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Refining Semiconductors, One Atom at a Time

April 8, 2004

A physicist has succeeded in controlling semiconductor doping precisely at the atomic level, allowing for eventually extending Moore’s Law and creating custom-designed molecular circuit elements.

In the experiment, reported in the journal Science, Michael F. Crommie, a professor of physics at the University of California at Berkeley, and his group used a scanning tunneling microscope to add seven potassium dopant atoms to a buckyball molecule, one by one.

Quick flip of Earth’s magnetic field revealed

April 8, 2004

The Earth’s magnetic field takes an average of only 7000 years to reverse its polarity, but the switch happens much more quickly near the equator, says study author Bradford Clement of Florida International University in Nature (vol 428, p 637).

Studies of ocean sediments and lava flows show the Earth has undergone several hundred field reversals; the most recent confirmed flip occurred about 780,000 years ago. Evidence published in… read more

Foresight Institute offers discount to KurzweilAI.net newsletter readers

April 8, 2004

Foresight Institute president Christine Peterson is offering KurzweilAI.net newsletter readers a generous discount of $200 on the $495 registration fee for the Foresight Vision Weekend, May 14-16 in Palo Alto, “Putting Feynman’s Vision into Action.”

“In financial terms, this comes close to waiving the membership requirement — we want Kurzweil folks at this conference!” she said.

This year, the legendary annual nanotech conference will include:… read more

Hybrid imaging beats resolution limit

April 6, 2004

Scientists have found a new way to image tiny structures and molecules smaller than the 200 nm diffraction-limited resolution of optical microscopes.

The technique combined fluorescence lifetime imaging microscopy (FLIM) with atomic force microscopy (AFM) to generate sharp images of fluorescing nanobeads just 40 nm in diameter, as well as a cluster of DNA molecules.

It involves scanning a gold-tipped silicon wand over a fluorescing sample. The gold… read more

The Altered Human Is Already Here

April 6, 2004

Technologically altered human beings are making a leap into the posthuman future, using biochemical, proton-pump inhibitors, serotonin boosters and other drugs — a social change on the same order as the advent of computers, but one taking place inside the human body.

There is now almost no bodily system that cannot be adjusted by drugs. Blood, respiration, the nervous system, hormonal regulation, muscles and bones, the cardiovascular system, reproduction,… read more

Insanely Destructive Devices

April 5, 2004

If we can’t defend against an attack, perhaps the rational response is to reduce the incentives to attack, says Lawrence Lessig.

Rather than designing space suits, maybe we should focus on ways to eliminate the reasons to annihilate us. Rather than stirring up a hornet’s nest and then hiding behind a bush, maybe the solution is to avoid the causes of rage. Crazies, of course, can’t be reasoned with.… read more

Physicists move closer to the quantum limit

April 5, 2004

A new experiment has come close to detecting quantum effects in a macroscopic object. NSA physicists have measured the vibrations of a tiny nanoelectromechanical arm to probe the limits at which quantum behavior breaks down and classical physics takes over.

The NSA physicists now plan to increase the sensitivity of the detector and further reduce thermal vibrations in the arm. They also hope to extend their study to larger… read more

Moore’s Second Law

April 5, 2004

The biggest impediment to our technological future isn’t extending Moore’s law; it’s system efficiency.

We need to improve system layouts and cooling techniques, create better interconnects, reduce sloppy software code, eschew processors that are faster than necessary, and build better batteries.

Moore’s second law could be formulated: “Overall net efficiency of any electronic system will double every 24 months.”

Moore’s Law Limits Pushed Back Again

April 5, 2004

Rochester Institute of Technology researchers have figured out how to make silicon chips with 38 nanometer rules — an order of magnitude better than what is standard at present.

The process is called liquid-immersion nanolithography, based on the phenomenon that things look bigger under water. They submerge the silicon wafer.

Computer networking event doesn’t compute as planned

April 5, 2004

FlashMob I, the world’s first attempt to create a supercomputer ranking among the top 500 by hooking together computers from volunteers, failed on Saturday at the University of San Francisco.

But the crew managed to get 256 (target was 1,200) computers working together at almost half the speed required for the top 500 status.

Bush Calls for Universal Broadband by 2007

April 2, 2004

President Bush has set a goal of broadband access for all Americans in three years to boost competitiveness with other nations and create new business opportunities at home.

Snapshot chat creates automatic captions

April 2, 2004

A new system that can automatically caption digital photos by listening to you and your friends chat about them is being developed by Hewlett-Packard.

PC software records these conversations, converts them to text using a speech-recognition program, and extracts keywords to caption and index the photos.

HP says the method should help organize digital files as hard drives approach terabyte levels over the next few years.

Smell cannon targets virtual reality users

April 2, 2004

A new “air cannon” device can track an individual, shoot an aroma directly at their nose, and leave the person next to them completely unaffected.

Advanced Telecommunications Research Institute in Kyoto, Japan developed it for directing evocative smells to people exploring virtual-reality environments.

The device tracks the person it is aiming at with a camera mounted on top, which follows the target’s eyes. Software on a PC analyzes… read more

Heartbeats warn of sudden death risk

April 2, 2004

Measuring variations in the length of the heartbeat could provide a way to screen for people at risk of sudden cardiac death, researchers in Greece have found.

They adapted equations used to describe physical systems such as earthquakes to predict the degree of order. Beats of diseased hearts vary more randomly.

Rat genome unveiled

April 2, 2004

The Rat Genome Sequencing Consortium has sequenced the complete rat genome, about 25,000 genes.

Around 90% of these have matches in the mouse and man, so almost all known disease-related human genes have counterparts in the rat. By tweaking these, researchers should be able to make better rat models of disease.

Knowledge of their genome should also provide new targets for drug intervention.

Rat Genome Sequencing Consortium.… read more

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