science + technology news

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.

Robot special: Almost human

February 1, 2006

Researchers are poised to pull together developments in three key fields — walking, talking and manipulation — to produce a new generation of human-like machines.

And when artificial intelligence catches up, they will not only be able to clean the house, do the dishes and take out the garbage, but also to play with children, help care for the elderly and even explore the farthest reaches of space and… read more

Bush’s State of the Union calls for research spending

February 1, 2006

In his State of the Union address, President Bush proposed to “double the federal commitment to the most critical basic research programs in the physical sciences over the next 10 years.

“This funding will support the work of America’s most creative minds as they explore promising areas such as nanotechnology, supercomputing, and alternative energy sources.”

Bush also announced the Advanced Energy Initiative — a 22-percent increase in clean-energy… read more

Words help determine what we see

February 1, 2006

University of Chicago researchers have found that language affects perception, supporting the Whorfian hypothesis. The effects were noted in the right half of the visual field, but much less, if at all, in the left half.

Language function is processed predominantly in the left hemisphere of the brain, which receives visual information directly from the right visual field. “So it would make sense for the language processes of the… read more

US ‘unaware’ of emerging bioterror threats

February 1, 2006

The life sciences are developing so quickly that a watch list of dangerous pathogens and toxins is useless in fighting the threat of bioterrorism, says a new report from the National Academy of Sciences.

Focusing on the list of about 60 “select agents,” such as the smallpox virus and botulism toxin, might simply divert resources from newer and more dangerous threats, such as RNA interference, synthetic biology or nanotechnology.… read more

Rehab’s robotic revolution

January 31, 2006

Researchers envision a day when robots will become standard equipment in rehabilitation centers, giving stroke patients — and possibly patients with spinal cord injuries — a chance to take their recovery further than previously possible.

The KineAssist, just one of a legion of smart machines poised to bring physical therapy into the high-tech age, was developed at the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago. It is essentially a hip brace and… read more

Missing a few brain cells? Print new ones

January 31, 2006

A printer that spits out ultra-fine droplets of cells instead of ink has been used to print live brain cells without causing them any apparent harm. The technique could open up the possibility of building replacement tissue cell by cell, giving doctors complete control over the tissue they graft.

The device is a variant of a conventional ink-jet printer. Instead of forcing individual droplets of ink through a needle-shaped… read more

Prions may hold key to stem cell function

January 31, 2006

Researchers at the Whitehead Institute in Cambridge, Massachusetts have found that adult stem cells in bone marrow gradually lose their ability to regenerate without their normal complement of membrane-bound prions.

Regeneration Sans Stem Cells

January 30, 2006

Scientists are developing drugs to regenerate human tissues and organs, avoiding medical problems like immune rejection.

South Pole Neutrino Detector Could Yield Evidences of String Theory

January 30, 2006

Researchers at Northeastern University and the University of California, Irvine say that scientists might soon have evidence for extra dimensions and other exotic predictions of string theory. Early results from a neutrino detector at the South Pole, called AMANDA, show that ghostlike particles from space could serve as probes to a world beyond our familiar three dimensions, the research team says.

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