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Broadband-deprived Cerritos turns to WiFi

December 16, 2003

The largest WiFi wireless networking deployment in the nation is planned for the entire city of Cerritos, California, providing broadband Interent access for 51,000 residents in the 8.6-square-mile area.

DSL and cable broadband access to the Internet is currently not available.

Nanobots, Real or Imagined

December 15, 2003

Foresight Chairman Dr. K. Eric Drexler submitted a letter to the New York Times editor protesting their framing of the Drexler-Smalley debate.

“The Times elected to edit the letter (and apparently omit Mike Treder’s separate letter), discarding a key quote from the article, and modifying the last sentence,” says Drexler.

The letter, to be published tomorrow (Dec. 16, 2003) in The New York Times, reads (omitted… read more

Digital, P.I.

December 15, 2003

The new “digital detective” firms are developing technologies that can monitor everything from deciphering buying trends in retail outlets to identifying dangerous chemicals.

The companies include Imagen, which makes software that recognizes patterns and identifies faces or scans circuit boards for flaws; Alien, which makes RFID chips that can be embedded in thin plastic sheets that can be attached to almost any type of product to track it on… read more

Scientists say poles might flip

December 15, 2003

The Earth’s protective magnetic field has fallen about 10 percent since 1845 and if that continues, the field could flip.

These flips happen every 200,000 years, on average, scientists say. The last one was 780,000 years ago.

Whether the field flips or merely continues to weaken, more harmful particles would flow in from the sun, resulting in an estimated extra 100,000 cancer cases a year; and solar particles… read more

‘AI Bush’ chatbot uses advanced natural-language programming

December 14, 2003

AI Bush, “an interactive Robot President,” is an experimental natural-language program and game from EllaZ Systems.

Announced today, it is based on the program “Ella,” which won the worldwide Loebner Prize Contest in 2002 as the “most human computer.”

AI Bush games include the strategy game “Reelect Bush?” You are a close advisor, helping him make decisions. The President’s expressions, voice clips, and tracking… read more

Comparing Genomes Shows Split Between Chimps and People

December 14, 2003

By comparing the human genome with that of chimpanzees, people’s closest living relative, scientists have identified a partial list of the genes that make people human.

Because the sequence of DNA units in the two genomes is 98.8 percent identical, just a handful of genes might define the essence of humanity.

Prominent sets of human genes show signs of accelerated evolution, under strong recent pressure of natural selection.… read more

EPA board examines environmental impacts of nanotech

December 14, 2003

Technologically intensive cleanup using nanotech could become a much cleaner and cheaper method of environmental remediation, said Center for Responsible Nanotechnology (CRN) Director of Research Chris Phoenix in testimony on Dec. 11 before the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Science Advisory Board, in a session convened to assess potential environmental impacts of nanotechnology.

However, according to the CRN report, “the ability to build small-format products intended… read more

A Net of Control

December 13, 2003

Picture, if you will, an information infrastructure that encourages censorship, surveillance and suppression of the creative impulse. Where anonymity is outlawed and every penny spent is accounted for. Where the powers that be can smother subversive (or economically competitive) ideas in the cradle, and no one can publish even a laundry list without the imprimatur of Big Brother. Some prognosticators are saying that such a construct is nearly inevitable. And… read more

Linguistics Meets Linux: A Review of Morphix-NLP

December 12, 2003

Zhang Le, a Chinese scientist working on natural language processing, packed the most important language-analysis and processing applications into a single Linux-based bootable CD: Morphix-NLP.

The CD includes language-parsing systems (such as part-of-speech taggers), machine learning tools, and a software-based speech synthesizer.

Earthlike planets could be common in the universe

December 11, 2003

New research indicates Earthlike planets might be common. In 44 computer simulations of planet formation near a sun, astronomers found that each simulation produced one to four Earthlike planets, including 11 “habitable” planets about the same distance from their stars as Earth is from our sun.

The simulations show that the amount of water on Earthlike planets could be greatly influenced by outer gas giant planets like Jupiter. The… read more

Bee behavior suggests biologically inspired designs for robots and computers.

December 11, 2003
Tracked bees could help design robots and computers

Georgia Tech researchers are gathering data on the behavior of bees and ants using a computer vision system that can recognize which marked bee is doing which job. The research could have implications for biologically inspired design of robots and computers.

“Potentially, we could videotape ants for a long period of time, learn their ‘program’ and run it on a robot,” said Tucker Balch, assistant professor of… read more

Self-assembling magnetic nanorings allow for nonvolatile memory

December 11, 2003
The nanorings

A Purdue research team has created tiny magnetic “nanorings” less than 100 nanometers across that can store information at room temperature, using magnetic cobalt nanoparticles that self-assemble.

The nanorings could serve as nonvolative memory for long-term data storage and random-access memory.

Purdue press release

Light ‘frozen’ in its tracks

December 11, 2003

Harvard University researchers have stopped light with all its photons intact for the first time by firing a short burst of red laser light into a gas of hot rubidium atoms.

This is then “frozen” with the help of two control beams. The light in the control beams interacts with the rubidium atoms to create layers that alternately transmit and reflect the pulse.

As the signal tries to… read more

U.S. official calls for closer cooperation on nanotechnology

December 10, 2003

Joseph Bordogna, deputy director of the National Science Foundation, called for closer cooperation between the scientific and engineering research communities on nanotechnology development to create “nano transformations” in all scientific and social fields.

NEC claims world’s smallest transistor

December 10, 2003

NEC said it has developed the world’s smallest transistor, a breakthrough that could lead to the production of a supercomputer the size of a desktop PC.

The design is 1/18th the size of current transistors and has a gate width of only 5 nanometers.

A typical semiconductor chip will be able to hold 40 billion of the NEC transistors inside a chip measuring one square centimeter, more than… read more

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