August 21/28, 2002   

   Biochips get pumped
Biochips are essentially miniature waterworks -- tiny pipes and valves etched into silicon. Being able to move fractions of a drop of fluid around calls for minuscule pumps not much bigger than cells. Stringing together microscopic beads could be the way to get things flowing.
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Chip design aims for quantum leap
Ultrapowerful machines that compute using the quirks of quantum physics are still just a gleam in researchers' eyes, but a chip design that calls for harnessing thousands of individual electrons could lead to practical, easy-to-manufacture quantum computers.

Net traffic mimics earthquakes
New-media pundits may be onto more than a metaphor when they refer to shock-waves roiling the Net. Cyberspace really does harbor many miniature earthquakes -- sudden, quick fluctuations in Net traffic that are mathematically similar to the laws that describe the timing of earth's temblors and aftershocks. The finding raises hopes that Internet traffic patterns could provide clues for forecasting earthquakes.

Stamps and glue make circuits
In another example of tech going retro, Bell Labs researchers have invented a rubber stamp that uses glue to fix ink to a surface. The ink in this case is gold and the stamps contain microscopic patterns that form transistors and other circuitry. The printing process could be used to stamp circuits onto sheets of plastic to make flexible displays.

Shortcuts lighten wireless load
Keeping track of neighbors who move out of the area turns out to be a good way to lighten the load in wireless networks. This bodes well for tracking vehicle fleets, monitoring the environment and handling the chaotic conditions of the battlefield. It all comes down to six degrees of separation.

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