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Profile: Margaret Atwood

February 2, 2005

A future in which a genetically engineered virus has devastated the world, leaving behind a nightmarish wasteland where insects proliferate and chimeric animals run amok: that’s the theme of Margaret Atwood’s new novel, Oryx and Crake.

Skype Adds Video Calling to iPhones

December 30, 2010


Skype today announced that the new version of its iPhone application adds video call support, allowing users to make video calls over 3G and Wi-Fi networks.

This means that users of the iPhone4, iPhone 3GS, iPod touch 4th generation, PC, and Mac are now able to make and/or receive free video calls with one another, as well as with anyone else running software that supports video calling.

Protecting Passengers With Fingerprint or Retina Scans

September 19, 2001

Stocks of the few publicly traded biometrics companies soared Monday. Biometrics systems identify travelers by fingerprints, the patterns in their retinas, their voices or other individual characteristics.Leading biometrics systems include Visionics’ FaceIt, a system that profiles individuals based on 80 facial structures like distance between the eyes, cheekbone formation and the width of the nose bridge; and eye scans, which look at either the distinctive patterns in the blood vessels… read more

A new way to assemble cells into 3-D microtissues

March 6, 2009

Scientists at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory can now control how cells connect with one another in vitro and self-assemble into three-dimensional, multicellular microtissues that could be used in medicine for a range of applications such as skin grafts, bone marrow transplants, or blood substitutes, as well as in basic medical and biological research.

How Baboons Think (Yes, Think)

October 9, 2007

A new book titled “Baboon Metaphysics: concludes, based on extensive experiments, that baboons’ minds are specialized for social interaction, for understanding the structure of their complex society and for navigating their way within it.

Although the baboon and human lines of descent split apart some 30 million years ago, the species have much in common. Both are primates whose ancestors came down from the trees and learned to survive… read more

Inventor sets his sights on immortality

February 14, 2005

Ray Kurzweil doesn’t tailgate. A man who plans to live forever doesn’t take chances with his health on the highway, or anywhere else.

As part of his daily routine, Kurzweil ingests 250 supplements, eight to 10 glasses of alkaline water and 10 cups of green tea. He also periodically tracks 40 to 50 fitness indicators, down to his “tactile sensitivity.” Adjustments are made as needed.

“I do actually… read more

Obama to hand Commerce Dept. authority over cybersecurity ID

January 10, 2011

President Obama is planning to hand the U.S. Commerce Department authority over a forthcoming cybersecurity effort to create an Internet ID for Americans. His administration is currently drafting the National Strategy for Trusted Identities in Cyberspace.

Search for bin Laden extends to Earth orbit

October 9, 2001

U.S. military spy satellites are searching aggressively for signs of Osama bin Laden and are providing military planners with near-real-time, high-resolution photographs and data about specific regions of Afghanistan, officials say.

Soldiers for the first time can view spy satellite ground photos in near-real time, using the Broadcast Request Imagery Technology Experiment, or BRITE.

The compact system can be carried into the field and operated with a laptop… read more

Brain scan reveals memories of where you’ve been

March 13, 2009

Functional MRI scans of the hippocampus (responsible for memory) have for the first time been used to detect a person’s location in a virtual environment.

The finding suggests that more detailed mind-reading, such as detecting memories of a summer holiday, might eventually be possible, says Eleanor Maguire, a neuroscientist at University College London.

Computer Scientists Inject Context into Automated Image Annotation

October 18, 2007

Computer scientists from UC San Diego and UCLA have brought common sense to an automated image labeling system, using context to help identify objects in photographs.

They are using the Google Labs tool called Google Sets, which generates lists of related items or objects from just a few examples, providing contextual information that improves the accuracy of automated image labeling systems.

UCSD news release

Rewiring The Body

February 28, 2005

Exotic implants are bringing new hope to victims of epilepsy, paralysis, depression, and other diseases.

Airborne prions are infectious; precautionary measures advised

January 14, 2011

Histoblot analysis of brains from mice exposed to prion aerosols (PLoS Pathogens)

Airborne prions are also infectious and can induce mad cow disease or Creutzfeldt-Jakob disorder. This is the surprising conclusion of researchers at the University of Zurich, the University Hospital Zurich and the University of Tübingen. They recommend precautionary measures for scientific labs, slaughterhouses and animal feed plants.

The prion is the infectious agent that caused the epidemic of mad cow disease, also termed bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE), and claimed… read more

Nanotech’s dark side debated

November 5, 2001

In light of the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11 and anthrax headlines, it’s not hard for some to imagine a nightmare scenario involving a new generation of terrorists able to obtain infinitely more powerful nanoweapons.
As nanotech makes the transition from the drawing board to reality, every development brings the fledgling industry closer to the day when many believe government regulations and secrecy will be needed to prevent abuses.… read more

Looking ahead with tech icon Bob Metcalfe

March 19, 2009

The goal in the next six or seven decades should be to produce “squanderably abundant, cheap and clean energy,” says Internet pioneer Bob Metcalfe.

There were innovations no one saw coming that made the Internet possible and better — the semiconductor, the PC, packet-switching, Ethernet, TPC/IP protocol. There will be surprises in the energy field, too, he belives.

Depleting oil supplies threaten ‘meltdown in society’

October 30, 2007

The Energy Watch Group (EWG) in Berlin, Germany reported this week that a study showed that world oil production peaked in 2006 — far earlier than expected.

EWG analysed oil production figures and predicted it would fall by 7 per cent a year, dropping to half of current levels by 2030. The report also predicts significant falls in gas, coal and uranium production. The group warns that supply shortages… read more

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