science + technology news

Water Found in Extrasolar Planet’s Atmosphere

April 10, 2007

Astronomers have detected water in the atmosphere of a planet outside our solar system for the first time.

The discovery, announced today, means one of the most crucial elements for life as we know it can exist around planets orbiting other stars.

Artificial Intelligence: Animation Finally Gets NextGen Technology

June 17, 2004

New animation technology applies artificial intelligence to character animation.

In video games, characters can learn to compete and make it more challenging for the user. In movies, animators can automate characters in scenes so they don’t have to tell each character what to do.

‘Digital dark age’ may doom some data

October 28, 2008

A looming “digital dark age” that originates from the mass of data spawned by our ever-growing information economy — at last count, 369 exabytes (quintillion) worth of data — will result from ever-shifting platforms and file formats, and degraded media, says Jerome P. McDonough, assistant professor in the Graduate School of Library and Information Science at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

He recommends devising methods of getting old… read more

Robot wars

April 19, 2007

The US Department of Defense wants to replace a third of its armed vehicles and weaponry with robots by 2015.

The (Nano) Arms Race Has Begun

July 2, 2004

India’s new President A. P. J. Abdul Kalam called today for India to develop nanotechnology — including nanobots — because it will revolutionize warfare.

He called for scientists to develop “super strong, smart and intelligent structures in the field of material science and this in turn could lead new production of nano robots with new types of explosives and sensors for air, land and space systems.”

“This is… read more

Scientists ‘reprogram’ mouse fat cells into clinically useful stem cells

July 27, 2010

Australian scientists from the Monash Institute of Medical Research have reprogrammed adult mouse fat cells and neural cells to become stem cells that can differentiate into a variety of different cells (pluripotency).

The induced pluripotent stem cells (iPS) are nearly identical to the naturally occurring pluripotent stems cells, such as embryonic stem cells, which are highly pluripotent, in short supply and their access restricted in the U.S.

“Induced… read more

Scientists clone from frozen mice

November 4, 2008

Japanese scientists have created clones from the bodies of mice that have been frozen at -20C for 16 years, raising the possibility of recreating extinct creatures such as mammoths from their frozen remains.

First DARPA prosthetic limb comes with virtual reality training

April 27, 2007

An international team led by the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory has developed a prototype of the first fully integrated prosthetic arm that can be controlled naturally, provide sensory feedback, and allow for eight degrees of freedom.

Proto 1, developed for the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) Revolutionizing Prosthetics Program, is a complete limb system that also includes a virtual environment used for patient training, clinical configuration,… read more

‘High-rise’ chips sneak on market

July 15, 2004

“High-rise” three-dimensional semiconductors have quietly started making their way into consumer products.

Matrix Semiconductor is now selling its 3D memory/data storage chips, initially for use in storing pre-recorded content like games or songs.

In the company’s memory chips, planes of transistors can be stacked, which reduces the surface area of the chip and allows more chips to be produced from a single wafer. Ideally, manufacturers get the cost… read more

Revolutionary auto already on the road

November 10, 2008

Inventor Dean Kamen has developed the world’s first Stirling hybrid electric car, using a Stirling engine to powers the features that would normally drain huge power from the battery (defroster and heater), and can go about 60 miles on a single charge of its lithium battery, with practically zero emissions.

The smartest (or the nuttiest) futurist on Earth

May 3, 2007

Ray Kurzweil is a legendary inventor with a history of mind-blowing ideas. Now he’s onto something even bigger. If he’s right, the future will be a lot weirder and brighter than you think.

He is “an inventor whose work in artificial intelligence has dazzled technological sophisticates for four decades…. The magic that has enabled all his innovations has been the science of pattern recognition….

“By 2027, he predicts,… read more

Udacity announces four new free online university computer-science courses

April 13, 2012

Peter Norvig, Director of Research at Google Inc. will teach The Design of Computer Programs (credit: Google)

This just in from Udacity: beginning April 16, Udacity will be offering four new courses, in addition to re-offering CS101: Building a Search Engine and CS373: Programming a Robotic Car:

CS212: The Design of Computer Programs

Peter Norvig will help students develop good taste as programmers by learning how to identify elegant solutions to problems.

CS253: Web Application Engineering
Taught by and… read more

Panel Sees No Unique Risk From Genetic Engineering

July 28, 2004

Genetically engineered crops do not pose health risks that cannot also arise from crops created by other techniques, including conventional breeding, the National Academy of Sciences said in a report issued yesterday.

The report suggests that in some cases, surveillance might be needed after a food gets to the market to check for possible health effects, something not done now. It also calls for some information on the composition… read more

Gesture-based computing takes a serious turn

August 13, 2010


Oblong Industries has developed the G-Speak gestural computing interface for controlling computers through hand gestures, designed for hardcore number-crunchers.

The system is currently complex, but Oblong promises desktop versions will soon be ready to demonstrate.

Telescoping Carbon Nanotubes Can Make Flash Memory Replacment

November 14, 2008

Researchers at The University of Nottingham have used carbon nanotubes to make fast non-volatile memory.

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