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The Quest for the $1,000 Human Genome

July 18, 2006

The goal now being pursued by the NIH and by several manufacturers is to drive the costs of decoding a human genome down to as little as $1,000.

At that price, it could be worth decoding people’s genomes in certain medical situations and, one day, even routinely at birth.

Powered shoes — perfect for a virtual stroll

July 18, 2006

“Powered Shoes,” a pair of motorized roller skates that cancel out a person’s steps, could let users naturally explore virtual reality landscapes in confined spaces.

NaturallySpeaking Claims Voice Rec Breakthrough

July 18, 2006

Nuance Communications says the latest version of its speech-recognition software can achieve–with some speakers–99 percent accuracy out of the box, without a “training” session to familiarize the software with how a particular person talks.

AI Reaches the Golden Years

July 18, 2006

If the rate of computational power grows exponentially, the possibilities of true artificial intelligence, as seen in movies like The Terminator and I, Robot, could be possible very soon, said Ray Kurzweil.

He pictures a world where humans and machines have merged, enhancing our cognitive abilities and keeping our bodies healthy from the inside.

“It’s not a human civilization and a machine civilization competing with each other,” Kurzweil… read more

Maybe We Should Leave That Up to the Computer

July 18, 2006

Professor Chris Snijders of the Eindhoven University of Technology has been studying the routine decisions that managers make, and is convinced that computer models, by and large, can do a better job of it.

He even issued a challenge late last year to any company willing to pit its humans against his algorithms.

Brainy Robots Start Stepping Into Daily Life

July 18, 2006

A half-century after the term “artificial intelligence” was coined, both scientists and engineers say they are making rapid progress in simulating the human brain, and their work is finding its way into a new wave of real-world products.

Desire Controls What We See, Study Finds

July 17, 2006

Cornell University psychologists found that participants in an experiment interpreted figures in a way that would lead them to a reward, by tracking automatic, unconscious eye movements.

This Computer May Be Too Smart

July 17, 2006

University of Cambridge scientist Professor Peter Robinson has developed a “mind-reading” computer that can interpret reactions and feelings by analyzing a person’s facial movements.

Prominent cardinal attacks science behind stem cells

July 16, 2006

Catholic stem cell researchers could be banned from taking Holy Communion, relieved of church duties and even denied a church burial.

The head of the Vatican’s Pontifical Council for the Family, Cardinal Alfonso López Trujillo, is the most senior Catholic official so far to proclaim on the morality of stem cell research. “Destroying human embryos is equivalent to an abortion,” he said.

Neurons return in damaged brains

July 16, 2006

A drug that triggers the birth of neurons in rat brains has opened up the possibility of a new treatment for Parkinson’s disease.

Animals given the drug generated dopamine-producing neurons in the substantia nigra, the area of the brain where cells are lost in people with Parkinson’s.

Dance to senator saying Net is ‘series of tubes’

July 16, 2006

Commentary and parodies are spreading across the Web after U.S. Sen. Ted Stevens, chairman of the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee, described the Internet as a “series of tubes” during a debate on net neutrality June 28.

Stevens went on to say that his staff sent him an “Internet” that was apparently delayed by Net congestion.

HP’s Memory Spot puts video, audio into photos

July 16, 2006

HP’s Memory Spot is a self-contained storage device with a processor and transmitter that sticks to photos, documents or cards.

It can be stuck onto menus, ads, travel brochures or photos, for exmaple. Wave a reader over it, and the spot will serve a video or audio recording of the subject of the picture to a nearby computer or cell phone.

Unlike RFID chips, the Memory Spot chips… read more

FDA panel recommends against ‘bionic eye’

July 16, 2006

The FDA’s ophthalmic devices panel recommended against the Implantable Miniature Telescope.

The device, which is implanted in one eye, uses a telephoto lens that could enable some patients to do away with the special glasses and handheld telescopes they now use to compensate for the loss in central vision caused by age-related macular degeneration, according to VisionCare Ophthalmic Technologies Inc., its manufacturer.

Rebooting Your Doctor

July 14, 2006

It’s time for silicon to do for medicine what it’s done for so many other fields, says Andy Kessler in his new book, The End of Medicine: How Silicon Valley (and Naked Mice) Will Reboot Your Doctor.

Sharply tuned nanostrings work at room temperature

July 14, 2006

Using a fast, low-cost fabrication technique that allows inexpensive testing of a wide variety of materials, Cornell researchers have come up with nanoscale resonators — tiny vibrating strings — with the highest quality factor so far obtainable at room temperature for devices so small.

The work is another step toward “laboratory on a chip” applications in which vibrating strings can be used to detect and identify biological molecules. The… read more

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