Home   News Index    2004 Tech Notes August to December

January to July, 2004 Tech Notes


July, 2004
Nanotechnology needs regulation says Britain's Royal Society

The academy of leading scientists and the Royal Academy of Engineering said more research is needed to discover any negative, as well as positive effects, it may have. Prophets of doom have painted a nightmare scenario of self-replicating robots turning the Earth into a "gray goo." Fears have also been raised of a risk in breathing in designer materials so small that they can slip through membranes inside the body.  Full Story Reuters_ 7/29/04

Francis Crick, who helped unlock DNA, dies

He helped discover the double helix shape of DNA along with James Watson. Professor Crick died at Thornton Hospital in San Diego, US, where he had been battling colon cancer. He was 88. The British-born scientist won the Nobel Prize for his work on DNA's structure, which he helped model in 1953 at the University of Cambridge.  Full Story  BBC News_ 7/29/04

U.S. Energy Department halts classified research

While teams at Los Alamos National Laboratory searched for two missing disks, the Energy Department halted classified research at facilities around the country that use disks like those missing from the New Mexico lab. Suspension of operations, which officially takes effect Monday, will be lifted once the inventory of the disks is completed and new controls are established. Employees using the disks will also undergo security training. Full Story AP/CNN_ 7/26/04

New technology may give voices to Queen Victoria, Abraham Lincoln, Florence Nightingale and others

California scientists perfect techniques to recover the sound from recordings that are far too delicate to be played. Full Story  BBC News_ 7/23/04

Rivers worked overtime to cut grand gorges
The Potomac and Susquehanna rivers worked double-time to create gorges that remain scenic wonders today, carving through bedrock at twice the usual rate.  In a report contained in the journal Science, researchers analyzed rock samples from the gorges for 10-beryllium, a rare isotope that forms when cosmic rays from the sun strike rocks and sediments at the earth's surface. Armed with that information, they could estimate when the rivers exposed bare rock sufaces and futher calculate how quickly the rivers cut through bedrock.  "The Potomac and Susquehanna have shown they can cut nearly a meter of solid rock every thousand years," they concluded. "Pretty impressive for old rivers."  Full Story   AP _7/22/04

New technology means unlimited Web sites: Hi there. What's your URL?
Vinton Cerf of the Internet Corp. for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) told Reuters the next-generation protocol, IPv6, had been added to its root server systems, making it possible for every person or device to have an Internet protocol address. Cerf said about two-thirds of the 4.3 billion Internet addresses currently available were used up, adding that IPv6 could magnify capacity by some "25,000 trillion trillion times."  Full Story  Reuters_ 7/20/04

Web aims to standardise alphabets
The Internet Company for Assigned Names and Numbers (Icann), which oversees the system of web addresses and domain names says Asians will make up most of the net's users within a few years. A conference in Malaysia focuses on agreements for language standards and the characters in which they are written, so that internet users who write in Chinese, Arabic, Tamil or other scripts can communicate more easily. Full Story  BBC News_ 7/19/04


Renaissance possible for nuclear power generation if longterm radioactive waste storage problems can be solved

At the Cambridge-MIT Institute (CMI) in the UK, scientists have been examining how the mineral zircon (ZrSiO4) has managed to contain radioactive elements.   Full Story  BBC News_ 7/18/04

Electronic Frontier Foundation is an on-line civil liberties group seeking to strike down patents seen as unwarranted and harmful to innovation

It's hard work. Only 614 of the nearly 7 million existing patents have been revoked, according to the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. The group's list, chosen from 200 suggestions solicited through its Web site, focuses on patents it contends are being unfairly used to demand licensing fees from rivals or individuals.  Full Story  AP/CNN_ 7/16/04

Queen Elizabeth II knights World Wide Web inventor Tim Berners-Lee
The 49-year-old London-born scientist was made a knight commander, the second-highest rank of the Order of the British Empire. The Web transformed the Internet from a domain for scientists and academics into the fastest growing mass medium of all time.  Full Story  Reuters_ 7/16/04

Microchips implanted in Mexican attorney general and other officials
Mexico's top federal prosecutors and investigators began receiving chip implants in their arms in November in order to get access to restricted areas inside the attorney general's headquarters, said Antonio Aceves, general director of Solusat, the company that distributes the microchips in Mexico. More are scheduled to get "tagged" in coming months, and key members of the Mexican military, the police and the office of President Vicente Fox might follow suit, Aceves said. Full Story  AP/MSNBC_ 7/14/04

Futuristic gadget lets police disable suspect vehicles with radio waves

The device, which is effectively a stun gun for cars, has roused the interest of senior officers and is being tested by the British Home Office. They believe it could offer a safe alternative to high speed chases, which all too often result in deaths. The zapper directs a beam of intensely concentrated radio waves at the target car's computer-controlled fuel injection and engine firing systems and makes it stall, safely bringing it to a halt.   Full Story  BBC News_ 7/14/04

Geolocation technology slices, dices Web, but AOL still a problem
The World Wide Web experience is becoming less and less worldwide: As so-called geolocation technology improves, Web sites are increasingly blocking groups of visitors and carving the Web into smaller chunks -- in some cases, down to a ZIP code or employer. AOL still poses problems, as do anonymizing services designed specifically to hide a user's true identity and location. Dial-up users also can call another state or country to connect.  Full Story  AP/CNN_ 7/12/04

Europe plans lab beneath the Alps to detect elusive particles from the Sun's core
The ambitious project is in its earliest stages, with the main bodies that fund particle physics in France and Italy agreeing to start its design. It will be larger than Japan's Super-Kamiokande detector. The lab will study neutrinos and observe the decay of protons, possibly helping physicists reach a unified description of some of nature's fundamental forces.  Full Story  BBC News_ 7/09/04

Hi-tech rays to aid terror fight
A new way of identifying metal and explosives could provide a valuable tool in the fight against terrorism. A system that that uses Terahertz light detects both metal and non-metallic weapons could make passenger screening at airports more effective and quicker.   Full Story _BBC 7/11/04

Do small devices equal big threat?
Is that cell phone a Trojan horse? It might be, according to a recently released report, "How to Tackle the Threat From Portable Storage Devices," by The Gartner Group discussing the security risks associated with the proliferation of small USB- and Firewire-enabled electronics and peripherals.  As as the cost of RAM chips and hard drives continue to fall, a wide and growing variety of small and inexpensive devices are available with substantial memory capacity. Collectively, these devices make possible the uncontrolled transfer of large quantities of data into and out of business networks. Full Story  e WEEK _7/9/04

FCC boss launches blog aimed at high-tech industry
U.S. Federal Communications Commission Chairman Michael Powell has started his own Web log, or blog, to reach out to the high-tech community and bypass the scores of Washington lobbyists who typically skulk around his office. Powell said he started the blog to encourage the high-tech industry to get involved because its past practice of flying under the radar to avoid regulations would no longer work. Full Story   Reuters_7/9/04

High-tech vehicles to drive automotive chip demand
New gasoline/electric powered hybrid sedans encourage Japan's chip makers to see a huge growth opportunity in the auto industry. As electronics become the main driver of car innovation, chip makers will be among the top beneficiaries, analysts say. Full Story _Reuters 7/8/04

Nano-team spins tomorrow's yarn

Ultra-strong, carbon nanotubes are just a few billionths of a metre across.
A method to continuously spin carbon nanotubes, worth more per kg than gold, has been developed by Cambridge-MIT Institute scientists.  Potentially stronger than steel,  the light fibre could be very useful in areas of space, molecular electronics, automobile, and military industries. Full Story  _BBC 7/8/04

Future of hydrogen power may rest on glass

Researchers at Alfred University in New York have a $2 million Energy Department grant that's part of President Bush's FreedomCar program — a $1.2 billion initiative to develop cars that run on hydrogen-powered fuel cells. They're working on miniature, super-strong glass spheres, known as microspheres, to transport hydrogen. Some day motorists may fill their tanks with them.  Full Story  MSNBC_ 7/7/04

Microsoft gets U.S. patent to transmit power and data using the human body

The Guardian reported the technology could bring in a new class of portable and wearable electronic devices such as earrings that deliver sounds sent from a phone worn on the belt, and special eyeglasses with screens that flash up accompanying images and video footage. Experts in the field told the newspaper they were surprised Microsoft was granted the patent since IBM demonstrated data can be transmitted through the human body as far back as 1996.  Full Story  Forbes/UPI_ 7/6/04

A nicer, gentler Microsoft

As Microsoft enters more competitive markets and faces increased grumbling over its litany of security flaws, the company is trying what, for it, is an unusual tack: paying more attention its customers. Full Story  AP/CNN_ 7/6/04

Vinci, Italy, birthplace of genius, revs up for opening of Leonardo's museum
The museum is heaven on earth not just for thinkers but for tinkerers, a shrine to the first high priest of do-it-yourself. Think solar-heated water, a helicopter, submarine, a tank, a robot, a parachute, a suspension bridge, a mechanical calculator and, of course, the automobile.  Full Story  Reuters_ 7/5/04

Microsoft begins patching security flaw in Internet Explorer browser
The update does not entirely fix the flaw that allows a new type of virus to spread, but it changes settings in Windows operating systems to disable hackers’ ability to deliver malicious code with it. The software update covers Windows XP, Windows Server 2003 and Windows 2000, and Microsoft was working on ones for older systems.  Full Story  AP/MSNBC 7/2/04

June, 2004
Boeing Co. sells its Commercial Electronics unit to British aircraft maker and defense contractor BAE Systems PLC for an undisclosed sum
The Irving, Texas-based unit, which produces electronic systems and equipment for airplanes, will become part of BAE Systems North America's platform solutions sector. In July 2003, Boeing announced plans to find a buyer for the unit in order to focus on large-scale systems integration activities.  Full Story  AP/Forbes_ 6/30/04

Steganography: Hiding messages in music files or photos; It's technology for terrorists and the paranoid
Steganography, as defined in Webster's Dictionary, is "the art of writing in cipher, or in characters which are not intelligible except to persons who have the key." More broadly, though, it has come to mean the practice of hiding messages in picture or music files in such a way that they do not change the look or sound of the "carrier." Steganographic software is readily available on the Internet, some of it for free.  Full Story  Reuters_ 6/29/04

Mysterious Microsoft Explorer nemesis: Wide-scale attack didn't materialize, but experts fear it'll be back
Computer security experts worked through the night beating back an alarming Internet nemesis which threatened to steal personal information from Web users, who had little chance to protect themselves. The danger from the new method is very real, according to Microsoft Corp. and government officials. Both are on the lookout for inevitable variations which are sure to follow.  Full Story  MSNBC_ 6/25/04

Pouring the perfect pint: UK student invents device that pours beer while football fans cheer
Caledonian University product design student David Stevenson said his device is "fool-proof" and enables football fans to watch replays of crucial incidents during games, without worrying about accidentally pouring "a big head" in the glass. The name of his invention? The Homer.   Full Story  BBC News_ 6/27/04

Security hole in Microsoft browser prompts warning not to use MS Internet Explorer
Microsoft is working on a patch to fix flaw that could let criminals take control of a user's PC. Many popular websites, including banks, auction houses and price comparison firms, have been compromised, experts say. Once downloaded the malicious code redirects a browser to a Russian website which tries to install a program that opens a backdoor into the PC.  Full Story  BBC News_ 6/25/04

Comdex, once world's biggest computer fair, cancelled
Poor attendance figures and a trend towards specialist IT shows means it will be given a breather but the Computer Dealers Exposition likely will return to Las Vegas next year, said organisers of the event. At its peak, the show attracted more than 200,000 visitors with more than one million square feet of floor space. A faltering technology sector and security concerns from IT companies has left the show distinctly sparse.  Full Story  BBC News_ 6/25/04

Computer pioneer Bob Bemer dies: He helped build ASCII and then let you "escape"
Bemer, who died of cancer at his Texas home at age 84, worked for IBM Corp. in the late 1950s and 1960s, where he helped develop the American Standard Code for Information Interchange. ASCII is a format code used in most computers in the world that allows them to read text as a binary number. Bemer is also credited with writing the computer sequence that allows for the "escape" command, a major innovation because it allowed users to move backward or sideways in a program. He won the Computer Pioneer Award in 2002 from the IEEE Computer Society for his work in making it easier for people to move text and images on a computer screen.  Full Story  Reuters_ 6/24/04

World's largest electronics and computer firms set rules for compatible movie, music and other sharing devices
Many of the 145 global companies, including Sony Corp. and Microsoft Corp., are deeply wedded to proprietary ways of storing and processing digital media content. The group, however, found consensus in common and existing standards for audio, video and Internet communications. Products that meet the specifications of the Digital Living Network Alliance will be awarded a logo that will let shoppers know that such a device will work with other certified products. The first compatible electronics could start appearing on store shelves by the end of this year.  Full Story  Reuters_ 6/23/04

In UK, surfing the net while surfing the waves
A prototype surf board has been built by Devon "shaper" Jools Matthews that houses a laptop, solar panels, and video camera. The world's first wi-fi board uses a high-speed net connection point - hotspot - positioned on the North Devon beach. Chip maker Intel commissioned the unusual surfboard to show off how technology can be brought to the sea and sand.  Full Story  BBC News_ 6/18/04

Chillow: Solving the overheated pillow problem
If you’re one of those people who sometimes wake up in the middle of the night and can’t find a cool spot to lay your head down –- here's gadget for you! Chill + pillow = Chillow. It's a thin, flat foam pillow/insert that’s made of super soft medical-grade materials that are hypoallergenic and nontoxic. Chillow uses no electricity, batteries, refrigeration or hocus pocus.   Full Story  MSNBC_ 6/18/04

Scientists teleport atoms for the first time
The feat was achieved by two teams of researchers working independently on the problem in the US and Austria, the journal Nature reports. The ability to transfer key properties of one particle to another without using any physical link has until now only been achieved with laser light. Experts say the capability to do the same with massive particles like atoms could lead to new superfast computers, but it's still a long way from the transporters used by Jean-Luc Picard and Captain Kirk in the famous Star Trek TV series.  Full Story  BBC News_ 6/16/04

Hacker attack on Internet services company Akamai Technologies Inc. disrupts access to Yahoo Inc., Google, Microsoft and other large Web sites for up to 2 hours

A major "Internet performance issue" was detected, according to Lloyd Taylor, vice president of technology and operations for Keynote Systems Inc., which tests and monitors Web sites. "The availability issues were limited to several large sites, all of whom outsource their domain name server (DNS) services to Akamai," he said. "These sites dropped to near-zero availability." Keynote, which counts Akamai as a customer, said that disruption was the result of some kind of attack, although they could not speculate who was responsible, or how it was launched.  Full Story  Reuters_ 6/15/04

Smarter technology to defend U.S. ports
To prevent terrorists from smuggling atomic bombs into U.S. ports. Lawrence Livermore scientists are developing a unique bomb detector that uses subatomic particles called neutrons to detect highly enriched uranium or plutonium. They hope it'll be ready for scanning imported cargo containers as early as 2007.  Full Story  AP/San Francisco Chronicle_ 6/14/04

Using thought alone, patients control moves in video game
With some electrodes placed on the surface of the brain, four volunteers were able to play a simple video game, simply by thinking the word "move," researchers reported. Their findings add to work being done at several centers and are aimed at finding ways to help people control computers or machines using brainpower alone. Potentially, people paralyzed by disease or accidents could use such devices to work, read, write and even possibly to move around.  Full Story  Reuters_ 6/14/04

Inventor  of "invisibility" cloak plans 'invisible walls'
Susumu Tachi, who showed off the cloak at an exhibition in San Francisco earlier this month, said he was hopeful of providing a way to provide a view of the outside in windowless rooms. The cloak works by projecting an image onto itself of what is behind the wearer. A computer generates the image that is projected, so the viewer effectively sees "through" the cloak. The key to the cloak, however, was development of a new material called retro-reflectum. There are many potential uses of the cloak, ranging from espionage and military purposes to helping pilots see through the floor of the cockpit to the runway below.   Full Story  BBC News_ 6/14/04

Bill Bryson wins £10,000 Aventis Prize for popular science books for A Short History of Nearly Everything
The judging panel said the writer communicated science "in an intelligent and highly accessible way".  Full Story  BBC News_6/14/04

Feature: Tim Berners-Lee, the pioneer who kept the World Wide Web free, honored with the $1.2 million Millennium Technology Prize from the Finnish Technology Award Foundation

Berners-Lee, a British scientist working at a Geneva research laboratory,

conceived of the World Wide Web in 1989 (originally, Mr. Berners-Lee called it a "mesh" before changing it to a "web"). Before him, there were no "browsers," nothing known as "hypertext markup language," no "www" in any Internet address, no "U.R.L.'s," or uniform resource locators. He and his colleague, Robert Cailliau, a Belgian, insisted on a license-free technology. If his employer at the time, CERN, the European Particle Physics Laboratory in Geneva, had sought royalties, Mr. Berners-Lee said he thought the world would have 16 different "Webs" on the Internet today.  Full Story  New York Times_ 6/14/04 (logon required)

Famed Hewlett-Packard Co. labs fellow Alan Kay to receive Kyoto Prize
In giving the 2004 Kyoto Prize for Advanced Technology, the Inamori Foundation, which bestows the honor, said Kay was chosen for "creating the concept of personal computing and contributing to its realization." Kay, 64, has a storied history in technology: participating in design of ARPAnet, the forerunner of the Internet, helping to create an early version of today's laptops, co-founder of famed Silicon Valley research lab Xerox Palo Alto Research Center, or PARC and a creator of the Xerox Alto, which inspired Steve Jobs and his colleagues at Apple Computer Inc. to create the Macintosh.  Full Story  Reuters_ 6/11/04

Purdue University mathematician claims to have proved the Riemann Hypothesis - called the greatest unsolved problem in maths
The hypothesis concerns prime numbers and has stumped the world's mathematicians for more than 150 years. Now, Professor Louis De Branges de Bourcia has posted a 23-page paper on the internet detailing his attempt at a proof. There is a $1 million prize for whoever solves the hypothesis.  Full Story  BBC News_ 6/10/04

X-ray displays that switch from 2D to 3D in an instant may aid airport security luggage checkers
The displays by Sharp Labs mean staff can see realistic 3D images from X-rays without wearing cumbersome glasses. 3D displays have already been used in the likes of laptops, medical X-rays and mobiles, but being able to switch would be a first for airport X-rays. It is one of four finalists for the eminent MacRobert engineering award. The prize is given out by the UK's Royal Academy of Engineering for technological and engineering innovation, on 10 June.  Full Story  BBC News_ 6/9/04

"Invisible squeegee:"Eco glass cleans itself with sun
A revolutionary kind of glass coating that needs little cleaning could mean soap and chamois are banned for good. The Pilkington Activ glass has a special nano-scale - extremely thin - coating of microcrystalline titanium oxide which reacts to daylight.This reaction breaks down filth on the glass, with no need for detergent. It's one of four finalists for the eminent MacRobert engineering award, the prize given by the UK's Royal Academy of Engineering for technological and engineering innovation. Full Story  BBC News_ 6/8/04

Britain honors 'father of the computer' 50 years after social stigma caused his suicide
Alan Turing was one of the secret code breakers of the Second World War and his work helped make the modern PC a reality. It was his idea of creating a machine to turn thought processes into binary numbers which was one of the key turning points in the history of the computer. He killed himself on 7 June 1954, by eating an apple he laced with cyanide because he was threatened with jail for being gay.  Full Story  BBC News_ 6/7/04

Technology of the future: Brits vote for the practical--like that time travel gizmo for the morning commute
The home smoke alarm, developed in the 1960s, beat the digital camera, mobile phone and the microwave oven in a survey to find out the British public's top 10 innovations. The poll was conducted by researchers at Brunel University in west London for the online bank Cahoot. MP3 players came nowhere in the vote. Full Story  BBC News_ 6/3/04

Gas may have spurred ancient global warming
A vast belch of gas from beneath the North Atlantic 55 million years ago may have warmed the planet and hold clues to threats from an even faster modern surge in greenhouse gases, scientists report in Nature. The apparent release of hydrocarbons from subsea rocks in the Eocene epoch might also bolster theories that spasms of volcanic activity could have triggered extinctions like the demise of the dinosaurs 10 million years before the Eocene. The Eocene global warming theory bolsters the idea that a buildup of gases can disrupt the global climate.  Full Story Reuters_6/2/04

E-mail controls loom in Zimbabwe
The Zimbabwean government has proposed to require its internet service providers to divulge details of e-mails deemed offensive or dangerous. Opposition groups have asked the government to clarify its proposed addendum to providers' franchise contracts. The internet is one of the few media left through which opposition groups can spread their message as the government controls the radio and television stations and newspapers are under pressure. Full Story  BBC 6/2/04

Department of Homeland Security names Bermuda-based Accenture as prime contractor for multibillion-dollar "virtual border" around the U.S.
The project, called U.S.-Visit, is designed to head off would-be terrorists entering the country and will use the latest technology, including biometrics, to identify people. The contract was awarded to Accenture, formerly Andersen Consulting, over two competing contractors, Lockheed Martin and Computer Sciences.  Full Story  NY Times_ 6/2/04 (logon required)

Before Eniac, there was Colossus: Ancestor of today's computers rebuilt to mark D-Day
Colossus Mk2, a wartime code-breaker, crucially found the keys to break the Lorenz code used by Hitler to encrypt messages to his generals. As part of D-Day celebrations, 30 war coders gathered to see it once more. It was a prototype machine which proved the concept of electronic switching. Full Story  BBC News 6/1/04

May, 2004

Flying into a silent sky future: Cambridge-MIT Institute restyles aircraft to cut noise
No increase in noise around airports is a key requirement for expansion plans. The research includes collaboration with key industry partners, like Rolls-Royce, to fundamentally alter a number of the elements of engine technology that contribute most to noise.  Full Story  BBC News_ 5/27/04

Report: Sony Corp. to offer broadband TV by 2006 incorporating powerful 'Cell' processor
Sony is developing the system with IBM Corp and Toshiba Corp , a Japanese business daily said. The Cell processor will be up to 10 times more powerful than conventional chips and able to shepherd large chunks of information through a high-speed Internet network.  Full Story  Reuters_ 5/24/04

This is your life: The rerun

Imagine being able to record every interesting conversation you have ever held in your life, not to mention all the photos and writing you have done. Top Internet researchers attending the annual World Wide Web conference in New York are wondering what it will mean when individuals can recall nearly every waking moment. Among the major topics on the agenda of WWW2004 are ways to make use of the treasure trove of personal data electronic devices create every day.  Full Story  Reuters_ 5/20/04

Mexico's largest particle detector is being built inside a pyramid in ancient Teotihuacan
The equipment will detect muons, tiny particles that are created when cosmic rays bombard the Earth's atmosphere. Scientists will track the muons to find cavities in the pyramid that might be tombs of ancient kings. Full Story  BBC News_ 5/13/04

Public gets glimpse of technology's future

Robots, brain games, flying machines and a semi-invisibility cloak draw big crowds at NextFest tech expo.  Full Story  San Francisco Chronicle_ 5/17/04

Cisco probing possible theft of source code
Source code, the underlying blueprint of computer software, determines how programs work. Companies like Cisco and Microsoft Corp. zealously guard their source code because they consider it the lifeblood of their business. Some industry officials said the damage to Cisco would be limited and the possible theft was more an embarrassment than anything else.  Full Story  Reuters_ 5/17/04

NASA's finances in disarray; Auditor PriceWaterhouseCoopers leaves
The former auditor pointed to significant errors in NASA's last financial statements and inadequate documentation for $565 billion posted to its accounts. NASA's chief for internal financial management said the problem stemmed from a rough transition from 10 different internal accounting programs to a new integrated one, but PriceWaterhouseCoopers noted basic accounting errors and a breakdown in NASA's financial controls.  Full Story  Reuters_ 5/14/04

Globe grows darker as sunshine diminishes 10% to 37%
Defying expectation and easy explanation, hundreds of instruments around the world recorded a drop in sunshine reaching the surface of Earth, as much as 10 percent from the late 1950's to the early 90's, or 2 percent to 3 percent a decade. In some regions like Asia, the United States and Europe, the drop was even steeper. In Hong Kong, sunlight decreased 37 percent.  Full Story  New York Times_ 5/13/04 (logon required)

U.S. government to build world's fastest civilian computer
Viewing supercomputers as crucial to scientific discovery, the Energy Department plans to build the world's fastest civilian computer. The supercomputer to be built at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Tennessee will be funded over the initial two years by federal grants totaling $50 million. Full Story  AP/San Francisco Chronicle_ 5/11/04

Wanted: High-tech fishing gear to protect marine mamals, fishing fleets

An unusual partnership of scientists, the fishing industry and conservation groups, created the Smart Gear Competition, a contest with a hefty $25,000 prize aimed at reducing accidental deaths, known as "bycatch." The U.S. Oceans Commission says entanglement in fishing gear is the leading threat to marine mammals worldwide. And billions of pounds of "non-target" fish also are wasted each year; those fish also are considered bycatch.  Full Story  CNN_ 5/7/04

Technology, security meeting at airports but cost and privacy may be deciding factor
The technology to screen for security risks without the knots that bedevil and delay today's business travel is already on line at some of the world's airports, but its widespread use hinges on cost and other issues. Electronic scanners that check all 10 finger prints, sophisticated photo IDS and biometric data stored in passports all are possible if uniform standards can be worked out, along with privacy concerns and, of course, money. Full Story  Reuters_ 5/9/04

German net worm arrests could crack cyber ring: Experts
Since January, a group of crafty programers going by the name "Skynet anti-virus group" have been flooding the Internet with multiple variations of the debilitating Netsky virus, some capable of hijacking unwitting Internet users' PCs with the aim of using them to send out spam e-mail or attack Web sites. But on Friday, German police made two arrests that security officials hope could ultimately expose the murky underground of virus-writers and hackers and crack into one of the most rapidly growing areas of cybercrime. One suspect admitted writing the super-potent Sasser computer worm and another confessed to programing a damaging outbreak known first as "Agobot" and later as "Phatbot."  Full Story  Reuters_ 5/8/04

Engineering marvels: What will they think of next? Would you believe a space elevator?
If engineers get their way the coming decades will see the completion of tunnels linking continents, offshore airports and the longest bridges the world has ever seen. There is even talk of a space elevator - which will carry people from Earth to the stars without the need for cumbersome spaceships. Full Story  BBC News_ 5/7/04

Allied Defense Group subsidiary VSK Group announces $3 million electronic security contract from Portugal Telecom
The contract calls for the protection of several hundred remote switching sites and regional offices with VSK's electronic security products.  Full Story  Press Release/PRNewswire 5/6/04

U.S. losing ground in science and technology due to competition for foreign scientists
A National Science Foundation report says more and more foreign-born scientists and engineers joined American scientific work force in the 1990s. The board warned that a loss in the number of foreign-born scientists who want to work in the United States would hurt the technology sector at a time when many of its most-educated employees are nearing retirement.  Full Story  AP/MSNBC_ 5/5/04

US team on a super-sensitive hunt for the mysterious "dark matter"
This form of matter comprises more than 70% of the Universe's mass, far more than the stars and galaxies we can see. The Cryogenic Dark Matter Search uses equipment at the bottom of a Minnesota mine to filter out all interference. Writing in the Physical Review Letters, the team says that while a detection has yet to occur, there is now a better idea of how much dark matter must exist.  Full Story  BBC News_ 5/5/04

Biowhirlwind: New technology kills diseases in water

Bioantigen, of Port Talbot, Wales, and its German partners developed the new bug-busting device which could help combat bio-terrorism. Its makers say it has attracted interest from the British Ministry of Defence as well as leading scientists from around the world. Full Story  BBC News_ 5/4/04

Sasser worm strikes PCs, spurs hoax 'fix' that actually spreads Netsky virus
The fast-spreading "Sasser" computer worm hit personal computers around the world on Monday, causing infected systems to reboot without warning and disrupting banking and other business in one of the biggest virus-like attacks on the Internet since last summer. The worm exploits a flaw in Microsoft Corp.'s Windows operating system. By Monday afternoon, computer security companies were also warning of a new twist on the virus: an email, claiming to be from an antivirus company with an attachment purporting to fix Sasser infections, that was actually a new form of the widespread, email-clogging Netsky virus.  Full Story  Reuters_ 5/3/04

Talking Card Aims to Beat Fraud
A California company, Beepcard, says its "talking card" is lining up to be a serious contender in the fight against fraudulent credit card transactions. Using biometrics such as voice recognition could eliminate it altogether. "Say Your Password."  Full Story,  BBC News_  5/2/04

UK Atomic Shutdown 30 Years Early
The UK's Atomic Energy Authority is to decommission a former nuclear research site 30 years earlier than planned. The site, at Winfrith in Dorset, is due to be cleared completely by 2020, and much of the area will revert to nature.  Government's financial rules rather than engineering issues made the speed-up possible. Full Story  BBC_ 5/1/03

Early Human Fire Mastery Revealed
Human-like species migrating out of their African homeland had mastered the use of fire up to 790,000 years ago, the journal Science reports. The evidence, from northern Israel, suggests species such as Homo erectus may have been surprisingly sophisticated in their behaviour.  Fire described as 'a very advantageous technology' which empowered these humans.  Full Story  BBC_ 5/1/03

Computer Helps Map Ancient Rome
A Stanford University computer program is now being used to solve "the biggest jigsaw in the world". the Forma Urbis Romae, a map of Rome carved into stone slabs about AD 210 but later broken into so many fragments researchers could only discern a small percentage of its data. With the new computer analysis, experts are predicting a huge expansion in knowledge of the map and a new insight into ancient Rome.  Full Story  BBC_ 5/1/04

April, 2004

DNA Computer Detects, Treats Disease in Test Tube
Scientists have come a step closer to creating a minuscule DNA computer that may one day be able to spot diseases like cancer from inside the body and release a drug to treat it. The microscopic computer is so minuscule a trillion could fit in a drop of water.  Full Story Reuters _4/28/04

Mapsolute, a leading European Internet mapping provider, today introduced its new free North American Internet mapping portal, www.map24.com.

The key features of the North American portal are its incredible speed and the ease-of-use of the map itself. The map rendering is many times faster than other North American map sites, making it much easier to navigate. Zooming and panning is performed in an animated fashion. In addition, the map is uniquely interactive, allowing users to click on embedded map objects to get detailed information about individual points of interest.  Full Story  Press Release_ 4/30/04

Lawmakers Vow to Pass New Law Against Spyware
U.S. lawmakers vow to pass legislation to stop the proliferation of so-called "spyware" that hides in users' computers and secretly monitors their activities.   FTC commissioner Mozelle Thompson said it would be difficult to craft a law that would distinguish between spyware and legitimate software.   Full Story  Reuters_4/29/04

UK Researchers Push to Tap Radio Wave Technology
Using radio waves, microwaves, infra-red and x-rays - collectively known as the electromagnetic spectrum - in innovative ways could bring in $Billions of new business, according to a UK government study.   Full Story BBC News_ 4/29/04

Leonardo Da Vinci: Inventor of the Car?
The Museum of History and Science in Florence -- the heart of Renaissance Italy -- unveiled the first "automobile" built based on some of the sketches from da Vinci's famous notebooks. The primitive-looking contraption runs on springs instead of petrol and was probably intended to produce special effects at courtly events, but it was still the world's first self-propelled "vehicle," the experts said.  Full Story  Reuters_ 4/23/04

Visit "Leonardo's automobile" at the Museum of History and Science

German researchers create mobile phone with text messages that your fingertips can 'read'
Benefits include being able to read messages with total privacy or under poor lighting conditions. Tactile actuator arrays built into steering wheels or control handles could provide car drivers or pilots with information as to the right route or warn them in difficult situations. The scientists are also looking to apply the process in the field of medical engineering, to reproduce sounds for the deaf, or as a visual aid for the blind.  Full Story  BBC News_ 4/22/04

Northern Ireland opens £8m nanotech research institute at the University of Ulster
Nanotechnology--making tiny machines out of molecules--has been criticised by environmentalists who say that swarms of rogue "nanomachines" could destroy the world. However, scientists believe it can become an important part of our future.  Full Story  BBC News_ 4/21/04

Governments scramble to prevent global Internet disruptions
Experts said a flaw, disclosed by the British government, affects the underlying technology for nearly all Internet traffic. Left unaddressed, they said, it could allow hackers to knock computers offline and broadly disrupt vital traffic-directing devices, called routers, that coordinate the flow of data among distant groups of computers.  Full Story  AP/MSNBC_ 4/20/04

3-D Internet search engine for engineers
All users have to do is sketch what they're thinking of, and the search engines can produce comparable objects. One search engine will serve huge industrial companies whose engineers often waste time and energy designing a specialized part when someone else has already created, used or rejected something similar. Full Story  AP/CNN_ 4/16/04

Sony Corp., Toppan Printing Ltd. develop paper optical disc for next generation of DVDs
The lower-cost disc can store up to five times more information than current discs, because it is based on blue-laser DVD technology. Blue-laser DVD players are expected to replace the current generation of red-laser DVD players in a few years.  Full Story  Reuters_ 4/16/04

Hackers hit some of the world's most powerful computer clusters in an apparently coordinated cyberattack targeting research and academic institutions
Stanford University, the San Diego Supercomputer Center and the University of Illinois' National Center for Supercomputing Applications were among the systems hit.  Full Story  AP/CNN_ 4/15/04

EarthLink and eBay unite to fight phish data-stealing
EarthLink's anti-phisher program will rely on a list of known fraudulent sites. When a subscriber responds to the e-mail message, he will be linked instead to a special Web page that warns the e-mail is a fraud. The site also will provide a chance to report the hoax attempt. EarthLink and eBay are sharing internal lists of fraudulent Web sites.  Full Story  AP/CNN_ 4/15/04

Radio telescope pioneer George Sutton Parks Jr. dead at 70
Mr. Parks led the construction of the 150-foot dish in the foothills behind Stanford University in the early 1960s. It was initially used to study radio transmission in the upper atmosphere and solar "winds," and to track the Pioneer space probe in deep space. The Stanford dish remains in use.  Full Story  San Francisco Chronicle_ 4/15/04

Sir Tim Berners-Lee, "Father of the Web," wins one million euro Millennium Technology Prize awarded by the Finnish Technology Award Foundation
In 1991, the British scientist came up with a system to organise, link and browse net pages which revolutionised the internet. Full Story  BBC News_ 4/15/04

MI Technologies appoints Dr. Carlo Rizzo European Operations Manager
In this new position, Dr. Rizzo will be responsible for all of MI
Technologies' sales activities in Europe including the solicitation of
orders, maintaining customer relationships and coordination of sales
representatives and distributors.  Full Story  Press Release 4/12/04

The draw of lucrative technology patent licensing deals swells the ranks of specialty businesses
These new companies, often run by former Silicon Valley executives, buy unused patents from companies, broker deals between buyers and sellers of patents, and act as patent "investment banks" to turn knowledge into new businesses.  Full Story  Reuters_ 4/11/04

France to restore 550 public sector research posts and create more than 1,000 new teaching posts at universities
The move follows high-profile protests by scientists and researchers over plans to cut funds from basic research. The researchers warned that the funding crisis would lead to a national brain drain.  Full Story  BBC News_ 4/8/04

When American forces in Afghanistan shut down al Qaeda terrorist training camps, experts say the terror group moved its bases to the virtual world.
Israeli terror analyst Reuven Paz believes the Internet has become the primary communication tool for al Qaeda.  Full Story  CNN_ 4/8/04

GPS inducted into 2004 Space Technology Hall of Fame
Researchers at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) began developing GPS software in 1985. It uses a multitude of ground tracking stations and GPS satellites to determine locations anywhere on Earth down to a few millimeters in accuracy. The system can also work in reverse, tracking satellite orbits equipped with positioning beacons with an accuracy of a few centimeters.  Full Story  Space.com_  4/7/04

Jordan's king puts faith in hi-tech
King Abdullah of Jordan hopes to turn the country into the hi-tech capital of the Middle East.  Full Story  BBC News 4/4/04

March, 2004

Email from the clothes dryer: Your laundry is done

Carnegie Mellon University is testing e-Suds, a Web-based system that sends e-mail to students when their laundry is done and allows them to log on to an Internet site to check the status of machines. It was developed by USA Technoligies.  Full Story  AP/MSNBC 3/31/04

Bill Gates: Computer hardware to be nearly free in 10 years
The world's largest software maker is betting that advances in hardware and computing will make it possible for computers to interact with people via speech and that computers which can recognize handwriting will become as ubiquitous as Microsoft's Windows operating system.  Full Story  Reuters 3/29/04

Sir Michael Atiyah and Isadore Singer have been awarded the £480,000 prize Abel Prize for mathematics. The UK and US researchers developed the Atiyah-Singer theorem that allowed physicists to devise new theories about the cosmos.  Full story  BBC News 3/26/04

Sony, Philips and digital paper pioneer E-Ink announce an electronic book reader that is goes on sale in Japan in late April for $375
Called Librié, the device will be the size of a paperback book and can hold 500 texts in its onboard memory. It also can download fresh reading material, including newspapers and magazines.  Full story  BBC News 3/26/04

Opera Software is developing a voice operated Web browser
The new browser incorporates IBM's ViaVoice technology, enabling the computer to ask what the user wants and "listen" to the request. Opera declined to give a launch date.  Full story  AP/CNN 3/24/04

U.S. government wants to approve some new online communication companies to ensure they offer wiretapping tools
Critics, including some online businesses that are working with authorities to make their services wiretap-capable, say the DOJ proposal isn't just unprecedented and overzealous but also dangerously impractical. Full story  AP/CNN 3/23/04

Next generation Internet
Known as Internet Protocol version 6,  it took another big step toward commercialization as its second phase of testing in North America wrapped up last week.  Full story  CNET News.com/MSNBC  3/23/04

Intel strips 'Gigahertz' from computer chip names

Taking a page from automobile marketers, Intel Corp. will now assign model numbers to its chips and eliminate measurements of raw speed from its product names. "It is confusing, and it's going to take a tremendous amount of education on the part of Intel and Intel's customers for this to sort of get assimilated into the marketplace," said Nathan Brookwood, who runs the research firm Insight 64. Full story Reuters 3/19/04

Ten organizations submit applications for new Internet domains, including ".mobi" for mobile services and ".xxx" for adult content.
The new domains could be approved as early as this year and would be the first major additions since 2000.  Full story AP/CNN 3/20/04

Chemistry Nobel winner Sir John Pople dies
By 1952, he had formulated his basic plan to make mathematical models for studying molecules without performing experiments. Full story BBC News 3/18/04

'Mind-reading' system created by NASA
The sensors have already been used to do simple web searches and may one day help space-walking astronauts and people who cannot talk communicate. The sensors could send commands to rovers on other planets or help injured astronauts control machines.  Full story  NewScientist.com  3/18/04

Vietnam veteran develops a skycam for a laptop-toting infantry: device can prevent ambushes

After seeing how easily photos could be transferred between digital cameras and laptop computers, he came up with a way for soldiers to get a quick bird's eye view of the battlefield.  Full story  AP/MSNBC 3/18/04

A paper computer is among the gadgets galore on show at the Cebit technology faire
This year some of the bullishness of previous years has returned thanks to the growing success of wifi, renewed interest in mobile phones and the growing role of the PC as the heart of the digital, hi-tech home.  Full story  BBC News  3/17/04

Utah company launches lower-priced cable TV alternative
USDTV collects feeds from broadcast stations and cable networks at a single digital transmission tower, which then uses once-idle bandwidth -- bought from the stations -- to spray the signals to standard UHF/VHF antennas.  Full story  AP/CNN 3/17/04

South African scientist wins world's richest prize
George Ellis, who studies the relationship between faith and science, was awarded the $1.4 million Templeton Prize.  Full story  AP/MSNBC 3/17/04

Guinness record for Toshiba's stamp-sized hard disk drive
The electronics conglomerate's 0.85-inch HDDs, unveiled in January, have storage capacity of up to four gigabytes and will be used in products such as cellphones and digital camcorders.  Full story  Reuters 3/16/04

Controling fluids with specially fabricated silicon nanograss
Scientists at Bell Labs have discovered an entirely new method to control the behavior of tiny liquid droplets.  Full story  Space Daily 3/16/04

Computer privacy protecting programs eliminated from U.S. research
Two cutting-edge computer projects designed to preserve the privacy of Americans were quietly killed while Congress was restricting Pentagon data-gathering research in a widely publicized effort to protect innocent citizens from futuristic anti-terrorism tools.  Full story  AP/MSNBC 3/15/04

Nanotechnology: Tiny hope or big hype?
Show us the profits, the skeptics shout. Nanotechnology will amount to nanoprofits, they worry as they tick off a list of technologies from artificial intelligence to virtual reality that looked cool in the lab but have foundered commercially.  Full story  AP/CNN 3/15/04

Space billboards: Inventor patents device for advertising from space: Saturn, your ad here
Orion, the Big Dipper and Andromeda could be joined in the heavens by ads for soft drinks and cigarettes if a Russian inventor's device catches on. "Space commercials could embrace huge areas and a colossal number of consumers," he said. "This would literally be intercontinental coverage."  Full story  AP/CNN.com  3/11/04

High-tech sonar to help search for water taxi victims
Recovery teams returned to Baltimore Harbor's frigid waters Monday with state-of-the-art sonar to help in their search for three people still missing from a weekend water taxi accident.  Full story  CNN 3/8/04

Miniature fuel cells may oust batteries
A trick that boosts the power of miniature hydrogen fuel cells by up to 50 per cent has been revealed by US researchers. Such fuel cells could help keep portable gadgets up and running - cellphone giant Nokia warned last week that battery technology is not keeping pace with advanced phone functions.  Full story  New Scientist  3/8/04

Award-winning video captures water, oil, mixing
Steven Spielberg, eat your heart out. A team consisting of an art student and mechanical engineers at Washington University in St. Louis has made an award-winning movie that captures for the first time the fluid mechanics phenomenon of two things that classically don't mix, doing just that.  Full story  Press Release 3/3/04



2004 Tech Notes August to December

News Index 



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