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‘DNA computer’ is unbeatable at tic-tac-toe

October 18, 2006

A computer that uses strands of DNA to perform calculations could help researchers refine techniques for analysis of DNA samples.

MAYA-II, developed by researchers at Columbia University and the University of New Mexico, uses a DNA logic gate that consists of a strand of DNA that binds to another specific input sequence. This binding causes a region of the strand to work as an enzyme, modifying yet another short… read more

China’s All-Seeing Eye

May 19, 2008

China is building a high-tech police state under a massive surveillance and censorship program: “Golden Shield,” linking surveillance cameras, the Internet, phones, facial-recognition software, voice recognition data from phone calls, GPS monitoring, and facial photos into a centralized database for every person in China–1.3 billion faces.

Some 200,000 surveillance cameras have already been installed throughout the city of Shenzhen, with a total of 2 million CCTVs planned, making it… read more

Exploding black holes rain down on Earth

December 4, 2003

High-energy cosmic-ray particles from space may create black holes when they collide with molecules in the Earth’s atmosphere, say physicists.

These black holes would be invisibly small (only 10 micrograms or so) and would be so unstable that they would explode in a burst of particles within around a billion-billion-billionth of a second.

If such tiny black holes exist, it would unveil hidden dimensions in our universe and… read more

Trading Shares in Milliseconds

December 23, 2009

Today’s stock market has become a world of automated transactions executed at lightning speed. This high-frequency trading could make the financial system more efficient, but it could also turn small mistakes into catastrophes.

Engineers building first space supercomputer

October 30, 2006

Engineering researchers at the University of Florida and Honeywell Aerospace are designing and building the computer projected to operate as much as 100 times faster than any computer in space today.

Expected to be launched aboard a NASA rocket on a test mission in 2009, the computer is needed to process rapidly increasing amounts of data gathered by advanced scientific satellites. It is also needed to help space probes… read more

Faster Wireless Networks

May 21, 2008

A novel wireless-network protocol, developed by BAE Systems for DARPA, sends not the data itself but rather a description of the data. In simulations, a network using the protocol was five times more efficient than a traditional network.

Nanobots, Real or Imagined

December 15, 2003

Foresight Chairman Dr. K. Eric Drexler submitted a letter to the New York Times editor protesting their framing of the Drexler-Smalley debate.

“The Times elected to edit the letter (and apparently omit Mike Treder’s separate letter), discarding a key quote from the article, and modifying the last sentence,” says Drexler.

The letter, to be published tomorrow (Dec. 16, 2003) in The New York Times, reads (omitted… read more

New nanocrystal alloys could lead to more powerful flash memory

September 20, 2010

This schematic shows enthalpy curves sketched for the liquid, crystalline and amorphous phases of a new class of nanomaterials called “BEANs” for Binary Eutectic-Alloy Nanostructures. (Daryl Chrzan)

A new class of phase-change materials (used in non-volatile or “flash” memory)  has been discovered by researchers with the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) and the University of California (UC) Berkeley.

It could be applied to phase-change, random-access memory technologies and possibly optical data storage.  The new phase-change materials — nanocrystal alloys of a metal and semiconductor — are called “BEANs,” for binary eutectic-alloy nanostructures, such as quantum dots… read more

Old Ideas Spur New Approaches in Cancer Fight

December 31, 2009

In a shift in thinking about why cancer occurs and how to stop it, researchers are looking to cancer cells’ environment, such as inflammation in the extra cellular matrix, which may trigger the spread of latent cancer.

Genentech, for example, is investigating the way some skin, ovarian, colon and brain cancers signal surrounding cells to promote cancer growth.

Natural-born painkiller found in human saliva

November 13, 2006

Saliva from humans has yielded a natural painkiller up to six times more powerful than morphine, researchers say.

The substance, dubbed opiorphin, may spawn a new generation of natural painkillers that relieve pain as well as morphine but without its addictive and psychological side effects.

Military robot subs seek out sunken treasure

May 27, 2008
Sonar image of a shipwreck (NOAA)

Autonomous underwater vehicles (AUVs) designed to hunt for underwater mines were used to discover archaeological items, finding several new artifacts off the coast of Rhode Island.

These results suggest that robotic submersibles could find many non-military applications as they become cheaper.

These AUVs scan the seafloor using sonar and magnetic sensors. Software processes the collected images, trying to differentiate mines from lobster pots and other “clutter”… read more

Creating robots of the future

December 23, 2003

Researchers at the MIT Media Lab are working on ways to let robots interact emotionally with humans.

But in the Mall at Chestnut Hill, humans already are interacting emotionally with robots. A small crowd of shoppers gathers around a pair of bright red and blue Boxing Robots in the window of the Sharper Image….

A couple of aisles down, a sales clerk is showing off the latest model… read more

Scientists say dolphins should be treated as non-human persons

January 7, 2010

Scientists studying dolphin behavior have suggested they could be the most intelligent creatures on Earth after humans, saying the size of their brains in relation to body size is larger than that of our closest relatives, the chimpanzees, and their behaviors suggest complex intelligence.

One scientist said they should therefore be treated as “non-human persons” and granted rights as individuals.

Small Molecule, Big Threat

November 27, 2006

MicroRNAs (miRNAs) play important roles in health and disease, and tiny amounts can cause heart failure.

Genetically erasing the miRNA that prompted heart failure could prevent it, scientists speculate.

Microsoft’s new social network, it’s like Google+ for wonks

May 21, 2012


Over the weekend, Microsoft quietly launched an experimental social network called — a mix between Google+ and Storify.

You can search for information about a particular topic, then compile the best results — textual content, images and videos — into a single document. is initially targeted to students. It may end up being useful as an academic tool, but it’s unlikely to… read more

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