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Tech-news archive: July-August 2007

'Spider-man' suit secret revealed
(Aug 29, 2007)

A "Spider-man" suit that enables its wearer to scale vertical walls like the comic and movie superhero could one day be a reality, according to a study. Natural technology used by spiders and geckos could help a human climb the side of a building or hang upside down from a roof, the analysis suggests.

Read more. Source: BBC

flat screen display
Stretching crystals promises flexible colour displays
(Aug 24, 2007)

The first full-colour display made from a single material could turn the market for flat and flexible displays on its head. Commercial screens based on the technology could be available on the high street in as little as two years, says the Canadian team who built the device. The pixels in the device are made from photonic crystals similar in structure to the natural gemstone opal.

Read more. Source: New Scientist

computer chip
Tiny wind engines cool computers
(Aug 15, 2007)

Miniscule wind engines could help to take computing power to the next level, scientists believe. US researchers have developed a prototype device that creates a "breeze" made up of charged particles, or ions, to cool computer chips. The "ionic wind", the scientists say, will help to manage the heat generated by increasingly powerful, yet ever-shrinking devices.

Read more. Source: BBC

Freescale MRAM chip, which uses spintronics
Putting electronics in a spin
(Aug 8, 2007)

When engineers flick the switch to turn on the world's fastest supercomputer later this year it will be capable of chewing its way through 1,000 trillion calculations every year. But this speedy number cruncher could soon look like the equivalent of a dusty abacus if scientists who have gathered in York deliver on their promises. Nearly 150 of them have convened in the medieval town to explore the future of spintronics (spin-based electronics).

Read more. Source: BBC

screenshot from Crysis
Video games need 'realism boost'
(Aug 7, 2007)

More than good looks are needed to make a great video game, according to Glenn Entis, chief technical officer at games giant Electronic Arts. Mr Entis told the Siggraph conference that games makers had to use much more than graphics to make their creations believable, engaging and fun. Game worlds must not just look lifelike, he said, they must also react in a realistic manner too.

Read more. Source: BBC

Second Life
Game worlds show their human side
(Jul 30, 2007)

World of Warcraft and Second Life are proving a boon to social scientists who are using them as virtual laboratories. Researchers are getting insights into real life by studying what people do in virtual worlds, reveals a review in the journal Science. It suggests virtual worlds could help scientists studying ideas of government and even concepts of self.

Read more. Source: BBC

babbage difference engine
Antique engines inspire nano chip
(Jul 26, 2007)

The blueprint for a tiny, ultra-robust mechanical computer has been outlined by US researchers. The energy-efficient nano computer is inspired by ideas about computing first put forward nearly 200 years ago. Writing in the New Journal of Physics, the scientists say the machine would be built from nanometre-sized components, just billionths of a metre across.

Read more. Source: BBC

Computers crack famous board game
(Jul 20, 2007)

It could be a case of game over for draughts [checkers] – scientists say the ancient board game has finally been solved. A Canadian team has created a computer program that can win or draw any game, no matter who the opponent is. It took an average of 50 computers nearly two decades to sift through the 500 billion billion possible draughts positions to come up with the solution.

Read more. Source: BBC

chameleon liquid
Chameleon liquid could outshine LCDs
(Jul 17, 2007)

A liquid that changes colour when exposed to a magnetic field could cheaply replace the colour components in conventional LCD monitors, claim US researchers. The liquid contains tiny iron oxide particles coated with plastic. It is cheap and easy to make, and could also be used in flexible, rewritable, electronic paper, the researchers say.

Read more. Source: New Scientist

Boeing 787
Boeing unveils Dreamliner plane
(Jul 11, 2007)

US plane manufacturer Boeing has unveiled its 787 Dreamliner – the firm's first all-new jet since 1995. It is the only big commercial aircraft made mostly of carbon fibre rather than aluminium and is billed as the most environmentally friendly ever built. Boeing says the 787 is much more fuel efficient than its competitors and produces 20% less CO2.

Read more. Source: BBC

Sean MacCarthy
The perpetual myth of free energy
(Jul 10, 2007)

Irish company Steorn made headlines around the world when it took out a full page advert in The Economist claiming to have developed a device that produced "free energy". Throughout early July, the company planned to display the device to the public for the first time. Professor Sir Eric Ash, electrical engineer and former rector of Imperial College London, visited the demonstration for the BBC News website.

Read more. Source: BBC

hard drive
The Tech Lab: Charles Stross
(Jul 10, 2007)

UK science fiction writer Charles Stross, author of novels Accelerando and Singularity Sky, posits a future in which all human experience is recorded on devices the size of a grain of sand. We've had agriculture for about 12,000 years, towns for eight to 10,000 years, and writing for about 5,000 years. But we're still living in the dark ages leading up to the dawn of history.

Read more. Source: BBC


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