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Doomsday draws two minutes closer

January 18, 2007

The Bulletin of Atomic Scientists has moved the hands of its Doomsday Clock to five minutes before midnight — the metaphorical marker of the end of humanity.

Two factors prompted the Bulletin’s board to move the clock forward by two minutes: the spread of nuclear weapons and climate change.

The chief reason for the move is the dawn of a “second nuclear age,” in which far more countries… read more

Plastic on Steroids

March 9, 2004

Research in electroactive polymers (EAPs), a type of artificial muscle, seems to have finally paid off with some useful products. Among them: powerful pumps and motors, nearly silent propulsion technologies, and novel drug-delivery systems.

EAPs could fundamentally alter drug delivery. Marc Madou of UC Irvine is developing implantable, matchstick-sized capsules with microscopic pores. When sensors detect that a patient needs, say, more insulin, artificial muscles open valves under the… read more

Army of smartphone chips could emulate the human brain

May 4, 2010

Steve Furber, a professor of computer engineering at the University of Manchester, is attempting to model the synaptic weights and coordinated voltage spikes of the human brain in a 1-billion-neuron silicon brain system called Spinnaker (Spiking Neural Network Architecture).

The chips, under construction in Taiwan, contain 20 ARM processor cores, each modelling 1000 neurons. With 20,000 neurons per chip, 50,000 chips will be needed to reach the target of… read more

Mexicans get microchipped over kidnapping fears

August 25, 2008

Affluent Mexicans worried by soaring kidnapping rates are spending thousands of dollars to implant tiny transmitters under their skin so satellites can help find them.

Study pinpoints area in brain linked to smoking addictions

January 26, 2007

An unusual study of people with brain damage, caused in most cases by a stroke, suggests the compulsion to light up might be driven by the same little-studied brain region, the insula, that helps us make sense of hunger pangs, nervous twitches and all sorts of visceral body signals.

Researchers said the findings identify an important new target for research into the biological underpinning of addiction. It might even… read more

Ultra-fast shocks scramble cells

March 17, 2004

Using very powerful electric shocks lasting namoseconds, researchers are developing a way to jolt cancer cells into committing suicide, or healthy cells into healing wounds.

Iron Man 2′s Secret Sauce: 3-D Printing

May 12, 2010

Maybe the most cutting-edge facet of Iron Man 2′s production was the real-life fabrication of the suits: using 3-D printers, the film’s production company, Legacy Effects, was able to have artists draw an art concept, input into a CAD program, and then physically make that concept in just four hours.

Internet Traffic Begins to Bypass the U.S.

September 1, 2008

While the United States carried 70 percent of the world’s Internet traffic a decade ago, the portion has fallen to about 25 percent, Andrew M. Odlyzko, a professor at the University of Minnesota, estimates.

MIT ‘optics on a chip’ may revolutionize telecom, computing

February 6, 2007

MIT researchers have

Robot-controlled inks create 3D structures

March 25, 2004

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign are creating complex, three-dimensional structures with micron-size features using a robotic deposition process called direct-write assembly.

The precisely patterned parts could be used as bio-scaffolds, micro-fluidic networks, sensor arrays or templates for photonic materials for such applications such as drug-delivery, micro-fluidics, photonics and tissue engineering.

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign news release

Khosla Company EcoMotors Snags $18M to Develop

May 19, 2010

EcoMotors is currently developing an engine prototype that could improve fossil-fuel economies by up to 60 percent (achieving 100 miles per gallon), while halving the weight and size of standard gas and diesel-powered engines.

A Better Way to Spot Disease

September 5, 2008

Nanjing University scientists have found that microRNAs circulating in blood can serve as a molecular “fingerprint” for cancers and diabetes, raising the possibility that a simple blood test could help clinicians tailor treatments to individual patients.

Fluorescent organic nanoparticles operating as cell tracers outperform existing methods for long-term tracking of living cells

September 3, 2013

AIE dot

An Asian research team has developed a method for continually tracking biological processes for long periods of time, using noninvasive fluorescent organic tracers, overcoming the limitations of inorganic quantum dots and other methods.

Bin Liu and Ben Zhong Tang of the A*STAR Institute of Materials Research and Engineering in Singapore and their co-workers developed inorganic quantum dots (nanocrystals) composed of a small number of organic… read more

Moving pictures

February 15, 2007

A project combining 3D imagery with hand-tracking and speech recognition technology could change the way the next generation of computers presents information, as well as how we interact with it.

The system uses gesture recognition technology that tracks natural hand movements and uses the information to manipulate images. Speech recognition enables the user to turn, flip or resize 3D objects with simple verbal commands, and call up contextual information… read more

Machine rage is dead … long live emotional computing

April 12, 2004

The days of the unfeeling, infuriating machine will soon be over. Scientists are now creating computers and robots that can detect and respond to users’ feelings.

The discoveries are being channelled by Humaine, a £6 million program just launched by the EU to give Europe a lead in emotional computing.

The systems depend on scientists’ new-found ability to recognize the physiological expressions of emotions — changes in stature,… read more

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