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Bionic foot for hit and run victim

November 22, 2006

Scott Wall is one of the first people in Britain to be fitted with a bionic foot after he had part of his left leg amputated.

The Proprio Foot, designed by Icelandic company Ossur, is the first to use sensors to detect surfaces and slopes, which activates a motor to adjust itself to cope with a changing environment. Its software recognizes such things as hills and stairs and then… read more

Mobile Robots Take Baby Steps

January 8, 2004

The Army’s Tank-automotive and Armaments Command (TACOM) has awarded $2.25 million to two robotics firms to prototype a big mechanical dog capable of carrying ammunition, food and supplies into battle.

Depth perception is essential for recognizing obstacles and avoiding them, so NASA JPL developed a way for robots to see in three dimensions, using two separate cameras that take images of the same scene. JPL built a similar system… read more

First quantum effects seen in visible object

March 18, 2010

The first ever quantum superposition in an object visible to the naked eye has been observed by University of California, Santa Barbara researchers.

Ebola-like virus returns to Europe after 40 years

July 25, 2008

Marburg, a deadly hemorrhagic fever closely related to Ebola, is back in Europe, after a 40 year absence.

On July 11, a 40-year old Dutch woman died in a quarantined ward of a hospital in Leiden, the Netherlands, less than two weeks after she returned from Uganda.

The first human cases in Germany killed a quarter of those infected, while recent outbreaks in the Democratic Republic of Congo… read more

Minsky talks about life, love in the age of artificial intelligence

December 5, 2006

MIT computer science professor Marvin Minsky has written a new book, “The Emotion Machine,” in which he argues that, contrary to popular conception, emotions aren’t distinct from rational thought; rather, they are simply another way of thinking, one that computers could perform.

“Being angry is a very useful way to solve problems, for instance, by intimidating an opponent or getting rid of people who bother you,” he said.

The virtual anatomy, ready for dissection

January 9, 2012


The New York University School of Medicine is using 3D digital technology for teaching anatomy, a “Google Earth for the human body.”

BioDigital, the developer, plans to develop the virtual cadaver further on its new medical education Web site,, with the aim of providing a searchable, customizable map of the human body.

It will be available as a free, easy-to-use public Web site (now available… read more

Why life as a cyborg is better

January 19, 2004

Steve Mann, an engineering professor at the University of Toronto, spends hours every day viewing the world through a little monitor in front of his eye connected to a wearable computer and wirelessly to the Internet.

Mann manipulates the computer through a handheld device he invented and he has experimented with putting electrodes on his skin and trying to control the cursor with brain waves. He records video with… read more

Judge Invalidates Human Gene Patent

March 30, 2010

A federal judge on Monday struck down patents on two genes linked to breast and ovarian cancer. The decision, if upheld, could throw into doubt the patents covering thousands of human genes and reshape the law of intellectual property.

3-D Printing for the Masses

July 31, 2008

Shapeways, a new online service, aims to bring customized manufacturing to the masses by allowing consumers to submit digital designs of products that are then printed, using 3-D printers, and shipped back, at prices typically between $50 and $150.

While some 3-D printing services already exist, they are geared to professionals familiar with rendering designs in software suitable for 3-D printers. Shapeways makes this process far easier.… read more

Google searches U.S. patent database

December 15, 2006

Google’s new site,, lets anyone search for U.S. patents by keyword, patent number, inventor and filing date, and makes it easier to find relevant patents than the USPTO site.

US father names son ‘Version 2.0′

February 3, 2004

Jon Blake Cusack, from Holland, Michigan has named his new-born son “Jon Blake Cusack 2.0,” as if he were a software upgrade.

“There’s a lot of new features from Version 1.0 [Mr Cusack himself] with additional features from [wife] Jamie,” he said.

Electrical engineering fixes brain’s circuit board

April 8, 2010

Brain imaging of people undergoing deep brain stimulation* (DBS) to treat depression is revealing the mechanism behind the effects of DBS, which seems to tune an array of brain regions, not just the area around the electrode, according to researcher Helen Mayberg of Emory University.

Ultimately, the specificity of optogenetics (in which individual neurons are turned off and on with pulses of light) might allow researchers to make far… read more

Researchers mash Google Earth with electrical data to predict national grid problems

August 7, 2008

Oak Ridge National Labs researchers have developed The Visualizing Energy Resources Dynamically on Earth (VERDE) system, which overlays real-time status data from the national electric grid and weather on Google Earth.

Federal, state, and local agencies can use VERDE for wide-area
situational understanding to coordinate and respond to major problems such as wide-area power outages, natural disasters, and other catastrophic events. It also enables grid-behavior modeling and simulation.

Single Gene Could Lead to Long Life, Better Mental Function

December 27, 2006

Researchers at the Institute for Aging Research at Albert Einstein College of Medicine have discovered a gene that apparently protects the brain and prolongs life.

Centenarians who passed a common test of mental function were two to three times more likely to have a common variant of a particular gene, called the CETP gene, than those who did not.

New microtweezers may build tiny MEMS structures

January 19, 2012

Purdue researchers have created a new type of microtweezers capable of manipulating objects to build tiny structures, print coatings to make advanced sensors, and grab and position live stem cell spheres for research. (Credit: Birck Nanotechnology Center)

Researchers have created new “microtweezers” capable of manipulating objects to build tiny structures, print coatings to make advanced sensors, and grab and position live stem cell spheres for research.

The microtweezers might be used to assemble structures in microelectromechanical systems (MEMS), which contain tiny moving parts, such as MEMS accelerometers and gyroscopes, currently used in commercial products. A wider variety of MEMS devices, however, could be produced… read more

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