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December 5, 2006, 4:43 AM CT

Dreaming Of A Nanotech Christmas

Dreaming Of A Nanotech Christmas
Will parents put an iPod Nano or Head Nano Titanium tennis racket under the Christmas tree for their children this year? Will holiday revelers hang a Nano-Infinity stocking on their fireplace mantle for Santa Claus to fill? Just what does compel shoppers to either buy nanotechnology products, or avoid them because of real or imagined risks?

With over 350 manufacturer-identified nanotechnology consumer products available for purchase this gift-giving season (see:, and with $2.6 trillion in manufactured goods incorporating nanotechnology expected by 2014, there is a lot at stake in how these questions are answered.

The results of the first large-scale empirical study of how consumers consider risks and benefits when deciding whether to purchase or use specific nanotechnology products will appear in the December 2006 issue of the journal Nature Nanotechnology. The article's lead author, Steven C. Currall, University College London and London Business School, and a co-author, Neal Lane, Rice University's Baker Institute for Public Policy and former U.S. Presidential Science Advisor, will report their findings at a program and live webcast on Tuesday, December 5th at 2:00 p.m. in the 5th Floor Conference Room of the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars ( The Nature Nanotechnology article is embargoed until December 5th at 2 p.m. U.S. Eastern Time.........

Posted by: John      Permalink         Source

December 4, 2006, 9:53 PM CT

Strontium Atomic Clock

Strontium Atomic Clock
Using an ultra-stable laser to manipulate strontium atoms trapped in a "lattice" made of light, researchers at JILA have demonstrated the capability to produce the most precise "ticks" ever recorded in an optical atomic clock-techniques that may be useful in time keeping, precision measurements of high frequencies, and quantum computers using neutral atoms as bits of information.

The JILA strontium lattice design, described in the Dec. 1 issue of Science,* is a leading candidate for next-generation atomic clocks that operate at optical frequencies, which are much higher than the microwaves used in today's standard atomic clocks and thus divide time into smaller, more precise units. JILA is a joint institution of the Commerce Department's National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) and the University of Colorado at Boulder (CU-Boulder).

The JILA group, led by NIST Fellow Jun Ye, achieved the highest "resonance quality factor"-indicating strong, stable signals when a very specific frequency of laser light excites the atoms-ever recorded in coherent spectroscopy, or studies of interactions between matter and light. "We can define the center, or peak, of this resonance with a precision comparable to measuring the distance from the Earth to the sun with an uncertainty the size of a human hair," says first author Martin Boyd, a CU-Boulder graduate student. This enabled observation of very subtle sublevels of the atoms' electronic energy states created by the magnetic "spin" of their nuclei.........

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December 4, 2006, 5:08 AM CT

Robotic Pets May Be Bad Medicine

Robotic Pets May Be Bad Medicine Sherry Turkle
In the face of techno-doomsday punditry, Sherry Turkle has long been a proponent of the positive. In her books, "The Second Self: Computers and the Human Spirit" and "Life on the Screen: Identity in the Age of the Internet," Turkle has explored the relationship between human and machine and found much to ponder and even praise.

But now the director of the MIT Initiative on Technology and Self has a confession: "I have finally met technology that upsets and concerns me."

Turkle, the Abby Rockefeller Mauze Professor of the Social Studies of Science and Technology, outlined her concerns about the implications of increasingly personal interactions between robots and humans during a Nov. 20 lecture on "What Questions do 'Sociable Robots' Pose for STS?," part of the Program in Science, Technology and Society (STS) fall colloquium.

Turkle, a clinical psychology expert, spoke earnestly and openly about her fears, acknowledging that some parts of her research "gave me the chills" on a very personal level and that she is "struggling to find an open voice".

A pioneer of the now accepted notion that "technologies are never just tools," Turkle set the stage with a discussion of her work on machines as "evocative objects" and "relational artifacts." She cited quotes from children about how they see robots. For example, she cited a 6-year-old describing his Furby: "It's alive for a Furby. You know something this smart should have arms. It might want to pick up something or to hug me".........

Posted by: John      Permalink         Source

December 4, 2006, 4:49 AM CT

Coffee and tea brewing wands

Coffee and tea brewing wands Available at each at Wisdom Wands.
Here's a drinking concept for tea and coffee lovers that I've never seen before -- brewing wands that you use to brew your hot drink then use as a straw to sip through. Normally, you don't drink hot beverages through a straw (I vaguely recall trying to once or twice and burning my throat because I couldn't guage the temperature before it was too late). And then there's the straw melting issue with normal straws. Makes me wonder how much of the pleasure of drinking hot tea and coffee has to do with the sensation of sipping from the edge of a cup. But I do like the idea of brewing from loose tea leaves or ground coffee beans one cup at a time. And maybe drinking tea and coffee through a straw would be a nice change of pace.

The Java Wand is basically a mini French press filter attached to a glass straw. You add coffee straight into your cup of hot water, let it brew, add milk and sugar, then drink through the wand. The similar Health Tea Wand is a glass wand with a strainer at the bottom to strain your tea leaves as you drink.........

Posted by: John      Permalink         Source

December 3, 2006, 8:58 PM CT

How Mirrors Can Light Up The World Guardian

How Mirrors Can Light Up The World Guardian
I have to admit that I am not up-to-date on the latest alternative energy solutions. However that said, I was surprised to find out the latest on solar technology. If this BBC article is accurate, then the solution to the energy crisis may be closer than fusion energy.

Again, I am not up on the technology here and do not know if the costs are prohibitive for these mirrors. Here is an excerpt from the article to get you started:

Most people in Britain think of solar power as a few panels on the roof of a house producing hot water or a bit of electricity. But as per two reports prepared for the German government, Europe, the Middle East and North Africa should be building vast solar farms in North Africa's deserts using a simple technology that more resembles using a magnifying glass to burn a hole in a piece of paper than any space age technology.

Two German scientists, Dr Gerhard Knies and Dr Franz Trieb, calculate that covering just 0.5% of the world's hot deserts with a technology called concentrated solar power (CSP) would provide the world's entire electricity needs, with the technology also providing desalinated water to desert regions as a valuable byproduct, as well as air conditioning for nearby cities.

Read the rest of this article at the Guardian link at the top of this post.........

Posted by: John      Permalink         Source

November 28, 2006, 8:12 PM CT

Big Magnet Ready To Face The Big Questions

Big Magnet Ready To Face The Big Questions
The largest superconducting magnet ever built has successfully been powered up to its operating conditions at the first attempt. Called the Barrel Toroid because of its shape, this magnet is a vital part of ATLAS, one of the major particle detectors being prepared to take data at CERN's Large Hadron Collider (LHC), the new particle accelerator scheduled to turn on in November 2007. ATLAS will help researchers probe the big questions of the Universe - what happened in the moments after the Big Bang? Why does the material in the Universe behave the way it does? Why is the Universe we can see made of matter rather than anti-matter?

UK researchers are a key part of the ATLAS collaboration and Dr Richard Nickerson, UK ATLAS project leader, who is from the University of Oxford welcomed this important milestone "The toroidal magnets are critical to enabling us to measure the muons (a type of particle) produced in interactions. These are vital to a lot of the physics we want to study, so the successful test of the magnets is a great step forward".

The ATLAS Barrel Toroid consists of eight superconducting coils, each in the shape of a round-cornered rectangle, 5m wide, 25m long and weighing 100 tonnes, all aligned to millimetre precision. It will work together with other magnets in ATLAS to bend the paths of charged particles produced in collisions at the LHC, enabling important properties to be measured. Unlike most particle detectors, the ATLAS detector does not need large quantities of metal to contain the field because the field is contained within a doughnut shape defined by the coils. This allows the ATLAS detector to be very large, which in turn increases the precision of the measurements it can make.........

Posted by: Edwin      Permalink         Source

November 23, 2006, 5:30 AM CT

On the cutting edge: Carbon nanotube cutlery

On the cutting edge: Carbon nanotube cutlery Scanning electron micrograph of a prototype "nanoknife" shows a single carbon nanotube stretched between two tungsten needles.
Researchers at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) and the University of Colorado at Boulder (CU) have designed a carbon nanotube knife that, in theory, would work like a tight-wire cheese slicer. In a paper presented this month at the 2006 International Mechanical Engineering Congress and Exposition*, the research team announced a prototype nanoknife that could, in the future, become a tabletop tool of biology, allowing scientists to cut and study cells more precisely than they can today.

For years, biologists have wrestled with conventional diamond or glass knives, which cut frozen cell samples at a large angle, forcing the samples to bend and sometimes later crack. Because carbon nanotubes are extremely strong and slender in diameter, they make ideal materials for thinly cutting precise slivers of cells. In particular, scientists might use the nanoknife to make 3D images of cells and tissues for electron tomography, which requires samples less than 300 nanometers thick.

By manipulating carbon nanotubes inside scanning electron microscopes, 21st-century nanosmiths have begun crafting a suite of research tools, including nanotweezers, nanobearings and nano-oscillators. To design the nanoknife, the NIST and CU scientists welded a carbon nanotube between two electrochemically sharpened tungsten needles. In the resulting prototype, the nanotube stretches between two ends of a tungsten wire loop. The knife resembles a steel wire that cuts a block of cheese.........

Posted by: John      Permalink         Source

November 22, 2006, 4:55 AM CT

FTC Halts Unlawful Spyware Operations

FTC Halts Unlawful Spyware Operations
Defendants involved with operations that secretly downloaded spyware that changed settings on consumers' computers, have agreed to settle Federal Trade Commission charges that their practices violated federal law. The settlements bar secret software downloads in the future, bar the operators from exploiting security vulnerabilities to download software, and bar misrepresentations. In addition, the operators will give up a total of $50,000 in ill-gotten gains.

In October 2005, the FTC charged that Odysseus Marketing, Inc. and its principal, Walter Rines, lured consumers to their Web sites by advertising bogus free software, including a program called Kazanon that purportedly allowed consumers to engage in anonymous peer-to-peer file sharing. As per the FTC, the bogus software was bundled with spyware and other unwanted software. The agency alleged that the defendants also distributed their spyware by exploiting security vulnerabilities in the Internet Explorer Web browser. The FTC charged that the defendants' spyware intercepted and replaced search results provided to users who queried popular Internet search engines, and barraged consumers with pop-up and other Internet ads. The FTC also charged that the defendants' software captured consumers' personal information such as their first and last names, addresses, e-mail addresses, telephone numbers, and Internet browsing and shopping histories, and transmitted that information to the defendants' Internet servers. Consumers were unable to locate or uninstall the defendants' spyware through reasonable means, as per the FTC.........

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November 19, 2006, 9:07 PM CT

Virtual Biopsies Of Internal Surfaces

Virtual Biopsies Of Internal Surfaces OFDI image of the stented coronary artery of a pig
A new optical imaging technique, developed at the Wellman Center for Photomedicine at Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH), can provide three-dimensional microscopic views of the inner surfaces of blood vessels and gastrointestinal organs. In their report in the journal Nature Medicine, receiving early online release today, the MGH-Wellman researchers describe using optical frequency-domain imaging (OFDI) to visualize broad areas of the esophagus and coronary arteries of living pigs. The technique is an advance over optical coherence tomography (OCT) another noninvasive MGH-developed technology that details much smaller areas and could be useful for identifying precancerous lesions and dangerous deposits of plaque in the coronary arteries.

"For diagnosing early-stage disease, the doctor has been basically looking for a needle in a haystack; so sampling only a few microscopic points of an organ, as we could with OCT, is clearly not sufficient," says Brett Bouma, PhD, of the MGH-Wellman Center, the report's senior author. "With OFDI, we can now perform microscopy throughout very large volumes of tissue without missing any locations".

While OCT can examine surfaces one point at a time, OFDI is able to look at over 1,000 points simultaneously by using a new type of laser developed at MGH-Wellman. Inside the fiberoptic catheter probe, a constantly rotating laser tip emits a light beam with an ever-changing wavelength. Measuring how each wavelength is reflected back, as the probe moves through the structure to be imaged, allows rapid acquisition of the data required to create the detailed microscopic images.........

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November 16, 2006, 7:00 PM CT

Satellite phones get a makeover

Satellite phones get a makeover
With Verizon Wireless and Sprint's release of the KRZR, life just gets sexier and sexier in the land of mobile phones, but what about the necessary-but-oh-so-utilitarian-looking land of satellite phones?

Effective immediately, satellite phones have joined the world of the beautiful. Globalstar, Inc., a leading provider of mobile satellite phones, has introduced the new GSP-1700 mobile satellite telephone.

The newly designed GSP-1700 telephone is nearly half the weight of the company's current satellite handset and close to 45 percent smaller. A new lithium-ion battery is designed to provide users with four hours of talk time and 36 hours of standby time. The GSP-1700's lightweight ergonomic design embodies the ruggedness of the current Globalstar phone while integrating convenience-oriented features such as a new five-mode color display and Bluetooth headset capability. The phone supports six operating languages and is available in three vibrant faceplate colors, using durable high-luster or metallic finishes. The GSP-1700 is being manufactured by QUALCOMM and incorporates a data solution and EV-DO network capability.........

Posted by: John      Permalink         Source

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