December 17/24, 2003   

   PDA translates speech
Getting over the language barrier usually requires the services of a human translator, but handheld computers are getting powerful enough, and speech recognition software accurate enough, that travelers, soldiers and aid workers in foreign countries could soon have automatic speech translation in hand. A prototype Arabic-English medical translator is a significant milestone on the long road to universal translation.
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Device guards Net against viruses
Ordinary computers have no chance of being able to monitor the huge volumes of traffic flowing through the Internet. Specialized hardware, however, can. A device that can be reconfigured in minutes is poised to serve as a network sentry, scanning the full contents of every packet on high-speed backbone links for signs of viruses and the like.

Body handles nanofiber
The human body doesn't care for artificial materials, and responds to invasions by building scar tissue around foreign objects. While this is often a good thing, it makes replacement hips and the like more difficult to design and use. A study shows that scar tissue formation might have more to do with the surface features of the intrusion than material it is made from.

Microfluidics make flat screens
A new method for making big, cheap flat screen displays is a bit like making muffins. Pour liquid polymer into microfluidic channels aligned above an array of electrodes, let cure, and you have organic thin film transistors. The process requires the construction of the equivalent of muffin tins, but it's still easier than the semiconductor manufacturing processes used to make today's flat screens.

Chemists grow nano menagerie... Solid fuel cell works in heat... Hybrid crypto secures images... Chip uses oil to move droplets... Light spots sort particles... Organic transistors get small.

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