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A New Model Army Soldier Rolls Closer to Battle

February 17, 2005

Robot soldiers will think, see and react increasingly like humans. In the beginning, they will be remote-controlled, looking and acting like lethal toy trucks. As the technology develops, they may take many shapes. And as their intelligence grows, so will their autonomy.

Robots in battle, as envisioned by their builders, may look and move like humans or hummingbirds, tractors or tanks, cockroaches or crickets. With the development of nanotechnology,… read more

Pig Stem Cells to Be Used to Grow Human Organs?

February 17, 2005

It might be possible to transplant embryonic stem cells from pigs into humans to grow new organs, a new study shows, if stem cells come from specific stages of an embryo’s development.

Math skills evolved independent of language

February 16, 2005

A study of people with language difficulties suggests that mathematical skill evolved independently of language.

Researchers studied three people with extensive damage to the brain’s left hemisphere, including language areas. All were competent calculators, though, able to solve simple subtraction, division and multiplication problems

Intel unveils silicon laser

February 16, 2005

Intel has created a chip containing eight continuous Raman lasers using fairly standard silicon processes rather than the somewhat expensive materials and processes required for making lasers today.

They could lead to faster computers and less expensive and more accurate medical equipment.

Augmented Reality: Another (Virtual) Brick in the Wall

February 16, 2005

Augmented Reality (AR) — a broad class of user interface techniques intended to enhance a person’s perception of the world around them with computer generated information — aims to enhance the analog world.

Users, via wearable display screens, see the non-virtual world around them with digital information superimposed into their surroundings.

Programs are also being developed that can make smart assumptions about what users want to do next.… read more

Inside the future

February 15, 2005

“In 15 years time you could design a bacterium with the DNA in it to assemble circuits within its own cell,” says British Telecom futurist-in-residence Ian Pearson.

“Because it’s part of its DNA, it will be able to reproduce. So as long as you provide it with a food supply, this bacterium will become a quite large computer over a period of time. It will just breed….”

“We’re… read more

Robot wars

February 15, 2005

At the 24th Army Science Conference, held in Orlando, Florida last December, Ray Kurzweil gave a keynote address entitled “Warfighting in the 21st Century.” News@nature quizzed this renowned commentator on robotics about his views on future warfare.

Inventor sets his sights on immortality

February 14, 2005

Ray Kurzweil doesn’t tailgate. A man who plans to live forever doesn’t take chances with his health on the highway, or anywhere else.

As part of his daily routine, Kurzweil ingests 250 supplements, eight to 10 glasses of alkaline water and 10 cups of green tea. He also periodically tracks 40 to 50 fitness indicators, down to his “tactile sensitivity.” Adjustments are made as needed.

“I do actually… read more

Genetic engineering for better suburbia

February 14, 2005

Maybe genetic engineers haven’t awakened to the full economic potential of their vocations. The real money is in solving the problems of homeowners.

Genetic engineers could take the genetic coding in certain bright flowers or tropical fish and implant them in our drab aspens, poplars and elms.

Or create grass that would grow to a certain, uniform height, then stop. Or introduce the genetic code for the mass… read more

The Business Of Nanotech

February 14, 2005

There’s still plenty of hype, but nanotechnology is finally moving from the lab to the marketplace.

Chips That Thrive on Uncertainty

February 14, 2005

As transistors shrink, consistent performance diminishes. Big problem? Not if Georgia Tech’s Krishna Palem is right about the benefits of unpredictability.

TESTING DARWIN

February 14, 2005

After more than a decade of development, Avida’s digital organisms at Michigan State University are now getting close to fulfilling the definition of biological life.

These are digital organisms — strings of commands — akin to computer viruses. Each organism can produce tens of thousands of copies of itself within a matter of minutes. Unlike computer viruses, however, they are made up of digital bits that can mutate and… read more

US denies patent for part-human hybrid

February 14, 2005

The US Patent and Trademark Office rejected a claim in a patent on a laboratory-conceived creature that is part human and part animal, saying the hybrid — designed for use in medical research but not yet created — would be too closely related to a human to be patentable.

The decision leaves a crucial question unanswered: At what point is something too human to patent?

The inventor, Stuart… read more

Domo Oregato, Doctor Roboto

February 14, 2005

Hospitals are experimenting with “telerounding” using robots as a way to let doctors meet with patients more frequently, or conduct virtual visits at multiple hospitals from one location.

Parents protest student computer ID tags

February 14, 2005

Brittan Elementary School in California is requiring students to wear radio frequency identification badges that can track their every move. Some parents are outraged, fearing it will take away their children’s privacy.

The system was imposed, without parental input, by the school as a way to simplify attendance-taking and potentially reduce vandalism and improve student safety.

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