November 28, 2001   

   Programmable DNA debuts
DNA molecules are ready-made computers, and researchers have been trying to make them do useful tasks in addition to their usual job of creating life. One problem has been figuring out how to make the molecules do more than one computational step at a time. A new approach makes it possible to program a series of steps, than let the molecules do the rest.
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Device would boost quantum messages
Researchers have already figured out how to use the weird properties of quantum physics to send perfectly secure messages, but they can't send them very far. A proposed signal booster could make it possible to send airtight secrets long distance.

Virtual computers reconfigure on the fly
It's hard enough to piece together virtual computers from resources all around the Net. But what do you to when some of those resources disappear in the middle of a complex scientific computation?

Software sorts video soundtracks
Being able to distinguish among speech, music and background noise is child's play for humans, but computers need a little help figuring out that a drum roll isn't rolling thunder.

Bigger disks won't hit quantum barrier
It looks like the weird laws of quantum physics won't slow down efforts to increase disk drive density anytime soon. And the theoretical maximum amount of data that can be crammed into a square centimeter of magnetic disk space looks to be about 42 terabits.

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