science + technology news

Driverless robots reach milestone in DARPA race

October 11, 2005

Stanford University’s Racing Team has accomplished a historic feat of robotics, finishing first in the DARPA Grand Challenge, a 131.6-mile driverless car race that no artificially intelligent machine has ever conquered before.

Stanford’s “Stanley,” a modified Volkswagen Touareg with sensors and radar mountings, crossed the finish line within eight hours and 14 minutes, beating the 10-hour requirement, according to times posted on the DARPA race Web site.

All human life is indexed on the web

October 11, 2005

Search technology is the fastest growing business in the history of media and may lead to the creation of Hal of 2001, says John Battelle in his book Search: How Google and its Rivals Rewrote the Rules of Business and Transformed Our Culture.

At Dartmouth, a Remote-Controlled Robot

October 11, 2005

Dartmouth College researchers have built “the world’s smallest” untethered, controllable robot.

The robot is made from a carved piece of silicon that moves across a special surface that contains an embedded electrical grid. The robots motions are controlled by applying a voltage to the grid.

Such robots might one day be used to inspect or fix chips or interact with individual cells. Robots of different shapes could snap… read more

The Future Needs Futurists

October 10, 2005

Prospects for professional futurists are starting to look quite promising. As companies and government agencies grapple with the seemingly scorching rate of technological innovation and change, more are engaging the services of self-described futurists for advice on how to adapt.

The Rise of the Body Bots

October 10, 2005

The most advanced exoskeleton projects are at the University of California, Berkeley, and at Sarcos Research Corp., in Salt Lake City. Both are funded under a $50 million, five-year program begun by DARPA in 2001. During the past several months, each group has been working on a second-generation exoskeleton that is a huge improvement over its predecessor.

Ray Kurzweil calls for 1918 flu genome to be ‘un-published’

October 9, 2005

“The decision by the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services to publish the full genome of the 1918 influenza virus on the Internet in the GenBank database is extremely dangerous and immediate steps should be taken to remove this data,” says inventor and futurist Ray Kurzweil.

The cause of one of history’s most deadly epidemics was reconstructed and found to be a bird flu that jumped directly to… read more

Molecular Rotor May Lead To Tiny Sensors, Pumps, Switches

October 7, 2005

A molecular rotor constructed with a few hundred atoms will turn in a desired direction at a selected frequency using an oscillating electrical field concentrated in a tiny area above the molecule.

Such molecular rotors may someday function as nanotechnology machines and be used as chemical sensors, cell-phone switches, miniature pumps or even laser-blocking goggles.

Source: University of Colorado at Boulder news release

Cranking Up the Allen Telescope Array

October 7, 2005

The first 42 of the planned 350 Allen Telescope Array’s antennas will be working by Spring, scanning roughly a half-billion stars in the dense Milky Way region near the galactic center for E.T., from 1390 to 1720 MHz in 450 million, ultra-narrow 1 Hz channels.

Are You Ready for Web 2.0?

October 7, 2005

The idea of a new, more collaborative internet is creating buzz reminiscent of the go-go days of the late 1990s.

Web 2.0, according to conference sponsor Tim O’Reilly, is an “architecture of participation” — a constellation made up of links between web applications that rival desktop applications, the blog publishing revolution and self-service advertising. This architecture is based on social software where users generate content, rather than simply consume… read more

Experts Give Scientists Roadmap on Nanotechnology Research

October 7, 2005

Toxicologists studying human health effects of nanomaterials now have a broad roadmap from a government-sponsored panel of experts on how to proceed.

Micro-organisms may be turned into nano-circuitry

October 7, 2005

Single-celled algae, called diatoms, found floating in oceans might someday be reborn as components in 3D circuits much more complex and powerful than existing electronics.

Georgia Institute of Technology researchers think it might be possible to fabricate diatom structures to order, by exploiting a growing understanding of their genetic properties. They could then be converted chemically into useful nano-components.

The Time Is Now: Bust Up the Box!

October 5, 2005

For decades, increases in the speeds of computer networks trailed the exponentially accelerating speed of microprocessor chips. Now the balance between the power of computer processing and networking has fundamentally reversed, and the rapid rise of transmission speeds is beginning to have a revolutionary impact on how computers are used and what they can do, as computing becomes distributed on a global basis.

The new epoch of computing has… read more

Working Together, Wherever They Are

October 5, 2005

In the new wave of Internet innovation, companies are embracing the potential of networked computing to let workers share their knowledge more efficiently as they nurture new ideas, new products and new ways to digitally automate all sorts of tasks.

Companies are drawing on collaborative models that first blossomed in nonbusiness settings, from online games to open-source software projects to the so-called wiki encyclopedias and blogs to speed up… read more

This Laser Trick’s a Quantum Leap

October 5, 2005

Physicists in Australia have slowed a speeding laser pulse and captured it in a crystal, a feat that could be instrumental in creating quantum computers.

The scientists slowed the laser light pulse from 300,000 kilometers per second to just several hundred meters per second, allowing them to capture the pulse for about a second.

Nanotubes refine computer memory

October 5, 2005

Nantero has succeeded in making circular wafers, 13 centimeters in diameter, that hold 10 gigabits of data and are ten times faster than flash memory.

Nantero calls its technology NRAM, nanotube-based, non-volatile random access memory.

The design involves suspending nanotube ribbons between points above a silicon chip, so that they form tiny bridges over electrodes lying below. When a charge is applied, the nanotube bridge curves… read more

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