Archive for July, 2008
Fence sitter: A computer model shows an arsenic atom with an electron that’s in two distinct quantum states at the same time. An international team of researchers experimentally confirmed the model’s predictions.
Credit: Insoo Woo and Rajib Rahman, Purdue University
An international team of researchers has shown that it can control the quantum state of a single electron in a silicon transistor–even putting the electron in two places at once. Their discovery could help pave the way toward a practical quantum computer.
Quantum computers take advantage of the strange properties of subatomic particles to perform certain types of calculations much faster than classical computers can. Researchers are exploring a host of different approaches to quantum computing, and some have even built primitive quantum circuits that can perform calculations. But practical quantum computing would require the ability to manufacture devices with millions of quantum circuits–rather than the 12 or 16 achievable now–that can be integrated with more-conventional electronics. more>>>
Richard Gray being instructed on how to use the machine
by Dr John Gan [left] and PhD student Chun Sing Louis Tsui
By Richard Gray
Last Updated: 12:01am BST 20/07/2008
Even though I am screwing up my face in concentration, nothing is happening on the monitor in front of me. Then, suddenly, a small white bar shoots across the screen.
It may not sound like much, but I have just told the computer to do this using only my brain. I may look as though I’ve come straight from the set of a science fiction B-movie, but what I have just achieved is pretty amazing.
For the previous hour and a half, I have been prodded and pulled at by scientists as they fitted me with a skull cap with 10 electrodes sticking out of the top. Each of these sensors picks up the minute electrical activity produced by the neurons in my brain.
The computer I am wired to has to learn to recognise the electrical patterns my brain produces. I have repeatedly to imagine moving my left or right hand in response to cues on the screen in front of me. This allows the computer to recognise the electrical pattern. more>>>
The more information consumers are given about nanotechnology and other emerging sciences the more “worried and cautious” they become, new research reveals.
A study by researchers at North Carolina State University looked at public attitudes towards nanotechnology, artificial intelligence and other emerging technologies. more>>>
Last week academics at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, Texas, published research showing that overweight mothers produce offspring who become even heavier, resulting in the spread of obesity across the generations. “There is a worldwide obesity epidemic,” said Robert Waterland, a professor of paediatrics who led the study. “Why is everyone getting heavier and heavier? One hypothesis is that maternal obesity before and during pregnancy causes epigenetic changes in the ways genes are expressed.” more>>>
(CNN) — This month, Just Imagine focused on the future of nature and the ways in which it can inspire solutions to some of the greatest challenges facing humanity today.
Yet as scientists gain a greater understanding of biological processes, they’re also gaining a greater understanding of how to manipulate them, including the very essence of what makes us human — our DNA.
Biotechnology advances are already helping scientists find groundbreaking ways to create personalized medicine, detect illnesses and eradicate disease.
And this, according to futurist Ray Kurzweil, is only the beginning. In the future, humans will be able to reverse the aging process, replace dying organs with younger ones grown from an individual’s own DNA and even genetically engineer unborn children, he said. more>>>
Materials scientists have been singing graphene’s praises since it was first isolated in 2005. The one-atom-thick sheets of carbon conduct electrons better than silicon and have been made into fast, low-power transistors. Now, for the first time, researchers have measured the intrinsic strength of graphene, and they’ve confirmed it to be the strongest material ever tested. The finding provides good evidence that graphene transistors could take the heat in future ultrafast microprocessors. more>>>
Before we get to Ray Kurzweil’s plan for upgrading the “suboptimal software” in your brain, let me pass on some of the cheery news he brought to the World Science Festival last week in New York.
Do you have trouble sticking to a diet? Have patience. Within 10 years, Kurzweil explained, there will be a drug that lets you eat whatever you want without gaining weight.
Worried about greenhouse gas emissions? Have faith. Solar power may look terribly uneconomical at the moment, but with the exponential progress being made in nanoengineering, Kurzweil calculates that it’ll be cost-competitive with fossil fuels in just five years, and that within 20 years all our energy will come from clean sources.
Are you depressed by the prospect of dying? Well, if you can hang on another 15 years, your life expectancy will keep rising every year faster than you’re aging. And then, before the century is even half over, you can be around for the Singularity, that revolutionary transition when humans and/or machines start evolving into immortal beings with ever-improving software.
At least that’s Kurzweil’s calculation. It may sound too good to be true, but even his critics acknowledge he’s not your ordinary sci-fi fantasist. He is a futurist with a track record and enough credibility for the National Academy of Engineering to publish his sunny forecast for solar energy. more>>>
ScienceDaily (July 10, 2008) — Who doesn’t long for household help at times? Service robots will soon be able to relieve us of heavy, dirty, monotonous or irksome tasks. Research scientists have now presented a new generation of household robots, the “Care-O-bot® 3”.
The one-armed robot glides slowly to the kitchen table. With its three fingers, it carefully picks up the bottle of apple juice and puts it next to the glasses on the tray in front of it. Then it glides back into the lounge and serves the drinks to the guests. This is how artificial assistants might work in future.
Only 1.45 meters high, Care-O-bot® 3 is the prototype of a new generation of service robots designed to help humans in the household. The quick-to-learn assistant was developed by research scientists at the Fraunhofer Institute for Manufacturing Engineering and Automation IPA in Stuttgart. more>>>
By Charles Shaw, AlterNet. Posted July 11, 2008.
After a 40-year moratorium, credible research for treating illnesses and addictions with psychedelic compounds has made a miraculous comeback.
The return flight from Switzerland was a mix of hope and solemnity for Rick Doblin, the only American to attend the funeral of Dr. Albert Hofmann, the inventor of LSD who had just died at the age of 102. Doblin, a Harvard-educated Ph.D and founder of the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies, an organization that conducts legal research into the healing and spiritual potentials of psychedelics and marijuana, had spent his entire career trying to break through the virtually impenetrable wall of obstinacy that surrounds psychedelic compounds and their potential benefits to society. more>>>
Solar-power costs could be slashed by cheap collectors, claim researchers.
A simple sheet of glass coated with dye could be enough to cut the costs of solar power.
That’s the claim from researchers who have created a ‘solar concentrator’ that harvests photons and funnels them into photovoltaic devices. The device allows relatively small solar cells to harness rays from a much larger area.
Mirrors that track the Sun are already used to deliver extra light onto solar panels and maximize their electricity output. But these mirrors can be costly to deploy and maintain, and the solar cell is prone to overheating. more>>>
Led by Sri Sridhar, Distinguished Professor and Chair of Physics at Northeastern University, a team of researchers from the university’s Electronic Materials Research Institute has published research that has resulted in a new breakthrough in the field of nanophotonics, the study of light at the nanoscale level.
Utilizing nanomanufacturing processes, the researchers were able to develop an optical microlens with a step-like surface, instead of a smooth surface, that has the capacity to operate at infrared frequencies using the novel phenomenon of negative index refraction. more>>>
(AP) — In the latest expansion beyond its main mission of organizing the world’s information, Internet search leader Google Inc. hopes to orchestrate more virtual socializing on the Web.
Google debuted a free service Tuesday in which three-dimensional software enables people to congregate in fantasy rooms and other computer-manufactured versions of real life. The service, called “Lively,” represents Google’s answer to an already well-established site, “Second Life,” where people deploy animated alter egos known as avatars to navigate virtual reality.
Google thinks “Lively” will encourage even more people to dive into alternate realities because it isn’t tethered to one Web site like Second Life, and it doesn’t cost anything to use. After installing a small packet of software from lively.com, a user can enter Lively from other Web sites, like social networking sites and blogs.
Google already has created a Lively application that works on Facebook.com, one of the Web’s hottest hangouts, and is working on a version suitable for an even larger online social network, News Corp.’s MySpace.com.
“We know people already spend a lot of time online socializing, so we just want to try to make it more enjoyable,” said Niniane Wang, a Google engineering manager who oversaw Lively’s creation over the past year.
Lively’s users will be able to sculpt an avatar that can be male, female or even a different species. An avatar can assume a new identity, change clothes or convey emotions with a few clicks of the mouse. more>>>
The fiberglass MiniC.A.T. runs on compressed air, and offers zero pollution and very low running costs
Many respected engineers have been trying for years to bring a compressed air car to market, believing strongly that compressed air can power a viable “zero pollution” car. Now the first commercial compressed air car is on the verge of production and beginning to attract a lot of attention, and with a recently signed partnership with Tata, India’s largest automotive manufacturer, the prospects of very cost-effective mass production are now a distinct possibility. The MiniC.A.T is a simple, light urban car, with a tubular chassis that is glued not welded and a body of fibreglass. The heart of the electronic and communication system on the car is a computer offering an array of information reports that extends well beyond the speed of the vehicle, and is built to integrate with external systems and almost anything you could dream of, starting with voice recognition, internet connectivity, GSM telephone connectivity, a GPS guidance system, fleet management systems, emergency systems, and of course every form of digital entertainment. The engine is fascinating, as is and the revolutionary electrical system that uses just one cable and so is the vehicle’s wireless control system. Microcontrollers are used in every device in the car, so one tiny radio transmitter sends instructions to the lights, indicators etc
There are no keys – just an access card which can be read by the car from your pocket. more>>>
This is the same photo, side-by-side. No you are not hallucinating (I hope!), it is an effect first noticed JUST LAST YEAR! Scientific American has 5 slides that shows you how it works. Click HERE to view.