science + technology news

Get laser-like beams from salt

January 19, 2006

Mechanically shocking a crystal such as salt generates coherent light at terahertz frequencies, which could be used for biomedical imaging and other applications.

Will Genetic Engineering Kill Us?

April 16, 2003

“Bioethicists and scientists contemplating the future fear that genetic engineering and other technologies are going to divide human beings into classes that may one day try to destroy one another.”

Visions of data

September 21, 2009

A day of shipping traffic near Rotterdam, using data from ships: darker traces signify slower speeds and color coding shows traffic density (N. Willems / H. van de Wetering / J. van Wijk / TUE)

Researchers are developing new ways to visualize information to analyze the world around us.

A soft, bio-friendly ’3-D’ brain-implant electrode

Can capture signals from single neurons in the brain over a long period of time --- without causing brain-tissue damage
October 9, 2015

3-D electrodes ft

Researchers at Lund University have developed implantable multichannel electrodes that can capture signals from single neurons in the brain over a long period of time — without causing brain tissue damage, making it possible to better understand brain function in both healthy and diseased individuals.

Current flexible electrodes can’t maintain their shape when implanted, which is why they have to be attached to a solid chip. That… read more

Nano-Softball Made of DNA

April 1, 2008

Ruhr University scientists have created a dodecahedron (a geometric shape with twelve surfaces) from DNA building blocks.

The 20-nanometer particles were self-assembled from 20 trisoligonucleotide building blocks, consisting of a “branching junction” and three short DNA strands.

Additional functional molecules can be attached, allowing for highly complex nanoconstructions resembling viruses in shape and size. Potential applications include medical diagnostics to nanoelectronics.

Robot special: Almost human

February 1, 2006

Researchers are poised to pull together developments in three key fields — walking, talking and manipulation — to produce a new generation of human-like machines.

And when artificial intelligence catches up, they will not only be able to clean the house, do the dishes and take out the garbage, but also to play with children, help care for the elderly and even explore the farthest reaches of space and… read more

Autonomous machines, networks, and robots will self-improve in the future by publishing their own upgrade suggestions

July 18, 2011

Block diagram of knowledge generation, sharing between humans and machines, and its distribution via publications (credit: S.M. Veres)

The best way for autonomous machines, networks, and robots to improve in the future will be for them to publish their own upgrade suggestions on the Internet, says Sandor Veres of the University of Southampton’s Faculty of Engineering and the Environment.

This leap to increased autonomy will be facilitated by machines and humans publishing information in a common language online. ┬áThis can be achieved by… read more

Cognitive Systems

April 30, 2003

The April 2003 issue of ERCIM News is dedicated to cognitive systems, with 21 articles. Some of the more interesting articles are featured in A Gallery of Cognitive Systems, a weblog.

Discovery Brings New Type Of Fast Computers Closer To Reality

September 28, 2009

UC San Diego physicists have created integrated circuits with particles called “excitons” at 125 degrees Kelvin (can be easily attained commercially with liquid nitrogen), bringing the possibility of a new type of extremely fast computer based on excitons closer to reality.

Excitons are pairs of negatively charged electrons and positively charged holes that can be created by light in a semiconductor such as gallium arsenide. When the electron and… read more

Matrix-style virtual worlds ‘a few years away’

April 4, 2008

Are supercomputers on the verge of creating Matrix-style simulated realities?

Michael McGuigan at Brookhaven National Laboratory thinks so, and has used the Lab’s Blue Gene/L supercomputer to generate a photorealistic, real-time artificial world. He found that conventional ray-tracing software could run 822 times faster on the Blue Gene/L than on a standard computer, allowing it to convincingly mimic natural lighting in real time.

The ultimate objective is to… read more

Viper vision

February 15, 2006

A new invention uses an ordinary digital-camera light sensor to capture a scene. An array of infrared LEDs then transforms this image into a pattern of heat points that can be projected onto a user’s forehead.

The human forehead is very sensitive to temperature change, so users may be able to “see” a coarse image in their mind. The technique could also be used to relay Braille messages.

Touchscreen keyboard morphs to fit your typing style

July 26, 2011

IBM Keyboard

IBM recently filed a U.S. patent application for a morphing touchscreen keyboard interface that would automatically resize, reshape, and reposition keys based on a user’s typing style.

IBM proposes a system that would alter the size, shape, and location of keys to suit an individual’s physical anatomy, such as finger size, length, and range of motion. The user would first carry out a series of calibration exercises… read more

‘Digital organisms’ evolve complex functions in short steps

May 8, 2003

“Computer programs designed to ‘evolve’ solutions to mathematical problems support the idea that complexity in nature emerges in small, often apparently unremarkable, steps. Complex biological organisms are thought to develop through a series of intermediary evolutionary adaptations, rather than in single giant evolutionary leaps.

“The researchers say their computer model will let biologists study individual evolutionary steps for the first time.”

Artificial Life Experiments Show Howread more

Two New Apps Superimpose Wikipedia Over Your iPhone Camera View of the World

October 5, 2009

Two new apps with Wikipedia entries about physical locations that you can view through your iPhone 3GS camera are now available, using the phone’s GPS and compass features.

Wikitude allows anyone to add notes on locations.

Transplanted cells could ‘catch’ Parkinson’s

April 8, 2008

Perplexing new studies from Rush University Medical Center and Wallenberg Neuroscience researchers suggest cells transplanted into the brains of people with Parkinson’s disease (to produce dopamine) “catch” the disorder from the surrounding tissue.

They studied brains of three people who’d received grafts between 11 and 16 years before death. Some cells in the grafts contained structures called Lewy bodies, a hallmark sign of the disease. Most grafted neurons were… read more

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