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The Answers Are Out There, and New Q. and A. Sites Dig Them Up

February 7, 2011

The rate of start-ups with sites where users ask and answer questions is gathering speed and attracting the eyes and wallets of venture capitalists. The entrepreneurs say there is a big opportunity to be captured in revamping the question-and-answer model.

Quora, the site that is getting the most attention, lets people find and follow the activity of their friends, as on Twitter. … read more

The Army’s Remote-Controlled Beetle

January 30, 2009

A giant flower beetle with implanted electrodes and a radio receiver on its back can be wirelessly controlled, according to research by scientists at the University of California.

Electrical signals delivered via the electrodes command the insect to take off, turn left or right, or hover in midflight. The research, funded by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), could one day be used for surveillance purposes or for… read more

The Art of Building a Robot to Love

March 6, 2006

A robot must have human emotions, but do we understand human emotions well enough to formalize them in computers?

The artificial bones created from an inkjet

April 19, 2007

Scientists are creating artificial bones using a modified version of an inkjet printer.

The technology creates perfect replicas of bones that have been damaged and these can then be inserted in the body to help it to heal.

The process will revolutionize bone graft surgery, which currently relies on either bits of bone taken from other parts of the body or ceramic-like substitutes.

The artificial finger

July 20, 2012


European researchers have developed the first sensitive artificial finger.

The NanoBioTact and NanoBioTouch projects seek to radically improve understanding of the human mechano-transduction system and tissue engineered nanobiosensors.

“There are many potential applications of biometric tactile sensoring, for example in prosthetic limbs where you´ve got neuro-coupling which allows the limb to sense objects and also to feed back to the brain, to control the limb.

Another area would… read more

The Ascent of the Robotic Attack Jet

February 7, 2005

The first working models of networked autonomous attack jets have recently been tested. The U.S. Department of Defense would like to start building them by 2010.

They’ll tackle jobs such as attacking enemy air defenses, identifying new targets, and releasing precision bombs.

One major challenge: constructing what amounts to a mobile Internet in the sky, with data communication handoffs from planes travelling at high speeds.

The Atkinson-Phoenix Nanotech Debate

July 21, 2003

William Atkinson wrote a book, Nanocosm, critical of Eric Drexler’s approach to nanotech and of Drexler himself. Chris Phoenix (CRN) wrote a review of the book, critical of Bill’s understanding of the topic. Bill responded. This touched off an email discussion.

The audacity of nano-hope

February 26, 2009

There has been a flurry of interest in nanobots over the past week, casting quite a wide net that ranges from Nadrian Seeman’s experimental lab work to Ray Kurzweil’s hopeful dreams for the far future, says Foresight Institute president J. Storrs Hall.

The avatar economy

Are remote workers the brains inside tomorrow's robots?
July 19, 2012


A robot remotely controlled by a low-wage foreign worker could soon compete with some U.S. workers,  suggests MIT doctoral student in information technology Matt Beane in Technology Review.

Companies now produce and sell robots that allow users to navigate through a remote working environment, interacting by means of a computer screen.

The next wave promises much more capability per dollar. DARPA recently issued a robotic challenge involving… read more

The avatar will see you now

June 11, 2013


Patients needing knee replacements at the San Mateo Medical Center in California are being coached by a digital avatar, MIT Technology Review reports.

The avatar, Molly, interviews them in Spanish or English about the levels of pain they feel as a video guides them through exercises, while the 3-D cameras of a Kinect device measure their movements.

The ultimate goal is for the routine to be… read more

The Beam of Light That Flips a Switch That Turns on the Brain

August 14, 2007

A new generation of genetic and optical technology can give researchers unprecedented power to turn on and off targeted sets of cells in the brain, and to do so by remote control.

Some day, the remote-control technology might even serve as a treatment for neurological and psychiatric disorders.

The Bear’s Lair: Exponential or asymptotic?

July 9, 2002

Do we live in an economy whose growth is primarily exponential, or primarily asymptotic (approaches a limit)?

“The transition from exponential to asymptotic growth occurs when market saturation comes into play as a constraint on growth,” says UPI Business and Economics Editor Martin Hutchinson. “The United States is today primarily an asymptotically growing economy, and … investors should buy stocks only when they can obtain a high and secure… read more

The benefits of 80 million years without sex

October 12, 2007

University of Cambridge researchers have discovered how Adineta ricciae, a species of bdelloid rotifer that has evolved without sex, has survived dehydration.

The two copies of the gene lea in Adineta ricciae are different and therefore generate proteins with different functions that protect the animal during dehydration. One copy protects essential proteins from clumping together as the animal dries out, while the other helps to maintain the fragile membranes… read more

The Best Computer Interfaces: Past, Present, and Future

April 6, 2009

Multitouch screens, gesture sensing, force feedback, voice recognition, augmented reality, spatial interfaces, and future brain-computer interfaces are key developments in computer interfaces.

The Best Inventions of 2002

November 25, 2002

Time’s list of the best inventions of 2002 includes 3-D Online Environment, a lifelike 3-D virtual world now evolving on the Internet; Carver Mead’s Foveon X3 technology; the Earth Simulator, the most powerful supercomputer; and “virtual” keyboards, using a laser beam that projects a glowing red outline of a keyboard.

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