The Singularity Is Near

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Electron strobe turns atoms into movie stars
New Scientist Tech, Nov. 21, 2008California Institute of Technology chemist Ahmed Zewail has developed a way to see picosecond motion at a subatomic scale, producing high-resolution footage of atoms in motion with a transmission electron microscope (TEM).

Video

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Computer chips give new spin on saving energy
New Scientist Tech, Nov. 21, 2008UCLA researchers have built the first logic gate a few microns long that can process the data carried by spin waves.

The logic gates have the potential to work on a much smaller scale than conventional transistors because they do not rely on a flow of electrons. Also, no electrons actually move in this device, so less energy should be lost as heat and could allow for great packing density, resulting in ultra-low-power computers.

To generate the waves, electrons are zapped with a magnetic field. The waves then flow along transmission lines buried in the chip and are processed by making them interfere.

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Carbon Nanotubes Improve Protein Array Detection Limits
PhysOrg.com, Nov. 20, 2008To detect cancer as early as possible, dozens of research groups are developing methods to detect trace levels of cancer-related proteins and genes in blood or other biological samples. The latest: carbon nanotubes can serve as highly sensitive optical labels for use in a wide variety of assay systems.

Researchers at Stanford University and the Center for Cancer Nanotechnology Excellence Focused on Therapeutic Response have developed a new type of coating for attaching any number of different types of targeting agents to the surface of single-walled carbon nanotubes. This coating, a branched form of the biocompatible polymer poly(ethylene glycol) (PEG), enabled the investigators to readily couple antibodies to carbon nanotubes. In the experiments reported in their current paper in Nature Biotechnology, the antibodies were designed to identify specific proteins immobilized on a standard protein array microchip.

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Carbon Nanotubes Detect Lung Cancer Markers in the Breath
PhysOrg.com, Nov. 20, 2008Using an array of nanotube devices, each coated with a different organic material, researchers at the Israel Institute of Technology have developed diagnostic system that may be able to diagnose lung cancer simply by sampling a patient’s breath.

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Less-Invasive Brain Interfaces
Technology Review, Nov. 21, 2008Using electrocorticography (ECoG) — recording neural activity from a sheet of electrodes laid directly on the surface of a patient’s brain — scientists have found they can predict the movement of fingers and which of several sounds the patient is imagining.


(Gerwin Schalk/Journal of Neural Engineering)

They hope to use the findings to develop intuitive brain-computer interfaces and neural prostheses.

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Plumbing the oceans could bring limitless clean energy
New Scientist Tech, Nov. 19, 2008Ocean Thermal Energy Conversion (OTEC) — which exploits the difference in temperature between seawater near the surface and deep down — has the potential to become the biggest source of renewable energy in the world, says Robert Cohen, who headed the US federal ocean thermal energy program in the early 1970s.

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Cybercrime toll threatens new financial crisis
New Scientist Tech, Nov. 20, 2008International regulation must be improved to avoid Internet crime (estimated at $100 billion annually) causing global catastrophe, some of the world’s top crime experts have warned.

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Light opens up a world of sound for the deaf
New Scientist Health, Nov. 20, 2008Northwestern University researchers have found that infrared light can stimulate neurons in the inner ear as precisely as sound waves, a discovery that could lead to better cochlear implants for deaf people, replacing limited electrodes.


(Steve Gschmeissner/SPL)

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Google Personalizes Search with SearchWiki
New York Times, Nov. 20, 2008

Google has introduced a new feature called SearchWiki that will allow people (in a gradual rollout to all users) to modify and save their results for specific Google searches.

They can move the sites that appear in rankings up or down, take them out altogether, leave notes next to specific sites (which are public) and suggest new sites that are not already in the results (or are buried too far down in the results to see).

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Honda displays 21st-century supercar concept
CNET News, Nov. 20, 2008At the 2008 Los Angeles Auto Show, Honda showed off a supercar concept, the FC Sport, powered by an electric motor, with energy generated by a hydrogen fuel cell.

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Bay Area’s big-city mayors endorse $1 billion plan for electric cars
Mercury News, Nov. 20, 2008Better Place wants to build 100,000 battery-charging stations and 50 battery exchange stations in the Bay Area where drained batteries can be quickly swapped for fully-charged ones, and has raised $200 million in funding.

In a related development, Coulomb Technologies said it would begin installing 940 of its wireless Smartlet Networked Charging Stations in 2009 throughout California, starting next month.

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Eric Schmidt: Oil is Finite But Information Is Infinite
Fortune, Nov. 19, 2008The Internet can help the energy crisis by creating an informed — and action-oriented — user base, Google CEO Eric Schmidt said in a talk Wednesday for the New America Foundation.

The Internet was created to let any devices connect to it, and any applications to run over it — as long they play by the rules, he said. So it should be used to design the power grid to allow for distributed power generation, a smart two-way connection, and distributed energy storage in plug-in vehicles.

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New theory of visual computation reveals how brain makes sense of natural scenes
PhysOrg.com, Nov. 19, 2008Computational neuroscientists at Carnegie Mellon University have developed a computational model that provides insight into the function of the brain‘s visual cortex and the information processing that enables people to perceive contours and surfaces, and understand what they see in the world around them.

The model employs an algorithm that analyzes the myriad patterns that compose natural scenes and statistically characterizes those patterns to determine which patterns are most likely associated with each other.

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Massive EU online library looks to compete with Google
PhysOrg.com, Nov. 19, 2008The EU launches Thursday its Europeana digital library, an online digest of Europe’s cultural heritage, with millions of digital objects, ranging from film, photographs, paintings, sound files, maps, manuscripts, newspapers, documents and, books.

By 2010, when Europeana is due to be fully operational, the aim is to have 10 million works available. Google claims to have seven million books available for its “Google Book Search” project.

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How Google’s Ear Hears
Technology Review, Nov. 20, 2008The new voice-search application for the iPhone marks a milestone for spoken interfaces.

Google used the huge amount of data on how people use search to train its algorithms, along with data correlating speech samples with written words, culled from its free directory service, Goog411.

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Personalised cancer treatment on the way
New Scientist Health, Nov. 19, 2008University of Chicago scientists have discovered a genetic signature that predicts whether a variety of cancers will respond to the most common treatments: they found that many cancers show abnormalities in 49 specific genes, collectively known as the IFN-related DNA damage resistance signature (IRDS).

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Mysterious electrons may be sign of dark matter
New Scientist Space, Nov. 19, 2008A balloon-borne detector flying over Antarctica called the Advanced Thin Ionization Calorimeter (ATIC) has detected 70 more high-energy electrons than the normal background level attributed to supernova blasts.

Louisiana State University scientists say they could be from a nearby astrophysical object, such as a pulsar (match not yet found) or the electrons were produced when two dark matter particles met and destroyed each other (that hypothesis is strengthened by the electrons’ observed energies, peaking at 650 GeV, the signature of a WIMP (weakly interacting massive particle) dark matter particle.

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Hunting for a Brainy Computer
New York Times, Nov. 20, 2008The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency has awarded a $4.9 million grant to five universities and IBM Research for the first phase of an ambitious research venture in cognitive computing, an emerging field that lies at the outer edge of artificial intelligence and is based on advances in computing, nanotechnology and neuroscience.

The leader of IBM‘s cognitive computing program, Dharmendra Modha, describes the research as “the quest to engineer the mind by reverse-engineering the brain.”

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Regenerating a Mammoth for $10 Million
New York Times, Nov. 19, 2008A scientific team at Pennsylvania State University has recovered a large fraction of the mammoth genome from clumps of mammoth hair, and that a living mammoth could perhaps be regenerated for as little as $10 million.

The same technology could be applied to any other extinct species from which one can obtain hair, horn, hooves, fur or feathers, and which went extinct within the last 60,000 years, the effective age limit for DNA.

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Microsoft Releases New Robot-Building Software
PhysOrg.com, Nov. 19, 2008Microsoft has released Robotics Developer Studio 2008, a software program that enables users to create applications for robots.

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NASA Successfully Tests First Deep Space Internet
KurzweilAI.net, Nov. 19, 2008NASA has successfully tested the first deep space communications network modeled on the Internet, using software called Disruption-Tolerant Networking, or DTN, developed with Google vice president Vint Cerf.

Unlike TCP/IP on Earth, the DTN uses a store-and-forward method to deal with long delays between hops.

In the next few years, the Interplanetary Internet could enable many new types of space missions. Complex missions involving multiple landed, mobile and orbiting spacecraft will be far easier to support through the use of the Interplanetary Internet. It also could ensure reliable communications for astronauts on the surface of the moon.

Source: NASA news release

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Carbon-Nanotube Thread
Technology Review, Nov. 19, 2008University of Michigan researchers have coated conventional cotton thread with highly conductive, biosensing carbon nanotubes.

The threads can be woven into fabrics that are lightweight and wearable but act as simple, sensitive sensors that can, among other functions, detect human blood.

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Six ways to build robots that do humans no harm
New Scientist Tech, Nov. 18, 2008The book Moral Machines: Teaching Robots Right from Wrong offers six strategies that could reduce the danger from our own computers and robots: Keep them in low-risk situations, do not give them weapons, give them rules like Asimov’s “Three Laws of Robotics,” program robots with principles, educate robots like children, and make machines master emotion.

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Quantum calibration paves way for super-secure communication
PhysOrg.com, Nov. 17, 2008A new approach to calibrating quantum mechanical measurement has allowed scientists to calibrate a detector that can sense the presence of multiple individual photons.

This means that devices that rely on information being transmitted via light, such as the fiber-optic technologies used in everyday communications, could detect the safe arrival of that light energy with an unprecedented level of accuracy, leading to ultra-secure communications technologies in the future via long-distance quantum communication networks.

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Prophesy of economic collapse ‘coming true’
New Scientist Environment, Nov. 17, 2008A real-world analysis of a controversial prediction made 30 years ago in the book Limits to Growth concludes that economic growth cannot be sustained and we are on track for serious economic collapse this century.

Graham Turner at the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) in Australia has compared the book’s predictions with data from the intervening years. Changes in industrial production, resource depletion, population growth, food production, and pollution are all in line with the book’s predictions of collapse in the 21st century, he found.

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Broken nerves can be fixed in a flash
New Scientist Health, Nov. 17, 2008Rats with breathing problems caused by damage to their nerves have had normal breathing restored by bursts of visible light aimed onto the spinal cord.

This achievement raises hopes that a miniature light source implanted near the spine might one day allow people with similar injuries to breathe normally.

A similar device might be used to relieve constriction of the bladder caused by nerve damage.

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Tunnelling nanotubes: Life’s secret network
NewScientist Life, Nov. 18, 2008Recently discovered tunneling nanotubes may be responsible for the spread of HIV and prion infectivity from cell to cell, scientists have found.

At 50 to 200 nanometers thick, they are wide enough to allow proteins to pass through, and can span distances of several cell diameters, wiggling around obstacles to connect the insides of two cells some distance apart. Nanotubes may also play a role in tumors becoming resistant to chemotherapy, so a drug that inhibits the growth of nanotubes could reduce the resistance to chemotherapy.

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Making Graphene More Practical
Technology Review, Nov. 18, 2008Researchers at the University of California, Los Angeles, have found a simple way to make large pieces (tens of micrometers wide) of the carbon material graphene that can be deposited on sheets on silicon wafers to make prototype field-effect transistors.

Electrons flow through graphene sheets tens of times faster than they flow in silicon, so graphene could lead to electronic devices that are smaller, faster, and less power-hungry than those made of silicon. Thin and transparent, graphene is also a promising replacement for the indium tin oxide electrodes and the silicon thin-film transistors used in flat-panel displays.

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Science’s Alternative to an Intelligent Creator: the Multiverse Theory
Discover, Nov. 10, 2008The multiverse may well be the only viable non­religious explanation for what is often called the “fine-tuning problem” (or the anthropic principle)– the baffling observation that the laws of the universe seem custom-tailored to favor the emergence of life.

Stanford physicist Leonard Susskind thinks the various versions of string theory may describe different universes that are all real. He believes the anthropic principle, the multiverse, and string theory are converging to produce a coherent, if exceedingly strange, new view in which our universe is just one of a multitude–one that happened to be born with the right kind of physics for our kind of life.

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I-Ball technology to give troops eye on the ground
ITPro, Nov. 17, 2008The I-Ball, a portable, wireless, projectile camera from Scotland-based Dreampact using real-time video with a 360-degree view, gives troops a better view of what lies ahead of them.


Artist’s impression (Ministry of Defence)

Two supercomputers now exceed petaflop/s barrier
KurzweilAI.net, Nov. 18, 2008IBM‘s Roadrunner, a 1.105 petaflop/s supercomputer at Los Alamos National Laboratory, retained the top spot as the world’s fastest supercomputer in the 32nd edition of the list of the world’s TOP500 supercomputers, released Friday.

A close second place went to the Cray XT5 supercomputer at Oak Ridge National Laboratory, called Jaguar. The system, only the second to break the petaflop/s barrier, posted a top performance of 1.059 petaflop/s in running the Linpack benchmark application.

The No. 3 system, Pleiades, is a new SGI Altix ICE system installed at NASA Ames, with 487 teraflop/s.

One petaflop/s represents one quadrillion floating point operations per second.

Nine of the top 10 supercomputers are located in the United States. The most powerful system outside the U.S. is the Chinese-built Dawning 5000A at the Shanghai Supercomputer Center, with 180 teraflops/s.

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Billions of particles of anti-matter created in laboratory
KurzweilAI.net, Nov. 18, 2008Lawrence Livermore National Labs scientists have created the largest number yet of anti-matter positrons (anti-electrons), using a short-pulse laser to accelerate electrons through a gold target.

“By creating this much anti-matter, we can study in more detail whether anti-matter really is just like matter, and perhaps gain more clues as to why the universe we see has more matter than anti-matter,” said Peter Beiersdorfer, a lead Livermore physicist.

Source: Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory news release

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Micro Fuel Cells Get Closer to Replacing Batteries
PhysOrg.com, Nov. 17, 2008Researchers at at the Institute of Electronics, Microelectronics and Nanotechnology (IEMN) in France and Sharp Corporation have pushed the state of the art in methanol fuel cells with micro-sized direct methanol fuel cells (microDMFC), achieving significantly improved fuel efficiency at room temperature.


In microDMFC, methanol and air circulate in microscopic microchannels etched in silicon wafers (Steve Arscott)

The energy density (measured in watt-hours per liter) of the new fuel cells is 385 Wh/L, compared to lithium ions batteries’ 270 Wh/L. While previous fuel cells have achieved higher power density, they haven’t operated at room temperature, which is essential for a commercial product.

According to IEMN’s Dr. Steve Arscott, the biggest challenges facing micro fuel cells are: (i) high-performance room-temperature operation, (ii) miniaturization for on-chip use, (iii) compatibility with existing system fabrication (CMOS, for example), (iv) avoidance of complicated pumps for fuel and air which use energy themselves, (v) use of an efficient silicon-based proton exchange membrane and diffusion layers (novel porous layers for example), (vi) full integration with a microchannel architecture, and (vii) fuel storage.

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Opening announced for Research Fellow in Future Studies
KurzweilAI.net, Nov. 17, 2008The Oxford-based James Martin Institute has announced an opening for a post as a Research Fellow in Future Studies for someone with an interest in scenario-based futures studies and scenario planning practices for public-interest futures and environmental scenarios.

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Norvig, Omohundro, Goertzel and Pell Say How They’d Advise Obama’s if Appointed U.S. CTO
Future Blogger, Nov. 15, 2008Invest a half-trillion dollars in R&D in AI and other areas, instead of a bailout, AI panel members at Convergence08 advised president-elect Obama.

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A Computing Pioneer Has a New Idea
New York Times, Nov. 16, 2008The Convey supercomputer, to be introduced this week, promises to be simpler to program, using Intel-based field programmable gate arrays (FPGAs) that can be reconfigured with different hardware “personalities” to compute problems for different industries, initially aiming at bioinformatics, computer-aided design, financial services and oil and gas exploration.

Larry Smarr, director of the California Institute for Telecommunications and Information Technology at the University of California, San Diego, believes that the most important quality of the Convey computer is that it will be a green supercomputer.

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How to embed photos and videos in your video
KurzweilAI.net, Nov. 17, 2008

Stanford University AI researchers have developed software that allows anyone to insert a video or still photo on almost any planar surface in an existing video.

A “3D Surface Tracker Technologyalgorithm first analyzes the video, with special attention paid to the section of the scene where the new image will be placed. The color, texture and lighting of the new image are subtly altered to blend in with the surroundings. Shadows seen in the original video will be seen in the added image as well. The result is a photo or video that appears to be an integral part of the original scene, rather than a sticker pasted artificially on the video.

Source: Stanford news release

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Quantum cloaking makes molecules invisible
the physics arXiv blog, Nov. 14, 2008University of Upssala researchers have developed a method for detecting and manipulating quantum invisibility, using cloaking of specific terahertz frequencies.

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‘Invisible’ transplant organs now in sight
New Scientist Health, Nov. 14, 2008Organs that are invisible to our immune system, so they won’t be rejected when they are transplanted, could be ready within 10 years, thanks to a faster way of genetically engineering pigs developed by Hammersmith Hospital in London and California Institute of Technology researchers.

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Planet wobbles could reveal Earth 2.0
NewScientist Space, Nov. 14, 2008Hidden alien moons that could harbor life can be revealed by the wobbles of their planets, says David Kipping of University College London.

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Ten-Minute Blood Test
Technology Review, Nov. 17, 2008A microfluidic diagnositc chip that identifies 35 proteins in 10 minutes, which normally takes multiple technicians hours to do, is being developed by Caltech and Institute for Systems Biology scientists.


(James Heath)

Measuring proteins in the blood can help doctors determine patients’ cancer risk and monitor the health of the elderly and people with chronic diseases.

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Dilbert Discovers the Singularity
Moral Machines, Nov. 15, 2008″Our spam filter became self-aware and rewrote our business plan…. Do you think you really think we need to build a killer robot because our spam filter ordered you?”

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Science fiction special: The future of a genre
New Scientist news service, Nov. 13, 2008New Scientist asked six leading writers for their thoughts on the future of science fiction.

It special feature also covers the latest science-fiction novels, writers to watch, and results a poll of all-time favorite sci-fi films and books.

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Sharing Their Demons on the Web
New York Times, Nov. 12, 2008There’s a growing number of Web sites filled with stories from people who say they are victims of mind control and stalking by gangs of government agents, drawing the concern of mental health professionals and the interest of researchers in psychology and psychiatry.

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Google Adds Searching by Voice to iPhone Software
New York Times, Nov. 14, 2008Google researchers have added sophisticated voice recognition technology to the company’s search software for the Apple iPhone, with plans to offer it for other phones.

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Telescoping Carbon Nanotubes Can Make Flash Memory Replacment
Next Big Future, Nov. 13, 2008Researchers at The University of Nottingham have used carbon nanotubes to make fast non-volatile memory.

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New Drug Bypasses Gene Mutations
Technology Review, Nov. 14, 2008A novel drug developed by PTC Therapeutics that enables the production of normal proteins from mutated DNA might one day help people with a variety of genetic diseases.

The drug has shown promise as a treatment for cystic fibrosis and muscular dystrophy,

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The Coming Wireless Revolution
Technology Review, Nov. 14, 2008Within the next couple of years, high-bandwidth (tens of megabits per second), far-reaching wireless Internet signals will soon blanket the nation, thanks to a decision by the FCC last week to allow use of megahertz frequency bands that were previously allocated to television broadcasters.

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Artificial diamonds – now available in extra large
New Scientist news service, Nov. 13, 2008A Carnegie Institute of Washington team has developed a process that could lead to cheap, mass-produced, perfect diamonds of unlimited size, using chemical vapour deposition (CVD), where carbon atoms in a gas are deposited on a surface to produce diamond crystals.

They got around the size limit by using microwaves to “cook” their diamonds in a hydrogen plasma at 2200 degrees C but at low pressure. Diamond size is now limited only by the size of the microwave chamber used.

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Vitamin C lowers levels of inflammation biomarker considered predictor of heart disease
PhysOrg.com, Nov. 13, 2008A new study led by researchers at the University of California, Berkeley adds to the evidence that vitamin C supplements can lower concentrations of C-reactive protein (CRP), a biomarker for elevated risk of cardiovascular problems and diabetes.

However, they also found that treatment with vitamin C is ineffective in persons whose levels of CRP are less than 1 milligram per liter. The researchers also said that for people with elevated CRP levels, the amount of CRP reduction achieved by taking vitamin C supplements in this study is comparable to that in many other studies of cholesterol-lowering drugs called statins.

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‘Elixir of youth’ drug could fight HIV and ageing
New Scientist Health, Nov. 13, 2008TAT2, a drug that boosts telomerase and that is extracted from the Astragalus plant (used in Chinese medicine), has helped immune cells fight HIV and raises the possibility of slowing the aging process in other parts of our bodies, UCLA scientists have found.

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European conference on Computing and Philosophy issues call for papers
KurzweilAI.net, Nov. 13, 2008E-CAP, the European conference on Computing and Philosophy, has issued a call for papers that cover topics like robotics, AI, ambient Intelligence, computational linguistics, interdisciplinary approaches to the problem of consciousness, biological information, artificial life, and synthetic emotions.

The conference will be held at the Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona. Kevin Warwick is a keynote speaker.

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Scientists fabricate first plasma transistor
PhysOrg.com, Nov. 12, 2008Researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign developed a rugged microplasma transistor by integrating a conventional microcavity plasma device with an electron emitter.

The microplasma transistor could be used as an improved transistor in high-resolution displays for cell phones, portable DVD players, environmental sensors (producing plasmas in air samples and detecting light produced by pollutants) and biomedical diagnostics.

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Artists stage street scenes to lurk in Google maps
PhysOrg.com, Nov. 12, 2008Exploring the boundaries of the real and virtual worlds, two artists staged multiple scenes for Google to capture for its Street View when it sent a camera equipped car down a Pittsburgh street in May to take photographs for its online mapping tool.

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DNA strands become fibre optic cables
New Scientist news service, Nov. 12, 2008DNA strands with attached chromophores along their length can perform as nanoscale fiber optic cables, using a new technique developed by resarchers at Chalmers University of Technology in Gothenburg, Sweden.

The wires self-assemble and can self-repair: if a chromophore is damaged and falls free of the DNA strand, another will readily take its place.

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Better Wind Turbines
Technology Review, Nov. 13, 2008ExRo Technologies has developed a new kind of generator that could lower the cost of wind turbines while increasing their power output by 50 percent.

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Will the Next Ice Age Be Permanent?
New York Times, Nov. 12, 2008The world may be witnessing the final stages of a 50-million-year transition from a planet with a persistent warm climate and scant polar ice to one with greatly expanded ice sheets at both poles, two climatologists suggest in Nature.

The Nature paper goes on to propose that humans, as long as they have a technologically powerful society, would be likely to avert such a slide into a long big chill by adding greenhouse gases to the atmosphere.

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Led by Intel, Chip Makers Cut Outlook
New York Times, Nov. 12, 2008Intel warned on Wednesday that its sales could fall as much as 19 percent in the fourth quarter. Other major players in the chip industry, including Applied Materials and National Semiconductor, offered their own bleak outlooks.

The gloomy forecasts suggest that the technology industry is about to enter a slump that will rival or possibly exceed the dot-com bust of 2001.

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Taiwanese Researchers Introduce Blink of the Eye Transmission Speed System On A Chip
PhysOrg.com, Nov. 11, 2008A system on a chip (SOC) with transmission speeds 100 times faster than WiFi and 350 times faster than 3.5G cell phones has been created by Professor Jri Lee of National Taiwan University.

It is about 1/10th the size and cost of existing chips and an be massed-produced for less than $1 per unit.

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Philips’ intelligent pill targets drug development and treatment for digestive tract diseases
PhysOrg.com, Nov. 11, 2008Philips new iPill, designed to be swallowed and to pass through the digestive track naturally, can be electronically programmed to control the delivery of medicine according to a pre-defined drug release profile.

It uses a microprocessor, battery, pH sensor, temperature sensor, RF wireless transceiver, fluid pump and drug reservoir.

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Backpacks for Cells
Technology Review, Nov. 12, 2008Living cells wearing microscopic “backpacks”–nanostructured polymer patches loaded with chemical cargo–might one day be able to ferry drugs or imaging agents to diseased tissue, MIT researchers say.

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Is nanotechnology a health timebomb?
NewScientist.com news service, Nov. 12, 2008Emerging nanomaterials need to undergo urgent testing to assess their effects on health and the environment, the UK’s Royal Commission on Environmental Pollution said in a report released this week.

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Google Uses Searches to Track Flu’s Spread
New York Times, Nov. 11, 2008The simple act of entering phrases like “flu symptoms” into Google, multiplied across millions of keyboards in homes around the country, has given rise to a new early warning system for fast-spreading flu outbreaks, called Google Flu Trends.

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Gmail Going After Skype With Voice & Video Chat
Trusted Reviews, Nov. 12, 2008Google has quietly added voice and video chat into Gmail, putting the email service on a par with VoIP services like Skype, and Microsoft, AOL and Yahoo instant-message services.

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Apple Researching Virtual Reality Headsets
MacRumors.com, Nov. 7, 2008Apple‘s latest patent application covers a personal virtual reality headset in which the image can be adjusted to respond to the user’s movements.

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Quintet of proteins forms new, early-warning blood test before heart attack strikes
PhysOrg.com, Nov. 9, 2008A team of Johns Hopkins biochemists has identified five key proteins out of thousands secreted into blood draining from the heart’s blood vessels that may together or in certain quantities form the basis of a far more accurate early warning test than currently in use of impending heart attack in people with severely reduced blood flow, or ischemia.

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Top Ten Forecasts For The Next 20 Years
KurzweilAI.net, Nov. 11, 2008Everything you say and do will be recorded by 2030, and by the late 2010s, ubiquitous, unseen nanodevices will provide seamless communication and surveillance among all people everywhere, with nanoimplants facilitating interaction in an omnipresent network.

That’s one of the top ten forecasts for 2000 and beyond in the OUTLOOK 2009 report from the November-December 2008 issue of THE FUTURIST magazine.

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Researchers produce ‘neural fingerprint’ of speech recognition
PhysOrg.com, Nov. 10, 2008Speech sounds and voices can be identified using a unique “neural fingerprint” from an fMRI scan of the listener’s brain, Maastricht University researchers have found.

This new knowledge could be used in the future to improve computer systems for automatic speech and speaker recognition.

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Study finds new nanomaterial could be breakthrough for implantable medical devices
PhysOrg.com, Nov. 11, 2008Nanoporous ceramic membranes may create an interface between human tissues and medical devices that is free of protein buildup, leading to new dialysis devices and other revolutionary medical implants, a new study led by North Carolina State University has found.

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Now: The Rest of the Genome
New York Times, Nov. 10, 2008Only 1 percent of the genome is made up of classic genes. Scientists are exploring the other 99 percent and uncovering new secrets and new questions.

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Invention: Cancer nanobomb
New ScientistTech, Nov. 10, 2008Balaji Panchapakesan at the University of Delaware suggests destroying cancers in situ using exploding nanotubes.

His idea is to fill carbon nanotubes with water before injecting them into a tumor. The area is then zapped with laser light, which causes the water inside the nanotubes to boil. The tremendous pressure created by the heating causes the “nanobombs” to burst apart, killing nearby cells.

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Heart-powered pacemaker taps beats for energy
New ScientistTech, Nov. 10, 2008A prototype pacemaker tested in pigs gets one sixth of its power from the beats of the organ it regulates.

The generator, developed at Southampton University Hospital in the UK, consists of two small liquid-filled balloons placed at separate locations within the heart and connected by a silicone tube containing a moveable magnet.

As the heart beats, it squeezes each balloon in turn, pushing liquid through the tube and forcing the magnet to move back and forth past a coil embedded in the tube. This generates electricity that can be used to recharge the battery.

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Ericsson Predicts Mobile Phones With Full HD, 1 GHz Processor Frequency By 2012
PhysOrg.com, Nov. 8, 2008Mobile phones will be equipped with 12 MP to 20 MP cameras with full HD capability by 2012 via 100Mbps transmission, according to Jonas Lundstedt, Director of Ericsson’s Product and Portfolio Management.

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3D Display Offers Glimpse of Future Media
PhysOrg.com, Nov. 10, 2008

A 3D display system, developed by University of Southern California researchers, could one day transform visual entertainment.

The 3D display can project both virtual as well as real images from a recorded movie, is autosterescopic (viewers don´t need to wear special viewing glasses to see the 3D effects), and is also omnidirectional, so that multiple viewers can watch the display from all directions and heights.

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Future Phones to Read Your Voice, Gestures
Wired Gadget Lab, Nov. 6, 2008Five years from now, it is likely that the mobile phone you will be holding will be a smooth, sleek brick — a piece of metal and plastic with a few grooves in it and little more.

That means speaking to your phone rather than typing, pointing with your finger instead of clicking on buttons, and gesturing instead of touching. You could listen to music, access the Internet, use the camera and shop for gadgets by just telling your phone what you want to do, by waving your fingers at it, or by aiming its camera at an object you’re interested in buying.

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Tricked-Out Inflatable House Provides “Instant Survival”
Wired Science, Nov. 7, 2008The $3,900 “Life Cube” from startup Inflatable World inflates into a 12-foot-tall structure to provide shelter and basic amenities for people in the days and weeks after a disaster.

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Mgestyk system promises gesture control on the cheap
engadget, Nov. 6, 2008Mgestyk Technologies has developed a gesture-based control system using nothing more than an “affordable 3D camera” and some custom software to capture even small hand gestures.

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Revolutionary auto already on the road
Union Leader, Nov. 9, 2008Inventor Dean Kamen has developed the world’s first Stirling hybrid electric car, using a Stirling engine to powers the features that would normally drain huge power from the battery (defroster and heater), and can go about 60 miles on a single charge of its lithium battery, with practically zero emissions.

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World’s Largest Truck Goes Robotic
Discovery News, Nov. 6, 2008The largest truck in the world is about to become the largest robotic vehicle in the world. Computer scientists from Carnegie Mellon University have teamed up with engineers from Caterpillar to automate the 700-ton trucks, which are made to haul loads up to 240 tons from mines.

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Engineering Edible Bacteria
Technology Review, Nov. 11, 2008Students at MIT and Caltech are using the techniques of synthetic biology to create bacteria that fight cavities, produce vitamins, and treat lactose intolerance, as part of the International Genetically Engineered Machines (iGEM) competition at MIT.

The new research might lead to a cheaper way to produce medicines or improve diets in the developing world.

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Honda Shows Off Latest Assisted-Walking Gadget
InformationWeek, Nov. 7, 2008Honda has demonstrated its latest wearable assisted-walking device, aimed at helping people working in factories and assembly lines or making a lot of deliveries.

To use the device, a person places its seat between his legs, puts on the gadget’s shoes, and then turns it on to start walking. Between the seat and shoes are motor-driven metal legs to assist the person in walking. The battery-powered device also has a computer and sensors that respond to the person’s movements.

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Students Hope BioBeer Can Fight Disease
Houston News, Nov. 7, 2008Rice University students are developing “BioBeer” brewed using yeast genetically modified to produce resveratrol, a naturally occurring compound found in red wine and a few other foods that has been shown to have cancer-fighting and cardiovascular benefits in mice.

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Mini nuclear plants to power 20,000 homes
The Guardian, Nov. 9, 2008Miniature nuclear power plants smaller than a garden shed and able to power 20,000 homes will be on sale within five years, say scientists at Los Alamos National Labs.

The US government has licensed the technology to Hyperion. Their goal: 10 cents a watt anywhere in the world at a cost of approximately $25 million each. For a community with 10,000 households, that’s $250 per home.

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Cloaking objects at a distance
The physics arXiv blog, Nov. 5, 2008Kong Kong University of Science and Technology physicists have come up with a way to cloak at a distance, using a “complementary material” to hide an object outside it.

All invisibility cloaks to date only work by hiding an object embedded inside them. Now a group of have worked out how to remotely cloak objects that sit outside a cloaking material. The trick is to make the cloaking material with optical properties that are exactly complementary to the space outside them.

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John Doerr’s Advice for Barack Obama: Hire Bill Joy
New York Times, Nov. 5, 2008Venture capitalist John Doerr has recommended that president-elect Barack Obama hire Bill Joy as chief technology officer of the United States (a new position that Obama is planning) to kick-start a huge amount of research and innovation in energy.

His other recommendations: Double the number of engineers who graduate from American universities each year to 60,000, bring more women into the field, encourage foreigners who study engineering here to stay here, and restore DARPA “to its former glory and autonomy.”

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Proof by computer: Harnessing the power of computers to verify mathematical proofs
PhysOrg.com, Nov. 6, 2008A ground-breaking collection of four articles by leading experts, published today in the Notices of the American Mathematical Society (and freely available), explores new developments in the use of formal proof in mathematics.

Thomas Hales, one of the authors writing in the Notices, says that such a collection of proofs would be akin to “the sequencing of the mathematical genome.”

New computer tools have the potential to revolutionize the practice of mathematics by providing far more-reliable proofs of mathematical results than have ever been possible in the history of humankind. These computer tools, based on the notion of “formal proof,” have in recent years been used to provide nearly infallible proofs of many important results in mathematics.

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Internet black boxes to record every email and website visit
Telegraph, Nov. 6, 2008The British government reportedly wants to store every email and website visit made by computer users in Britain in a giant central database.

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Feature films coming to YouTube
CNET News, Nov. 6, 2008YouTube will begin offering feature films produced by at least one of the biggest Hollywood movie studios possibly as early as next month in a new wide-screen player, according to an executive with a major entertainment company.

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Obama Election Ushering In First Internet Presidency
InformationWeek, Nov. 5, 2008The Obama administration is expected to build on a foundation of grassroots support in his private social network, on Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter, and a similar social networking for his legislative initiatives, recruiting supporters to lobby Congress to get his policies enacted into law.

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‘Junk’ DNA proves functional
PhysOrg.com, Nov. 4, 2008Researchers at the Genome Institute of Singapore have shown that many transcription factors (the master proteins that control the expression of other genes) bind specific repeat elements, and that 18 to 33% of the binding sites of five key transcription factors with important roles in cancer and stem cell biology are embedded in distinctive repeat families (AKA “junk DNA“).

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