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Are we the Mongols of the Information Age?

October 30, 2006

The future of U.S. power rests in its Industrial Age military adapting to decentralized adversaries.

A Fast, Programmable Molecular Clock

October 31, 2008
(UC San Diego Jacobs School of Engineering)

UC San Diego bioengineers have created the first stable, fast, and programmable genetic clock that reliably keeps time by the blinking of fluorescent proteins inside E. coli cells.

To create the clock, UC San Diego scientists genetically engineered a molecular oscillator composed of multiple gene promoters, which turn genes on in the presence of certain chemicals, and genes themselves, one of which codes for a fluorescent protein.… read more

The Extraordinary Tale of Red Rain, Comets and Extraterrestrials

September 1, 2010

Optical microscope images of red cells: (A) red cells before autoclaving (400x): cells evenly dispersed in the rain water. (B) red cells after 1 hour incubation at 121oC (1000x).(C) after 2 hour incubation at 121oC (1000x).

For years, claims have circulated that red rain that fell in India in 2001 contained cells unlike any found on Earth. Now new evidence that these cells can reproduce is about to set the debate alive.

“The flourescence behaviour of the red cells is shown to be in remarkable correspondence with the extended red emission observed in the Red Rectangle planetary nebula and other galactic and extragalactic… 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

Cheap, Superefficient Solar

November 9, 2006

Technologies collectively known as concentrating photovoltaics are starting to enjoy their day in the sun, thanks to advances in solar cells, which absorb light and convert it into electricity, and the mirror- or lens-based concentrator systems that focus light on them. The technology could soon make solar power as cheap as electricity from the grid.

Obama promises new era of scientific innovation

November 6, 2008

In September, Barack Obama unveiled a comprehensive Science and Technology Policy.

In it he promised to lead a new era of scientific innovation in America and to restore integrity to US science policy. This would be achieved by doubling the federal investment in basic research and by addressing the “grand challenges” of the 21st century.

Fiber optic interface to link robotic limbs, human brain

September 10, 2010


Funded by a Department of Defense initiative dedicated to audacious challenges and intense time schedules, the Neurophotonics Research Center at Southern Methodist University will develop two-way fiber optic communication between prosthetic limbs and peripheral nerves.

This connection will be key to operating realistic robotic arms, legs and hands that not only move like the real thing, but also “feel” sensations like pressure and heat.… read more

Lost? Hiding? Your Cellphone Is Keeping Tabs

December 21, 2003

Personal location devices are beginning to catch on, largely because of a federal mandate that by late 2005, wireless carriers be able to automatically locate callers who dial 911.

Millions of cell phones already keep track of their owners’ whereabouts, using GPS signals. Analysts predict that as many as 42 million Americans will be using some form of “location-aware” technology in 2005.

“We are moving into a world… read more

‘Game-powered machine learning’ opens door to ‘Google for music’

May 7, 2012


Can a computer be taught to automatically label every song on the Internet using sets of examples provided by unpaid music fans?

University of California, San Diego engineers have found that the answer is yes, and the results are as accurate as using paid music experts to provide the examples, saving considerable time and money.

Their solution, called “game-powered machine learning,” would enable music lovers to… read more

Gene duplications may define who you are

November 23, 2006

Two separate studies of the human genome have revealed an unsuspected amount of variation between people in the number of copies of genes they have.

Such variations appear to involve as much as 12 percent of our DNA, so as personalized genetic sequencing becomes more common, questions are raised about what constitutes a “normal” genome.

Google Uses Searches to Track Flu’s Spread

November 12, 2008

The simple act of entering phrases like “flu symptoms” into Google, multiplied across millions of keyboards in homes around the country, has given rise to a new early warning system for fast-spreading flu outbreaks, called Google Flu Trends.

Tiny particles ‘threaten brain’

January 9, 2004

Microscopic pollutant particles given off by traffic and industry can enter the bloodstream and the brain after being inhaled, scientists have found.

The particles are known to cause lung damage in susceptible patients, and are implicated in cardiovascular disease. Experiments on rats and humans have now discovered they can penetrate further into the body, including the brain, with unknown results.

UK scientists are calling for vigilance over the… read more

Have Camera Phone? Yahoo and Reuters Want You to Work for Their News Service

December 5, 2006

Hoping to turn the millions of people with digital cameras and camera phones into photojournalists, Yahoo and Reuters are introducing a new effort to showcase photographs and video of news events submitted by the public.

I-Ball technology to give troops eye on the ground

November 18, 2008

The I-Ball, a portable, wireless, projectile camera from Scotland-based Dreampact using real-time video with a 360-degree view, gives troops a better view of what lies ahead of them.

Robots on TV: Rescue bot knows, um, what you mean

September 27, 2010

Matthias Scheutz, a computer scientist from Indiana University in Bloomington, and colleagues have developed a robot that can cope with ungrammatical speech patterns. Their design filters out disfluencies and helps the robot translate natural speech into clear instructions. The robot has been tested in a mock search and rescue scenario.

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