science + technology news

GPS gadgets can reveal more than your location

June 4, 2008

Microsoft researchers have developed a way to automatically guess a person’s mode of transport from their GPS trace alone.

Fastest-evolving human gene linked to brain boost

August 17, 2006

The fastest evolving gene in the human genome is one linked to brain development, which has undergone “accelerated evolutionary change” in just five million years, as we evolved from our shared simian ancestor.

Leading humanity forward

October 14, 2003

Project Cyborg 4.0 is Prof. Kevin Warwick’s plan to be the first human with a brain inplant.

“I can see a future when we do link human brains and machine brains together to create cyborgs, and this oldfashioned way of communicating by speech will be thrown out. We’ll communicate just by thinking at each other,” he says.

The relentless rise of the digital worker

January 18, 2010

Opportunities are opening in the emerging area of “cloud labor,” where a virtual workforce can undertake any task via the Internet.

Adapting Websites to Users

June 9, 2008

Researchers at MIT’s Sloan School of Management hope to make websites better at selling products by making them adapt automatically to each visitor, presenting information in a way that complements the user’s cognitive style, as indicated by click patterns.

Carbon-nanotube ‘strings’ may ID single molecules

August 29, 2006

Nanoscale “guitar strings” that vibrate at 1.3 GHz could detect and identify individual molecules have been developed by University of California, Berkeley scientists.

The device may even let researchers study the quantum behavior of molecules, and possibly viruses.

Their next goal is to develop coatings for the carbon nanotubes that will selectively bind target molecules, such as explosives, so that they can actually start spotting molecules.

Intel explores nanotech tools for early disease detection

October 24, 2003

Intel is working with the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center to see if laser technology used to detect microscopic chip imperfections can also detect subtle traces of disease.

They hope to identify proteins in human blood serum that foretell the susceptibility, presence or prognosis of diseases such as cancer.

The laser stimulates molecules within a substance to give off a spectrum of light that can be detected by… read more

Embedded electronics bring pop-up books to life

January 22, 2010

The Electronic Popable book, developed by the High-Low Tech group at the MIT Media Lab, has electronic circuitry embedded in its pages that transforms the tabs, flaps and wheels of a traditional pop-up into switches and a variety of sensors.

The interactive pages come alive with LED lights, sounds and even vibrate in response to touch.

They used off-the-shelf electrically conductive paints and fabrics, adding custom-made magnetic components… read more

U.S. Death Rate Hit Record Low in 2006

June 12, 2008

The age-adjusted U.S. death rate dropped roughly 3% from 2005 to 2006, reaching an all-time low of 776 deaths per 100,000 individuals, according to a CDC review of national mortality data.

Among the other findings:

* Deaths due to either influenza or pneumonia saw the biggest decline, a 13% drop.
* Mortality from other leading causes — for example, chronic lower respiratory diseases, heart… read more

Laser-driven MRI scanner promises portability

September 11, 2006

A team led by UC Berkeley has developed a highly sensitive laser detector that produces magnetic resonance images at room temperature using low-power, off-the-shelf magnets.

The apparatus uses polarised laser light to align rubidium atoms in a vapor. The atomic alignment changes in response to faint magnetic signals and the same laser can measure these slight changes, so less powerful magnets are required.

The apparatus could be scaled… read more

Folding@home’s biological research now on supercomputers

November 21, 2011

By moving protein-folding modeling to supercomputers, researchers hope to open the door to large numbers of scientists (credit: Stanford University)

A new distributed framework for supercomputers called Copernicus, based on of the computing technology used in Folding@home, has been developed by Stanford researchers and presented at the SC11 supercomputing conference.

With open-source Copernicus software, other researchers can now run simulations, including molecular models, using processor time on multiple supercomputers or computing clusters, rather than home computers. With an interest in solving… read more

As Uses Grow, Tiny Materials’ Safety Is Hard to Pin Down

November 3, 2003

Investors and policy makers are finding that pinpointing the potential environmental and health impacts of nanotechnology could take years.

The federal government has projected that sales of products based on nanotechnology will reach $1 trillion by 2015. That pace of industrial adoption is on a collision course with the measured pace of toxicology and environmental impact research.

Firm Brings Gene Tests to Masses

January 29, 2010

Silicon Valley start-up Counsyl is selling a test that it says can tell couples whether they are at risk of having children for 100 inherited diseases, including rare inherited diseases.

Some genetic testing of prospective parents is done now, but only for a few diseases like cystic fibrosis and Tay-Sachs, and only for certain ethnic groups. Each test can cost hundreds or even thousands of dollars. Counsyl’s test costs… read more

New Top 500 supercomputers list: Blue Gene/L no longer fastest

June 18, 2008

The 31st edition of the TOP500 Supercomputer Sites list was released today.

The IBM-built Los Alamos National Laboratory’s “Roadrunner” tops the list with a performance of more than one petaflop/s (1 quadrillion calculations per second), the first supercomputer to reach this milestone. It is more than twice fast as Blue Gene/L, the previous number one from November 2004 through November 2007.

For the first time, the… read more

Stem Cells Made From ‘Dead’ Human Embryo

September 26, 2006

Scientists say they have created a stem cell line from a human embryo that had stopped developing naturally, and so was considered dead. Using such embryos might ease ethical concerns about creating such cells, they suggested.

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