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Scientists Say Administration Distorts Facts

February 19, 2004

More than 60 influential scientists, including 20 Nobel laureates, issued a statement yesterday asserting that the Bush administration had systematically distorted scientific fact in the service of policy goals on the environment, health, biomedical research and nuclear weaponry at home and abroad.

According to the report, the Bush administration has misrepresented scientific consensus on global warming, censored at least one report on climate change, manipulated scientific findings on the… read more

On the Therapist’s Couch, a Jolt of Virtual Reality

February 19, 2004

A Georgia-based company called Virtually Better creates virtual environments with 3-D imaging software for use by psychologists, psychiatrists and researchers.

The scenes combine video images of real people with special effects. A patient wears a helmet with screens extending over each eye that create a lifelike stereoscopic view, a motion sensor that adjusts the scene to correspond to the head position, and audio headset. Vibrating platforms and odors optional.… read more

Signs of Success

February 18, 2004

Linguists in Nicaragua have witnessed the rare formation of a new language: a sign language that arose spontaneously in deaf children. The new Nicaraguan language and several other sign languages spoken by children around the world resemble fully formed-languages. Studies of these new languages could help linguists answer the question of whether there is some sort of grammatical template that acts as part of a language instinct and is wired… read more

Researchers Develop Nanoscale Fiber Optics

February 18, 2004

Researchers from Harvard University, Zhejiang University Tohoku University have made glass optical fibers only 50 nanometers wide that guide light with minimal losses.

Because the wires are thinner than the wavelengths of light they transport, the material serves as a guide around which light waves flow. The researchers can fabricate the wires with a uniform diameter and smooth surfaces down to the atomic level, so the light waves remain… read more

Stem cells found in adults may repair nerves

February 18, 2004

Researchers have learned that some nerves, even nerves in parts of the brain, can regenerate or be replaced, using stem cells. However, the pace of stem-cell repairs in humans is slow. And in some cases, they can even impede healing.

“We’re studying ways that this process is regulated to see if it can be manipulated to promote healing,” according to Dr. Philip Horner, an assistant professor in the Department… read more

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

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