Computing Applications News tracks

News Tracks

  1. Incredible Shrinking Computing
  2. Super-size Telescope
  3. Global Reach Around
  4. Gastric Simulation
  5. Filipino Text-Message TV
  6. Caging Hackers
  7. Japan's Singing, Dancing Robot
  8. Author
  9. Figures

The world’s smallest logic circuit ever created has been developed by IBM scientists at the Almaden Research Center in San Jose, CA. The entire circuit is less than a trillionth of a square inch; the equivalent circuit made from state-of-the-art silicon transistors takes up 260,000 times as much space. Instead of using the transistors and wires of traditional electronics, scientists stuck individual molecules of carbon monoxide onto a flat copper surface at specific locations. Then, using a tiny instrument, they knocked some of the molecules, setting off a cascade of collisions. The molecules’ final positions provided the answer to the calculations. These calculations are performed in a vacuum at ultra-low temperatures, a few degrees above absolute zero, and for each calculation the molecules must be nudged to the correct starting positions. The latest work shows that entire calculations can be performed at the molecular level, a considerable advance in the field of nanotechnology.

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Super-size Telescope

A virtual radio telescope that can distinguish celestial features 3,000 times smaller than those observed by the Hubble Space telescope has been developed by astronomers at MIT’s Haystack Observatory. The device, a global network of dishes that work together as if they were a radio observatory with a diameter as large as our planet, uses atomic clocks and a custom supercomputer to link together radio dishes on three continents and is the most powerful radio conservatory ever. The telescope will be used to look closer into the hearts of galaxies that for unknown reasons unleash huge amounts of energy. The virtual radio observatory performed well in trial runs in 2002, picking up signals from galaxies more than three billion light-years away.

The resolution achieved by this telescope is the equivalent of sitting in New York and being able to see the dimples on a golf ball in Los Angeles.”
Sheperd Doeleman, astronomer at the MIT Haystack Observatory


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Global Reach Around

In a public demonstration, scientists reached around the globe via the Internet and picked up a virtual cube on a computer screen at the same time and pushed it around, reports the San Jose Mercury News. The scientists—in London, Boston, and Los Angeles—held robotic arms and could feel the force being exerted by the others as well as the texture of the cube. Each team’s computer had its own robotic arm with a stylus at the end, and by wrapping a finger around the stylus, a cursor could be moved on the screen. The robotic arm and the software have been commercially available for several years, but the scientists altered the software so the program could be used across the Internet. It is hoped the application will eventually lead to new collaborative applications in telemedicine, education, and art.

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Gastric Simulation

A virtual stomach—a computer simulation of the gastric motions, stresses, and particle breakdown that occur as the belly contract—has been developed by a professor of mechanical engineering at Penn State, reports the New York Times. Magnetic resonance imaging movies of actual stomachs, as well as pressure measurements, were the basis for the geometry of the artificial stomach. The research team fed the artificial stomach such simulated fare as mashed potatoes and extended-release drug tablets to learn the particulars of their disintegration. The virtual stomach may one day help researchers improve the composition of tablets that break down slowly over many hours before proceeding to the small intestine. It may also aid in understanding why nutrients are sometimes released too rapidly or too slowly from the stomach.

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Filipino Text-Message TV

Several Philippine TV channels are dedicated to short-message services (SMS), in which messages are sent by users via cell phone. The channels are like Internet chat rooms, except the whole country can see them. The crude but popular—and profitable—service works like this: the TV screen is divided into three parts; on one part messages constantly scroll, on another, viewers bid on auctions or play trivia games; on a third, they vote for their favorite music videos—all by text messaging with their cell phones. Cell phone companies charge for every message, sharing their revenue with the TV broadcasters that generate the traffic. The concept is built on the popularity of text messaging in the Philippines, which generates a sixth of the world’s monthly text messages despite having only 12 million cell phones in operation.


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Caging Hackers

A program that lures prospective hackers into fake databases, confines any altered data, and almost instantly repairs the database, has been developed. Penn State software experts have created the program, which involves algorithms that track the activities of users in real time. Any suspicious behavior prompts the program to move a questionable user’s operations into a bogus database while the altered data is quickly restored to its original form. The program enables a medium-size database to repair up to 1,000 data objects per second. If the user’s activities are later found to be legitimate, most of the transactions are saved by merging the effects of the transactions into the central database.

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Japan’s Singing, Dancing Robot

A two-legged home entertainment robot has been developed that with its 38 body joints sings and dances and interacts with its owner depending on how he or she has treated it in the past, reports USA Today. The Sony SDR-4X can be programmed to recognize and respond to 10 different faces with personalized greetings. Almost two feet tall, SDR-4X can cover 55 feet per minute on flat surface; 16 feet a minute on irregular surfaces. Sony hopes to sell SDR-4X as an entertainment device. No price has been announced.

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UF1 Figure.

UF2 Figure.

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