January 28/
February 4, 2004   

   Robot automates science
Scientists would seem to hold one of the last occupations threatened by automation, given the brainpower and education involved. But equipping a laboratory robot with artificial intelligence software makes for a fair approximation of a scientist. Faster gene and drug discovery could result.
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Chemicals map nanowire arrays
Minuscule grids of nanowires could enable smaller, faster computer circuits. But there are two challenges to getting nanowire arrays ready for prime time -- finding ways of accessing any particular nanowire junction, and connecting the devices to the outside world. Chemically modifying the right junctions could solve both problems.

Badge controls displays
A small computer worn around the neck like a conference badge is the key component of a system that makes sure that nearby monitors and computer screens show you what you want to see. Taking the badge in hand turns it into an input device. The idea is to make the environment more responsive without requiring sophisticated computer equipment that can see, hear and understand you.

Neural-chaos team boosts security
The best way to send a secret message is to scramble it with a random code, and an excellent source of randomness is chaos. The trick is sharing the randomness only with intended receivers. Grafting chaos and neural networks makes this possible, even over public channels.

Inkjet goes 3D... Nanotubes tied to silicon circuit... Micro tweezers have ice grip... Nanorings promise big memory... Protein orders semiconductor bits... Technique detects quantum state.

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