Inventor of plumbing on a chip wins $500,000 prize

Publication:   Date: June 4, 2012   View Article

Stephen Quake, a prolific inventor whose application of physics to biology has led to breakthroughs in drug discovery, genome analysis and personalized medicine, has won the $500,000 Lemelson-MIT Prize, a prestigious award for outstanding innovators.

“A big part of physics is trying to figure out how to measure things,” Quake, who is a professor of bioengineering and applied physics at Stanford University, told me. “And so I get interested in a biological problem [and] figure out a way to measure it.”

Students help NASA control robots from space

Publication:   Date: March 16, 2012   View Article

Astronauts on missions to Mars and other worlds will almost certainly bring along a few robot helpers. A team of industrial design students is helping NASA make sure those robots are easy to control from the comfort of a spaceship.

Astronauts aren’t lazy, they are “extremely busy,” Maria Bualat with the Intelligent Robotics Group at the NASA Ames Research Center in Moffett Field, California, told me.

Robots: The gateway to ‘mind-blowing sex’?

Publication:   Date: April 25, 2012   View Article

Robotic sex won’t just blow your mind, it may curb many of society’s ills, says a new paper that envisions Amsterdam’s red light district staffed by androids that perform a full menu of sexual services.

Lap dances and intercourse with robot prostitutes could help combat human trafficking and the spread of sexually transmitted diseases while teaching us to be better lovers, according to the arguments laid out in the May issue of the journal Futures.

Big Brother? Homes, cities to watch, interact with you

Publication:   Date: March 31, 2012   View Article

Our homes and cities may soon be filled with sensors and tiny, energy-sipping computers that watch our every move in order, we hope, to enrich our lives and lower our impact on the environment, according to researchers working in the field of “ambient intelligence.”

While there’s a creepy Big Brother element to our houses and cities watching, learning, and interacting with our every move, the smart homes and cities of the future are really just the next frontier in our already sensor-rich and hyper-connected world.

Star-Trek-like open source tricorder sees magnetic fields and more

Publication:   Date: March 29, 2012   View Article

Know the near-magical handheld analysis gadgets known as “tricorders” that everyone carries in Star Trek? A cognitive science researcher has created a real-world version.

“The open source science tricorders that I’ve developed are very much a way to help people explore and feed their curiosity for the world,” Peter Jansen, who created and built the gadget, told me today in an email.

Road paved with toilets gets green credential

Publication:   Date: March 14, 2012   View Article

If you take a stroll along a newly paved six-block stretch of downtown Bellingham, Wash., you’ll be excused if you think you put your foot in a toilet. The sidewalk contains 5 tons of crushed potty.

The project is the first to earn Greenroads certification, a rating system that aims to do for roadway construction what LEED did for the building industry – make projects more sustainable.

‘Gigabit’ ideas wanted for superfast Internet

Publication:   Date: March 1, 2012   View Article

What would you do if had if you had an Internet Service that could download a 2-hour movie in about 5 seconds?

You could, of course, watch a bunch of movies. City officials and investors in Chattanooga, Tenn., hope you have some other creative business ideas that take advantage of its 1-gigabit-per second Internet.

© 2008-2010 Collected Writings By John Roach