Hello Skynet!

Slashdot: “Killer Military Robot Arms Race Underway?”
(citing NetworkWorld):

We are beginning to see the first steps towards an international robot arms race and it may not be long before robots become a standard terrorist weapon to replace the suicide bomber, according to professor Noel Sharkey, from the Royal United Services Institute Department of Computer Science. […] Currently there is always a human in the loop to decide on the use of lethal force. However, this is set to change with the US giving priority to autonomous weapons – robots that will decide on where, when and who to kill, according to the professor.

I want my solar-powered Zeppelin!

Solar Energy Cheaper than Coal?

That new technique involves using a device very much like an ink-jet printer to lay down the components of a photovoltaic cell onto a thin sheet of aluminum. The cells are much thinner, lighter, and much less fragile than older silicon cells. The result is solar energy that is expected to cost around $1 a watt for the raw panels, and $2 a watt for an installed system. At that price, solar power is directly competitive with the cheapest and most polluting of fossil fuels.

Cheap is great news for the environment. “Much thinner, lighter and much less fragile” is even better. I’m wondering how thin and light these have to get for solar powered aviation to be possible…?

Another step towards an effective artificial heart

Man with no pulse considered a medical breakthrough

Canadian Press

MONTREAL — A 65-year-old Quebec man who received a new long-term mechanical heart last month is being described as the only living Canadian without a pulse.

Dr. Renzo Cecere implanted the “Heartmate II” mechanical heart into Gerard Langevin in an three-hour operation Nov. 23.

Officials at the McGill University Health Centre say the device, which is about the size of a flashlight battery, could last up to 10 years.


“We can rebuild him. We have the technology.”

Doctors grow organs from patients’ own cells

Seven living with bladders from new process

[…]Scientists grew new bladders from the patients’ own cells, which were then transplanted back into the patients’ bodies.

Cool. Once again, the future is now… all I want to know is when they going to be able to make some lab-grown replacement arteries? The way I’m going, I may need ’em one of these days…

My new toy…

I bought a new PocketPC/Phone device this weekend, and switched to Sprint:
PPC 6700 picture
PPC 6700 from Sprint

All-you-can-eat mobile IP access (email and web, mainly) is a very, very cool thing.

I still need a memory card for it (it’s got about 40mb of free storage on it’s own… *sigh* I remember when that would have seemed like a lot), and if I were *really* hardcore, I’d be posting this from it rather than my laptop. But hey, I’m getting there.

I don’t like Mondays…

Both true for me, and a good songto boot. (*)

Congratulations to Peter and Jane, whose wedding I was at this past weekend. I’m not sure whether it’s appropriate to post a photo or two here, but I may.

Also, for lack of a better place, here’s some interesting science news:
The key to fresh water: imitation spleen proteins

Burlingame, Calif.–The human spleen doesn’t get a lot of good press, but the Electronic Power Research Institute has come up with a spleen-inspired molecule that could expand the world’s water supply.

(* Does someone know a good spam/adware-free lyrics site? My usual approach to just finding the first on google tends to produce sites that are fine for me, but look like they’re full of crapware if you don’t have a good blocker. Also, geez, how many people have covered that song… the original WAS the Boomtown Rats one, right???)

“A keyboard, how quaint”

Air Force testing new transparent armor

by Laura Lundin
Air Force Research Laboratory Public Affairs

10/17/2005 – WRIGHT-PATTERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Ohio (AFPN) — Engineers here are testing a new kind of transparent armor — stronger and lighter than traditional materials — that could stop armor-piercing weapons from penetrating vehicle windows.

The Air Force Research Laboratory’s materials and manufacturing directorate is testing aluminum oxynitride — ALONtm — as a replacement for the traditional multi-layered glass transparencies now used in existing ground and air armored vehicles.

Remember Star Trek IV? Well, once again we’re living in the future… they’ve got transparent aluminum now. Via a post on rassf;

The electronic nose at work…

E-nose to sniff out hospital superbugs

22 September 2005
From New Scientist Print Edition
Paul Marks

AN ELECTRONIC nose that sniffs out infections could help hospitals tackle outbreaks of the antibiotic-resistant superbug MRSA.

Culture tests routinely used to identify MRSA (methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus) take two or three days to complete. This hampers attempts to manage outbreaks as infected patients remain untreated and at risk of infecting others.

Sometimes, living in the future is very cool.

via the Daily Illuminator

Next stop, Judgement Day…

Humanoids With Attitude: Japan Embraces New Generation of Robots

TOKYO — Ms. Saya, a perky receptionist in a smart canary-yellow suit, beamed a smile from behind the “May I Help You?” sign on her desk, offering greetings and answering questions posed by visitors at a local university. But when she failed to welcome a workman who had just walked by, a professor stormed up to Saya and dished out a harsh reprimand.

“You’re so stupid!” said the professor, Hiroshi Kobayashi, towering over her desk.

Cyber-receptionist Ms. Saya greets Hiroshi Kobayashi, her inventor, at the Tokyo University of Science. “She has a temper,” the professor cautions.

“Eh?” she responded, her face wrinkling into a scowl. “I tell you, I am not stupid!”

Via post “This totally creeps me out” on AMERICAblog.