January 2000 Archives

Biotech beyond the Genome Project

Report on a talk by Eric Lander about four areas to be tackled in the near future. I think it's mainly focussing on projects his group at The Whitehead Institute are working on, but it's still a look beyond the Human Genome Project. (via Moreover)

Tim Sweeney, co-founder of Epic Games, on the development of computer programming languages, current trends, and the field's future, parametric polymorphism. (via Linkwatcher)

The future of the human brain

Raymond Kurzweil discusses the future of the brain and AI over the next century. By 2050 a $1,000 computer will equal the processing power of the world's human brains; nanobots in our brains will enable us to cut off real life and enter a perfect virtual world; can we call data scanned and stored from a human brain a human brain itself?; what if nanobots mutate, reproducing themselves far more than they should?; who will control the nanobots?; "Ultimately the earth's technology-creating species will merge with its own computational technology." (URL may break before long...) (via The Well's Future Conference)

Device that gives the feeling of motion

MotionWare is a device which alters the user's sense of balance. It's been used in the medical world for some time, but Virtual Motion plan to produce devices for home entertainment, syncing it with, for example, games so the user has the sensation of motion. Could make VR experiences more real without requiring real movement. (via Slashdot)

Nearly one third of 20-35 year old males in the UK are living with their parents, up from 25% in 1977/8. The later age of marriage and difficulties in entering the housing market are possible reasons. The article, citing a Social Trends survey, also mentions 62% of schools are online, up from 17% in 1999.

Wired's future issue now online

January 2000 issue, 'The Future Gets Fun Again.' Featuring technologies which may become usable realities over the next century: head transplants, holidays in space, teleportation, new cars, nanotech, MEMS, etc. Some good, some dodgy.

Genetic toggle switch developed

A study at Boston University, USA, have developed a technique for switching genes from one state to another. The next step is to create sensors which switch state once a certain threshold is reached. It could be used to alert diabetics when their blood glucose reaches a certain level by turning a patch of skin a different colour. Further ahead, possibilities involve 'programming' bacteria and nanotechnology. (via Slashdot)

Gemstar buys the leading e-book makers

NuvoMedia (makers of the RocketBook) and SoftBook Press have been acquired by Gemstar, the maker of Video Plus and electronic TV guides, and the owner of TV Guide magazine. A massive ad campaign is planned for later in 2000, using the company's experience of creating a market for Video Plus, a similar chicken and egg situation.

The total number of Internet users in China has grown from 2.1 million in December 1998 to 8.9 million in December 1999. On average they spend 17 hours a week online and 20 million are expected to be online by the end of 2000.

Strap-on flight

Solotrek hopes to demonstrate its personal Vertical Take Off and Landing device. The user straps himself into its exo-skeleton style device and its two large fans allow him to fly around up to 80mph. (via Memepool)

Computer-generated newsreader

A bit of a yawn, as it's been predicted for so long. But PA New Media plan to launch their female CGI newsreader later this year.

Man sees with artificial eye

A 62 year old blind man can see 100 specks of light thanks to a device wired into his skull - enough vision to allow him to walk around and identify simple objects. He had the device implanted in 1978 and scientists at the Dobelle Institute in New York, USA, have been improving the software ever since. (via Haddock)

DNA computing

Article about a development in using DNA as a computing tool although it's still "a long ways from challenging chip technology." One gram of DNA could hold more data than a trillion CDs.

Global International Waters Assessment

Set up under the United Nation's Global Environmental Facility, this agency is charged with coming up with a plan to combat the increasing lack of fresh water on the planet. The site has information about the causes and issues of the freshwater shortage, and will include data about water around the world. (via BBC News)

Automated warships

A report on warships the US Navy hopes to have operational by 2010 which will require crews of half the current size. Automated features include the ability to switch electricity supplies around the ship to where they're most needed. (via EurekAlert)

Nanotech in medicine

Describing uses for nanotechnology in medicine, particularly in gene therapy where it could help avoid fatal immune system responses. (via Slashdot)

Stephen Hawking on the future

Much of the article is just about the man himself, but he answers some questions about the possibilities for computers and human brain power in the future, and space travel. (via Slashdot)

Calves cloned from stored cells

Scientists at the University of Connecticut, USA, have cloned four calves from cells taken from a bull's ear and then frozen for several months. Previously it was thought that cells were only useful for a short time after cultivation.

UK building societies converting to banks tend to close branches in the poorest areas. This leaves many people without access to financial services and other businesses often begin to leave the area. People "become social lepers excluded from mainstream society."

Mud as a building material

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The Welsh Centre for Alternative Technology is constructing a £630,000 information centre out of mud bricks to illustrate its potential as an ecologically sound building material.