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Small world networks key to memory

May 28, 2004

Working memory appears to be based on simple networks of “small world” (maximally connected) neurons in the prefrontal cortex that participate in self-sustaining bursts of electrical activity.

Northwestern University researchers have created a model of these networks, using simple neurons that when activated would activate their neighbours for a brief period: an activating pulse travelled through the network and then disappeared at the fringes. They then added shortcuts to… read more

CIA’s spy tools make Maxwell Smart’s look like toys

May 28, 2004

The CIA’s future information analysis technologies will make Google look like a toy. In-Q-Tel’s investments provide a glimpse of what they might do.

  • Tacit Knowledge Systems’ software could facilitate information sharing by scanning every agent’s outgoing e-mail, looking for clusters of words that tell the system what and who each agent seems to know. And MetaCarta can figure out where the information is about.
  • PiXlogic can
  • read more

    MOVIE REVIEW — ‘THE DAY AFTER TOMORROW’

    May 28, 2004

    Smart hero. Dumb officials. Huge sheet of ice. The Day After Tomorrow,” a two-hour $125 million disaster movie opening nationwide on Friday, proposes an apocalypse that covers the Northern Hemisphere in a sheet of ice and snow.

    Some environmental groups are using the release of “The Day After Tomorrow” to raise awareness of global warming but agree that the conditions could take hundreds of years to develop.

    Looking back into the future

    May 28, 2004

    Tales of Future Past is a collection, with commentary, of early magazine covers and other speculative illustrations — portraying life on distant planets and in the distant future…like the 1970s.

    Thirty years with computers

    May 28, 2004

    “According to Moore’s Law, computer power doubles every 18 months, meaning that computers will be a million times more powerful by 2034,” estimates computer useability expert Jakob Nielsen.

    “According to Nielsen’s Law of Internet bandwidth, connectivity to the home grows by 50 percent per year; by 2034, we’ll have 200,000 times more bandwidth.

    “That same year, I’ll own a computer that runs at 3PHz CPU speed, has a… read more

    Search engines try to find their sound

    May 28, 2004

    Consumers armed with broadband connections at home are driving new demand for multimedia content and setting off a new wave of technology development among search engine companies eager to extend their empires from the static world of text to the dynamic realm of video and audio.

    StreamSage has developed speech recognition technology to transcribe audio and video content and contextual analysis to understand the language and parse the themes… read more

    Researchers zero in on a cause of aging

    May 27, 2004

    Taking a major step toward identifying one cause of aging, researchers have shortened the life of mice and created signs of old age by injecting a small genetic defect in the mice’s mitochondria, the tiny power plants within each cell.

    The New ‘Molecular Economy’

    May 26, 2004

    A new “molecular economy” is on its way, while the information economy hasn’t completely matured. As the information economy comes of age, a surprising thing is happening: Information systems are starting to take their cues from biological ones. Information is converging with biology, and business is following suit.

    (Excerpts from IT’S ALIVE: The Coming Convergence of Information, Biology, and Business by by Christopher Meyer & Stan Davis.)

    Universe Measured: We’re 156 Billion Light-years Wide!

    May 25, 2004

    The universe is at least 156 billion light-years wide.

    The calculation is based on the calculations that the universe is about 13.7 billion years old. So one might assume that the diameter of the universe is 27.4 billion light-years wide. But the universe has been expanding ever since the beginning of time, bringing the estimated diameter to 156 billion light-years.

    Malformed Proteins Found in Sheep Muscle

    May 24, 2004

    Prions have been found in sheep muscle, scientists announced Saturday — the first time they have been discovered in animal flesh that many humans normally eat.

    The animals were infected with scrapie, a prion disease that is not the same as bovine spongiform encephalopathy. Scientists believe that mutated scrapie prions may have caused the British epidemic of mad cow disease of the 1980′s, but no case of scrapie transmitted… read more

    Doctors Put Hope in Thin Wires for a Life in Epilepsy’s Clutches

    May 24, 2004

    Deep-brain stimulators (“pacemakers for the brain”) are at the forefront of research by neuroscientists seeking to treat a variety of difficult conditions such as epilepsy, Parkinson’s disease and other types of tremors and movement disorders.

    Conditions may eventually include depression, obsessive compulsive disorder and Tourette’s syndrome.

    The devices inhibit syncronized nerve impulses in parts of the brain that are too active.

    In the Era of Cheap DVD’s, Anyone Can Be a Producer

    May 21, 2004

    Independent filmmakers, specialty magazine publishers, artists, educators — all those with a video to sell, no matter how narrow the niche –are turning out DVD’s and distributing them through the mail.

    It’s a trend that began in the era of videotape but has accelerated with DVD’s because they are inexpensive to duplicate and ship.

    Semantic Web Ready for Phase Two

    May 21, 2004

    The World Wide Web Consortium’s (W3C) Semantic Web is ready for a new phase of development that will lead to the creation of new tools, languages and applications, Tim Berners-Lee, the W3C’s director, said.

    He predicted a future where enterprises would adopt the Semantic Web and be startled by the dramatic way in which data can be collected and formatted in order to help humans and machines interact with… read more

    Tonsil tests suggest thousands harbour vCJD

    May 21, 2004

    Almost 4000 Britons aged between 10 and 30 may be harboring the prion proteins that cause variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease (vCJD), the human form of mad cow disease.

    The estimate is speculative since it’s based on extrapolation from only three infected tonsil or appendix samples.

    BioCDs could allow for rapid disease tests

    May 20, 2004

    While-you-wait medical tests that screen patients for thousands of disease markers by detecting proteins could be possible with “BioCDs” –compact-disc technology patented by a team of Purdue University scientists led by physicist David D. Nolte.

    CDs ordinarily store digital information as billions of tiny “pits” in their surface. The test transforms these into miniature test tubes that can hold a trace quantity of a chemical that reacts to a… read more

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