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Bending sound the ‘wrong’ way sharpens scans

September 7, 2004

Ultrasound scans could soon be much more detailed, thanks to a novel material that can bend sound waves the “wrong” way. This property, known as negative refraction, means the material should bring sound waves to a focus far sharper than today’s medical scanners.

Maths holy grail could bring disaster for internet

September 7, 2004

Mathematicians could be on the verge of solving two separate million-dollar problems.

If Louis de Branges really has cracked the

Finally, a Car That Talks Back

September 3, 2004

Honda will soon become the first auto manufacturer to include, as standard equipment in some models, technology that enables drivers to converse with their cars about where to go and how to get there.

Using voice-recognition and text-to-speech technology from IBM, the 2005 Acura RL, available in October, and Honda Odyssey, available in September, will produce maps and “speak” turn-by-turn directions from the navigation system.

Search and rescue robots

September 3, 2004

Robotics researchers are focusing on using small robots to venture where humans cannot go to search for survivors of earthquakes, collapsed mines and other disasters.

The future of nanotechnology

September 3, 2004

Eric Drexler’s vision of self-assembling nanoscale machines will be difficult to achieve because of low Reynolds numbers, ubiquitous Brownian motion, and strong surface forces, says physicist Richard Jones of the University of Sheffield.

As an alternative way to achieve “radical nanotechnology,” he proposes two methods: using biological components, such as molecular motors and incorporating them into artificial nanostructures; and bionanotechnology, using some of the design methods of biology and… read more

Let a Thousand Reactors Bloom

September 3, 2004

China plans to build 30 nuclear reactors by 2020, but a team of Chinese scientists says it needs a lot more: 300 gigawatts of nuclear output, not much less than the 350 gigawatts produced worldwide today.

For safety, China’s new meltdown-proof HTR-10 reactor design would use inert helium instead of superhot water.

Hydrogen Fuel Closer to Fruition

September 3, 2004

A new “solar hydrogen” method could produce cheap hydrogen from water in seven years, using a commercial solar panel

Is Portable Video Ready for Its Close-Up?

September 2, 2004

Microsoft has launched the Windows Mobile Portable Media Center, a software design for an audio player with a color video screen — a sort of video iPod.

CinemaNow will offer 200 movies and television programs, coded for the Windows devices, that must be downloaded into a Windows XP computer before being transferred to a Portable Media Center.

Computers equipped with television tuner cards can also record programs and… read more

Domestic bliss through mechanical marvels?

September 2, 2004

The force driving the development of personal robots– and what will eventually create demand for them in the marketplace — is aging baby boomers, who will be increasingly unable to care for themselves or their homes.

Robot experts predict that a decade from now, boomers might buy a specialized R2D2-like robot to clean the kitchen and another health care ‘bot to monitor vital signs and make sure pills are… read more

Virtual Humans Proposed As Space Travelers

September 2, 2004

A partnership between in-the-flesh space voyagers and virtual humans may make sense for a humans-to-Mars mission and other manned space exploration, says author Peter Plantec.

A virtual human could be set up to monitor highly complex systems in real time. It can interface with the human sojourner, easing that person’s workload, Plantec advised, by monitoring onboard systems and automatically make whatever critical adjustments it has been authorized to do.

Mysterious signals from 1000 light years away

September 2, 2004

A radio signal designated “SHGb02+14a” seems to be coming from a point between the constellations Pisces and Aries, where there is no obvious star or planetary system within 1000 light years. And the transmission is very weak.

It has a frequency of about 1420 megahertz (one of the main frequencies at which hydrogen, the most common element in the universe, readily absorbs and emits energy).

Alien Contact More Likely by ‘Mail’ Than Radio, Study Says

September 2, 2004

A new study suggests it is more energy-efficient to communicate across interstellar space by sending physical material than beams of electromagnetic radiation.

Beams of radiation are cone-shaped and grow in size as they travel outward, meaning the great majority of their energy is wasted.

A far more energy-efficient — although slower — way of communicating over great interstellar distances is to send a physical object, which can hold… read more

Scientific Method Man

September 2, 2004

The “verifier” method — used by psychologist Gordon Rugg to reveal the Voynich manuscript as a hoax — may revolutionize the scientific method and help solve seemingly unsolvable mysteries, such as the origins of the universe or the cause of Alzheimer’s disease.

The new method detects erroneous reasoning based on pattern-matching, bias, lack of familiarity with other fields of science, differing definitions of key terms, and other factors. It… read more

First practical plastic magnets created

September 1, 2004

The world’s first plastic magnet to work at room temperature has passed the elementary test of magnetism.

One of the most likely applications is magnetic coating of computer hard disks, which could lead to a new generation of high-capacity disks.

Plastic magnets could also have important medical applications, for example in dentistry or the transducers used in cochlear implants. Organic magnetic materials are less likely to be rejected… read more

Cloning from the dead claim attacked

September 1, 2004

Viable embryos have been created from dead people by fusing their cells with empty cow eggs, a controversial fertility scientist, Panayiotis Zavos, claimed on Tuesday.

However, the claims were immediately met with both revulsion and scepticism from the UK scientific community.

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