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150-Year-Old Computer Brought to Life

April 25, 2008
The Difference Engine, a complex mechanical computer, can handle logarithms and trigonometry (Doron Swade)

Designed nearly 150 years ago but never actually built until recently, one of two Babbage Difference Engines will go on display for the first time in North America, at the Computer History Museum in Mountain View, California, starting May 10.

Korea Unveils World’s Second Android

May 9, 2006

Korea has developed its own android capable of facial expressions on its humanoid face.

The 15 monitors in the robotic face allow it to interpret the face of an interlocutor and look back at whoever stands near it. Ever-1 also recognizes 400 words and can hold a basic verbal exchange.

Chip roadmap to get wireless upgrade

July 18, 2003

Semiconductor industry representatives are considering the addition of wireless communications technologies to the 2003 International Technology Roadmap for Semiconductors.

The extension recognizes the need to address the post-CMOS era, when CMOS runs out of gas in the 2010 to 2015 time frame.

A 25-Year Battery

November 17, 2009

Betavoltaics, batteries that harvest energy from the nuclear decay of isotopes to produce very low levels of current and last for decades without needing to be replaced, are being developed by Widetronix.

Where Are They?

April 29, 2008

Nick Bostrom, director of the Future of Humanity Institute at the University of Oxford, hopes the search for extraterrestrial life finds nothing.

He says a finding of some form of ET life might be a sign, in combination with the lack of any known communication so far from ET, that any sufficiently advanced civilization discovers some technology–perhaps some very powerful weapons technology–that prevents the emergence of a space-colonizing civilization,… read more

The Great Woz Tells All

May 24, 2006

“I’m looking forward to the day when a computer can be a teacher,” says Apple computer inventor Steve Wozniak. “We’re not there yet, since we haven’t yet conquered artificial intelligence. Once we’ve made a robot that can make a cup of coffee, then we’ve probably got enough artificial intelligence. Then we can have 30 teachers in a class of 30 kids, and the computers can go at different rates with… read more

Engineers discover in nature exotic structures envisioned by mathematicians

July 25, 2003

Attempting to improve on the face-center cubic lattice structure of opals in order to make “photonic crystals,” an engineering professor and his graduate students experimented with ways to pack a small number of tiny spheres.

They discovered that the colloidal particle clusters they made have exotic structures predicted by pure mathematicians in 1995.

The uncanny correspondence between mathematics and physics doubtless prompted “Science” editors to picture the clusters… read more

How to ‘unlock’ the brains of coma patients

November 27, 2009

Using functional magnetic resonance (fMRI) imaging, Steven Laureys, a leading coma researcher at the University of Liege in Belgium, discovered that Ron Houben, believed to be in a coma for over 20 years, was completely conscious, just paralyzed.

How the influenza virus hijacks a cell’s protein production

May 5, 2008

European Molecular Biology Laboratory biologists and their colleagues used x-ray crystallography to see exactly how the influenza virus steals a genetic sequence from an RNA molecule, giving the virus access to the cell’s protein production machinery.

The virus binds to the host cell’s messenger RNA (mRNA), the molecules that carry the instructions for protein production. The virus then cuts off the RNA’s “cap,” a short sequence at… read more

Worm-inspired robot crawls through intestines

June 7, 2006

A robot designed to crawl through the human gut by mimicking the wriggling motion of an undersea worm could one day help doctors diagnose disease by carrying tiny cameras through patients’ bodies.

Electrical stimulation of brain boosts birth of new cells

September 22, 2011

Stimulating a specific region of the brain leads to the production of new brain cells that enhance memory, researchers at The Hospital for Sick Children have found. The findings show how deep brain stimulation (DBS) — a clinical intervention that delivers electrical pulses to targeted areas of the brain — may work to improve cognition.

“DBS has been quite effective for the treatment of movement… read more

General Relativity Sinks Submarine

August 1, 2003

A Brazilian physicist has resolved a paradox highlighted by Einstein’s theory of relativity, which explains how movement at close to light speed can distort space. Apparently, underwater there is some inconsistency in that theory, as the Brazilian physicist has discovered with the help of a submarine vessel. Since the density increase would sink the vessel, the submarine crew would see the opposite: water rushing past them would contract and get… read more

Man controls cybernetic hand with thoughts

December 4, 2009

(Campus Bio-Medico di Roma)

A brain-controlled bionic hand attached to an amputee’s nervous system via electrodes implanted into the remaining part of his left arm has been developed by scientists at Pisa’s Valdera Polo Sant’Anna School.

The patient was able to experience sensations when grasping and making a fist.

Tiny Blood Pumps for Failing Hearts

May 8, 2008

CircuLite, an Australian company, is developing an implantable pump that weighs just one-sixth as much as its smallest predecessor.

About the size of a AA battery, it could ultimately be implanted through a catheterization procedure that is far less invasive than the operations used to place today’s pumps. It could thus be used to treat patients in earlier stages of heart failure, for whom implantation surgery had previously been… read more

Calorie restriction may prevent Alzheimer’s through promotion of longevity program in the brain

June 16, 2006

A recent study directed by Mount Sinai School of Medicine suggests that experimental dietary regimens might calm or even reverse symptoms of Alzheimer’s Disease (AD).

The study, which appears in the July 2006 issue of the Journal of Biological Chemistry, is the first to show that restricting caloric intake, specifically carbohydrates, may prevent AD by triggering activity in the brain associated with longevity.

People with AD exhibit elevated… read more

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