December 26, 2005
Ray Kurzweil appeared on NPR’s Science Friday show on December 23, speaking on accelerating technological change and its effects on everything from health to artificial intelligence.
Research into how evolution works has been named by Science Magazine as top science achievement of 2005, a year that also saw fierce debate erupt over “intelligent design.”
Science magazine’s breakthroughs of 2005:
Winner: Evolution in action. Genome sequencing and painstaking field observations shed light on the intricacies of how evolution works.
Runner up: Planetary blitz. Europe’s Huygens probe touched down on Saturn’s moon Titan in January.… read more
Japanese find robots less intimidating than people.
“The prevailing view in Japan is that the country is lucky to be uninhibited by robophobia. With fewer of the complexes that trouble many westerners, so the theory goes, Japan is free to make use of a great new tool, just when its needs and abilities are happily about to converge.
“What seems to set Japan apart from other countries is… read more
PC World’s list of the top tech gadgets of the last half century, rated by “usefulness, design, degree of innovation, and influence on subsequent gadgets, as well the ‘cool factor,’” includes Sony Walkman (1979), Apple iPod (2001), and a tie between ReplayTV RTV2001 and TiVo HDR110 (1999) — the top three.
Other cool items include iRobot Roomba Intelligent Floorvac (2002), Sharp Wizard OZ-7000 (1989), and MITS Altair 8800 (1975).
Ray Kurzweil’s The Singularity Is Near: When Humans Transcend Biology has been named #13 on the New York Times list of “most blogged about books of 2005.”
A gene therapy research team at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center has developed a new method of signaling therapeutic genes to turn “off” or “on,” a mechanism that could enable scientists to fine-tune genetic- and stem cell-based therapies so that they are safer, more controllable and more effective.
Although other similar signaling systems have been developed, the Cedars-Sinai research is the first to give physicians the flexibility to arbitrarily turn the… read more
Scientists from Johns Hopkins’ Institute for Cell Engineering have discovered the steps required to integrate new neurons into the brain’s existing operations.
For more than a century, scientists thought the adult brain could only lose nerve cells, not gain them, but in fact, new neurons do form during adulthood in all mammals, including humans, and become a working part of the adult brain in mice at the very least.… read more
Neuroscientists at Princeton University have developed a new way of tracking people’s mental state as they think back to previous events — a process that has been described as “mental time travel.”
The findings, detailed in the Dec. 23 issue of Science, will aid efforts to learn more about how people mine the recesses of memory and could have a wide-ranging impact in the field of neuroscience, including studies… read more
Duke University scientists have used the self-assembling properties of DNA to mass-produce nanometer-scale structures in the shape of 4×4 grids, on which patterns of molecules can be specified.
They said the achievement represents a step toward mass-producing electronic or optical circuits at a scale 10 times smaller than the smallest circuits now being manufactured.
The smallest features on these square DNA lattices are approximately 5 to 10 nanometers,… read more
Work on the world’s first human-made species is well under way at the Genome Science Centre at the University of British Columbia to play a key role in the production of the first synthetic life form — a microbe made from scratch.
The controversial project is being spearheaded by U.S. scientist Craig Venter.
One option for sparking life in a lab-made genome is to transplant the synthetic DNA… read more
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign researchers have developed a powerful new tool for probing molecular structure on surfaces, combining the chemical selectivity of optical absorption spectroscopy with the atomic-scale resolution of scanning tunneling microscopy.
“First, the sample molecule is placed on a transparent silicon substrate,” said Joseph Lyding, a professor of electrical and computer engineering and a researcher at the Beckman Institute. “Laser light will either be absorbed by… read more
The pen of the future will use inkjet technology to deliver multiple colors from a battery-powered microelectromechanical print head near the tip that pumps out fine jets of ink from a replaceable cartridge, according to recent patent filings by Silverbrook Research.
Digital Universe, a new online information service launching in early 2006, aims to build on the model of free online encyclopedia Wikipedia by inviting acknowledged experts in a range of subjects to review material contributed by the general public.
Ray Kurzweil will be featured in a live interview on NPR Science Friday on Friday, December 23rd, at 3:00 to 4:00 pm ET. Science Friday host Ira Flatow will discuss with Kurzweil his latest book, The Singularity Is Near: When Humans Transcend Biology.
Science Friday is a weekly science talk show broadcast live over public radio stations nationwide as part… read more
A detailed look at human DNA has shown that 1800 genes, or roughly 7 percent of the total in the human genome, have changed under the influence of natural selection within the past 50,000 years, probably in response to aspects of modern human culture such as the emergence of agriculture and the shift towards living in densely populated settlements.