science + technology news

Plugging In $40 Computers

May 22, 2009

SheevaPlug, a tiny plastic “plug computer” that you plug into an electric outlet, includes a 1.2 Ghz application processor running Linux with 512 megabytes of RAM and 512 megabytes of flash storage, and USB and Gigabit Ethernet sockets.

By adding peripherals and software, it can become a network server, security camera to the Internet, video stream storage device, and serve other functions. Price is $99; it may be available… read more

Lack Of Vitamin D May Increase Heart Disease Risk

January 7, 2008

Vitamin D deficiency increases the risk of cardiovascular disease, especially in people with high blood pressure.

Framingham Heart Study researchers found that participants with low vitamin D levels (under 15 nanograms per milliliter) had twice the risk of a cardiovascular event such as a heart attack, heart failure or stroke compared to those with higher levels of vitamin D.

Computer scientists to copy brain of a mammal

July 26, 2005

IBM and Switzerland’s Ecole Polytechnique Federale de Lausanne (EPFL) have teamed up to create the most ambitious project in the field of neuroscience: to simulate a mammalian brain on the world’s most powerful supercomputer, IBM’s Blue Gene.

They plan to simulate the brain at every level of detail, even going down to molecular and gene expression levels of processing.

How to read minds

April 7, 2011

Scientists from Washington University have demonstrated that humans can control a cursor on a computer screen using words spoken out loud or just thought.

The study used electrocortiography (ECoG) to place electrodes directly onto a patient’s brain to record electrical activity. The electrodes emitted signals that were acquired, processed, and stored on a computer.

The clinical trials involved four epileptic patients sitting in front of a… read more

Black hole theory suggests light is slowing

August 9, 2002

Observations of the light from distant, superbright galaxies suggest that the “fine structure constant” was slightly smaller 10 billion years ago, which implies that the speed of light has decreased over time, according to Paul Davies of Macquarie University in Sydney.

If proved right, this would challenge the theory of relativity and the theory of inflation, which says space expanded extremely rapidly in the first split second after the… read more

4 Apps That Turn Your iPhone Into a Canvas

May 29, 2009

New iPhone apps let anyone use an existing photo as the basis for an artistic illustration, with tools like virtual bushes and pencils to apply to your photos, and various paper and canvas textures.

The week’s much-discussed New Yorker cover used the advanced Brushes app:

Unzipped nanotubes as an alternative to costly platinum for fuel cells

March 4, 2015

An illustration shows a three-dimensional aerogel created by researchers at Rice University who combined graphene nanoribbons with boron and nitrogen. The aerogels show promise as a possible alternative to expensive platinum in fuel cells (credit: Ajayan Group/Rice University)

Rice University researchers have formed graphene nanoribbons into a three-dimensional aerogel enhanced with boron and nitrogen as catalysts for fuel cells as a replacement for platinum.

In tests involving half of the catalytic reaction that takes place in fuel cells, a team led by materials scientist Pulickel Ajayan and chemist James Tou discovered that versions with about 10 percent boron and nitrogen were efficient in catalyzing an… read more

Tata Motors unveils the $2,500 ‘People’s Car’

January 11, 2008

Indian company Tata Motors has unveiled a tiny vehicle that is also affordable, safe, and fuel-efficient: “the People’s Car,” aka “Nano.”

The Nano, which can get up to 54 mpg and seat four people, will go on sale for $2,500 (1-lakh) in India later this year.

Brain Workouts May Tone Memory

August 5, 2005

Proponents of “cognitive fitness” exercises say such mental conditioning can help prevent or delay memory loss and the onset of other age-related cognitive disorders.

IBM shows smallest, fastest graphene processor

April 12, 2011

IBM has demonstrated a graphene transistor that can execute 155 billion cycles per second, about 50% faster than previous experimental transistors.

The graphene transistor benefited from the use of a new and improved substrate IBM called “diamond-like carbon.” It exhibited excellent temperature stability from room temperature down to minus 268 degrees Celsius, or “helium temperature.”

It is also IBM’s smallest transistor to date. The gate length was scaled down… read more

New Hard-Drive Tech Overcomes Magnetic Memory Problems

August 29, 2002

Seagate researchers now believe they can store as much as 50 terabits per square inch — equivalent to the entire printed contents of the Library of Congress — on a single disk drive for a notebook computer.Currently, the highest storage densities are around 50 gigabits per square inch.

The new techniques involves heating the memory medium with a laser-generated beam at the precise spot where data bits are being… read more

Reading the Surface of the Brain

June 3, 2009
(Eric Leuthardt, Washington University School of Medicine)

Neurolutions is developing a small implanted device that translates signals recorded from the surface of the brain into computer commands to allow paralyzed patients to control a computer and perhaps prosthetic limbs and other devices.

The device is based on electrocorticography (ECoG), in which a grid of electrodes is surgically placed directly on the surface of the brain to monitor electrical activity. Because it records directly from… read more

Nanoparticles Generate Supersonic Shock Waves to Target Cancer

January 17, 2008

University of Missouri-Columbia and U.S. Army researchesrs have developed a nano-sized “smart bomb” using nanoengineered thermites that can target drug delivery to cancer cells, leaving healthy cells unharmed.

Building a Virtual Microbe, Gene by Gene by Gene

August 16, 2005

An international team of biologists is trying to reconstruct a living thing inside a computer, down to every last molecule, based on Escherichia coli.

A full-blown model of E. coli would be able to swim, eat food, fight off invading viruses, make copies of its DNA, and do many other tasks all at the same time.

Scientists could potentiallly adapt such an E. coli model to more complex… read more

Willow Garage introduces TurtleBot robot

April 19, 2011

Turtle Bot

Willow Garage has announced TurtleBot robot kits, intended to put a low-cost, personal robot kit in the hands of hobbyists and developers.

The TurtleBot uses a number of off-the-shelf components, including an Xbox Kinect controller that allows the robot to visually navigate its surroundings. The robot also uses free open-source software that can be adapted to make it perform a number of tasks.

The… read more

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