science + technology news

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

The latest nanotech device: Venetian blinds

October 28, 2005

A molecule, polyguanidine, that flips its arms like the slats on a Venetian blind might in future find uses in computer displays, computer memory, or even windows that become tinted at the flick of a switch.

Blue Gene/L tops its own supercomputer record

October 28, 2005

Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory and IBM unveiled the Blue Gene/L supercomputer Thursday and announced it’s broken its own record again for the world’s fastest supercomputer.

The 65,536-processor machine can sustain 280.6 teraflops.

Robot surgeons scrub up

October 28, 2005

Robots that can perform surgery from within your own body and remotely controlled by surgeons have been invented by a team of engineers and doctors from the University of Nebraska.

The robots could be inserted directly into wounds, giving surgeons away from the front line the chance to assess damage and determine how to keep a soldier alive. The team also plans to test a biopsy robot, which could… read more

Future nanotech tools made from clay

October 26, 2005

NaturalNano Inc. has found a way to use Halloysite, a naturally occurring tubular clay, as an unobtrusive carrier in metals, perfumes and other substances.

By filling Halloysite tubes with copper and then mixing the tubes into a polymer, a manufacturer could make an electrically conductive plastic. If filled with fungicides, the Halloysite particles–which consist of aluminum, oxygen, silicon and hydrogen–could be swirled into paint to make it more resistant… read more

Engineers Report Breakthrough in Laser Beam Technology

October 26, 2005

A team of Stanford electrical engineers has discovered how to modulate a beam of laser light up to a 100 billion times a second with widely used silicon and germanium materials, using a standard chip-making process to design a key component of optical networking gear potentially more than 10 times faster than the highest-performance commercial products available today.

The cheap optical products may make it possible to interconnect computer… read more

Geneticists hail variety show

October 26, 2005

An international team has tracked a million DNA variations in volunteers around the world, as part of an effort to map the diversity of human genes. Experts say the growing catalog, called the HapMap, will help to pinpoint genetic causes of disease and develop more effective treatments.

Researchers hope that by cataloging SNPs and the frequency with which they occur in different populations, they will boost efforts to target… read more

Futurists Pick Top Tech Trends

October 26, 2005

Mobile socialization, disruptive technology in the hybrid car market, growing demand for information-sensing devices that can reduce energy consumption, and an IT revolution in 2006 are among the forecasts by futurists.

My Bionic Quest for Bolero

October 26, 2005

To allow for a deaf person with a cochlear implant to hear music, Advanced Bionics is working on a new software algorithm for “virtual channels.”

Machines are catching up to human intelligence

October 26, 2005

A race earlier this month by five driverless vehicles across 132 miles of twisting desert road without a living soul aboard is evidence of the remarkable progress being made in the arcane field of artificial intelligence.

The Potential of MEMS

October 25, 2005

Total sales in the MEMS (microlectromechanical systems) market will reach $5.4 billion this year and will grow to more than $7 billion in 2007.

Biggest sellers: inertial devices, micromirrors for projection devices and TVs, pressure sensors, RF applications, analytical instruments, and in biomedical monitoring devices.

The Car That Makes Its Own Fuel

October 25, 2005

A unique system that can produce Hydrogen inside a car using common metals such as magnesium and aluminum and running on water has been developed by an Israeli company.

The system reportedly solves the obstacles associated with the manufacturing, transporting and storing of hydrogen to be used in cars. When it becomes commercial in a few years time, the system will be incorporated into cars that will cost about… read more

Trials for stem-cell treatment of brain disease

October 24, 2005

Researchers in California are about to start the first FDA-sanctioned clinical trial of a stem cell treatment for a brain disease.

Stem Cells Inc. will test the safety of injecting fetal-derived neural stem cells into the brains of children suffering from a rare and always fatal disorder known as Batten disease.

Missing links

October 24, 2005

Proponents of Intelligent Design have exploited a vexing question at the heart of Darwin’s theory. Now, say two leading biologists, scientists can — and must — answer back.

In a new book, ”The Plausibility of Life,” published this week by Yale University Press, Marc Kirschner, founding chair of the Department of Systems Biology at Harvard Medical School, and John Gerhart, a biologist at the University of California, Berkeley, discuss… read more

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