March 23/30, 2005   

   Tool turns English to code
Programming languages might seem like gibberish to the average person but the structure of natural languages like English has a lot in common with the structure of programming languages. Tapping the similarities could one day let everyone program computers. A key tool turns English statements into an outline of programming code.
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Common sense boosts speech software
Speech recognition software often makes amusing errors because computers have no way of knowing that only a very silly person would mean to say "I take mighty with milk". Giving computers a little common sense helps eliminate the more egregious mistakes.

Inkjet prints human cells
Someday doctors will be able to grow replacement organs using a patient's own cells. A key tool in tissue replacement research is the humble inkjet printer. One method tackles the challenges of keeping cells alive and putting the right cells in the right places.

The How It Works Files
Biochips: microscopic plumbing


Nanowires track molecular activity
Nanoscale electronic devices reveal molecular interactions, opening a route to rapid testing for new drugs.

Microdroplet makes mighty microscope
A microscopic glycerine droplet on a gold film is part of a simple optical microscope that can pick up objects 20 times smaller than bacterium.

Cheap material makes speedy memory
A mix of a common plastic and molecule-size specks of gold promises to be a recipe for cheap, fast memory.

Tiny crystals adjust laser colors
Tiny bits of crystal prove proficient at tuning the color of light for communications systems and sensors.

Electricity controls biomolecules
Using a small jolt of electricity to nudge proteins together is a step toward building and controlling molecular machines.

Nanotubes juice super batteries
A simple fabrication technique boosts efforts to use carbon nanotubes for superefficient electricity storage.

Layers promise cheap circuits
A layered structure for organic transistors promises low power and high output for inexpensive electronics.

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