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Radiation is everywhere, but how to rate harm?

April 5, 2011

Experts differ on risks from the low radiation doses resulting from Japanese nuclear reactors.

Dr. John Boice, a professor of medicine at Vanderbilt University, argues that there is little data on doses below about 10 rem (100 millisieverts), while Dr. David Brenner, director of the Center for Radiological Research at Columbiaread more

Innovation: A licence to print gadgets

March 25, 2009

Wallpaper with changing designs, bulbless lamps that shed light from their shades, and scrolls that unroll to become flexible full-color displays are a few of the new devices the approaching era of printed electronics could bring.

Japanese develop ‘female’ android

July 28, 2005

Japanese scientists have unveiled the most human-looking robot yet devised –a “female” android called Repliee Q1.

She has flexible silicone for skin, a number of sensors, and 31 actuators to allow her to turn and react in a human-like manner, which can programmed by a human wearing motion sensors.

She can flutter her eyelids and move her hands like a human. She even appears to breathe.

Professor… read more

Crops That Shut Down Pests’ Genes

November 5, 2007

Monsanto is developing genetically modified plants that use RNA interference to kill the insects that eat them.

Speech Recognition Follies

August 16, 2002

Speech recognition software is stymied by word combinations that sound alike (homophones), says columnist David Pogue.

Biologists create self-replicating RNA molecule

April 11, 2011

Biologists at the MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology in Cambridge, UK, have synthesized an RNA enzyme that functions like a self-replicator.

The RNA enzyme tC19Z can reliably copy RNA sequences up to 95 letters long. This is a near-sevenfold increase over the R18 molecule, the only other known RNA-copying molecule. R18 can only copy RNA segments up to 14 letters long, and only works on certain sequences.

The tC19Z… read more

Can fractals make sense of the quantum world?

March 31, 2009

The mathematics of fractals could help make sense of out quantum weirdness, says physicist Tim Palmer.

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.

IBM’s Roadrunner set to smash supercomputing marks

November 13, 2007

IBM is working on a computer nicknamed “Roadrunner” that will be capable of performing more than a quadrillion operations, or a petaflop, when it’s fully operational.

It will combine Cell processors, a family of chips found inside the PlayStation 3, and processors from Advanced Micro Devices.

They Weren’t Meant to Be Games

September 4, 2002

Video games have rocketed past movies in mass appeal, driven by powerful technologies that have transformed games into fully interactive worlds.

A high-quality video game now can surpass traditional action movies in terms of realism, usability, return visits, interactivity and subtlety, thanks to sophisticated computer graphics, improved sound effects, and use of artificial intelligence for character portrayal and movement.

Why ET’s genetic code could be just like ours

April 6, 2009

Ten of life’s 20 amino acids must be common throughout the cosmos, based on a thermodynamic analysis of the likelihood of them forming.

This turns out to match the observed abundances in meteorites and in early Earth simulations.

The combined actions of thermodynamics and the subsequent natural selection suggest that that the genetic code we observe on the Earth today may have significant features in common with life… read more

Startup Sees Promise in Virus

August 19, 2005

The concept of applying viruses and proteins to develop electronics is a methodology that’s gaining traction in research labs.

Tracking Flow With Smart Dust

November 19, 2007

Tiny probes packed with instrumentation have been turned loose in a laboratory in France.

The two-centimeter probes float freely underwater, measure local temperatures down to a millionth of a degree Kelvin, and send it all back wirelessly.

Slaves to Our Machines

September 23, 2002

Instead of machines augmenting human ability, humans are increasingly being called on to augment machine abilities.

Putting Twitter’s World to Use

April 14, 2009

Pairing sensors with Twitter leads some to think Twitter could be used to send home security alerts or tell doctors when a patient’s blood sugar or heart rate climbs too high. In the aggregate, such real-time data streams could aid medical researchers.

Already, doctors use Twitter to ask for help and share information about procedures, while companies like Dell, Starbucks and Microsoft are using it for customer service and… read more

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