science + technology news

Lasers could power drones in flight or launch rockets

August 15, 2011

Laser power beaming (credit: Lasermotive)

Researchers at LaserMotive have devised a way to beam lasers to power military bases and drones, possibly helping to save lives, since delivering fuel to battle zones can be a dangerous task in wartime.

Although still largely in the R&D stage, laser power beaming has many other potential uses, which include powering vehicles, replacing electric power wiring and transmission lines in difficult places, and even… read more

Breakthrough ‘Interface Tuning’ Is Macro Step For Microelectronics

June 16, 2003

The ability to make atomic-level changes in the functional components of semiconductor switches, demonstrated by a team of Oak Ridge National Laboratory, North Carolina State University and University of Tennessee physicists, could lead to huge changes in the semiconductor industry. The results are reported in the June 13 issue of Science.

The experiments demonstrated that the Schottky barrier — the boundary at the edge of a substance where electrons… read more

Augmented reality system lets you see through walls

October 26, 2009

An augmented reality system has been built by Carnegie Mellon University researchers that gives the impression that one is seeing through walls.

It uses two cameras: one that captures the driver’s view and a second that sees the scene behind a view-blocking wall. A computer takes the feed from the second camera and layers it on top of the images from the first so that the wall appears to… read more

Google Wants to Index Your DNA, Too

April 21, 2008

After investing at least $4.4 million in the genetic screening company 23andMe in 2007, Google is also putting money into a second Silicon Valley DNA-screening startup, Navigenics.

For $2,500, Navigenics gives customers their genetic likelihood for 18 medical conditions, from Alzheimer’s to rheumatoid arthritis to several types of cancer. Navigenics aims to boost disease prevention by providing customers reports on their DNA that they can share with their doctors.… read more

MIT group develops ‘mind-reading’ device

April 5, 2006

MIT Media Lab researchers have developed a device that “reads minds” and alerts wearers to the emotional state of the person they’re conversing with.

The research team hopes the Emotional Social Intelligence Prosthetic (ESP)device will help people with autism learn to better read the social cues of others.

Scientists Announce First 3-D Assembly Of Magnetic And Semiconducting Nanoparticles

June 27, 2003

Scientists from Columbia University, IBM and the University of New Orleans today announced a new, three-dimensional designer material assembled from two different types of nanoparticles.

In the June 26 issue of the journal Nature, the team describes the precision chemistry methods developed to tune the particles’ sizes in increments of less than one nanometer and to tailor the experimental conditions so the particles would assemble themselves into repeating 3-D… read more

Woe, Superman?

November 5, 2009

In ID: the Quest for Meaning in the 21st Century, Susan Greenfield, Professor of Pharmacology at Oxford, describes a startling range of neurological possibilities: devices enabling paraplegics to activate prosthetic limbs by thought alone, and marrying brain cells with silicon chips.

Further in the future, she envisages reverse cochlear implants that can not only turn sound into brain waves but also the reverse. Fitted with tiny radios, these open… read more

‘Fluidhand’: Each finger can be moved separately

April 23, 2008
(Orthopedic University Hospital in Heidelberg)

“Fluidhand,” a prosthetic hand from Karlsruhe that can move each finger separately and has a wide range of grip configurations, is being tested at Orthopedic University Hospital in Heidelberg.

It can close around objects, even those with irregular surfaces. A large contact surface and soft, passive form elements reduce the gripping power required to hold onto such an object. The hand also feels softer, more elastic, and… read more

Superconducting memory flip-flops in an instant

April 21, 2006

An exotic form of electronic memory made using superconductors could someday be used to make computers that work at unprecedented speeds, say researchers.

Rat brain cells control remote robot artist

July 9, 2003

U.S. and Australian researchers have created what they call a new class of creative beings, “the semi-living artist” — a picture-drawing robot in Perth, Australia whose movements are controlled by the brain signals of cultured rat cells in Atlanta.

The team hopes to bridge the gap between biological and artificial systems to produce a machine capable of matching the intelligence of the simplest organism.

Gripping three colored markers… read more

Longevity tied to genes that preserve tips of chromosomes

November 12, 2009

Researchers at Albert Einstein College of Medicine have found a clear link between living to 100 and inheriting a hyperactive version of an enzyme that rebuilds telomeres (the tip ends of chromosomes).

150-Year-Old Computer Brought to Life

April 25, 2008
The Difference Engine, a complex mechanical computer, can handle logarithms and trigonometry (Doron Swade)

Designed nearly 150 years ago but never actually built until recently, one of two Babbage Difference Engines will go on display for the first time in North America, at the Computer History Museum in Mountain View, California, starting May 10.

Korea Unveils World’s Second Android

May 9, 2006

Korea has developed its own android capable of facial expressions on its humanoid face.

The 15 monitors in the robotic face allow it to interpret the face of an interlocutor and look back at whoever stands near it. Ever-1 also recognizes 400 words and can hold a basic verbal exchange.

Picosecond X-ray Crystallography of a Protein

July 18, 2003

Picosecond x-ray crystallography of a protein has been demonstrated for the first time, making possible picosecond-scale movies, such as one showing a mutant myoglobin molecule getting rid of a toxic carbon monoxide (CO) molecule.

The system uses 150-ps x-ray pulses from the European Synchrotron and Radiation Facility synchrotron.

A 25-Year Battery

November 17, 2009

Betavoltaics, batteries that harvest energy from the nuclear decay of isotopes to produce very low levels of current and last for decades without needing to be replaced, are being developed by Widetronix.

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