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Plant Dispatched to Decontaminate Soil

April 27, 2004

Scientists have recruited plants in their fight against pollution, teaming the yellow lupine with modified bacteria that can break down organic chemicals. The combination is very effective at removing the toxic compound toluene from soil.

Digital Paper Makes Device Debut

April 27, 2004

Sony, Philips, and digital paper pioneer E-Ink have announced Librié, an electronic book reader the size of a paperback book that can hold 500 documents in memory and allow owners to download new content. The display has a resolution of 170 pixels per inch, comparable to the print quality of newspapers.

New Drug Delivery Technique Avoids Needles

April 27, 2004

Microscission, a new technique of administering medication developed by MIT researchers, uses a stream of gas to deliver drugs through the skin. It uses minuscule inert crystals of aluminum oxide to remove the rough outer layer of skin and create tiny holes called microconduits that medication can move through. It could provide a less painful alternative for many patients, including those suffering from Diabetes, who frequently prick their fingers to… read more

Cognitive Rascal in the Amorous Swamp: A Robot Battles Spam

April 27, 2004

SpamProbe, which automatically learns to recognize junk e-mail, is an example of AI programs based on a statistical method called Bayesian inference that learns from experience.

The Biggest Jolt to Power Since Franklin Flew His Kite

April 27, 2004

Companies say they are closing in on the goal of producing relatively inexpensive superconducting wire for power generators, transformers and transmission lines.

Google’s Goal: “Understand Everything”

April 27, 2004

“The ultimate search engine would basically understand everything in the world, and it would always give you the right thing,” says Google co-founder Larry Page. “Our mission is to organize the world’s information.”

Chip rewires itself on the fly

April 27, 2004

The first processor that can add new instructions while operating was announced by startup Stretch.

The chip combines an existing RISC (reduced instruction set computing) architecture with a large reconfigurable area of programmable logic. Developer-generated software automatically spots areas in a program that require intensive computation and creates new instructions for the processor to handle those tasks.

Typical tasks, such as performing encryption or digital video processing on… read more

IBM, Stanford join forces on spintronics

April 27, 2004

IBM’s Almaden Research Center and Stanford University have announced an agreement to work together on spintronics. The goal: usher in a second era of electronics based on manipulating an electron’s spin rather than transfer of charge.

It is proving difficult to achieve ever-higher levels of integration using traditional semiconductor scaling techniques, largely because of higher power consumption.

“Spin current,” which comes from angular momentum of rotating electrons, does… read more

E-translators: the more you say, the better

April 26, 2004

Universal translation is one of ten emerging technologies that will affect our lives and work “in revolutionary ways” within a decade, Technology Review says.

Researchers are concentrating on phrases rather than individual words, which can have various shades of meaning and result in awkward translations.

Phraselator’s translated phrases are pre-recorded by native speakers, so they are clearly understood. Carnegie Mellon is working on “Speechlator” for use in doctor-patient… read more

Faster circuits go for gold

April 26, 2004

Computer chip manufacturers are fast running out of room on conventional, flat circuit boards. So for the next generation of chips, the only way is up.

Researchers have developed a way to draw the circuit directly into a block of glass. They added gold oxide to the glass, focused short laser pulses on specific points inside the block to dislodge individual atoms of gold, and heated the block to… read more

US unprepared for dirty-bomb attacks

April 26, 2004

The United States is ill prepared to deal with the long term aftermath of a “dirty-bomb” terrorist attack, say analysts. They warn that existing clean-up laws and regulations covering radioactive materials were not designed with dirty bombs in mind, and give conflicting recommendations.

The researchers want new guidelines to be drafted urgently to deal specifically with the consequences of a dirty-bomb attack, so that clean-up targets can be balanced… read more

Molecular basis for Mozart effect revealed

April 26, 2004

New research has revealed a molecular basis for the “Mozart effect” — the observation that Mozart’s music may improve learning and memory.

The study showed that rats that heard a Mozart sonata expressed higher levels of genes involved in stimulating and changing the connections between brain cells in their hippocampus: BDNF, a neural growth factor; CREB, a learning and memory compound; and synapsin I, a synaptic growth protein.

Enzyme ‘Ink’ Shows Potential for Nanomanufacturing

April 23, 2004

Enzymes can be used to create nanoscale patterns on a gold surface, Duke University engineers have demonstrated, representing an important advance in nanomanufacturing.

They used an enzyme called DNase I as an “ink” in a process called dip-pen nanolithography (for nanoscale etching or writing). The dip-pen allowed them to inscribe precise 100-nanometers-wide stripes of DNase I ink on a gold plate, which they had previously coated with a thick… read more

Robots offer devotion, no strings attached

April 23, 2004

Robots may be the answer to caring for the aged in Japan and other nations where the young are destined to be overwhelmed by a surging elderly population.

Robots serving not just as helpers — carrying out simple chores and reminding patients to take their medication — but also as companions, even if the machines can conduct merely a semblance of real dialogue.

Proponents of robot therapy say… read more

Getting Molecules To Do The Work

April 23, 2004

Molecular self-assembly can make manufacturing fast and cheap and also develop products that would be impossible to make using conventional methods.

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