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Fuel cell artificial muscles being developed

January 10, 2005

Researchers at the NanoTech Institute at The University of Texas at Dallas are developing artificial muscles that convert chemical energy to mechanical energy.

The proposed artificial muscles are at the same time fuel cells, supercapacitors and mechanical actuators; the same elements convert a high energy density fuel to electrical energy, store this energy and use it to do mechanical work. The artificial muscles will also use strong, tough carbon… read more

Rats show off language skills

January 10, 2005

Rats can tell the difference between Dutch and Japanese by recognizing the difference in rhythmic properties of the languages.

Rat ancestors may have evolved the ability to sense sound patterns that might warn of predators approaching or changing predator behaviour. Humans may have evolved similar skills for similar reasons, before the ability was co-opted for other purposes, such as helping in the development and decoding of speech.

Cosmetics Break the Skin Barrier

January 10, 2005

New cosmetic innovations include muscle- relaxant GABA to reduce wrinkles and little balls of protein material that are slowly dissolved by enzymes in the skin to act as antiwrinkle moisturizers.

The current research goal: finding ingredients that act as treatments themselves as they carry other substances through the skin.

Hitachi drives get bigger–and smaller

January 10, 2005

Hitachi will release in February a 3.5-inch diameter drive with 500GB of storage, the largest-capacity 3.5-inch drive yet.

Kurzweil to discuss health and longevity on CNN Sunday

January 8, 2005

Ray Kurzweil will be interviewed live on CNN cable television on Sunday, January 9 sometime between 4 pm ET and 4:30 pm ET. The topic will be health and longevity.

Search Looks at the Big Picture

January 7, 2005

A group of European researchers is developing technology that could vastly improve image searching by identifying the components of an image.

The image-processing software looks for “key patches” in an image to determine the relative positions of different shapes to categorize the image’s contents.

IBM’s Pervasive Media Management group is also developing visualization software that can identify objects contained within one of the web’s fastest-growing content categories –… read more

Toyota to employ robots

January 7, 2005

Toyota Motor will introduce robots that can work as well or better than humans at all 12 of its factories in Japan to cut costs and deal with a labor shortage.

The robots would be able to carry out multiple tasks simultaneously with their two arms, achieving efficiency unseen in human workers and matching the cheap wages of Chinese laborers, the Nihon Keizai Shimbun report said.

Toyota plans… read more

Smart bombs to blast tumors

January 6, 2005

Exploding capsules could one day be used to deliver cancer drugs with pinpoint accuracy, New Scientist reports in its January 8 issue.

The capsules, being developed by University of Melbourne researchers, would rupture when heated by a low-energy laser pulse. Anti-cancer drugs would be more effective, and the side effects less severe, if they could home in on a tumor and be delivered in a single burst. This would… read more

God (or Not), Physics and, of Course, Love: Scientists Take a Leap

January 6, 2005

“What do you believe is true even though you cannot prove it?”

This was the question posed to scientists, futurists and other creative thinkers by John Brockman, a literary agent and publisher of Edge.

Magnetic resonance imaging deconstructs brain’s complex network

January 5, 2005

A team headed by scientists at Northwestern University, using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), has shown how to visualize the human brain as a massive, interacting, complex network governed by a few underlying dynamic principles.

The research opens fascinating possibilities for future basic and applied studies to investigate the dynamics of brain states, particularly in cases of dysfunction — such as schizophrenia, Alzheimer’s disease and chronic pain — without… read more

The BlackBerry Brain Trust

January 5, 2005

The futuristic new Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics is a think tank where some of the smartest people in the world are contemplating the foundations of quantum physics.

Participants include Lee Smolin, who propounds a “fecund universe” theory holding that every black hole leads to another universe; Raymond Laflamme, the information theorist who changed Stephen Hawking’s mind on the direction of time in a contracting universe; and Fotini Markopoulou… read more

Tech Gadget Show Features Hottest Products

January 5, 2005

The year’s hottest consumer electronics products and technologies premiering at CES include TiVoToGo, a new service feature that lets users transfer their recorded television shows onto laptops; a new streaming service that lets subscribers remotely access their digital media files from their home PCs — and even watch live television — on gadgets with Internet connections; and Wi-Fi access via cell phones.

Building a Smarter Search Engine

January 4, 2005

Carnegie Mellon University researchers have developed Clusty, a search engine using AI to search the Web and cluster results by topic.

Clusty searches the results of other search engines and indexes, applies AI to pick out the major themes found within the results for each search, and organizes them into folders.

wishlist@nature.com

January 4, 2005

Responses by news@nature.com readers to a request for New Year’s wishes ranged from futuristic visions such as photosynthesis in humans and nanocameras that fit inside cells, to serious themes including recognition for scientists in developing countries and freedom from reliance on oil.

2004: The year in biology and medicine

January 3, 2005

Fears of a global flu pandemic, the inexorable spread of AIDS and the pervasiveness of tuberculosis were some of the threats which marked out 2004. But the year saw landmark advances too, with the cloning of the first human embryos, the birth of the first totally fatherless mammal and other significant steps forward in stem cell technology.

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