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Artists ‘draw on air’ to create 3D illustrations

September 20, 2007

By putting on a virtual reality mask, holding a stylus in one hand and a tracking device in the other, an artist can draw 3D objects in the air with unprecedented precision.

The new system, developed by Brown University scientists, is called “Drawing on Air,” and researchers have designed the interface to be intuitive and provide the necessary control for artists to illustrate complicated artistic, scientific, and medical subjects.

Building a Better Backbone

May 16, 2001

Surging Internet growth is straining the capacity of the Internet backbone. New developments to increase bandwidth include Raman amplification (allows a signal to be amplified without introducing noise), polarized light, and “photonic-band-gap crystals” to eliminate interference between wavelengths.

Current research could enable holographic 3-D videoconferences, long-distance surgery, and instantaneous access to books stored at any library in the world.

A Hole in the Genome

March 2, 2009

Several studies in the last year have found that missing or extra pieces of DNA in the 1q21.1 region put the bearer at risk for a surprisingly broad range of psychiatric and neurological disorders, including autism, schizophrenia, and mental retardation.

The discovery that one piece of DNA can lead to such diverse outcomes is opening new avenues in the study of disease.

A Species in a Second: Promise of DNA ‘Bar Codes’

December 14, 2004

If it works as promised, DNA bar coding will assist in the urgent task of cataloging unknown species before their ranks are decimated by extinction.

The technique depends on analyzing part of just one gene, the same gene in all cases, for every species.

If and when a DNA bar code database of all terrestrial plant and animal species is established, a field biologist could take a tiny… read more

Robots Take on Social Tasks

September 28, 2007

Robotics experts say gadgets introduced Thursday could usher more socially oriented robots into the U.S. market.

A new device by iRobot Corp. has a webcam, designed to enable parents on a business trip could remotely check up on children. The Spykee, a WiFi spy robot, could potentially help catch a home intruder if placed near a door or window. If the robot’s motion sensor is triggered, it can activate… read more

Robots Square Off for Firefighting Title

May 31, 2001

An annual robot firefighting competition has led to big improvements in speed and smarts in fighting house fires at the recently held annual Trinity College event in Hartford, Connecticut.

It took robots about five minutes to find a fire in the first year of the contest. In this year’s event, some of the robots did the job within 10 seconds under far more complicated conditions.

Wolfram Alpha Computes Answers To Factual Questions. This Is Going To Be Big.

March 9, 2009

Stephen Wolfram’s forthcoming Wolfram Alpha online service, a “computational knowledge engine,” will compute answers to factual questions, using models of fields of knowledge, complete with data and algorithms, with a natural-language interface.

The project involves more than a hundred people working in stealth to create a vast system of reusable, computable knowledge, from terabytes of raw data, statistics, algorithms, data feeds, and expertise.

First ‘atlas’ of key brain genes could speed research on cancer, neurological diseases

December 28, 2004

Researchers at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute have compiled the first atlas showing the locations of crucial gene regulators, or switches that determine how different parts of the brain develop — and, in some cases, develop abnormally or malfunction.

The scientists say the map will accelerate research on brain tumors and neurological diseases that result from mutations in these switch genes, called “transcription factors.”

Are mirrors the best way to deflect asteroids?

October 10, 2007
Illustration: M Vasile et al, University of Glasgow

A swarm of spacecraft with mirrors focused on asteroids is the best way to deflect them, a new study finds.

To deflect a 20-kilometer asteroid, about the size of the one that wiped out the dinosaurs, it would take the combined work of 5000 mirror spacecraft focusing sunlight on the asteroid for three or more years.

Congress Hears Military Nanotech Plans

June 29, 2001

Nanotechnology promises immense gains for the Department of Defense, especially in computers, materials and propulsion, but its benefits are still decades away and likely to be difficult and costly to mass produce, lawmakers were told Tuesday.

DoD plans call for developing advanced materials for embedded computing, composites and so-called “smart materials.” DARPA uses nanotechnology and micro-electromechanical systems or MEMS for a range of purposes. Researchers are developing so-called biofluidic… read more

Google-Backed 23andMe Seeks Parkinson’s Patients Spit

March 13, 2009

23andMe, the gene-testing company backed by Google Inc., wants to collect DNA from the spit of 10,000 people with Parkinson’s disease to hunt for common genes that may cause the illness or predict patients’ response to drugs.

Hitachi drives get bigger–and smaller

January 10, 2005

Hitachi will release in February a 3.5-inch diameter drive with 500GB of storage, the largest-capacity 3.5-inch drive yet.

Toward world’s smallest radio: nano-sized detector turns radio waves into music

October 18, 2007

Researchers have developed the world’s first working radio system to use a nano-sized detector made of carbon nanotubes that receives radio waves wirelessly and demodulates them into sound signals.

The study demonstrates the feasibility of making other radio components at the nanoscale in the future and may eventually lead to an itegrated nanoscale wireless communications system.

Monitoring could slow quantum data decay

July 20, 2001

In a finding that offers hope for the creation of quantum computers, frequent measurements have been found to slow down the “decay” of particles from high-energy states to lower-energy ones.This support for the “Zeno effect” offers the possibility of eventually helping to solve one of quantum computing’s biggest problems: errors arising from the decay of data.

Mark Raizen at the University of Texas at Austin and his colleagues trapped… read more

Robots could flex muscles that are stronger than steel

March 20, 2009

University of Texas, Dallas scientists have developed a new type of artificial muscle based on nanotube ribbons that is stronger than steel, stiffer than diamond, and weighs little more than its volume in air.

The nanotubes expand in width by 220% in milliseconds when a voltage is applied and then return to their normal size once it is removed. Collections of those ribbons could act as artificial muscle fibers… read more

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