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Scientists rewriting the genetic code

July 24, 2001

Scientists are taking the first steps toward creating alternative life forms — organisms that use a genetic code different from the one used by all other creatures on earth.
Scientists hope that such organisms can be used to study biochemical processes in new ways and to produce new medical or electronic materials that cannot now be made by living things.

The research goes well beyond current genetic engineering, which… read more

A Soldier’s (Robotic) Best Friend

February 24, 2009

The U.S. Army has released new footage of the BigDog robot–a sophisticated, four-legged “pack-bot” designed to carry 340-pound payloads across all kinds of terrain–up or down hills, through ice, sand, snow, and dirt–by monitoring sensors in its legs and adjusting its posture accordingly.

A self-powered cardiac pacemaker

June 26, 2014

This picture shows that a self-powered cardiac pacemaker is enabled by a flexible piezoelectric energy harvester (credit: KAIST)

A research team from the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST) has developed a self-powered artificial cardiac pacemaker operated semi-permanently by a flexible piezoelectric nanogenerator.

Currently, pacemaker batteries last seven years on average, requiring frequent replacements, which may pose patients to a potential risk involved in medical procedures.

The nanogenerator directly stimulated a living rat’s heart using electrical energy converted from the small body… read more

Free Phone Calls With Startup’s $399 Box

September 19, 2007

A Silicon Valley startup will begin selling $399 gadgets Wednesday that consumers with broadband Internet service can use to make unlimited free domestic phone calls.

Skin and bones ‘made to measure’

January 19, 2005

University of Manchester scientists are developing an inkjet printer that can create “made to measure” skin and bones to treat people with severe burns or disfigurements.

Human cells are suspended in a nutrient-rich liquid before being printed out in several thin layers. The printers create 3-D structures, known as tissue scaffolds.

The journey of the e-book

December 22, 2010

Alan Kay with Dynabook (Wikimedia Commons)

In The Journey of the e-Book, Fast Company illustrates some of the forms that electronic reading has taken and might take.

The past:

The future?

Computer games stunt teen brains

August 20, 2001

Computer games are creating a dumbed-down generation of children far more disposed to violence than their parents, according to a controversial new study by Professor Ryuta Kawashima and his team at Tohoku University in Japan.The level of brain activity was measured in hundreds of teenagers playing a Nintendo game and compared to the brain scans of other students doing a simple, repetitive arithmetical exercise. The computer game only stimulated activity… read more

Designer Babies — Like It Or Not, Here They Come

March 2, 2009

The era of designer babies is here and there is no going back.

Case in point: the Fertility Institute will soon be able to offer couples the ability to screen their embryos for eye color, hair color, and complexion.

It also plans to offer almost any conceivable customization as science makes them available. Opponents are vilifying the company for shattering moral and ethical boundaries.

Storing Solar Power Efficiently

September 27, 2007

Thermal-power plants could solve some of the problems with solar power outages by turning sunlight into steam and storing heat for cloudy days.

Google’s search for meaning

January 30, 2005

Computers can now deduce the meaning of words from the frequency of nearby words in Google searches. The finding could bring forward the day that true artificial intelligence is developed.

Paul Vitanyi and Rudi Cilibrasi of the National Institute for Mathematics and Computer Science in Amsterdam have developed a statistical indicator based on a measure of a logical distance separating a pair of words: the “normalised Google distance,” or… read more

The Year in Web

December 29, 2010

Secrets are flying online, both state and personal, and Internet companies are still looking for ways to make money on applications—or with users’ private data.

Cost of evolution runs into billions

September 14, 2001

Humans are causing evolution on a grand scale – and it is costing us hundreds of billions of dollars each year, says a Harvard biologist.Every time a strain of bacteria becomes resistant to an antibiotic, or a weed mutates so it can thrive after being sprayed with a herbicide, there is a financial cost to humankind, Stephen Palumbi points out. He estimates that cost to be at least $100 billion… read more

The first virtual reality technology to let you see, hear, smell, taste and touch

March 5, 2009
Concept design of a mobile Virtual Cocoon

U.K. scientists are creating the “Virtual Cocoon,” a new “Real Virtuality” (all senses stimulated to create a fully immersive perceptual experience) device that can stimulate all five senses much more realistically than any other current or prospective device.

US scientist heralds ‘artificial life’ breakthrough (Update)

October 8, 2007

The Guardian reported Saturday that Craig Venter said he is set to annouunce the creation of a synthetic chromosome — the first ever artificial life form — within weeks, possibly as early as Monday.

But Venter spokeswoman Heather Kowalski declined to confirm any breakthrough: “We have not achieved what some have speculated we have in synthetic life. When we do so there will be a scientific publication and we… read more


February 14, 2005

After more than a decade of development, Avida’s digital organisms at Michigan State University are now getting close to fulfilling the definition of biological life.

These are digital organisms — strings of commands — akin to computer viruses. Each organism can produce tens of thousands of copies of itself within a matter of minutes. Unlike computer viruses, however, they are made up of digital bits that can mutate and… read more

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