science + technology news

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

Metamaterial bridges the terahertz gap

November 30, 2006

Researchers have used an artificially-structured “metamaterial” to build a device that can control highly-elusive terahertz (THz) radiation. The modulator is claimed to be ten times better at switching a THz beam than previous designs and could pave the way for the use of the radiation in a wide range of applications in chemistry, astronomy and even airport security.

Google: ‘iPod will hold all the world’s TV in 12 years’

November 29, 2006

Nikesh Arora, Google’s VP of European operations, said that in the coming years, the plummeting price of storage and its increasing volume-to-size ratio will give iPods almost unlimited potential to hold music and video.

Arora believes mobile is likely to follow the same path.

Acoustic sensors make surfaces interactive

November 29, 2006

Tai-Chi (Tangible Acoustic Interfaces for Computer-Human Interaction), a series of acoustic sensors that turn any surface into a touch-sensitive computer interface, has been developed by European researchers.

Two or more sensors are attached around the edges of the surface. These pinpoint the position of a finger, or another touching object, by tracking minute vibrations. This allows them to create a virtual touchpad, or keyboard, on any table or wall.

The Future of War

November 29, 2006

Technology will increasingly allow the most sophisticated and best equipped militaries — primarily that of the US — to fight battles using robots rather than soldiers.

Ideas on the drawing board or in development include killer satellites that could destroy an enemy’s satellites, a Common Aero Vehicle (CAV) that could swoop with hypersonic speed up to 3,000 miles to attack a target, Hyper-Velocity Rod Bundles that would fire tungsten… read more

Over 500 Million Mobile Broadband Users by 2010

November 29, 2006

Strategy Analytics has forecast 500 million mobile broadband users globally by 2010.

“We’re not likely to see technologies like mobile WiMAX or indeed, anything else, really take off until the next decade,” comments Sara Harris, Senior Industry Analyst at Strategy Analytics and author of this report. “However, HSPA and EV-DO will be more than acceptable for most users, giving them the speed and flexibility they want to use their… read more

CREATIVITY: the mind, machines, and mathematics–David Gelernter vs. Ray Kurzweil

November 29, 2006

Are we limited to building super-intelligent robotic “zombies” or will it be possible and desirable for us to build conscious, creative, volitional, perhaps even “spiritual” machines?

That’s the topic of a debate between Yale professor of computer science David Gelernter and Ray Kurzweil and moderated by Rodney Brooks in a special MIT event, Creativity: the mind, machines, and mathematics, on Thursday, November 30 at 4:30-5:30pm EDT.… read more

Still Waiting for Personalized Medicine

November 28, 2006

Pharmacogenomics–a field whose researchers aim to let doctors tailor prescriptions to their patients’ genetic makeups–is one of the most tantalizing promises of the genomic era: quick and easy tests that tell you which drugs to take or what dose is right for you.

A few tests have been developed for specific diseases, such as cancer–most notably a genetic test that predicts which lung cancer patients will respond to some… read more

Part II: The Glimmering Promise of Gene Therapy

November 28, 2006

Its history is marred by failures, false hopes, and even death, but for a number of the most horrendous human diseases, gene therapy still holds the promise of a cure. Now, for the first time, there is reason to believe that it is actually working.

Atom spied interfering with electron flow

November 28, 2006

An individual “dopant” atom has been spied interfering with the flow of electrons through a silicon transistor for the first time. Researchers say the feat could help scientists squeeze more power out of conventional computers and ultimately develop silicon-based quantum computers.

Whales boast the brain cells that ‘make us human’

November 28, 2006

Whales have spindle neurons — specialised brain cells that are involved in processing emotions and helping us interact socially.

The cells occur in parts of the human brain that are thought to be responsible for our social organization, empathy, speech, intuition about the feelings of others, and rapid “gut” reactions.

What is more, whales appear to have had these cells for at least twice as long as humans,… read more

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