science + technology news

Start-Up Fervor Shifts to Energy in Silicon Valley

March 14, 2007

Silicon Valley’s dot-com era may be giving way to the watt-com era. Out of the ashes of the Internet bust, many technology veterans have regrouped and found a new mission in alternative energy: developing wind power, solar panels, ethanol plants and hydrogen-powered cars.

NASA Funds Sci-Fi Technology

May 10, 2004

The NASA Institute for Advanced Concepts (NIAC) funds long-range, wild ideas, such as a space elevator, shape-shifting space suits, antimatter-powered probes to Alpha Centauri, Robotic armada to destroy incoming asteroids, and a way to move a hurricane with satellite-beamed microwave energy.

Blinded eyes restored to sight by stem cells

June 24, 2010

Stem cells have restored sight to 82 people with eyes blinded by chemical or heat burns, restoring vision to a level up to 0.9 on a visual acuity scale (1 represents perfect vision), reports Graziella Pellegrini at the University of Modena in Italy.

Large Hadron Collider puts a grid on it

October 6, 2008

CERN has launched one of the world’s largest computing grids, drawing on the computing power of more than 100,000 processors to allow 7,000 scientists in 33 countries to process the 15 petabytes of data produced each year from the Large Hadron Collider.

“About half the world’s scientists will be looking at this data,” said director general of CERN Robert Aymar.

Scientist Finds the Beginnings of Morality in Primate Behavior

March 22, 2007

UPDATED 8/22/2010: Harvard confirms misconduct by morality researcher

The brain has a genetically shaped mechanism for acquiring moral rules, similar to the neural machinery for learning language, according to Harvard evolutionary biologist Marc Hauser.

Some animals are surprisingly sensitive to the plight of others. Chimpanzees, who cannot swim, have drowned in zoo moats trying to save others. Given the chance to get food by pulling a… read more

Intel’s Big Shift After Hitting Technical Wall

May 18, 2004

Intel has acknowledged that it hit a “thermal wall” on its microprocessor line by raising the clock speed of its chips and reducing the minimum feature size to 90 nanometers from the industry standard of 130 nanometers.

“Classical scaling is dead,” said Bernard S. Meyerson, chief technologist for I.B.M.’s systems and technology group. “In the past, the way everyone made chips faster was to simply shrink them.”

Today,… read more

Virtual reality you can reach out and touch

July 1, 2010

A team from nine European universities and research institutes in developing technology to make VR objects and characters touchable, using haptic and multi-modal interfaces, new signal processing techniques, and generation of VR objects in real time.

Goldmine bug DNA may be key to alien life

October 13, 2008
(Greg Wanger/Gordon Southam)

A new species, the bacteria Candidatus Desulforudis audaxviator (“the bold traveller”), discovered deep in a gold mine, could be the key to life on other planets because of its unique ability to live in complete isolation, devoid of light and oxygen.

It gets its energy from the radioactive decay of uranium in the surrounding rocks and has genes to extract carbon from dissolved carbon dioxide and other… read more

Intel Plans Faster Chips That Also Save Power

March 29, 2007

Intel is developing a new generation of 45 nanometer chips that would achieve a significant increase in performance without consuming more power.

Robotic jellyfish fueled by hydrogen

March 21, 2012


Virginia Tech engineers have invented a hydrogen-powered robot nicknamed Robojelly that moves through water like a jellyfish, intended for underwater rescue operations.

A jellyfish moves using circular muscles in the inside of its umbrella-like bell. As they contract, the bell closes in on itself and ejects water to propel itself forward. When the muscles relax, the bell regains its original shape.

To replicate this, the vehicle uses shape memory alloys, materials that… read more

The Little Engine That Could

June 1, 2004

Robert X. Cringley predicts the coming demise of the landline telco monopolies from VoIP (voice over Internet) and Linux running on the latest generation of WiFi routers connected to local subscribers via a mesh network.

“The result is a system with economics with which a traditional local phone company simply can’t compete,” he says.

Future planes, cars may be made of ‘buckypaper’

October 20, 2008

Florida State University researchers are developing new fabrication techniques for buckypaper (a material based on carbon nanotubes that is 10 times lighter but potentially 500 times stronger than steel) that soon may make it competitive with the best composite materials now available.

FSU reseachers used high magnetism to cause most of the nanotubes to line up in the same direction, increasing their collective strength.

Uses include low-weight electromagnetic… read more

Virtual Maps for the Blind

April 9, 2007

Researchers in Greece have developed a new system that converts video into virtual, touchable maps for the blind.

The software tracks each structure and determines its shape and location. That data is used to create a three-dimensional grid of force fields for each structure. Two common-touch interfaces simulate the force fields by applying pressure to the user’s hand: the CyberGrasp glove, which pulls on individual fingers, and the Phantom… read more

A Computer That Has an Eye for Van Gogh

June 14, 2004

Researchers are developing pattern-analysis programs that can quickly examine hundreds of paintings to determine authenticity.

The Brain Unveiled

October 27, 2008

Diffusion spectrum imaging, developed by neuroscientist Van Wedeen at Massachusetts General Hospital, analyzes MRI data in new ways, helping scientists map the nerve fibers that carry information between cells.

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