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July 13, 2006

Microsoft has announced that it will give $1 million to a team of researchers from Bryn Mawr College and the Georgia Institute of Technology to develop “personal robots” for use in introductory computer science classes as part of the creation of the Institute for Personal Robots in Education at the two colleges.

Freescale goes to market with magnetic memory

July 13, 2006

Freescale Semiconductor has released its MR2A16A chip, which the company says is the first commercial MRAM, or magnetoresistive random access memory, device.

Freescale’s chip promises to read or write data in 35 nanoseconds. In addition, MRAM can hold data even after the computer is turned off. Proponents say it could replace both flash memory, used inside cell phones and cameras, and DRAM, employed inside computers to shuttle data to… read more

Brain-implant enables mind over matter

July 13, 2006

A man paralyzed from the neck down by knife injuries sustained five years ago can now check his email, control a robot arm and even play computer games using the power of thought alone, according to John Donoghue of Brown University, who led the work reported in Nature.

Electrodes implanted in Matt Nagle’s brain measure the neural signals generated when he concentrates on trying to move one of his… read more

Paint-on semiconductor outperforms chips

July 13, 2006

Researchers at the University of Toronto have created a semiconductor device that outperforms today’s conventional chips — and they made it simply by painting a liquid onto a piece of glass.

The Toronto team cooked up semiconductor particles a few nanometers across in a flask containing extra-pure oleic acid, the main ingredient in olive oil. They then placed a drop of solution on a glass slide patterned with gold… read more

What Kind of Genius Are You?

July 12, 2006

A new theory suggests that creativity comes in two distinct types — quick and dramatic, or careful and quiet.

“Conceptual innovators” make bold, dramatic leaps in their disciplines. They do their breakthrough work when they are young.

“Experimental innovators” proceed by a lifetime of trial and error and thus do their important work much later in their careers.

A Peek Into the Remarkable Mind Behind the Genetic Code

July 12, 2006

The first biography of Francis Crick has now appeared. In “Francis Crick, Discoverer of the Genetic Code,” Matt Ridley has created a vivid portrait that explains Crick’s scientific work with clarity, deftly outlines his career and provides sharp insights into the nature of Crick’s remarkable creativity.

Magic mushrooms really cause ‘spiritual’ experiences

July 12, 2006

“Magic” mushrooms really do have a spiritual effect on people, according to Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine researchers.

They used found that 22 of the 36 volunteers had a “complete” mystical experience after taking psilocybin.

Bacteria made to sprout conducting nanowires

July 12, 2006

Pacific Northwest National Laboratories researchers have coaxed Shewanella oneidensis — a bacterium that dumps electrons onto metal — into producing nanowires by growing it in vats that carefully control the amount of oxygen available.

A clearer understanding of the way bacterial nanowires form should allow engineers to make more efficient and powerful biological fuel cells.

Model of inflatable space hotel set to launch

July 12, 2006

Genesis I, an inflatable spacecraft designed to test technology for a future space hotel is to be launched from Russia on Wednesday by Bigelow Aerospace.

Genesis I is one-third the size of a proposed space hotel that is based on an abandoned NASA concept for an inflatable space station called TransHab.

Bigelow hopes to build the 330-cubic-meter space hotel by 2012. But the lack of a low-cost vehicle… read more

Computers learn common sense

July 12, 2006

BBN Technologies has been awarded $5.5 million in funding from the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) for the first phase of “Integrated Learner,” which will learn plans or processes after being shown a single example.

The goal is to combine specialised domain knowledge with common sense knowledge to create a reasoning system that learns as well as a person and can be applied to a variety of complex… read more

‘Lab-made sperm’ fertility hope

July 12, 2006

Scientists have proved for the first time that sperm grown from embryonic stem cells can be used to produce offspring.

A Tissue Engineer Sows Cells and Grows Organs

July 11, 2006

Tissue-engineering researchers are working on tissue replacement projects for practically every body part — blood vessels and nerves, muscles, cartilage and bones, esophagus and trachea, pancreas, kidneys, liver, heart and even uterus.

A more immediate goal is to improve upon a multitude of smaller therapies: transplantable valves for ailing hearts, cell-and-gel preparations for crushed nerves, injections of skeletal muscle cells for urinary continence or new salivary gland tissue to… read more

When humans transcend biology

July 11, 2006

A debate on transhumanism has been going on for the past few years, with naysayers and doomsayers on one side, optimistic futurists on the other, and too little in between.

Engineers Make Like a Tree

July 10, 2006

Researchers are studying plant bionics, cherry-picking evolution’s best biological solutions and applying them to engineering problems.

Are you reading the news?

July 10, 2006

If you think you’re reading the news, be warned that this story — and any other on the web — will be barely read by anyone 36 hours after it was first posted. That’s the message from a team of statistical physicists who have analysed how people access information online.

Researchers at University of Notre Dame and in Hungary have calculated that the number of people who read news… read more

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