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The Personal Genome Project Has a Growth Spurt

May 19, 2009

13,000 people are in the process of enrolling in Harvard University genomics pioneer George Church’s personal genome project (PGP), which involves having the coding region of your genome sequenced, and then sharing it, along with medical records and other information, in an open-access database for analysis by geneticists and others around the world.

The Petabyte Age: Because More Isn’t Just More — More Is Different

June 25, 2008

The new availability of huge amounts of data, along with the statistical tools to crunch these numbers, offers a whole new way of understanding the world, suggests Wired editor in chief Chris Anderson.

Science can advance even without coherent models and unified theories, letting statistical algorithms find patterns where science cannot.

The phenomena behind nanotechnology’s many promises

June 15, 2007

In a progress report on nanoscience concepts and applications, Dr. Gary Hodes from the Weizman Institute of Science has described some of the fundamental size-dependent properties that make materials change behavior at the nanoscale.

The physics of the Web

July 14, 2001

Statistical mechanics is offering new insights into the structure and dynamics of the Internet, the World Wide Web and other complex interacting systems.

The challenge for physicists is to unearth the signatures of order from the apparent chaos of millions of nodes and links.

Findings include:

* The Web is a scale-free network whose links follow a power-law distribution, which implies that there is an abundance… read more

The Pirate Bay fights Hollywood with hovering server drones

March 20, 2012

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The Pirate Bay (TPB), which allows users to share media files via BitTorrent, plans to avoid shutdown by Hollywood by putting some of its servers in GPS controlled drones hovering over international waters, the TPB team told TorrentFreak.

“With the development of GPS controlled drones, far-reaching cheap radio equipment and tiny new computers like the Raspberry Pi, we’re going… read more

The Pitter Patter of Little Feet . . . Climbing Straight Up a Wall

January 30, 2008
Credit: J. Lee and R.S. Fearing, UC Berkeley

UC Berkeley researchers have developed the first adhesive that masters the easy attach and easy release seen in the padded feet of the gecko.

The new material is crafted from millions 600nm plastic microfibers that establish grip. A square two centimeters on a side can support 400 grams.

The material could prove useful for a range of products from climbing equipment to medical devices.

The Potential of MEMS

October 25, 2005

Total sales in the MEMS (microlectromechanical systems) market will reach $5.4 billion this year and will grow to more than $7 billion in 2007.

Biggest sellers: inertial devices, micromirrors for projection devices and TVs, pressure sensors, RF applications, analytical instruments, and in biomedical monitoring devices.

The power of a single neuron

December 20, 2007

Stimulating just one neuron can be enough to affect learning and behavior, Howard Hughes Medical Institute and Humboldt University researchers have found, lending support to the “sparse-coding” hypothesis of neural networks, which suggests that only a few neurons need to fire to generate a response.

The results, published this week by Nature, conflict with the long-held notion that many neurons–on the order of thousands–are required to generate a behavioral… read more

The power of placebos

May 16, 2011

One in five respondents to a survey of physicians and psychiatrists in Canadian medical schools have administered or prescribed a placebo, researchers at McGill University have reported.

The survey, which was also designed to explore attitudes toward placebo use, found that the majority of responding psychiatrists (more than 60 per cent) believe that placebos can have therapeutic effects. This was a significantly higher proportion than… read more

The Power Of Plant Clock Computing

March 1, 2010

Stochastic process algebra, which encompasses concurrent processes and the communication between them, could lead to a new generation of super-efficient computing.

Process algebra, which is being used by UK scientists for computation of the complex biochemical processes that drive the circadian clock of a plant, is potentially more powerful by several orders of magnitude than sequential Turing machine-based computing processes.

The power of ‘random’: ‘Seemingly loopy’ technique could dramatically improve communications networks

February 10, 2010

MIT researchers have designed a radical new approach to communications networks, called “network coding,” which promises to make Internet file sharing faster, streaming video more reliable, and cell-phone reception better, among other improvements.

With network coding, a router mathematically combines packets into hybrid packets, making the most efficient possible use of the network’s bandwidth.

The Prize Is Won; The Simplest Universal Turing Machine Is Proved

October 25, 2007

University of Birmingham Alex Smith has won a $25,000 prize for proving that the simplest possible Turing machine is in fact universal, Stephen Wolfram has announced.

“Perhaps one day there’ll even be practical molecular computers built from this very 2,3 Turing machine,” said Wolfram. “With tapes a bit like RNA strands, and heads moving up and down like ribosomes. When we think of nanoscale computers, we usually… read more

The problem with abundance

October 28, 2003

What do traffic jams, obesity and spam have in common?

They are all problems caused by abundance in a world more attuned to scarcity. By achieving the goal of abundance, technology renders the natural checks and balances of scarcity obsolete.

The Problem With an Almost-Perfect Genetic World

November 21, 2005

Advocates for people with disabilities are troubled by how much faster the science of prenatal testing is advancing than the public discussion of how it ought to be used.

Some bioethicists envision a dystopia where parents who choose to forgo genetic testing are shunned, or their children are denied insurance. Parents and people with disabilities fear they may simply be more lonely. And less money may be devoted to… read more

The Problem with Atheism

October 3, 2007

“I think that ‘atheist’ is a term that we do not need, in the same way that we don’t need a word for someone who rejects astrology. We simply do not call people ‘non-astrologers,’” says author Sam Haris in a talk given at the Atheist Alliance conference in Washington D.C. on September 28th.

“All we need are words like ‘reason’ and ‘evidence’ and ‘common sense’ and ‘bullshit’ to put… read more

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