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New graphics firm promises real-time ray tracing

March 16, 2009

Caustic has announced a 3D ray tracing calculations chip to shade a ray traced scene at up to 20x the speed.

Robot Cannon Kills 9, Wounds 14 (UPDATE)

October 19, 2007

The South African National Defence Force “is probing whether a software glitch led to an antiaircraft cannon malfunction that killed nine soldiers and seriously injured 14 others during a shooting exercise on Friday.”

See correction to this story in news service. – Ed.

‘DNA wires’ promise future self-assembling computer devices

March 2, 2005

“DNA wires” may lead to low-cost, self-assembling devices for future computers.

Purdue University researchers brought together magnetic nanoparticles and DNA in solution, causing the DNA to be coated with the magnetic nanoparticles and forming a conductive “DNA wire.” They then used a BamH1 “restriction enzyme” to cause the DNA wire to be snipped in specific smaller lengths.

Because hundreds of different restriction enzymes snip segments containing specific sequences… read more

An optogenetic technique for neuroscience that uses lasers to manipulate neurocircuits in moving animals

January 17, 2011

CoLBerT schematic (Harvard University)

Researchers at Harvard University’s Center For Brain Science have developed a new technique for neuroscience called CoLBeRT* (control locomotion and behavior in real time)┬áthat allows researchers to commandeer the nervous system of a moving animal without wires or electrodes. The system has been used thus far on the microscopic nematode C. elegans.

Scientists are using CoLBeRT to understand how a handful of neurons can work together in… read more

RoboFly’s flight test

November 7, 2001

The first limited flight of the smallest-ever flapping-wing machine has been achieved by researchers at the University of California, Berkeley.

Berkeley’s RoboFly has a wingspan of just three centimeters and weighs 300 milligrams. It is modeled on a fruit fly, which flaps and rotates its wings hundreds of times per second.

The inaugural flight was just 30 centimeters and used one wing, while the robot was tethered to… read more

Graphene could lead to faster chips

March 20, 2009

New research findings at MIT could lead to microchips using graphene technology that allows them to operate at much higher speeds (in the 500 to 1,000 gigahertz range) than is possible with today’s standard silicon chips, leading to cell phones and other communications systems that can transmit data much faster.

Waste wafers give solar power a silicon boost

October 31, 2007

A simple method of recycling waste silicon from microchips that could help ease the shortage of refined silicon for solar energy panels has been developed by IBM.

IBM estimates that 3.3 percent of these wafers are normally scrapped before they reach the market, which adds up to nearly 3 million discarded wafers per year. It reckons the silicon from these discarded wafers could make solar panels capable of generating… read more

Bioterror CSIs Target Germs

March 16, 2005

New bioterrorism forensic tools, including advanced mass spectrometry, chemical analysis of water, and DNA fingerprinting, could identify the region of the country where a bioagent was grown.

Advances in Quantum Computing

December 4, 2001

Quantum computing borrows ideas from finance: a balanced portfolio of programs could mean a faster quantum computer.Strategies from the world of finance could help get the best out of quantum computers, say US researchers. The right portfolio of programs could solve a problem many times faster than a single strategem.

Quantum computers – purely hypothetical as yet – would be fast, but you could never be sure whether a… read more

Firm vows to grow first flowers on the moon

March 30, 2009
(Paragon Space Development)

Paragon Space Development, set to travel on a lunar lander designed by Odyssey Moon, plans to grow the first flowers on the moon in a greenhouse to serve as a thrilling iconic image.

Odyssey Moon aims to launch its lander and rover by the end of 2011 to win the $20 million first prize in the Google Lunar X Prize, a $30 million contest to send an… read more

Congress to vote on open access and NIH funds

November 8, 2007

US investigators funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) may soon be compelled to publish only in journals that make their research papers freely available within one year of publication.

Congress is this week expected to take final votes on a bill incorporating this directive.

BlueGene/L doubles up

March 25, 2005

BlueGene/L, already number one on the latest Top 500, nearly doubled its performance — now at 135.3 teraflops — after doubling its processor count at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory.

Observatory could detect hidden dimensions

January 9, 2002

Cosmic rays could find proof of extra dimensions by detecting tiny black holes.The Pierre Auger Observatory, currently being constructed in Argentina to study cosmic rays, could examine the structure of spacetime itself, say physicists in the United States.

If, as some suspect, the Universe contains invisible, extra dimensions, then cosmic rays that hit the atmosphere will produce tiny black holes. These black holes should be numerous enough for the… read more

Neuroscientists propose project to comprehensively map mammalian brain circuits

April 1, 2009

A first-draft circuit map of the entire mouse brain within two to three years has been proposed by Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory and 20 other major research institutions as a first step in assembling a comprehensive map of the major neural circuits in the mammalian brain.

The whole-brain circuit map should provide insights about what goes wrong in brain dysfunctions, spanning a range of neurodevelopmental illnesses including autism, schizophrenia,… read more

Dew-harvesting ‘web’ conjures water out of thin air

November 16, 2007
An inverted pyramid canopy catches dew and directs it towards a collection and filtration unit ( Joseph Cory)

A portable dew-harvesting kit inspired by a spider’s web is being developed by Israeli architects for use in areas where clean and safe water is scarce.

Their design, called WatAir, consists of an inverted pyramid of sheet material, which collects dew and channels it into a collector and filtration unit in the center.

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