science + technology news

A joyride through the nanoworld

November 16, 2009

Atomic force microscope (Felice Frankel)

Chemist George Whitesides has collaborated with MIT and Harvard photographer-in-residence Felice Frankel to produce No Small Matter, a book of images of the micro and nanoworld.

Religion a figment of human imagination

April 28, 2008

Humans alone practice religion because they’re the only creatures to have evolved imagination, not because it promoted social bonding, says anthropologist Maurice Bloch of the London School of Economics.

Instead, he argues that first, we had to evolve the necessary brain architecture to imagine things and beings that don’t physically exist, and the possibility that people somehow live on after they’ve died.

Uniquely, humans could use what Bloch… read more

Programmer speeds search for gravitational waves

May 18, 2006

A global effort to detect gravitational waves has received an unexpected boost after a volunteer improved the Einstein@home computer code used comb through data from ground-based detectors.

Sensors guard privacy

July 22, 2003

Researchers from the University of Colorado at Boulder have addressed the privacy problem with a way to set up networks of tiny sensors that allows users to gain useful traffic statistics but preserves privacy by cloaking location information for any given individual.

Practical Nanotube Electronics

November 23, 2009

ACS/Nano Letters

University of Southern California researchers have made large, functional arrays of transistors at room temperature, using simple methods from batches of carbon nanotubes that are relatively impure, but capable of driving display pixels in computer and TV monitors.

Arrays of silicon transistors need to be made at high temperatures and in a vacuum, so they’re very expensive.

Cellphones used for medical imaging?

May 1, 2008

University of California at Berkeley researchers have developed a technique for transmitting medical images via cellphones.

The cell phone, hooked up to the data acquisition device (breast tomoography sensor, xray or MRI machine, etc.), would transmit the raw data to a central server, where the information would be used to create an image. The server would then relay a highly compressed image back to the cell phone, where the… read more

The new breed of cyber-terrorist

June 2, 2006

Scott Borg, the director and chief economist of the US Cyber Consequences Unit, a Department of Homeland Security advisory group, believes that attacks on computer networks are poised to escalate to full-scale disasters that could bring down companies, destroy power grids, and kill people.

Google Wallet official launch

September 20, 2011

Google Wallet

Google released Monday the first version of its Google Wallet app to Sprint. With Google Wallet, you can tap, pay and save using your phone and near field communication (NFC).

Google is now rolling out Google Wallet to all Sprint Nexus S 4G phones through an over-the-air update, with a $10 free bonus to the Google Prepaid Card. Google plans to add Google Wallet to more… read more

Virtual humans edge closer

July 30, 2003

Avatars seem to be getting ever more lifelike, with more realistic visual appearance, speech, and body motion.

But as an avatar approaches reality, it could fall into the “Zombie Zone,” in which expectations that a character is actually human are suddently “violated by something that slightly wrong in the voice, or the face, or in the way it moves, and it gives you a horrible feeling that is not… read more

Gene-Testing Machine for Doctors

December 2, 2009

(Nanosphere)

Nanosphere has developed a device called Verigene that can detect genetic variations in blood that modulate the effectiveness of some drugs, allowing for drug-prescription decisions.

Verigene uses a combination of microfluidics and nanotechnology, housed in a single plastic cartridge, to pull DNA from a blood sample and then screen it for the relevant sequences. It could be run in a doctor’s office.

Turning hands and packages into displays

Are you ready for haptic "smart hands" and interactive displays on packages?
April 15, 2016

The device uses 'time-reversal' processing to send ultrasound waves through the hand. This technique is effectively like ripples in water but in reverse -- the waves become more targeted as they travel through the hand, ending at a precise point on the palm. (credit: Sri Subramanian / University of Sussex)

Imagine using your hand as an interactive touch-screen display. Sounds like science fiction, but Nokia Research Centre and the European Research Council have funded a study, led by the University of Sussex, to develop such a device, which could be used as a display for the next generation of smartwatches and other smart devices.

Called SkinHaptics, the device (still in the lab) sends ultrasonic pulses… read more

Redefining Disease, Genes and All

May 7, 2008

Just as they once mapped the human genome, scientists are trying to map the “diseasome,” the collection of all diseases and the genes associated with them.

They are redefining how diseases are classified, by looking at their genetic underpinnings, not their symptoms or physiological measurements.

Seemingly dissimilar diseases are being lumped together, and what were thought to be single diseases are being split into separate ailments. For example,… read more

A Sixth Sense for a Wired World

June 12, 2006

What if, seconds before your laptop began stalling, you could feel the hard drive spin up under the load? Or you could tell if an electrical cord was live before you touched it?

For the few people who have rare earth magnets implanted in their fingers, these are among the reported effects — a finger that feels omagnetic fields along with the normal sense of touch.

Robot links doctors and patients remotely

August 6, 2003

A high-tech robot being tested at The Johns Hopkins Hospital could be used to remotely link patients with their physicians.

Looking at a computer terminal, the doctor directing the robot sees what the robot sees and hears what the robot hears. At the other end, patients can see and talk to the doctor’s face displayed on a flat screen that sits on the robot’s “shoulders.” The devices are connected… read more

Amazon developing Kindle tools to aid the blind

December 8, 2009

Amazon is developing extra large fonts for the Kindle, along with an audio-based menu navigation system that will help visually impaired users reach the Kindle’s integrated read-aloud feature.

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