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Brain fingerprints under scrutiny

February 18, 2004

“Brain fingerprinting,” a controversial technique using involuntary brainwaves that could reveal guilt or innocence is about to take center stage in a last-chance court appeal against a death-row conviction.

The accuracy of this technology lies in its ability to pick up the electrical signal, known as a p300 wave, before the suspect has time to affect the output. “Brain fingerprinting doesn’t have anything to do with the emotions, whether… read more

New optical recording technique can see millisecond nerve impulses

February 17, 2004
Second-harmonic generation microscopy image of a sea slug (Aplysia) neuron

High-resolution images of millisecond-by-millisecond signaling through nerve cells is now possible by combining the bright laser light of multiphoton microscopy with specially developed dyes and a phenomenon called second-harmonic generation, say biophysicists at Cornell University and Université de Rennes, France.

This technique allows for looking at membrane potential in nerve-cell signaling with high resolution deep in intact tissue. And by “stacking” multiple images at various depths of focus, the… read more

From Space, a New View of Doomsday

February 17, 2004

Recent astronomical measurements, scientists say, cannot rule out the possibility that in a few billion years a mysterious force permeating space-time will be strong enough to blow everything apart.

The “The Big Rip” is only one of a constellation of doomsday possibilities resulting from the discovery by two teams of astronomers six years ago that a mysterious force called dark energy seems to be wrenching the universe apart.

Doctors need to get wired

February 17, 2004

Around 100,000 deaths each year in US hospitals are thought to be due to medical error. But up to 60% of them might be avoided if doctors had access to a national computerized information system in which doctors could immediately call up a patient’s healthcare history, says medical information expert Paul Tang, who works at the Palo Alto Medical Foundation in California.

One study found that US doctors lacked… read more

Communicating with machines: What the next generation of speech recognizers will do

February 16, 2004

“If we want to communicate with a machine as we would with a human, the basic assumptions underlying today’s automated speech recognition systems are wrong,” said former AT&T Bell Labs scientist B.H. “Fred” Juang, now professor in the School of Electrical and Computer Engineering at the Georgia Institute of Technology, speaking at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

“To have real human-machine communication,… read more

Nanoparticle probes to play major new role in medical diagnostics and drug delivery

February 16, 2004

Biomedical nanotechnology is leading to major advances in molecular diagnostics, therapeutics, molecular biology and bioengineering,” according to Shuming Nie, professor of biomedical engineering at Emory University, who will highlight research in the field at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) in Seattle.

“Scientists have begun to develop functional nanoparticles that are linked to biological molecules such as peptides, proteins and DNA,” he… read more

Ageing mechanism linked to X-chromosome

February 16, 2004

University of Leuven scientists narrowed the search for a gene linked to aging on Friday and said it is probably located on the X chromosome, implying that longevity may be a trait inherited from the mother.

The research was based on measurements of the telomere length of white blood cell DNA (elderly people with longer telomeres live five to six years longer than people with shorter ones).

If… read more

Smart Software Gives Surveillance Eyes a ‘Brain’

February 13, 2004

University of Rochester researchers have developed “smart camera” software that monitors security cameras for such things as a gun in an airport or the absence of a piece of equipment in a lab.

University of Rochester press release

Sony, Toshiba to push chip technology limits

February 13, 2004

Sony and Toshiba announced today they will pool resources to develop 45-nanometer-process chips. The chips could be significantly smaller, faster and consume less power than today’s cutting-edge 90 nm semiconductors.

Big Blue gives 90-nano boost to PowerPCs

February 13, 2004

IBM plans to announce on Friday that it has started mass production of PowerPCs on the 90-nanometer process.

IBM is combining layers of silicon on insulator (SOI) and strained silicon, which allow manufacturers to improve energy efficiency or performance: They can either make processors that run as fast as current models but consume far less power; or they can produce chips that use the same amount of power but… read more

F.C.C. Begins Rewriting Rules on Delivery of the Internet

February 13, 2004

The Federal Communications Commission began writing new rules today that officials and industry experts said would profoundly alter both the way the Internet is delivered and used in homes and businesses.

Commissioners are writing regulations to enable computer users to gain access to the Internet through electric power lines and to allow for new Internet phone services with fewer regulatory burdens than traditional phone carriers.

Vulcan project aims to build ‘Digital Aristotle’

February 13, 2004

Can a computer be loaded with the world’s textbook-science knowledge, reason through it and then answer questions in plain English like a phenomenal teacher, a “Digital Aristotle”?

Paul Allen’s private investment company, Vulcan, has announced it is willing to bankroll three competing research teams from around the world to answer this question, in what it calls “Project Halo,” a quest over the next 30 months to create a computerized… read more

Noise boosts nanotube antennas

February 12, 2004

Researchers at the University of Southern California have shown that the right amount of noise can enable carbon nanotube transistors to detect weak electrical signals, making nanotubes useful as microscopic antennas in communications devices, including cell phones.

This is the same effect — stochastic resonance — that neurons use to communicate in biological brains.

Possible uses include secure spread-spectrum communications, processing pixel-based image data, sensing chemical and biological… read more

Nano-origami

February 12, 2004

Scientists at Scripps research have created a single, clonable strand of DNA that folds into a highly rigid, nanoscale octahedron about 22 nanometers in diameter.

Because all twelve edges of the octahedral structures have unique sequences, they are versatile molecular building blocks that could potentially be used to self-assemble complex higher-order structures.

Possible applications include building nano-scale transistors and using these octahedra as artificial compartments into which proteins… read more

Nanobiotech Pioneers Predict Nanomedicine Impact within Five Years

February 12, 2004

Ground-breaking nanotechnology researcher Ralph C. Merkle, Ph.D., and the father of nanomedicine Robert A. Freitas, Jr., JD, are among the industry heavyweights who weighed in with NanoBiotech News on the state of nanomedicine and where it’s headed.

“The evolutionary spectrum in nanomedicine will start at the sensing and diagnostics end and move into therapeutics over time,” predicts Freitas.

“The applications nearest to commercialization are probably the fullerene-related and… read more

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