March 24/31, 2004   

   Molecular logic proposed
Chipmakers can make circuits only so small before the laws of physics change the ground rules. Researchers are looking to make logic circuits by linking individual molecules, and some are even considering how to make logic circuits within molecules. The quantum nature of molecules all but rules out using traditional circuit design, but it also opens new possibilities for building the basic components of computer chips.
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System susses out silent speech
One day computers might be able to interpret brain signals, allowing people to control computers using only thought. A NASA system that reads nerve signals destined for the throat and tongue is a step in that direction. The system interprets patterns in the signals when a person silently speaks, allowing a computer to recognize commands without hearing a sound.

Virtual people look realistically
Adding a bit of memory to a model of visual reflexes gives virtual reality characters a more realistic gaze. The idea is to keep a character from looking at the same bright red chair every time he walks into his virtual living room.

Pulse trap makes optical switch
Computers might run entirely on light someday. But there's a lot of work to do between now and then. A key challenge is finding efficient ways of using light pulses to switch light pulses. One possibility is using one type of light pulse to trap another.

Irregular layout sharpens light... Bacteria make clean power... Curve widens 3D display... Triangles form one-way channels... DNA has nano building in hand... Nanowires span silicon contacts.

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