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Mobile Robots Take Baby Steps

January 8, 2004

The Army’s Tank-automotive and Armaments Command (TACOM) has awarded $2.25 million to two robotics firms to prototype a big mechanical dog capable of carrying ammunition, food and supplies into battle.

Depth perception is essential for recognizing obstacles and avoiding them, so NASA JPL developed a way for robots to see in three dimensions, using two separate cameras that take images of the same scene. JPL built a similar system… read more

Babel’s Children

January 7, 2004

A research project just beginning in Indonesia is examining correlations between the way concepts are expressed in languages and how native speakers of these languages think. This is a test of a hypothesis first made by Benjamin Lee Whorf, an early 20th-century American linguist, that the structure of language affects the way people think. Whorf’s hypothesis fell into disfavor half a century ago; it is now undergoing something of a… read more

New careers appear as old jobs fade

January 7, 2004

Coming new types of jobs will include A.I. programmer, bio-informatician, Wireless engineer, fuel-cell engineer, and nanotechnologist.

Radio Ready to Go Digital

January 7, 2004

Digital radio receivers finally go on sale nationwide Wednesday, pairing CD-quality audio in over-the-air broadcasts with text information such as song titles, weather and news alerts.

What the net did next

January 7, 2004

The Internet is set to become the basis for just about every form of communication, according to net pioneer Vint Cerf.

The Enum initiative attempts to turn phone numbers into net addresses and give people a universal way of contacting anyone, provided they know at least one e-mail, address, phone or pager number for them.

Naming Authority Pointer (NATPR) allows almost anything, such as book or magazine ISBN… read more

Techno hits basic beat

January 7, 2004
Complexity of nine musical genres

Physicists have quantified differences in the patterns of various musical genres and their correlations to subjective, qualitative musical aspects of these genres by using a technique called detrended fluctuation analysis (DFA). DFA has been used to study complicated signals in economic, genetic and heartbeat data.

The method produces a number, “alpha,” that quantifies the complexity of patterns in a signal, in this case, the volume of music. Western classical… read more

‘Smart Bomb’ delivery destroys tumors in mice

January 6, 2004

Weizmann Institute scientists have destroyed malignant tumors in mice using allicin, a chemical that occurs naturally in garlic.

To zero in on the targeted tumor, scientists took advantage of the fact that most types of cancer cells exhibit distinctive receptors on their surfaces. An antibody that is “programmed” to recognize the tumor’s characteristic receptor is chemically bound to the enzyme alliinase. Injected into the bloodstream, the antibody seeks out… read more

First integrated circuit with nanotube transistors created

January 6, 2004

UC Berkeley and Stanford Researchers have created the first working integrated circuit that successfully incorporates carbon nanotubes.

They developed the integrated circuit to speed the analysis of thousands of synthesized carbon nanotubes, sorting them into metallic and semiconducting nanotubes. To do that, they grew carbon nanotubes directly onto “islands” on the circuit platform that contained the necessary catalyst for nanotube synthesis.

By turning certain switches on and off,… read more

Caltech lecture by Crichton on ‘consensus science’

January 5, 2004

Michael Crichton understands the core values of science better than some prominent scientists, as he showed in this lecture at Caltech about the dangers of “consensus science”: “I regard consensus science as an extremely pernicious development that ought to be stopped cold in its tracks.

“Historically, the claim of consensus has been the first refuge of scoundrels; it is a way to avoid debate by claiming that the matter… read more

Beyond Google: Narrow the Search

January 5, 2004

New technologies are bringing order to searching the Web and could revolutionize how people mine the Internet for information.

Software now emerging analyzes search results and automatically sorts them into categories that present far more information than the typical Google-style textual list.

One tenth of stars may support life

January 5, 2004

One tenth of the stars in our galaxy might provide the right conditions to support complex life, according to a new analysis by Australian researchers. And most of these stars are on average one billion years older than the Sun, allowing much more time, in theory, for any life to evolve.

Anti-aging effect of calorie restriction explained

January 2, 2004

Shedding light on why drastically restricting calorie intake prolongs life span in some organisms, MIT researchers have found that lowering the level of the common NADH coenzyme activates an anti-aging gene in yeast.

MIT Biology Professor Leonard P. Guarente discovered in 2000 that calorie restriction activates the silenced information regulator (SIR2) gene,
which makes a protein called Sir2 that is normally activated by the coenzyme molecule NAD. Guarente has… read more

Chip miniaturization extended by strontium titanate

January 2, 2004

Researchers have found a way to use strontium titanate applied to a silicon wafer to extend the miniaturization and speed of transistors.

Silicon currently limits chip miniaturization because at a few atomic layers it loses its insulating property. Applying a strontium titanate layer overcomes that limit, according to simulations by Austrian researchers.

Technische Universitaet Clausthal press release

Young nerve cells can rewind their developmental clocks

January 2, 2004

Scientists have identified a gene in the cerebral cortex that apparently controls the developmental clock of embryonic nerve cells, a finding that could open another door to tissue replacement therapy in the central nervous system.

The researchers found that they could rewind the clock in young cortical cells in mice by eliminating a gene called Foxg1. The finding could potentially form the basis of a new method to push… read more

Top ten stories of 2003

January 2, 2004

The most popular stories published by New Scientist.com during 2003 include the first speed of gravity measurement, packet tracking for ultrafast Internet, the world’s first brain prosthesis, and James Watson’s statement that stupidity is a genetic disease that should be cured.

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