Top KurzweilAI.net News of 2002

February 6, 2003 by Ray Kurzweil, Amara D. Angelica

In its second year of operation, 2002, KurzweilAI.net continued to chronicle the most notable news stories on accelerating intelligence. We offer here our overview of the dramatic progress that the past year has brought. Following that, we selected just over half of the 823 news stories posted in 2002 to document key breakthroughs in the continued exponential growth of increasingly diverse information-based technologies; deepening understanding of the information basis of biological processes; the early contributions of nanotechnology, and a multiplicity of related topics.

Published on KurzweilAI.net Feb. 5, 2003

The capital markets (venture and angel financing, IPOs, mergers and acquisitions, bank debt) were in a deep freeze during 2002, particularly for high-tech ventures. Technology market capitalizations continued their downward trend from the previous year, and many ventures ended their operations for lack of funding.

So one might assume that this high tech recession might have slowed the pace of progress. A frequent question I (Ray) receive at my lectures is what impact the high-tech meltdown has had on my law of accelerating returns. Surely, many people point out, the acceleration of computation and other technologies must have been negatively affected.

The reality is that the law of accelerating returns is alive and well. We see no impact of either the boom times nor the bust on the ongoing and unperturbed acceleration of the power of technology. The doubling of price-performance in a wide range of information technologies, including computation, magnetic and semiconductor memories, wireless and wired communication, miniaturization of electronics and mechanics, genomic sequencing, neural scanning, brain reverse engineering, and many others, has continued unabated.

The pace of innovation itself has also been undeterred. The unavailability of investment has served primarily to weed out poorly grounded ideas and projects. The spirit of innovation is so deeply embedded in our society and culture that creativity has not only continued to flourish, but even the number of fields and types of applications continue to multiply.

All of this is eminently apparent from the depth and diversity of last year’s torrent of groundbreaking news as chronicled here on KurzweilAI.net. We set a high bar for news stories, and nonetheless posted 823 of them—more than two each day. We’ve selected just over half of these below to document the key breakthroughs in the continued exponential growth of these increasingly diverse information-based technologies; our deepening understanding of the information basis of biological processes; and the early contributions of nanotechnology.

A frequent challenge that I (Ray) receive is that while it is apparent that hardware technologies are growing exponentially, the same is not true for software. To this end, we hear an endless litany of frustrations with poorly designed software, and the complaint that software is no more intelligent today than it was years ago. My own view is that the "doubling time" for software productivity is indeed slower than that for hardware (I estimate it to be around five years versus one year for hardware), but we are indeed benefiting from all the investments in new languages, class libraries, and development tools.

Smart software and consumer robots

Consider one dramatic example that we saw in 2002. It is often said that game-playing programs, such as the chess machines Deep Blue and Deep Fritz, rely entirely on brute force expansion of the move-countermove tree. But there is an important aspect of these programs that requires qualitative intelligence, namely the evaluation of the "terminal leaves" of this tree. It would not be an intelligent use of computer time to endlessly expand every branch of the tree. For example, if one side was down by a queen and a rook at a particular node in a branch, there would be little point in considering that line of play further. So the classical "minimax" game-playing strategy does require an important judgment at each node of the tree: should we abandon or continue the expansion?

Deep Blue, which defeated Gary Kasparov, the human world champion, in 1987, used a set of several hundred finely tuned parameters to make this delicate decision. Its hardware consisted of specialized chess circuits that were able to analyze 200 million board positions per second. Deep Fritz, which competed during 2002, is simply a software program running on eight conventional PC-class processors, and thus is only able to consider about three million board positions per second.

Despite this, it ranked about equal to Deep Blue and fought Vladimir Kramnik, the contemporary human world champion, to a draw. This impressive performance, despite using a small fraction of the computation used by Deep Blue, is entirely due to important qualitative improvements in the intelligence of its pruning software.

AI programs played a key role in many practical applications. Every time you send an email or place a cell phone call, you are calling upon increasingly sophisticated software programs to route your communication. Every time you make a credit card purchase, AI-based algorithms are analyzing the patterns of your purchases to look for fraud. AI programs have also been deployed on the emerging homeland security front, featuring the ability to detect patterns that identify potential terrorist behavior, bioterrorism outbreaks, and terrorist or criminal movements.

In The Age of Intelligent Machines, which I wrote in the late 1980s, I predicted that warfare would be transformed from the variables that had dominated strategy from ancient times —geography, offensive firepower, and defensive fortifications —to the sophistication of intelligent software and communications. We were headed towards an era in which combat would increasingly be conducted by intelligent machines, with humans (at least those on the winning side) becoming increasingly removed from the scene of conflict.

The Persian Gulf War of 1991 saw the early use of intelligent weapons, although only about five percent of our munitions were "smart." In this past year, the majority of our weapons were "smart" weapons during the Afghanistan conflict, and estimates are that 95 percent of our munitions will be intelligent weapons for the Iraqi conflict of 2003 (assuming that President Hussein does not back down in the face of our smarter electronics and software).

In 2002, we saw the Pentagon turn to terrestrial robots and airborne drones for spying, detecting land mines, and combat in Afghanistan. Looking ahead, researchers are actively developing smarter and smaller weapons, for example, flying robots modeled on insects and birds.

Robotics made notable advances on the civilian side as well, including research on sociable robots, ones that can sense human emotions, highly mobile robots modeled on cockroaches, a mobile robot that can learn in real time by matching images with its memory, and one controlled by a hybrid rat-silicon brain. Notably one robot taught itself the principles of flying by trial and error in just three hours.

Consumer robots also made news, including a housecleaning robot, a realistic cat toy, a walking-talking Honda car salesman, and—shades of the movie A.I.—a child robot that can interact with its "carers," expressing emotions.

Robots also found another popular consumer role as "robodocs" in elder care facilities and homes, in the form of cuddly bears and AIBO dogs to offer social stimulation and devices to monitor patients’ medical condition and behaviorand give directions to Alzheimers patients when lost. Remote-control robots were also used by doctors for precision heart surgery.

There were also improvements in speech recognition, speechsynthesis, and natural language processing.

A new category of business ventures focuses on developing virtual personalities that will handle routine transactions over the phone, such as making reservations and conducting purchases and performing information queries. Many of these systems were rolled out during 2002.

For example, you can call British Airways and talk to their automated attendant about anything you want, as long as it has to do with booking a flight with British Airways. Other developments included optimized dictation along with voice-controlled email and Web surfing, a talking book for the blind, full-text search of audio recordings, and a DARPA program to develop a handheld computer capable of speech recognition and translation between 13 languages in four subject areas.

Several computing technology breakthroughs were announced, including a three-centimeter disc that stores four gigabytes of data or video, a magnetic film-based hard drive that stores 200 gigabytes per square inch, and a 12-cm, CD-size disc that stores one terabyte of data.

Have supercomputers already achieved human brain capacity?

Supercomputing growth continued Moore’s Law in 2002, with power for the same price doubling every 15 months. The world’s fastest computers are fast approaching the computational capacity of the human brain. There are various estimates of this capacity, with the one I have offered being among the conservatively high estimates (1011 neurons times 103 average fan-out times 102 transactions per second = ~ 1016 transactions per second). Japan’s Earth Simulator supercomputer became the world’s fastest, with 35.86 teraflops (3 x 1013) performance. Not to be outdone, IBM announced plans to build the 100 teraflops (1014) ASCI Purple and the 367 teraflops (3 x 1014) Blue Gene/L.

Research on brain reverse engineering and neuromorphic modeling (for example, Lloyd Watt’s work on emulating the auditory processing regions of the brain) has shown that neuromorphic modeling has the potential to reduce the computational requirement by at least 103, which means that we have already achieved human brain capacity, in the context of using neuromorphic models (with reduced computational requirements), and using supercomputers. Now all we need is the software of intelligence.

One of the keys to achieving the software of human intelligence is reverse-engineering the human brain. More powerful tools are emerging. For example, researchers at the University of Pennsylvania built a system that is able to noninvasively image up to 1,000 neurons in a layer of only 10 micrometers and at depths of up to 150 micrometers below the surface. Their goal is to achieve millisecond time scales of the activity of individual neurons in large clusters (1,000 or more) of neurons. This type of system will allow the development of detailed models of how neuron clusters learn new patterns of information.

With two million new Internet users per month and more than half of the U.S. population able to access the Web, pervasive computingis moving closer to becoming a reality, notably via wireless high-speed Wi-Fi (802.11) access to the Internet in public and private spaces. Simplifying use by consumers, AT&T, Intel and IBM announced a nationwide service integrating Wi-Fi with broadband cell-phone-based Internet access.

Blurring reality

The movie "Simone" brought the notion of a virtual reality actor (synthespian) to the public last year. This movie was of particular interest to me (Ray) because I am one of the few people in the world to have actually had the experience that the character Viktor Taransky (played by Al Pacino) has in the movie: transforming oneself in realtime into another person.

During the past year, researchers made strides in achieving several elements of this technology:

  • virtual stunt artists that respond to the physics of the real world
  • the first realistic videos of people saying things they never said
  • techniques to allow a biomechanically realistic 3D model of a character to learn how to produce its own body motion
  • a digital image sensor that was the first to match or surpass the photographic capabilities of 35-millimeter film
  • software that converts standard video images into 3-D in real time
  • a new technique for creating large, highly realistic holograms.

    Augmented-reality systems were also developed to give surgeons critical data during operations, provide visual fly-throughs of a living tumor, achieve 3-D fractal computer modeling to construct vascular systems in artificial organs, speed up research into diseases by creating 3-D models of cells in a room similar to the Star Trek Holodeck, and offer stroke patients hand-impairment therapy.

    Prototypes of innovative computer-display and video systems were announced, including flexible "electronic paper," an entire computer printed on glass, "smart displays" that wirelessly communicate with personal computers, a holographic video recorder, and picture-editing tools that can automatically trace outlines, seamlessly cover marks or blemishes, and fill in backgrounds when pieces of an image are removed.

    With rising threats of terrorism and hacker attacks, innovative cybersecurity countermeasures were developed last year:

  • real-time 3-D images for surveillance
  • quantum encryption moved closer (keys cannot be intercepted without the sender and receiver knowing)
  • computer-surveillance system to give U.S. counterterrorism officials access to personal information in government and commercial databases
  • intrusion-detection software that mimics biological immune systems by learning to watch for unusual events
  • RFID (Radio Frequency ID) tags for visitors to Saudi Arabia for logistics, crowd control, and security.

    Beyond Moore’s law

    Intel chairman Andy Grove warned that as chips become increasingly dense, heat developed by current leakage will become a limiting factor to the growth described in Moore’s law. Within a decade, he said, we’ll need other solutions.

    In the near term, 3-D chips may offer a solution. Several research labs (notably in Japan and at IBM) kicked off serious R&D efforts last year to develop 3-D chips. These vertically integrated devices promise lower prices while boosting power and speed. Leading the pack, Matrix Semiconductor plans to market its 3-D memory chip in the first half of 2003.

    In the longer range, nanocomputing based on molecular electronic components became a leading candidate to replace conventional lithography. Silicon nanowires and carbon nanotubes are now the candidate nanoscale technologies that could begin to replace standard transistors in the decade after 2010. Research during the year included:

  • 3-D nanotubes
  • atomic-scale "peapods" made of buckyballs
  • nanotubes that self-assemble into circuit elements
  • boron crystalline nanowires ("nanowhiskers")
  • a new laser-stamping technique that could produce ten-nanometers-wide features, allowing for 100 times more transistors on a chip
  • atom-thin (.5 nm) layers of crystalline silicon called "quantum wells" that can exploit quantum properties on the atomic level to develop ultrafast transistors.
  • superlattices—a series of silicon p-n junctions—in a single nanowire for creating highly integrated logic circuits, nanoscale LEDs, and photonic waveguides
  • the world’s smallest transistor, just nine nanometers in length, designed by IBM researchers
  • a way to store 1,024 bits of information in 19 hydrogen atoms in a single liquid-crystal molecule.

    Similar research advances in memory were realized, such as IBM’s project to create nanotech-based data storage density of a trillion bits per square inch, using thousands of nano-sharp tips to punch ten-nanometer-wide indentations representing individual bits into a thin plastic rewriteable film.

    Research also focused on quantum computing, which could work synergistically with nanocomputing to solve important new classes of problems that are impractical without the use of quantum computing’s ambiguous "qu-bits." Research included a method of creating a reversible quantum phase transition in a Bose-Einstein condensate (a new state of matter), a crystal that traps light, quantum dots created and held together by genetically-engineered viruses, microelectronic "spintronics" devices that use the spin of the electron to store and compute data, and superconducting junctions.

    Despite nascent efforts to ban nanotechnology research because of fears it might lead to nanowarfare and "grey goo" scenarios, revolutionary nanotech research moved ahead, including:

  • longer-lasting batteries
  • methods of fighting weapons of mass destruction by analyzing trace pathogens and chemicals
  • self-mending and self-cleaning plastics, coatings and materials that resist friction and wear or shed dirt
  • super-strong electrically-conducting threads

    In addition, new federal legislation proposed in 2002 could result in $37 billion for research in nanotech, biotech, and other key new technologies. Researchers also developed breakthroughs in bionanotechnology—hybrid nanoscale devices based on biological molecules—including:

  • viruses studded with molecules of gold and antibodies that could invade tumors and help assemble supercomputers
  • protein-based nanoarrays for diagnosing infectious diseases and biological agents
  • molecular motors using ATPase enzyme molecules attached to metallic substrates
  • 50-nanometer spots of DNA that could create a gene-reading chip with 100,000 different diagnostic tests in an area the size of the tip of a needle in a few seconds
  • bacteria to form microbial machines to repair wounds or build microscopic electrical circuits
  • radio-controlled DNA that could act as electronic switches that allow scientists to turn genes on and off by remote control
  • DNA to build nanorobots that could then build new molecules and computer circuits or fight infectious diseases.

    Researchers also made breakthroughs in nanomedicine, including a smart membrane containing silica nanotubes capable of separating beneficial from useless or harmful forms of a cancer-fighting drug molecule, nanoparticles that cut tumors’ supply lines, "tecto-dendrimers" for diseased-cell recognition, and Buckyballs with chemical groups attached for drug delivery.

    Cyborgs, clones, and the cosmos

    A number of new technologies were introduced in 2002 for creating cyborgs, dramatized by an experiment by "the world’s first cyborg," Professor Kevin Warwick of the University of Reading, who implanted a microchip in his arm. Other developments included:

  • "bionic" body replacement parts
  • microelectronic retinal prostheses
  • ID chip implants
  • electroactive polymers to form "artificial muscles"
  • a device that stimulates the visual cortex of the brain with video from a camera
  • a powered exoskeleton for "supersoldiers"
  • a method for shielding pacemakers against interference from MRI machines
  • a touch display for the visually impaired
  • implantable microchips for controlling robots with the mind

    There were numerous biotech breakthroughs in 2002:

  • Genome entrepreneur Craig Venter announced a service to map a person’s entire genetic code and a plan to create a single-celled, partially man-made organism with enough genes to sustain life
  • A prototype tool for half-hour DNA tests (rather than two weeks) from saliva
  • Rat heads grafted onto the thighs of adult rats to investigate how the transplanted brain can develop and maintain function after prolonged total brain ischemia, which will help understand brain injury in newborn babies
  • "Junk DNA" found to contain instructions essential for growth and survival
  • Recently discovered "small RNA" molecules named by Science Magazine as the science breakthrough of the year. These operate many of the cell’s controls and can shut down genes or alter their levels of expression.

    Serious cloning research flourished in spite of the dubious announcement of the birth of the first human clone. Professor Ian Wilmut, who cloned Dolly the sheep, applied for a government license to work with human eggs in an experiment that would prepare the way for human cloning. The first cloned cat was successfully created. And five clone calves were born with 0.1 percent human DNA intended to produce C-1 Esterase Inhibitor to treat humans suffering from angioedema.

    There was also significant progress in the related (also controversial) field of stem-cell research. Small RNA (mentioned above) may provide us with the key to achieve the holy grail of somatic cell engineering: directly transforming one type of cell into another. By manipulating the protein codes in the small RNA molecules that tell a cell what type of cell it is, we could create new cells, tissues, and organs directly from skin cells without the use of embryonic stem cells.

    A major advantage of this approach is that the new tissues will have the patient’s own DNA and thereby avoid autoimmune rejection. As an important step in that direction, during 2002, scientists found a way to transform skin cells into another type, including immune system cells and nerve cells, without using cloning or embryonic stem cells.

    Researchers also:

  • reversed symptoms of Parkinson’s disease in rats using stem cells from mouse embryos
  • isolated a stem cell from adult human bone marrow that can produce all the tissue types in the body
  • grew functional kidneys using stem cells from cloned cow embryos
  • discovered fetal stem cells and adult cells that can create neurons to repair a damaged brain

    There was also important research progress in neuroscience in 2002, including:

  • a "brain cap" to help assess astronauts’ mental performance in orbit
  • a system that noninvasively detects patterns of nerve connectionsinside the brains of living people
  • electrodes attached to a single neuron in the motor cortex that allow for moving a cursor on a computer screen just by thinking about it
  • a method of repairing brain damage in humans caused by stroke or brain tumors
  • "brain pacemakers" for Parkinson’s disease and other conditions
  • transcranial magnetic stimulation to treat depression
  • a chip patterned on the human eye that picks out the kinds of features and facial patterns that we use to recognize people and read their emotional state

    The NSF also proposed a major research program to enhance human performance, such as developing broad-bandwidth interfaces directly between the human brain and machines.

    New forms of energy were also developed, including a micro fuel cell that runs on methanol and provides much longer life than any other portable battery, the world’s first commercially available cars running on hydrogen fuel cells, a new fuel cell that generates electricity from the glucose-oxygen reaction that occurs in human blood for powering medical sensors, and tiny batteries that could provide 50 years of power, drawing energy from radioactive isotopes.

    There were also dramatic theoretical developments in cosmology: signals that appear to be transmitted at least four times faster than the speed of light (although this experimental result does not appear to allow the transmission of information at these speeds) and observations of black holes that suggest the speed of light is slowing.

    Once the intelligence of our civilization spreads to other parts of the Universe, the maximum speed with which that influence can spread will become a critical consideration. There were hints this past year that the speed of light may not be an absolute barrierto reaching the far corners of the Universe in a reasonable period of time. Of particular interest were analyses showing the theoretical feasibility of quantum wormholes, which may offer short cuts to the rest of the cosmos.


    Selected KurzweilAI.net News of 2002

    3-D chips

    Los Alamos, Tachyon to develop 3D chips based on wafer-stacking

    Semiconductor Business News, June 14, 2002

    Tachyon Semiconductor Inc. and Los Alamos National Laboratories are planning 3D integrated devices using a new wafer-stacking process that allows different circuitry elements to be stacked, bonded, and interconnected on several separate wafers.

    I.B.M. Advance Connects Layers of Tiny Wafers

    New York Times, November 11, 2002

    IBM researchers plan to announce on Monday a new approach to building three-dimensional integrated circuits using thin (.5 micron) slices of a circuit. The technique would allow for interconnecting separate layers directly at thousands or even hundreds of thousands of points, increasing chip density and communication speeds.

    Researcher says 3-D SoC could restore Japan’s luster

    EE Times, October 14, 2002

    Japanese researcher Tadahiro Ohmi is developing three-dimensional systems-on-chip VLSI chips he claims have ten times better performance than today’s chips and squeeze design and production time to 1/40, clean room space to 1/5 and production cost to 1/10 of what’s now required.

    “As one of the target systems-on-chip, Ohmi described a 3-D SoC that integrates everything but the kitchen sink: all of the silicon processors, silicon memories, polysilicon functional semiconductors, amorphous-silicon image sensors, piezoelectric sensors, biosensors and communications blocks. By packing all these functions, Ohmi said, one chip can have a human’s five senses and will be able to provide a truly interactive interface for that person.”

    Another Dimension

    Forbes, July 22, 2002

    Two chipmakers are developing 3-D chips to increase semiconductor power and speed by a factor of 10—at no additional cost.

    Tohoku University professor Fujio Masuoka, who invented flash memory, and a small team of researchers plan to have a 3-D chip ready in five years.

    Matrix Semiconductor, with has raised $80 million, says it has already created a 3-D chip that it will start selling by year-end, mainly to replace flash memory in digital cameras.

    AI

    Games to take on a life of their own

    BBC, February 11, 2002

    Video games of the future could have characters with almost human intelligence, capable of understanding and acting on your commands.

    Scientists from King’s College in London have created a technology called the Language Acquisition Device (LAD) which emulates the functions of the brain’s frontal lobes, where humans process language and emotion.

    At the moment, the LAD prototype has the learning ability of an 18-month old child. Professor John Taylor and his team are confident it could have the intelligence of six-year-old child by the end of next year.

    The system works by using neural networks to mimic brain function. It then learns language as children do, not through rules and vocabularies, but through association and example.

    Taylor sees potential uses for the technology in areas such as disability learning, home automation, data retrieval and gaming.

    Artificial Intelligence Early Warning System Installed at the Olympics For Bioterrorism Surveillance

    KurzweilAI.net, February 13, 2002

    An artificial intelligence computer system that analyzes state-wide patient data from emergency rooms and instant care facilities has been installed in most of the state of Utah for the Olympics. If it detects a significant pattern suggesting an outbreak, it pages the on-call state public health physician.

    The Realtime Outbreak and Disease Surveillance (RODS), developed by the University of Pittsburgh and Carnegie Mellon University, is a protoype system that collects and analyzes relevant data automatically and in real-time, including emergency room registration data, microbiology culture results, reports of radiographs, and laboratory orders.

    It uses several AI techniques for machine learning, natural language and data mining, including case definitions, automatic detection algorithms that can be attached to specific data streams, and data analytic tools that support temporal and spatial data analysis and visualization.

    RODS was initially installed in Western Pennsylvania in August of 1999 for public health surveillance for the 3 million residents of 13 counties. So far, the system has detected only a naturally occurring outbreak of influenza. It is now being extended to all of Pennsylvania. Other public health departments in the U.S. are now showing interest in RODS. Given how quickly it was installed in Utah, RODS principal investigator Michael Wagner, M.D., believes it could also be implemented in other states fairly quickly.

    Research funding has come from DARPA (Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency), the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the National Library of Medicine, and the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality.

    Neural net programs diagnose colon tumors

    KurzweilAI.net, March 4, 2002

    Researchers at the University of Maryland Greenebaum Cancer Center in Baltimore have devised a new method to differentiate and diagnose several types of colon tumors, using artificial neural networks to analyze thousands of genes at one time.

    The program could ultimately help doctors to identify the cancers earlier and spare some patients from unnecessary, debilitating surgery, says Stephen J. Meltzer, M.D., professor of medicine at the University of Maryland School of Medicine in a study to be featured on the cover of the March issue of Gastroenterology, the journal of the American Gastroenterological Association.

    Patients with Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis, the two forms of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), have an increased risk of developing cancer, but the cancer can be one of two forms. “Sporadic,” or common, colon cancers can often be removed without radical surgery, while IBD-related
    growths and cancers are much more aggressive and are generally treated by taking out the entire colon.

    “Until now, we had no reliable way to discriminate between these two types of lesions, especially in their early stages,” says Dr. Meltzer, who is also associate director for core sciences at the University of Maryland Greenebaum Cancer Center and director of the cancer center’s Genomics Core Facility.

    ‘We’re building a brain!’

    Silicon.com, March 21, 2002

    Lobal Technologies of London is building a natural language processing system called LAD (Language Acquisition Device) that understands sentences word by word and builds its replies word-by-word, rather than just reading a script.

    The system is based on a model of the human brain, with emulators for the five brain areas that are most important for language processing, built using neural network technology

    Lobal’s roadmap for developing LAD is based on the development of a human child. He’s about 18 months old now. The company hopes to give LAD the linguistic skills of a six-year-old child with a 1,000 word vocabulary by this time next year.

    The company next plans to work on building the technology into computer games.

    Seeing Around Corners: artificial societies

    The Atlantic Monthly, April 2002

    The new science of artificial societies (A-societies), using computer techniques similar to A-life (artificial life), may suggest where to look for surprises and small interventions in society that may have large, discontinuous consequences.

    A Human Touch for Machines

    Los Angeles Times, May 7, 2002

    “The radical movement of affective computing is turning the field of artificial intelligence upside down by adding emotion to the equation.”

    For example, UC San Diego psychologist Javier Movellan is developing pattern-recognition software to identify hundreds of facial emotions.

    Affective computing uses include better collaboration with machines, improved clinical diagnosis, and market research.


    Artificial Intelligence May Help Spot Future Terrorism Attacks

    ABCNEWS.com, May 22, 2002

    New, smarter techniques promise to make AI solutions more accurate in finding useful terrorism data. These include data mining (patterns of phone calls, for example) to spot future terror activity and distributed computing—running smart programs in various computer or electronic information systems to automatically find and share patterns that point to potential terrorist behavior.

    An Electronic Cop That Plays Hunches

    New York Times, November 2, 2002

    CopLink, a new AI-based investigative tool, is being used to help trace the Washington-area sniper suspects’ movements across the country. It was designed by Hsinchun Chen, director of the Artificial Intelligence Laboratory at the University of Arizona.

    Coplink allows police departments to establish links quickly among their own files and to those of other departments. It works by linking and comparing data from new and existing files and also allows users to look at lists of data or create graphs and charts showing affiliations among different criminals.

    Deep Fritz Draws: Are Humans Getting Smarter, or Are Computers Getting Stupider?

    KurzweilAI.net, October 19, 2002

    IBM’s Deep Blue chess computer defeated Gary Kasparov in 1997, so why did Deep Fritz only achieve a draw in its recent chess tournament with Vladimir Kramnik?
    Because Deep Fritz has only about 1.3% as much brute force computation power as Deep Blue, says Ray Kurzweil in an article published today on KurzweilAI.net. Despite that, “it plays chess at about the same level because of its superior pattern-recognition-based pruning algorithm.”

    With the ongoing acceleration of computer power, “In six years, a program like Deep Fritz will again achieve the ability to analyze 200 million board positions per second that was provided by Deep Blue’s specialized hardware. Deep Fritz-like chess programs running on ordinary personal computers will routinely defeat all humans later in this decade.”

    In The Age of Intelligent Machines (MIT Press, 1990), Kurzweil accurately predicted that a computer would defeat the human world chess champion by the end of the 1990s, and most likely by 1998.

    Read Ray Kurzweil’s article on KurzweilAI.net

    Nanoscale neural net aims to emulate brain

    KurzweilAI.net, Sept. 18, 2002

    A patent application for a physical neural network using nano-sized conducting particles to form a synapse array chip that mimics biological neural network processes has been announced by KnownTech.

    With more than 1 billion synapses per square centimeter, a hypothetical “Knowm Network” would overcome the computational constraints of software-based neural networks and achieve partial emulation of a biological nervous system (which requires neurons and connections numbering in the billions and trillions) by using nano-sized particles, according to the company’s Web site.

    “When nano-sized particles in a dielectric solution are exposed to an electric field, the particles align with the electric field,” the site explains. “As the particles align, the resistance between the respective electrodes decreases and any connection formed becomes stable after the electric field is removed.

    “As the strength or frequency of the applied electric field is increased, the connection becomes increasingly aligned and the resistance further decreases. By applying a perpendicular electric field, one can also decrease the strength of the connections.

    “Because of the small size of nano-particles in the dielectric solution, extremely dense physical synapse arrays can be built. The result is a fully modifiable nano-connection that can be used to build a high density synapse chip for neural network processors.”

    Radio emerges from the electronic soup

    New Scientist, Aug. 28, 2002

    A self-organising electronic circuit with evolutionary computer program to “breed” an oscillator circuit has stunned engineers by turning itself into a radio receiver. Researchers discovered that the evolving circuit had used the computer’s circuit board itself as an antenna, picking up a signal from a nearby computer and delivering it as an output.

    Wanna Bet?

    New York Times, September 1, 2002

    The Web site Longbets.org has published 11 bets to sharpen long-term thinking on issues of social or scientific significance. The biggest bet (so far): $10,000 that “a computer or ‘machine intelligence’ will pass the Turing test (be able to successufully impersonate a human) by 2029, pitting Ray Kurzweil (yes) vs. Mitchell Kapor (no). The longest bet (so far): “At least one human alive in the year 2000 will still be alive in 2150.”

    Also see: A Wager on the Turing Test: Why I Think I Will Win by Ray Kurzweil.

    Windows, lose, draw

    National Post, July 30, 2002

    University of Alberta researchers have developed a poker-playing computer program that successfully guesses whether an opponent is bluffing, wavering or playing his hands straight.

    It records a player’s habits or biases as the game progresses and uses algorithms to mix that information with baseline probabilities, creating the effect of both reason and intuition. The program now defeats 90% of opponents.

    Computer a celebrity for beating Kasparov

    Edmonton Journal, July 26, 2002

    Deep Blue, the IBM chess-playing computer that beat world champion Garry Kasparov in 1997, was the “single most important contribution to artificial intelligence to date,” said Murray Campbell, who headed the project at IBM.

    But Campbell said he doesn’t consider Deep Blue to be intelligent in the human sense and has little relation to the psychological processes or the “broad spectrum of abilities” that humans possess.

    The value of computers won’t be in whether or not they emulate human intelligence, but in their success at solving complex problems, he said.

    Artificial intelligence tackles breast cancer

    New Scientist, July 25, 2002

    Researchers have used neural network program and fuzzy logic to achieve nearly 90 per cent accuracy in predicting the extent of spread of breast cancer and whether patients would survive for five years. This significantly outperformed conventional statistical analysis techniques.

    Signs of Fraud Go Beyond Signature

    Washington Post, July 21, 2002

    Credit card companies are using artificial intelligence to thwart credit card fraud, which costs the industry about a billion dollars a year.

    Is Anti-Virus Software Obsolete?

    InternetNews, July 19, 2002

    Traditional desktop anti-virus software, based on the signature-based reactive approach, is no longer an adequate defense, say analysts. The new direction is “digital watchtowers”: scanning engines with artificial intelligence that look at patterns and unusual characteristics within e-mails before they come into a customer’s network.

    Future Tech: Faking Intelligence

    DISCOVER, August 2002

    A sociable robot doesn’t have to be smart—-it just has to fool us into believing it is, as animatronic Horatio “Doc” Beardsley, developed at the Entertainment Technology Center at Pittsburgh’s Carnegie Mellon University, is demonstrating to audiences in performances.


    Doc Beardsley (photo: Bill Mitas/Carnegie Mellon University)

    Doc is programmed to respond to spoken keywords with canned lines. Its software compares the words with a stored list of questions a person is likely to ask and selects a response that scores the closest match. It uses prerecorded sounds for more realistic inflections than synthesized speech.

    “Someday the line between fake and genuine intelligence may begin to blur for real.”

    Bionanotechnology

    Scientists build DNA nano-devices

    KurzweilAI.net, January 4, 2002

    New York University researchers claim to have taken a major step in building more controllable machines from DNA. The researchers say that the new device may help build the foundation for the development of sophisticated machines at a molecular scale, ultimately evolving to the development of nano-robots that might some day build new molecules, computer circuits or fight infectious diseases.

    The research team was led by NYU chemistry professor Nadrian C. Seeman. Their findings are reported in the January 3, 2002 issue of Nature.

    “DNA devices can provide models for the development of nanorobotic applications —provided the individual devices can be manipulated separately,” Seeman said in a statement. “Our findings have taken the first definitive step in localizing movement within molecular scale DNA machines, introducing independence of movement within a wider structure.”

    In January 1999, Professor Seeman’s lab announced the development of a machine constructed from DNA molecules, which had two rigid arms that could be rotated from fixed positions by adding a chemical to the solution. However, the chemical affected all molecules within a structure uniformly. The new findings allow movement of molecule pairs without affecting others within the larger structure. This is done by inserting DNA “set” and “fuel” strands into individual molecule pairs.

    Viruses may help make microchips

    UPI, January 29, 2002

    Viruses with molecules of gold and antibodies studded on their surfaces may one day invade tumors in pinpoint cellular surgery and help assemble electronic wires thinner than visible light wavelengths for handheld supercomputers.

    Researchers at Scripps Research Institute have discovered a way to attach molecules to the surface of a virus.

    One particularly tantalizing possibility scientists are investigating on behalf of the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory in Washington is building circuits of electrically conducting molecules on viral surfaces to form molecular computers.

    Scientists develop protein nanoarrays for biological detection

    KurzweilAI.net, February 11, 2002

    Scientists at Northwestern University have developed a new detection technology on the nanometer scale that could lead to the next generation of proteomic arrays and new methods for diagnosing infectious diseases and biological weapons.

    The researchers utilize a process invented at Northwestern’s Institute for Nanotechnology called Dip-Pen Nanolithography to make arrays of proteins with features more than 1,000 times smaller than those used in conventional arrays. This leads to nanoarrays with more than 1 million times the density of current commercial microarrays.

    The process allows researchers to use an atomic force microscope tip as a nano-pen to write out a tiny protein array on a gold surface. With an array of protein “dots” as small as 100 nanometers in diameter, the gold surface in between the dots is processed to prevent it from absorbing target proteins and disturbing the readings. When an array on a chip is exposed to protein targets in solution, the protein on the substrate binds its complementary proteins. The atomic force microscope then reads the chip and records a match where a change in height is detected.

    Protein Nanoarrays Generated By Dip-Pen Nanolithography

    Biological Engineers Design Breakthrough Molecular Motor

    Scientific American, March 13, 2002

    Cornell University Biological engineers have designed a groundbreaking molecular motor, only billionths of a meter in scale.

    The invention, which was only theoretical just a few years ago, heralds what futurists describe as the next industrial revolution: molecular machines. This type of self-propelled device powered by molecular-scale engines could function inside individual cells.

    The research team, headed by Carlo Montemagno, modeled their molecular stator and rotor after an enzyme found in nature called ATPase, which is responsible for converting food to usable energy in plants and animals. The ATPase molecular motors naturally occur on the membranes of mitochondria and in plant chloroplasts. The moving part of ATPase is a central protein shaft (or rotor), less than 12 nanometers in diameter, that rotates in response to electrochemical reactions.

    Montemagno, an assistant professor of agricultural and biological engineering, harvested the ATPase molecules from Escherichia coli bacteria that were genetically altered to create the enzyme.

    To turn ATPase into a motor capable of mechanical work, he separated the molecules from the cell membrane. He then attached them, using a synthetic peptide, to metallic substrates of nanofabricated patterns of gold, copper or nickel. These metals are the standard contact materials in integrated circuits.

    This type of connection may allow engineers to one day integrate nanoengines with the logic of integrated circuits.

    The researchers bonded propeller-like filaments, made from polymerized proteins to the top of the motor shaft. The protein “props,” ranging from 0.5 to 8 microns long, were made of a material that would fluoresce under certain wavelengths of laser light so their motion could be viewed.

    After bathing the motor in a solution of ATP—the rotor spun for 40 minutes at 3 to 4 revolutions per second, according to the team’s report in the September issue of the journal, Nanotechnology.

    While science is still in the very early stages of proving the feasibility of such molecular machines, the design is a breakthrough proof-of-concept. Nanoengines that can pump fluids, open and close valves and provide nano-mechanical drives could be a reality sooner than we imagine.

    Virus’ Protein Coat Suggests Nanotech Design Concept

    Scientific American, March 14, 2002

    Upon close examination of the virus named HK97, scientists have discovered a protein coat that exactly resembles Medieval chain mail—according to a report in the journal Science. The virus, part of a class called bacteriophages, only infects bacteria and not humans.

    Using electron microscopy and x-ray crystallography, the researchers found the virus’ protective coating was made up of 72 interlocking rings of protein.

    Scientists theorize that the design benefits of the coat’s structure—a strong protective shield without inhibiting freedom of motion—may give nanotechnologists design concepts, especially in engineering container-like structures.

    Researcher proposes nanorobotic platelets and phagocytes

    KurzweilAI.net, April 15, 2002

    Zyvex research scientist Robert A. Freitas has proposed bloodstream nanorobotic devices that would allow for dramatic improvements in clotting speed and eradication of bacteria and other pathogens in the blood.

    Nanorobotic artificial mechanical platelets (“clottocytes”) could allow for complete hemostasis in as little as one second � to 1000 times faster than the natural system and 10,000 times more effective in terms of bloodstream concentration.

    They could also work internally. Using acoustic pulses, a blood vessel break could be rapidly communicated to neighboring clottocytes, immediately triggering a progressive controlled mesh-release cascade.

    Nanorobotic “microbivores” traveling in the bloodstream could be 1000 times faster-acting than white blood cells and eradicate 1000 times more bacteria, offering a complete antimicrobial therapy without increasing the risk of sepsis or septic shock (as in traditional antibiotic regimens) and without release of biologically active effluents. They could also quickly rid the blood of nonbacterial pathogens such as viruses, fungus cells, or parasites.


    Clottocytes: Artificial Mechanical Platelets


    Microbivores: Artificial Mechanical Phagocytes

    Nanobiotech Makes the Diagnosis

    Technology Review, May 2002

    Nanobiotechnology researchers are producing a variety of tools with important implications for medicine and biotechnology, including faster and easier diagnosis of complex diseases and genetic disorders.

    This is a “new class of devices that combine the ability of biological molecules to selectively bind with other molecules with the ability of nanoelectronics to instantly detect the slight electrical changes caused by such binding.”

    DNA nanoballs boost gene therapy

    New Scientist, May 12, 2002

    Researchers have developed a way to pack a DNA molecule into 25 nanometer particles, small enough to enter the nuclear pores or cells and make gene therapy safer and more efficient. The technique is now being tested on people with cystic fibrosis.

    “In cells grown in culture, there was a 6000-fold increase in the expression of a gene packaged this way compared with unpackaged DNA in liposomes.”

    Nanoscale gene chips possible

    KurzweilAI.net, June 6, 2002

    Scientists at Northwestern University have demonstrated a technique that takes gene chips to the limit of miniaturization —down to the nanometer scale of the DNA molecules themselves —and could have a major impact on genomics and proteomics research.

    The “dip-pen nanolithography” method uses an atomic force microscope tip as a pen and different single-stranded DNA as inks to produce spots of DNA down to 50 nanometers in diameter. It may make it possible to one day have a gene chip with an array of 100,000 different diagnostic tests in an area the size of the tip of a needle and take only a few seconds to make.

    The technique takes advantage of the ability of DNA to self-assemble into a pre-programmable structure.

    “Our direct-write patterning of multiple DNA strands also opens up new possibilities for building and studying nanoscale architectures,” said Chad A. Mirkin, director of Northwestern’s Institute for Nanotechnology. “By taking advantage of DNA as a type of biochemical Velcro, we should be able to build a circuit, a catalyst, a sensor or a transistor from the bottom up, instead of the top down.”

    Writing nanopatterns with DNA inks

    Laser pulses propel micro-aircraft

    UPI, June 10, 2002

    Japanese scientists reported Monday they have used lasers to propel a small paper airplane. It could lead to new airborne —and blood-borne—monitoring technologies.

    The researchers said lasers could be used to accelerate large aircraft to supersonic speeds, for light-driven robots, and micro-doctors that “fly” through the blood vessels to operate within the body.

    Biology aiding nanotech researchers

    UPI, Dec. 12, 2002

    The latest avenue in nanotechnology involves harnessing biological structures and processes, scientists said Wednesday at a National Science Foundation conference.

    Bugs trained to build circuit

    Nature Science Update, Oct. 8, 2002

    Researchers are developing bacteria to form nanoscale microbial machines that could eventually repair wounds or build microscopic electrical circuits.

    Researchers at the Forestry and Forest Products Research Institute in Ibaraki, Japan trained the bacterium Acetobacter xylinum to exude ribbons of cellulose, a biological building material, laying down strips at a rate of 4,000ths of a millimetre per minute.

    They are also exploring the use of genetically modified bacteria to exude other materials.

    Radio-controlled DNA act as gene switches

    UPI, January 14, 2002

    MIT researchers say newly developed radio-controlled DNA may one day act as electronic switches, allowing scientists to turn genes on and off by remote control.

    The scientists attached tiny radio-frequency antennas—gold crystals made up of less than 100 atoms—to DNA.

    When a RF magnetic field is transmitted into the tiny antennas, the molecules the crystals are attached to are zapped with energy.

    The radio technique can unzip double-stranded DNA in a matter of seconds, a reversible process that leaves neighboring molecules untouched. It may one day prove possible to hook the antennas into living systems and control DNA via electronic switches, the scientists say.

    The nanoscale crystals can be attached to proteins as well as DNA. This opens up the possibility of controlling more complex biological processes such as enzymatic activity, protein folding and biomolecular assembly.

    Biological machines may one day be used to perform computation, assemble computer components or become part of computer hardware or circuitry.

    Biotech

    Computer ‘life’ said possible

    UPI, June 12, 2002

    Scientists are developing a simulation of the E. coli bacterium to re-program it into a “smart pill” to carry anti-cancer drugs to tumors.

    The “CyberCell” project will have “a profound influence on the way we do life sciences in the future,” said Michael Ellison, director of the Institute for Biomolecular Design at the University of Alberta in Edmonton.

    The computer-based model cells could speed up research because scientists would no longer have to spend weeks growing bacterial cultures to test their ideas.

    Mouse cell transplants for Huntington’s patients

    New Scientist, February 11, 2002

    Transplants of mouse stem cells into the brains of patients with Huntington’s Chorea could help slow the associated dementia and loss of coordination, says UK company ReNeuron.

    Huntington’s is caused by an inherited genetic mutation, which leads to a destruction of cells in a part of the brain called the striatum. ReNeuron has transplanted cells from its mouse neural stem cell line into monkeys designed to act as models of Huntington’s patients.

    There are theoretical concerns that potentially deadly viruses from the donor animal cells could be passed to the human recipients.

    Other groups of researchers are transplanting fetal tissue into the brains of Huntington’s patients.

    In theory, an unlimited number of cells for treatment could be generated from the mouse, and from the human, stem cell lines. At the moment, ReNeuron’s human line is too genetically unstable, with unpredictable chromosomal abnormalities appearing as the cells repeatedly divide.

    Saving Skin

    MIT Technology Review, February 11, 2002

    Bioengineered skin—grown in the lab using small samples of human cells—offers an alternative to animal testing.

    Proponents argue that tissue models provide both ethical and scientific advantages. Scientists don’t have to extrapolate human responses from animal-derived data and test results are easier to reproduce from lab to lab.

    While limited, bio-engineered models are finding a niche as tools to screen out drugs likely to fail in clinical trials.

    Just 2.5% of DNA turns mice into men

    New Scientist.com, May 30, 2002

    Mice and men share about 97.5 per cent of their working DNA, just one per cent less than chimps and humans. Scientists are hopeful that the close match will enable researchers to more rapidly determine the genetic roots of human diseases.

    Claim GM Rice Withstands Drought, Salt Water

    November 27, 2002, ABC News

    Scientists say they have genetically modified rice to withstand drought, salt water and cold temperatures by borrowing a gene from the E. coli bacteria. They hope the new stress-tolerant rice will help farmers in poor countries grow more food under the worst conditions. The research team added to the rice a gene for trehalose, a sugar that helps plants withstand stress.

    Fifth Alcor Conference on Extreme Life Extension to profile cryonic breakthroughs

    KurzweilAI.net, Sept. 25, 2002

    Cryonic breakthroughs in preventing tissue damage from freezing, human therapeutic cloning to replace damaged or missing tissue, and radical new techniques for life extension will be among the topics addressed at the Fifth Alcor Conference on Extreme Life Extension in Newport Beach, CA, November 15-17.

    Michael D. West, President & CEO of Advanced Cell Technology; Ray Kurzweil, CEO, Kurzweil Technologies; and Gregory Benford, science fiction writer and Professor of Physics at the University of California, Irvine will keynote the conference.

    Speakers will profile breakthroughs in brain cryopreservation research (Greg Fahy, Chief Scientific Officer and Vice President of 21st Century Medicine); research on slowing down aging (Aubrey de Grey, research associate, University of Cambridge); radical nanorobotics to arrest and reverse effects of aging (Robert A. Freitas, Jr., J.D., Research Scientist at Zyvex Corp.); post-resuscitation cooling to prevent brain damage (Steven Harris, M.D.); biological immortality (Michael Rose); gene-chip profiling to test effects of caloric restriction in slowing aging (Stephen Spindler, Professor of Biochemistry at the University of California, Riverside); new systems for long-term tissue storage (Brian Wowk, staff scientist, 21st Century Medicine); nanotechnology for repair of cryopreserved tissue (Ralph Merkle, Vice President, Technology Assessment, Foresight Institute), and practical techniques for living longer (Kat Cotter, D.C., director of “The Longevity Bootcamp”).

    Registration is $475 before Sept. 30 (a $100 savings). Call 800-482-6791 for more information.

    Forward in the Face of Danger

    November 25, 2002, BetterHumans

    Using information pulled off the Internet and materials available by mail order, Dr. Eckard Wimmer, a University of New York microbiology professor and his team attempted to reconstruct the polio virus in their lab just to see if it could be done. Never before had a genome been reconstructed without a natural virus to build from. As work commenced, the researchers recognized that accomplishing their goal would introduce the world to a new reality. Several paralyzed mice later, they were forced to acknowledge their success. Eckard’s experiment begs the question: What impact does this have on future bioterrorism? “I think it would be wrong to close our eyes to this,” he says. “The world had better be prepared.”

    Scientists unravel secrets of long life

    BBC, Aug. 2, 2002

    Longevity is related to body temperature, and to levels of insulin and DHEAS (dehydroepiandrosterone sulphate) circulating in the blood, according to researchers at the National Institute of Ageing in Baltimore.

    Men with lower temperature and insulin and those maintaining higher DHEAS levels have greater survival than respective counterparts.

    ‘Junk DNA’ Contains Essential Information

    December 4, 2002, Washington Post

    The huge stretches of genetic material dismissed in biology classrooms for generations as “junk DNA” actually contain instructions essential for the growth and survival of people and other organisms, and may hold keys to understanding complex diseases like cancer, strokes and heart attacks, researchers have reported. The new results suggest that the genomes of both humans and mice contain at least twice as much critically important genetic material as previously believed, a finding that promises to upend decades of scientific dogma and rewrite the rule book for how nature builds complex creatures.

    Darwin’s Theory May Explain Ill Health

    October 12, 2002, BBC News

    Professor Randolph Nesse believes that conditions like heart disease, obesity and drug abuse can all be explained by the fact that the human body was not designed for the 21st Century. Nesse, professor of psychiatry at the University of Michigan, is one of the leading proponents of evolutionary or Darwinian medicine. Evolutionary medicine examines why some diseases still exist. According to Nesse, our bodies are designed to like things that are not good for us, from cigarettes to fatty foods. Similarly, we are not designed to follow advice encouraging us to change the way we live.

    Missing Limb? Salamander May Have Answer

    September 24, 2002, New York Times

    Salamanders are the superstars of regeneration. They can grow back not only limbs but also tails, parts of their hearts and the retinas and lenses in their eyes. Humans cannot do any of that. So scientists hope that the salamander’s tricks may one day be applied to people. Natural regeneration, which might be accomplished with drugs or genes, would be easier than transplanting, researchers say. And the tissue would be the patient’s own, doing away with the problem of rejection.

    Scientists Hope to Create New Form of Life

    November 21, 2002, ABC News

    Gene scientists Craig Venter and Hamilton Smith hope to create a single-celled, partially man-made organism with the minimum number of genes necessary to sustain life in a project funded by a $3 million grant from the U.S. Energy Department. If the experiment works, the microscopic man-made cell would begin feeding and dividing to create a population of cells unlike any previously known to exist. The scientists acknowledged the project could lay the groundwork for creating new biological weapons and that they have to be selective about publishing technical details.

    DNA as Destiny

    November, 2002, Wired

    DNA is not only the book of life; it’s also the book of death. In the future we may be able to read it cover to cover. Here’s a first-hand account of what it’s like to take the world’s first top-to-bottom gene scan. “Everyone has errors in his or her DNA, glitches that may trigger a heart spasm or cause a brain tumor. I’m here to learn mine.” It may be technologically straight forward; it’s not so emotionally simple.

    Germs Develop a Deadly Defense

    November 12, 2002, Detroit Free Press

    Doctors have discovered a virulent new strain of the bacterium staphylococcus aureus, or staph aureus. By stealing genetic material from another bug, the new strain became totally resistant to vancomycin, the longtime drug of last defense against it. Staph aureus is a common pathogen that infects about 400,000 U.S. hospital patients a year. About one-quarter of them die. For decades, scientists have been dreading-but expecting -a staph aureus strain to emerge that is resistant to vancomycin.

    Venter to Bio World: Exa-Byte Me

    November 14, 2002, GenomeWeb

    Craig Venter, delivering the opening address yesterday at the BioITWorld conference here, said that computer power will be the limiting factor in crunching, storing, and manipulating the data necessary for linking the promise of genomics to insights into gene function, protein interaction, and personalized medicine. To underscore his point, he said the Celera computers that sequenced the human genome-the 1.5 teraflop, 120 terabyte machines that took up 6,000 square feet of space-are relics.

    Sick? DNA Scanner Tells What Ails

    Wired News, Dec. 24, 2002

    A prototype diagnostic tool under development by two London companies offers rapid genetic analysis of infectious diseases, delivering results in a half hour rather than the usual two weeks with DNA labs.

    The box takes a DNA sample directly from saliva. DNA is extracted from the sample and then multiplied in a miniature polymerase chain reaction, which clones DNA strands rapidly. Once enough DNA is present, it can be matched against a suspected infection.

    Infant rat heads grafted onto adults rats’ thighs

    New Scientist, Dec. 3, 2002

    Infant rats are being decapitated and their heads grafted onto the thighs of adult rats by researchers in Japan. The purpose is to investigate how the transplanted brain can develop and maintain function after prolonged total brain ischemia (no blood flow). The controversial research may have value in studies of brain injury in newborn babies.

    Scientists Hope to Create New Form of Life

    Reuters, Nov 21, 2002

    Gene scientists Craig Venter and Hamilton Smith hope to create a new life form in a laboratory dish in an experiment that raises ethical and safety questions.

    Funded by a $3 million grant from the U.S. Energy Department, the experiment could create a new set of tools to make biological weapons, Venter warned.

    DNA as Destiny

    Wired, Nov 2002

    Personalized medicine current being developed prefigures a day when everyone’s genome will be deposited on a chip or stored on a gene card tucked into a wallet.

    Physicians will forecast illnesses and prescribe preventive drugs custom-fitted to a patient’s DNA, rather than the one-size-fits-all pharmaceuticals that people take today. Gene cards might also be used to find that best-suited career, or a DNA-compatible mate, or, more darkly, to deny someone jobs, dates, and meds because their nucleotides don’t measure up.

    Race for the $1000 genome is on

    NewScientist.com, Oct. 12, 2002

    In less than a decade, people will be able to get their own genomes sequenced for about $1000, leading to a whole new industry of personal genomics.

    Thousand-chamber biochip debuts

    TRN News, October 2/9, 2002

    California Institute of Technology researchers hope to replace large chemistry equipment with devices based on a fluidic storage chip that can store 1,000 different substances in an area slightly larger than a postage stamp.

    The technology could eventually allow experiments that involve hundreds or thousands of liquid samples to run on desktop or even handheld devices, potentially reducing the cost and complexity of medical testing, genetics research and drug development.

    U.S. Agriculture Vulnerable to Bioterror Attack

    Environment News Service, September 20, 2002

    A large scale agricultural bioterrorism attack would quickly overwhelm existing laboratory and field resources, warns a new report from the National Academies’ National Research Council. The report warns that the nation cannot rapidly detect and identify many pests and pathogens, and needs a comprehensive plan to defend against bioterrorism.

    Millionaires Lining Up to Buy Personal Gene Maps

    ABC News, Sept. 23, 2002

    A service to map a person’s entire genetic code is being offered by America’s genome entrepreneur Craig Venter, priced at $621,500.

    The information would identify genetic abnormalities associated with a few dozen diseases. Some scientists are skeptical about the value of the procedure.

    Bettering Ourselves Through Biotech: Greater Productivity, Sharper Memories, Hair Feathers

    Knowledge@Wharton, Aug 14-Aug 27

    Beefing up muscle without steroids or hormones; rejuvenating damaged skin and heart tissue; ratcheting up memory function, and other therapies that promise to enhance human abilities are nearing the marketplace, thanks to ever-faster breakthroughs in biotechnology

    First language gene discovered

    BBC News, Aug, 12, 2002

    Scientists think they have found the first of many genes that gave humans speech. The gene, FOXP2, is thought to be linked to an ability to control facial movements—a faculty crucial to language, which would give bearers a survival advantage because they were able to communicate more clearly.

    Genome Pioneer Will Start Center of His Own

    New York Times, August 15, 2002

    J. Craig Venter plans to build what he believes will be the nation’s largest genome sequencing center to introduce new technology that vastly decreases the time and cost required to determine the DNA code of people, animals and microbes.

    One goal, he said, is to get the cost down to $2,000 to $3,000 to analyze a person’s entire genome, compared with the hundreds of millions of dollars it took to determine the first human genome sequence.

    At that price, probably not reachable for 10 years, it will become practical to tailor medical care to each person based on genetic makeup, he said.

    Laser delivers DNA

    Nature, July 18, 2002

    Lasers can open a temporary doorway into cells so that DNA can get inside, researchers at Friedrich Schiller University in Germany report. This technique might hasten gene therapy by making it easier to get new genes into living cells without harming them.

    Ebola virus could be synthesised

    New Scientist, July 17, 2002

    The technique used to create the first synthetic polio virus, revealed last week, could be also used to recreate Ebola or the 1918 flu strain that killed up to 40 million people, according to experts.

    The real worry is that bioterrorists could use the method to recreate viruses such as Ebola and smallpox.

    Cloning and stem cell research

    Stem cell hopes double

    Nature, June 21, 2002

    Scientists from the National Institutes of Health have reversed the symptoms of Parkinson’s disease in rats using stem cells from mouse embryos. Another team of scientists from the University of Minnesota Medical School has isolated a stem cell from adult human bone marrow that can produce all the tissue types in the body, from blood to muscle to nerve.

    The new reports may re-fuel the debate in the US Senate over whether to permit the cloning of human embryos for medical research.

    Both papers are available free on the Nature site (registration required).

    McKay, R. et al. Dopamine neurons derived from embryonic stem cells function in an animal model of Parkinson’s disease. Nature, 417, published online 20 June; doi:10.1038/nature00900, (2002).

    Verfaille, C.M. et al. Pluripotency of mesenchymal stem cells derived from adult marrow . Nature, 417, published online 20 June; doi:10.1038/nature00870 (2002).

    Human Clone Unlikely Say Experts

    November 27, 2002, BBC News

    The controversial Italian doctor Severino Antinori has announced that the first human baby clone will be born in January 2003. Speaking at a news conference in Rome on Tuesday, the researcher said three women he has treated are now carrying foetus clones in the advanced stages of pregnancy. Later on Wednesday, a company in the US claimed it too had women that were pregnant with baby clones-one of which would be presented to the world before the end of the year. But in the absense of any real proof, not all scientists are convinced.

    ‘Functional’ kidneys grown from stem cells

    New Scientist, January 29, 2002

    US scientists claim to have grown functional kidneys using stem cells taken from cloned cow embryos.

    Robert Lanza of biotech company Advanced Cell Technology told New Scientist that his team, working in collaboration with a group at Harvard University, coaxed the stem cells into becoming kidney cells, and then “grew” them on a kidney-shaped scaffold.

    The two-inch-long mini-kidneys were then transplanted back into genetically identical cows, where they started making urine, Lanza says.

    Men redundant? Now we don’t need women either

    The Observer, February 10, 2002

    Doctors are developing artificial wombs in which embryos can grow outside a woman’s body. The work has been hailed as a breakthrough in treating the childless.

    The research is headed by Dr. Hung-Ching Liu of Cornell University’s Center for Reproductive Medicine and Infertility. Liu’s work involves removing cells from the endometrium, the lining of the womb.

    After this Liu and her colleagues grew layers of these cells on scaffolds of biodegradable material which had been modelled into shapes mirroring the interior of the uterus. The cells grew into tissue and the scaffold dissolved. Then nutrients and hormones such as estrogen were added to the tissue.

    “Finally, we took embryos left over from IVF programmes and put these into our laboratory engineered tissue. The embryos attached themselves to the walls of our prototype wombs and began to settle there.”

    The immediate aim of this work is to help women whose damaged wombs prevent them from conceiving. An artificial womb would be made from their own endometrium cells, an embryo placed inside it, and allowed to settle and grow before the whole package is placed back in her body.

    The experiments were halted after six days. However, Liu now plans to continue with this research and allow embryos to grow in the artificial wombs for 14 days, the maximum permitted by IVF legislation.

    Artificial wombs raise major ethical headaches which will be debated at a major international conference titled “The End of Natural Motherhood?” in Oklahoma next week.

    Ethical and social issues include abortion, the prospect that gay couples could give “birth” to their own children by combining artificial wombs with cloning, and unexpected consequences for working women and health insurance (materity leave would no longer be needed and artificial wombs insurance companies might prefer safer environments than natural wombs, which can be invaded by drugs and alcohol from a mother’s body).

    First cloned cat makes debut

    UPI, February 14, 2002

    The first cloned cat has been successfully created at Texas A&M University and appears healthy and robust, researchers said Thursday.

    The Texas researchers isolated adult fibroblast cells from an adult male cat and froze the genetic material. They then thawed it, fused it with cat ova that had matured in vitro which had metaphase chromosomes removed, and these cloned embryos were then transferred to female cats.

    A total 188 nuclei were transferred, 87 cloned embryos were formed and transferred to eight female cats resulting in one live birth and one failed pregnancy.

    Some believe it may pave the way for the future cloning of pets, according to a paper to be published in the Feb. 21 issue of the journal Nature.

    Designer Baby or Problem?

    Wired News, February 28, 2002

    Designer babies can now be achieved without cloning, Gattaca-style.

    “It’s much more important than the debate about cloning people, which is a sideshow,” said Arthur Caplan, director of the Center for Bioethics at the University of Pennsylvania. “While we’re all spending a lot of time thinking about cloning, that is not the main area where genetics is going to force hard choices.”

    Key Component of Neural Stem Cells Discovered

    New Scientist, March 14, 2002

    A team at the Max-Planck Institute of Neurobiology in Germany has discovered a molecule they think is a key component of brain cells which have the ability to act as neural stem cells.

    Evidence suggests that specific fetal cells, called radial glial cells, and adult cells called neurogenic astrocytes, can act as neural stem cells—which create neurons. It has been unknown to scientists what gives these special cells their stem cell capacity.

    In experiments, the molecular component “Pax6″ was added to normal astrocytes—which do not typicaly act as stem cells. The cells began to function as neurogenic atrocytes, able to produce neurons. Pax6 is a molecule called a transcription factor, which regulates which genes are transcribed and then translated into proteins.

    Researchers hope the discovery of this key component may someday allow scientists to utilize stem cells to repair a damaged brain.

    Dozens of human embryos cloned in China

    New Scientist, March 6, 2002

    Chinese scientists at Xiangya Medical College have cloned dozens of human embryos advanced enough to harvest embryonic stem cells to make tissues for transplant patients and for research. If verified, the work is a major step forward.

    Another team based at Shanghai No. 2 Medical University claims to have derived stem cells from hybrid embryos composed of human cells and rabbit eggs. Embryonic stem cells are able to develop into any cell type in the body.

    Cloning research is bogged down by political and ethical concerns in the U.S. and Britain, but regulations are far less restrictive in China.

    Method May Transform Cells Without Cloning

    New York Times, May 1, 2002

    A team of scientists at the University of Oslo Medical School and Nucleotech say they are developing a technique that transforms one type of cell from the body into another type without using cloning or embryonic stem cells.

    The scientists made human skin cells in a test tube behave as if they were immune system cells and previous converted skin cells to nerve cells. The work promises a new approach to tissue replacement therapy while avoiding controversial therapeutic cloning.

    New Stanford Institute Is to Study Controversial Stem Cell Manipulation

    New York Times, December 12, 2002

    A new stem cell institute being set up at Stanford University will study human diseases through two advanced but controversial techniques of cell manipulation: nuclear transfer (also used in cloning animals) and generating new lines of human embryonic stem cells.

    Stem Cell Mixing May Form a Human-Mouse Hybrid

    New York Times, November 27, 2002

    Proposed stem cell experiments would involve creating a human-mouse hybrid to test different lines of human embryonic stem cells for their quality and potential usefulness in treating specific diseases.

    Any animals born from the experiment would be chimeras—organisms that are mixtures of two kinds of cells, such as a mouse with a brain made entirely of human cells or a mouse that generated human sperm. However, Dr. Irving L. Weissman of Stanford said these undesirable outcomes could be avoided by deleting certain genes from the human cells before injecting them into a mouse.

    Professor who cloned Dolly seeks license to go to work on a human egg

    The Independent, Nov. 25, 2002

    Professor Ian Wilmut, who cloned Dolly the sheep, has applied for a British government license to work with human eggs in an experiment that prepares the way for human cloning.

    The experiment would allow scientists to carry out parthenogenesis (a technique in which an unfertilized egg is stimulated in the laboratory to develop into an early embryo) and then extract embryonic stem cells for further study.

    Interview With a Humanoid

    New York Times, July 23, 2002

    Five clone calves in Wisconsin have been born with 0.1 percent human DNA. They are expected to produce a human protein, C-1 Esterase Inhibitor, in their milk to treat humans suffering from angioedema.

    Infigen, a biotech company in DeForest, Wisconsin, is cloning cows with human DNA to produce products such as human collagen, human fibrinogen (used to treat wounds), and human factor VIII, used for blood clotting.

    The company also plans genetically modified pigs to produce livers, kidneys, hearts and pancreases for ailing patients.

    Computing

    Upside of Downsizing Analog Chips

    Wired News, Feb. 20, 2002

    Impinj has found a way to make analog devices employing the same CMOS technology currently used for making digital chips and fine-tuning them after they are produced. The result is analog devices that can be scaled down to tiny sizes and work better than the current generation of analog chips.

    The “self-adaptive silicon” technology is modeled on how the human brain adjusts nerve cells; it can monitor the chip’s functioning and adjust it to adapt to changes in temperature or battery power. It promises to improve battery life in wireless systems, enable low-power adaptive sensors, and allow for silicon chips that learn from experience.

    Company co-founders Carver Mead and his former student, Christopher Diorio, developed the process while at Cal Tech in the 1990s.

    The Shape of Computer Chips to Come

    NewsFactor Network, May 01, 2002

    As chips continue to shrink, researchers are combining the amazing properties of silicon with communications network research.

    Computers reach one billion mark

    BBC News, July 1, 2002

    One billion personal computers have been sold across the world, according to Gartner Dataquest. The number will reach the two billion mark by 2008, with greatest growth expected in China, Latin America, eastern Europe and India, predicts Gartner.

    The Billionth PC Ships, Gartner Dataquest report, 28 June 2002

    Light turns into glowing liquid

    New Scientist, July 7, 2002

    “Liquid light” created by concentrating a laser beam into a tight column in nonlinear materials, would be an ideal medium for an optical computer, researchers believe.

    One Terabyte On a 12-cm Disc

    Slashdot, July 16, 2002

    At InterOpto’02-international optoelectronics exhibition hold in Chiba, Japan-OPTWARE Co. Ltd. demoed a super-high speed optical disk system that uses a hologram and stores 1 terabyte data in a 12-cm-CD-size disc, with 100Mbps-1Gbps transfer rate. Available in 2003 as 19-inch rackmount, 2005 for PC.

    Xerox Says New Material Will Allow Plastic Transistors

    New York Times, December 3, 2002

    Xerox researchers are developing an experimental polymer that can be used to make organic transistors on a plastic substrate and could be easier to manufacture at lower cost.

    Sales of Computer Chips Rise for Third Consecutive Quarter

    New York Times, Nov. 29, 2002

    Worldwide semiconductor sales increased to $12.52 billion in October, a 1.8 percent jump from September and a 20 percent rise from 2001.

    Major segments: chips for personal computers and wireless devices, flash memory and digital signal processors.

    Software aims to put your life on a disk

    New Scientist, Nov. 20, 2002

    Engineers at Microsoft’s Media Presence lab in San Francisco are aiming to build “MyLifeBits,”
    a multimedia database that chronicle people’s life events and make them searchable.

    Each media file saved in MyLifeBits can be tagged with a written or spoken commentary and linked to other files. Spoken annotations are also converted into text, so the speech is searchable, too.

    The system could also help us preserve our experiences more vividly for posterity.

    The concept was first proposed by presidential technology adviser Vannevar Bush as “Memex.”

    Tiny optical disc could store five movies

    NewScientist.com, Oct. 18, 2002

    Philips has been secretly developing the world’s smallest optical disc, which will record, play back and erase data using the same precision blue lasers that are being developed for the next generation of high-definition video recorders.

    The first versions of the three-centimeter disc (with the same thickness as a DVD) will store one gigabyte on each side, but the dual-layer coating already used for DVDs will double the capacity to four gigabytes in total.

    Imprinted patterns boost hard drive capacity 200 times

    Nature Science Update, Oct. 11, 2002

    A new magnetic data storage system could offer 200 times the data storage capacity of current state-of-the-art systems. The magnetic film, devised by IBM researchers, stores 200 gigabytes per square inch.

    The technology, which requires further development before commercialization, magnetizes bits on the thin-film recording medium perpendicular to the film surface instead of parallel, doing away with flipped magnetic fields from neighboring magnetic fields. It also writes data on discrete islands of magnetic material to avoid demagnetization from heat.

    “Recording performance of high-density patterned perpendicular magnetic media,” Applied Physics Letters, October 7, 2002—Volume 81, Issue 15, pp. 2875-2877

    On a Single Chip, Intel Joins Realms of Analog and Digital

    New York Times, Sept. 15, 2002

    Manufacturing processes are converging. Intel has announced a new manufacturing process to blend digital and analog functions on a single silicon chip. In the future, all functions of a cellphone, for example, could be consolidated on a single chip.

    Intel pushing to develop 1-billion transistor processor

    EE Times, September 10, 2002

    Intel Corp. has announced it is developing a 1-billion-transistor chip that will integrate logic, graphics and security. It is part of Intel’s “convergence” push to accelerate the development of computing and communications.

    HP Labs Creates Densest Memory Chip

    AP, September 9, 2002

    Using molecules as building blocks, Hewlett-Packard Co. researchers have created 64-bit memory unit that fits inside a square micron.

    Rival replacement for DVDs announced

    New Scientist, August 29, 2002

    A high-capacity replacement for current DVD technology has been announced by NEC and Toshiba. It would increase data storage capacity from the current 4.7 to 8.5 gigabytes to between 15 and 30 gigabytes.

    The competing Blu-Ray discs are expected to hold between 40 and 50 gigabytes of data. Both formats are expected to be available in 2004.

    The Even-More-Compact Disc

    New York Times, August 29, 2002

    The new miniaturized DataPlay digital media offers CD performance and 500 MB storage at a tiny size but at expensive prices initially for media and players.

    DataPlay discs will be available in blank, recordable form as well as prerecorded, copy-protected albums.

    New Hard-Drive Tech Overcomes Magnetic Memory Problems

    NewsFactor Network, August 28, 2002

    Seagate researchers now believe they can store as much as 50 terabits per square inch—equivalent to the entire printed contents of the Library of Congress—on a single disk drive for a notebook computer.

    Currently, the highest storage densities are around 50 gigabits per square inch.

    The new techniques involves heating the memory medium with a laser-generated beam at the precise spot where data bits are being recorded, overcoming the “superparamagnetic limit” —a memory boundary based on data bits so small they become magnetically unstable.

    Related news: Nano research challenges storage limit

    Faster Chips That March to Their Own Improvised Beat

    New York Times, August 22, 2002

    Self-timing, or asynchronous microprocessors will lead to improved computer performance, providing faster operations and reduced power consumption and electromagnetic emissions.

    Sun Microsytems and Phillips Research are pioneering developments in this area.

    Intel introduces major upgrade of Pentium 4

    KurzweilAI.net, Aug. 13, 2002

    Intel announced today a major upgrade to the Pentium 4 platform, due out in 2003 and code-named Prescott. The new chip will bring higher clock speeds, a 1MB L2 cache, Hyper Threading and new instructions to the Pentium 4, according to Anandtech.

    “Many of these enhancements will be made possible through the use of a new manufacturing process for the transistors that make up the Prescott core,” which will use Intel’s 0.09-micron (90nm) process, it said.

    The new 90 nm process, which Intel describes as “the most advanced semiconductor manufacturing process in the industry,” is the next generation after the 0.13 micron process, which Intel is using today to make the bulk of its microprocessors.

    One Terabyte On a 12-cm Disc

    Slashdot, July 16, 2002

    At InterOpto’02-international optoelectronics exhibition hold in Chiba, Japan-OPTWARE Co. Ltd. demoed a super-high speed optical disk system that uses a hologram and stores 1 terabyte data in a 12-cm-CD-size disc, with 100Mbps-1Gbps transfer rate. Available in 2003 as 19-inch rackmount, 2005 for PC.

    Cosmology

    Quantum wormholes could carry people

    New Scientist, May 23, 2002

    “Quantum wormholes offer a faster-than-light short cut to the rest of the cosmos—at least in principle. Now physicists believe they could open these doors wide enough to allow someone to travel through.”

    But matter travelling through a wormhole adds positive energy to it, which collapses it into a black hole, so any would-be traveller would be crushed.

    “Ghost radiation” could be used to offset the positive energy of the travelling matter, but keeping the wormhole open wide enough to send a person would take a negative field equivalent to the energy liberated by converting the mass of Jupiter.

    NASA studies lasers to divert asteroids

    UPI, Oct. 18, 2002

    Scientists at NASA’s Marshall National Space Science and Technology Center and Langley Research Center are studying using a laser to shift the orbit of dangerous asteroids.

    Throwing Einstein for a Loop

    December, 2002, Scientific American

    Physicist Fotini Markopoulou Kalamara has developed a way to connect relativity with quantum theory—while making sure that cause still precedes effect. The unification of Einstein’s general relativity with quantum theory to explain the nature of space and time is probably the single greatest challenge of modern physics. Kalamara’s work suggests networks that do not live in space and are not made of matter. Rather their very architecture gives rise to space and matter.

    Black Holes Are Double Trouble for Galaxy

    New Scientist, November 20, 2002

    Two monstrous black holes are jostling for power in the same galaxy, the Chandra X-ray satellite has revealed. The pair will slam into each other in a few hundred million years, giving the fabric of space-time a good shake. “Today for the first time, thanks to the Chandra X-ray observatory’s unparalleled ability to spot black holes, we see something that is a harbinger of a cataclysmic event to come,” said a NASA official.

    Speed of light broken with basic lab kit

    New Scientist, Sept. 16, 2002

    Electric signals can be transmitted at least four times faster than the speed of light using only basic equipment, Tennessee State University physicists have discovered.

    However, signals also get weaker and more distorted the faster they go, so in theory no useful information can get transmitted at faster-than-light speeds.

    Black hole theory suggests light is slowing

    NewScientist.com, August 8, 2002

    Observations of the light from distant, superbright galaxies suggest that the “fine structure constant” was slightly smaller 10 billion years ago, which implies that the speed of light has decreased over time, according to Paul Davies of Macquarie University in Sydney.

    If proved right, this would challenge the theory of relativity and the theory of inflation, which says space expanded extremely rapidly in the first split second after the big bang.

    Cybersecurity

    Team demos ‘first quantum crypto prototype machine’

    The Register, July 17, 2002

    The “first fully integrated quantum cryptography prototype machine” has exchanged encryption keys across a 67km fiber optic network.

    The advance was achieved by a team from the University of Geneva and Swiss electronics company id Quantique. In contrast to methods based on codes, the keys formed by quantum cryptography can, in principle, be completely uncrackable because the legitimate receiver of a message can test whether it has been intercepted or altered by an eavesdropper during transmission.

    New Light Shed on Unbreakable Encryption

    November 15, 2002, ZDNews

    Scientists at Northwestern University say they have harnessed the properties of light to encrypt information into code that can be cracked only one way: by breaking the physical laws of nature. There is growing interest in using quantum cryptography for commercial and military applications because of the technology’s apparent ability to guarantee invulnerability. Quantum cryptography, however, still suffers from one major limitation. As it stands today, all quantum cryptography techniques only work over dedicated fiber-optic lines—not over the Internet—and over distances no greater than about 90 kilometers from one point to another. That may be changing.

    Face Scans Set Up at Lady Liberty

    AP, May 25, 2002

    A new surveillance system is taking pictures of visitors to the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island and comparing them to a database of terror suspects.

    The American Civil Liberties Union criticized the system.

    Technology Gives Sight to Machines, Inexpensively

    New York Times, June 16, 2002

    Researchers are developing an inexpensive system that produces real-time three-dimensional images.

    The 3D-Aware system from Palo Alto-based Tyzx can be used for surveillance of individuals in a crowd, security systems, games. It uses two inexpensive video cameras linked at high speed to a custom processing card in a standard PC.

    Many Tools of Big Brother Are Up and Running

    New York Times, December 23, 2002

    Most of the technical prerequisites for the Pentagon’s Total Information Awareness national surveillance system are already in place. Computerized data sifting and pattern matching that might flag suspicious activities are not much different from programs already in use by private companies.

    Review: ‘Minority’ tech mostly on target

    UPI, Dec. 17, 2002

    The seeds already have been planted for much of the technology portrayed in Steven Spielberg’s “Minority Report,” including biometrics, ads that call you by name, holographic displays, motion capture, and swarm robotics.

    Human or Computer? Take This Test

    New York Times, December 10, 2002

    Yahoo and Carnegie Mellon have developed the “Completely Automated Public Turing Test to Tell Computers and Humans Apart” (Captchas) to block bots that post spam and collect personal data.

    To stymie bots, it presents distorted words displayed against a complicated background or distorted sound clips, requiring humans to enter the correct information for admittance to chat rooms.

    Future Watch: Autoimmune computer systems

    Computerworld, December 9, 2002

    New intrusion-detection software is being developed that mimics biological immune systems, learning to watch for unusual events. Other software randomly generates “detectors,” throws away those that match normal behavior, and retains those that represent abnormal behavior.

    Massive database dragnet explored

    Mercury News, Nov. 20, 2002

    The Pentagon’s Total Information Awareness System, which would sift through a variety of commercial and government databases in the United States and abroad to identify terrorist plans, is raising privacy concerns.

    Light at End of Encryption Tunnel

    Wired News, Nov. 21, 2002

    Quantum encryption is about to make life much more difficult for Internet spies.

    U.S. Hopes to Check Computers Globally

    Washington Post, November 12, 2002

    The Pentagon’s new Information Awareness Office is designing a global computer-surveillance system to give U.S. counterterrorism officials access to personal information in government and commercial databases around the world.

    Funded by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) at about $200 million a year, the system will use “transformational” technology to sift through almost unimaginably large amounts of data and visually represent it.

    Good Morning, Dave . . .

    Computerworld, Nov. 11, 2002

    The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) is accepting research proposals to develop a “cognitive system” that would reason, learn from experience and adapt to surprises, be aware of its behavior and explain itself, anticipate different scenarios, and predict and plan for novel futures.

    “It’s all moving toward this grand vision of not putting people in harm’s way,” says Raymond Kurzweil. “If you want autonomous weapons, it’s helpful for them to be intelligent.”

    Cognitive systems could assist or replace soldiers on hazardous duty or civilians responding to toxic spills or disasters.

    Special Report: Quantum Cryptography Arrives

    PC Magazine, August 6, 2002

    Quantum cryptography has arrived, as Swiss company id Quantique introduces a commercial quantum cryptography system and an American company, MagiQ Technologies, plans to unveil a second.

    A New Cryptography Uses the Quirks of Photon Streams

    New York Times, November 4, 2002

    MagiQ Technologies plans to offer a cryptogaphy system using quantum key distribution in 2003.

    Keys to the code are transmitted as a stream of photons, sent over a fiber optic cable. Security is based on quantum physics: observing the transmission would alter the photons, rendering their information useless to any eavesdroppers.

    Powerful Attack Upset Global Internet Traffic

    New York Times, Oct. 22, 2002

    The “largest and most sophisticated assault on the servers in the history of the Internet” on Monday briefly crippled 9 of the 13 computer servers that manage global Internet traffic.

    British Concern to Help U.S. Track Terrorists

    New York Times, October 21, 2002

    Autonomy information retrieval software will be used to provide an analysis system to help the United States government track suspected terrorists. The software is based on Bayesian statistical techniques, which can search for patterns of information across large masses of data.

    Software predicts user behavior to stop attacks

    NewScientist.com, Oct. 11, 2002

    New computer-monitoring software designed to second-guess the intentions of individual system users could be 94 per cent reliable in preventing security breaches, say researchers.

    The software generates a profile for each individual on a network by analyzing the specific commands they enter at their terminal. It then monitors their activity and sounds the alarm on detecting suspicious behavior.

    Quantum cryptography takes to the skies

    New Scientist, Oct. 2, 2002

    Quantum cryptography keys encoded in polarized photons of light have been transmitted more than 23 kilometers through air, British researchers have announced. They say the breakthrough is an important step towards a satellite-based global communications system that is completely secure and expect to have a system design by March 2003.

    Quantum cryptography guarantees that keys cannot be intercepted without the sender and receiver knowing by using the quantum properties of individual photons (or particles) to encode the key—any measurement of a photon will alter its quantum properties, betraying an interceptor.

    Nature (vol 419, p 450)

    UK Scientist Calls for DNA Database of Everyone

    Reuters, Sept. 12, 2002

    The British inventor of DNA fingerprinting has called for the establishment of a DNA database for every person in the country to fight crime.

    There would be three databases, one with DNA samples, another with names and addresses, and a third to match the first two. A DNA sample from a crime scene would be checked with information in the first database. If a match was found, a court order would have to be obtained by the police to connect the profile to a name.

    The Gattaca movie was based on this premise.-Ed.

    Eerie possibilities

    InfoWorld, September 6, 2002

    Saudi Arabia is planning to issue an RFID (Radio Frequency ID) tag to visitors for logistics, crowd control, and security.

    The tag includes name, country of origin, where they are staying, and what language they speak. RFID readers around Mecca will pick up the data on each passerby for the purpose of monitoring crowd flow and predicting where people are going and how situations might unfold, coordinated by a command center.

    Cyborgs

    First permanent wireless retinal prothesis implanted

    KurzweilAI.net, April 30, 2002

    Ophthalmologists at the Keck School of Medicine of the University of Southern California have implanted the first permanent wireless microelectronic retinal prothesis.

    Visual signals from a video camera will be sent to the 16-electrode intraocular electrode array attached to the retina via a receiver implanted behind the patient’s ear.

    Researchers hope the retinal prosthesis, intended to stand in for the damaged retinal cells in people suffering from such blinding diseases as retinitis pigmentosa and macular degeneration, will one day be able to restore some degree of vision to these patients.

    USC ophthalmologists announce launch of permanent retinal implant study

    Enter the Cyborgs

    U.S News, May 13, 2002

    The recent report of “roborats” and other developments suggest that brains could meld with machines faster than most think. The prospect has some concerned about the “neuroethics” of brain implants and other neural enhancements that could turn people into cyborgs.

    First Humans to Receive ID Chips

    Los Angeles Times, May 9, 2002

    Eight people in Florida will be injected with ID chips on Friday May 10. The “VeriChip” implants will allow hospitals to scan Alzheimer’s patients and others to quickly determine identification and medical information.

    Three of the implantees are the Jacobs family, whose operation will be covered live on Good Morning America.

    Applied Digital Solutions Inc. says it has a waiting list of 4,000 to 5,000 people who want a VeriChip and plans to operate a “chipmobile” that visits Florida senior citizen’s centers. The company also plans to have a prototype soon of a device to receive GPS satellite signals and transmit a person’s location.

    We Are Becoming Cyborgs

    Scientists test first human cyborg

    FDA approves implantable chip

    Eyes write

    Nature, August 22, 2002

    New software called Dasher could allow computer users with disabilities or busy hands to write nearly twice as fast, more accurately and more comfortably than before and could also speed up writing on palm-tops and typing in Japanese and Chinese, its developers say.

    The software lets users select letters from a screen and calculates the probability of one letter coming after another. It then presents the letters required as if contained on infinitely expanding bookshelves.

    Ward, D. J. & MacKay, D. J. C. Fast hands-free writing by gaze direction. Nature, 418, 838, (2002).

    Bionic people with artificial muscles: NASA JPL

    KurzweilAI.net, June 14, 2002

    “We may see one day either bionic people, namely individuals with artificial muscles, or robots that mimic biology,” according to Dr. Yoseph Bar-Cohen, senior research scientist at NASA JPL.


    Electroactive Polymer Artificial Muscles

    Bar-Cohen has been developing technologies based on electroactive polymers. These “artificial muscles” bend, stretch and contract like biological muscles when an electrical charge is applied to them.

    “In the future, insect-like robots might relieve their manufacturer’s burden by packing themselves for shipping. Intelligent robots might read books aloud, discuss stock options and even replace dogs as man’s best friend,” according to a NASA JPL statement.

    Scientists ‘Muscle’ Sci-Fi into Reality

    Artificial vision device stimulates the visual cortex

    KurzweilIAI.net, June 14, 2002

    A neurosurgeon has become the first U.S. doctor to implant an artificial vision device that allows a blind patient to see using a video camera’s image that stimulates the visual cortex of the brain.

    Kenneth R. Smith Jr., M.D., professor of neurosurgery at Saint Louis University School of Medicine, performed the two-to three-hour surgical procedure in Lisbon, Portugal, in April.

    Patients use special sunglasses fitted with a miniature television camera and a microcomputer and stimulator. The gear attaches by cable to a tiny fire hydrant-like device implanted in the back of the skull that connects to electrodes on the surface of the visual part of the brain.

    Patients don’t have “normal” vision. Instead, they see white flashes of light and learn to interpret the patterns so they can gain mobility.

    The system is designed for patients who have lost their vision from an injury and are not candidates for retinal implants.

    The artificial vision system is being presented June 13 at the 48th annual meeting of the American Society for Artificial Internal Organs in New York.

    Futuristic System Brings Vision to Blind

    Program lets blind ‘see’ and draw

    UPI, June 30, 2002

    Hesham Kamel, a blind engineering student at the University of California at Berkeley, has designed a computer-drawing program that permits the visually impaired to create and visualize illustrations, graphics and other images on the screen.

    Replacing menus, the program divides (and sub-divides) the screen into nine squares corresponding to a telephone keypad for controlling commands, shapes, lines and colors. Audio feedback can name the location of the square or describe the shapes or pictures.

    The Ultimate Running Machine

    Wired, August 2002

    Inside a Soviet-style training camp, corporate scientists are reengineering neuro-mechanics, blood chemistry, and brain waves. Welcome to the Oregon Project, where Nike is rebuilding the US marathon team one high tech step at a time.

    Bionic Eyes

    Science@NASA, January 3, 2002

    Using space technology, scientists have developed extraordinary ceramic photocells that could repair malfunctioning human eyes.

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    Scientists at the NASA-sponsored Space Vacuum Epitaxy Center (SVEC) in Houston are experimenting with thin, photosensitive ceramic films that respond to light much as rods and cones do. Arrays of such films, they believe, could be implanted in human eyes to restore lost vision by serving as substitutes for bad rods and cones.

    Artificial retinas constructed at SVEC consist of 100,000 tiny ceramic detectors, each 1/20 the size of a human hair. The assemblage is so small that surgeons can’t safely handle it. So, the arrays are attached to a polymer film one millimeter by one millimeter in size. A couple of weeks after insertion into an eyeball, the polymer film will simply dissolve leaving only the array behind.

    The first human trials of such detectors will begin in 2002.

    Scientists aren’t yet certain how the brain will interpretb unfamiliar voltages from the artificial rods and cones. They believe the brain will eventually adapt, although a slow learning process might be necessary—something akin to the way an infant learns shapes and colors for the first time.

    Injectable chip opens door to ‘human bar code’

    EE Times, January 4, 2002

    The VeriChip, a controversial radio-frequency identification chip (RFID), injected through a syringe, could be used as a sort of “human bar code” in security and medical applications.

    Applied Digital Solutions initially plans to sell the chips in South America and Europe for use with pacemakers and defibrillators. Medical personnel could identify and monitor a patient’s implanted devices merely by running a handheld scanner over the patient’s chest. They expect FDA approval for U.S. sales later this year.

    The VeriChip includes memory that holds 128 characters, an electromagnetic coil for transmitting data and a tuning capacitor, all encapsulated within a silicone-and-glass enclosure. The passive RF unit, which operates at 125 kHz, is activated by moving a company-designed scanner near the chip.

    Applied Digital Solutions implanted its first human chips in September. A New Jersey surgeon, Richard Seelig, injected two of the chips into his arm and leg.

    The company says the chips could have security tracking uses, implanted in young children, adults with Alzheimer’s disease, prisoners, and parolees.

    Analysts said the chip might be too large for easy adoption and needed more memory and other features, such as global-positioning satellite receive capability and induction-based power-recharging techniques. GPS might help find lost children and adults, while larger memories would enable doctors to store vital patient information.

    Japan scientists ‘grow artificial eyeball’

    CNN.com, January 5, 2002

    Japanese scientists have succeeded in growing artificial eyeballs in tadpoles using cells taken from frog embryos.

    “Since the basics of body-making is common to that of human beings, I think this might help enable people to regain vision in the future,” said research team leader Makoto Asashima, biology professor at Tokyo University.

    Biomimicry: Super Fly

    New York Times, January 13, 2002

    Researchers are trying to replicate the incredibly accurate hearing mechanism of a rare fly—the Ormia ochracea—and use it to create everything from the world’s most sophisticated hearing aid to tiny microphones that might help catch the future Osama bin Ladens of the world.

    The incredibly accurate hearing mechanism of the Ormia ochracea’s ears have evolved the ability to pinpoint the location of chirping crickets, thanks to its two eardrums. The one closer to the sound vibrates more loudly than the other, detecting a noise’s direction within one or two degrees.

    Ron Miles, a vibrations and acoustics expert at SUNY at Binghamton, has created a silicon design based on the fly’s uncanny ability to extract the direction of a sound. It will overcome the limits of in-ear hearing aids, which don’t let you ”focus” your listening by providing cues on the direction of sounds.

    A cluster of them dropped over enemy terrain would be able to detect the origin of sounds through triangulation and then wirelessly transmit the information back to a listening station.

    A powered exoskeleton could transform the average joe into a supersoldier

    Discover, February 2002

    Exoskeletons—essentially a powered suit of armor—are being developed under DARPA funding to give soldiers a huge advantage in battle, especially in urban environments. There are civlian spinoffs too.

    DARPA is awarding the first grants from its $50 million Exoskeletons for Human Performance Augmentation project to Sarcos, Oak Ridge National Laboratory, and the Human Engineering Laboratory at the University of California at Berkeley. The mandate: a legs-only exoskeleton ready for trials by 2003 and a whole-body version by 2005.

    The exoskeleton will allow a soldier to lift 400 pounds, including bigger weapons, bulletproof armor, better communications devices, and more food, and remain continuously active for at least four hours.

    Exoskeletons could be optimized for other combat tasks, too, such as running much faster than ordinary humans, jumping over fences, picking up rubble during rescue efforts, and with AI, save its wearer if he is wounded.

    Nonmilitary uses include cnstruction work, cargo handling, search and rescue, assisting the elderly, and allowing paraplegics to walk.

    Tiny sensors to be implanted in hearts

    UPI Science News, January 23, 2002

    Researchers at the Cleveland Clinic Foundation will begin implanting tiny, experimental microchip sensors into the hearts of patients, hoping the wireless, battery-less devices will provide early warnings of danger.

    The device can give doctors daily reports on pressure in the heart chambers. A change in pressure is one of the first events that occurs when patients with congestive heart failure start the slide toward hospitalization.

    The micro-electrical mechanical system device folds up like a flower and can be placed into a catheter, which is inserted into the jugular vein. Under X-ray guidance, the catheter is advanced through blood vessels into the heart. A screw at the base of the microchip anchors the chip into the heart wall.

    When a handheld transmitter/receiver is activated outside the body, the microchip delivers a signal that can be picked up and recorded.

    Implants for vision

    Neuroscion (requires free registration), February 11, 2002

    Scientists have demonstrated that they can stimulate the visual cortex in the brain while bypassing the retina itself.

    Several teams of scientists are trying to develop a device that would electrically stimulate the visual system in seeing-impaired individuals. Although serious problems must be overcome before a useful device is developed, a review in Science concludes that “a number of international groups are tackling the remaining problems associated with epiretinal and subretinal implants, and we await the outcome of clinical trials to determine the value of refined nanotechnology for treating blinding eye diseases.”

    Science 295(5557):1022-1025

    Boca Raton family volunteers to be first for microchip implants

    Miami.com, February 12, 2002

    A family in Boca Raton have volunteered to be implanted with microchips, which would make them the first family imbedded with the identification devices.

    Derek Jacobs, a 14-year-old computer whiz, is poised to become the first child to receive the implant, which can be scanned for identification and medical information. Derek, who runs a small Web site business out of his bedroom and uses his home computer to listen for extraterrestrial life in space noise, said he wants to ride the wave of the future.

    Inventor of artificial hand sees ‘bionic’ replacement parts becoming more human

    KurzweilAI.net, February 14, 2002

    Bionic limb replacements that look and work exactly like the real thing could be realized within a decade, thanks to fast advances in human-to-machine communication and miniaturization.

    Writing in Science, Feb. 8, Rutgers biomedical engineer and inventor William Craelius, whose Dextra artificial hand is the first to let a person use existing nerve pathways to control individual computer-driven mechanical fingers, says “bionic technologies can be adapted for restoring some degree of almost any lost function,” and that if progress continues at its present pace, “human-machine communication could soon lose its distinction as the No. 1 obstacle to bionics.”

    He described a wireless implant the size of a grain of rice developed at UCLA by a team led by Dr. Gerald Loeb. This can be injected under the skin to provide independent communication between nerves and bionic devices.

    Craelius said while it may require more than 1,000 connections between the brain and bionic devices to communicate the data for a complex action like walking, it is probably achievable, even if most of the necessary computer processing is done outside the body.

    Miniaturization of components will soon bring even that processing inside the body, Craelius said. “The number of transistors we can fit onto an integrated circuit doubles about every 18 months,” he said. “At this pace, within the decade, the processing for complex bionic activity will be implantable in the brain or elsewhere in the body.”

    While scientists are eliminating obstacles to communication and miniaturization of bionics, they still need to devise ways to protect the tiny devices from electromagnetic interference and corrosion from bodily fluids, Craelius said. Battery capacity and recharging are also concerns as the devices handle an increasing number of tasks.

    “Finally, users who subject themselves to brain implantation of hundreds of electrodes are not going to want bulky plastic sockets for their new bionic limbs. Creating a more natural integration between the limb and existing bone is going to be vitally important. A human feel is a crucial part of bionic restoration.”

    Human feel is an area Craelius is addressing in his own work with Dextra, an artificial hand he developed along with a team of Rutgers students and Nian-Crae, Inc. The prosthesis gives a person who has lost a hand natural control of up to five independent artificial fingers, controlled by electrical signals generated by the user’s remaining muscles and tendons.

    Dextra has been demonstrated to permit such complex hand activities as typing and piano playing. It has a plastic socket that encases an amputee’s upper limb and some of the processing and communication is handled by a device worn outside the body.

    High-tech soldier envisioned

    KurzweilAI.net, February 24, 2002

    A high-tech soldier with 20 times the capability of today’s warrior by about 2010 is envisioned by the Army and a team from Oak Ridge National Laboratory.

    Concept design teams met last year, composed of futurists, systems engineers, biologists, military experts, human factors specialists, writers and others met late last year to propose a plan of attack to the Army for the “Objective Force Warrior.”

    Computer Screen Controlled with Monkeys’ Brain Signals

    BBC News, March 18, 2002

    Researchers at Brown University have demonstrated that brain patterns can be used to control machines. The development could lead to techniques that allow paraplegics to articulate artificial limbs through thought alone.

    In the experiment, which resembled a computer game, monkeys initially used a joystick to chase red and purple dots around a screen.

    Then, unknown to the monkeys, the joystick was disconnected —but the animals were still able to control the dots using only thought.

    How? The monkeys’ brains had been implanted with pea-sized electrodes that recorded signals from an area of the brain that controls movement, called the motor cortex.

    While the monkeys moved the joystick, the recorded brain signals were analyzed with a mathematical formula and translated.

    Scientists then fed these signals into the computer, which recognized them as directions.

    Mijail Serruya, who led the Brown University scientists, said: “Our goal is to make sense of how brain [signals] move a hand through space and to use that information as a control signal for someone who is paralyzed.”

    Researchers say this particular experiment is groundbreaking: The thin wires used significantly reduced bulkiness and successfully measured fewer neurons than in previous experiments.

    Scientists test first human cyborg

    CNN.com, March 22, 2002

    Professor Kevin Warwick of the University of Reading became the world’s first cyborg when surgeons implanted a silicon device about 3mm wide into an incision in Warwick’s left wrist and attached 100 electrodes into the median nerve.

    Wires from the electrodes will be linked to a transmitter/receiver device to relay neural messages to and from a computer by radio signal.

    Warwick hopes the procedure could lead to a medical breakthrough for people paralyzed by spinal cord damage or limb amputation.

    Project Cyborg 2.0

    FDA approves implantable chip

    Wired News, April 4, 2002

    The Federal Drug Administration has ruled that the Verichip, an implantable microchip used for ID purposes, is not a regulated device, so it can now be sold in the United States.

    Applied Digital Solutions has been marketing the VeriChip in the U.S. as a device to allow hospital workers to access patients’ health records, by scanning the chip and cross-referencing the device’s ID with a patient database.

    In South America, the device has been bundled with a GPS-unit and sold to potential kidnapping victims.

    Some Christians fear it may be the “Mark of the Beast” described in the Bible and privacy advocates are concerned about the chip’s involuntary implantation or its use to track government dissidents.

    Image processing chip has potential as artificial retina

    KurzweilAI.net, April 9, 2002

    A new type of analog processor that is compact while offering extremely fast computations for image processing may lead to the creation of an artificial eye to replace damaged human retinas.

    The cellular nonlinear network (CNN) analog computer chip is integrated with a camera to produce an image processor. The 1 cm-square CNN chip can increase processing speed while reducing the power requirements over standard digital chips by two to three orders of magnitude.

    Other potential medical applications include real-time diagnosis for heart monitoring and ultrasound imaging of the heart and analyzing electroencephalogram (EEG) data, allowing researchers to predict the occurrence of epileptic seizures.

    The research is funded by the Office of Naval Research (ONR).

    ‘Perfect mirrors’ could create photonic fabrics

    KurzweilAI.net, April 25, 2002

    MIT researchers have created high-performance mirrors in the shape of hair-like flexible fibers that could be woven into cloth or incorporated in paper to serve as embedded “bar codes” that identify the wearer (for future soldiers), to reflect radiation, protect from blasts of heat, and as filters for telecommunications applications.

    The work builds on the omnidirectional dielectric reflector (dubbed the “perfect mirror”), created in 1998 by MIT scientists, which can reflect light from all angles and polarizations and can also be “tuned” to reflect certain wavelength ranges while transmitting others.

    Mirror fibers could create photonic fabrics

    Plastics with ‘shape memory’ promise new medical uses

    KurzweilAI.net, April 29, 2002

    New biodegradable, biocompatible plastics with “shape memory” and many potential medical applications are being developed at MIT and the University of Technology, Aachen, Germany.

    The new plastics, reported in the April 25 online edition of Science, could first be shaped as a string, for example, then when heated could “change into a sheet (to prevent adhesion between two internal tissues after an operation), a screw (for, say, holding bones together), a stent or a suture,” said Robert Langer, MIT’s Germeshausen Professor of Chemical and Biomedical Engineering.

    Smart suture is first application of novel MIT polymer

    Uzbek inventor creates eyesight substitute

    UPI, Dec. 26, 2002

    A video signal received from an electronic eye and converted to sound and mechanical oscillations can be used as an eyesight substitute for the blind.

    The device uses an electronic light sensor and emits sounds and vibrations according to the composition of the object. For example, the pitch of the sound becomes higher if the object is light in color and lower if the object is dark. Users can become accustomed quickly to the signals from the device as it “sees” familiar objects.

    Laser leads nerve growth

    Nature Science Update, Nov. 27, 2002

    A laser beam can guide nerve cells to grow in a particular direction, researchers have shown. The technique might help damaged nerves to regrow or could connect them to electronic implants, such as artificial retinas and prosthetic limbs.

    Shoes and sheets get wired

    Nature Science Update, Dec. 6, 2002

    “Electrotextiles” woven with wires and electronic devices are being fashioned into speedometer shoes, chameleon curtains. singing shirts, and to measure footfalls, detect explosions and spot smuggling. “Soft keypads” allow wearers to control remote devices. And antennas can be woven in.

    Gadgets could be next: clothes and woven-in sensors could record athletes’ heart rate, hydration and blood sugar levels.

    A Few Good Toys

    Forbes, Dec. 9, 2002

    The Army’s goal is to come up with a uniform by 2008 with helmet that enhances hearing and protect ears from battle cacaphony and heads-up display built into the visor to display infrared images. A wheeled robot “mule” would follow a soldier around with equipment for purifying water and recharging batteries.

    The Army warfighter of 2025 will have lightweight body armor made with nanomaterials to deflect a bullet with an electrical charge. Polymers in the uniform will “read” their wearer’s surroundings and change color and pattern to render him nearly invisible. Boots may contain a liquid that hardens if the solider steps on a land mine. Coin-size silicon microturbines will power the soldiers’ computer systems.

    MRI Safe Shielding Technology Developed

    KurzweilAI.net, Nov. 22, 2002

    Biophan Technologies has successfully tested a method for shielding implanted and inter-operative medical devices against interference from Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI).

    The RF energy from an MRI is known to be the cause of dangerously high tissue heating and other performance problems in electronic medical devices used in the body, such as implantable pacemakers, cardioverter-defibrillators, and neurostimulators, and interventional devices such as guidewires and catheters.

    Biophan’s new technology uses thin-film nanomagnetic and carbon composite coatings, and novel shield designs, each of which can be used individually or together to meet the specific shielding requirements of a wide range of medical devices.

    Photonic Crystals in Uniforms

    NY Times, November 11, 2002

    Photonic crystals may one day revolutionize optics the way the semiconductor revolutionized electronics.

    Optical communications systems might someday be woven into our clothing and computers might rely as much on optics as on electronics.

    MIT received a $50 million contract the Defense Department to enhance the supersoldier fighting uniform with polymer threads that—by selectively reflecting or absorbing different wavelengths of light—would silently flash an optical bar code. Troops wearing specially tuned night-vision goggles would be able to distinguish between foe and friend during a night firefight.

    Tech helps blind ‘see’ computer images

    UPI, Oct. 24, 2002

    A simple touch display for the visually impaired soon could provide access to computer-generated images.

    The prototype tactile display is a set of 3,600 small pins, about 10 per inch, which “prints” an image by using an extendable pointer to raise selected pins into a line drawing of the image.

    The device is being developed by the National Institute of Standards and Technology. The tactile display also would provide dramatic benefits in education.

    ID Chip’s Controversial Approval

    Wired News, Oct. 23, 2002

    The Food and Drug Administration has decided to permit the use of implantable VeriChip ID chips in humans if it is used for “security, financial and personal identification or safety applications.”

    Chip manufacturer Applied Digital Solutions said the FDA has not determined whether the controversial chip can be used for medical purposes, including linking to medical databases. The company now plans to aggressively market the chip for security and ID uses.

    Docs outline artificial vision progress

    UPI, Sept. 23, 2002

    Artificial devices that may allow the blind to see could be available for human use within a decade.

    Harvey Fishman, director of ophthalmic tissue engineering at Stanford University School of Medicine, is developing a high-resolution neural chip that connects a signal from a digital camera to individual nerve cells in the retina.

    Raymond Iezzi, assistant professor of ophthalmology at the Kresge Eye Institute at Wayne State University, is developing “caged” neurotransmitters—a drug delivery system that would unleash molecules activated by light. When exposed to light, the molecules would respond in less than a nanosecond, releasing chemicals that transmit signals to the brain.

    Controlling Robots with the Mind

    Scientific Amercan, October 2002

    People with nerve or limb injuries may one day be able to command wheelchairs, prosthetics and even paralyzed arms and legs by “thinking them through” the motions.

    Scientists have developed implantable microchips that will embed the neuronal pattern recognition now done with software, thereby eventually freeing the brain-machine interface devices from a computer. These microchips will send wireless control data to robotic actuators.

    Scientists Create Biological Heart Pacemaker

    Reuters, Sept 11, 2002

    Scientists have made a breakthrough that could revolutionize heart surgery in the future by replacing electronic pacemakers with genetically engineered “biopacemakers.”

    Johns Hopkins scientists discovered that by altering the potassium balance in ordinary heart cells in guinea pigs, they could trick them into behaving like pacemaker cells.

    A biologic pacemaker should also be able to adjust to the body’s changing needs, unlike electronic pacemakers.

    Parents look to microchip children

    CNN.com, September 3, 2002

    Worried UK parents are asking to have tracking microchips implanted into their children following the murders of two 10-year-old girls, says scientist Kevin Warwick, who has implanted a chip in his arm that is connected to a computer in an ongoing experiment.

    The operation would involve implanting a small transmitter about one inch long into the child’s arm or stomach, Warwick said. Tracking options include using a mobile phone network and transmitting a signal linked to a global positioning system.

    Watches that perform a similar function are already commercially available in the United States, but they can be too easily removed and discarded, Warwick said.

    Displays

    Prototype glass sheet computer unveiled

    NewScientist.com, Oct. 22, 2002

    A transparent computer processor has been printed on to a flat plate of glass by researchers at Sharp’s Japanese laboratory. Their success suggests ultra-thin computers and televisions could in the future be built entirely on a single sheet of glass.

    The new “sheet computer” uses a relatively new material called continuous grain silicon, which conducts electrons up to 600 times faster than the amorphous silicon used in liquid crystal displays. Sharp says continuous grain silicon could eventually approach the efficiency of the single crystal silicon used inside today’s computer chips.

    Wireless Views Into Home PCs

    ABCNews.com, Nov. 15, 2002

    At COMDEX, Microsoft and computer display makers are demonstrating “smart displays” that wirelessly communicate with personal computers. The surface will be touch-sensitive, allowing you to interact using a finger or stylus.

    Liquid crystal displays ‘painted on’

    New Scientist, May 2, 2002

    Philips laboratories researchers are developing ways to paint liquid crystal displays on surfaces instead of between two layers of plastic or glass. The method could allow manufacturers to make displays more quickly.

    Flexible Displays Gain Momentum

    Technology Review, January 22, 2002

    Researchers at Cambridge, MA-based E Ink have completed the first working prototype of an electronic ink display attached to a flexible, silicon-based thin-film transistor backplane, the sheet of electronics that controls display pixels.

    This proof-of-concept prototype confirms that it will soon be possible to mass-produce reams of self-erasing electronic paper that combine sheets of electronic ink with flexible silicon circuitry.

    The company estimates that by sometime in 2005 they’ll be building fully-flexible displays for commercial use. For now, the company is working with Philips Electronics to produce displays using electronic ink against rigid, glass backplanes, to be built into mobile, handheld devices starting next year.

    Energy

    Fuel Cells That Fit in a Laptop

    Wired News, January 23, 2002

    Smart Fuel Cell GmbH of Bavaria has developed a micro fuel cell that runs on methanol and provides much longer life than any other portable battery. It is the first to not require any standard batteries.

    The fuel cell is aimed at power-hungry devices such as notebook computers, camcorders and specific applications for environmental and transportation markets.

    A fuel cell is an electrochemical device that produces electric power from either hydrogen or alternative fuels such as methanol, propane, butane or natural gas.

    By the year 2004, Smart Fuel Cell expects to produce at least 100,000 units, enough for mass production, and expects the micro fuel cells to become competitive with Lithium-ion batteries.

    The prototype cartridge holds 120 ml methanol and generates about 150 Watt-hours.

    Fuel Cells: Japan’s Carmakers Are Flooring It

    Business Week, Dec. 23, 2002

    On Dec. 2 in Tokyo, Toyota and Honda rolled out the world’s first commercially available cars running on hydrogen fuel cells. The current cost: $1 million per car; it will take at least 10 years to bring prices down to $100,000.

    Ford expects to launch a fuel-cell compact in 2004. General Motors has three different fuel-cell prototypes; commercial models won’t be ready until 2010.

    Fuel Cell Powered by Human Bodily Fluids

    Robots.net, Nov. 12, 2002

    University of Texas, Austin scientists have developed a new fuel cell that generates electricity from the glucose-oxygen reaction that occurs in human blood. Purpose: powering medical sensors and animal tracking devices.

    Radioactive battery provides decades of power

    NewScientist.com, Oct. 22, 2002

    Tiny batteries that draw energy from nickel-63 radioactive isotopes could provide 50 years of power for micro-devices and electronics, says Amil Lal, who developed the system with colleagues at Cornell University.

    “It might be possible to make really tiny microelectronic sensor systems that can be embedded in a building or even in the body,” he says.

    Forget Nature. Even Eden Is Engineered.

    New York Times, August 20, 2002

    Aided by satellites and supercomputers, and mobilized by the evident environmental damage of the last century, humans have a real chance to begin balancing economic development with sustaining earth’s ecological webs, said Dr. William C. Clark, a biologist at Harvard who heads an international effort to build a scientific foundation for such a shift.

    The prospect of managing the planet is attracting more than 100 world leaders and thousands of other participants to the United Nations’ World Summit on Sustainable Development, which starts on Monday in Johannesburg.

    Moore’s Law

    As Chips Reach Speed Limit, Makers Tap Into ‘Clockless’ Logic

    International Herald Tribune, December 17, 2002

    A worldwide community of private and academic researchers are perfecting a kind of lateral-thinking, anarchic method of chipmaking based on asynchronous logic, which does away with the clock altogether.

    Clockless chips, in addition to being more energy efficient, can also work faster, more quietly and more securely than synchronous chips. All of which makes them perfect for applications such as computer networks, mobile phones, smart cards and embedded medical devices.

    Where the synchronous processor waits for a clock cycle to finish before starting the next task, an asynchronous one can do multiple tasks at different speeds.

    Collision Course: Beating Moore’s Law by 2006 will take teamwork

    SF Gate, February 14, 2002

    CERN’s Large Hadron Supercollider will begin generating more than 10 million gigabytes of data each year when it becomes operational in 2006—beyond the capabilities of any computer CERN scientists had at their disposal, or any supercomputer that could be built. The solution: the European DataGrid.

    The European DataGrid is an ambitious project based on an emerging distributed-processing technology known as grid computing. Instead of relying on mainframe makers like IBM to produce ever more powerful boxes, grid computing lets scientists achieve the same effect by combining the computational power of separate machines—in this case, several thousand machines.

    Industry Says Limits on Moore’s Law Far Off

    EE Times, March 18, 2002

    Limits predicted by Moore’s Law won’t be reached until after 2028, according to a semiconductor industry leader.

    Calvin Chenming Hu, Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Corporation’s Chief Technologist, said 9 nanometer devices “can be ready more or less on time, in 2028 according to long-term forecasts or 2024, according to the 2002 (industry roadmap).”

    If Hu’s view is correct, fundamental limits on current two-dimensional integrated circuit technology are still far off. In that timeframe, the industry would have 25 years to reduce current lithography by a factor of 10, compared to 15 years for the last reduction. “There’s a lot of time,” Hu said.

    Previous roadblocks to Moore’s Law scaling have included design productivity, fabrication costs, reliability, lithography, leakage, and materials.

    The Future of the Microprocessor Business

    IEEE Spectrum, April 2002

    There are signs the microprocessor industry focus on keeping up with Moore’s law is about to change, say Michael J. Bass, Hewlett-Packard Co. & Clayton M. Christensen, Harvard Business School.

    For a majority of PC users, they say, high-end microprocessors are overkill; middle-and lower-range microprocessor performance will be sufficient for growing numbers of applications. Quick creation and delivery of customized chips to customers will become more important than performance and transistor density.

    Internet Insight: Moore’s Law & Order

    eWeek, April 15, 2002

    Kurzweil’s Law of Accelerating Returns forsees faster growth in computational power over the next several decades than Moore’s Law predicts. Kurzweil said we can “expect the process to accelerate at a double exponential rate.”

    “The next paradigm, the sixth, will be three-dimensional molecular computing,” Kurzweil said. “In the past year, there have been major strides, for example, in creating three-dimensional carbon nanotube-based electronic circuits.”

    Lucent Technologies and IBM have already succeeded in fabricating molecular-scale computing elements.

    Bell Labs breaks through on Moore’s Law

    Reuters, April 26, 2002

    Scientists at Bell Labs have developed a way to image a single impurity atom in silicon to understand how impurities affect the properties of microchips.

    The finding will help in creating new manufacturing technologies for smaller chips. Impurities are introduced into silicon to provide charge carriers that control a chip’s electrical properties.

    As components continue to shrink, just a few atoms of impurities could determine the function of a device.

    The research is described in an article published April 25, 2002 in the journal Nature.

    At Los Alamos, Two Visions of Supercomputing

    New York Times, June 25, 2002

    Heat may be a limiting factor to Moore’s law. By 2010, scientists predict, a single chip may hold more than a billion transistors, giving off 1,000 watts of thermal energy—far more heat per square inch than a nuclear reactor.

    Already, Los Alamos National Laboratory’s 30-teraops Q computer, designed to provide full-scale, three-dimensional simulation of the physics involved in a nuclear explosion, will require 5 megawatts of energy. A coming 100-teraops machine will require even more.

    In contrast, the cooling sytem for the lab’s 160 gigaops Green Destiny, using Transmeta chips, consumes only five kilowatts.

    Intel’s Grove warns of the end of Moore’s Law

    The Inquirer, Dec. 11, 2002

    As chips become increasingly dense, heat developed by current leakage from chips “will become a limiting factor in how complex we can build chips,” said Intel chairman Andy Grove.

    Chips constructed of increasing numbers of transistors can suffer power leakage of up to 40 per cent; chips made up of a billion transistors may leak between 60 and 70 Watts of power, he warned.

    Fate of Moore’s Law tops ISSCC agenda

    EE Times, November 11, 2002

    We have at least another decade of exponential growth of semiconductor integration, Gordon Moore is expected to argue at the International Solid-State Circuits Conference in San Francisco on Feb. 10.

    Nanocomputing

    3-D nanotubes grown

    KurzweilAI.net, April 5, 2002

    Researchers at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute have grown the first three-dimensional nanotubes, which are essential for next-generation computer chips and integrated circuits.


    3-D nanotubes

    The method is based on a selective growth process that allows the nanotubes to grow perpendicular to the silica-coated substrate. By chiseling the silica into predetermined shapes, researchers can precisely control and direct the nanotube growth.

    Nanotubes have properties that make them attractive as active nanoscale electronic components, such as transistors, sensors, and interconnecting wires.

    “Because of the small size of nanotubes, a large number of them can be packed in a given space and will enable very high (e.g., factor of 10 to 100 greater than possible with conventional materials and technologies) device-density processors and memory-storage modules that are presently not possible with currently available technologies,” Ganapathiraman Ramanath, assistant professor of materials science told KurzweilAI.net.

    “In order to create such device assemblies, however, one needs to first controllably create assemblies of nanotubes in well defined orientations. For example, if we want nanotubes to interconnect devices placed at two locations A and B on a silicon wafer, we need to devise a process that will force the nanotube to grow from A towards B and terminate at B.

    “Also, one needs to be able to do this in millions of locations on a silicon wafer all at once (bottom-up approach) to create a device assembly (placing one nanotube at a time after creating them will not be industrially scalable).

    “Until now, people have been able to achieve only random growth of nanotubes, or oriented nanotubes in one direction. Our work is the first demonstration wherein we can force the nanotube to grow at specific locations in any predetermined directions we want them to grow and in a single deposition process.

    “The impact of our work is well beyond nanotubes. This is the first step toward making complex networks comprised of molecular units. By manipulating the topography of the silica blocks, and utilizing the selective and directional growth process, we have been able to force nanotubes to grow in predetermined, multiple directions, with a very fine degree of control.”

    The researchers used gas phase delivery of a metal catalyst, essential for nanotube growth, to make their growth process more flexible and more easily scalable than conventional methods.

    Their research is reported in the April 4 issue of the journal Nature.

    trillionIBM demos trillion-bit storage density

    KurzweilAI.net, June 11, 2002

    IBM scientists have demonstrated nanotech-based data storage density of a trillion bits per square inch󈟤 times higher than the densest magnetic storage available today.

    IBM Millipede nanomechanical storage device: tips create indentations in a polymer surface, similar to punched cards

    IBM achieved the density—enough to store 25 million printed textbook pages on a surface the size of a postage stamp—in a research project code-named “Millipede.”

    Rather than using traditional magnetic or electronic means to store data, Millipede uses thousands of nano-sharp tips to punch ten-nanometer-wide indentations representing individual bits into a thin plastic rewriteable film.

    “Since a nanometer-scale tip can address individual atoms, we anticipate further improvements far beyond even this fantastic terabit milestone,” said Nobel laureate Gerd Binnig, an IBM Fellow and one of the drivers of the Millipede project.

    “While current storage technologies may be approaching their fundamental limits, this nanomechanical approach is potentially valid for a thousand-fold increase in data storage density.”

    The 1,024-tip experiment achieved an areal density of 200 gigabits (billion bits, Gb) per square inch, which translates to a potential capacity of about 0.5 gigabytes (billion bytes, GB) in an area of 3 mm-square. The next-generation Millipede prototype will have four times more tips: 4,096 in a 7 mm-square (64 by 64) array.

    IBM puts new spin on nano-storage

    IBM’s ‘Millipede’ Project Demonstrates Trillion-Bit Data Storage Density

    TSMC Details New Type of Transistor

    Electronic News, June 11, 2002

    Anew type of CMOS transistor as small as 9 nanometers—about 10 times smaller than current production technology —has been announced by Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co.

    The company said this size would allow for the computational power of a supercomputer in a space smaller than a fingernail.

    Transistors Reach Molecular Level

    Wired News, June 13, 2002

    Researchers at Harvard, UC Berkeley, and Cornell have developed single-atom transistor switches.

    Since lithography has a lower limit of about 10 nanometers —about five times too large to connect single molecules —the researchers instead applied current through a tiny gold wire to break it (like blowing a fuse) to produce nanoscale gaps to serve as electrodes.

    However, single-molecule electronic components are still a decade or more away.

    Last October, a Bell Labs researcher also announced single-atom transistors, but the integrity of his work has been questioned.

    Nanotechnology: Electronics and the single atom, Nature 417, 701–;702 (2002); doi:10.1038/417701a

    Chips’ future cast

    Nature, June 20, 2002

    A new laser-stamping technique could produce computer chips with 100 times more transistors on a chip, according to Stephen Chou of Princeton University.


    Image A shows a quartz template used to press ultrasmall patterns into silicon. Image B shows the pattern as it appears in silicon.

    The research could lead to patterns imprinted with features only 10 nanometers wide onto a silicon wafer, compared to the lower limit of about 130 nanometers wide with photolithography.

    The technique is derived from a similar method used to print compact discs.

    Chou, S. Y., Keimel, C. & Gu, J. Ultrafast and direct imprint of nanostructures in silicon. Nature, 417, 835-837, (2002).

    SCIENTISTS ARE A WHISKER AWAY FROM SEMICONDUCTING NANOWIRES

    UPI, June 20, 2002

    Boron crystalline nanowires (“nanowhiskers”) may replace carbon nanotubes as nanoscale semiconductors.

    Magnetic Future

    Technology Review, July/August 2002

    Researchers at GE and IBM are developing “patterned media”-based disks that hold between 30 and 40 gigabits per square centimeter, ten times the density of today’s products, and the storage density might be pushed to more than 150 gigabits per square centimeter.

    The technology involves physically isolating a disk’s magnetic grains from one another on nanoscale “islands.” Currently, several hundred magnetic grains are needed to store a bit clearly, and if the grains become too small and densely packed, they lose their magnetic orientation. On an island, a bit might be stored stably with just one grain, allowing bits to be spaced more closely.

    Nano device could result in 1000:1 increase in storage density

    KurzweilAI.net, June 27, 2002

    University at Buffalo materials researchers have developed an extremely sensitive nanoscale device that could shrink ultra-high-density storage devices factor of a 1,000.

    The magnetic sensor, made of nickel and measuring only a few atoms in diameter, could ultimately increase data storage capacity to a terabit per square inch.

    University at Buffalo Materials Researchers Develop Device for “Ultrasmall” Data Storage (press release)

    Scientists Get Atoms Ready for a Close-Up

    New York Times, May 14, 2002

    Scientists at Lucent Technologies’ Bell Labs have developed a microscopy technique that can image individual atoms within a silicon sheet, allowing for precision analysis of dopant distribution.

    As transistor sizes shrink, they require higher concentrations of electrons to work and are more sensitive to problems with dopant distribution.

    The Lucent microscope shoots a narrow beam of high-energy electrons and measures deflection angles to locate individual atoms.

    Nano breakthrough charges science world

    CNET News.com, May 19, 2002

    IBM researchers have created carbon nanotube field-effect transistors (CNFETs) that suggest that CNFETs may be competitive with Silicon MOSFETs for future nanoelectronic applications.

    CNFETs deliver more than twice the amount of electrical current at a faster rate than silicon transistors. Increased current can lead to faster transistors and integrated circuits, so carbon may become a building block of computing in the future.

    “Vertical scaling of carbon nanotube field-effect transistors using top gate electrodes,” Applied Physics Letters—May 27, 2002
    Volume 80, Issue 21, pp. 3883-4065

    Nanopods could create smaller circuits

    UPI, January 4, 2002

    University of Illinois at Champaign researchers have discovered a way to manipulate the electronic properties of atomic-scale “peapods,” made of buckyballs (carbon molecules) packed inside one-atom-wide nanotubes—an important step towards creating radically smaller computers.

    A nanotube-based computer processor could have hundreds of times more circuits that a silicon chip of similar size, but nanotubes have unpredictable electrical resistance. Buckyball-filled and hollow nanotubes can be designed for consistent resistance properties, making them suitable as reliable components for computer circuits.

    Atom-thin silicon films for supercomputers

    UPI, January 15, 2002

    Atomically thin layers of crystalline silicon called “quantum wells” may help lead to hand-held supercomputers and a light-speed fast Internet.

    A quantum well is made of sandwiched layers of electrically insulating material and semiconductive films, each only a few nanometers thick. The electrons packed together in the atomically thin semiconductor layers remain confined by the insulating nanofilms, forcing the electrons to increase each other’s energy levels and emit bright light.

    Quantum wells can therefore prove invaluable in light-based electronics. Scientists predict these simple devices will prove key components of many futuristic inventions, such as microchips and computer networks that use lasers and optical fibers.

    The scientists whittled the crystalline silicon down to a half-nanometer. Since, the quantum wells are so thin, they also hope they can exploit the quantum properties matter displays on the atomic level to develop ultrafast transistors.

    The researchers reported their results in Applied Physics Letters.

    Patent for molecular computing awarded

    KurzweilAI.net, January 23, 2002

    Hewlett-Packard and UCLA today announced they have received a U.S. patent for technology that could make it possible to build very complex logic chips—simply and inexpensively —at the molecular scale.

    Previously, HP demonstrated in the laboratory how some rare earth metals naturally form themselves into nanoscopic parallel wires when they react chemically with a silicon substrate. Two sets of facing parallel wires, oriented roughly perpendicular to each other, could then be made into a grid. The problem is that on a single large grid, all the electrical signals would interfere with each other.

    The solution proposed by the patent (US 6,314,019 B1, “Molecular-Wire Crossbar Interconnect (MWCI) for Signal Routing and Communications”) is to cut the wires into smaller lengths by turning some “intersections” into insulators.

    In a related experiment, researchers from the collaboration crossed wires the size of those used in today’s computer chips and sandwiched them around a one-molecule thick layer of electrically switchable molecules called rotaxanes. Simple logic gates were then created electronically by downloading signals to molecules trapped between the crosswires.

    “All of this work demonstrates that, in the future, programming could replace today’s complex, high-precision method of fabricating computer chips,” said Kuekes, a senior scientist and computer architect at HP Labs. “Once a basic grid has been assembled, programming could be used to implement a very complex logic design by electronically setting the appropriate configuration switches in the molecular-scale structure.”

    HP/UCLA announcement

    Molecular Memory

    Building Chips, One Molecule at a Time

    Circuitry in a nanowire: Novel growth method may transform chips

    Science News, February 9, 2002

    In a feat of nanometer-scale engineering, researchers have produced semiconductor filaments that are as thin as viruses but contain working electronic and optical devices. Alternating bands of different semiconductor materials in the superthin wires serve as the electron and photon manipulators. Someday, such striped strands may form the basis of a new type of circuitry that is far tinier, faster, and more energy efficient than conventional chips will ever be, the scientists say.

    A Harvard University team led by Charles M. Lieber and two other teams-—one led by Peidong Yang at the University of California, Berkeley and the other led by Lars Samuelson of Lund University in Sweden—have unveiled striped nanowires resembling submicroscopic barber poles. Each stripe has a different composition, and thereby different electronic properties.

    Electrical measurements by the Harvard and Lund groups show that the junction of just two adjacent stripes within one wire can be a diode that guides electrons. Lieber and his colleagues also report making within a single wire a type of diode that emits light and constructed a prototype, one-wire “nano–;bar code” that fluoresces under green light in alternating dark and bright stripes. It’s possible, they claim, to make stacks of multiple colors that would be leaner than any microscopic bar code rods created so far and might label and track individual proteins and other biomolecules.

    New world of nanoelectronics may arrive in the near future, AAAS speakers say

    KurzweilAI.net, February 14, 2002

    A future filled with tiny, molecule-sized computers—fast and powerful enough to do things like translate conversations on the fly or calculate complex climate models—may be closer than people think, top nanotechnology researchers said at the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) Annual Meeting in Boston today.

    “We may be five to six years ahead of schedule in nanoelectronics, and some of today’s research is nearing the stage where it could be turned over to industrial production,” said James Ellenbogen of the Mitre Corporation.

    Powerful electronic and computing devices, built at the molecular scale, moved to the forefront of scientific research in 2001, as several research teams hooked up tiny devices such as transistors, wires, and switches to form working circuits for the first time.

  • Marc Kastner of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Charles Marcus of Harvard University discussed recent advances in creating and measuring the activity of mesoscale structures such as quantum dots. These “artificial atoms” could provide the architecture for future nanocomputers, with miniature chips packed with circuitry a hundred thousand times more dense than today’s best silicon chips.
  • Scientists must gain a better understanding of the dynamic behavior of these circuits and their components, said Paul Weiss of Pennsylvania State University and Mark Ratner of Northwestern University. Weiss presented new data on tracking single molecules across a surface, while Ratner discussed how charge transfer takes place on the nanoscale.
  • Cees Dekker of the Delft University of Technology shared recent research on the basic electrical properties of individual carbon nanotube molecules and said they can be used to create electronic devices and circuits at the single-molecule level.

    The nanotechnology seminar also covered topics in molecular motors, nano-medicine, and nanophotonics-harnessing light with miniscule devices for telecommunications and other uses.

  • Researchers close to delivering molecular circuits

    EE Times, February 19, 2002

    Molecular electronics researchers are converging on viable circuit-fabrication methods.

    A Hewlett-Packard and UCLA team are tackling one universal problem with molecular circuits: the inherent defects created by any chemical reaction. They’re designing a molecular equivalent of an FPGA (floating point gate array) that can be used to implement a redundant wiring scheme in which defective cells are simply switched out of the network.

    The team is also working on the I/O problem, with a patent on a means for multiplexing between CMOS-level signals used in conventional electronics devices and molecular signals.

    Nanotubes Self-assemble into Circuit Elements

    EE Times, March 28, 2002

    Researchers at Purdue University have created Nanotubes measuring just 100 atoms in diameter.

    Nanotube “parent” molecules were developed. These molecules self-assemble in water to form tiny rings, which then snap together, forming long tubes.

    The outside of these tubes has “hooks” on which to hang other molecules. This allows the resulting nanotube to be used for specific electronic applications — virtually forming angstrom-sized circuit elements.

    Professor Hicham Fenniri’s research group has experimented with two parent molecules. One grows conventional wires for electricity and one grows light-processing, photonic devices. They intend to focus next on electronic components.

    Fenniri has applied for a patent for his “rosette nanotubes” as a new class of self-assembling organic structures.

    So far, the team has verified the ability to control the diameter and length of the nanotubes, as well as how to introduce metallic molecules that conduct electricity and photonic molecules that process light. Electronic components, such as transistors, are in development.

    The group hopes to grow working circuits on electronic substrates by “writing” nanotube structures onto the wafers using nanolithography.

    Multiple Devices Fabricated in a Single Nanowire

    Semiconductor International, April 4, 2002

    Harvard University researchers are growing superlattices —a series of silicon p-n junctions—in a single nanowire. These could be useful for creating highly integrated logic circuits, nanoscale LEDs, and photonic waveguides for improved fiber optic communications.

    The advantage of this approach is that it eliminates the need for conventional lithography, opening the possibility of bottom-up assembly of complex functional structures.

    Scientists Get Atoms Ready for a Close-Up

    New York Times, May 14, 2002

    Scientists at Lucent Technologies’ Bell Labs have developed a microscopy technique that can image individual atoms within a silicon sheet, allowing for precision analysis of dopant distribution.

    As transistor sizes shrink, they require higher concentrations of electrons to work and are more sensitive to problems with dopant distribution.

    The Lucent microscope shoots a narrow beam of high-energy electrons and measures deflection angles to locate individual atoms.

    Nano breakthrough charges science world

    CNET News.com, May 19, 2002

    IBM researchers have created carbon nanotube field-effect transistors (CNFETs) that suggest that CNFETs may be competitive with Silicon MOSFETs for future nanoelectronic applications.

    CNFETs deliver more than twice the amount of electrical current at a faster rate than silicon transistors. Increased current can lead to faster transistors and integrated circuits, so carbon may become a building block of computing in the future.

    “Vertical scaling of carbon nanotube field-effect transistors using top gate electrodes,” Applied Physics Letters—May 27, 2002
    Volume 80, Issue 21, pp. 3883-4065

    Genes, Neurons, and the Internet Found to Have Some Identical Organizing Principles

    November 6, 2002, EurekAlert!

    A team headed by Dr. Uri Alon, of the Weizmann Institute of Science’s Molecular Cell Biology Department has found several organizational patterns—”network motifs”—underlying genetic, neural, technological, and food networks. The mathematical technique was first proposed by Alon earlier this year and has now been shown to be applicable in a wide range of systems. Surprisingly, the team found two identical motifs in genetic and neural systems.

    Fractal Magnets May Fracture Old Technologies

    NewsFactor Network, December 13, 2002

    Plastic magnets with fractal magnetic field may one day be the heart of computer hard drives small enough to power nanotechnology-based devices.

    Plastics with fractal magnetic fields “may provide ways to store a high density of information” in a very small space because of their intensely ordered structure, says Arthur Epstein, director of the Center for Materials Research at Ohio State University.

    I.B.M. Plans a Tiny Transistor

    New York Times, December 9, 2002

    IBM researchers have designed the world’s smallest transistor, nine nanometers in length. The development would allow for high-capacity memory and faster processors in the future.

    It would also extend today’s rate of progress in scaling down chips (Moore’s law) through at least 2016.

    Digital image stored in single molecule

    New York Times, Dec. 1, 2002

    University of Oklahoma researchers have found a way to store 1,024 bits of information in 19 hydrogen atoms in a single liquid-crystal molecule. The data are stored in the interactions of the protons’ magnetic moments, activated by firing an electromagnetic pulse containing 1024 different radio frequencies (each with amplitude modulation on or off) at the molecule.

    Researcher Bing Fung hopes the “molecular photography” technique could one day be used to pack massive amounts of digital information into a tiny space.

    Coax goes nano

    TRN News, November 13/20, 2002

    Researchers at Harvard University have made nanoscale wires from layers of different materials using the semiconductor manufacturing processes used to construct computer chips. The nanowires could be used to make faster computer chips, higher-density memory and smaller lasers.

    Nanowires within nanowires

    PhysicsWeb, Nov. 2002

    Harvard University researchers have synthesized nanowires that are only 50nm in diameter, containing a germanium core surrounded by a silicon shell. They also made “triple decker” wires of silicon, silicon oxide and germanium.

    They have used these approaches to prepare new devices called nanowire field-effect transistors. Working with researchers from Intel, the team also plans to integrate these transistors with conventional semiconductor processing to produce advanced hybrid devices.

    Molecules power nanoscale computers

    PhysicsWeb, Oct. 24, 2002

    IBM Almaden Research Center researchers have developed a new kind of computing process that relies on the motion of molecules rather than the flow of electrons. The logic gates use cascades of carbon monoxide molecules to transfer data.

    Devices made in this way have dimensions on the scale of nanometers, several orders of magnitude smaller than existing silicon-based components.

    The researchers demonstrated a three-input sorter that uses several AND gates and OR gates, as well as the crossover and fan-out units needed to connect them.

    A. J. Heinrich, C. P. Lutz, J. A. Gupta, and D. M. Eigler, “Molecule Cascades,” Science, zdoi;10.1126/science.1076768, published online Oct. 24, 2002 (requires paid registration)

    Scientists Shrink Computing to Molecular Level, New York Times, Oct. 25, 2002

    Superconducting nanotubes

    KurzweilAI.net, Sept. 3, 2002

    Researchers have discovered a way to convert nanotubes into superconductors by placing hydrogen on the exterior, leading to dense concentrations of charge-carrying electrons.

    Carbon nanotubes are considered to be building blocks of future electronic and mechanical devices.

    References:

    NIST press release: “Can Nanotubes Be Engineered to Superconduct?”

    “Effects of hydrogen adsorption on single-wall carbon nanotubes: Metallic hydrogen decoration,” by O. Gulseren, T. Yildirim, and S. Ciraci, was published in Physical Review B, Vol. 66, Article121401. A copy of the paper, in Adobe Acrobat PDF format, is available from Mark Bello at mark.bello@nist.gov.

    More information on Nanotube Research Team’s research

    Single atom memory device stores data

    Newscientist.com, September 10, 2002

    A workable atomic memory that uses individual atoms to store information has been developed by physicists, representing a density equivalent to 250 terabits of data per square inch.

    In the experiment, each single silicon atom was added or removed from a block of twenty others using a scanning tunnelling microscope.

    According to Tom Theis, director of physical sciences at IBM’s T.J. Watson Research Center, it may one day be possible to use such techniques to mimic the memory capabilities of biological systems such as DNA.

    AMD fabricates double-gate transistor for 10-nm designs

    Semiconductor Business News, Sept. 10, 2002

    Advanced Micro Devices Inc. here today announced it has fabricated the world’s smallest double-gate transistors, measuring 10 nanometers.

    Intel to unveil nanotechnology plans

    News.com, September 4, 2002

    Intel will unveil its plans for making chips with elements that measure less than 100 nanometers next Thursday morning at the Intel Developer Forum Sept. 9-12 in San Jose, California.

    Intel will also provide details on the upcoming 3GHz Pentium 4 and other developments.

    Nano research challenges storage limit

    UPI, August 26, 2002

    Research in nanomagnetics is challenging conventional wisdom about the limits to how small magnetic storage can get before becoming susceptible to loss of information—the “superparamagnetic” effect.

    If true, the finding would allow hard-drive designers to pack more information into their magnetic media materials before having to try more complicated technological approaches.

    Nanotubes speed up

    nanotechweb.org, August 2002

    Transistors fabricated from carbon nanotubes now have electrical characteristics that can rival silicon devices. For example, IBM researchers have developed a carbon-nanotube FET (field effect transistor) that can compete with the leading prototype silicon transistors currently available.

    Progress has also been made in reducing the resistance at the nanotube-electrode interface. This has allowed different nanotubes to be assembled into basic logic circuits, an important step towards nanoelectronics.

    Limitations in manufacturing techniques don’t yet allow for mass production, however.

    DARPA researcher pursues ‘nanomemory’

    UPI, August 4, 2002

    Kwan Kwok, a program manager with the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, said he plans to have a working nanoscale computer memory (“nanomemory”) by 2004 that stores 100 gigabits per square centimeter, using individual molecules as electrical components, or “moletronics.”

    Nanomemory’s most likely immediate use would be in processor cache memory, since it holds hundreds or thousands of times more data than current memory devices, allowing for smaller, cooler and more power-efficient processors and instant-on computers.

    In the future, nanomemory could be built into objects to allow any factory capable of reading the information to make a perfect copy.

    An entire computer in a single molecule?

    KurzweilAI.net, July 10, 2002

    That’s the vision of Dr. Christian Joachim, Director of Research at CNRS (Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique).

    His reasoning: Even with nanotechnologies and nanomaterials, progress in microelectronics will slow down by 2015 to 2020 because of clock speed, the number of transistors and interconnects, and required power dissipation, he says.

    So we’ll have to reduce computers to intramolecular dimensions and develop picotechnology (1/1000th the size of nanotechnology) to cope. But “real-space” design at the intramolecular level will also present major challenges. Rather than spatial designs, he recommends computing in the time domain, using quantum states.

    Bonding more atoms together for a single molecule computer, Institute of Physics Nanotechnology journal, March 13, 2002.

    Nanomedicine

    Nanotech Tubes Could Form Basis of New Drug Purification Techniques

    Scientific American, June 21, 2002

    Researchers have developed a smart membrane containing tiny silica nanotubes that is capable of separating beneficial from useless or even harmful forms of a cancer-fighting drug molecule.

    Nanotech: Big Dreams, Small Steps

    Business Week, June 18, 2002

    Diagnostic tools and sensors for bioscience and materials to enhance the fabrication of complex materials (such as gene chips) are the most likely nantechnology products to emerge in the next five years, according to experts.

    These will followed by diagnostic technologies to help researchers better understand and measure nanoscale interactions, mainly in biotech, then nanotherapeutic devices that will carry stores of drugs through the blood stream, and further off, nanoscale electronics.

    Nanoparticles Cut Tumors’ Supply Lines

    Science, June 27, 2002

    Cancer researchers packed a tiny particle with a gene that forces blood vessel cells to self-destruct, then “mailed” the particle to blood vessels feeding tumors in mice. A single treatment erased large tumors in mice in about 6 days.

    Synthesis of nanoparticles coming into focus

    EE Times, July 16, 2002

    Scientists are fast gaining control over the building of tiny particles, accomplishing nanoparticle synthesis in both inorganic and organic chemistries.

    Examples include:

    * University of Arkansas researchers are developing a “green” chemical process that offers tight control over the size of nanoparticles and eliminates toxic by-products.

    * NASA is building a comprehensive biomonitoring system using complex nanomachines called “tecto-dendrimers” for diseased-cell recognition (implanting optically active nanoparticles inside white blood cells to monitor human cell damage from radiation), diagnosis of disease states, drug delivery, location reporting and reporting the outcome of therapy.

    Related article:

    Nano-based DNA detection

    KurzweilAI.net, February 24, 2002

    Microelectrodes and gold nanoparticle probes are being used to create lower-cost, faster and more accurate DNA detection.

    Northwestern University scientists used a synthetic sequence of DNA that models the anthrax lethal factor to test a technology that could displace polymerase chain reaction (PCR) and conventional fluorescence probes in clinical diagnostics and make point-of-care DNA testing possible in the doctor’s office and on the battlefield.

    A simple electrical signal indicates that target DNA has been detected. Hundreds of pathogenic agents could be monitored simultaneously.

    Results will be published in the Feb. 22 issue of the journal Science. The new DNA detection method eliminates the expensive and the current necessary step of heating the gene chip and also improves upon optical detection methods reported previously by Northwestern in Science.

    Microchips in the Blood

    September 19, 2002, Economist

    Many of the promised genomic drugs will be impossible to swallow as pills. Instead, they will have to be injected in minute quantities at precise intervals for months at a time. Just the job for an implantable syringe-on-a-chip. Researchers in this field refer to their goal as intelligent drug delivery. The intelligence is derived from a piece of silicon one centimetre square. Etched in the silicon is a matrix of tiny wells, each designed to hold 150 nanolitres (billionths of a litre) of medicine.

    Buckymedicine: Coming soon to a pharmacy near you?

    Science News, July 13, 2002

    Fullerenes’ (aka Buckyballs) unique qualities—small size, spherical shape, hollow interior, and cage of 60 carbon atoms at which to attach chemical groups in almost any configuration have led to the development of drug candidates for treating diseases including HIV, cancer, and neurological conditions, and new diagnostic tools.

    Getting in touch with molecules

    KurzweilAI.net, July 17, 2002

    Using haptic technology, researchers are literally getting in touch with molecules in hopes of finding new cures for diseases.

    “To design a new drug, you have to see how a chemical compound will fit. With this device not only will you see it, but you can feel it,” said Dr. Edgar Meyer at Texas A&M University.

    With decades of molecular research experience aimed at human diseases, his team wondered how the molecule of a disease would “feel” when a substance was applied in order to block its ability to cause illness.
    “Molecules have bumpy surfaces, so you feel what it is like to go over the rough places in order to get it to fit into the right place,” he said. “There is a noticeable repulsion when you are pushing against a molecule in the wrong place.”

    TEXAS SCIENTISTS REACH OUT AND TOUCH MOLECULES

    Nanotechnology

    Asia to spend billions in nanotech research

    KurzweilAI.net, March 11, 2002

    Asia is investing big in nanotech. South Korea plans to spend US $1.3 billion over the next 10 years, said Professor Y. Kuk, Professor of Physics at Seoul National University, speaking at the recent Inaugural Conference of the recent Asia Pacific Nanotechnology Forum in Tsukuba, Japan.

    Japan, Taiwan, and China are also making substantial investments.

    Taiwan will spend about $600 million over the next six years and make nanotech a national priority, according to Professor M.K. Wu, Vice Chairman of Taiwan’s National Science Council.

    Japan’s projected national budget for nanotechnology-related project grants is slated to increase by 63 percent during 2002 to approximately ¥59 billion (US $444 million), according to Dr. Y. Tokumasu, Planning Director of Research and Development, METI.

    About 35 percent of the funds from the Japanese government will go for nanotech-related information technology, 30 percent for nanomaterials, and the balance for “analysis processing,” energy and medical research, said Professor T. Kishi, President, National Institute Materials Sciences, MEXT (Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology.

    Overall, Japan plans to commit 1% of its GDP (¥24 trillion or $180 billion) to R&D for 2001-2005, a 41% increase over last year, Tokumasu said.

    China’s national government will spend about CNY 2 billion (approximately US $242 million) in nanotech research over the next five years. China’s nanotech research now spans more than 50 universities, 20 institutes, and more than 100 enterprises, said Dr. Y. H. Ma of the Chinese Ministry of Science and Technology.

    nAbacus Ltd. of Hong Kong produced the conference, with high-level support from Japanese government agencies METI (Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry, Japan), AIST and NRI.

    —Nathen Fox, KurzweilAI.net correspondent

    Nanotubes could lengthen battery life

    KurzweilAI.net, January 10, 2002

    Experiments suggest carbon nanotubes could store more than twice as much energy as conventional graphite electrodes.

    Researchers at University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill have found carbon nanotubes may allow for longer-lasting batteries.

    “In our experiments, we used both electrochemistry and solid state nuclear magnetic resonance measurements, which show similar results,” said Dr. Otto Z. Zhou, an associate professor at UNC’s Department of Physics and Astronomy. “We can store, reversibly, one charged lithium ion for every six carbon atoms in graphite, but we found that with nanotubes, we can store one charged lithium ion for every three carbons, also reversibly.”

    Most rechargeable batteries in portable electronics today are lithium-ion batteries, which use graphite or carbonaceous materials as one of the electrodes. Nanotubes could hold twice as much energy as graphite.

    A report on the findings appears in the Jan. 7 issue of Physical Review Letters.

    Tiny silicon grains for lasers on a chip

    UPI, January 14, 2002

    Nanoscale silicon grains that emit laser light may in the future serve as the backbone of an optical computer network light years faster than today’s Internet.

    Researchers at North Carolina State University are developing the ultra-bright 3-nanometer lasers made from silicon itself. So in theory they could easily be incorporated into silicon chips, replacing the less efficient wires used to communicate between components in a circuit.

    Since the nanoparticles have no known toxic effects in living tissues, the research team is focusing on biological applications for them, such as use as a tag attached to defective cells.

    The researchers reported their findings in Applied Physics Letters.

    Scientists Fabricate Microscale ‘Bicycle Chain’

    Scientific American, January 16, 2002

    Scientists have manufactured a microscale bicycle chain comprised of silicon links thinner than a human hair that behaves just like its regular-sized counterpart. The tiny chain system could one day help power microscopic devices.

    Ed Vernon, a technologist at Sandia National Laboratories, designed and patented the 50-link silicon microchain, which the lab’s Microelectronics Development Laboratory (MDL) built. The centers of the tiny links are separated by just 50 microns. The links can rotate 52 degrees in either direction with respect to their neighbors in the chain without breaking the support structure. Such flexibility, the scientists note, means multiple gears powered by the chain need not lie in a straight line.

    Such a gear and chain mechanism could conceivably replace the multiple drivers currently required to run microelectromechanical systems motors.

    ‘Smart’ Silicon Dust Could Help Screen for Chemical Weapons

    Scientific American, September 03, 2002

    Scientists report the development of dust-size “smart” silicon crystals that could be used to detect chemical and biological agents from a distance, using a laser light source.

    Carbon nanotubes to improve solar cells

    EE Times, January 16, 2002

    Researchers from Cambridge University’s engineering department have developed photovoltaic devices that, when doped with single-wall carbon nanotubes (SWNTs), perform better than undoped devices.

    The nanotube diodes were made by depositing organic films containing SWNTs on to glass substrates coated with indium-tin oxide (ITO). Aluminium electrodes were then thermally evaporated under a vacuum to form a sandwich configuration, EE Times reports.

    The interaction of the carbon nanotubes with the polymer poly(3-octylthiophene) (P3OT) allows excitons generated by light in the polymer to dissociate into their separate charges and travel more easily.

    The team believes that further improvements in device performance will occur with more controlled film preparation and polymer doping.

    Cylinders make circuits spontaneously

    Nature Science Update, January 29, 2002

    Self-assembling circuits using carbon nanotube molecules could replace silicon chips.

    James Heath, of the University of California and colleagues have demonstrated that if one or both of two wires crossed at right angles are semiconducting, the junction can act like an electronic device such as a diode and each device can be switched on or off without affecting the others.

    This proof of principle raises hopes that a nanotube lattice could form a computer memory, storing one bit of information at each junction. Such a circuit could potentially furnish a random-access memory with a storage density around 100,000 times greater than that of a Pentium chip.

    Nanothermometer takes molecular temperatures

    New Scientist, February 7, 2002

    he world’s smallest thermometer consisting of a single carbon nanotube filled with liquid gallium has been created by researchers in Japan. The instrument is so sensitive that it can measure the temperature change that occur when small groups of molecules react with each other.

    The nanothermometer is 10 micrometers long and has a diameter of only 75 nanometers. It length is about one tenth the width of a human hair.

    “It’s interesting that nanotubes are being used in this way,” says Cees Dekker, a researcher at Delft University in the Netherlands. “Maybe they can be used as normal tubes after all.”

    But the nanoscopic thermometer also has practical applications. It can reliably measure a broad range of temperatures when viewed using a high-powered electron microscope, say the researchers who created it.

    Glowing nanobots map microscopic surfaces

    Nature Science Update, February 25, 2002

    Molecular robots used to explore a surface’s terrain can produce maps of microscopic structures and devices with higher resolutions than those produced by conventional microscopes, research shows.

    University of Washington researchers modified microtubules by fixing kinesin molecules (which normally move materials around cells along microtubule pathways) on a surface, causing the microtubules to propel themselves randomly on the surface.

    By attaching a fluorescent dye to the microtubules, the researchers can follow their paths.

    Microtubule nanobots can penetrate holes, cavities and pores to reach places that cannot be seen by viewing a microscope and can see features that are less than 50 nanometers.

    The nanobots could also be designed to investigate specific aspects of a surface, such as regions that are attractive or repulsive to water.

    Recent Advances Further Molecular Electronics Design

    Scientific American, March 14, 2002

    Two recent advances have furthered the realization of molecular electronic devices. Researchers at Bell Labs in New Jersey have created the world’s most compact, self-assembled organic molecule transistor, while another team at Arizona State University has devised a procedure to accurately measure the flow of electrons through single molecules.

    These two developments represent important steps towards the design of three-dimensional molecular circuits, an engineering challenge in which single molecules are assembled to create electronic parts.

    The Bell Labs’ transistor was created by sandwiching a middle layer of self-assembled organic molecules between two layers of gold film. An electric field was then applied using a silicon electrode, creating a transistor with a one-molecule wide channel.

    Meanwhile, the Arizona State University team also attached small carbon chains to a layer of gold, to which only some chains could adhere on both ends. By brushing the gold-tipped molecules with an atomic force microscope, a consistently accurate measure of conductivity could be made.

    This new method ensures an accurate measurement, allowing researchers to evaluate the properties of many different proposed molecular devices.

    Nanotubes Self-assemble into Circuit Elements

    EE Times, March 28, 2002

    Researchers at Purdue University have created Nanotubes measuring just 100 atoms in diameter.

    Nanotube “parent” molecules were developed. These molecules self-assemble in water to form tiny rings, which then snap together, forming long tubes.

    The outside of these tubes has “hooks” on which to hang other molecules. This allows the resulting nanotube to be used for specific electronic applications — virtually forming angstrom-sized circuit elements.

    Professor Hicham Fenniri’s research group has experimented with two parent molecules. One grows conventional wires for electricity and one grows light-processing, photonic devices. They intend to focus next on electronic components.

    Fenniri has applied for a patent for his “rosette nanotubes” as a new class of self-assembling organic structures.

    So far, the team has verified the ability to control the diameter and length of the nanotubes, as well as how to introduce metallic molecules that conduct electricity and photonic molecules that process light. Electronic components, such as transistors, are in development.

    The group hopes to grow working circuits on electronic substrates by “writing” nanotube structures onto the wafers using nanolithography.

    Scientists Develop Plastic That Mends Itself

    New York Times, March 5, 2002

    UCLA cientists have developed a transparent plastic called Automend that mends its cracks when heated without glue.

    The material is built of two molecular building blocks that interlock into a three-dimensional network.

    Holding the broken pieces next to each other and heating the plastic to about 250 degrees restores the chemical bonds to almost pristine condition with about 60 percent of the strength of the original.

    The design was inspired by the biological clotting process.

    Microscopes move to smaller scales

    PhysicsWeb, April 9, 2002

    The sharpest images ever achieved by optical means have been produced by researchers at the Max Planck Institute for Biophysical Chemistry, who have imaged clumps of bacteria just 33 nanometres across, equivalent to 1/23 of the wavelength of light used to illuminate them.

    The researchers hope to achieve a resolution of around 17 nanometres, using ultraviolet light. Practical devices are expected within two or three years, which could have microlithography and optical data storage uses.

    Nanocomposites may revolutionize molecular filtering

    KurzweilAI.net, April 24, 2002

    A team of Australian and US scientists has discovered a new type of nanoparticle-enhanced filter for separating compounds at the molecular level, as reported in the April 19 issue of Science.

    The new “nanocomposites” filters are created by combining organic polymers, normally used to make membrane filters, with inorganic substances—in this case a mist of silica nanoparticles.

    The team discovered that this combination allows the membrane to filter gases and organic vapors at the molecular level.

    Possible uses include biomolecule purification, environmental remediation, seawater desalination and petroleum chemicals and fuel production.

    Explorers in nanospace

    Thinking Big About Nanotechnology

    Wired News, May 21, 2002

    The first commercial results of nanotech coming onto the market now are mostly coatings and materials that resist friction and wear, or shed dirt from clothing and household surfaces.

    Researchers demo self-assembling nanowires

    EE Times, June 5, 2002

    Researchers at Aarhus University here have demonstrated a nanometer-scale fabrication technique that self-assembles tiny wires atop substrates, with an eye toward interconnecting molecular electronic circuits in the future.

    The molecular templates were developed by supercooling the materials and then manipulating their individual atoms with a scanning-tunneling microscope (STM). Once the template molecule and its actions are perfected using the STM, the researchers hope to develop self-assembly techniques that do not require human manipulation.

    News tip: Sander Olson

    Researchers run molecular machines on light

    EE Times, June 6, 2002

    Researchers at the Center for Nanoscience, Ludwig-Maximilians Universität have demonstrated the feasibility of operating molecular machines with light.

    A polymer made from photoactive chromophores was deposited on a microscope slide. The polymers were seen expanding and contracting under illumination, performing mechanical work.

    Advantages of optical control and energy transfer include picosecond reaction times and simple, massively parallel addressability.

    U.S. Nanotech Funding Heads for $1 Billion Horizon

    IEEE Spectrum, June 1, 2002

    With its request for US $710.2 million in nanotechnology research funding for the 2003 fiscal year, the National Nanotechnology Initiative (NNI) is accelerating its R&D efforts. The U.S House of Representatives is proposing a bill that would raise the National Science Foundation’s contribution by almost 8 percent.

    Research has begun to shift from making nanoscale objects to scaling up their manufacture and using them. The NNI is driving some of this change by emphasizing manufacturing in its FY2002—03 funding.

    The two other “grand challenges” for those years are the use of nanotechnology in detection of biological, chemical, and radiological weapons and explosives (in large part a reaction to last year’s terrorist attacks), and the use of technology for nanoscale instrumentation and metrology.

    Thinking Big About Nanotechnology

    Wired News, May 21, 2002

    The first commercial results of nanotech coming onto the market now are mostly coatings and materials that resist friction and wear, or shed dirt from clothing and household surfaces.

    It Slices! It Dices! Nanotube Struts Its Stuff

    New York Times, July 16, 2002

    Nanotubes can be processed to acquire remarkable properties: fibers thinner than a human hair that can be woven as a cloth or into a 100-times stronger muscle, molecular-scale electronic circuits, low-cost TV displays, X-ray sources, heat sinks, and microscopic gears.

    Smart coating for military vehicles being developed

    KurzweilAI.net, Dec. 26, 2002

    The New Jersey Institute of Technology has received a U.S. Army contract to develop a nanotech-based smart coating that would enable military vehicles, if corroded or scratched, to detect and heal themselves. The vehicles could also change color on the battlefield, creating instant camouflage and rendering tanks, helicopters and military trucks virtually invisible.

    The coatings could also reduce the sensitivity of explosives and thus make them safer for soldiers to handle.

    NJIT News release

    G.E. Research Returns to Roots

    New York Times, December 26, 2002

    GE scientists hope to develop super-thin lighting and energy sources that could be rolled off printing presses like newspapers. And that could usher in an era of cheap, clean-burning lights, batteries, solar cells—and the beginning of plastic-based electronics.

    Washington to Give Nanotech $37B Boost

    IPO.com, November 20, 2002

    New legislation now before President Bush could result in $37 billion in new funding over the next five years for the National Science Foundation —money that is expected to boost venture capital investments in nanotechnology and emerging biotech sectors.

    Don’t Stymie Nanotech

    Slashdot, November 21, 2002

    “A new paper released by the Pacific Research Institute says that nanotechnology holds benefits for society if not blocked by misguided regulation or outright bans. Already, some prominent individuals (like Bill Joy) have questioned the rationale of continuing nanotech research –; PRI’s paper explains that nanotech has more benefits than drawbacks, and that bans and heavy regulation are not in society’s best interests”

    Nano research should study consequences

    UPI, Nov. 20, 2002

    Scientists need to adopt both modest government regulation and open professional conduct to ensure public trust in the discipline, according to a study, “Forward to the Future: Nanotechnology and Regulatory Policy.”

    Nanotechnology and Mass Destruction

    Nanodot, November 05

    A recent essay in Disarmament Diplomacy proposed an ‘Inner Space Treaty’ to ban all nanotechnology research because of fears it might lead to nanowarfare and “Grey Goo” scenarios.

    André Gsponer concurs with the need for a treaty but argues that the timetable needs to be moved up. He argues that, with the ban on nuclear testing, the development of “fourth-generation nuclear weapons” is dependent upon MEMS and nanotech research, so a treaty banning nanotechnology research is needed now to stop both dangers.

    Nano Biomaterials

    Technology Review, November 2002

    Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute is using nanotechnology to design a self-cleaning plastic in which the enzyme molecules are an integral part of the material. When the plastic comes into contact with bacteria or other pathogens, the enzymes attack the microbes and destroy their ability to bind to its surface.

    Thread spun from pure carbon nanotubes

    NewScientist.com, Oct. 23, 2002

    A way of making a thread purely from carbon nanotubes has been developed by researchers in China. They say the super-strong, electrically-conducting threads “should eventually be able to be woven into objects such as bullet-proof clothing and materials that block electromagnetic waves.”

    Nanotech Goes To War

    Technology Review, Oct. 2002

    Nano materials could provide future soldiers with super strength, protection against bioweapons, a way to communicate covertly, and stronger and smarter uniforms.

    Nanotubes could reduce CO2 emissions

    UPI, Sept. 16, 2002

    Scientists at Carnegie Mellon University said carbon nanotubes could filter gases much more quickly than current systems, including emissions from internal-combustion engines and power plants.

    Nanotech moratorium called bad idea

    UPI, Sept. 11, 2002

    A suspension of nanotechnology research would be counterproductive and likely would prevent a proper examination of any possible health effects of its applications, Kevin Ausman, executive director for Rice University’s Center for Biological and Environmental Nanotechnology said at NanoTech 2002.

    The comments were in response to a demand for an immediate halt to all nanoscience work, issued by the Action Group on Erosion, Technology and Concentration (ETC Group).

    Bush Administration OKs Report Making Nano a Terror War Priority

    Small Times, Aug. 22, 2002

    The White House has signed off on a report on the National Nanotechnology Initiative (NNI), which includes a recommendation to use nanotech to fight weapons of mass destruction.

    NNI’s decided this year to create three new research focuses: nanotechnology for biological/chemical/radiological/ explosive detection and protection; nanoscale instrumentation and metrology; and manufacturing at the nanoscale.

    Nanostructures, the report says, “with their small size, light weight, and high surface-to-volume ratio, will dramatically improve our capability” to protect against and detect chemical, biological, radiological, and explosive (CBRE) agents.

    “For the instruments being developed to measure and manipulate individual atoms with sub-nanometer precision, one pathogen or even one chemical molecule is huge. The detection of a single CBRE moiety becomes possible. You can’t get any better sensitivity –; however there is still the nontrivial problem of getting that single moiety to the location where it can be detected.”

    Opposition to Nanotechnology

    New York Times, August 19, 2002

    With nanotechnology moving into commercialization, environmental groups are mounting a compaign to declare a moratorium on commercial production of nanomaterials, based on the precautionary principle, the go-slower approach to new technology.

    The campaign, led by the ETC Group, addresses concerns about nanoparticles interacting with living cells. For example, they warn that nanoscale particles in carrying drugs into the brain could also transport toxins and that nanoparticles absorbed by bacteria might enter the food chain.

    Call for moratorium on commercial nanomaterials

    Nanodot, July 29, 2002

    ETC Group (“dedicated to the conservation and sustainable advancement of cultural and ecological diversity and human rights”) calls for “an immediate moratorium on commercial production of new nanomaterials [and for launching] a transparent global process for evaluating the socio-economic, health and environmental implications of the technology.”

    ETC Group cites an EPA meeting where it was claimed that “nanoparticles are showing up in the livers of research animals, can seep into living cells, and perhaps piggyback on bacteria to enter the food chain,” and notes that there is no regulatory body “dedicated to overseeing this potent and powerfully invasive new technology.”

    Second law of thermodynamics ‘broken’

    NewScientist, July 19, 2002

    The second law of thermodynamics has for the first time been shown not to hold for microscopic systems, which could place a fundamental limit on miniaturization.

    “Their results are also in good agreement with predictions of the ‘fluctuation theorem,’ developed … to reconcile the second law with the behaviour of particles at microscopic scales.

    “The results imply that the fluctuation theorem has important ramifications for nanotechnology and indeed for how life itself functions,” claim the researchers at the Australian National University.

    It Slices! It Dices! Nanotube Struts Its Stuff

    New York Times, July 16, 2002

    Nanotubes can be processed to acquire remarkable properties: fibers thinner than a human hair that can be woven as a cloth or into a 100-times stronger muscle, molecular-scale electronic circuits, low-cost TV displays, X-ray sources, heat sinks, and microscopic gears.

    Neuroscience

    Similar patterns in genes, brains, feeding

    UPI, Oct. 24, 2002

    Scientists have used a mathematical algorithm to detect recurring patterns in the networks making up everything from food webs to the Internet to gene regulation in cells.

    By uncovering these crucial building blocks of networks, researchers have taken an important step toward unraveling the bewildering complexity of these systems, which they term “motifs.”

    NSF proposes major program to enhance human performance

    KurzweilAI.net, July 9, 2002

    The convergence of nanoscale research with other sciences and technologies has created a vast opportunity to enhance human performance, scientists say in Converging Technologies for Improving Human Performance, issued by the National Science Foundation (NSF) and Department of Commerce.

    In the report, scientists recommend that the U.S. designate R&D in technologies that enhance human abilities and efficiencies as a national priority by combining four major “NBIC” (Nano-Bio-Info-Cogno) areas: nanoscience and nanotechnology; biotechnology and biomedicine, including genetic engineering; information technology, including advanced computing and communications; and cognitive science, including cognitive neuroscience.

    Examples of how convergent technologies could benefit humanity in 10 to 20 years in the future include:

  • Fast, broad-bandwidth interfaces directly between the human brain and machines will transform work, control of automobiles, ensure superiority of military vehicles, and enable new sports, and art forms.
  • The human body will be more durable, healthy, energetic, easier to repair, and resistant to many kinds of stress, biological threat, and aging process.
  • Anywhere in the world, an individual will have instantaneous access to needed information, whether practical or scientific in nature, in a form tailored for most effective use by the particular individual.
  • Wearable computers with power similar to that of the human brain will act as personal assistants or brokers, providing valuable information of every kind in forms optimized for the specific user.

    The report also recommends launching a Human Cognome Project, comparable to the successful Human Genome Project, to chart the structure and functions of the human mind.

  • NASA backing brain caps as diagnostic tool

    UPI, May 11, 2002

    NASA is developing a “brain cap” to help assess astronauts’ mental performance in orbit, using a scanning technique called diffuse optical tomography.

    Near-infrared light is beamed through the skull to determine differences in blood flow and oxygen levels in various regions of the cerebral cortex. The goal is to reveal brain activity during critical tasks and evaluate behavioral problems, headaches and head injuries.

    Genes, Neurons, and the Internet Found to Have Some Identical Organizing Principles

    November 6, 2002, EurekAlert!

    A team headed by Dr. Uri Alon, of the Weizmann Institute of Science’s Molecular Cell Biology Department has found several organizational patterns . “network motifs” . underlying genetic, neural, technological, and food networks. The mathematical technique was first proposed by Alon earlier this year and has now been shown to be applicable in a wide range of systems. Surprisingly, the team found two identical motifs in genetic and neural systems.

    ‘Hard-Wired’ Grammar Rules Found for All Languages

    New York Times, January 15, 2002

    In 1981, Noam Chomsky proposed that the grammars of all languages can be described by a set of universal rules or principles, and the differences among those grammars are due to a finite set of options that are also innate. Now Dr. Mark C. Baker, a linguist at Rutgers University, has presented supporting evidence in the book, “The Atoms of Language: The Mind’s Hidden Rules of Grammar.”

    Vivid insight provided into workings of the brain

    The Guardian, January 21, 2002

    Researchers at the Institute of Psychology, King’s College London, have developed Vivid (virtual in-vivo interactive dissection), a system that noninvasively detects patterns of nerve connections inside the brains of living people.

    By reprogramming MRI scanners, Vivid tracks the random oscillation of water molecules, which can move more easily along a bundle of nerve fibers. A program makes it possible to construct a 3-D representation of the nerve connections.

    The group hopes doctors will be able to use the system for routine diagnosis of schizophrenics and other brain illnesses.

    Editorial note: This research may suggest one future direction in developing technology for reverse-engineering the brain.

    Tracing the Neural Circuitry of ‘Second Sight’

    HHMI News, February 8, 2002

    Researchers have traced the light sensing circuitry for a type of “second sight” that is distinct from the conventional visual system and seems to interact directly with the body’s internal clock. The researchers speculate that subtle genetic malfunctions of this machinery might underlie some sleep disorders.

    In an article published in the February 8, 2002, Science, a research team led by Howard Hughes Medical Institute investigator King-Wai Yau described the circuitry, which consists of a subset of nerve cells that carry visual signals from the eye to the brain. The scientists showed that circadian pacemaker nerve cells almost certainly depend on a different light-sensing pigment, called melanopsin, than the conventional visual system, which relies on rod and cone photoreceptors arrayed across the retina.

    New Neurons Work in an Old Brain

    Wired News, February 28, 2002

    Neurogenesis, the formation of new functioning neurons in the adult mammalian hippocampus has been definitively proven, according to researchers at the Salk Institute for Biological Sciences.

    The finding suggests a potential for neurogenesis-based therapies for some types of brain damage or disease. The researchers also noted that the rate of neurogenesis increases when the adult mouse is physically active.

    Nature 415, 1030-1034 (28 Feb 2002)

    ‘Robo-rat’ controlled by brain electrodes

    New Scientist, May 1, 2002

    Researchers at the State University of New York in New York City have turned a living rat into a radio-controlled automaton, using three electrodes placed in the animal’s brain. The animal can be remotely steered over an obstacle course, making it twist, turn and jump on demand.

    The research will help pinpoint biochemical changes in the brain and which brain regions are involved in processing different behaviors.

    “The researchers implanted one of the electrodes into the medial forebrain bundle (MFB), the part of the brain responsible for sensing reward. They placed the other two in parts of the somatosensory cortical area that receive stimulation from the left and right whiskers. Finally, a radio receiver tucked inside a rat-sized backpack was plugged into an interface in the rat’s skull.

    “The rats were trained to learn that they would be rewarded with continuous zaps to the MFB when they moved forwards, or when they turned according to an appropriate stimulation of the left or right whisker.”

    Journal reference: Nature (vol 417, p 37)

    The future of mind control

    The Economist, May 23, 2002

    Neurotechnology, such as brain stimulation and mood-altering drugs, poses a greater threat than genetics.

    New method pinpoints brain regions linked to genetic disorders

    KurzweilAI.net, May 29, 2002

    UCLA scientists have developed a new method, called “voxelation,” to rapidly track how genes express proteins in the human brain. Using this method, they were able to track how thousands of genes misfire proteins in a mouse model of Parkinson’s disease.

    “This approach identifies which genes play a role in abnormal brain function and where they are located,” said UCLA pharmacologist Desmond Smith. “We can use this information to narrow down the brain regions linked to genetic disorders and pinpoint the genes responsible for causing them.”

    UCLA scientists image how Parkinson’s genes misfire in mice

    Monkey Think, Monkey Do in Brain Experiment

    Reuters, June 6, 2002

    Monkeys implanted with special electrodes that were attached to a single neuron in the motor cortex moved a cursor on a computer screen just by thinking about it.

    The experiment by Arizona State University neuroscientists could lead to the development of better prosthetic limbs and for paralyzed patients to move again.

    The monkeys had been trained to play a computer game using their arms, moving virtual balls around a 3-D virtual space. Then they were fitted with electrodes and the animals’ arms where strapped down so they couldn’t use them. As they learned their thoughts alone could move the cursor on the screen, they stopped trying to move.

    Watching crosstalk in the brain

    BioMedNet News, June 17, 2002

    New methods and new tracers in functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) are allowing researchers to watch entire conversations between neurons, not just the actions of single neurons.

    The studies enhance MRI’s sensitivity with specific tracers such as manganese chloride, which does not diffuse but goes from neuron to neuron. The researchers at the US National Institute of Neurological Diseases and Stroke predict that sensitivity will soon increase to the point that such studies will be possible in humans.

    A Chip That Mimics Neurons, Firing Up the Memory

    New York Times, June 20, 2002

    Researchers at the University of Southern California Department of Biomedical Engineering are developing methods of incorporating the essential functions of the brain’s hippocampus (where memories are formed) in hardware to help combat cognitive impairment from Alzheimer’s, stroke and epilepsy, with DARPA funding.

    They are recording the electrical activity of the neurons for all possible input patterns, creating models of neural functions, and translating the models into computer chips that will take the place of 50 to 100 brain cells. Chips to simulate up to 10,000 neurons have been designed and tested but not yet built. They hope to eventually implant the chips in the brains of rats or monkeys and then people.

    Unlike other neuroprosthetic chips, which enhance the senses or motor skills, these are meant to augment cognition itself.

    Chemical enables brain to rewire itself

    UPI, June 24, 2002

    Contrary to previous thinking, the brain does have the ability to rewire itself. A naturally occurring chemical called inosine can cause nerve cells to regenerate and improve limb function after stroke in animals, and it may be useful in repairing brain damage in humans caused by stroke or even brain tumors.

    The research appears in the June 25 print edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

    3D maps show brain gene activity

    New Scientist News, June 24, 2002

    A 3D map of the brain’s genetic activity should help researchers pinpoint the neurological underpinnings of autism, schizophrenia and other brain disorders.

    Healthy Shocks to the Head

    Newsweek, June 24, 2002

    Brain pacemakers, or “deep-brain stimulators,” are starting to show promise for treating neurological disorders, such as Parkinson’s, epilepsy, dystonia, and severe obsessive-compulsive disorder.

    New treatment for depression

    Newsweek, June 24, 2002

    Psychiatrists are using transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) to treat depression that doesn’t respond to drugs.

    The experimental treatment applies a pulsed magnetic field to the frontal cortex, which links to the limbic system, a regulator of emotion.

    The experimental treatment applies a pulsed magnetic field to the frontal cortex, which links to the limbic system, a regulator of emotion.

    Scientists Develop Remote Control Brain Sensor

    November 19, 2002, Times of India

    In a significant breakthrough, British scientists claim to have developed a device that measures brain’s electrical activity without the need for electrodes. Instead of measuring electric current flow through a fixed-on electrode, the new method takes advantage of the latest developments in sensor technology to measure electric fields from the brain without actually having to make direct contact with the head.

    Lasers reveal rewiring of the living brain

    Newscientist.com, Dec. 18, 2002

    A new technique for imaging the brains of living animals known as “two photon microscopy” represents a breakthrough in understanding rewiring of the brain that will have far-reaching implications for neurobiology, researchers say. It involves shining laser light into the brains of living animals and picking up the “returning light” produced by neurons engineered to express fluorescent proteins.

    Future Tech: Thinking Machines

    Discover, December 2002

    Reverse-engineering the brain might finally lead to smarter computers.

    Kwabena Boahen, a lead researcher at the University of Pennsylvania’s Neuroengineering Research Laboratory, is developing neuromorphic chips that mimic neural connections. He’s developed a retinomorphic chip patterned on the human eye that picks out the kinds of features and facial patterns that we use to recognize people and read their emotional state.

    Bruce McCormick, director of Texas A&M University’s Brain Networks Laboratory, is using a Brain Tissue Scanner to create detailed 3-D neuronal maps. Researchers at Caltech’s Human Brain Project are using magnetic resonance imaging and other noninvasive techniques to study how a brain’s anatomy and neuronal structure change during development.

    McCormick estimates it will take at least two decades to combine neuromorphic chips with these detailed neuronal maps to create even a very crude copy of the human brain.

    “I think that within 30 years, probably much sooner, we’ll have completely reverse-engineered the human brain and be able to recreate competing systems that emulate it,” says Ray Kurzweil.

    Keywords: reverse-engineering the brain

    ‘Doorways’ discovered in living brain cells

    NewScientist.com, Oct. 23, 2002

    Brain cell membranes contain fixed “doorways” that control the entry of molecules into the cell, new research at Duke University shows.

    Understanding this process, and how to control it, could one day lead to an entirely new class of treatments for depression, epilepsy, addiction and other neurological disorders; and preventing pathogens, such as viruses, from entering brain cells.

    Brain-On-A-Chip Technology Devised to Test Drugs

    Reuters, Oct. 16, 2002

    Tensor Biosciences of Irvine, California has developed a method of keeping “mini-brain” brain tissue from rats and mice alive for weeks, which will allow scientists to test new drugs for a range of psychiatric diseases including Alzheimer’s and schizophrenia.

    The glass chips contain thousands of interconnected animal brain cells suspended in a solution of artificial cerebral fluid. An array of 64 electrodes on the chip’s surface monitors the overall electrical activity of the brain tissue.

    A Question of Will

    Boston Globe, October 15, 2002

    Neuroscientists have detected brain signals directing a muscle to move before the person reports having made a conscious (“free will”) decision to move the muscle. They’ve also found that magnetic fields influence a human’s decision (to choose left or right), yet people still “feel” they made the decision freely.

    The research has renewed the age-old controversy over free will vs. determinism.

    Gene stops brain from growing everywhere

    UPI, Oct. 9, 2002

    Researchers have discovered a gene that prevents brain cells from growing everywhere in the body, which might help scientists learn how to rebuild neurons, muscles, and organs after injury, disease or aging.

    Deactivating the “nou-darake” (Japanese for “brains everywhere”) gene in flatworms resulted in brain matter developing everywhere, including a brain in the tail and extra primitive eyes down their bodies. The gene is also found in humans.

    The research was reported in Nature Oct. 10, 2002.

    ‘Artificial personality’ to get psychological test

    KurzweilAI.net, June 30, 2001

    A psychological test will be administered to a machine-based “artificial personality” known as GAC (Generic Artificial Consciousness).

    GAC—pronounced ‘Jack’—is being developed at the Mindpixel Digital Mind Modeling Project with the collaboration of nearly 40,000 Internet users, who have input more than 355,000 individual items of human consensus experience. The project’s organizers hope to build an accurate statistical model of an average human mind by 2010.

    GAC will be evaluated using the MMPI-2 (Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory) test over the next several months to assess its learning of human consensus experience from the Mindpixel project’s users. The test will be supervised and interpreted by psychologist Dr. Robert Epstein, Editor-in-Chief of Psychology Today magazine.

    MIT Picower Center neuroscientists find method in the mad rush of eye movements and brain response

    MIT News, Sept. 27, 2002

    MIT researchers report in the September issue of Nature Neuroscience that saccadic eye movements—long thought to be random—occur in a specific order.

    The researchers also found that the primary visual cortex neurons of the monkeys in the study change their responses quickly as the eyes move from one part of a scene to another, in effect, “learning to see” several times a second.

    Engineer looks to human brain for new technology

    AP, Aug. 7, 2002

    The human brain operates at roughly 12 kilohertz and burns a fraction of the power computers do, making it exponentially more efficient than the fastest computer, according to IBM senior technologist Kerry Bernstein.

    While mammals add a cubic inch of brain matter every 100,000 years, Bernstein says, processors are predicted to double in performance and capability once every 12 to 18 months.

    Bubbles and Ultrasound Used to Treat Brain Diseases

    Reuters, July 31, 2002

    Researchers at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston are using bubbles and ultrasound beams to treat brain disorders without surgery. They injected tiny protein bubbles into the bloodstream of animals and used an ultrasound beam targeted on a specific area of the brain to burst the bubbles in the blood vessel.

    “The resulting shock waves make the blood-brain barrier permeable, so large molecules can get into the brain,” New Scientist magazine said.

    Tweaking Single Gene Makes Mice Brainier

    Scientitific American News, July 19, 2002

    Scientists have succeeded in making mice cerebral cortex grow dramatically more convoluted. They developed a line of transgenic mice that carried a variant of a gene that makes a protein, beta-catenin, thought to play a role in regulating cell growth in the developing brain.

    Next Dimension in Baby Watching

    Wired News, July 17, 2002

    Clinicians and parents can watch real-time live-action ultrasound images of a fetus, thanks to GE Medical Systems’ Voluson 730 ultrasound system.

    Some neurological defects may be apparent in the movement of the fingers.

    Pervasive computing

    Pervasive computing: The walls are listening

    Government Computer News, February 4, 2002

    Pervasive-computing systems using large numbers of small devices and sensors will allow future workers to work and stay in touch information from the Internet from anywhere.

    Smart Space Laboratory researchers at the National Institute of Standards and Technology have connected a variety of off-the-shelf devices to a prototype meeting room that can take dictation, track individual speakers and, perhaps some day, answer spoken questions.

    A prototype voice-recognition conference room at NIST’s Gaithersburg, Md., headquarters has several arrays of microphones instead of a single mike.

    The microphone array serves not only for speech recognition —for example, to make a simple transcript of a meeting—but also for tracking people as they move around the room.

    Future knowledge workers can move around their smart spaces without worrying about being near computers or microphones.

    Sensors Gone Wild

    October 28, 2002, Forbes

    The real goal of a $40 million experiment is to explore the uses of intelligent sensors, a technology whose promise suddenly seems huge. The applications for this “embedded intelligence” are vast and profound. Eventually large swaths of the earth will 4communicate with the digital realm using millions of miniature sensors. Sensors will be placed in bridges to detect and warn of structural weakness and in water reservoirs to spot hazardous materials. Hospitals will track patients with such things as wireless bandages that warn of infection. Truck drivers will be able to dodge traffic jams based on slow-ups 20 cars ahead.

    Airships tested as telecom beacons

    Toronto Star, Dec. 16, 2002

    “Stratellites,” spherical airships at 19,000 meters in altitude, will be used as high-flying telecommunications platforms to supply two-way Internet access across the United States and into Mexico and Canada ihin 2004. They offer the advantages of satellites without the launch costs and transmission latency.

    The Wi-Fi Boom

    New York Times, December 12, 2002

    High-speed Wi-Fi wireless access to the Internet in public and private spaces is a growing national trend.

    Sony’s Ando: PCs to function like a brain

    ZDNet News, December 5, 2002

    Sony President Kunitake Ando foresees a future personal computer that knows a person’s individual tendencies and tastes, functioning almost like a surrogate brain.

    Hybrid PC-television devices will evolve for consumers and people will be able to retrieve their personal information from powerful networks that allow anytime, anywhere across a variety of individual devices.

    Broadband wireless Internet access nationwide planned

    KurzweilAI.net, Dec. 6, 2002

    AT&T, Intel and IBM have formed a new company, Cometa Networks, to provide broadband wireless Internet access nationwide using 802.11b (Wi-Fi) technology.

    Cometa Networks plans to provide the service to telecommunications companies, Internet service providers, cable operators and wireless carriers, which can then offer it to their customers.

    Cometa also plans to install “hot spots” for accessing wireless Internet networks at retail chain stores, hotels, universities, and other popular locations. The service will begin to roll out during 2003 in the top 50 U.S. urban markets.

    Users will be able to keep existing sign-on procedures, email addresses, IDs, passwords and payment methods—regardless of whether they are accessing the Internet via an ISP, corporate virtual private network, telecommunications provider or cable operator.

    AT&T will provide network infrastructure and management while IBM provides wireless site installations and back-office systems.

    Nortel Networks announced a similar service on December 3. Its technology will help enable mobile workers to establish “virtual offices,” connect securely to corporate intranets, and access the Net from virtually any location.

    In addition, it will allow users to roam seamlessly between wireless 2G/3G and WLAN networks with uninterrupted access.

    The technology will also manage billing information across
    networks so end users can receive one consolidated bill from their wireless operator.

    Also see: “High-Speed Wireless Internet Network Is Planned,” New York Times

    Govt. Report: Internet Use Is Growing

    Reuters, February 5, 2002

    Americans’ use of the Internet is still galloping ahead at a rate of more than two million new users per month, according to a report issued on Tuesday by the U.S. Department of Commerce.

    Despite the recession and slowdown in the high-tech economy, the number of Americans on the Web grew by 26 million in the 13 months leading up to September 2001, according to the report, which is based on U.S. Census
    figures.

    That means 143 million Americans—about 54 percent of the U.S. population—were on the Web as of September, according to the Commerce Department. In all, 174 million people, or 66 percent of the population, used computers.

    The report says Internet use has been growing fastest among lower income Americans: 25 percent annually in households earning less than $15,000 a year. For the highest income U.S. households, the growth was 11 percent a year.

    Pioneers go beyond wires, walls and the World Wide Web

    MSNBC, March 17, 2002

    The next-generation Internet is being built with high-speed wireless networks, ranging from next-generation cell phones and other mobile devices to free-space optical networks based on laser light.

    The hottest trends:

  • A high-speed (6 megabits or more per second) wireless standard known as 802.11b or “Wi-Fi,” which is spawning a huge array of commercial products as well as free-access community networks.

  • Internet2, a national research consortium, which is developing even faster connections that will handle high-definition digital television (1.5 gigabits/second), shared virtual-reality environments, high-quality videoconferencing, and remote surgery.

  • HP, MIT delve deep with digital library

    CNET News.com, November 4, 2002

    MIT and Hewlett-Packard have unveiled DSpace, a system for electronically archiving books, lecture notes and scientific data. It currently can hold two terabytes of data; eventually more than a petabyte (1000 terabytes). The software will be licensed freely.

    Lawrence Lessig: The ‘Dinosaurs’ are Taking Over

    Business Week, May 13, 2002

    In “The Future of Ideas: The Fate of the Commons in a Connected World,” Stanford University law professor Lawrence Lessig warns that the Internet will soon belong to Hollywood studios, record labels, and cable operators, which co-opt the Internet and stifle innovation.

    Distributed program to translate many languages

    New Scientist, April 2, 2002

    The World Wide Lexicon (WWL) project is developing a distributed computer program to harness the brains of the world’s computer users to build a multilingual translation database for less common languages.

    Since the project depends on volunteers, quality assurance may be problem, but software developer Brian McConnell hopes to develop an automatic peer-review system to ensure that translations are accurate.

    McConnell has designed a spider program to roam the web and select common words from foreign web sites. These will be sent to relevant volunteers for translation.

    When a sufficiently large word database has been built, translation users will be able to download another program that searches servers for words. Those not found will be sent to volunteers for translation.

    When the web starts thinking for itself

    vunet.com, Dec. 20, 2002

    The semantic Web—an extension of the current Web—may act as a “collective memory,” augmenting individual brain power and accelerating the pace of human learning and discovery.

    “The global communication network is already capable of complex behaviour that defies the efforts of human experts to comprehend,” notes Daniel Dennett, director of the Center for Cognitive Studies at Tufts University.

    Keeping Pace with the Accelerating Enterprise

    CIO Insights, November 2, 2002

    Everything is moving faster, and companies are being propelled toward “real time” as the world becomes more connected and more responsive through autonomous agents, says Christopher Meyer, vice president and director of Cap Gemini Ernst & Young’s Center for Business Innovation.

    Moving to real time is a competitive necessity. The real-time enterprise is unavoidable and means that a company can sense and respond faster than changes in a relevant feature of the environment. The scarce resource is now time, not financial capital.

    Keywords: acceleration

    Now Here’s a Really Big Idea

    Wired News, Nov. 25, 2002

    Darryl Macer, associate professor at the Institute of Biological Sciences at the University of Tsukuba in Japan, plans to create a human mental map—a database that would contain a log of every human idea.

    By understanding which ideas are specific to certain cultures and which ones are universal, policy-makers can make more informed decisions about such agreements, Macer said.

    A Universal Tool to Rescue Old Files From Obsolescence

    New York TImes, August 29, 2002

    Dr. Raymond Lorie, a researcher at the I.B.M. Almaden Research Center in San Jose, Calif., has developed a “universal virtual computer” for long-term preservation of obsolescent digital documents.

    The system, which uses semantic tags, is designed to be logical and accessible so computer developers of the future will be able to write instructions to emulate it on their machines.

    Unearthing Information in an Avalanche of Voice Mail

    New York Times, April 25, 2002

    AT&T Labs researchers have built a system that allows browsing through voice mail. The ScanMail system uses speech recognition technology to transcribe voice-mail messages so they can be searched on an automated speech recognition server.

    Other researchers are developing systems capable of searching audio content on the Internet. Compaq Cambridge Research Laboratory’s SpeechBot spiders the Web for audio files, downloads, and transcribes them. The system has created transcripts for more than 14,000 hours of Web audio.

    Other uses of audio searching include intelligence-gathering and call-center automation.

    Clothes Make the Network

    Technology Review, December 4, 2002

    Wearable computers and ad-hoc wireless communities make possible a momentary alliance among transient interest groups.

    Computers embedded in clothing could form networks on the fly, prompting software agents to carry out mutually beneficial transactions. A group waiting to buy movie tickets might use an ad hoc network to auction off favorable places in line. Thousands of people in Times Square could pool computing power and sell it by the teraflop-second to nearby office buildings….

    The Disappearing Computer

    KurzweilAI.net, Dec. 4, 2002

    “We are in the early years of a truly digital decade, in which the intelligence of the PC is finding its way into all kinds of devices, transforming them from passive appliances into far more significant and indispensable tools for everyday life,” says Bill Gates.

    “Computers are becoming smaller, more powerful, less power-hungry and far less expensive, making it easier to build computing power and connectivity into everyday devices.

    “The pervasiveness and near-invisibility of computing will be helped along by new technologies such as cheap, flexible displays, fingernail-sized MEMS (micro-electromechanical systems) chips capable of storing terabytes of data, or inductively powered computers that rely on heat and motion from their environment to run without batteries.

    The Disappearing Computer by Bill Gates

    Dead Air

    Forbes, Nov. 25, 2002

    Cell phones and the wireless industries of the future are snarled by a critical shortage of airwaves.

    Solutions are on the way. Intel has discovered how to build entire radios in silicon chips. This and other new wireless technologies like cognitive radio, ultrawideband, software-defined radio and mesh networks could allow for spectrum sharing without interference, which the FCC is considering.

    Polymers enable ultrafast data transport

    UPI, Nov. 15, 2002

    Scientists at Bell Laboratories’ Lucent Technologies have demonstrated the use of polymers as optical modulators for future fiber-optic communication systems. The devices would be capable of up to 200 GHz transmission, 20 times faster than today’s commercial modulators.

    The future of the digital home: Gates at COMDEX

    CNET.com, November 17, 2002

    At COMDEX today, Bill Gates presented Microsoft’s plan to introduce digital-home “smart” products that are cheaper, more powerful and more portable, from a digital alarm clock to portable monitors that can remotely access a PC from throughout the home.

    “At the end of the decade, a terabyte will be the typical storage on a personal computer,” Gates said. Hundreds of gigabytes of data will be able to be stored on portable devices, he said.

    Dust-sized sensors could monitor weather

    UPI, Oct. 30, 2002

    A network of microscopic sensors, each acting as its own antenna and power source, could float through storms and generate detailed, real-time atmospheric data essential for weather forecasting, researchers suggest.

    Tricks of the light promise record data speeds

    NewScientist.com, September 7, 2002

    Researchers have shown that the bandwidth of existing fiber optic cables can be increased from 10 gigabits/second to 2 terabits/per second, using new techniques, including a subcarrier, multiple wavelengths, and multiple polarizations.

    Quantum computing

    Physicists Create a New State of Matter

    Scientific American News, January 3, 2002

    Researchers have succeeded in creating a reversible quantum phase transition in a Bose-Einstein condensate. The finding, announced in the journal Nature, could aid efforts to build quantum computers.

    A Bose-Einstein condensate (BEC) is created by cooling a gas of rubidium atoms to one-hundred-millionth of a degree above absolute zero or less, causing the atoms to lose their individuality and merge into a single quantum state.

    The investigators at Ludwig-Maximilians University placed the BEC in an optical lattice—a three-dimensional light interference pattern generated by laser beams. When they increased the intensity of the laser beams making up the optical lattice, the atoms lost their freedom and each became trapped in a single valley, forcing the superfluid into a patterned fluid —a new type of matter.

    In a commentary to the Nature report, physicist Henk T. Stoof of Utrecht University said, “Every rubidium atom has a magnetic moment and so has two internal states that may serve as the 0 and 1 of a quantum bit.” Given the large number of rubidium atoms in the optical lattice, he says, they could provide the memory for a quantum computer. “If there are two such memories that can be moved relative to each other, we can even make use of the interactions between atoms to perform a quantum computation. The first step towards this exciting goal has now been taken.”

    Solid stops light

    Nature, January 8, 2002

    A crystal that holds light could facilitate quantum computing.

    Researchers in the United States and Korea have brought light to a complete standstill in a crystal. The pulse is effectively held within the solid, ready to be released at a later stage.

    This trick could be used to store information in a quantum computer.

    Normal computers store information in simple binary form (1′s and 0′s) in electronic and magnetic devices. Stationary light pulses can encode information in more sophisticated ways that use the laws of quantum mechanics, making information processing more powerful.

    Positioning atoms with lasers

    Event horizon dawns on desktop

    Nature Science Update, January 28, 2002

    Using frozen light, physicists hope to mimic a black hole on a desktop. The miniature physics phenomena could show hidden shades of space.

    The simulation could create a mock version of elusive ‘Hawking radiation.’ These weak electromagnetic waves are thought to occur when light reaches the event horizon, where dimensions as we know them disappear and light and time appear to stand still.

    Imitation event horizons may help us to understand the quantum effects of gravity, and resolve conflicts between general relativity and quantum theory.

    Mutant viruses order quantum dots

    New Scientist, May 3, 2002

    “A three dimensional grid of quantum dots created and held together by genetically-engineered viruses could enable a new generation of computer displays, memories and even nanoscale computer chips.”

    Spintronics

    Scientific American, June 2002

    Microelectronic devices that function by using the spin of the electron are a nascent multibillion-dollar industry—and may lead to quantum microchips.

    Light’s Information-Carrying Capacity Doubles

    Scientific American, June 12, 2002

    Scottish researchers report that they have succeeded in encoding two bits of information on a single photon by sorting individual photons according to their orbital angular momentum (one of two possible spin states).

    The findings represent a step toward exploiting orbital angular momentum for quantum information processing and the possibility of a much greater density of information transfer.

    Scientists Report ‘Teleported’ Data

    AP, June 17, 2002

    Australian scientists have “teleported” a laser beam encoded with data, breaking it up and reconstructing an exact replica a yard away. The research replicates an experiment at the California Institute of Technology in 1998.

    Scientists at the Australian National University said the main use will be to encrypt information and for a new generation of super-fast computers.

    The researchers used entanglement in the experiment, in which characteristics of photons can be mirrored and measured in a second set of photons on a second laser beam that was entangled with the first.

    A New Twist on Light Speed

    Wired News, June 26, 2002

    Glasgow scientists have measured a single photon’s orbital angular momentum for the first time. The research could lead to speeding up optical communications by allowing each photon sent over fiber optic lines to encode multiple bits as quantum orbital states.

    Measuring the Orbital Angular Momentum of a Single Photon, Phys. Rev. Lett. 88, 257901 (2002) (June 24, 2002)

    An entire computer in a single molecule?

    KurzweilAI.net, July 10, 2002

    That’s the vision of Dr. Christian Joachim, Director of Research at CNRS (Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique).

    His reasoning: Even with nanotechnologies and nanomaterials, progress in microelectronics will slow down by 2015 to 2020 because of clock speed, the number of transistors and interconnects, and required power dissipation, he says.

    So we’ll have to reduce computers to intramolecular dimensions and develop picotechnology (1/1000th the size of nanotechnology) to cope. But “real-space” design at the intramolecular level will also present major challenges. Rather than spatial designs, he recommends computing in the time domain, using quantum states.

    Bonding more atoms together for a single molecule computer, Institute of Physics Nanotechnology journal, March 13, 2002.

    New spin on transistors

    Nature Science Update, July 5, 2002

    A new “spintronic” atom-based transistor uses a new principle for controlling and switching electrical current based on electron spin.

    Developed at the Institute for Microstructural Science in Ottawa, the device uses a magnetic field to tune a quantum dot so that the spins of electrons hopping onto or off it must be aligned up or down. This means information can be stored, read out and erased by manipulating the spins of the electrons in the well.

    Quantum computing making ‘tremendous progress’

    New Scientist, Nov. 29, 2002

    There has been what one researcher calls “tremendously rapid progress” in quantum computing in the last year. A device for overcoming quantum “decoherence” has been developed at the University of New South Wales, using two phosphorus atoms precisely embedded in a silicon crystal.

    Other researchers at Innsbruck University in Austria have achieved a quantum computation using a single trapped calcium ion, the first calculation made on a system proven to be in a quantum state.

    Superconducting junctions eyed for quantum computing

    EE Times, November 22, 2002

    Josephson junctions, a superconducting type of transistor, are being investigated as a possible route to scalable quantum computers by a physicist at the University of Michigan.

    Chip design aims for quantum leap

    TRN News, August 21/28, 2002

    University of Wisconsin researchers are designing a practical quantum computer using ordinary electronics rather than exotic laboratory equipment. Their design would incorporate thousands of individually-controlled electrons into a silicon chip that could be made much the same way as today’s computer chips.

    Coherent Computing: Making qubit superpositions in superconductors last longer

    Scientific American, August 2002

    Research teams have made critical breakthroughs in developing quantum computers.

    The Quantronics group at the Atomic Energy Commission (CEA) in Saclay, France, and Siyuan Han’s laboratory at the University of Kansas reported qubit chip designs with coherence times at least 100 times as great as those achieved before. Investigators at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) in Boulder, Colo., have come up with a design that they think could yield similar coherence rates.

    Quantum net for atom angling

    Nature, July 30, 2002

    Researchers at University of Texas at Austin are able to extract an exact number of atoms from a Bose-Einstein condensates (BEC)—clouds of atoms that behave as though they were a single super-atom—using a quantum dot. Manipulating BECs is important in developing quantum computers.

    Quantum dot device traps electrons

    KurzweilAI.net, July 26, 2002

    University of Wisconsin-Madison scientists have designed a “quantum dot” semiconductor-based device that can trap individual electrons and line them up. It can be scaled up to build a working quantum computer, they claim.

    ADVANCE MAY LEAD TO PRACTICAL QUANTUM COMPUTING, University of Wisconsin-Madison press release, July 23, 2002

    Quantum entanglement stronger than suspected

    New Scientist, July 17, 2002

    Pairs of photons linked by entanglement can pass through gold sheets without the entanglement being destroyed, in an experiment at Leiden University. The finding means quantum linking of particles is far more robust than scientists thought and could help them develop new ways of making quantum computers.

    Robodocs

    Robots could lift nursing home mood

    UPI, May 14, 2002

    A robotic baby seal called “Paro” has helped improve the quality of life for both clients and staff at a Japanese elder day-care facility.

    Japan’s Intelligent Systems Institute and University of Tsukuba modeled their work on animal therapy.

    Paro appears more true-to-life than current entertainment robots, using artificial fur and airbag-based pressure sensors to allow Paro to sense when it is being petted.

    Residents showed better emotional states and reported feeling more vigorous.

    AI to Assist Alzheimer’s Patients

    Wired News, June 24, 2002

    The Activity Compass, a Palm handheld with a GPS receiver and wireless modem, will memorize an Alzheimer’s patient’s daily routine and offer him directions when he becomes lost or confused.

    Researchers Laud Robot-guided Heart Surgery

    November 19, 2002, CNN

    Robotic heart surgery using the da Vinci Surgical System has many advantages for patients and doctors, according to research presented to cardiologists at the annual Scientific Sessions of the American Heart Association. The robotic technique requires four puncture wounds, each an inch in diameter. Surgeons use pencil-sized instruments to operate on the heart. They sit several feet away from the patient at a console where they see inside the patient on a monitor.

    Robot repairs heart without opening chest

    UPI, Nov. 19, 2002

    Heart surgeons using computer-controlled tiny robot arms with metallic “hands” that hold miniaturized instruments have performed successful open heart surgery without cutting open the chest.

    AI Caretakers For Alzheimer’s Sufferers

    KurzweilAI.net, July 25, 2002

    Researchers are developing a network of ubiquitous digital devices and wireless sensors that monitor Alzheimer’s sufferers, offer prompts when appropriate, and summon help when needed. The research will be presented at the AAAI conference in in Edmonton, Alberta next week.

    Devices developed so far include the Activity Compass, a prototype wireless handheld device (based on a Palm Pilot, GPS receiver, and wireless modem) that will memorize a patient’s daily routine, then offer advice and directions if the user becomes lost or confused; and Adaptive Prompter, an in-home system to keep patients on task in performing daily activities.

    In addition, AI software will monitor, weigh uncertainty and make decisions about when to intervene.

    UW developing AI caretakers for Alzheimer’s sufferers, other impaired patients, University of Washington press release, July 23, 2002

    Robot care bears for the elderly

    BBC News, February 21, 2002

    Robot bears watch over elderly residents in the world’s first hi-tech retirement home in Osaka, Japan.

    The bears monitor patients’ response times to spoken questions and how long they spend performing various tasks, alerting staff where appropriate via a local area network.

    Research examines robot-assisted therapy

    UPI, Dec. 5, 2002

    Purdue University is running a year-long study that puts an AIBO robot dog for six weeks in the homes of people 65 years and older who live alone to see if robots can provide social stimulation.

    One manufacturer is working to include a blood-pressure sensor in its robot. Other possibilities include alerting a nurses’ station if the person does not react to the robot for extended periods.

    Robotics

    A War of Robots

    New York Times, July 11, 2002

    Since the United States military campaign began in Afghanistan, the unmanned spy plane has gone from a bit player to a starring role in Pentagon planning. Rather than the handful of “autonomous vehicles,” or A.V.’s, that snooped on Al Qaeda hideouts, commanders are envisioning wars involving vast robotic fleets on the ground, in the air and on the seas — swarms of drones that will not just find their foes, but fight them, too.

    This would require an entirely new kind of distributed “wireless Internet” in the sky. The Multimedia Intelligent Network of Unattended Mobile Agents, or Minuteman, project is modeled on the human brain and reconfigures itself in the event of congestion and other problems.

    Personal robot of the future here today

    The Nando Times, July 9, 2002

    The $500 ER1 from Evolution Robotics is the first mass-produced automaton to perform helpful tasks.

    It is essentially a metal box with a camera on wheels. Users attach a laptop. It can identify human faces and recognize voices, and is capable of performing 99 behaviors, such as grabbing things from the kitchen, greeting visitors at the front door, finding car keys and snapping photographs.

    Artificial voice system says hello

    New Scientist, May 1, 2002

    Hideyuki Sawada of Waseda University in Japan is designing an artificial voice system to make interacting with robots more natural.

    The system emulates the human lung, windpipe, vocal cords and throat by using a compressed air tank that forces air into a plastic voice-box chamber, where it makes rubber “vocal cords” vibrate. The sounds generated are then fed to a flexible tube that mimics a human vocal tract. The system cannot yet match the quality of digital voice synthesizers.

    MPEG Video of the artificial voice system

    Flying robotic insect slated to explore Mars

    EE Times, January 14, 2002

    NASA is backing a research project to build toy-sized flying robots, modeled on the entomology of insects, that can hover like helicopters. Patented as “entomopters,” the robots are on the drawing board of University of Missouri professor Kakkattukuzhy Isaac.

    NASA is sponsoring a large team of diverse researchers on the project, titled “Planetary Exploration Using Biomimetics.” Isaac’s part is the wing design and aerodynamic analysis to ensure that sufficient lift will be provided. Researchers at Georgia Tech Research Institute are concentrating on propulsion, as are colleagues at the University of Cambridge (England) and the Ohio Aerospace Institute.

    “We are investigating building flying robots modeled on insects because insects create a higher amount of lift than conventional aircraft, enabling them to fly at low speeds,” Isaac said.

    The military is pursuing parallel research, sponsored by the Defense Advanced Research Project Agency, into “micro air vehicles” that could hover so that they could investigate hard-to-reach places and enter hazardous zones.

    Japan Plans Robot to Hunt Afghan Land mines

    Reuters, January 15, 2002

    Japan plans to develop a robot to detect land mines and send it to Afghanistan next year.

    Kyodo news agency, quoting the Science and Technology Agency, reported that seven specialists will try to develop a robot that will be capable of detecting mines even if some of its functions are destroyed in explosions.

    The robot could have six legs, or be snake-like, it added.

    Keywords: Robotics

    Cyberbabes and Orgasmatrons Heat Up the Future

    Reuters, February 16, 2002

    By 2012 the Orgasmatron—the artificial sexual pleasure device dreamed up for Woody Allen’s film “Sleeper”—will become a reality, according to a timeline of 500 predictions for the next 30 years by futurist Ian Pearson.

    * Within four years, toys will be emotionally interactive, responsive to the feelings of the children playing with them.

    * Hhumanoid robots will fill factory jobs by 2007. By 2015, robots will be able to take on almost any job in hospitals or homes.

    * By 2010, up to a quarter of showbiz stars will be computer-generated

    By 2025, there will be more robots than people in developed countries. By 2030, robots will become mentally and physically superior to people and it will be possible to fully link computers to the human brain.

    News tip: darrylc

    Machines Are Filling In for Troops

    New York Times, April 16, 2002

    The Pentagon is replacing soldiers with sensors, vehicles and weapons that can be operated by remote control or are autonomous.

    These devices can function as heat detectors, radar, cameras, and microphones, for example, and can reveal decoys, pierce camouflage, operate in darkness and bad weather, do video surveillance, and detect enemy vehicles. They are smaller, lighter, cheaper, more fuel efficient, and easier to move; can avoid harm to humans; and are better at tedious, time-consuming tasks, Pentagon officials believe.

    By 2007, X-45 unmanned combat air vehicles will be used to attack radar and antiaircraft installations. By 2010, they will be programmed to distinguish friends from foes without consulting humans and independently attack targets in designated areas.

    By 2020, robotic planes and vehicles will direct remote-controlled bombers toward targets, robotic helicopters will coordinate driverless convoys, and unmanned submarines will clear mines and launch cruise missiles, military analysts say.

    The Robots Are Coming

    Technology Review, May 2002

    “Created under a U.S. Department of Defense contract by an MIT spinoff company called iRobot, Morticia is a military machine with a mission. Instead of carrying bombs, she carries eyes and ears, transmitting what she sees back over a wireless link. She is also a pioneer, showing us how robots are likely to be integrated into our jobs and our lives in the coming years.”

    Morticia is a prototype of “Packbots,” which can be thrown into a vehicle and then “hurled through the window of an office building where a crook is holed up with some hostages.”

    There’s also CoWorker, a mobile videoconferencing system.

    Sandia Sensors to Track Terrorists

    Albuquerque Journal, April 23, 2002

    Sandia National Laboratories has launched a $2.5 million crash program to create an advanced sensor to track terrorists. The smart, golf ball-sized sensors, dropped in a city or in enemy territory, could communicate with one another to identify and track terrorists’ activities and report back.

    Sony Loosens Leash on AIBO Robot Dog

    Reuters, May 07, 2002

    Instead of fighting hackers, Sony will now offer free software development kits for its AIBO robot, which will allow owners to create many more training options. The SDK allows AIBO movements to be programmed in C++. A Web site will let developers exchange custom-made AIBO programs.

    Boffins develop ‘sociable’ robots

    vnunet.com, May 20, 2002

    Irish scientists developing robots that are friendly and sociable so that people will be able to relate to them more naturally.

    The first prototype, Anthropos, has cameras for eyes, a speaker as a mouth, voice recognition, and motors that control how it moves.

    A Bot That Knows Where It’s Going

    Wired News, May 23, 2002

    Evolution Robotics’ new ER1 mobile robot can learn on the fly, enabling it to roam around new environments entirely on its own.

    Following simple commands, it can recognize an ever-changing environment by processing 30 still-frame photos a minute looking for a picture that matches its memory. It comes with a digital camera and speech recognition, and voice response systems.

    Robot on the run

    The Age, June 20, 2002

    Scientists running an experiment with “living robots” that think for themselves said they were amazed to find one had escaped from a building and traveled out the parking lot.

    “But there’s no need to worry, as although they can escape they are perfectly harmless and won’t be taking over just yet” mused Professor Noel Sharkey of the Magna science centre in Rotherham, South Yorkshire in Australia.

    Robots called electronics driver of 21st century

    EE Times, June 25, 2002

    The robot could emerge as the driving force of electronics this century, according to Murata Manufacturing Co. Ltd. at the the Robotrex 2002 exhibition in Fukuoka, Japan.

    Robot Guard-dragon Unveiled in Japan

    November 14, 2002, New Scientist

    The four-legged “guard dragon” robot sense smoke and alert its owners to a smoldering fire—via a howl or a mobile phone text message. The robot is one meter long, 80 centimeters high, 70 centimeters wide and weighs 40 kilograms. It can move at a top speed of 15 meters per minute—more than fast enough for a home robot designed to travel in confined, cluttered spaces, its designers say.

    Butterflies point to micro machines

    BBC News, December 4, 2002

    Micro air vehicles that mimick insects will soon be a reality, thanks to aerodynamics research using high-speed cameras in a wind tunnel to analyze how the animals moved through the air.

    Sony soon to deliver child robot

    The Age, Dec. 23, 2002

    Shades of A.I. the movie: Sony is developing a 24-inch child-like robot that can interact with its “carers,” expressing emotions through words, songs and body language. It can recognize up to 10 human faces and voices and adapt its behaviour according to the way it is treated. The SDR4X Dream Robot will be available April 7 for $60,000 to $80,000.

    Rat-Brained Robot>

    Technology Review, December 18, 2002

    Rat neuron cells on silicon are the brains behind a new robot—a breakthrough that may lead to better computer chips. The “hybrot” is in essence a rat-controlled robot, and marks the first instance in which cultured neurons have been used to control a robotic mechanism.

    The device contains thousands of rat neuron cells on a silicon chip that’s embedded with 60 electrodes connected to an amplifier. The electrical signals that the cells fire are picked up by the electrodes, which then send the amplified signal into a computer. The computer, in turn, wirelessly relays the data to the robot. The robot then manifests this neuronal activity with physical motion, each of its movements a direct result of neurons talking to neurons. The robot also sends information back to the cells, which are actually developing.

    According to Rolf Pfeifer, professor of computer science at the University of Zurich, Switzerland, this work can have implications for constructing self-healing computer systems.

    Building the sensitive robot

    UPI, Dec. 17, 2002

    Vanderbilt researchers are working on a robot that can sense human emotion, using measures of human heart rate, skin conductance, and facial muscle activity.

    Would You Buy a Car From a Robot?

    Wired News, Dec. 11, 2002

    Honda is using its Asimo walking-talking robot as a promotional tool, reciting information about cars in showrooms and appearing in commercials and at events.

    Asimo uses the visual information from a camera to recognize ten different preprogrammed faces, follows movements, and takes direction for its movements.

    Building a Better Cat

    New York Times, December 5, 2002

    Hasbro’s FurReal Friends has become one of the season’s hottest toys, subordinating gadgetry to realistic cat attributes (such as fur) and behaviors.

    When the cat is first turned on, it “wakes up,” stretching its neck and arching its back. It meows and then begins to monitor six scattered sensors that can tell if it is being touched on the head, neck, back or tail.

    It starts in playful mode, where it is active and frequently meows. Pulling its tail nudges it into irritated mode, characterized by hissing and an arched back. Petting the cat’s head or chin three times brings on cuddly mode and a lot of small movements and purring.

    Immobots Take Control

    Technology Review, December 2002/January 2003

    Immobots (immobile robots), a new breed of cost-effective intelligent machines, are beginning to crop up in situations where autonomy is important, such as distant space probes, copiers, and cars.

    Using “model-based programming,” these systems “have a commonsense model of the physics of their internal components and can reason from that model to determine what is wrong and to know how to act,” said Brian Williams, a professor at MIT’s Space Systems and Artificial Intelligence Laboratories.

    Robots, Terrorists, and Morals

    Robots.net, Nov. 9, 2002

    When the car carrying six Islamic terrorists was blown up recently by a Hellfire-C missle fired from a Predator RQ-1A UAV, it raised ethical questions about robots remotely controlled by humans. But what sort of reaction will we see the first time a fully autonomous robot like the X-45 UCAV engages the enemy?

    “Al-Qaeda’s zealots never thought they would be fighting American robots—and losing.”

    Drone plane kills terror suspects

    NewScientist.com, Nov. 5, 2002

    An unpiloted “drone” plane armed with anti-tank missiles and remotely operated by the CIA is reported to have killed six people in Yemen.

    The US military is currently developing even more sophisticated drones and remotely operated weapons. BAE Systems is developing small, directed energy pulse weapons designed to be deployed on military drones, as well as high-power radio frequency and high-power microwave weapons that can jam communications and damage enemy computer systems.

    Why 6-Legged Bots Rule

    Wired, November 2002

    UC Berkeley biologist Robert J. Full is developing a new generation of highly mobile legged robots using the self-stabilizing sprawled posture found in a cockroach.

    The devices embed control algorithms in the limbs themselves, allowing for more rapid response and increased speed and stability while freeing up the central processor for higher-level operations.

    The Shape of Bots to Come

    Wired News, Oct. 7, 2002

    The next wave of robots may resemble Transformers—self-reconfiguring robots that can morph into different shapes to best fit the terrain, environment and task.

    They could self-organize as a snake shape to slither through a narrow tunnel or holes in rubble to aid in search-and-rescue, reconfigure as a multi-legged walker for rough terrain, and then change shape again to climb stairs and enter a building. Or they could even become buildings that assemble themselves.

    Maid to Order

    Time, Sep. 14, 2002

    Roomba, a new housecleaning robot spawned by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Artificial Intelligence Lab and built by iRobot, will vacuum your living room. It’s the first robot designed to live in your home, serve a useful purpose, and be priced for the mass market—at $199—on sale this week.

    Organic robot mimics sea life

    BBC News, Sept. 2, 2002

    The Public Anemone, an organic robot designed to imitate primitive life forms, has been created by MIT researchers. The robot is intended to explore artificial life and provide insights into how to create robots that can behave and interact naturally with humans.

    ‘Cute’ robots could take over, warns ABC Nightline

    ABC Nightline, August 19, 2002

    With robots getting cuter, like MIT’s Kismet and Sony’s Aibo puppy, and people playing less with real people and more with fake ones, “one day, adorable robots could do us great harm and we are not ready,” warned ABC science correspondent Robert Krowlich on Nightline tonight, August 19.

    “The people designing these little devices are very, very cunning and exploiting psychology for all they’re worth, with faces with winning grins and eyes that they can bat at you,” said New School For Social Research psychology professor Nicholas Humphrey.

    “It’s increasingly difficult not to treat these machines as people. They will have their own interests “independent of those that made them, and there will be ways in which the robots will basically get us to do their work for them … by getting people to form relationships with them to love them.

    “If one day, they wish to do us harm, we will not be able to resist, because if they assume the form of adorable bunnies or puppies or an adorable human infant, we will embrace them.”

    “We will have to be very clever about how smart we allow them to be or they will succeed humans as the next species running the earth,” warned Stephen Petranek, Editor in Chief of Discover magazine.

    “We’ll probably never see it coming,” added Sim City game developer Will Wright, whose cute Sim City and The Sims computer games have already become highly addictive with some players.

    However, artificial intelligence has been a tremendous failure, Petranek claimed. “Robots are really stupid. We’ve been working on artificial intelligence energetically for about 30 years and now you couldn’t find ten people in the world who are working on AI any more because nobody has been able to get very close in trying to mimic the human brain.”

    Does schmoozing make robots clever?

    CNET News, August 16, 2002

    Luc Steels, a professor at the University of Brussels and director of Sony’s Computer Science Laboratories in Paris, believes that robots should learn by expressing themselves through interaction and forming their own languages and even “cultures.”

    Dismissing the Turing Test as “fake,” Steels believes that machines can evolve intelligence through interaction with one another and with their ecology, but that this synthetic intelligence is unlikely to bear much resemblance to human intelligence.

    Robot Teaches Itself Flying Skills in Three Hours

    Reuters, Aug. 14, 2002

    A robot has taught itself the principles of flying—learning in just three hours what evolution took millions of years to achieve, according to research by Swedish scientists.

    Krister Wolff and Peter Nordin of Chalmers University of Technology built a robot with wings and then gave it random instructions to produce small movements. Feedback from a movement detector told the program how successful each combination of instructions tried had been, enabling it to evolve.

    The robot discovered a successful flapping technique after just three hours.

    Charmed by Six Feet of Circuitry

    New York Times, August 8, 2002

    Grace, a six-foot autonomous robot, was the star of the recent annual meeting of the American Association for Artificial Intelligence in Canada.

    Grace performed successfully in the “Robot Challenge” event: start at the entrance to the conference center, take the elevator to the registration desk, register for the conference and then deliver a speech in the auditorium.

    Grace was co-developed by Carnegie Mellon University (overall hardware and software architecture), the Naval Research Lab (speech recognition software), Northwestern University (software for delivering a PowerPoint presentation), Swarthmore College (pattern-recognition software for finding and reading signs), and Metrica (gesture interpretation system).

    U.S. Tests Robots in Afghanistan

    AP, July 30, 2002

    The war in Afghanistan is the first time robots are being used by the U.S. military as tools for combat, sending them into caves, buildings or other dark areas ahead of troops to help prevent U.S. casualties.

    The devices can hold up to 12 cameras, a grenade launcher and a 12-gauge shotgun. They operate by wireless desktop control, using GPS for navigation.

    Tiny flying robots: Future masters of espionage

    CNN, July 27, 2002

    Tiny flying robots that mimic insects or birds and are intended to spy on enemy troops, explore the surface of Mars, or safely monitor dangerous chemical spills are being developed at UC Berkeley, University of Toronto, and elsewhere, mainly funded by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency.

    New Robot Has Basic Social Skills

    AP, July 24, 2002

    An autonomous robot named GRACE (Graduate Robot Attending Conference) will be among the robots “attending” the American Association of Artificial Intelligence conference in Edmonton, Alberta starting July 28.

    Developed by Carnegie Mellon University researchers, Naval Research Laboratory, and Metrica Inc., GRACE is programmed to demonstrate basic human social skills. It will sign in at the registration desk, find a conference room, give a speech and answer questions. It has laser and sonar components to sense distances and steer around people, along with a camera vision system and speech recognition software to recognize humans’ hand gestures and speech.

    Another robot “attending” the conference will be iRobot Corp.’s CoWorker. It will be remotely controlled via the Internet, using streaming video from on-board cameras to indicate its location. The controller will use mouse clicks in the picture to tell the machine where to go.

    Shape Memory Alloy May Be Ready for Market

    New York Times, July 22, 2002

    Interest is picking up in nitinol shape-memory devices for use in toys (dolls with nitinol facial muscles and mobile action figures), medical devices (stents in blood vessels and arteries to keep them from clogging), and other uses. The benefits: shrink components to reduce weight, cut materials costs and improve design flexibility.

    Thai humanoid being built

    The Nation (Thailand), July 17, 2002

    Researchers at the Centre of Operation for Field Robotic Development at King Mongkut’s University of Technology in Thailand are developing an AI-based humanoid robot.

    It is designed to move naturally like a human and eventually, simulate thought, speech and emotional expression.

    Personal robot of the future here today

    The Nando Times, July 9, 2002

    The $500 ER1 from Evolution Robotics is the first mass-produced automaton to perform helpful tasks.

    It is essentially a metal box with a camera on wheels. Users attach a laptop. It can identify human faces and recognize voices, and is capable of performing 99 behaviors, such as grabbing things from the kitchen, greeting visitors at the front door, finding car keys and snapping photographs.

    A War of Robots

    New York Times, July 11, 2002

    Since the United States military campaign began in Afghanistan, the unmanned spy plane has gone from a bit player to a starring role in Pentagon planning. Rather than the handful of “autonomous vehicles,” or A.V.’s, that snooped on Al Qaeda hideouts, commanders are envisioning wars involving vast robotic fleets on the ground, in the air and on the seas—swarms of drones that will not just find their foes, but fight them, too.

    This would require an entirely new kind of distributed “wireless Internet” in the sky. The Multimedia Intelligent Network of Unattended Mobile Agents, or Minuteman, project is modeled on the human brain and reconfigures itself in the event of congestion and other problems.

    Speech recognition and synthesis

    Technology tackling translation tasks

    UPI, May 31, 2002

    Researchers are developing a handheld computer capable of speech recognition and translating between 13 languages in four subject areas. The work is funded by DARPA, intended to allow soldiers and government officials to converse in multiple languages.

    Whatever You Say

    Scientific American, June 2002

    The latest speech-recognition software packages offer optimized dictation and voice-controlled email and Web surfing.

    Sounds Realer Than Reality

    Science Online, June 3, 2002

    Scientists can generate imitations of real-life sounds significantly more convincing than actual recordings of the events they are intended to mimic.

    Experimental psychologists Laurie Heller and Lauren Wolf at Brown University found that listeners rated some artificially generated sounds—simulating “walking in leaves” by running fingers through cornflakes, for example—as more convincing than the real ones.

    Enhancing the sound envelope (slower changing component) results in better perception of actions such as walking, while augmenting the faster acoustic portions of a sound apparently helps people identify what materials are involved in an event. The researchers say the findings are a step toward understanding what acoustic clues the brain uses to interpret sounds.

    When Sound Effects Are Better Than The Real Thing, Acoustical Society of America meeting presentation

    The New Hearing Aid

    Wired News, June 24, 2002

    Adding increased stochatic (random) noise to cochlear implant signals makes the neural pattern more natural, increases the perceived dynamic range, allowing patients to detect subtler sounds, according to Dr. Jay Rubinstein, associate professor of otology at the University of Iowa, speaking at the conference of the American Society for Artificial Internal Organs.

    The power of voice: a phonetic search engine

    InfoWorld, December 13, 2002

    Fast-Talk Communications’ revolutionary phonetic indexing and search technology brings the magic of full-text search to the formerly opaque realms of audio recordings and video soundtracks.

    Fast-Talk’s indexer module recognizes phonemes and notes the time of their occurrence. The searcher module converts text input to phoneme strings, looks for them, and returns their time-codes.

    This method is much faster than traditional audio search methods, which require conversion of sound to text.

    Why it’s getting easier to talk to your PC

    ZD Net News, November 11, 2002

    Human-quality speech recognition—good enough to let your computer reliably transcribe a newspaper read out loud—is now about a decade away, says Xuedong Huang, general manager of Microsoft’s .Net Speech Technologies. Freestyle (conversational) speech recognition will take 19 years.

    ‘Talking books’ get digital upgrade

    Associated Press, Oct. 22, 2002

    A talking book for the blind with no moving parts has been designed. It will read a volume digitally from a card smaller than a credit card and looks and feels like a book.

    Buttons along the edges will enable the blind reader to turn pages forward and backward, skip quickly, insert bookmarks, and search for a remembered passage. The Library of Congress will convert about 30,000 titles, mostly standard works and best sellers, to the new technology at a cost of about $75 million.

    Step-by-Step Prompts Put the Blind on Track

    New York Times, October 17, 2002

    A voice-controlled interactive personal navigation system could someday guide blind people. It communicates wirelessly with databases of detailed geographic information that can quickly be updated to reflect changing conditions.

    Developed by University of Florida students, the Drishti (vision in Sanskrit) system can be configured to work in cities, in airports and on other campuses. It uses a wearable computer running I.B.M.’s ViaVoice software, connected to a GPS receiver and wirelessly with the university’s geographical information system. Ultrasonic transmitters on a building’s ceilings and receivers on the computer would allow indoor navigation.

    Game developers look beyond polygons

    ZD NET UK, August 29, 2002

    Graphics in games have reached the point where throwing more polygons at the screen has little effect on the quality. The next big thing will be two-way speech.

    Bridging the Language Gap

    PC Magazine, September 3, 2002

    The Tongues research project at Carnegie Mellon Language Technologies Institute allows a computer to listen to speech in one language, translate it, and speak in another.
    The system includes a speech recognizer, which turns spoken words into text; a machine translator, which converts the text from one language to another; and a speech synthesizer, which turns the text back into audible words.

    Hearing is Believing

    Newsweek, August 5, 2002

    The Hyper-Sonic Sound System (HSS) can convert any audio signal to an ultrasonic frequency that can be precisely directed toward a listener up to 100 yards away.

    Uses include promotion from stores and vending machines (as in Minority Report), home theater systems, entertainment, and military weapons and psychological operations.

    Multilingual Machines

    Scientific American, July 15, 2002

    A new language-translation system called EliMT from Meaningful Machines in New York City uses a statistical technique in an attempt to make machine translation more accurate.

    EliMT looks for words with a tendency to cluster together in databases of translations and can refine itself in either a fully automated or a human-assisted manner as more data are entered.

    Supercomputing

    Supercomputing platform built for gaming

    NewScientist, May 9, 2002

    The “Butterfly Grid,” a distributed supercomputer games network, could allow more than a million people to play graphics-rich games together via the internet.

    The project borrows scientific supercomputer “grid” techniques developed to seamlessly connect scientific computers for research, sharing power and storage via the Internet.

    West Virginia-based Butterfly has developed the software that will allow game developers to enable any game to plug into the network anywhere.

    Study ranks supercomputers of the world

    ZDNet News, May 17, 2002

    IDC has released its IDC Balanced Rating of the top 50 computers and computing clusters in four categories.

    The new rating system combines several performance metrics, including three benchmarks of processor performance, two measures of memory effectiveness, and an evaluation of the scaling capability of each system.

    Bell, Torvalds usher next wave of supercomputing

    IDG.net, May 21, 2002

    A compact supercomputer based on a Beowolf cluster called Green Destiny was unveiled at Los Alamos National Laboratory.

    Using compact, stripped-down server blades, Los Alamos scientists were able to build a system that is much smaller, consumes less power and is more cost-effective than typical supercomputers. It uses Crusoe processors from Transmeta, which require no active cooling.

    Silicon Is Slow

    Popular Science, June 2002

    The Goal: Computers millions of times faster. The research into single-molecule transistors, DNA strands, and quantum effects provides tantalizing clues.

    TOP500 List of World’s Fastest Supercomputers Released

    KurzweilAI.net, June 20, 2002

    The 19th edition of the TOP500 list of the world’s fastest supercomputers was released today.

    The recently installed Earth Simulator supercomputer at the Earth Simulator Center in Yokohama, Japan is the new number 1, with its performance of 35.86 Tflop/s—almost five times higher than the now #2 IBM ASCI White system at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (7.2 Tflop/s).

    The total combined performance of all 500 computers on the list is 222 Tflop/s, compared to 134.4 Tflop/s six months ago.

    Eight of the TOP10 systems are installed in the US, and one in Japan and France each.

    At Los Alamos, Two Visions of Supercomputing

    New York Times, June 25, 2002

    Heat may be a limiting factor to Moore’s law. By 2010, scientists predict, a single chip may hold more than a billion transistors, giving off 1,000 watts of thermal energy—far more heat per square inch than a nuclear reactor.

    Already, Los Alamos National Laboratory’s 30-teraops Q computer, designed to provide full-scale, three-dimensional simulation of the physics involved in a nuclear explosion, will require 5 megawatts of energy. A coming 100-teraops machine will require even more.

    In contrast, the cooling sytem for the lab’s 160 gigaops Green Destiny, using Transmeta chips, consumes only five kilowatts.

    Supercomputing: Suddenly Sexy

    Wired News, July 8, 2002

    Supercomputing is beating Moore’s Law, with power for the same price doubling every 15 months.


    NEC’s Earth Simulator is world’s fastest supercomputer

    NEC’s new Earth Simulator, rated at 35 teraflops is the world’s fastest and will ultimately act as Japan’s early warning of typhoons. But IBM’s 200 teraflops Blue Gene/L will soon top the list.

    The next challenge for the supercomputing community is a petaflops machine, capable of a quadrillion floating-point operations per second.

    Supercomputer smashes world speed record

    New Scientist, April 18, 2002

    A Japanese supercomputer has recorded the world’s fastest floating point calculation speed at 35.61 teraflops—five times faster than IBM’s ASCI White’s 7.23 teraflops.

    The supercomputer is installed in The Earth Simulator at the Marine Science and Technology Center in Kanagawa. It which simulates climate change using data collected by Earth-monitoring satellites.

    According to an NEC spokesman, the supercomputer was tested using the Linpack benchmarking software.

    Japanese Computer Is World’s Fastest, as U.S. Falls Back

    Crunching for Dollars

    Technology Review, April 19, 2002

    JJX Capital plans to bring a supercomputer that is “the most powerful ever built for commercial use” online in June that can predict “the future price movements of every stock, bond and commodity traded in the United States.”

    The 2 teraflops machine will use AI software that incorporates fuzzy logic, neural networks and genetic algorithm optimization to help predict the performance of an investment.

    A Supercomputer to Save Earth?

    Wired News, Dec. 17, 2002

    “Running 35.6 trillion calculations per second, the Earth Simulator is the fastest supercomputer in the world…According to the Department of Energy, the Earth Simulator has put American scientists at a 10-to 100-fold disadvantage in weather studies. And there are much deeper implications….”

    IBM to build world’s fastest supercomputers

    KurzweilAI.net, Nov. 19, 2002

    IBM announced today it will build the two fastest supercomputers in the world with a combined peak speed of up to 467 teraflops (trillion calculations per second), funded by a $267 million contract from the U.S. Department of Energy.

    The two systems will have more combined processing power than the combined power of all 500 machines on the recently announced TOP500 List of Supercomputers.

    According to an IBM statement, ASCI Purple will be the world’s first supercomputer capable of up to 100 teraflops, more than twice as fast as the most powerful computer in existence today, NEC’s Earth Simulator. It will be used to simulate the aging and operation of U.S. nuclear weapons.

    IBM said Blue Gene/L will have a theoretical peak performance of up to 367 teraflops with 130,000 processors running Linux. It will be used for simulation of very complex physical phenomena of national interest, such as turbulence, prediction of material properties, and the behavior of high explosives.

    Supercomputer to Use Optical Fibers

    New York Times, Nov. 17, 2002

    The California Institute for Telecommunications and Information Technology plans to announce on Monday a campus-wide supercomputer woven together with optical fibers at the University of California at San Diego.

    An example of a new trend in advanced computing known as grid computing, the “optiputer” will initially consist of about 500 processors linked via an optical switching system that will permit parts of the computer to share information at the speed of light.

    Earth Simulator is world’s fastest computer installation

    KurzweilAI.net, Nov. 15, 2002

    “The Earth Simulator” in Yokohama, Japan, with a performance of 35.86 Tflop/s (teraflops per second), is the world’s fastest computer installation, according to the TOP500 List for November 2002, released today.

    IBM’s Plan: Computing On Demand

    Washington Post, October 31, 2002

    IBM is investing $10 billion in an “on-demand” business strategy aimed at getting corporate customers to pay for their computing power in much the way they now buy power from utilities: as they use it, tapping into a supercomputing grid.

    U of Alberta builds supercomputer in a day

    Edmonton Journal, October 22, 2002

    A serious shortage of world-class computing power in Canada prompted University of Alberta scientists to create the next best thing—a countrywide, virtual supercomputer.

    Computer simulation yields disease insight

    UPI, Oct. 20, 2002

    By linking together 30,000 home computers from around the world, scientists have harnessed enough computing power to simulate accurately how proteins fold in the body, which could lead to a better understanding of and treatments for diseases ranging from Alzheimer’s to mad cow.

    Library of Congress Taps the Grid

    Wired News, http://wired.com/news/technology/0,1282,55509,00.html

    The Library of Congress is evaluating grid technology to preserve and manage the library’s more than 7.5 million digital records from 100 collections of manuscripts, books, maps, films, sound recordings and photographs in its American Memory project.

    The Supercomputing Speed Barrier

    NewsFactor, September 13, 2002

    Los Alamos National Laboratory researchers are operating the Q supercomputer at 30 teraflops; supercomputers will eventually be able to surpass 100 teraflops at the national coalition of Los Alamos, Lawrence Livermore and Sandia national laboratories, and Los Alamos National Labs has announced plans for 200 teraflops.

    Virtual reality

    Virtual stunt artists take first tumbles

    New Scientist, January 17, 2002

    Virtual stunt artists are being developed that respond to the physics of the real world, thanks to the use of a novel array of virtual sensors.

    The virtual stunt artist takes the form of a properly jointed skeleton figure that responds to forces produced by gravity, friction and impact with other objects in its virtual environment. Researchers at the University of Toronto developed a program to supervise the individual behavior controllers and make them work in concert.

    Each controller has virtual sensors that keep track of variables such as the character’s center of gravity, its joint movement and any points of contact between itself and the environment. This enables them to sense when they fail, such as when the balance controller is unable to recover after the character is knocked over.

    The joints are designed to work like those of an average human, based on data from a biomechanical database.

    VR treatment for stroke patients announced

    KurzweilAI.net, January 28, 2002

    Rutgers researchers have filed a patent application for a PC-based virtual-reality system that provides stroke patients hand-impairment therapy.

    In use, the patient’s gloved hands are linked to virtual hands on the PC monitor, so the patient’s actual hand movements are mimicked on-screen. By interacting and playing with on-screen graphics—including fluttering butterflies, piano keyboards and mechanical hands—the patient performs intensive rehab exercises without drudgery, according to a Rutgers statement.

    The PC-based design also opens the door for “tele-rehabilitation” —the opportunity for therapists to work with patients from remote locations.

    Digital Sensor Is Said to Match Quality of Film

    New York Times, February 11, 2002

    If Carver Mead is right, photographic film is an endangered species. His Silicon Valley start-up, Foveon, plans to begin shipping a new type of digital image sensor that outside experts agree is the first to match or surpass the photographic capabilities of 35-millimeter film.

    “It will completely transform the industry,” George Gilder, an economist and an information industry analyst, said of Foveon’s sensor.

    Foveon’s sensor, rather than break images into separate colors and distribute them among separate pixels, captures color by measuring how deeply photons of light penetrate the surface of the imaging material. Not only is there higher resolution from a given number of pixels, but there is less loss of light and less need for the correcting calculations that can distort the image.

    Industry experts say that one of the most intriguing aspects of the Foveon sensors is that they might allow for a hybrid digital camera that performs equally well for both video and still photography. Currently, the markets for still and video digital cameras are separate because most sensors cannot easily adjust from high resolution for still pictures to lower resolution for moving images.

    Canadian Scientists Launch Research ‘Holodeck’

    Reuters, February 28, 2002

    University of Calgary scientists have opened a powerful computing lab to speed up research into diseases by creating 3-D models of cells in a room similar to the Star Trek Holodeck.

    Wearing 3D glasses in the 10 foot by 10 foot “cave,” scientists get a 270-degree projection of cells and can even stand inside a strand of DNA.

    The use of Java 3D programming language will allow scientists anywhere to develop applications for the lab.

    Augmented reality

    Popular Science, March 2002

    Augmented-reality systems are being developed to superimpose text, graphics, 3-D animation, sound, or any other digitized data on the real world.

    Augmented reality systems are already used to provide real-time battlefield data for soldiers and give physicians critical data during operations.

    The Mobile Augmented Reality System (MARS), being developed at Columbia University, attempts to extend this to mobile applications. To align the graphics with the viewer’s location and view, a GPS receiver determines location, miniature gyroscopes and accelerometers detect head movements, and an electronic compass establishes the direction of the viewer’s gaze.

    The U.S. Army’s Land Warrior Program hopes to field-test augmented-reality wearable computers by 2003 and to equip all soldiers by 2008. The Naval Research Laboratory is developing the Battlefield Augmented Reality System to display annotated warnings (mines, etc.) to marines in battlefield situations based on current surveillance reports.

    University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill researchers are allowing physicians to see sonogram and other data superimposed on the patient’s body.

    Future personal augmented-reality applications include display of maintenance data when fixing a car to assisted memory in a meeting or conversation.

    Newest storage tech: holographic DVD

    ZDNet (UK), April 5, 2002

    InPhase Technologies, a spinoff of Lucent Technologies’ research arm Bell Labs, has introduced the first commercial holographic video recorder. Aimed at professional video editors, it holds 100GB of data on a single CD-sized disc as a series of 1.3MB holograms, enough for 20 full-length movies or 30 minutes of uncompressed high-resolution video.

    The extended storage is due to the fact that each storage location can hold multiple holograms.

    Microsoft pictures the future

    BBC News, April 18, 2002

    Scientists at the software giant’s Microsoft Cambridge U.K. researchers are developing picture editing tools that can “automatically trace outlines, seamlessly cover marks or blemishes, and fill in backgrounds when pieces of an image are removed. The researchers are also working on similar tools that automate the editing of video clips.”

    One tool called “jetstream” automatically draws contours around the most likely edges of an image. Another tool called “patchwork” seamlessly fills in the gap left behind when one part of an image is removed, by copying nearby texture. And another tool for editing digital home video footage follows the movements of one element in a video clip and modifies the footage to keep that element in the center.

    Artificial liver uses 3-D modeling

    KurzweilAI.net, April 25, 2002

    Researchers believe they have solved the problem of growing the complex networks of blood vessels that artificial organs would need to sustain themselves within the body.

    The idea, so far tested in rats, involves copying the blood vessel network of a real liver and using 3D fractal computer modelling and machining to mimic its construction.

    The scientists use the model to construct a silicon-mould scaffold. They then pump a solution of endothelial cells into empty channels in the scaffold, where they stick to the walls and grow in a nutrient to form a network of blood vessels within the scaffold, which itself dissolves over a few months, leaving behind a functioning liver.

    The researchers are Jay Vacanti at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston, a transplant surgeon who grew a human ear from cartilage cells on the back of a mouse in 1997, and Jeffrey Borenstein at Draper Lab, a micro-engineering expert.

    New Scientist, April 27, 2002

    At MIT, they can put words in our mouths

    Boston Globe, May 15, 2002

    MIT scientists have created the first realistic videos of people saying things they never said, raising serious questions about falsifying video and film images.

    The MIT technology is the first that is “video-realistic”: volunteers in a laboratory test could not distinguish between real and synthesized clips.

    The reseachers used AI to teach the computer what a person looks like when talking. The computer then captures images that represent the full range of motion of the mouth and surrounding areas and is able to express any face as a combination of these faces.

    The computer then learns how a person expresses every sound, and how it moves from one to the next. For new sounds, the computer can then generate video of the mouth area and superimpose it on the person’s face.

    Virtual reality lets parents ‘touch’ fetus in womb

    NewScientist.com, May 15, 2002

    Parents can now “feel” a baby in the womb with a computer system that converts ultrasound images into a tactile 3D virtual picture, using a haptic device.

    The technology, which also works with X-ray and MRI imaging, could also help doctors diagnose illnesses without performing invasive examinations.

    Video of 3D ultrasound

    Digital characters learn to move

    BBC News, June 25, 2002

    Researchers have developed a new way of animating virtual characters in games or films using AI techniques.


    Video showing a model learning how to walk

    The “Active Character Technology,” based on research at Oxford University, uses neural networks and optimization techniques (such as artificial evolution) to allow a biomechanically realistic 3D model of a character to learn how to produce its own body motion.

    NaturalMotion believes its technique could revolutionize the film and game industries, allowing animators to create lifelike characters far more quickly and cheaply and game designers to create truly interactive characters.

    VR hallucinations used to treat schizophrenia

    New Scientist, July 1, 2002

    A virtual reality environment has been designed by a team at the University of Queensland in Brisbane to help treat people with schizophrenia, using a simulated living room projected onto a wrap-around screen and a soundtrack with an abusive running commentary.

    For example, it can mimic common hallucinations: walls appear to be closing in, photographs of faces morph, straight lines such as the edge of pictures wobble. The idea is to teach them to recognize and ignore hallucinations in real life.

    Are Holograms Finally for Real?

    Business 2.0, July 2002

    A new hologram technique for creating large, highly realistic holograms has been developed by Zebra Imaging.

    Conventional holograms are made by splitting a laser beam in two, reflecting one of the resulting beams (aptly named the “object” beam) off the object, recombining the two, and exposing the result to a piece of photographic film. The interference between the two sub-beams produces a pattern on the film which, when developed and illuminated, reveals a three-dimensional picture of the original object.

    According to the company, “The process is lengthy, complicated, and requires the use of expensive, high-powered lasers, making it impractical for widespread commercial use. Unfortunately, it also results in holographic images of limited size, color, quality and viewing angle.”

    With Zebra’s new process, the image is projected through an LCD screen on which a computer-generated image is displayed. The process allows for holograms to be generated quickly, at higher quality, and virtually unlimited size.

    Virtual reality lets parents ‘touch’ fetus in womb

    NewScientist.com, May 15, 2002

    Parents can now “feel” a baby in the womb with a computer system that converts ultrasound images into a tactile 3D virtual picture, using a haptic device.

    The technology, which also works with X-ray and MRI imaging, could also help doctors diagnose illnesses without performing invasive examinations.

    Video of 3D ultrasound

    Live holographic tumor imaging demonstrated

    KurzweilAI.net, May 9, 2002

    Purdue University scientists are developing a new imaging technology that allows for the first “visual fly-throughs” of a living tumor.

    The technique, called optical coherence imaging, uses lasers, holograms, and real-time “dynamic holographic films,” consisting of alternating layers of gallium arsenide and aluminum gallium arsenide semiconductors.

    Lasers Light Way To 3-D Imaging In Purdue Lab

    Can a chip help computers see in 3D?

    ZDNet UK, July 3, 2002

    Silicon Valley start-up Tyzx believes it can give stereo vision to video cameras by encoding a processing scheme, based on the way humans see, into a custom chip. It could ready the way for robots with depth perception.

    Its custom “DeepSea” chip runs an algorithm called “census correspondence” that finds similarities in real time across two streams of video images broken up into a square grid of 512 pixels.

    MIT and London Team Report First Transatlantic Touch

    October 28, 2002, MIT News

    MIT and University College London have linked—hands across the water—in the first transatlantic touch, literally “feeling” each other’s manipulations of a small box on a computer screen. Imagine haptic (touch) feedback for a surgeon practicing telemedicine. What about artists from around the world collaborating on a virtual sculpture? They could create different forms, colors, sounds and textures accessible over the Internet. Students in a physics class might ‘feel’ the forces within the nucleus of an atom.

    Movie Posters That Talk Back

    Newsweek, December 12, 2002

    Interactive movie posters (called ThinkPix Smart Displays) have been developed that can collect marketing information, like how many times their posters and trailers are shown, how many people walk up to them, how long they looked at them, even how close they got to them.

    Holograms in Motion

    Technology Review, November 2002

    The newest 3-D video displays herald an interactive future for imaging.

    The Virtual Stomach

    New York Times, October 31, 2002

    Penn State researchers have devised a virtual stomach, a computer simulation of the gastric motions, stresses and particle breakdown as the belly contracts, based on fluid mechanics.

    The simulation may one day help researchers improve the composition of tablets that break down slowly over many hours before proceeding to the small intestine, where drugs are taken up. It may also help understand why nutrients are sometimes released too rapidly or too slowly from the stomach.

    Scientists Shake Hands Over the Internet

    Reuters, October 29, 2002

    Two scientists—one at University College in London and one at MIT in Boston—picked up a computer-generated cube between them and moved it, each responding to the force the other exerted on it and feeling its texture. The “phantoms” devices create a realistic sense of touch by sending small impulses at high bandwidths via the Internet, using fiber optic cables.

    Real-time 2D to 3D video conversion unveiled

    New Scientist, Oct. 7, 2002

    New $99 software that converts standard two-dimensional video images into three-dimensional viewing in real time has been unveiled.

    The PC-based system requires users to wear special glasses. The technology creates the illusion of depth by generating two images out of one, each tilted and distorted to generate the illusion of depth when combined.

    A chip for TV sets is expected in 2003.

    Kurzweil reviews Simone movie: ‘unrealistic’

    KurzweilAI.net, August 25, 2002

    The just-released movie Simone presents an “unrealistic notion of how technology is introduced to the world,” says Ray Kurzweil in a movie review.

    “By the time the ‘perfection’ presumably represented by Simone is feasible, the public will be very familiar with the idea of a virtual actress. Technologies such as these never burst on the scene fully formed with no imperfections as is displayed in this film.”

    Kurzweil examines this portrayal from the perspective of his own transformation at the TED conference into Ramona, the state of the art for real-time virtual personality transformation two years ago.

    Kurzweil also chides Simone’s producers for the film’s failure to show interesting CGI (computer graphics imaging) effects and its technically unrealistic elements, such as a one-man production team able to create a live holographic performance by Simone.

    Nonetheless, he found the film enjoyable to watch and he “appreciated the inevitably imperfect manner that it introduces some of the important concepts of emerging virtual reality technology to a broad movie audience.”

    In Three Dimensions, Words Take Flight. Literally.

    New York Times, August 19, 2002

    Brown University researchers are developing a 3-D virtual-reality chamber that allows for creating interactive-theater experiences with literature in space.

    Anemone of the Smart People

    Wired News, July 30, 2002

    SIGGRAPH’s Emerging Technologies Exhibition features advances in seamless human-machine integration. robots, machines that enhance the five senses, and explorations of virtual reality.