science + technology news

Black holes: The ultimate quantum computers?

March 13, 2006

Nearly all of the information that falls into a black hole escapes back out, a controversial new study argues. The work suggests that black holes could one day be used as incredibly accurate quantum computers — if enormous theoretical and practical hurdles can first be overcome.

Seth Lloyd of MIT has used a controversial quantum model, which holds that under certain extreme circumstances, such as the intense gravitational field… read more

Optic nerve regrown with a nanofibre scaffold

March 13, 2006

Hamsters blinded following damage to their optic nerve have had their vision partially restored with the help of an implanted nanoscale scaffold that has encouraged nerve tissue to regrow.

The method uses sequences of peptides made to self-assemble into mesh-like sheets of nanofibers by immersing them in salt solutions at similar concentrations to those found in the body.

I, Nanobot

March 12, 2006

Scientists are on the verge of breaking the carbon barrier — creating artificial life and changing forever what it means to be human. And we’re not ready, predicts materials scientist Alan H. Goldstein.

He predicts, and warns about, the coming elimination of the barrier between living and nonliving materials with the emergence of “animats” (living materials) — nanobiotechnology devices that can survive and function inside human beings, derive energy… read more

2006 Guardian Award Winners Develop Defenses Against Harmful Nanotechnology And Biotechnology

March 12, 2006

This year’s recipients of the Lifeboat Foundation Guardian Award are Robert A. Freitas Jr. and Bill Joy, who have both been proposing solutions to the dangers of advanced technology since 2000.

Robert A. Freitas, Jr. has pioneered nanomedicine and analysis of self-replicating nanotechnology. He advocates “an immediate international moratorium, if not outright ban, on all artificial life experiments implemented as nonbiological hardware. In this context, ‘artificial life’ is defined… read more

How to discover asteroid impacts

March 12, 2006

An amateur geologist has demonstrated the power of the Internet with his discovery of two impact craters, using free distributed software (Google Earth, NASA World Wind).

The Longevity Dividend

March 10, 2006

Congress should invest $3 billion annually in understanding the biology of aging and how it predisposes us to a suite of costly diseases and disorders expressed at later ages, say a group of researchers led by S. Jay Olshansky, professor of epidemiology and biostatistics at the University of Illinois.

Spintronics may save Moore’s Law

March 10, 2006

The Western Institute of Nanoelectronics is being established with grants of $18.2 million, largely from semiconductor companies with an interest in breakthroughs in spintronics, which holds promise in minimizing power consumption for next-generation consumer electronics.

‘Mental typewriter’ controlled by thought alone

March 10, 2006

The Berlin Brain-Computer Interface (“mental typewriter”) makes it possible to type messages onto a computer screen by mentally controlling the movement of a cursor.

A user wears a cap containing electrodes that measure EEG signals and imagines moving their left or right arm to maneuver the cursor. It could allow paralysed patients to operate computers, or for amputees to operate electronically controlled artificial limbs. It could also be used… read more

Nanodevices That Assemble Themselves

March 9, 2006

A new self-assembly process uses chemical processes to create small “conjugated block copolymers,” or molecular chains, along with a thermodynamic phase diagram.

Liquid crystals show promise in controlling embryonic stem cells

March 9, 2006

UW-Madison researchers have shown that by straining mechanically the cells as they grow, it is possible to reduce significantly and almost eliminate the uncontrolled differentiation of stem cells.

“Stem cells tend to be smaller and have a slightly more compact shape than the differentiated cells,” says chemical and biological engineer Sean Palecek. “Differentiated cells appear to be much more spread and they appear to exert different levels of force… read more

Create your favourite website, automatically

March 9, 2006

Boxxet allows users to create websites on any subject, automatically filling it with relevant news stories, blog posts, maps and photos.

The site’s algorithm starts by reading through the web pages submitted by the user. It calculates the frequency of unique words and which words these unique words are likely to be adjacent to. It also notes the number of images and which news organisation or blogger created those… read more

Google looking to provide ‘infinite’ storage to computer users

March 9, 2006

Plans for a Google service offering “infinite” storage capacity leaked out last week when the company inadvertently shared some information about several projects, including one named “GDrive,” on its Web site.

In its internal notes, Google discusses an ambitious storage system that would keep its users’ word processing files, e-mails, Web history and photos on the company’s own computers, allowing users to access their data from any place at… read more

MIT researchers extend computer life without batteries

March 8, 2006

Researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology have found a way to extend the power life of mobile computers and charge a cell phone in just a few seconds.

They draw power from an electronic device called an ultracapacitor, using nanotubes to store charge.

University to Investigate Fusion Study

March 8, 2006

Purdue University has opened an investigation into “extremely serious” concerns regarding the research of a professor who said he had produced nuclear fusion in a tabletop experiment.

The vibrations, they said, collapsed tiny gas bubbles in the liquid, heating them to millions of degrees, hot enough to initiate fusion. If true, the phenomenon, often called sonofusion or bubble fusion, could have far-reaching applications, including the generation of energy.… read more

Intel Announces a New Design for Chips

March 8, 2006

Intel Corporation has showed off a new design for powerful, energy-efficient processors.

The new chip for server computers, called Woodcrest, would offer an 80 percent performance improvement and require 35 percent less power; the Conroe chip for desktop computers, which will be released later this year, will offer 40 percent performance improvement and require 40 percent less power. The foundation for the chips is derived from the company’s popular… read more

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