science + technology news

Medics braced for fresh superbug

August 10, 2005

Nature reports that medical experts are concerned that if antibiotic overuse in hospitals is not curbed, drug-resistant strains of the Acinetobacter baumannii bacterium could become a serious killer in intensive-care wards worldwide.

“We have calculated that 40% of our patients who become infected with A. baumannii die because of it,” says Yehuda Carmeli, an infectious-disease physician at the Tel Aviv Sourasky Medical Center in Israel.

Pocket-sized computer ‘soul’ developed

August 10, 2005

IBM has developed a way to carry a powerful, personalized virtual computer from one PC to the next, without losing the user’s work, by using a USB key or other portable device.

The virtual computer’s “soul” – as the researchers dub it – can then be uploaded to a new PC simply by plugging the portable device in.

Long Live AI

August 10, 2005

We can meet the hardware requirements for “strong” AI — machine intelligence with the full range of human intelligence — by 2020, says Ray Kurzweil.

“I figure we need about 10 quadrillion calculations a second to provide a functional equivalent to all the regions of the brain. IBM’s Blue Gene/L computer is already at 100 trillion. If we plug in the semiconductor industry’s projections, we can see that 10… read more

Guessing game gives machines clearer vision

August 10, 2005

An online game called Peekaboom, devised by researchers at Carnegie Mellon University, harnesses the brain power of players to train a set of powerful vision recognition algorithms.

In The Datasphere, No Word Goes Unheard

August 9, 2005

Techniques such as advanced data mining are some of the more powerful tools available right now for preventing future attacks.

The State Of Surveillance

August 9, 2005

Research laboratories envision tools that could identify and track just about every person, anywhere — and sound alarms when the systems encounter hazardous objects or chemical compounds.

Many such ideas seem to leap from the pages of science fiction: An artificial nose in doorways and corridors sniffs out faint traces of explosives on someone’s hair. Tiny sensors floating in reservoirs detect a deadly microbe and radio a warning. Smart… read more

Nanotechnology could lead to radical improvements for space exploration

August 9, 2005

Constantinos Mavroidis, director of the Computational Bionanorobotics Laboratory at Northeastern University in Boston, visualizes a kind of “spider’s web” of hair-thin tubes packed with bio-nanotech sensors across dozens of miles of terrain as a way to map the environment of some alien planet in great detail.

Another concept he proposes is a “second skin” for astronauts to wear under their spacesuits that would use bio-nanotech to sense and respond… read more

Yahoo passes Google in search index capacity

August 9, 2005

Yahoo says it now indexes more than 20 billion documents and images. That’s almost twice the 11.3 billion Google publicly says it currently spans.

Of the 20 billion elements in Yahoo’s database, 19 billion are documents, 1.5 billion images and more than 50 million audio and video files, the company said.

God vs. Darwin: no contest

August 9, 2005

“Intelligent design” boils down to the claim sarcastically summed up by aerospace engineer and science consultant Rand Simberg on his blog, Transterrestrial Musings: “I’m not smart enough to figure out how this structure could evolve, therefore there must have been a designer.”

Simberg, a political conservative, concludes that this argument “doesn’t belong in a science classroom, except as an example of what’s not science.”

Computers learn a new language

August 8, 2005

Computer scientists have developed a program that can teach itself new languages. Feed it a piece of text, in any language, and the program analyzes its structure and can then produce new, meaningful sentences.

The software learns the grammar of a new language by searching text for patterns.

Now, if My Software Only Had a Brain …

August 8, 2005

A variety of programs purport to help you save, store, organize and eventually retrieve bits of information that come into the computer.

Remote-Controlled Humans

August 7, 2005

Nippon Telegraph and Telephone researchers have developed a device based on galvanic vestibular stimulation (a weak DC current is delivered to the mastoid behind your ear) that allows the wearer to be steered by remote control.

Possible applications include gaming and flight simulators.

‘Health Chips’ Could Help Patients in US

August 7, 2005

President Bush’s former health secretary Tommy Thompson proposes that US citizens have an RFID chip inserted under their skin. Thompson also plans to have a VeriChip inserted in his arm.

The RFID capsules would be linked to a database being created by the Department of Health and Human Services to store and manage the nation’s health records. Thompson believes the capsules could help save thousands of lives every year… read more

Hidden Black Holes Finally Found

August 7, 2005

A host of hidden black holes have been revealed in a narrow region of the sky, confirming astronomers’ suspicions that the universe is loaded with many undetected gravity wells.

Black holes cannot be seen directly, because they trap light and anything else that gets too close. But astronomers infer their presence by noting the behavior of material nearby: gas is superheated and accelerated to a significant fraction of light-speed… read more

‘Thoughts read’ via brain scans

August 7, 2005

Teams at University College London and UCLA could tell which images people were looking at or what sounds they were listening to, using fMRI (functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging) brain scanning to monitor activity in the visual and auditory cortex.

close and return to Home