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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

Best and Worst Punditry of 2005

December 29, 2005

A review of 2005 forecasts by well-known technology pundits reveals a familiar mix of right and wrong guesses.

‘Give stem cells to ill patients’

December 29, 2005

Professor Ian Wilmut, the scientist behind the cloning of Dolly the Sheep, is calling for stem cell treatment to be offered to people with terminal illnesses.

“If we wait until things are totally tested and analysed in animals, it will deny some people treatment,” he said.

Quantum Trickery: Testing Einstein’s Strangest Theory

December 29, 2005

Experiments in quantum entanglement are increasing challenging Einstein’s critique of “spooky action at a distance.”

The world is “not as real as we think,” says Anton Zeilinger of the University of Vienna. It’s “even weirder than what quantum physics tells us.”

Chip Industry Sets a Plan for Life After Silicon

December 29, 2005

A transition from silicon to nanontechnology around the year 2015 is forecast in the biannual International Technology Roadmap for Semiconductors, to be issued Saturday. The report is used by the semiconductor industry as a planning tool to determine how best to spend research and development money for new technology.

2005: The year in technology

December 28, 2005

Many weird and wonderful new gadgets, gizmos and inventions were revealed in 2005. Autonomous cars, robotic assistants and nano-circuitry provided a bright view of the future, while cellphone viruses, virtual crime sprees and “non-lethal” crowd control weapons hinted at technological troubles ahead.

The busiest inventor of the year was almost certainly Google, which continues to grow from a search engine into a many-tentacled technological titan, with a service for… read more

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