science + technology news

Life inside a black hole

February 13, 2006

There is a way for you to live inside a black hole: find one that has five dimensions.

In the 4D case, you would experience “tidal” forces that vary so vastly over short distances that your body would be pulled apart. But in the 5D case, there is no physical plughole, and the tidal forces are negligible, so you could happily explore without fear of dismemberment.

And, according… read more

Robot moved by a slime mould’s fears

February 13, 2006

Kobe University researchers have developed a slime mold-controlled bot in an effort to find simpler ways to control a robot’s behavior in a complex or paradoxical environment.

They grew slime in a six-pointed star shape on top of a circuit and connected it remotely, via a computer, to the hexapod bot. Light sensors on top of the robot controlled light shone onto one of the six points of the… read more

Toxoplasma Parasite Mind Control

February 13, 2006

Half of the world’s human population is infected with Toxoplasma gondii, parasites in the body — and the brain.

Dr. E. Fuller Torrey (Associate Director for Laboratory Research at the Stanley Medical Research Institute) noticed links between Toxoplasma, a common parasite found in the guts of cats, and schizophrenia in human beings, approximately three billion of whom are infected with T. gondii.

Skip Your Veggies? Not So Fast

February 13, 2006

A recently published study of 48,835 women, questioning low-fat diets, had serious design defects, experts say.

Subjects with “healthier” diets cut calories from fat by only 8.2 percent compared with the normal group and ate only 1.1 additional servings of fruits and vegetables a day — too small a difference to expect health benefits.

And hy focusing only on total fat intake, the study misleadingly failed to distinquish… read more

US group implants electronic tags in workers

February 12, 2006

An Ohio company has embedded RFID chips in two of its employees — the first known case in which US workers have been “tagged” electronically as a way of identifying them.

CityWatcher.com, a private video surveillance company, said it was testing the technology as a way of controlling access to a room where it holds security video footage for government agencies and the police.

Faster technology lets atomic force microscope capture nano movies

February 10, 2006
FIRAT probe

Georgia Tech researchers have created a highly sensitive atomic force microscopy (AFM) technology capable of high-speed imaging 100 times faster than current AFM. This technology could prove invaluable for many types of nano-research, in particular for scanning integrated circuits for mechanical and material defects and observing fast biological interactions on the molecular scale, even translating into movies of molecular interactions in real time.

FIRAT (Force sensing Integrated… read more

Chips that really get under your skin

February 9, 2006

Researchers at the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology have developed a chip that allows you to listen to an iPod using your forearm as the transmission wire for the audio signals.

To reduce power consumption and boost data rate, the chip sends low-power ultra-wideband signals over a wide range of frequencies, rather than sending a high-power signal at a narrow frequency.

The chips can produce data… read more

Software That Learns by Doing

February 8, 2006

Attempts to create self-improving software date to the 1960s. But machine learning has remained mostly the province of academic researchers, with only a few niche applications in the commercial world, such as speech recognition and credit card fraud detection.

Now, researchers say, better algorithms, more powerful computers and a few clever tricks will move it further into the mainstream.

Has BYU prof found AIDS cure?

February 7, 2006

Brigham Young University researchers believe they have found a new compound that could finally kill the HIV/AIDS virus, not just slow it down as current treatments do.

CSA-54, one of a family of compounds called Ceragenins (or CSAs), mimics the disease-fighting characteristics of anti-microbial and anti-viral agents produced naturally by a healthy human immune system. It attacks HIV at its molecular membrane level, disrupting the virus from interacting with… read more

Low-Fat Diet Does Not Cut Health Risks, Study Finds

February 7, 2006

The largest study ever to ask whether a low-fat diet reduces the risk of getting cancer or heart disease has found that the diet has no effect.

The $415 million federal study involved nearly 49,000 women ages 50 to 79 who were followed for eight years. In the end, those assigned to a low-fat diet had the same rates of breast cancer, colon cancer, heart attacks and strokes as… read more

Programmable Cell Adhesion Encoded by DNA Hybridization

February 7, 2006

A new technique in which single strands of synthetic DNA are used to firmly fasten biological cells to non-biological surfaces has been developed by researchers with the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and the University of California at Berkeley.

This technique holds promise for a wide variety of applications, including biosensors, drug-screening technologies, growing artificial tissues, and design of neural networks.

To date, researchers have been attaching cells to… read more

Revolution in a Box: the Center for Responsible Nanotechnology

February 7, 2006

The Center for Responsible Nanotechnology wants to help create a world in which advanced nanotechnology — molecular manufacturing — is widely used for beneficial purposes, and in which the risks are responsibly managed.

“The ability to manufacture highly advanced nanotech products at an exponentially accelerating pace will have profound and perilous implications for all of society, and our goal is to lay a foundation for handling them wisely,” say… read more

IBM alters silicon’s behaviour to power new chip

February 7, 2006

IBM has developed new chipmaking methods that will allow its upcoming Power6 computer processor to run twice as fast as current versions, achieving speeds between 4 and 5 GHz.

Instead of just making transistors smaller, IBM came up with a sqeezed-silicon process to alter how silicon behaves by placing a layer of insulator underneath a layer of silicon less than 500 atoms thick.

Can Pleo Robot Charm the Market?

February 7, 2006

Caleb Chung, the co-inventor of the popular Furby doll, is launching a new dinosaur robot for kids called Pleo that he hopes will build upon his dream of creating lifelike, emotionally responsive mechanical animals.

The $200 Pleo will have soft-polymer-based skin that covers a series of pressure sensors, infrared in the head to “see” objects and avoid edges, a potentiometer in its belly, force-feedback sensors in its toes to… read more

Welcome To The Blogosphere: Population 27.2 Million And Growing

February 7, 2006

A new blog is created every second and the phenomenon has grown 60 times larger than it was three years ago, according to Dave Sifry at Technorati.

In “State of the Blogosphere,” published most recently on Monday, Sifry said there are about 27.2 million blogs and 75,000 new ones created each day. At that rate, the blogosphere doubles about every 5.5 months, with about 1.2 million new posts daily,… read more

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