Tech

The Internet is enough of a marvel that most people would never ask, "Is this really how we would build it if we could design it all today?" But asking that very question is the job of a broad-based team of Stanford researchers. Taking a nothing-is-sacred approach to better meet human communications needs, this month they are launching a new program called the Clean Slate Design for the Internet. They will present their ideas March 21 during a daylong workshop at the annual meeting of the Stanford Computer Forum.

Japan's advanced humanoids can now serve tea and wash the cup afterwards, but they still need to learn from their mistakes if they are to become real household helpers.

A Tokyo University team this week showed their latest robots which can perform more complicated daily tasks, but the machines still have a learning curve.

In a model living room equipped with robotic items including two humanoids, professor Tomomasa Sato plopped himself down on the sofa, prompting a reading lamp to turn on automatically.

Researchers from MIT, Georgia Institute of Technology and Ohio State University have developed a new computer modeling approach to study how materials behave under stress at the atomic level, offering insights that could help engineers design materials with an ideal balance between strength and resistance to failure.

A team of researchers from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute has created the world’s first material that reflects virtually no light. Reporting in the March issue of Nature Photonics, they describe an optical coating made from the material that enables vastly improved control over the basic properties of light. The research could open the door to much brighter LEDs, more efficient solar cells, and a new class of "smart" light sources that adjust to specific environments, among many other potential applications.

Researchers have used the world's thinnest material to create the world's smallest transistor – a breakthrough that could spark the development of a new type of super-fast computer chip.

Professor Andre Geim and Dr Kostya Novoselov from The School of Physics and Astronomy at The University of Manchester, reveal details of transistors that are only one atom thick and less than 50 atoms wide, in the March issue of Nature Materials.

The Altair 8800, introduced in the early 1970s, was the first computer you could build at home from a kit. It was crude, didn't do much, but many historians would say that it launched the desktop computer revolution.

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Advances in digital electronic circuits have prompted the boost in functions and ever- smaller size of such popular consumer goods as digital cameras, MP3 players and digital televisions. But the same cannot be said of the older analog circuits in the same devices, which process natural sights and sounds in the real world. Because analog circuits haven't enjoyed a similar rate of progress, they are draining power and causing other bottlenecks in improved consumer electronic devices.

Physicists at JILA are using ultrashort pulses of laser light to reveal precisely why some electrons, like ballet dancers, hold their spin positions better than others—work that may help improve spintronic devices, which exploit the magnetism or "spin" of electrons in addition to or instead of their charge. One thing spinning electrons like, it turns out, is some disorder.

Researchers at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) have developed a sensitive new method for rapidly assessing the quality of carbon nanotubes.