June 26/July 3, 2002   

   PCs augment reality
A computer that knows where your hands are turns your desktop into a monitor and your finger into a mouse. The tricky finger-tracking software now runs on a PC, making it possible to control an ordinary computer with your bare hands.
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Stamps bang out tiny silicon lines
Taking a Stone Age approach to high-tech materials could result in fast, cheap chipmaking. Princeton researchers have pressed quartz molds into silicon wafers with the help of ultraviolet laser pulses. The simple process makes a useful pattern of microscopic lines in less than a millionth of a second.

Bent wires make cheap circuits
A crimped microscopic wire turns a one to a zero. This simple circuit sets the stage for cheap, low-power computers that don't have to boot up every time you start them. The key is using the logic of magnetism rather than electricity.

Mixes make tiniest transistors
The people who design computers have traditionally been electrical engineers. A pair of single-molecule transistors show that would-be computer makers might want to consider getting a degree in chemistry instead.

Plastic computer memory advances
The right kind of plastic can store electrical charges in tiny spots. Think of the charges as the ones of digital ones and zeros and a new type of computer memory comes into focus.

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