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Bandwidth Advance Hints at Future Beyond Wi-Fi

May 4, 2005

With 500 megabits/sec and higher capacity, ultrawideband (UWB) will eventually replace the ubiquitous Wi-Fi wireless standard.

The future could include wireless home networks that simultaneously interconnect multiple screens, computers and audio and video streams.

Deciphering DNA, Top Speed

May 4, 2005

A few companies are close to commercializing technologies that could reduce the high cost of decoding genomes.

Helicos’s technology eliminates many of the expensive and time-consuming steps in conventional DNA sequencing. The machine works, in essence, by photographing the process of DNA replication.

The commerical version will sequence a whole genome in three days for $5,000.

Smart Phones: Intelligence Spreads

May 4, 2005

The Yankee Group estimates a global market of 49 million smart phones by yearend and 98 million in 2006 as the devices push deeper into the mainstream.

(A BusinessWeek special report.)

Chimeras on the Horizon, but Don’t Expect Centaurs

May 3, 2005

If research on human embryonic stem cells ever gets going, people will be hearing a lot more about chimeras, creatures composed of more than one kind of cell.

Such creations — of pigs with human hearts, monkeys with human larynxes — are likely to be unsettling to many.

Video conferencing gets quantum security

May 3, 2005

Quantum cryptography has been sped up to the point that it can be used to secure video conferencing, currently over a distance of about 120 kilometers.

Scientists from Toshiba’s Cambridge Research Laboratory have invented a system capable of generating 100 quantum keys every second, each consisting of 128 bits. This is fast enough for every individual frame of video to be protected by its own encryption.

Scientists create animals that are part-human

May 2, 2005

The biological co-mingling of animal and human is now evolving into exotic and unsettling mixes of species, evoking the Greek myth of the monstrous chimera, which was part lion, part goat and part serpent.

Particularly worrisome to some scientists are the nightmare scenarios that could arise from the mixing of brain cells: What if a human mind somehow got trapped inside a sheep’s head?

Ex-CIA chief warns of EMP nuke threat

May 2, 2005

Former CIA Director James Woolsey Woolsey has called on U.S. to defend against a devastating “Scud-in-a-bucket” attack.

“A simple ballistic missile from a stockpile somewhere in the world outfitted on something like a tramp steamer and fired from some distance offshore into an American city or to a high altitude, thereby creating an electromagnetic pulse effect … could well be one of the most damaging ways of using a… read more

Harvard scientists create high-speed integrated nanowire circuits

April 29, 2005

Chemists and engineers at Harvard University have made robust circuits from nanowires that align themselves on a chip of glass during low-temperature fabrication, creating rudimentary electronic devices that offer solid performance without high-temperature production or high-priced silicon.

The researchers, led by chemist Charles M. Lieber and engineer Donhee Ham, produced circuits at low temperature by running a nanowire-laced solution over a glass substrate, followed by regular photolithography to etch… read more

‘All-optical’ switch could advance light-based telecommunications

April 29, 2005

Duke University physicists have developed a switching technique that uses a very weak laser beam to control a much stronger beam. The achievement could make optical telecommunications devices perform far more efficiently.

The report in Science also suggests possible techniques for using switching beams as weak as single photons, making them useful for quantum computing.

Duke University news release

Huge radio telescope boasts supercomputer brain

April 29, 2005

A revolutionary new radio telescope called LOFAR will consist of 20,000 antennas spread over 400 kilometers to detect long-wavelength radio signals (up to 30 meters).

It will be connected to a 27.4 teraflops supercomputer via 22 terabits/sec fiber optics to model and compensate for ionospheric path distortions (“twinkling”) in real time.

A main objective is to discover the end of the so-called cosmic dark age — a few… read more

NASA Funds ‘Miracle Polymer’

April 28, 2005

NASA had awarded Rice University $11 million over the next four years to develop an experimental power cable made from carbon nanotubes that could theoretically conduct electricity up to 10 times better than traditional copper wire and weigh one-sixth as much.

VR headset spots concussion in minutes

April 28, 2005

A virtual-reality headset is being developed that can diagnose the extent of a head injury within minutes.

The system puts the wearer through an array of neuropsychological tests designed to pick up reduced reaction times and deficits in working memory, conditions that would indicate injuries to different parts of the brain.

By measuring reaction times in a battery of tests, the system is designed to detect even mild… read more

Desktop nuclear fusion demonstrated

April 28, 2005

Nuclear fusion in a tabletop device has been performed, involving heating an ordinary lithium tantalate crystal soaked in deuterium gas.

While the technique is unlikely to lead to power generation, such a device could act as a portable source of neutrons for analysing materials and medical imaging, and perhaps even spacecraft propulsion.

Group of Scientists Drafts Rules on Ethics for Stem Cell Research

April 27, 2005

The National Academy of Sciences has proposed ethical guidelines for research with human embryonic stem cells.

The report paves the way for research involving animals called chimeras that have been seeded with human cells. The purpose of such experiments is to test first in animals the human organs that could be grown from embryonic stem cells.

But it places certain types of experiments out of bounds, at least… read more

Mind-reading machine knows what you see

April 27, 2005

It is possible to read someone’s mind by remotely measuring their brain activity using functional MRI scanning, researchers have shown. The technique can even extract information from subjects that they are not aware of themselves.

The setup could also be used as a “consciousness-meter,” says John-Dylan Haynes at University College London; “a device that allows us to assess whether a patient is consciously perceiving his or her outside environment.”

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