science + technology news

Google adds library texts to search database

November 4, 2005

Google said Wednesday that it had completed the first major expansion of its Google Print database of searchable books, adding the full text of more than 10,000 works that are no longer under copyright, culled from the collections of four major research libraries.

The entire text of the works can be searched and read online through the Google Print site. Users can also save individual pages and cut and… read more

Scientists Crack Code for Motor Neuron Wiring

November 4, 2005

Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI) researchers have deciphered a key part of the regulatory code that governs how motor neurons in the spinal cord connect to specific target muscles in the limbs.

The researchers said that understanding this code may help guide progress in restoring motor neuron function in people whose spinal cords have been damaged by trauma or disease. The studies suggest that the code — which involves… read more

Silicon chip works on the speed of light

November 3, 2005

A silicon chip that can carry light and even slow it down by a factor of 300 has been unveiled by IBM researchers in the US.

The idea is that such a device could synchronise data streams by slowing some streams, allowing others to catch up.

The chip demonstrates some of the essential techniques for creating high-speed photonic memory, which many researchers believe will one day make electronic… read more

Earliest starlight of the universe is revealed

November 3, 2005

NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope may have detected the infrared glow from the very first generation of stars, a new study reports. If confirmed, the work would reveal the structure of the universe a few hundred million years after the big bang, when the galaxies that exist today were just beginning to take shape.

Astronomers zoom in on galaxy’s glittering heart

November 2, 2005

Astronomers have obtained the closest glimpse yet of the supermassive black hole thought to lurk at the center of our galaxy. They focused on radio emissions around the black hole over an area equal in width to the distance between the Earth and the Sun.

If astronomers are able to see up to the edge of the black hole’s event horizon — beyond which no light can… read more

Finding Signals in the Noise

November 2, 2005

A torrent of startups has surfaced recently to help us filter, manage, and control the flood of information on the Web. Some rely on insightful algorithms that understand popularity to filter the news, while others rely on the preferences of readers.

For example, Digg is a San Francisco startup that ranks news items by letting people choose which stories they like.

Why Microsoft Is Going “Live”

November 2, 2005

On Nov. 1, Bill Gates proclaimed this the era of “Live” software and insisted that Microsoft will play a major role in birthing a new generation of computing.

He laid out plans to create two families of Web services, one for consumers, called Windows Live, and one for small businesses, called Office Live.

Unlike traditional programs, such as Microsoft’s Office productivity suite, which reside on a PC, Web… read more

Superluminal Ultrasound?

November 2, 2005

The group velocity of an ultrasound wave could theoretically jump by five orders of magnitude over its ordinary values and exceed c (the speed of light), when pulses of high-frequency sound strike a mixture of water and tiny (approximately 0.1-mm diameter) plastic spheres.

Could Bluetooth chips talk to the stars?

November 1, 2005

Keeping in touch with far-flung space probes could become much cheaper and easier if space agencies used arrays of millions of tiny antennas based on existing wireless technology.

About 100 antennas could be printed on a standard circuit board and controlled by a computer chip.

Although each antenna would churn out a mere 10 milliwatts of power, 50 million of them could be united to achieve twice the… read more

U.S. Military Wants to Own the Weather

November 1, 2005

The U.S. military’s space-based response to Katrina may have represented the embryonic stages of an integrated military/civilian weather reaction and control system.

For example, artificial ionized plasma patterns with megawatts of power using inexpensive microwave power sources could be used to heat specific regions of the atmosphere to control hurricanes.

‘Dark’ Spins in Diamond Could Lead to Room-Temperature Quantum Computing

November 1, 2005

Researchers at UC Santa Barbara have potentially opened up a new avenue toward room-temperature solid-state quantum information processing.

They discovered previously invisible “dark” (not visually detectable) spins from nitrogen defects in the diamond crystal.

“We have found a channel for moving information between single electron spins at room temperature,” said Awschalom, David Awschalom, a professor of physics. This is an initial step towards spin-based information processing.

The… read more

Beating the sub-wavelength limit

October 31, 2005

Physicists in Spain and Germany have proposed a technique for sending cold atoms through an array of slits that are much narrower than the de Broglie wavelength of the atoms. The phenomenon, which relies on “surface matter waves”, could be used to make atomic circuits.

Japanese company claims fibre-optic data transfer record

October 31, 2005

Kansai Electric has developed technology to transmit one terabit per second, using fiber-optic cables on power-transmitting steel towers.

The company, Japan’s second-largest power supplier, says it is possible could be introduced by 2010.

No longer lost in translation

October 31, 2005

Carnegie Mellon University and German scientists unveiled technology on Thursday that makes it possible to speak one language, yet be understood in another.

In a demonstration, sensors captured electrical signals from facial muscles; a computer recognized the words, translated them, displayed them on a screen, and spoke them in both languages.

“Translation goggles” also displayed the translated words on a miniature virtual screen on eyeglasses. And small ultrasound… read more

Richard E. Smalley, 62, Dies; Chemistry Nobel Winner

October 31, 2005

Richard E. Smalley, the Rice University chemistry professor who shared a Nobel Prize for discovering a new spherical form of carbon and championed the potential of nanotechnology to create a more sustainable economy, died Friday at 62 at the M. D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston.

Dr. Smalley was particularly interested in the possibility that carbon nanotubes could one day be woven into long transmission wires that would be… read more

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