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Your Brain Boots Up Like a Computer

August 21, 2006

As we yawn and open our eyes in the morning, the brain stem sends little puffs of nitric oxide to another part of the brain, the thalamus, which then directs it elsewhere.

Like a computer booting up its operating system before running more complicated programs, the nitric oxide triggers certain functions that set the stage for more complex brain operations, according to a new study.

Longevity genes fight cancer at its source

August 21, 2006

The secret to longevity genes may lie in their potent power to fight off cancer.

Research suggests that signalling pathways that control longevity may have coevolved with tumor-suppressive mechanisms.

Adult brain cells made to multiply and regenerate

August 21, 2006

Adult human brain cells can generate new tissue when implanted into in the brains of mice, new research reveals. The findings could pave the way to new therapies for a host of neurodegenerative diseases, including Alzheimer’s.

The Millennium Project’s 2006 State of the Future published

August 20, 2006

The Millennium Project–a global participatory think tank–has released its 10th annual State of the Future report.

The report distills the collective intelligence of over 2,000 leading scientists, futurists, scholars, and policy advisors who work for governments, corporations, non-governmental organizations, universities, and international organizations.

Among its findings:

  • Dramatic increases in collective human-machine intelligence are possible within 25 years. It is also possible that within the
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    ‘Electron-spin’ trick boosts quantum computing

    August 18, 2006

    A new silicon chip capable of manipulating the spin of a single electron could ultimately allow futuristic quantum computers to be built using conventional electronic technology.

    Govt to back intelligence robot development

    August 18, 2006

    Japan’s Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry plans to begin assisting the development of next-generation intelligence robots in fiscal 2007 with the aim of commercializing them in 2015.

    Intelligence robots are capable of recognizing sounds and images through sensors and of automatically analyzing the obtained information to determine their actions.

    Speedy silicon sets world record

    August 18, 2006

    A simple tweak to the way common silicon transistors are made — adding fluorine implants to the silicon layers using a common ion-implantation manufacturing process — could allow them to operate at a speed of about 110GHz, using existing silicon manufacturing technology.

    Atomic hopper shows promise for nano switching

    August 18, 2006

    A single cobalt atom has been made to hop back and forth between two positions in response to an electric current by NIST researchers.

    The technique could some day lead to the development of “atomic switches” for nanoscale devices.

    New Chip Design Promises Terahertz Processors

    August 18, 2006

    Scientists at the University of Rochester have come up with a new “ballistic computing” chip design that could lead to 3-terahertz processors that produce very little heat.

    The Ballistic Deflection Transistor (BDT) bounces the electrons into their chosen trajectories. Using inertia, it functions more as an intersection for electrons than as a device that expends energy to stop and start them. Because of this approach, far less power is… read more

    Lifeboat Foundation announces new existential-risk programs

    August 17, 2006

    The Lifeboat Foundation said today it has launched four programs to combat existential risks (threats to human survival) — BioShield, InfoShield, NanoShield, and Space Habitats — and has announced 11 other planned programs, ranging from AsteroidShield to AntimatterShield, to “prevent antimatter-based annihilation.” Public participation is invited.

    The programs fill a gap left by governments and corporations, which “only think short term, so we felt that… read more

    How Human Cells Get Their Marching Orders

    August 17, 2006

    Stanford University biologists say they have discovered a coordinate system in human cells that may shed light on processes like wound healing and lend some hope to the prospect of regenerating human tissues from mature cells, instead of stem cells.

    New brain cells die without a job to do

    August 17, 2006

    Salk Institute for Biological Studies researchers have found that the survival of newly formed adult brain cells depends on the amount of input they receive.

    Fastest-evolving human gene linked to brain boost

    August 17, 2006

    The fastest evolving gene in the human genome is one linked to brain development, which has undergone “accelerated evolutionary change” in just five million years, as we evolved from our shared simian ancestor.

    What do futurists really know?

    August 17, 2006

    The World Future Society’s annual meeting in Toronto featured keynote speaker Ray Kurzweil, citing “an impressive set of statistics about technologic acceleration to support his predictions, from the increasing number of transistors on a chip to the decreasing cost of sequencing a single unit of DNA. When Kurzweil is explaining it, a glorious future seems almost inevitable.”

    The Expert Mind

    August 16, 2006

    Studies of the mental processes of chess grandmasters have revealed clues to how people become experts in other fields as well.

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