science + technology news

What Is I.B.M.’s Watson?

June 17, 2010

IBM scientists have been developing a supercomputer called “Watson” that they expect will be the world’s most advanced “question answering” machine, able to understand a question posed in everyday natural language by accessing information in tens of millions of documents.

The producers of “Jeopardy!” have now agreed to pit Watson against some of the game’s best former players as early as this fall as a test of Watson’s capabilities… read more

Forget black holes, could the LHC trigger a “Bose supernova”?

September 30, 2008

Could the 700,000 liters of superfluid helium bathed in the powerful
magnetic fields of the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) result in a major explosion by behaving as a supercold Bose Einstein Condensate (BEC), which have been found to explode when subjected to magnetic fields, resulting in a “Bose supernova”?

Personalized Medical Monitors

March 15, 2007

MIT researchers are developing algorithms to help doctors efficiently interpret EKG, EEG, and other ever-growing masses of medical data and quickly perceive patterns that might otherwise be buried.

Nano Weapons Join the Fight Against Cancer

May 10, 2004

Researchers plan to use “nanoshells” to diagnose and treat cancer.

Nanoshells are microscopic concentric spheres with silica cores and gold shells. In the lab, nanoshells are injected into an animal’s bloodstream, where “targeting” agents applied to them seek out and attach to the surface receptors of cancerous cells.

In one method, illumination with infrared light raises the cells’ temperature to 55 degrees Celsius and burns away the tumor.… read more

Breathing New Life into Old Lungs

June 25, 2010

A rat lung, grown from the scaffold of an old lung seeded with healthy cells, is mechanically ventilated in a bioreactor. (Thomas Petersen and Laura Niklason, Yale University)

Yale University researchers have built a functioning lung by growing cells on the skeleton of a donor lung.

The engineered organ was transplanted in a live rat, where it exchanged carbon dioxide with oxygen in the blood–just as a normal lung would–for two hours. The study is the first proof that old lung scaffolds can be used as a scaffold on which new lung tissue can grow.

Asteroid reportedly streaks over Africa

October 7, 2008

Marking the first time an asteroid’s fall toward Earth was predicted in advance, a very small asteroid was detected Monday on a course heading for Africa, and observers reported that the object apparently burned up in the atmosphere, releasing about 1 kiloton of energy.

UCF researchers work on spy drones

March 23, 2007

Researchers at the University of Central Florida are working to enable droves of small, unmanned aerial vehicles to operate together in an intelligent, coordinated manner, scoping out enemy troops in combat zones.

Ultimately, flocks of spy planes could team up and pool their resources to yield a more comprehensive picture of the action below.

‘Digital People’: The Humanoid Condition

May 19, 2004

“Digital People: From Bionic Humans to Androids” is a comprehensive yet compact survey of robotics and bionics.

Author Sidney Perkowitz, a physicist at Emory University, cites heart pacemakers, cochlear implants and insulin pumps as proof that there are cyborgs among us, and describes “animal cyborg” builders.

Turing test winner fools 25 percent of human judges

October 13, 2008

All of the AI chatbots competing to pass the Turing Test in the 18th Loebner Prize on Sunday managed to fool at least one of their human interrogators that they were in fact communicating with a human rather than a machine, according to a University of Reading statement.

One of the programs, Elbot, created by Fred Roberts, the winner of the $3000 2008… read more

Human heart tissue grown from stem cells

April 2, 2007

Part of a human heart has been grown from stem cells for the first time. The small discs of tissue could represent the first step towards building a whole heart from stem cells.

Risk of radioactive “dirty bomb” growing

June 3, 2004

The risk of somebody somewhere triggering a radioactive “dirty bomb” is growing, evidence gathered by the UN’s International Atomic Energy Agency suggests.

The IAEA’s records show a dramatic rise in the level of smuggling of radiological materials..

Robot Taught to Fetch Beer from Fridge

July 12, 2010

It’s finally happened. Willow Garage’s PR2 has been trained to open a refrigerator, scan for the correct brand of beer, using image recognition software, and bring it to a human. It can even open the bottle. Nerdvana has officially arrived.

DARPA Contract Description Hints at Advanced Video Spying

October 21, 2008

DARPA is funding development of a system that can monitor real time streaming video feeds and search large volumes of archived video data for hints of suspicious behavior in places like Iraqi and Afghan battle areas.

MIT model helps researchers ‘see’ brain development

April 10, 2007

MIT, Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School researchers have developed a tool that could help researchers “see” how cerebral folds develop and decay in the cerebral cortex.

By applying computer graphics techniques to brain images collected using MRI, they have created a set of tools for tracking and measuring these folds over time. Their resulting model of cortical development may serve as a biomarker, or biological… read more

Generating qubits in a semiconductor

March 26, 2012

Electron one-way street In this dual channel, electrons (blue) move on defined, parallel paths. Only one single electron fits through at a time. By means of tunnel coupling, the electron can switch back and forth between the channels, thus occupying two different states, which are denoted by “arrow up” and “arrow down”. The electron virtually flies in both tracks at the same time, its two states overlap. (Credit: Andreas Wieck)

Ruhr-Universität Bochum (RUB) physicist Prof. Dr. Andreas Wieck and colleagues have used the trajectories of an electron through two closely spaced channels for encoding qubits in a semiconductor for the first time (instead of a vacuum).

Normally, an electron wave moves through a solid body on many different paths at the same time. Due to impurities in the material, it loses its phase information and thus its ability… read more

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