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A Grand plan for brainy robots

March 19, 2004

On a good day, Lucy can tell a banana apart from an apple. And that’s handy skill to have if you are an orangutan. Even a robotic one….

Nokia Edges Toward Phone Blogging

March 19, 2004

Nokia has unveiled Lifeblog, software designed to integrate and organize words, audio, pictures and even video from your mobile phone. Uploading your life to a weblog may be the next step.

Earth Safe from Ultra-close Asteroid Flyby Today

March 19, 2004

A 100 feet asteroid passed closer to Earth than ever recorded: just 26,500 miles away. An object of this size, where it to take direct aim, would likely break apart or explode in the atmosphere, astronomers say. The result could cause local damage. Something just slightly larger could survive to the surface and destroy a city.

Tiny ‘elevator’ most complex nanomachine yet

March 19, 2004

Nanoscale elevators made of two interlinking organic molecules have been built and operated by US and Italian scientists.

They are the most complex molecular machines built yet, consisting of a platform flanked by three rings that thread through three vertical rods. The force of an acid-base reaction is used to power the “elevator.”

The most likely application will be in bringing two reactants together, allowing tight control over… read more

Earth faces sixth mass extinction

March 19, 2004

The Earth may be on the brink of a sixth mass extinction on a par with the five others that have punctuated its history. There is growing concern over the rate at which species of plants and animals are disappearing around the world. The current extinction is being precipitated by the widespread loss of habitats because of human activity.

Robolympics contestants shoot for gold

March 19, 2004

The world’s first Robolympics kicks off in San Francisco this weekend. The 414 robots will compete for prizes in various categories, such as the Humanoid Robot World Cup Soccer Tournament and Ribbon Climber, in which robots race up a carbon-fiber ribbon, designed to inspire “space elevator” technology that might one day lift satellites into orbit.

Seeing Pessimism, Not Science, as the Enemy

March 19, 2004

Bypassing restricted federal funding for human embryonic stem cell research, New Jersey Gov. James E. McGreevey has signed a law permitting stem-cell research. He also intends to provide $6.5 million as part of a five-year, $50 million plan to place New Jersey (and Rutgers University) at the forefront of state-sponsored stem cell studies.

Hello, is there anybody out there?

March 19, 2004

Microsoft Corp. co-founder Paul Allen announced a gift of $13.5 million to begin construction of an unprecedented new radio astronomy telescope in Northern California primarily dedicated to SETI, the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence. The gift is in addition to his earlier donation of $11.5 million.

The Allen Telescope Array will be a state-of-the-art network of 350 small radio-frequency dishes spread across about 2.5 acres of land. It will allow… read more

RFID chips watch Grandma brush teeth

March 18, 2004

Intel researchers have demonstrated that data harvested from embedded wireless RFID chips could reassure family and care-givers that an elderly person was taking care of themselves, for example, taking their medication. Unusual data patterns would provide an early warning that something was wrong.

Rocket fuel boosts speed of transistors

March 18, 2004

The rocket fuel hydrazine has turned out to be ideal in helping to make faster thin-film transistors, a crucial component of liquid crystal displays.

The key was the discovery that the semiconductor tin disulphide, which is insoluble in most liquids, can be dissolved in hydrazine if sulphur is added to the mix. By applying the solution to a silicon substrate and spinning it they were able to create a… read more

NASA figuring out ways to decipher silent speech

March 18, 2004

Scientists at NASA’s Ames Research Center are able to pick up the nerve signals that trigger tiny muscle movements and turn them into commands that drive a model rover or perform a simple Web search.

Although the work is very preliminary, it could someday be used in voice recognition systems and to help people communicate clearly in noisy environments. It could also help people who have lost their ability… read more

Nerve cell proteins show promise for reducing disability

March 17, 2004

New research has found a potential treatment to minimize disability after spinal cord and other nervous system injuries.

The technique involves augmenting the stress protein response, in which cells produce proteins called Hsc70 and Hsp70 that help protect them from death when they are exposed to heat, injury or any other stresses that threaten their normal function.

Ultra-fast shocks scramble cells

March 17, 2004

Using very powerful electric shocks lasting namoseconds, researchers are developing a way to jolt cancer cells into committing suicide, or healthy cells into healing wounds.

Shocking Way to Transform Waste

March 16, 2004

For the first time, a microbial fuel cell has generated electricity while cleaning wastewater, a development that could make sewage treatment more affordable for both industrialized and developing nations. While a typical fuel cell runs on hydrogen, a microbial fuel cell relies on bacteria to metabolize food, releasing electrons that yield a steady electrical current. The fuel for this particular microbial fuel cell was skimmed from the settling pond of… read more

Bacteria that Defy Antibiotics

March 16, 2004

A group of common bacteria are rapidly become resistant to antibiotics: the bacteria Staphylococcus aureus. Staph infections are extremely common and can be treated with several common antibiotics. However, doctors are not accustomed to using these antibiotics and the prevalence of the resistant staph is growing.

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