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Better robots could help save disaster victims

January 5, 2006

In the wake of the tragic accident that killed 12 trapped miners in West Virginia, roboticists are saying that a new generation of search-and rescue-robots could help save lives in future disasters.

Howie Choset, a roboticist at Carnegie Mellon University, is working on a robot that can squirm snake-like through small spaces that might be left after a mine or building collapses. He said he and his students look… read more

Don’t Even Think About Lying

January 5, 2006

Functional magnetic resonance imaging and a new technology using near-infrared light are pushing the state-of-the-art in lie detection by measuring blood flow to key areas of the brain.

‘Hacking Matter’ revisited

January 4, 2006

The book HACKING MATTER: Levitating Chairs, Quantum Mirages, and the Infinite Weirdness of Programmable Atoms Hacking Matter “contains a deep scientific misconception,” says a leading nanotechnology expert in response to our news item Wednesday.

“The ‘programmable atoms’ of the title are quantum wells, structures much larger than individual atoms. These wells can have electron wave functions that resemble atoms in their spatial patterns, but not in scale… read more

What Is Your Dangerous Idea?

January 4, 2006

The “third culture thinkers” in the Edge community of scientists and science-minded thinkers have written 117 original essays in response to the 2006 Edge Question: “What is your dangerous idea?”.

The answers include “The self is a conceptual chimera” (John Allen Paulos),”We are all virtual” (Clifford Pickover), and “The near-term inevitability of radical life extension and expansion” (Ray Kurzweil).

Mine robot bogged down in mud in West Virginia rescue

January 4, 2006

A robot designed to search mines during emergencies was bogged down by mud earlier Tuesday, and was temporarily out of service in efforts to locate 13 miners trapped in a West Virginia mine.

The rescue robot, developed for the federal Mine Safety and Health Administration, is 30 inches wide, 50 inches tall and was designed to find possible escape routes for those trapped inside and determine whether it’s safe… read more

Year of the Robot

January 4, 2006

Last year (2005), the news was full of stories about robots. On the industrial side, the North American robotics industry posted 30% growth through the first three quarters (the latest data available).

In other, less traditional markets such as law enforcement, there were monthly reports of mobile robots used for bomb detection and disposal in the U.S. and across the world. Unmanned robotic vehicles have been used for assessing… read more

Ray Kurzweil on The Quest For Immortality

January 3, 2006

“When we get to 2030, say, we will have the means to indefinitely extend human life,” said Ray Kurzweil, interviewed by Morley Safer in a web version of CBS 60 Minutes.

Scientists Report a Crucial Gain in Growing Stem Cells

January 3, 2006

Scientists at a laboratory affiliated with the University of Wisconsin have developed a stem-cell culture medium free of animal cells and used it to derive two new human embryonic stem-cell lines.

The work is considered a crucial step in stem-cell research because it will allow growth of these cells without using animal products that can harbor viruses and other potential sources of problems.

Biotech data mining

January 2, 2006

In the last ten years, biotech companies have been busy accumulating mountains of data. And it’s becoming more and more difficult to find useful information about interactions between genes and proteins for example.

It’s one of the reasons why the European Union has started the BioGrid project. The researchers involved in it have delivered a better search engine for PubMed by analyzing over-expressing genes and predicting the protein interactions… read more

Data, Music, Video: Raising a Curtain on Future Gadgetry

January 2, 2006

The flat-panel televisions will be getting bigger, the MP3 players and cellphones will be getting smaller. And almost everything will be getting cheaper.

But the biggest trend expected at the International Consumer Electronics Show, which begins this week in Las Vegas, is that these machines will be communicating with one another. The theme of this year’s show might best be described as Convergence: This Time We Mean It.

The Quest For Immortality

January 1, 2006

60 Minutes correspondent Morley Safer interviewed Dr. Aubrey de Grey, who says that sometime in the next 20 to 30 years or so, we’ll be able to recondition ourselves for the first steps towards immortality.

(Video of interview available)

Scholars debate whether to limit scientific research

December 30, 2005

A conference titled “Forbidding Science? Balancing Freedom, Security, Innovation and Precaution” will explore whether scientific research should be restricted – and, if so, how far “too far” might be.

It will include research controversies in the areas of pathogens and toxins, nanotechnology and cognitive enhancement and will be held Jan. 12 – 13 at Arizona State University in Tempe.

Source: Arizona State University news release

Oh, Has Uncle Sam Got Mail

December 30, 2005

The rapid adoption of electronic communications technology in the last decade has created a major crisis for the National Archives.

The amount of data to be preserved has exploded in recent years, thanks to the proliferation of high-tech tools such as personal computers and wireless email devices such as BlackBerries. When President Bush leaves office after eight years, the White House is expected to turn over more than 100… read more

Vitamin D May Lower Some Cancer Risk

December 29, 2005

There is growing evidence that vitamin D helps protect against colorectal cancer, and now a group of researchers who have long studied the vitamin say the same is true for breast cancer and ovarian cancer.

The researchers recommend 1,000 international units (IU) of vitamin D daily. Current recommendations call for people between the ages of 1 and 50 to consume 200 IU of vitamin D daily, with 400 IU… read more

Commentary: Living forever

December 29, 2005

Ray Kurzweil “takes human evolution far beyond today’s most optimistic forecasts in … arguably the most blogged-about book of 2005, a 640-page blockbuster: ‘The Singularity Is Near.’”

“These hold that anyone born today will live to be 130 and productive to 110, and those born in the 22nd century will live to 250. The glass-half-full-and-filling geomancers of the human genome research world can perceive ‘immortality’ in the 23rd century.… read more

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