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Old beyond her years

September 22, 2006

She is the most ancient child ever discovered and was no more than three years old when she died about 3.3 million years ago.

Unearthed in Ethiopia, she belongs to the primitive human species known as Australopithecus afarensis and has been dubbed Lucy’s daughter, after the iconic fossil of an adult female from the same group discovered in 1974.

I saw the best minds of my generation destroyed by Google

September 21, 2006

“We teenagers have to live in ‘controlled spaces.’ Radio-frequency ID tags, real-time locative systems, global positioning systems, smart doorways, security videocams…” says science fiction writer Bruce Sterling in this spoof on a “pervasive and ubiquitous and geolocative” future.

(Accessible without subscription until Sept. 22)

Also see Bruce Sterling’s “

A Question of Mind Over Matter

September 21, 2006

Scientists are probing the limits of mind-body interaction, developing tools that use artificial intelligence, muscle and neuron sensors — and even plugging directly into the brain — to achieve unprecedented results.

Brain stimulation creates shadow person

September 21, 2006

Swiss scientists say they’ve found electrical stimulation of the brain can create the sensation of a “shadow person” mimicking one’s bodily movements.

Instant messaging worm builds menacing ‘botnet’

September 21, 2006

A computer worm that spreads via AOL instant messaging is being used to build an extensive “botnet” of remote-controlled PCs.

The goal appears to be to create a huge network of remote-controlled machines, known as a “botnet.” Botnets may be used to send out huge quantities of junk e-mail or attack business websites, or create click fraud on Internet ads.

How To Be Human

September 20, 2006

Call-center data could be what’s needed to achieve the ultimate goal of AI: creating a computer program smart enough to hold a natural conversation and passing the Turing Test.

Rollo Carpenter, this year’s winner of the Loebner Prize, created a program that learns by analyzing its conversations with people as they “chat” with it online. He is now extending his nearly 10 years of data by training a bot… read more

The bootless PC and terabytes on a dime

September 20, 2006

Imagine a PC with instantaneous boot up or storing 10TB of data on a device the size of a dime with data-transfer rates unhampered by any latency.

Antisocial robots go to finishing school

September 20, 2006

Robots will need emotional capabilities if they are to cooperate smoothly and flexibly with humans in our residential environments, says Shuji Hashimoto, director of the humanoid robotics centre at Waseda University.

One method: sensors worn by their owner to spot signs of stress. These could include galvanic skin sensors that detect sweat by measuring the conductivity of the skin, and pulse monitors. Neural networks will then be able to… read more

Cardiologist’s ‘living chip’ changes science of disease monitoring

September 19, 2006

University of Rochester Medical Center cardiologist Spencer Rosero, M.D. is developing implantable biosensors to create a “biological chip.”

When implanted, this chip can detect physiologic and chemical changes with faster, improved accuracy.

For a patient with heart failure, for example, the biosensor could detect a change in blood protein levels at an early stage, prompting the physician to alter medications to correct the problem.

Source:… read more

Discovery allows for connecting nanotubes in circuits

September 19, 2006
Some molecular handles can transform between a bond-intact state (left), and a bond-broken state (right), allowing the nanotubes to act like switches that can be turned on or off in the presence of certain substances or with a laser beam.

MIT researchers have identified a class of chemical molecules that preserve the metallic properties of carbon nanotubes and their near-perfect ability to conduct electricity with little resistance.

Using these molecules as handles could overcome fabrication problems and lend the nanotubes new properties for a host of potential applications as detectors, sensors or components in novel optoelectronics.

Source: MIT news

‘Spectrum of empathy’ found in the brain

September 19, 2006

Our ability to empathise with others seems to depend on the action of “mirror neurons” in the brain, according to a new study of neurons in humans that fire when sounds are heard.

In other words, if you hear the noise of someone eating an apple, some of the same neurons fire as when you eat the apple yourself.

Big Brother is shouting at you

September 18, 2006

Middlesbrough has fitted loudspeakers on seven of its 158 cameras, publicly berating bad behaviour and shaming offenders into acting more responsibly.

A Chip That Can Transfer Data Using Laser Light

September 17, 2006

Intel and University of California, Santa Barbara researchers plan to announce on Monday that they have created a silicon-based chip that can produce laser beams. The advance will make it possible to use laser light rather than wires to send data between chips.

Chip makers may be able to put the high-speed data communications industry on the same curve of increased processing speed and diminishing costs (Moore’s law) that… read more

How to Burn a Three Terabyte CD

September 15, 2006

A new nano-optical device can focus laser light tighter than traditional optics, which could may possible storage of three terabytes on a CD-size disc.

New ‘superlens’ reveals hidden nanostructures

September 15, 2006

A microscope used to scan nanostructures can be dramatically enhanced by using a “superlens” capable of creating images of objects smaller than the wavelength of light.

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