From Times Online:
Google is thought to be set to trial an online virtual universe based on its popular satellite imagery software that would rival Second Life.
Arizona State University students are to be given the opportunity to test a new product “that will be publicly launched later this year”.
An announcement by the university, which already has significant ties with Google, said that the project was being developed by a “major internet company” and contained hints that it would include features related to 3D-modelling and video gaming — two possible components of a new virtual world.
Speculation that the new tool would be an immersive virtual world to rival Second Life and created by Google, was fueled by a blog post this year from Michael Eisenberg, a partner at Benchmark Capital, the technology-focused venture capital group, who said he had heard “through the PhD grapevine … Google is working on turning Google Earth into a virtual world a la Second Life.” more>>>
From James Randerson at The Gaurdian:
The UK government has issued new guidelines to teachers on what to teach about creationism and intelligent design in science classes. They are pretty explicit that creationism and ID do not belong.
The move seems to be a response to efforts by the ironically named campaign group “Truth in Science”. Last year it sent DVDs promoting ID to every school in the land in the hope that they would be used to teach the creationist idea alongisde evolution in science lessons.
The new guidelines could not be clearer:
“Creationism and intelligent design are not part of the science National Curriculum programmes of study and should not be taught as science.”
That doesn’t mean it cannot be mentioned of course, but the guidelines state that it should only feature as part of discussions about what does and does not make a scientific theory.
The use of the word ‘theory’ can mislead those not familiar with science as a subject discipline because it is different from the everyday meaning of being little more than a ‘hunch’. In science the meaning is much less tentative and indicates that there is a substantial amount of supporting evidence, underpinned by principles and explanations accepted by the international scientific community…Creationism and intelligent design are sometimes claimed to be scientific theories. This is not the case as they have no underpinning scientific principles, or explanations, and are not accepted by the science community as a whole.
There are even specific guidelines about using materials from groups like TIS:
While these resources may be used, it must be remembered that they do not support the science National Curriculum and they present a particular minority viewpoint that is not underpinned by scientific principles and evidence. more>>>
From Science Daily:
Researchers have developed a flexible, sensor-laden artificial antenna to help a robotic “bug” move and navigate just like the common cockroach. The bug can curry along walls, turn corners, avoid obstacles, and feel its way through the dark. In rescue operations, such robots could be sent to explore collapsed buildings and other situations that could pose hazards or just be inaccessible to humans. SEE THE VIDEO>>>
Though he’s performed more than 8,000 brain surgeries in his 30-year career, Michael Apuzzo hates using a scalpel, a tool he considers woefully outdated. “Whenever I go in to do a surgery with a scalpel in my hand,” says Apuzzo, a professor of neurological surgery at the University of Southern California, “I feel like I should be wearing a powdered wig.”
Soon Apuzzo may be able to swap his 18th-century cutting tool for a laser. Femtosecond lasers, the fastest in the world, are capable of producing energy pulses that last a millionth of a billionth of a second and can be focused into beams less than one hundredth the diameter of a human hair. This makes them ideal for operating on subcellular structures—such as the axon, the long tail by which a neuron sends information to its neighbors—that are far too small for even the finest robotic surgical hands to handle. more>>>
Whew! A LOT of cool news coming from PhysOrg.com today! Here is another…
A novel device, developed by a team led by University at Buffalo engineers, simply and conveniently traps, detects and manipulates the single spin of an electron, overcoming some major obstacles that have prevented progress toward spintronics and spin-based quantum computing. more>>>
A semiconductor developed by UB engineers provides a novel way to trap, detect and manipulate electron spin. Credit: University at Buffalo
Physicists at the National Institute of Standards and Technology have transferred information between two “artificial atoms” by way of electronic vibrations on a microfabricated aluminum cable, demonstrating a new component for potential ultra-powerful quantum computers of the future. The setup resembles a miniature version of a cable-television transmission line, but with some powerful added features, including superconducting circuits with zero electrical resistance, and multi-tasking data bits that obey the unusual rules of quantum physics. more>>>
Credit: Michael Kemper
The energy alternative company Solio will release a hand-held solar battery recharger on October 15, 2007. The sleek new design is for use on virtually all electronic devices. It comes with an adaptor tip that can fit into any USB port or charge directly from the sun. The best part is the price. It will sell for less than 80 USD.
According to the Solio press release, the hand-held device has a universal adapter that is compatible with nearly all electronic devices. It comes ready to use right out of the box. It also comes with adjustable adaptor tips for iPod, iPhone and most MP3 players. It works on GPS devices and most cellular phones. more>>>
From CNN Money:
September 24, 2007: 01:55 PM EST
IBM (NYSE: IBM) today announced a series of emerging innovations that have the potential to dramatically shift the landscape of healthcare and life sciences solutions for patients, hospitals, pharmaceutical companies, and the general public. These innovations are based on new research breakthroughs and emerging technologies from IBM’s Labs as well as through a legacy of storage, server and technology innovation and deep roots in the healthcare industry.
Over the next five to ten years, IBM predicts that the healthcare industry will experience radical shifts brought about by the following trends and technology innovations:
– Secure sharing of patient data: As we move toward the universality of
electronic health records, the secure sharing of patient information and
the interoperability of systems across regions, countries and the world
become increasingly important;
– Fully-informed diagnosis: The ability to share information among
doctors, health care providers and hospitals will enable clinicians to
compare records and diagnoses while preserving patient privacy, paving the
way to faster, more comprehensive care;
– Speeding drugs to market: Advances in data mining and analysis will
enable the development of targeted therapeutic drugs and medical
– Stemming the spread of pandemics: New modeling tools will allow public
health decision-makers to quickly identify and potentially prevent the
spread of pandemics.
Two major steps toward putting quantum computers into real practice — sending a photon signal on demand from a qubit onto wires and transmitting the signal to a second, distant qubit — have been brought about by a team of scientists at Yale. The accomplishments are reported in sequential issues of Nature on September 20 and September 27, on which it is highlighted as the cover along with complementary work from a group at the National Institute of Standards and Technologies. more>>>
From BBC News:
A driverless car which is controlled by computer and uses lasers to avoid obstacles is being demonstrated in a Northamptonshire town.
Daventry is investigating ways to increase the use of public transport and reduce reliance on cars.
The town council believes the Cybercars, which are called by pressing a button on the route and go direct to their destination, could be the answer.
The vehicles can be seen on a test track at the town’s Eastern Way. more>>>
The cars are called by pressing a button along the route
From Medical News Today:
One of the great questions of neurobiology, how the brain is built up during embryonic development, could be resolved by a young French scientist in an award winning project organised by the European Science Foundation (ESF) and the European Heads of Research Councils (EuroHORCS). Sonia Garel has won one of the prestigious EURYI Awards granted annually to young scientists, to pursue her ground breaking research into mammalian forebrain development. She will tackle a number of fundamental questions relating both to the wiring of the brain during growth, and how evolution drove forward the sophisticated neural circuitry associated with mammals. more>>>
From Science Daily:
Researchers at MIT’s Picower Institute for Learning and Memory have found that tiny, spontaneous releases of the brain’s primary chemical messengers can be regulated, potentially giving scientists unprecedented control over how the brain is wired. more>>>
J. Troy Littleton, a professor in the Picower Institute for Learning and Memory at MIT, joins biology graduate student Sarah N. Huntwork in the lab. They have created the first genetically-engineered mutant–in this case a fruit fly–that produces no complexins (proteins that play a role in the release of neuro-transmitters) during cell-to-cell signaling. (Credit: Photo by Donna Coveney)
From Rice Unviersity:
Rice University scientists have captured the first optical images of carbon nanotubes inside a living organism. Using fruit flies, the researchers confirmed that a technique developed at Rice — near-infrared fluorescent imaging — was capable of detecting DNA-sized nanotubes inside living fruit flies.
“Carbon nanotubes are much smaller than living cells, and they give off fluorescent light in a way that researchers hope to harness to detect diseases earlier than currently possible,” said research co-author Bruce Weisman, professor of chemistry. “In order to do that, we need to learn how to detect and monitor nanotubes inside living tissues, and we must also determine whether they pose any hazards to organisms.” more>>>
Photo by Jeff Fitlow
From left, scientists Kathleen Beckingham, Bruce Weisman and Tonya Leeuw are part of the Rice University team that used fruit flies to capture the first optical images of carbon nanotubes inside a living organism.
The dream of theoretical physics is to unite behind a common theory that explains everything, but that goal has remained highly elusive. String theory emerged 40 years ago as one of the most promising candidates for such a theory, and has since slipped in and out of favour as new innovations have occurred. more>>>