Monthly Archives: December 2006

The Latest in Nanotechnology

Nano-welds herald new era of electronics.

“We can create any 3D shape by varying the beam and rotating the target,” he adds. Using this technique, the researchers have already made nano-scalpels 10 nm by 20 nm across and just a few nanometres thick. These scalpels can be used for cutting into living cells.

U.S. developing nanotech military armor

The U.S. Army awarded a $15 million contract for the development of a new type of lightweight composite armor based on nanotechnology.

Rice said the planned armor “will be even stronger than existing armor, but also lighter, to reduce the top weight of the ‘up-armored’ vehicle.”

He also assured that engineers would be looking into reducing the flammability and flexibility issues inherent in many composite materials as an improvement in body armor.

The Year in Nanotech

Dazzling displays, handheld sensors, cancer killers, and nanotube computers.

Conventional cancer treatment can wreak havoc on the body. So researchers are developing technology smaller than the cancer cells that can seek them out, slip inside, and deliver a dose of deadly cancer medicine, leaving healthy cells untouched.

As researchers race to develop new cancer-fighting nano tools, an important weapon will be computer modeling, which will help researchers identify materials and structures that can be used safely in the body. (See “Speeding Up Nanomedicine.”) But perhaps the biggest impact of nanotechnology on health could be new ways of using nanostructures to purify water, since dirty water is a leading cause of disease worldwide.

The Latest in Robots

We’ll All be Cyborgs Someday (This link acts weird in Firefox. the second time you visit it, it wil bother you with subscription information. Just use IE to view this, or clean your cookies in Firefox and then revisit the site)

Kevin Warwick, a professor of cybernetics at the University of Reading, has firsthand knowledge. In 1998, he had a chip surgically inserted into his left arm, becoming, he thinks, the first human ever implanted with a computer chip.

Since then, he’s had a more sophisticated chip connected directly to his nervous system. He is still working toward his grandest experiment: having a chip implanted in his brain.

“I want to become a cyborg,” he said with an infectious grin. “I can see the advantages.”

In 2002, doctors sliced open Warwick’s left wrist and implanted a much smaller and more sophisticated device. For three months, its 100 electrodes were connected to his median nerves, linking his nervous system to a computer.

“I moved my hand, and my neural signals were sent over the Internet to open and close a robot hand,” he said.

Not only that: The robotic hand had sensors. As it grasped a sponge or a glasses case, it sent information back to Warwick.

“It was tremendously exciting,” Warwick said. “I experienced it as signals in my brain, which my brain was quite happy to recognize as feedback from the robot hand fingertips.”

A Robot in Every Home

I can envision a future in which robotic devices will become a nearly ubiquitous part of our day-to-day lives. I believe that technologies such as distributed computing, voice and visual recognition, and wireless broadband connectivity will open the door to a new generation of autonomous devices that enable computers to perform tasks in the physical world on our behalf. We may be on the verge of a new era, when the PC will get up off the desktop and allow us to see, hear, touch and manipulate objects in places where we are not physically present.

UK report says robots will have rights

“If we make conscious robots they would want to have rights and they probably should,” said Henrik Christensen, director of the Centre of Robotics and Intelligent Machines at the Georgia Institute of Technology.

Robots and machines are now classed as inanimate objects without rights or duties but if artificial intelligence becomes ubiquitous, the report argues, there may be calls for humans’ rights to be extended to them.

“There will be people who can’t distinguish that so we need to have ethical rules to make sure we as humans interact with robots in an ethical manner so we do not move our boundaries of what is acceptable.”

Robots of the Future

First there was the DARPA Grand Challenge, a robotic contest for building a driverless car capable of successfully completing a 132-mile off-road course. In November 2007, DARPA will throw down the gauntlet once again in the form of the Urban Challenge. This contest raises the bar by requiring its autonomous contestants to negotiate a 60-mile course through simulated urban traffic in less than six hours. Bookies’ favorite is likely to be Sebastian Thrun and his team of roboticists from Stanford University, CA, who won the last challenge, in 2005.

Conscious computing debated at MIT anniversary event

The question of whether machines will be capable of human intelligence is ultimately a matter for philosophers to take up and not something scientists can answer, an inventor and a computer scientist agreed during a debate late last month at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

What if your laptop knew how you felt?

Faces reveal emotions, and researchers in fields as disparate as psychology, computer science, and engineering are joining forces under the umbrella of “affective computing” to teach machines to read expressions. If they succeed, your computer may one day “read” your mood and play along. Machines equipped with emotional skills could also be used in teaching, robotics, gaming, sales, security, law enforcement, and psychological diagnosis.

In Pictures: Robot Menagerie

The Latest in Biotech

Continued Support From the Glenn Foundation for Medical Research

In response to the recent progress report from Methuselah Foundation chairman Aubrey de Grey, we are pleased to note that the Glenn Foundation for Medical Research has stepped forward in greater support of Foundation-funded SENS research with the offer of an additional $50,000 donation.

Paul F. Glenn, founder of the Glenn Foundation, said, “We have been following the progress of Aubrey de Grey’s ideas with interest, and the Thiel matching pledge allows us to leverage our funds in a highly efficient way.”

Filter removes mad cow proteins from blood

A new filtering device can remove dangerous “mad cow disease” proteins from blood. Scientists say the device could prevent the spread of deadly prion diseases via blood transfusions.

At least three people have died in the UK after receiving blood contaminated with variant Creutzfeldt Jakob disease (vCJD) – the human equivalent of mad cow disease. There is currently no test available to screen blood for the misfolded “prion” proteins that cause the illness.

The new “P-Capt” filter designed by Robert Rohwer of the VA Medical Center in Baltimore, Maryland, US, and colleagues aims to make blood safer by removing these proteins. Their tests show the filter can prevent infections in hamsters and can remove the vCJD prions from human blood.

Military college to set up stem cell research centre

‘Stem cell therapy is the futuristic regenerative or reparative medicine. It will be the futuristic treatment replacing drug therapy and surgery. Through stem cell treatment, heart diseases, diabetes, Parkinson’s disease, epilepsy, multiple sclerosis, eye and muscle disease and various other diseases can be cured,’ Surgeon Vice Admiral V.K. Singh, the Armed Forces Medical Services director general, told IANS.

‘We are not playing god. Our intention is not to create a super human being but to repair diseased and damaged human tissues and organs,’ said Col. Harsh Kumar, head of the Department of Transfusion Medicine, AFMC.

‘Stem cell therapy, a futuristic treatment in medicine, is all set to revolutionise and replace drug-based treatment as stem cells have the potential to form parts of the human body. It is absolutely achievable,’ he added.

The Future of Brain Surgery

With Lasers and Daring, Doctors Race to Save a Young Man’s Brain.

The idea is deceptively simple: instead of cutting a hole in the brain artery and then sewing a vein to it, he sews first and cuts later. That way, the artery does not have to be temporarily clamped, and blood flow to the brain is not cut off. A excimer laser is used to make the hole because it can be slipped into a tight space on the tip of a slender tube and makes a clean cut that stays open without burning nearby tissue.

Major Breakthrough in Aging Research

Dnage Scientists Report Major Breakthroughs In Ageing Research.

While the link between DNA damage and ageing had been established before it has now been shown that the level of “repair-problems” is directly correlated to the severity of the resulting ageing-diseases. The findings indicate that inadequate DNA repair results in accelerated ageing that strongly resembles the processes of natural ageing in older organisms.

Importantly, it was demonstrated that the body activates various natural defence-mechanisms against the accumulation of DNA-damage in order to delay the development of ageing diseases. This indicates that DNA-damage and DNA-repair are very important targets for new products in the field of ageing diseases. Learning from the body’s own response as described by these scientists, the Company is now testing compounds that may eventually lead to products that delay the development of ageing diseases such as Osteoporosis and Neurodegeneration (diseases of the brain including Alzheimer’s and Dementia).

Big news from my home country.

I’ve seen it on the news just a few minutes ago. The spokesperson said that it would take anywhere from 7 to 9 years to develop drugs based on this breakthrough.

With a breakthrough this important, you’d think some people could be moved to action in order to accelerate the realisation of anti aging drugs.

The implications are quite big.

9 Military Technologies We Want

9 Military Technologies We Want.

1. The SmartShirt: Wearing your heart rate on your sleeve

2. Powered Exoskeleton: The real bionic man

3. Liquid Body Armor: Shielding by the glass

4. Micro Spy Plane: Voyeurs drone on

5. GT Max Mini Helicopter: Toys get smart

6. The Sonic Bandage: Sounds like clotting

7. Gryphon Flying Wings: It’s a bird! It’s a plane! …No, it’s just a guy wearing a wing

8. Cornershot: Shooting’s right around the corner

9. Swiss Military Pen: Writing’s the easy part

Our Technological Future – Mixed Bag #7

Many people don’t keep a lasting impression of individual articles reporting on technological breakthroughs.

That’s why I collect a bunch and post them altogether. There’s 36 of ’em!

Dear reader, have a look at your technological future!

300GB Holographic CD’s will be available this week

In the beginning: scientists get ready to hunt for God particle

A Quantum (Computer) Step: Study Shows It’s Feasible to Read Data Stored as Nuclear ‘Spins’

Stem Cell Experiment Yields Heart Valves

Kurzweil: Computers Will Enable People To Live Forever

Thinking Machines

Robot with ‘human soul’ explores remotely

Bionic foot for hit and run victim

Cornell robot is “conscious,” adapts to injury

Teeth: a future renewable natural resource?

Ray Kurzweil: Computers Will Extend Human Lifespan

AI Seduces Stanford Students

Life at 140? Longer life spans up for debate

SKorean robot will walk the walk as well as talk the talk

Cosmic Duo Spins Matter From Light

Stem cell cure hope for back pain

Genetically engineered blood protein can be used to split water into oxygen and hydrogen

Scientists harness mysteries of the brain

Stem Cells Are Where It’s At

The future of discs: 10TB CDs

Distance no worries for spooky particles

Computers that digest the news to change trading

Forget HDTV, the future is 3DTV

GM Plug-in Hybrid to Deliver 70MPG

All but Ageless, Turtles Face Their Biggest Threat: Humans (This is not directly a tech-link, but it does discuss a turtle-species that does not age. It is an example of the fact that immortality is completely natural. This is relevant to life-extension and thus relevant to this blog.)

As population ages, opportunities are born

Self-assembling Nano-ice Discovered — Structure Resembles DNA

Is thorium the answer to our energy crisis?

Kevin Warwick: The ITWales Interview

10 Tech Concepts You Need to Know for 2007

Toronto scientists cure disease in mice

New Hope for Stem-Cell Therapy

Triple-blinded Study of StemEnhance

Welcome to the world of nano foods

More Doctoral Research Funded by the Methuselah Foundation

Hitachi Brain Interface Allows Users to Control Model Trains