science + technology news

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

Surveillance Net Yields Few Suspects

February 6, 2006

To find clues to terrorists in its terabytes of speech, text, and image data, the NSA uses AI-enhanced link analysis of associated people, places, things and events.

It also relies on decomposing an audio signal to find qualities useful to pattern analysis, using acoustic engineering, behavioral psychology and computational linguistics, as well as clues to deceptive intent in the words and paralinguistic features of a conversation, such as pitch,… read more

Alien Animal Planet

February 6, 2006

Computer models created by NASA and SETI Project researchers have helped identify which stars among the universe’s 70 sextillion are most likely to support life.

They used two scenarios formulated by the SETI Project: a planet orbiting a sun close enough to keep water from freezing out, yet far enough away to avoid evaporation and a moon orbiting a gas giant and warmed by twin suns.

Then life… read more

Window to the Heart: New Eye Exam Spots Disease Risk

February 6, 2006

University of Melbourne researchers have shown in several large-scale studies that abnormalities of the blood vessels in the retina can be used to predict patients’ risk for diabetes, hypertension, stroke and heart disease.

The approach involves analyzing digital photographs of patients’ retinas and studying them to find narrowing or ballooning of the small blood vessels. Systemic diseases often cause changes in the eye that can show up as red… read more

DNA Kits Aim to Link You to the Here and Then

February 6, 2006

DNA testing promises to provide genetic information to uncover details about one’s heritage.

More than a dozen companies now sell home DNA tests; the prices range from $100 to $900 each.

consumers also receive a document with their DNA string of markers, which looks like a list of numbers, and a report that explains how to make sense of it.

That data, however, needs to be compared… read more

Trade Ruling Is Expected to Favor Biotech Food

February 6, 2006

The battle over agricultural biotechnology could reach a tipping point this week, when the World Trade Organization is expected to render its verdict on charges by the United States that Europe is illegally restricting imports of genetically modified crops.

Even if the United States wins, genetically modified foods would not flood Europe because citizens there remain wary of them. But the American government and the biotechnology industry hope a… read more

Will Google help navigate your Jetta?

February 6, 2006

Volkswagen is working on a prototype vehicle that features Google’s satellite-mapping software to give drivers a bird’s-eye view of the road ahead.

The two companies are also building an in-car navigation system and a three-dimensional display so passengers can recognize where they are in relation to the surrounding topography.

Venture for Sharing Wi-Fi Draws Big-Name Backers

February 6, 2006

A “global network of shared Wi-Fi connections” will allow users of Wi-Fi wireless technology to connect to the Internet at many physical locations, in contrast to the limited access available now.

The “Fon” network, backed by Google, Skype, and two venture-capital firms, is operating in Europe, and plans call for expanding it into the United States and other countries this year.

New design for transistors powered by single electrons

February 3, 2006

Scientists have demonstrated the first reproducible, controllable silicon transistors that are turned on and off by the motion of individual electrons. The experimental devices, designed and fabricated at NTT Corp. of Japan and tested at NIST, may have applications in low-power nanoelectronics, particularly as next-generation integrated circuits for logic operations (as opposed to simpler memory tasks).

The transistors are based on the principle that as device sizes shrink to… read more

Stable polymer nanotubes may have a biotech future

February 3, 2006

Scientists at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) have created polymer nanotubes that are unusually long (about 1 centimeter) as well as stable enough to maintain their shape indefinitely.

The nanotubes may have biotechnology applications as channels for tiny volumes of chemicals in nanofluidic reactor devices, for example, or as the “world’s smallest hypodermic needles” for injecting molecules one at a time.


J.E. Reiner,… read more

Project Deep Blitz: Chess PC Takes on Deep Blue

February 1, 2006

A computer using only 44 dual-core AMD Opteron 64-bit chips would equal IBM’s Deep Blue supercomputer in chess performance, using off-the-shelf parts from AMD and affiliated vendors.

In the 1997 match, if Gary Kasparov’s chess rating had been 2900 rather than 2820, it would have taken IBM at least another two years to develop a computer that could beat him. It would have required calculating nearly 1 billion positions… read more

Geeks in Toyland

February 1, 2006

When the time came for a major upgrade to Lego’s Mindstorms robot kit, they turned to their obsessed fans — and rewrote the rules of the innovation game.

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