science + technology news

Evanescent wave litho to surface at SPIE

February 17, 2006

The Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT) is expected to present a paper that claims it has produced a 26-nm image based on evanescent wave lithography (EWL).

This, in turn, opens EWL as an extension to conventional projection lithography as a means for sub-32-nm chip production, according to RIT.

How ‘hot’ emotional brain interferes with ‘cool’ processing

February 16, 2006

For the first time, researchers have seen in action how the “hot” emotional centers of the brain can interfere with “cool” cognitive processes such as those involved in memory tasks.

The Duke University Medical Center researchers’ functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) images of human volunteers exposed to emotional distraction revealed a “see-saw” effect, in which activation of emotional centers damped activity in the “executive” centers responsible for such processing.… read more

Science Academy Creating Panel to Monitor Stem-Cell Research

February 16, 2006

To fill a void in federal supervision, the National Academy of Sciences is setting up a committee to provide informal oversight over research with human embryonic stem cells.

Space-elevator tether climbs a mile high

February 16, 2006

LiftPort Group has built a cable for a space elevator stretching a mile into the sky and tethered on balloons, enabling robots to scrabble some way up and down the line.

To make the cable, researchers sandwiched three carbon-fiber composite strings between four sheets of fiberglass tape, creating a mile-long cable about 5 centimeters wide and no thicker than about six sheets of paper.

The aim is to… read more

Big Brain Thinking

February 15, 2006

Stanford neuroscientist Bill Newsome wants to implant an electrode in his brain to better understand the link between activity in specific parts of the brain and consciousness.

If approved, he would insert an electrode in an area of the brain known as MT. The cells in this area respond selectively to a specific direction of motion, as in monkey experiments he has done.

“If I could stimulate my… read more

Nanotubes break superconducting record

February 15, 2006

Physicists in Japan have shown that “entirely end-bonded” multi-walled carbon nanotubes can superconduct at temperatures as high as 12 K, which is 30 times greater than for single-walled carbon nanotubes.

The superconducting nanotubes could be used to study fundamental 1D quantum effects and also find practical applications in molecular quantum computing.

New Microchips Shun Transistors

February 15, 2006

Researchers have created a working prototype of a radical new chip design using arrays of separate magnetic domains, instead of transistors, to achieve higher device density and processing power.

Computers using the magnetic chips would boot up almost instantly. The magnetic chip’s memory is nonvolatile, making it impervious to power interruptions, and it retains its data when the device is switched off.

The magnetic architecture of the chip… read more

UK stem cell scientists to recruit egg donors

February 15, 2006

Women in the UK will be allowed to donate their eggs solely for stem cell cloning experiments to find new ways of treating degenerative diseases.

The Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority proposed the change to help research into therapeutic cloning and address a shortage of donor eggs.

Viper vision

February 15, 2006

A new invention uses an ordinary digital-camera light sensor to capture a scene. An array of infrared LEDs then transforms this image into a pattern of heat points that can be projected onto a user’s forehead.

The human forehead is very sensitive to temperature change, so users may be able to “see” a coarse image in their mind. The technique could also be used to relay Braille messages.

Biotech’s Sparse Harvest

February 14, 2006

The next generation of biotech crops — the first with direct benefits for consumers — is finally on the horizon. But the list does not include many of the products once envisioned.

Developing such crops has proved to be far from easy. Resistance to genetically modified foods, technical difficulties, legal and business obstacles, and the ability to develop improved foods without genetic engineering have winnowed the pipeline.

Rats in a Maze Take a Moment to Remember, but in Reverse

February 14, 2006

When rats pause in running through a maze, they play back their memory of points along their route, but in reverse order.

The discovery may provide a deep insight into how memory works in humans. The reverse replay mechanism seems to be part of a neural editing process in which memories are selected, combined and stored as a set of edited movies, as it were, of important experiences in… read more

If Robots Ever Get Too Smart, He’ll Know How to Stop Them

February 14, 2006

In his new book, “How to Survive a Robot Uprising,” roboticist Daniel H. Wilson offers humorous advice on evading and outsmarting robots as a literary device to combat dystopian robot scenarios while serving as a state-of-the-art robotics primer.

NY team confirms UCLA tabletop fusion

February 14, 2006

Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute researchers have developed a tabletop accelerator that produces nuclear fusion at room temperature, confirming an earlier experiment conducted at UCLA, while offering substantial improvements over the original design.

The device is essentially a tabletop particle accelerator. At its heart are two opposing “pyroelectric” crystals that create a strong electric field when heated or cooled. The device is filled with deuterium gas. The electric field rips electrons… read more

Fraunhofer makes tool to fight music piracy

February 13, 2006

The Fraunhofer Institute has developed a digital watermarking technology for tracking pirated audio files in peer-to-peer filesharing networks.

The system lets content providers embed a watermark in their downloadable MP3 files. Watermark technology makes slight, imperceptible changes to data in sound and image files.

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

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