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Smart ‘Lego’ blocks take touch screens into 3D

October 6, 2009

“Luminos” developed by University of Potsdam researchers can be stacked to form complicated structures on top of a Microsoft Surface screen, and the computer can map the building as it grows.

Each Lumino block has a pattern on its base that identifies its 3D shape, and the Surface table can read them using its four internal cameras that peer up at the acrylic top. That means the computer can… read more

Biofuel corn makes enzymes to digest itself

April 8, 2008

Michigan State University, East Lansing researchers and colleagues have grown corn engineered to produce key enzymes needed to break down cellulose into sugar for use in making biofuel.

The three enzymes added to the transgenic corn came from a hot-spring microbe (breaks cellulose up), a fungus (breaks cellulose into a pair of sugar molecules), and a cow’s stomach microbe (breaks paired sugar molecules into simple sugars).

To keep… read more

Risky websites get a billion visits a month

March 7, 2006

Web users make a billion visits every month to websites of dubious character, according to an MIT survey.

SiteAdvisor, a company spun-off by computer security researchers from MIT, has also launched a web browser add-on that automatically checks the reputation of a site against its database. It can be downloaded as a free trial.

Bubbles Oust Viruses in Therapy

May 29, 2003

Researchers have developed a wqy to use ultrasonic waves to deliver DNA and other molecules, such as drugs, into cells.

The goal is to reduce geneticists’ reliance on viruses to deliver genes into cells, a method that has led to cancers in some patients.

A solution of DNA and microscopic bubbles would be injected into a patient’s bloodstream. Ultrasonic waves would then cause the bubbles to compress. The… read more

Researchers Probe Computer ‘Commonsense Knowledge’

October 13, 2009

University of Illinois at Chicago AI scientists were recently awarded a three-year, $500,000 National Science Foundation grant to develop algorithms for use in building commonsense knowledge bases that can evolve.

They will consider questions such as how to deal with contradictory information that is entered and how to organize knowledge in formats that are useful for deriving further knowledge.

Heating Plug-in Hybrids

April 15, 2008

Major automakers, such as GM and Ford, are now developing more-efficient heating and cooling systems for plug-in hybrid cars, based on existing thermoelectric semiconductors, and experimental materials using nanotechnology promise to make such systems even more appealing.

Astronomers Find the Earliest Signs Yet of a Violent Baby Universe

March 17, 2006

Using data from a new map of the baby universe, astronomers said yesterday that they had seen deep into the Big Bang, and had gotten their first detailed hint of what was going on less than a trillionth of a second after time began.

The results, they said, validated a key prediction of the speculative but popular cosmic theory known as inflation about the distribution of matter and energy… read more

Enough Already: Curbing Info Glut

June 11, 2003

New software developed by a team of university researchers may help soldiers and emergency workers avoid information overload and handle threats more efficiently.

CAST (Collaborative Agents for Simulating Teamwork) uses software agents to predict what kind of data people will need to handle a specific situation, then deliver that information on a need-to-know basis.

Gartner: Brace yourself for cloud computing

October 21, 2009


Shared computing services accessible over the Internet that can expand or contract on demand topped Gartner’s list of the 10 top technologies that information technology personnel need to plan for.

Computers that react to emotions

April 17, 2008

A computer system that can carry on a discussion with a human being by reacting to signals such as tone of voice and facial expression is being developed by an international team led by German AI research center DFKI.

Known as SEMAINE, the project will build a Sensitive Artificial Listener (SAL) system, which will perceive a human user’s facial expression, gaze, and voice, adapt its performance, and pursue different… read more

IBM develops method to control atom-scale magnetism

March 31, 2006

IBM scientists have developed a new technique called spin-excitation spectroscopy to explore and control magnetism at its fundamental atomic level.

The method promises to be important in designing future computer circuits and data-storage elements as they shrink toward atomic dimensions and in laying the foundation for new materials and computing devices that leverage atom-scale magnetic phenomena, such as quantum computers.

Spin-excitation spectroscopy uses IBM’s low-temperature scanning tunneling microscope… read more

Hybrid spintronics and straintronics enable ultra-low-energy computing and signal processing

August 17, 2011

Virginia Commonwealth University researchers have combined spintronics and straintronics to create an integrated circuit design that runs on ambient energy from the environment — no batteries required.

The researchers used a special class of composite structure called multiferroics, which consist of a layer of piezoelectric material with intimate contact to a magnetostrictive nanomagnet (one that changes shape in response to strain). When a tiny… read more

$100 Million Donation Helps to Establish a Genome Institute

June 23, 2003

Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology will establish an institute intended to apply knowledge of the human genome to the practice of medicine.

The institute will try to determine the molecular causes of disease by systematically examining genes and proteins. That could lead to new ways to prevent and diagnose illnesses and to treat their causes rather than just their symptoms, as many medicines now do.

Slim, warm superconductors promise faster electronics n

October 30, 2009

A superconductor made from a layer of copper oxide material less than a nanometer thick, developed by Brookhaven National Labs, suggests a new possible route to faster electronic components.

Researchers detail chemotherapy’s damage to the brain

April 22, 2008

Researchers at University of Rochester Medical Center and Harvard Medical School have found a widely used chemotherapy drug, 5-fluorouracil (5-FU), causes healthy brain cells to die off long after treatment has ended and may be an underlying biological cause of the cognitive side effects (“chemo brain”) that many cancer patients experience.

They linked 5-FU to a progressing collapse of populations of stem cells and their progeny in the central… read more

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