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E-translators: the more you say, the better

April 26, 2004

Universal translation is one of ten emerging technologies that will affect our lives and work “in revolutionary ways” within a decade, Technology Review says.

Researchers are concentrating on phrases rather than individual words, which can have various shades of meaning and result in awkward translations.

Phraselator’s translated phrases are pre-recorded by native speakers, so they are clearly understood. Carnegie Mellon is working on “Speechlator” for use in doctor-patient… read more

Faster circuits go for gold

April 26, 2004

Computer chip manufacturers are fast running out of room on conventional, flat circuit boards. So for the next generation of chips, the only way is up.

Researchers have developed a way to draw the circuit directly into a block of glass. They added gold oxide to the glass, focused short laser pulses on specific points inside the block to dislodge individual atoms of gold, and heated the block to… read more

US unprepared for dirty-bomb attacks

April 26, 2004

The United States is ill prepared to deal with the long term aftermath of a “dirty-bomb” terrorist attack, say analysts. They warn that existing clean-up laws and regulations covering radioactive materials were not designed with dirty bombs in mind, and give conflicting recommendations.

The researchers want new guidelines to be drafted urgently to deal specifically with the consequences of a dirty-bomb attack, so that clean-up targets can be balanced… read more

Molecular basis for Mozart effect revealed

April 26, 2004

New research has revealed a molecular basis for the “Mozart effect” — the observation that Mozart’s music may improve learning and memory.

The study showed that rats that heard a Mozart sonata expressed higher levels of genes involved in stimulating and changing the connections between brain cells in their hippocampus: BDNF, a neural growth factor; CREB, a learning and memory compound; and synapsin I, a synaptic growth protein.

Enzyme ‘Ink’ Shows Potential for Nanomanufacturing

April 23, 2004

Enzymes can be used to create nanoscale patterns on a gold surface, Duke University engineers have demonstrated, representing an important advance in nanomanufacturing.

They used an enzyme called DNase I as an “ink” in a process called dip-pen nanolithography (for nanoscale etching or writing). The dip-pen allowed them to inscribe precise 100-nanometers-wide stripes of DNase I ink on a gold plate, which they had previously coated with a thick… read more

Robots offer devotion, no strings attached

April 23, 2004

Robots may be the answer to caring for the aged in Japan and other nations where the young are destined to be overwhelmed by a surging elderly population.

Robots serving not just as helpers — carrying out simple chores and reminding patients to take their medication — but also as companions, even if the machines can conduct merely a semblance of real dialogue.

Proponents of robot therapy say… read more

Getting Molecules To Do The Work

April 23, 2004

Molecular self-assembly can make manufacturing fast and cheap and also develop products that would be impossible to make using conventional methods.

Killed by Goo!

April 22, 2004

Here are three different ways gray goo might kill you, in ascending order of probability:

3. Tiny nanobots swarm over and disassemble your body, atom by atom. Chances of this occurring? Probably less than being struck by an asteroid.

2. Public worries over gray goo lead to a ban on the development of molecular manufacturing, allowing nations with fewer scruples to develop and make use of the technology… read more

Study: Nanoelectronics market to reach $75B by 2014

April 22, 2004

“Nanotechnology: Impact of Nanotechnology on the U.S. Electronics Industry” predicts the nanoelectronics market will grow more than 45 percent during the next 10 years to more than $75 billion.

The study divides the market into first-generation products, which include nanotubes and nanowires, expected to emerge within the decade,; and second-generation, which includes molecular electronics, quantum computing and self-assembled electronic devices, which will not emerge for at least 10 years.

Nanowires hold 40 Gigabits per square centimeter

April 22, 2004
Memory on a nanowire: Simulation of memory cells holding 3 bits of data each formed spontaneously on an indium oxide nanowire

Researchers at the University of Southern California and the NASA Ames Research Center have created a self-assembled molecular memory device they say has the potential of holding 40 Gigabits per square centimeter.

It achieves unprecedented compactness by using nanowires of indium oxide 10 nanometers in diameter and about 2000 nanometers long. It is still more compact because each memory cell can hold three bits of data, using 8 separate,… read more

Optical quantum memory designed

April 22, 2004

Researchers at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory have designed an optical quantum memory device capable of storing photonic qubits for use in all-optical quantum computers and quantum communications networks.

The researchers’ quantum transponder could be used to make quantum repeaters that would extend the distances covered by emerging quantum cryptography systems.

The scheme calls for encoding pairs of quantum bits in sets of four photons in such a way… read more

Teaching Robots to Herd Cats

April 22, 2004

Researchers are working on software to allow small robots to coordinate their actions, carry out commands from a single human operator, or take directions from a larger, smarter robot when performing complex tasks such as emergency rescue work.

The team is working on tiny robots called Scouts, equipped with a video camera, three infrared range finders, two light sensors and a pyroelectric sensor (for sensing body heat) — plus… read more

From Sheep to People

April 22, 2004

The Roslin Institute, creators of Dolly the sheep, the world’s first mammal cloned from an adult, want to create cloned human embryos for stem-cell research (therapeutic cloning).

The scientist who led the team that created Dolly said it would be “immoral” not to use therapeutic cloning for stem-cell research, which many scientists believe could help treat disorders such as Parkinson’s and diabetes.

Scientists Peg Data’s Speed Limit

April 22, 2004

Scientists say they’ve discovered an apparent speed limit on the scale of picoseconds (10^-12 seconds) — about 1,000 times faster than today’s state-of-the-art (gigabits per second) data-storage devices — that will restrict how quickly data can be written onto disks and then retrieved.

I Tudosa et al, “The ultimate speed of magnetic switching in granular recording media,” Nature Vol 428 No 6985 pp783-876, April 22, 2004

‘Virgin birth’ mammal rewrites rules of biology

April 22, 2004

A mammal that is the daughter of two female parents has been created for the first time.

It was created by combining the genetic material of two egg cells, circumventing the “imprinting” barrier in mammals (certain genes necessary for embryo development are shut down in the sperm and egg; only when they meet are all of the key genes available) by manipulating the nucleus of a female egg to… read more

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