a cue from computers, researchers have built
a chip that processes water drops as if they
were digital bits. Rapidly changing electrical
patterns in the chip join, split and mix drops,
and send them whizzing about. The technique
could lead to labs-on-a-chip that reconfigure
on the fly.
turns reading into writing
If you can't type or speak into a computer, producing
text usually means picking out letters from a menu,
which can get tedious. Software that lets you zoom
in on a landscape of letters could be a boon to
the disabled -- and make PDAs easier to use.
ID locks lost laptops
The recent spate of lost government laptops shows
how easy it is for private or secret information
to fall in the wrong hands. It's tough to prevent
portable computers from going AWOL short of handcuffing
them to their users. A security system that ties
the data on a computer to its user could minimize
software gets the picture
Figuring out how to build mind-numbingly fast quantum
computers is not the only barrier to computing nirvana.
Researchers are also working to produce software
that takes advantage of quantum computers' quirky
but powerful properties. An algorithm proves that
computer vision and image processing are fertile
blasts make memory
Manufacturing computer memory is an expensive proposition
-- chipmaking factories cost upwards of $1 billion.
A process that turns wafers of layered metals into
memory chips simply by zapping them with laser beams
could dramatically lower the costs of production.
Dirt cheap chips will remain a tantalizing fantasy,
however, until the researchers put together an entire