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Riken builds 1-petaflops supercomputer

June 21, 2006

Riken has developed a supercomputer that it says achieves maximum theoretical performance of 1 petaflops (1,000 teraflops).

Its theoretical performance is nearly three times that of the top-ranked BlueGene/L installed at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory.

The MDGrape-3 is expected to facilitate simulation of proteins’ molecular connections in a bid to shrink the development time for new drug therapies. In a broader sense, MDGrape-3 is expected to accelerate the… read more

Microsoft fosters robotics

June 21, 2006

The new Microsoft Robotics Group has announced Microsoft Robotics Studio, a robotics software development platform
intended for use with a wide range of robots.

Features of the system include the ability to create three-dimensional computer models of robots, using real-world physics, letting developers see how the programs they make will work, before building the robot itself.

Nanowire Transistors Faster than Silicon

June 21, 2006

Researchers at Harvard University have shown that nanowire transistors can be at least four times speedier than conventional silicon devices.

The principal researcher, chemistry professor Charles Lieber, says this could lead to inexpensive, high-performance, flexible electronic circuitry for cell phones and displays. It could also save space and further increase speed, he says, by allowing memory, logic, and sensing layers to be assembled on the same chip.

How much do we need to know?

June 21, 2006

We should limit access to information and technologies that could put unprecedented power into the hands of malign individuals, says Bill Joy in the June 17 New Scientist magazine (subscription required).

“Rather than regulate things, we could price catastrophe into the cost of doing business,” he advises. “Right now, if you want approval for things, you go through a regulatory system. If we used insurance and actuaries… read more

Artificial Intelligence Turns 50

June 20, 2006

AI@50, a conference commemorating the golden anniversary of the field of artificial intelligence, will be held on July 13-15 at Dartmouth University.

Source: Dartmouth University news release

Record CCD image sensor has 111 million pixels

June 20, 2006

Dalsa Semiconductor has fabricated an image sensor with more than 111 million pixels. The company claims the 4 x 4-inch charge-coupled device, configured as 10,560 x 10,560 pixels, is the world’s highest-resolution image sensor and the first to break the 100 million-pixel barrier.

‘Silicon Velcro’ could make sticky chips

June 20, 2006

“Silicon Velcro”, an exotic form of silicon that can be stuck together and then peeled apart, has been developed by German researchers.

The material could be used to manufacture microprocessors and devices that manipulate fluids on microscopic scales.

DNA or RNA? Versatile Player Takes a Leading Role in Molecular Research

June 20, 2006

Regulatory RNA is turning out to be a major player in some of a cell’s most vital activities.

“Anything DNA can do, RNA can do better,” was the slogan on a slide shown by one biologist, Susan Gottesman of the National Cancer Institute, at a symposium at the Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory on Long Island last week.

Scientists estimate that more than one-third of human genes are under… read more

Researchers Say New Chip Breaks Speed Record

June 20, 2006

Researchers at IBM and Georgia Institute of Technology have broken the speed record for silicon-based chips with a semiconductor that operates at 500 gigahertz — 250 times faster than chips commonly used today.

They achieved the speed milestone by “freezing” the chip to 451 degrees below zero Fahrenheit. At room temperature, the chips operate at 350 gigahertz.

Artificial Intelligence

June 20, 2006

Ray Kurzweil participated in the Washington Post’s “Beyond the Future” web chat on Monday, June 19 to answer questions about AI. A transcript is included.

Beyond the Future is a weeklong series of live Web chats with noted experts and Washington Post reporters examining the kinds of technological advancements the world could see in 20, 50 or even 100 years.

Related news on the subject can be found… read more

The New Human

June 19, 2006

By 2020, virtual reality will allow for a full-immersion sensual encounter involving all five senses, says Ray Kurzweil in “The New Human,” an interview in the July 2005 issue of Playboy.

“You’ll feel as though you’re really with that person…. The whole idea of what it means to have a sexual relationship will be different.

“Computers used to be remote: now they’re in our pockets,” says Kurzweil. Next,… read more

Web accessibility soon mandatory in Europe?

June 18, 2006

The 25 European Commission member states and nine accession countries have all signed up for an “Internet for all” action plan, designed to ensure that the most Web-disadvantaged groups can get online.

The EC has pledged to increase broadband coverage across the continent to 90 percent by 2010 and to halve exclusion rates in skills and digital literacy by 2010.

Calorie restriction may prevent Alzheimer’s through promotion of longevity program in the brain

June 16, 2006

A recent study directed by Mount Sinai School of Medicine suggests that experimental dietary regimens might calm or even reverse symptoms of Alzheimer’s Disease (AD).

The study, which appears in the July 2006 issue of the Journal of Biological Chemistry, is the first to show that restricting caloric intake, specifically carbohydrates, may prevent AD by triggering activity in the brain associated with longevity.

People with AD exhibit elevated… read more

Stem cell superpowers exposed

June 16, 2006

Biologists say they are close to finding a cellular elixir of youth: a cocktail of proteins that can convert adult cells into embryonic stem cells that are able to grow replacement tissues, according to two studies published in Nature June 14.

If found, this recipe could leapfrog the intense controversy involved in extracting stem cells from a human embryo, which is destroyed in the process.

Instead, doctors might… read more

Quantum dots device counts single electrons

June 16, 2006

A device capable of counting the individual electrons in an electric current, by feeding them through a pair of quantum dots, has been developed at NTT Basic Research Laboratories.

Independent experts say the device could be used to study the fundamental behavior of electrons and as critical components inside quantum computers, which must exploit quantum physics to perform calculations.

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