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September 13, 2006, 4:37 AM CT

Surfing With Vulnerabilities

Surfing With Vulnerabilities
The next time you're sipping a latte and surfing the Net at your favorite neighborhood wireless caf, someone just a few seats away could be breaking into your laptop and causing irreparable damage to your computer's operating system by secretly tapping into your network card's unique device driver, researchers at Sandia National Laboratories in have concluded.

There is, however, some cheerful news. By role-playing the position of an adversary (also known as red teaming), Sandia researchers have demonstrated a unique "fingerprinting" technique that allows hackers with ill intent to identify a wireless driver without modification to or cooperation from a wireless device. Revealing this technique publicly, Sandia researchers hope, can aid in improving the security of wireless communications for devices that employ 802.11 networking.

Sandia is a National Nuclear Security Administration laboratory.

Wireless device drivers fraught with vulnerabilities.

Device drivers, according to Sandia security researcher Jamie Van Randwyk, are becoming a primary source of security holes in modern operating systems. Through a laboratory-directed research grant, Van Randwyk and a team of college interns set out last year to design, implement, and evaluate a technique that has proved capable of passively identifying a wireless driver used by 802.11 wireless devices without specialized equipment and in realistic network conditions. Van Randwyk presented his team's findings last month at the USENIX Security Symposium in Vancouver, B.C.........

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September 11, 2006, 9:48 PM CT

Insights Into Research Of Sir Issac Newton

Insights Into Research Of Sir Issac Newton Kenneth Knoespel
Known primarily for his foundational work in math and physics, Sir Issac Newton actually spent more time on research in alchemy, as well as its interrelationships with science, history and religion, and its implications for economics.

Alchemy, as Newton practiced it in the 17th and 18th centuries, was research into the nature of chemical substances and processes primarily the transmutation of materials from one type of matter to another. Newton and others conducted experiments, but also incorporated philosophical thought in their attempts to uncover the mysteries of the physical universe.

"Newton's extensive work on universal history (which presents human history as a coherent unit governed by certain immutable principles) provides an essential setting for linking his work on alchemy and his work heading England's mint in the 1690s," said Georgia Institute of Technology Professor Kenneth Knoespel, who chairs the School of Literature, Communication and Culture. "It is not at all farfetched to think of history as a kind of alchemical process that looks to the creation of value and wealth".

Knoespel will present an invited talk titled "Newton's alchemical work and the creation of economic value" at 9 a.m. Pacific time Sept. 11 at the American Chemical Society's 232nd national meeting in San Francisco. The talk is part of a session dedicated to scholarship based on the unpublished manuscripts of Newton, most of which are housed at the University of Cambridge and in the Edelstein Center at Hebrew University in Jerusalem. For the past 15 years, Knoespel has studied both collections -- some portions of which weren't available to scholars until the 1970s.........

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September 11, 2006, 9:41 PM CT

Bio-sensitive Nanofibers

Bio-sensitive Nanofibers
Detecting bacteria, viruses and other dangerous substances in hospitals, airplanes and other commonly contaminated places could soon be as easy as wiping a napkin or paper towel across a surface, says a researcher from Cornell University.

"It's very inexpensive, it wouldn't require that someone be highly trained to use it, and it could be activated for whatever you want to find," said Margaret Frey, the Lois and Mel Tukman Assistant Professor of Fiber Science and Apparel Design at Cornell. "So if you're working in a meat-packing plant, for instance, you could swipe it across some hamburger and quickly and easily detect E. coli bacteria." She reported on the research at the American Chemical Society's national meeting today (Sept. 11) in San Francisco.

Once fully developed, the biodegradable absorbent wipe would contain nanofibers containing antibodies to numerous biohazards and chemicals and would signal by changing color or through another effect when the antibodies attached to their targets. Users would simply wipe the napkin across a surface; if a biohazard were detected, the surface could be disinfected and retested with another napkin to be sure it was no longer contaminated.

In work conducted with Yong Joo, assistant professor of chemical and biomolecular engineering, and Antje Baeumner, associate professor of biological and environmental engineering, both at Cornell, Frey developed nanofibers with platforms made of biotin, a part of the B vitamin complex, and the protein streptavidin, which can hold the antibodies. Composed of a polymer compound made from corn, the nanofibers could be incorporated into conventional paper products to keep costs low. Nanofibers, with diameters near 100 nanometers (a nanometer is one-billionth of a meter, or about three times the diameter of an atom), provide extremely large surface areas for sensing and increased absorbency compared with conventional fibers.........

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September 7, 2006, 9:08 PM CT

Photovoltaics From Organic Semiconductors

Photovoltaics From Organic Semiconductors Schematic of a junction between two organic semiconductors
Malliaras lab/Cornell Universit
Imagine T-shirts that light up, or a beach umbrella that collects solar energy to run a portable TV. How about really cheap solar collectors for the roof?

All this and more could come from cutting-edge research at Cornell that demonstrates a new type of organic semiconductor device which shows electroluminescence and acts as a photovoltaic cell. The device is the first to use an "ionic junction," which researchers say could lead to improved performance. Since organic semiconductors can be made in thin, flexible sheets, they could create displays on cloth or paper.

"Flexible means low-cost fabrication," said George Malliaras, Cornell associate professor of materials science and engineering, in whose laboratory the research was done. And that means another result of the research could be mass-produced, inexpensive solar cells.

The work is described in the Sept. 7 issue of the journal Science in a paper by Cornell graduate researchers Daniel Bernards and Samuel Flores-Torres, Hector Abruña, the E. M. Chamot Professor of Chemistry and Chemical Biology at Cornell, and Malliaras.

Semiconductors -- organic or otherwise -- are materials that contain either an excess of free electrons (N-type) or "holes" (P-type). Holes are spaces where an atom ought to have an electron but doesn't, representing a positive charge. N- and P-type materials can be joined to form diodes and transistors. The Cornell researchers went a step further by making a diode out of organic semiconductors that also contain free ions (molecules with an electrical charge). They laminated together two organic layers, one that contained free positive ions and the other negative ions. They then added thin conducting films on the top and bottom; the top conductor is transparent to allow light in and out.........

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September 7, 2006, 5:13 AM CT

showing off the Laser Nanoantenna

showing off the Laser Nanoantenna
Scientists from Harvard University is showing off a new photonic device with a wide range of potential commercial applications, including dramatically higher capacity for optical data storage. This device is termed a plasmonic laser antenna, and the design consists of a metallic nanostructure, known as an optical antenna, integrated onto the facet of a commercial semiconductor laser.

This research, which is spearheaded by two research groups led by Ken Crozier, assistant professor of electrical engineering, and Federico Capasso, Robert L. Wallace Professor of Applied Physics and Vinton Hayes Senior Research Fellow in Electrical Engineering, these findings appear in the journal Applied Physics Letters. The researchers have also filed for U.S. patents covering this new class of photonic devices.

"The optical antenna collects light from the laser and concentrates it to an intense spot measuring tens of nanometers, or about one-thousandth the width of a single human hair," says Crozier. "The device could be integrated into optical data storage platforms and used to write bits far smaller than what's now possible with conventional methods. This could lead to vastly increased storage capacities in the terabyte range (a thousand gigabytes)".

Writable CDs and DVDs are a popular means for storing and backing up data, but the storage density is limited by the resolution limit of conventional optics. The optical antenna offers a substantial improvement in spatial resolution, which in turn leads to increased storage density. While optical antennas are similar to conventional antennas used for wireless communications (Wi-Fi), they are much smaller in scale -- only a few hundred nanometers across. Moreover, optical antennas operate in the visible and infrared portion of the electromagnetic spectrum; these wavelengths are far smaller than the wavelengths used in Wi-Fi.........

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September 6, 2006, 9:57 PM CT

Dark Matter Proof in doubt

Dark Matter Proof in doubt
When Douglas Clowe of the University of Arizona in Tucson announced on 21 August that his team had "direct proof of dark matter's existence", it seemed the issue had been settled. Now proponents of the so-called modified theories of gravity, who explain the motion of stars and galaxies without resorting to dark matter, have hit back and are suggesting that Clowe's team has jumped the gun.

"One should not draw premature conclusions about the existence of dark matter without a careful analysis of alternative gravity theories," writes John Moffat, of the University of Waterloo in Ontario, Canada, who pioneered an alternative theory of gravity known as MOG (

The controversy centres on the pattern of gravitational lensing, or the bending of light, around the Bullet cluster of galaxies, which formed from the collision of two clusters. While most of the Bullet cluster's visible mass lies in a pool of hot gas near the centre, galaxies can also be seen on either side. Clowe's study of lensing indicates that most of the mass is contained in the two lobes, rather than in the pool of gas. The team says this is evidence of dark matter surrounding the galaxies.

Moffat claims that his MOG theory can explain the Bullet cluster without an ounce of dark matter. In MOG, gravity acts as predicted by Newton's inverse square law up to a certain distance from the gravitating mass, after which it gets a little stronger. In the Bullet cluster, the complex arrangement of galaxies and hot gas combines to make gravity strongest in the lobes, so that is where the lensing would be most apparent. Moffat has worked this out for the Bullet cluster using a.........

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September 5, 2006, 9:09 PM CT

New Era Of Urban Mapmaking

New Era Of Urban Mapmaking Real Time Rome project
Real Time Rome, a pioneering MIT project that promises to usher in a new era of urban mapmaking, will have its worldwide debut at the Venice Biennale, the prestigious biannual exhibition of contemporary art, from Sept. 10 to Nov. 19.

The project utilizes data gathered, in real time and at an unprecedented scale, from cell phones and other wireless technologies, to better understand the patterns of daily life in Rome, and to illustrate what ubiquitous connectivity in an urban environment looks like.

"In today's world, wireless mobile communications devices are creating new dimensions of interconnectedness between people, places and urban infrastructures," said project director Carlo Ratti, director of the SENSEable City Lab at MIT. "The goal of Real Time Rome is to use this connectivity to map the city in real time, which may ultimately lead to a deeper understanding of how modern cities function".

Real Time Rome features seven large animations, projected on transparent plexiglass screens. One screen shows traffic congestion around the city, while another screen shows the exact movements of all the city's buses and taxis. Another screen is able to track Romans celebrating major events like the World Cup or the city's annual White Nights festival (Notte Bianca, which will happen on Sept. 9, the evening before the Biennale's architecture exhibition opening). Additional screens show how tourists use urban spaces and how cars and pedestrians move about the city.........

Posted by: Edwin      Permalink         Source

September 5, 2006, 7:22 PM CT

Gold Nanoparticles Are Hot Stuff

Gold Nanoparticles Are Hot Stuff
Gold nanoparticles are highly efficient and sensitive "handles" for biological molecules being manipulated and tracked by lasers, but they also can heat up fast-by tens of degrees in just a few nanoseconds-which could either damage the molecules or help study them, as per researchers at JILA, a joint institute of the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) and University of Colorado at Boulder.

Biophysicists often study nanoscale and even picoscale mechanics by using lasers to both apply force to and track the position of fragile biomolecules such as DNA or protein by manipulating a tiny sphere-typically polystyrene-attached to the molecule. The JILA team would like to find new microsphere materials that can be trapped by laser radiation pressure more efficiently, which would enable faster measurements and detection of smaller motions at the same laser power. As described in the Aug. 15 issue of Optics Letters,* the JILA team demonstrated that 100-nanometer-wide gold beads, as expected because of their metallic nature, can be trapped and detected six times more easily than polystyrene particles of a similar size.

However, the researchers also observed that gold absorbs light and heats up quickly, by a remarkable 266 degrees (Celsius) per watt of laser power, at the wavelength most often used in optical traps. Unless very low laser power is used, the heat could damage the molecules under study. Thus, gold beads would not be useful for temperature-sensitive experiments or applying force to molecules. But the heating effect could be useful in raising local temperatures in certain experiments, such as heating a protein just enough to allow researchers to watch it unfold, the paper suggests.........

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September 2, 2006, 9:11 PM CT

High-flying balloons track hurricane formation

High-flying balloons track hurricane formation
The eastern tropical Atlantic Ocean is out of range for U.S. hurricane-hunter aircraft, and forecasters have little skill predicting which systems brewing there will develop into hurricanes, atmospheric scientists say. So, to find out how some of the most dangerous hurricanes form, U.S. and French researchers are launching large, specialized balloons carrying nearly 300 instruments over wide swaths of Africa and the Atlantic Ocean.

The first launch of a balloon with its instruments, called a driftsonde, took place at Zinder, Niger, on Aug. 28. Some seven more driftsondes will be released from Zinder through late September, coinciding with the peak period of hurricane formation over the tropical Atlantic.

"Data from the driftsondes should help characterize the conditions that either foster or suppress hurricane formation," said the National Science Foundation's (NSF) Cliff Jacobs, who oversees support for the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) in Boulder, Colo.

Scientists and engineers at NCAR and the French space agency, CNES, developed the driftsondes. The research was funded by NSF, NCAR's primary sponsor, and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

Each balloon will drift from Africa toward the Caribbean at heights of around 65,000-70,000 feet, where light easterly winds prevail. Twice a day, each balloon will release an instrument known as a dropsonde that falls by parachute, sensing the weather conditions during its 20-minute descent and sending data back to the balloon and then to the researchers by satellite.........

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August 31, 2006, 4:17 PM CT

Fashion Designers via Technology

Fashion Designers via Technology
That's right, Angelo Russica has decided to take fashion design to the web. Using a web-based design school that is dedicated to teaching all aspects of design including the basic skills needed, history of design and the aesthetics of Italian fashion, is born.

A number of students had apparently complained about the fact that they had spent thousands of dollars learning the trade yet never had a job that correlation to fashion, once they left these schools. Angelo Russica decided to make it a little cheaper and less intrusive by using technology.

Modeling the lessons so that each individual lesson is built upon the prior lesson, you slowly graduate into more expansive knowledge of the industry and Italian design. The lessons require the students to actively participate and encourage a number of different things such as learning to analyze the market and find sources for information sought.

With 7 sections, 27 chapters, 197 pages and more than 170 exercises, they hope to teach with a different mode of getting the knowledge out but still allow the students to acquire the same skill level that is reached in typical schools.

Sounds interesting to me but do they get to digitally display the degree too? I think this is going to become more commonplace as online degrees and colleges start pepping up their courses.........

Posted by: John      Permalink         Source

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