road to microscopic robots, pinhead-size supercomputers,
and machines that self-assemble passes through
the more mundane territory of higher-capacity
memory chips. Nanotechnology research has
reached a milestone with an HP Labs' prototype
-- a 64-bit molecular memory device that fits
in an area less than a thousandth of a millimeter
on a side.
Diamond electronics on deck
Diamond more pure than any engagement rock -- if
the stuff were readily available -- would make for
better computer chips than your average semiconductor.
A research team in Europe has found a way to make
diamond pure enough to conduct electricity. The
next step is making diamond components, which promise
to withstand harsher environments and to provide
faster wireless communications than today's less
lasers could spark fusion
Fusion, the reaction that powers the sun, promises
limitless, clean energy. Controlling fusion on earth,
however, means figuring out how to generate the
tremendous pressure and heat needed to get fusion
going, and controlling fuel heated to one hundred
million degrees Celsius. A new generation of ultra-powerful
lasers shows promise.
improve quantum crypto
The merest gleam from a microscopic, imperfect diamond
may be the key to keeping secrets perfectly secure.
A prototype quantum cryptography system shows that
diamond nanocrystals are better than the usual weak
lasers at spitting out just one photon at a time.
agents ask for help
A team of software agents is learning to keep virtual
traffic flowing more smoothly without having to
reinvent the wheel. The key is getting less successful
agents to seek advice from better ones. This cooperative
learning strategy could eventually speed Internet
routing, and help robots work together.