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July 18, 2007

There’s a sudden upswing in international awareness that the pace of progress in robotics is rapidly propelling these fields into uncharted ethical realms.

Electric currents boost brain power

October 27, 2004

Connecting a battery across the front of the head (the prefrontal cortex) can boost verbal skills, says a team from the US National Institutes of Health.

A current of two milliamperes applied for 20 minutes is enough to produce a significant improvement, they found.

Chatbot Suzette Wins 20th Annual Loebner Prize, Fools One Judge

October 25, 2010


The chatbot Suzette, created by Bruce Wilcox, won this year’s Loebner Prize and even confused a judge into voting for her over a human, the creator writes on Slashdot.

Science as Usual: More Questions Than Answers

March 8, 2001

At the recent World Economic Forum, Bill Joy, chief scientist of Sun Microsystems, urged scientists to renounce research that could lead to “a clear danger of extinction.” As in his Wired article last year, he was concerned about out-of-control self-replication from genetic engineering, nanotechnology and robotics research. Most scientists present at the discussion “disputed both his pessimism about the future of humanity and his argument against the classical scientific belief… read more

Scientists ‘Write’ With Atoms Using An Atomic Force Microscope

January 12, 2009

An international team of scientists has discovered a new method to manipulate atoms using an atomic force microscope (AFM) that makes it possible to build stable atomic structures at room temperature and on various semiconductor surfaces.

For example, placing specific dopant elements in the best position on semiconductor surfaces could increase the efficiency of nanoscale transistors.

Emotional recall is in your genes

July 30, 2007

Your ability to recall emotional events is governed by a common variation in a single gene, ADRA2B, which codes for the noradrenaline receptor in the amygdala, says Dominique de Quervain, a neuroscientist at the University of Zurich.

Optical tweezers help researchers uncover key mechanics in cellular communication

June 4, 2012


By using a laser microbeam technology called optical tweezers, UC Irvine and UCLA researchers have uncovered fundamental properties of a key molecular signaling system involved with development, cancer, and cardiovascular disease.

UCI’s Elliot Botvinick and UCLA’s Gerry Weinmaster used optical tweezers to detect and measure the mechanical force produced by cells when bound to Notch, a cellular pathway that ensures the correct cell… read more

Digital Temblors: Computer Model Successfully Forecasts Earthquake Sites

November 5, 2004

A Southern California earthquake forecast based on computer models has successfully pinpointed the location of predicted locations for 15 of the last 16 temblors with magnitudes greater than 5.0 on the Richter scale for the last 4 years.

The computer model simulates the Southern California [seismic] network. The forecast also incorporates modeling techniques typically used for neural net and turbulence simulations.

Understanding How Cells Respond to Nanoparticles

November 2, 2010


Gold nanoparticles are showing real promise as vehicles for efficiently delivering therapeutic nucleic acids, such as disease-fighting genes and small interfering RNA (siRNA) molecules, to tumors. Now, a team of investigators from Northwestern University has shown that the biocompatibility and safety of gold nanoparticle-nucleic acid formulations depends significantly on how the nucleic acids and nanoparticles are linked to one another, a finding with important implications for those researchers developing such… read more

Extreme Robotics

April 4, 2001

MIT Technology Review is running a series on iRobot, founded by three veterans of the MIT AI Lab: Helen Greiner, Colin Angle and Rod Brooks (who is also director of the AI Lab).

The company is branching out from military robots to consumer products, including the My Real Baby doll, a robotic toy Velociraptor and a Web-controlled robot called the iRobot.

“One iRobot team is building robots that… read more

Better Thermal Photovoltaics

January 21, 2009

A new approach to converting heat into electricity using solar cells could make a technology called thermal photovoltaics (TPVs) more practical and make it possible to use one-tenth as much solar-cell material.

Thermal photovoltaics use solar cells to convert the light (in this case, sunlight) that radiates from a hot surface into electricity.

Slim chance of tuning in to alien TV

August 6, 2007

Marko Horvat, a computer scientist at the University of Zagreb, calculated the odds of detecting alien civilizations of different lifespans from their radio signals. If, for example, 10 civilizations, each with a lifespan of 250,000 years, live within radio reach of Earth, the probability that one of them will be detected is about 9 per cent, assuming near-perfect radio telescopes scanning the sky constantly (not realistic).

If there are… read more

2-D Holograms Make 3-D Color Display

November 19, 2004

Researchers from Seoul National University have developed a three-dimensional color display that uses a set of six holograms and is made from relatively compact and inexpensive components.

With a parallel processing computer system and a specialized chip, the method could be used for real-time three-dimensional broadcasting, according to the researchers.

The scary side of the digital future

April 28, 2001

Maybe we’ve finally created a global system based on technology that’s too complex for human beings to understand or control, says Thomas Homer-Dixon, author of The Ingenuity Gap.

Homer-Dixon describes genetic programming, in which code is set up to evolve quickly and essentially write itself. But we have to create ever more complex machines to control ever more complex systems, so when the machines get too complex, do we… read more

What the Web knows about you

January 28, 2009

Much of the publicly available information on individuals online is sourced from online county, state and federal government records databases, with little or no attempt made to redact sensitive personal data such as Social Security numbers — a treasure trove for data aggregators, brokers and criminals.

A Computerworld special report explains how individuals can play a role in reducing their information footprint and shaping the information that is available… read more

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