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Tech-news archive: January-February 2006

Scaled Composites hiring spaceship builders
(Feb 27, 2006)

If you’re looking to get your hands dirty and be on the ground floor of public space travel, you might touch base with one of the leading spaceline builders. Scaled Composites in Mojave, California is in the deep design stage of a fleet of commercial suborbital spaceships and launch aircraft. They are also in recruitment mode to find the right talent to build the commercial spaceships for the new industry of private spaceflight.

Read more. Source:

Enzyme computer could live inside you
(Feb 24, 2006)

A molecular computer that uses enzymes to perform calculations has been built by researchers in Israel. Itamar Willner, who constructed the molecular calculator with colleagues at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem in Israel, believes enzyme-powered computers could eventually be implanted into the human body and used to, for example, tailor the release of drugs to a specific person's metabolism.

Read more. Source: New Scientist

quantum computer art
Quantum computer works best switched off
(Feb 23, 2006)

Even for the crazy world of quantum mechanics, this one is twisted. A quantum computer program has produced an answer without actually running. The idea behind the feat, first proposed in 1998, is to put a quantum computer into a “superposition”, a state in which it is both running and not running. It is as if you asked Schrödinger's cat to hit "Run". With the right set-up, the theory suggested, the computer would sometimes get an answer out of the computer even though the program did not run.

Read more. Source: New Scientist

Sony Playstation 3
Launch of Sony’s PlayStation 3 could be delayed
(Feb 21, 2006)

Sony Corp.’s launch of its next-generation PlayStation 3 video game console could be delayed if industry specifications for some of its technology are not finalized soon, although it is still aiming for a spring rollout, it said on Monday. The launch of PlayStation 3 (PS3) has been the subject of heavy speculation in the industry as expectations are high for the powerful machine, which will feature cutting-edge technology in its DVD player, processors and graphics.

Read more. Source: MSNBC/Reuters

Superman's X-ray vision
The laser that lets you see through solid objects
(Feb 20, 2006)

Comic book fantasies of being able to see through concrete walls and locked doors may have taken a step closer to becoming reality after it emerged that British and Swiss scientists have developed a way of seeing through solid objects. At the moment the "X-ray specs effect", as Chris Phillips at Imperial College London calls it, is restricted to the lab, but it could in theory work on any material. His set-up, which he describes in the journal Nature Materials today, involves shining a laser at a specially designed solid. "The material goes from being opaque to being completely transparent.

Read more. Source: Guardian

Internet user
Poll: Web a fun place to hang out
(Feb 18, 2006)

Nearly one-third of American Internet users surveyed said they go online just for fun rather than to check e-mail, read news or use a search engine, a sharp increase from a year ago, the Pew Internet & American Life Project said on Wednesday. "This tells us the Internet is another place where people increasingly go to while away their time or just to hang out," said Deborah Fallows, senior research fellow at the nonpartisan research group which examines the social impact of the Internet.

Source: Reuters

air guitar
How to be a rock star, virtually
(Feb 13, 2006)

There are usually only two things that stop most adolescent males from being guitar "rock gods" – lack of a guitar and a total lack of talent. Now a group of young Finnish scientists have found a way to overcome these little obstacles. The Virtual Air Guitar can be mastered in just a few seconds. You simply put on a pair of orange gloves, stand in front of a camera which is attached to a computer and the software reads your hand movements to create music, of a sort.

Read more. Source: BBC

Honda FCX
Driving the car of the future
(Feb 11, 2006)

There are few landscapes more dramatic than Yakushima, and few places with more weather; within seconds we were being pelted by our 12th rainstorm of the day. But none of this bothered Sachito Fujimoto, one of Honda's top engineers. "It's the perfect climate for us," he said with a grin, and we climbed into the dumpy little blue car he was testing. The Honda FCX isn't much to look at, but it's the closest thing to a genuine car of the future you can drive on public roads.

Read more. Source: BBC

bathroom faucets
Self-cleaning bathroom on the way
(Feb 10, 2006)

Nanotechnology may yet rescue us from the drudgery of the weekly ritual of blitzing the bathroom. Scientists in Australia have developed an environmentally friendly coating containing special nanoparticles that could do the job of cleaning and disinfecting for us.

Read more. Source: BBC

Fossett distance quest under way
(Feb 9, 2006)

After a white-knuckle takeoff, millionaire adventurer Steve Fossett soared out over the Atlantic in a bony-looking experimental airplane Wednesday on a quest to break the 25,000-mile record for the world's longest aircraft flight. Fossett squeezed into the tiny cockpit, kissed his wife goodbye and set out on the planned, 3 1/2-day nonstop journey, taking off from the Kennedy Space Center on a nearly three-mile runway.

Source: Reuters

The future of today's technology
(Feb 7, 2006)

Ian Hardy checks out the gadgets that will be making an appearance in shops in the near future. Commercial robots are becoming increasingly sophisticated Imagine it. A fold-out futon with built in iPod dock and surround-sound speakers. For $1200 (£680) Robonova-1 will come and live with you, cartwheeling the day away, along with some push-ups and back flips. This is the latest, greatest in robotics.

Read more. Source: BBC

robot Enryu
Giant robot rescues cars from deep snow
(Feb 3, 2006)

Enryu's 15-foot arms are powerful enough to lift a small passenger car, and its hands are almost as dexterous as a human being's. And the 5-ton, 11.5-foot robot may soon be helping communities across Japan reach avalanche sites and clear snow, as the nation struggles to deal with its snowiest winter in decades, said Japanese company Tmsuk Co.

Read more. Source: MSNBC/AP

Next X Prizes target genes and gas mileage
(Jan 31, 2006)

The people behind the X Prize that kick-started personal space travel are planning prizes in a variety of non-space fields, from automobile technology and genome research to nanotechnology and education. The goal is to cut through red tape, jump-start progress and allow genius to shine. In 2004, a $10 million X Prize purse was won by back-to-back flights of a piloted SpaceShipOne rocket plane from Mojave, Calif., to the edge of space.

Read more. Source: MSNBC

Sony Aibo
What happened to the Robot Age?
(Jan 28, 2006)

Sony's decision to ditch its Aibo robotic dog, along with its entire robot development team, is a reminder that we are still a long way from the age of automated domestic servants. Architects of the Robot Age have been busy rethinking the future. In the 1980s you could hardly move for suggestions that the Robot Age was upon us.

Read more. Source: BBC

women conversing
Internet serves as 'social glue'
(Jan 26, 2006)

The internet has played an important role in the life decisions of 60 million Americans, research shows. Whether it be career advice, helping people through an illness or finding a new house, 45% of Americans turn to the web for help, a survey by US-based Pew Internet think-tank has found. It set out to find out whether the web and e-mail strengthen social ties. The answer seems to be yes, especially in times of crisis when people use it to mobilise their social networks.

Read more. Source: BBC

surgical mini-robots
Dextrous mini-robots to aid ops
(Jan 26, 2006)

Scientists are developing a new generation of dextrous mini-robots for use in minimally invasive surgery. New Scientist magazine reports that several prototypes of the radio-controlled robots are being tested in animal models. They have been used to help perform gall bladder and prostate removal in pig experiments. The University of Nebraska team believe they could potentially revolutionise minimally invasive keyhole surgery.

Read more. Source: BBC

mobile phone user
Mobiles 'don't raise cancer risk'
(Jan 22, 2006)

Mobile phone use does not lead to a greater risk of brain tumour, the largest study on the issue has said. The study of 2,782 people across the UK found no link between the risk of glioma – the most common type of brain tumour – and length of mobile use. Among cancer sufferers the tumours were more likely to be reported on the side of the head where they held the phone. But the British Medical Journal study said people over-reported phone use on the side their cancer developed.

Read more. Source: BBC

Nanoscale magnets promise more-shrinkable chips
(Jan 13, 2006)

Nanoscale magnets can be cajoled into performing the same digital arithmetic as the transistor-based logic gates in computer chips, according to a new study. The research suggests that today’s transistors, which will approach their limits of miniaturisation sometime in the next couple of decades, could eventually be replaced by more shrinkable nanomagnet technology – allowing ever more powerful, faster processors to continue to be constructed.

Read more. Source: New Scientist

Levi jeans
Levi makes iPod controlling jeans
(Jan 12, 2006)

Denim giant Levi Strauss has designed a pair of jeans able to control a wearer's Apple iPod music player. The RedWire DLX Jeans will have an iPod remote control and docking station fitted in its pockets, and comes complete with attached headphones. To be launched in August, the jeans will cost approximately $200 (£114).

Read more. Source: BBC

X-box 360 game
Game firms face challenges ahead
(Jan 9, 2006)

Plans for gaming consoles to become media centres and for gaming itself to engage a new mass market could be being overplayed by the industry. That is one of the conclusions of a new report from research firm Forrester. The study finds that a gradual evolution in the gaming industry is more likely than a revolution in the way people play games and use consoles. Although gaming is a huge industry, the report warned that turning a profit will become increasingly difficult.

Read more. Source: BBC

Intel is doing deals with NBC and Google
Intel eyes entertainment market
(Jan 6, 2006)

The chip giant Intel has made its pitch to be at the heart of digital entertainment with its Viiv technology. Viiv is Intel's bid to convert PCs into home entertainment hubs and make it easier to play video, music and other content on a variety of gadgets. At the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas, Intel unveiled deals to provide content for the new Viiv PCs. These include one with Google that will allow people to watch video stored on the search giant's video service.

Read more. Source: BBC

mobile phone camera
The year of the digital citizen
(Jan 2, 2006)

Twelve months ago, it was clear the mass consumer was going to have at his or her disposal many more gadgets with greater capacity to record, store and share content. It was going to be a year in which people started to challenge those who traditionally provide us with content, be it news, music, or movies. Crucially, what 2005 proved was that far from these techno tools being purely dumb funnels for the same paid-for content from mainstream media, they had the chance to become powerful tools for political expression and reportage.

Read more. Source: BBC


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