesday at the International Supercomputer Conference in Heidelberg, Germany.

The BlueGene/L installed there contains 62,000 microprocessors that can handle 136.8 trillion calculations, or teraflops, per second.

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