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Fast Track for Science Data

November 17, 2003

The first leg of National LambdaRail, the biggest, fastest network ever undertaken for scientific research, will go live this week.

The NLR is being created from 10,000 miles of unused, or “dark,” optic cable on the country’s backbone network. The project plans to use about 40 channels, each capable of transmitting 10 gigabits a second.

The NLR will also enable “extreme multimedia,” such as “real telepresence” or the… read more

IBM builds TV-size supercomputer

November 17, 2003

IBM Corp. has built a supercomputer the size of a television based on microchip technology to be used in gaming consoles due out next year.

A prototype of IBM’s future Blue Gene/L supercomputer, it can perform two trillion calculations per second.

IBM vice president of technology and strategy Irving Wladawsky-Berger said that the supercomputer used 1,000 microprocessors based on PowerPC microchip technology, which will be the foundation of… read more

Virus synthesised in a fortnight

November 17, 2003

Craig Venter’s team has developed a new technique to build a living organism from scratch, synthesizing the complete genome of a small virus in just 14 days.

The ultimate aim of the project, funded by the US Department of Energy, is to create microbes with special properties, such as the ability to sequester carbon dioxide or consume toxic waste.

The speed of the technique means it could also… read more

Research suggests new theory of evolution

November 14, 2003

Researchers have found new evidence for an alternate theory of evolution in which instead of an infinite number of small genetic changes over a long period of time, the process begins with several large mutations before settling down into a series of smaller ones.

The research is published in the Nov. 12 issue of the journal Nature.

Michigan State University press release

Wearable chips allow for personal networking

November 14, 2003

nTags, which are wearable devices with chips programmed with personal interests and background, are being used at conferences like Pop!Tech as a new form of personal networking.

Data and alerts appear on the small monochrome LCD screen of the nTAGs, which are made by nTAG Interactive. The devices have 128 kilobytes of RAM and 64 kilobytes of flash memory — about enough to store 60 pages of text as… read more

Molecules form new state of matter

November 14, 2003

Researchers have coaxed a group of molecules into a Bose-Einstein condensate. The achievement gives physicists a powerful new tool for investigating phenomena such as superconductivity.

Formerly, only atoms could form Bose-Einstein condensates, which are superconducting and superfluid.

New memory device could allow 1 GB per cc storage

November 13, 2003

Engineers at Princeton University and Hewlett-Packard have invented a combination of materials that could lead to cheap and super-compact electronic memory devices for archiving digital images or other data.

The memory device combines low-cost conductive polymer plastic coating with very-thin-film, silicon-based electronics. It could theoretically store more than one gigabyte per cubic centimeter and could result in a single-use memory card that permanently stores data and is faster and… read more

Smile, Gamers: You’re in the Picture

November 13, 2003

Sony Computer Entertainment America has released EyeToy, a miniature camera that attaches to the PlayStation 2 and translates body movements into actions in a video game.

Single speaker unit creates surround sound

November 13, 2003

A home theatre system that produces surround sound using a single speaker unit has been unveiled.

Nirotek’s DVD player, the NIRO 1.1 PRO, achieves the same effect with five individual speakers packed horizontally into a single case. To achieve the surround sound effect, an on-board computer manipulates the signal to each speaker using head related transfer functions that mimic the effects used by the brain to identify the direction… read more

Kasparov ‘forced’ to draw with X3D Fritz

November 13, 2003

Chess legend Garry Kasparov was forced to draw with computer program X3D Fritz on Tuesday in the first game of four.

The match was played on a virtual 3D chess board and Kasparov had to speak his moves through voice recognition software. Kasparov, commentators and the audience all wore 3D glasses so they could see the chess pieces and board “floating” in front of the screen — a move… read more

Where is the real Matrix?

November 12, 2003

Neuroprostheses — human-computer interfaces that connect directly to the human brain, spinal cord or nerves as in The Matrix — are already a reality. But misguided federal policies are keeping them from the people who need them.

The development of microelectrode arrays has allowed researchers in the field to start thinking seriously about a variety of next-generation neuroprosthetic devices, including new types of neuroprostheses. These include vision prostheses for… read more

UK moves to ban human sex selection

November 12, 2003

Britain’s fertility regulator tells the government parents should not be able to choose the sex of their children, based on potential health dangers of selecting sperm by the available methods and for social reasons.

Defense research agency seeks to create supersoldiers

November 12, 2003

Maybe humans themselves need an upgrade, say DARPA thinkers. “The human is becoming the weakest link,” DARPA warned last year in an unclassified report. “Sustaining and augmenting human performance will have significant impact on Defense missions and systems.”

A review of the agency’s latest budget request reveals a host of projects aimed squarely at making soldiers smarter, tougher, faster, and stronger — zin short, superhuman.

Memories in the Corner of My Eye

November 12, 2003

Glasses with a tiny television screen embedded into one of the lenses and hooked up to a PDA are being used to project 1/180-of-a-second subliminal reminders to wearers.

Researcher studies human brain with digital orangutan

November 11, 2003

A robot baby orangutan named Lucy may someday tell us about how the cerebral cortex works and help people develop and build new computational architectures inspired by biological systems, according to Steve Grand, Lucy’s creator and author of Growing Up With Lucy: How to Build an Android in Twenty Easy Steps (Weidenfeld & Nicolson), due out in January.

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