Road rage at driverless cars? It’s possible

Publication:   Date: January 20, 2012   View Article

The road to a future where we jump in our cars, enter a destination, and let them do the driving could be filled with rage, according to an expert on driverless car technology.

For starters, driverless cars will likely be programmed to obey all traffic laws. They won’t speed and will always come to a complete stop at stop signs, for example.

Throw just a few of those law-abiding robots on roads clogged with 250 million human-controlled cars, and there’s bound to be some shaken fists, or worse.

Tiny hard drive stores one bit of data with just 12 atoms

Publication:   Date: January 12, 2012   View Article

Twelve atoms are all that’s required to store a bit of computer code – a 1 or 0, according to a new discovery that probes the limit of classical data storage.

Computer hard drives on the market today use more than a million atoms to store a single bit and more than half a billion to store a byte, which is an eight-bit-long unit of code sufficient to write the letter A, for example.

The new technique uses just 96 atoms per byte, allowing for hard drives that store 100 times more information in the same amount of physical space, according the researchers behind the discovery.

Four-atom-wide wire may herald tiny computers

Publication:   Date: January 10, 2012   View Article

A wire that is just four atoms wide and one atom tall, yet works just as well as the ordinary copper wires running behind your wall, was recently created by an international team of scientists.

The breakthrough brings closer to reality a future where computers smaller than a pinhead are faster and more powerful than some of today’s supercomputers, according to the researchers.

3-D model of rat brain circuit created

Publication:   Date: December 8, 2011   View Article

After six years and several million dollars, scientists have created a 3-D model of a rat brain circuit.

The accomplishment is a first step toward creating a complete computer model of the brain that will allow a deeper understanding of how our noggins work — and what causes them to malfunction, according to the scientists behind the feat.

Breakthrough chip mimics human brain function

Publication:   Date: November 17, 2011   View Article

The day that computers outsmart their human overlords may yet lie in the distant future, but a new computer chip that mimics the basis of learning and memory in the brain is a critical step towards that moment.

“We are not talking about recreating a whole brain at this point. We have to start with one system,” Chi-Sang Poon, a research scientist in the Harvard-MIT Division of Health Sciences and Technology, told me Wednesday.

IBM sees energy, money in motion of the ocean

Publication:   Date: October 31, 2011   View Article

The computer giant IBM sees a profitable future in high-tech analytical tools that could expedite and enhance the rollout of machines to turn the motion of the ocean into electricity.

Such machines, called wave energy converters, are under development around the world as a means to tap what appears to be a clean, green source of renewable energy — wave power.

Can EVs solve wind power puzzle?

Publication:   Date: September 13, 2011   View Article

Electric vehicles outfitted with a $10 computer chip can help streamline the addition of wind power to the electric grid, according to a study that shows how the two types of technology could piece together the puzzle of our green energy future.

One of the biggest hurdles utilities face with the addition of wind power and other renewable sources of energy to the grid is where and how to store excess generation for use when people actually need it. Until that happens, if the wind blows when nobody needs electricity, for example, the energy is wasted.

© 2008-2010 Collected Writings By John Roach