Thursday, September 27, 2007
posted by @netwurker at 11:30 am
by Will Knight

"A timid-looking four-legged robot about the size of a Chihuahua might seem like an unlikely companion for soldiers of the future.

Yet the robot, called LittleDog, could ultimately help researchers create more sophisticated robotic assistants for military personnel, including automated "pack-mules" capable of hauling heavy loads over tough terrain.

This is because LittleDog is remarkably agile for a robot when faced with treacherous, uneven terrain. Researchers are also fine-tuning its movement to be even faster and more animal-like over rough terrain.

LittleDog was created for the US Defence Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) by US robotics company Boston Dynamics."


posted by @netwurker at 11:26 am
Offering a grammar lesson guaranteed to make any English teacher cringe, US President George W Bush told a group of New York school kids: "Childrens do learn."

Mr Bush made his latest grammatical slip-up at a made-for-TV event where he urged Congress to reauthorise the No Child Left Behind Act, the centerpiece of his education policy, as he touted a new national report card on improved test scores.

The event drew New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, Education Secretary Margaret Spellings plus teachers and about 20 fourth and fifth graders from the PS 76 school.

During his first presidential campaign, Mr Bush - who promised to be the "education president" - once asked: "Is our children learning?"

Mr Bush seemed to answer his own question with the same kind of grammatical twist.

"As yesterday's positive report card shows, childrens do learn when standards are high and results are measured," he said.

The White House opted to clean up Bush's diction in the official transcript.

- Reuters
Tuesday, September 25, 2007
posted by @netwurker at 1:24 pm
"Researchers at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine (AEC) have found evidence that certain fungi possess another talent beyond their ability to decompose matter: the capacity to use radioactivity as an energy source for making food and spurring their growth.

Detailing the research in Public Library of Science ONE, AEC's Arturo Casadevall said his interest was piqued five years ago when he read about how a robot sent into the still-highly-radioactive Chernobyl reactor had returned with samples of black, melanin-rich fungi that were growing on the ruined reactor's walls. "I found that very interesting and began discussing with colleagues whether these fungi might be using the radiation emissions as an energy source," explained Casadevall."

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Tuesday, September 11, 2007
posted by @netwurker at 8:25 am
"WALTHAM, MA (SEPTEMBER 10, 2007)—Alex, the world renowned African Grey parrot made famous by the ground-breaking cognition and communication research conducted by Irene Pepperberg, Ph.D., died at the age of 31 on September 6, 2007. Dr. Pepperberg’s pioneering research resulted in Alex learning elements of English speech to identify 50 different objects, 7 colors, 5 shapes, quantities up to and including 6 and a zero-like concept. He used phrases such as “I want X” and “Wanna go Y”, where X and Y were appropriate object and location labels. He acquired concepts of categories, bigger and smaller, same-different, and absence. Alex combined his labels to identify, request, refuse, and categorize more than 100 different items demonstrating a level and scope of cognitive abilities never expected in an avian species. Pepperberg says that Alex showed the emotional equivalent of a 2 year-old child and intellectual equivalent of a 5 year-old. Her research with Alex shattered the generally held notion that parrots are only capable of mindless vocal mimicry."


posted by @netwurker at 8:23 am
By Jacqui Cheng | Published: September 10, 2007 - 11:19AM CT

"The roughly 500 cybercafés in Mumbai, India, will soon have police-sanctioned keylogging software installed on their machines in the name of fighting terrorism. The software will track everything entered into web forms, chat rooms, e-mail, and more, and report it back to the government. Mumbai police say that cybercafé owners must agree to the installation of the software or else they will lose their licenses."

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Saturday, September 08, 2007
posted by @netwurker at 10:07 am
By Matt Ford | Published: September 06, 2007 - 01:00PM CT

"Tissue- and bio-engineering promise some of the biggest breakthroughs science and engineering will deliver in the next few years. Today a paper appears in Science that reports on the creation of a biohybrid device that uses plastics and muscle cells to enable autonomous walking and swimming. These devices, created by a pair of research groups at Harvard University, are termed muscular thin films (MTFs)."

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