science + technology news

‘Conflict index’ warns when a nation faces civil war

October 29, 2001

A “conflict barometer” system providing a weekly measure of unrest could predict countries approaching civil war.
Raw material for the barometer is several thousand Reuters news stories. A sentence-analysing program called a parser classifies events into roughly 200 categories. From the category counts, researchers calculate the proportions of events involving civil protests, repressive government actions and outbreaks of violence to give a nation’s “conflict carrying capacity.”

They found that… read more

DNA cages guide nanoparticle self-assembly

March 18, 2009

Trapping nanoparticles in cages made of DNA could finally allow them to self-assemble into transistors, metamaterials and even tiny robots by preventing the nanoparticles from clumping together at random, one of the biggest problems with nanoscale self-assembly, University of Michigan scientists suggest.

The nanopoarticle is trapped inside a tetrahedral cage that has a single strand of DNA sticking out at each vertex. This symmetrical arrangement of strands is important… read more

Lifeboat Foundation names James Martin 2007 Guardian Award Winner

October 27, 2007

The Lifeboat Foundation has presented its 2007 Guardian Award to Dr. James Martin in recognition of the achievements of his Future of Humanity Institute in studying global catastrophic risks and the impacts of future technologies.

The award is given annually to a respected scientist or public figure who has warned of a future fraught with dangers and encouraged measures to prevent them, according to Lifeboat Foundation president… read more

Next big step for the Web — or a detour?

March 10, 2005

Advocates of the Semantic Web say it will give birth to vastly more powerful ways of gleaning information from the Internet.

The Semantic Web protocols aim to let computers distinguish different kinds of data. Applications could more automatically trade information, for example between an online address book and a cell phone. A Web site could automatically reconfigure itself on the fly based on the needs of a particular visitor.… read more

Neural Prosthetics and Direct Neural Control

November 28, 2001

Stanford engineer discovers neural cells that “plan” movement of body parts.Reaching out to touch a dot on a computer screen may seem simple, but it requires a complex chain of signals that link together the eye, brain and arm. Damage to any part of that chain, such as a spinal injury, stroke or neurodegenerative disease, can make even the simplest tasks impossible.

Stanford engineer Krishna Shenoy and a group… read more

A New Family of Molecules for Self-Assembly: The Carboranes

March 25, 2009

Researchers at Penn State and the Sigma-Aldrich company have found a way to control geometry and stability in making a self-assembled monolayer (SAM) of molecules on a surface by making SAMs out of different carboranethiol isomers, which are cage-like molecules.

These SAMs can selectively capture biomolecules from complex mixtures, for example.

Mechanosynthesis toolset is important new step toward the nanofactory

November 7, 2007
The DCB6Ge dimer placement tool places two carbon atoms onto the C(110) face of a dehydrogenated diamond surface. © 2004 Robert A. Freitas Jr.  All Rights Reserved.

A set of nine molecular tools for diamond mechanosynthesis (molecular assembly) — a significant new step toward creating the nanofactory — was presented by Robert A. Freitas Jr. and Ralph C. Merkle at Saturday’s Foresight Unconference.

Using only carbon, hydrogen, and germanium atoms, the high-precision tools, developed during three years of intensive modeling and analysis of chemical reactions, are “simple enough, but flexible enough so… read more

The real reason for Atkins diet weight loss

March 22, 2005

The high-protein Atkins diet works not for the reasons its inventor claimed, but simply because people eat less, according to studies by Guenther Boden at Temple University School of Medicine.

“They dropped 1000 calories because they didn’t want to eat more,” Boden says. “They loved the diet. They loved to eat bacon and eggs, and sausages and that sort of thing.”

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Robo Lobster to Sniff Out Mines

January 2, 2002

Teams of sniffer robots may someday scour land and sea, using their artificial snouts to root out mines in places and situations humans would rather avoid.At least this is the goal of a team studying the lobster–a creature considered a paragon of odor analysis–in order to create a robotic version of the lobster’s snout.

“The idea is that evolution has developed the lobster antennule (nose) to do the job… read more

Concentrating solar powered desalination — a water solution?

March 31, 2009

Concentrating solar powered desalination is a promising new technology for providing global drinking water supplies.

A First Look at the Google Phone

November 13, 2007

Google has teamed up with others in the wireless industry to create an open-source operating system, as well as other services, for mobile phones.

To show what the Android phones will look like, Google today has posted a couple of demos of their user interface, including iPhone-like functions, and some applications.

Google executives Sergey Brin and Steve Horowitz discuss the Android SDK and demo applications on the… read more

Engineers study whether plasmonics, ‘light on a wire,’ is circuitry wave of future

April 5, 2005

A new research group in Stanford’s School of Engineering is pioneering plasmonics, which combines the bandwidth of photonics and the smallness of electronics.

Surface plasmons are density waves of electrons—picture bunches of electrons passing a point regularly—along the surface of a metal. Plasmons have the same frequencies and electromagnetic fields as light, but their sub-wavelength size means they take up less space. Plasmonics, then, is the technology of transmitting… read more

Virtual world grows real economy

January 29, 2002

A computer game played by thousands of enthusiasts over the Internet has spawned an economy with a per-capita income comparable to that of a small country, according to new research by a US economist.
The online fantasy game EverQuest lets players create and control characters–or avatars–within a fantasy world called Norrath.

Characters gain skills and possessions that they can then trade with other players using the game’s currency of… read more

GM, Segway Roll Out Project P.U.M.A.

April 8, 2009

GM and Segway demonstrated Tuesday an electric two-wheel, two-seat prototype vehicle for use in congested urban environments.

The 300-pound, zero-emissions vehicle is powered by a lithium-ion battery and dual electric wheel motors. It features all-electronic acceleration, steering, and braking; vehicle-to-vehicle communications; digital smart energy management; two-wheel balancing; and a dockable user interface that allows off-board connectivity.

‘Micro’ livers could aid drug screening

November 20, 2007

MIT researchers have devised a novel way to create tiny colonies of living human liver cells that model the full-sized organ. The work could allow better screening of new drugs that are potentially harmful to the liver and reduce the costs associated with their development.

To build these model livers, they used micropatterning technology–the same technology used to place tiny copper wires on computer chips–to precisely arrange human liver… read more

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