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The Eyes Have It — For Now

November 6, 2002

Even as homeowners gleefully wire up their homes with inexpensive Web cams, even as employers put up closed-circuit TV and cities install surveillance equipment on everything from traffic intersections to school buses, a small group of skeptics is beginning to question the effects of all this technology. They ask: Will you trust your neighbor in the 21st century? Or in putting up a security camera — just to make sure… read more

The Faculty Is Remote, but Not Detached

March 10, 2008

College instructors are increasingly using online distance learning tools such as streaming video that remote students can view online, virtual worlds, and Web forums.

Nearly 3.5 million students were taking online courses in the fall of 2006, and more than two-thirds of all higher-education institutions have online offerings in some form.

The Fantasy and Reality of 2004

December 30, 2003

Experts say what they’d like to see happen in 2004 and what they think will happen.

Howard Rheingold, author and virtual community pioneer:

“I wish an interdisciplinary investigation (PDF) of human cooperation and collective action would begin to emerge in 2004, bringing together scientists, scholars and practitioners in self-organizing Internet politics, peer-to-peer computation, the sociology of managing common pool resources, the economics of open-source production, the… read more

The Fastest Net Yet

September 26, 2005

Ultrafast broadband services from phone and cable companies could speed up your downloads to 15 megabits per second or more by replacing copper cables with fiber-optic lines.

The Father of Quantum Computing

February 15, 2007

“The watershed moment with quantum computer technology will be when a quantum computer — a universal quantum computer — exceeds about 100 to 200 qubits,” according to Oxford University theoretical physicist David Deutsch. In practice, “that probably means several hundred, or perhaps 1,000 or more, physical qubits.”

He said the most important applications of quantum computing in the future are likely to be a computer simulation of quantum systems,… read more

The Feel of Cancer Cells

December 4, 2007
Using the sharp point of an atomic-force microscope, UCLA researchers apply pressure to living cancer cells taken from patients (Sarah Cross and James K. Gimzewski, UCLA)

UCLA researchers are using atomic-force microscopy to probe the surface of cancer cells in an attempt to improve diagnostic accuracy.

Cancer cells found in samples they studied were much softer than normal cells.

The Fight Over NASA’s Future

December 30, 2008

Contentious issues on the future of the U.S. space program have become a focus of the members of the presidential transition team dealing with NASA, and the space program could undergo a transformation after Barack Obama takes office.

The Fight to Control Your Mind

April 2, 2003

Should the government have the right to alter the biochemistry of your brain? Richard Glen Boire, codirector and legal counsel of the Center for Cognitive Liberty and Ethics, says no, and he’s making his case before the Supreme Court.

The Fight to End Aging Gains Legitimacy, Funding

June 26, 2008

Some scientists are beginning to view biogerontologist Aubrey de Grey’s approach — looking at aging as a disease and bringing in more disciplines into gerontology — as worthwhile.

His Methuselah Foundation now has an annual research funding budget of several million dollars, de Grey says, and it’s beginning to show lab results that he thinks will turn scientists’ heads.

Starting Friday, the Methuselah Foundation, is sponsoring its first… read more

The Fingerprints of Embryos

May 27, 2008

Researchers at Monash University, in Australia, led by in-vitro fertilization (IVF) and stem-cell pioneer Alan Trounson, have harnessed DNA fingerprinting (used to settle paternity suits and implicate criminals) to match an embryo to the baby it ultimately becomes.

The technique may help researchers develop tests to more reliably discriminate between viable embryos and their nonviable siblings.

When multiple embryos are transferred into a woman’s uterus during IVF and… read more

The first all-carbon solar cell

Imagine low-cost solar cells painted on buildings, windows, and cars to provide electricity
November 1, 2012

All-carbon solar cell consists of a photoactive layer, which absorbs sunlight, sandwiched between two electrodes (credit: Bao group, Stanford University)

Stanford University scientists have built the first solar cell made entirely of carbon, a promising alternative to the expensive materials used in photovoltaic devices today.

“Carbon has the potential to deliver high performance at a low cost,” said study senior author Zhenan Bao, a professor of chemical engineering at Stanford.

“To the best of our knowledge, this is the first demonstration of… read more

The First Church of Robotics

August 10, 2010

“By allowing artificial intelligence to reshape our concept of personhood, we are leaving ourselves open to the flipside: we think of people more and more as computers, just as we think of computers as people,” says author and computer scientist Jeron Lanier. “The constant stream of stories about AI suggests that machines are becoming smart and autonomous, a new form of life, and that we should think of them as… read more

The first flexible, transparent, and conductive material

Could finally lead to a fully foldable cell phone or television screen
February 6, 2014

UH Au nanomesh

University of Houston researchers have developed a new stretchable and transparent electrical conductor, bringing the potential for a fully foldable cell phone, or a flat-screen television that can be folded and carried under your arm, closer to reality.

Such a material has to be transparent, flexible, and conductive. Some materials have two of the components, but until now, finding one with all three has remained difficult.

Zhifeng Ren,… read more

The First Full-Color Display with Quantum Dots

February 22, 2011

Color quantum dots and oxide thin-film transistors work together in this new active matrix display prototype. (Byoung Lyong Choi, Samsung Electronics)

Researchers at Samsung Electronics have made the first full-color display that uses quantum dots, promising to lead to brighter, cheaper, and more energy-efficient displays than those found in today’s cell phones and MP3 players.

Samsung’s four-inch diagonal display is controlled using an active matrix, which means each of its color quantum-dot pixels is turned on and off with a thin-film transistor. The researchers have made the prototype on glass… read more

The first plastic computer chip

March 28, 2011

Microprocessor made from organic materials  (credit: IMEC)

Researchers at the IMEC nanotechnology center in Leuven, Belgium have used 4,000 plastic, organic transistors to create a microprocessor that measures roughly two centimeters square, built on top of flexible plastic foil.

Plastic processors could be useful in places where silicon is barred by its cost or physical inflexibility, and the lower cost of the organic materials compared to conventional silicon should make the plastic approach around 10 times… read more

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