science + technology news

Samsung’s gun-toting robot

December 5, 2006

The Intelligent Surveillance and Security Guard Robot, being developed by Samsung, will guarantee “perfect guarding operation,” in contrast with human guards who are all too prone to succumb to fatigue or inclement weather.

It has two cameras–one for daytime watch and another, infrared one for the night–and a laser rangefinder.

Have Camera Phone? Yahoo and Reuters Want You to Work for Their News Service

December 5, 2006

Hoping to turn the millions of people with digital cameras and camera phones into photojournalists, Yahoo and Reuters are introducing a new effort to showcase photographs and video of news events submitted by the public.

NASA Unveils Strategy for Return to the Moon

December 5, 2006

NASA has decided to pursue a base on the Moon. The space agency rolled out today a strategy and rationale for robotic and human exploration of the Moon, determining that a lunar outpost is the best approach to achieve a sustained, human presence on the Moon by 2020.

The Moon base would eventually support 180-day lunar stays, a stretch of time seen as the best avenue to establish a… read more

Minsky talks about life, love in the age of artificial intelligence

December 5, 2006

MIT computer science professor Marvin Minsky has written a new book, “The Emotion Machine,” in which he argues that, contrary to popular conception, emotions aren’t distinct from rational thought; rather, they are simply another way of thinking, one that computers could perform.

“Being angry is a very useful way to solve problems, for instance, by intimidating an opponent or getting rid of people who bother you,” he said.

Me Translate Pretty One Day

December 4, 2006

Over the past decade machine translation has improved dramatically, propelled by Moore’s law, a spike in federal funding in the wake of 9/11, and a new method called statistical-based MT.

Meaningful Machines, a New York firm with an ingenious algorithm and a really big dictionary, is finally cracking the code.

What Comes After Web 2.0?

December 4, 2006

Today’s primitive prototypes show that a more intelligent Internet is still a long way off.

Most of the current projects are so far from producing practical tools–let alone services that could be commercialized–that it’s premature to say they represent a “third generation” of Web technology. For that, judging from today’s state of the art, we’ll need to wait another few years.

Living view in animals shows how cells decide to make proteins

December 4, 2006

Scientists at Duke University Medical Center have visualized in a living animal how cells use a critical biological process to create unique and varied proteins.

The findings also may offer insight into a number of diseases, including cancer, in which the genetic process — called alternative splicing — goes awry and produces the wrong proteins.

Hawking says humans must look to outer space if race is to survive

December 1, 2006

Humans will have to colonize planets in far-flung solar systems if the race is to survive, renowned physicist Stephen Hawking said.

Because there are no other planets like Earth in our own solar system, Hawking said humans will have to travel to another star to find a hospitable planet to colonize. At the speed of chemical-propelled rockets like the Apollo, the trip to the next nearest star would take… read more

How to Shrink a Carbon Nanotube

December 1, 2006

A research group has devised a way to control the diameter of a carbon nanotube — down to essentially zero nanometers.

This useful new ability, designed by scientists from the University of California at Berkeley and Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, may help carbon nanotubes become more easily incorporated into new technologies.

Carbon globules in meteorite may have seeded Earth life

December 1, 2006

Life on Earth may have started with the help of tiny hollow spheres that formed in the cold depths of space, a new study suggests. The analysis of carbon bubbles found in a meteorite shows they are not Earth contaminants and must have formed in temperatures near absolute zero.

Online world as important to Internet users as real world?

November 30, 2006

The 2007 Digital Future Project found that 43 percent of Internet users who are members of online communities say that they “feel as strongly” about their virtual community as they do about their real-world communities.

The 2007 Digital Future Project found that Internet use is growing and evolving as an instrument for personal engagement — through blogs, personal Web sites, and online communities.

Bio-inspired Assembly of Nanoparticle Building Blocks

November 30, 2006
V-shaped amphiphilic molecules containing gold nanoparticles form cylindrical micelles when exposed to water

Chemists at Rice University have discovered how to assemble gold and silver nanoparticle building blocks into larger structures based on a novel method that harkens back to one of nature’s oldest known chemical innovations — the self-assembly of lipid membranes that surround every living cell.

Researchers believe the new method will allow them to create a wide variety of useful materials, including extra-potent cancer drugs and more… read more

Bye Swarmbots, Hello Swarmanoids

November 30, 2006

A team at the Free University of Brussels in Belgium is embarking on a 42-month research project to build and test a 60-strong swarm of small, autonomous robots — the swarmanoid — capable of collaborating in 3-D environments.

Scientific American 50

November 30, 2006

The 2006 SCIENTIFIC AMERICAN 50 special issue, December 2006, profiles the technology leaders of the year.

Unique Marvel of Ancient Greek Technology Gives Up New Secrets

November 30, 2006

The most sophisticated mechanical device of ancient Greece may finally be giving up its secrets.

Researchers have long known the so-called Antikythera mechanism was a calendar of sorts that represented the positions of the sun and moon using a series of gears. In its complexity it outshined all other objects for a thousand years following its creation sometime around the first century B.C.

Now an international consortium of… read more

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