science + technology news

Talking to your car becoming natural

April 14, 2004

IBM is developing a system that allows a driver hold a two-way antural-language conversation with a car.

Current car speech recognition systems require the user to learn and use a set of commands.

By logging onto the Internet, it could access everything from traffic updates to e-mails.

From Californians’ DNA, a Giant Genome Project

May 31, 2010

More than 130,000 members of Kaiser Permanente in Northern California have volunteered to have their DNA scanned by robotic, high-speed gene-reading machines, as part of the largest human genome study of its kind ever attempted.

The goal: help scientists uncover the genetic roots of chronic disease and, perhaps, to find out why some people live longer than others, including via telomere length measurements.

Sir Tim Berners-Lee Unveils Foundation For Free, Open Web

September 16, 2008

Tim Berners-Lee and the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation have unveiled the World Wide Web Foundation.

The organization’s mission is to advance a free and open Web and extend the Web’s benefit to all people around the world, especially to underserved communities to share knowledge, access services, do business, participate in government, and communicate creatively.

Body shop

February 27, 2007

Bionic hands, arms, legs and feet currently under development will restore mobility and independence to people with lost limbs.

Old records saved by particle physics

April 21, 2004

A technique developed at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory allows researchers to create digital copies of old records without damaging the fragile discs.

The technique uses a light sensor to capture images of the record’s groove. A computer then uses these to reconstruct the recording, filtering out any background noise.

The technique should be able to retrieve sound from even the earliest grooved recordings from the late nineteenth century,… read more

Immortal avatars: Back up your brain, never die

June 7, 2010

Several companies are taking the first steps to enable you to create a lifelike digital representation (avatar) that can continue long after your biological body has decomposed — ultimately, a personalized, conscious avatar embodied in a robot.

They include Lifenaut, Image Metrics, Project Lifelike, and Terasem Movement (CyBeRev).

Researcher micro-sizes genetics testing

September 22, 2008

Using new “lab on a chip” technology, University of Virginia researchers hope to create a hand-held device that may eventually allow physicians, crime scene investigators, pharmacists, even the general public to quickly and inexpensively conduct DNA tests from almost anywhere, without need for a complex and expensive central laboratory.

Such a device could be used in a doctor’s office, for example, to quickly test for an array of infectious… read more

Nano-Batteries That Keep On Going

March 7, 2007

Leveraging nanotechnology research initiated at MIT, A123 Systems has commercially developed a new generation of lithium-ion batteries that deliver up to 10 times longer cycle life, five times more power and dramatically faster charge times over conventional high-power battery technology.

Nanotubes enable molecular assembly line

April 29, 2004
Model of a nanoscale conveyer belt<br />
(courtesy of Zettl Research Group)

Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory scientists have transformed carbon nanotubes into conveyor belts capable of ferrying atom-sized particles to microscopic worksites.

By applying a small electrical current to a carbon nanotube, they moved indium particles along the nanotube like auto parts on an assembly line.

The method lays the groundwork for high-throughput molecular assembly of atomic-scale optical, electronic, and mechanical devices.

The ability to shuttle a… read more

Plans To Secure Power Grid From Terrorists, Solar Storms

June 15, 2010

New legislation, passed June 9 by the U.S. House of Representatives and referred to the Senate’s Energy and Natural Resources committee hopes to strengthen the grid’s robustness against attacks of many kinds.

Leroy Hood: Look to the Genome to Rebuild Health Care

September 29, 2008

Institute for Systems Biology co-founder Leroy Hood has a plan for curing the $2.3 trillion US health care system’s inefficiency and ineffectiveness:

- Using genome sequencing and blood tests, a doctor will be able to determine a patient’s probability of developing certain diseases for under $1000.

- Starting therapies in advance will cut the likelihood of illness.

- With billions of data points for every patient, drug… read more

Invisible Revolution

March 14, 2007

Artificially structured metamaterials could transform telecommunications, data storage, and even solar energy.

Surprising twist in debate over lab-made H5N1

March 11, 2012

H5N1 virus (credit: Lennart Nilsson)

A researcher who created one of the H5N1 mutants and a leading U.S. health official say the threat has been blown out of proportion, offering what they said were clarifications and “new data” to better gauge the risk it presents.

Contrary to widespread reports, the researcher, Ron Fouchier of Erasmus MC in Rotterdam, the Netherlands, revealed that the virus made in his lab does not kill ferrets infected by… read more

‘Junk’ DNA reveals vital role

May 7, 2004

University of California, Santa Cruz, researchers have found more than 480 “ultraconserved” regions of “junk” DNA that are completely identical across the man, mouse and rat species, implying that they are essential to the descendants of these organisms. The regions largely match up with chicken, dog and fish sequences too.

The most likely scenario is that they control the activity of indispensable genes. The sequences may help slice and… read more

Beyond the petaflop: DARPA wants quintillion-speed computers

June 24, 2010

DARPA this week announced a program aimed at building “extreme scale computing” machines that achieve one quintillion (1,000,000,000,000,000,000) calculations per second.

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