From the Nature ― International weekly journal of science
Published online 13 November 2009 | Nature | doi:10.1038/news.2009.1087

Nature News 

Lunar impact tosses up water and stranger stuff

NASA claims definitive detection of Moon water in the Solar System's 'attic'.

Eric Hand 

 
On the way to a wet landing.
N. GRUMMAN, W. FURLONG/NASA


The debate is finally over. Lunar scientists have detected water for certain near the north pole of the Moon, after the impact of a NASA projectile kicked up water vapour along with a plume of dust. But it's not just about the water, say the scientists, who found hints in the plume of other, more exotic molecules, ranging from organic hydrocarbons to mercury. Increasingly, the scientists are viewing the polar craters as the 'attics' of the Solar System, repositories for billions of years of history.

"It is the most definitive detection yet, and will certainly settle the question of this spot in Cabeus [crater] holding water," says Anthony Colaprete, of the Ames Research Center in Moffett Field, California, and principal investigator for Lunar Crater Observation and Sensing Satellite (LCROSS), an empty rocket stage that plunged into the Moon on 9 October. Colaprete announced the water discovery at a NASA press conference on Friday.

Although the water finding is important, he is most interested in learning more about the strange stuff that still might be buried in darkness. Because the Moon has nearly no tilt to the Sun, some of its craters, including parts of Cabeus, remain in permanent shadows that get as cold as Pluto. The cold and lack of light turn them into vaults for all that falls within their rims. "These cold traps ― they've swept through the inner solar system over the past couple billion years and have accumulated everything that has migrated to them."

The material remains locked in the traps, except when impacts such as LCROSS stir up the pot. Although the impact blast wasn't as spectacular as had been anticipated (see 'Moon Smash Gives off Flash'), Colaprete says his team gleaned rich data from LCROSS's trailing satellite, on a suicide trajectory four minutes behind. The impact carved out a crater more than 20 metres wide and sent dust tens of kilometres above the surface, beyond the crater walls and into sunlight.

Using spectroscopy in both the infrared and ultraviolet, Colaprete's team looked for telltale spectral lines caused by water. In the infrared, they found some lines at frequencies where light was absorbed by water molecules. In the UV, they found emission lines, where energy absorbed by water molecules was re-radiated as faint light. Colaprete says the signature is unique, and strong ― he is confident that water accounts for more than 1% of the weight of the debris cloud from the impact.

The final frontier

And that's enough to pique the interest of those who seek to colonize the Moon. LCROSS, along with its sister mission the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO), was launched on 18 June ―  and paid for by the division of NASA that manages human space exploration, not science.

The spectra also showed evidence of hydrocarbons, which could have reached the moon along with the water during impacts from organic-rich comets. Another process, a continuous stream of protons from the solar wind, could also implant small amounts of water in the soil (see 'Water on the Moon?').

One of the most unexpected compounds ― mercury ― was detected by an instrument on LRO, which normally looks for the faint ultraviolet glow of the universe reflecting off of material in the permanently shadowed craters. In this case, it peered into the post-impact haze of LCROSS. Randy Gladstone, acting principal investigator for that instrument, called LAMP (for Lyman-Alpha Mapping Project), says there is a spectral signature that can only be fit well by mercury. With that element present at a sizeable fraction of a percent, Gladstone says he's not sure if he would really want to drink the Moon's water. But he hopes that the find will at least encourage future missions to the poles to figure out when and how it got there. "The soil there is this tape recorder for everything that's happened in last billion years or so on the Moon."

SOURCE: http://www.nature.com/news/2009/091113/full/news.2009.1087.html 





From the ScienceNOW
of the Science Magazine


The Moon Is Wet!

By Richard A. Kerr
ScienceNOW Daily News
13 November 2009 

Picture of dust 
Thar she blows. The LCROSS impact lofted a puff of bright dust (center of squares) containing water and ice that had been buried for eons.
Credit: NASA


Slamming a spent rocket booster into the frigid, inky shadow of a lunar crater last month sent up a plume of dust laced with water, NASA scientists reported in a press conference today. Observers on Earth were denied a view of the fireworks in October, but "we found water, a significant amount of water," said LCROSS (Lunar Crater Observation and Sensing Satellite) mission principal investigator Anthony Colaprete of NASA's Ames Research Center in Mountain View, California.

After several decades of controversy, scientists now know that over billions of years, water from who knows where ― impacting comets or perhaps the solar wind ― can collect in some of the coldest places in the solar system. Whether the predicted amount of water is enough to sustain future astronauts ― as either sustenance or rocket fuel ― remains to be seen, however.

The LCROSS mission worked to perfection, with the exception of the show that unfolded on Earth. Before the impact, NASA scientists had predicted that ground-based observers, even amateurs, would see the plume in the gap between two mountains. As it turned out, Colaprete said, the impact's plume of debris "was as bright as thought, but it was behind a hill" because the debris did not rise as high as impact modeling had suggested.

The heavily instrumented LCROSS spacecraft, however, had a fine view of the rocket booster's impact and aftermath as it sped to its own impact 4 minutes later. LCROSS instruments delivered a "good, strong detection" of water, Colaprete said. At infrared and ultraviolet wavelengths, they gave clear indications of water vapor, water ice, and hydroxyl ions produced when sunlight splits water molecules.

All told, LCROSS detected about 100 kilograms of water, Colaprete said. It came from a 20-meter-wide crater maybe 3 meters deep, but he declined to guess how abundant water ice had been beneath the impact site. Team members must still calculate what portion of subsurface ice actually rose into view and could have been measured, Colaprete noted. "It would probably be safe to say it's wetter than the Atacama Desert," the driest place on Earth, he said. Some remote sensing had suggested about 1% water ice by volume in the upper 3 meters, which was regarded as a substantial amount. Impact modeler and LCROSS team member David Goldstein of the University of Texas, Austin, says 1% "is not inconsistent with what's been observed. I haven't convinced myself yet whether it's 0.1% or 10%. I think we'll work that out."

Whatever the amount, the principle of cold-trapping water in permanently shadowed craters ― as had been demonstrated for Mercury using radar ― is now firmly established for the moon. The LCROSS results give only an inkling of where the water might have come from. Colaprete reported that spectra hint at the presence of volatile compounds besides water, such as carbon dioxide, methane, sulfur dioxide, and methanol, just the sort of compounds found in comets and ice-rich asteroids. So the moon may have retained a tiny bit of the objects that have pummeled it for eons.

SOURCE:
http://sciencenow.sciencemag.org/cgi/content/full/2009/1113/1 


2009. 11. 15. 일요일. 아침 8시 03분. 지금 밖에는 첫눈이 날리고 있다(하지만 땅에 닿자마자 녹아버린다). 새벽 동안은 부슬비가 내리다가 그쳤었다. [달에서 물이 발견됐다. 달에서의 물 발견은 인류학적으로, 우주론적으로 크나큰 의미를 지닌다. 인류의 미래에 대한 성찰 그리고 외계 생명체 존재 여부 논란에 직접적으로 관련된 대발견이다. 정말 기뻐할 일이다.] 10:05 입력
콸리아 / 퀄리아 / qualia

댓글(0) 먼댓글(0) 좋아요(0)
좋아요
북마크하기찜하기
 
 
 

From the Nature ― International weekly journal of science
Published online 11 November 2009 | Nature | doi:10.1038/news.2009.1079

Nature News 

Evolution of a single gene linked to language

Mutations in the FOXP2 gene could help explain why humans can speak but chimps can't.

Kerri Smith

Girl and chim 
mlorenzphotography/ Getty
Changes to the sequence of one gene
may help to explain why humans talk but
chimps don't.

Two tiny changes in the sequence of one gene could have helped install the mechanisms of speech and language in humans.

In 2001, a gene called FOXP2 was found to underlie a rare inherited speech and language disorder1. It encodes a transcription factor called FOXP2, a protein 'dimmer-switch' that binds to DNA and helps to determine to what extent other genes are expressed as proteins.

Experiments have now revealed that the human version of FOXP2, which has two different amino acids compared with the version carried by chimps, has differing effects on genes in the brains of the two species. These differences could affect how the brain develops, and so explain why only humans are capable of language.

To find out whether these changes in FOXP2 had a biological function, a team led by Daniel Geschwind of the University of California, Los Angeles, inserted the two versions into human brain cells and looked at expression of the genes that the protein regulates. They found that the human version increased the expression of 61 genes and decreased the expression of 51 genes compared with the chimp version of the protein. To double-check that the same was happening in real brains, they looked at the expression of these genes in human and chimp brain tissue and found similar expression levels as in the cells. Their study is published in Nature2.

Master switch?

Many of the genes looked at by the team are known to have roles in brain development and function, firming up the central place of FOXP2 in the brain's language and speech networks. They also affect soft-tissue formation and development, linking FOXP2 to the physical side of speech and articulation.

"I'm not a person who necessarily believes that one gene is going to tell us everything, but this was really quite remarkable and does place FOXP2 in a relatively central position," says Geschwind.

The study also lends weight to the idea that language didn't evolve from scratch. It "depended on the retuning of genetic pathways present in non-verbal ancestors, rather than the appearance of completely novel mechanisms", says Simon Fisher of the Wellcome Trust Centre for Human Genetics in Oxford, UK, and part of the team that discovered the gene and first linked it to language.

Whether FOXP2 is the main driver of the evolution of language in humans, or just a cog in the wheel, remains unclear, says Fisher. "It is worth remembering that a large number of genetic differences distinguish the brains of these two species, not just the substitutions in FOXP2," he adds.

Differences in the cells or even in the animals used for the analysis could also skew the picture. "The results could depend on particular cell-line samples or particular humans or chimps," says Wolfgang Enard, who studies the evolutionary history of FOXP2 at the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig, Germany.

Geschwind and his team now plan to dig deeper into the genes that FOXP2 regulates and find out whether these too are different in humans from in chimps. "It's plausible that since language is so important, that not only FOXP2 but many of its targets might be under selection," he says.

The team would like to know where these genes are expressed in the brain, and what kind of brain cells they are most active in. Their results could even throw up new candidates for genetic screening programmes aimed at identifying language impairments, Geschwind says. 

References 


1. Lai, Cecilia S. L., Simon E. Fisher, Jane A. Hurst, Faraneh Vargha-Khadem & Anthony P. Monaco (2001). A forkhead-domain gene is mutated in a severe speech and language disorderNature 413(6855), 519-523. 

2. Konopka, Genevieve et al. (2009). Human-specific transcriptional regulation of CNS development genes by FOXP2Nature 462(7270), 213-217.  

 
SOURCE: http://www.nature.com/news/2009/091111/full/news.2009.1079.html 

 
mlorenzphotography/ Getty

2009 2009. 11. 12. 목요일. 맑음. 아침 07시 24분. [12:03에 올림]
콸리아 / 퀄리아 / qualia


댓글(0) 먼댓글(0) 좋아요(0)
좋아요
북마크하기찜하기
 
 
 

놀라운 소식을 접하고 그 기사를 옮겨 놓는다. 화성에 물이 있다! 이것은 엄청난 사건이다. 과학적으로, 철학적으로, 우주적으로 매우 크나큰 의미를 지니는 역사적 발견이다. 화성(火星, Mars, The Red Planet)에 물이 있다면, 생명체가 있거나, 있었을 수 있지 않을까? 지구말고 지구 밖 우주에도 생명체가 존재할 가능성이 더욱 커진 것이다. 우리 지구인의 존재론 · 인식론에 엄청난 파장이 예상된다. 기록해 놓지 않을 수 없다.

NASA "드디어 화성에서 물을 찾아 맛도 봤다"

화성에서 마침내 물의 존재가 공식 확인됐다고 미항공우주국(NASA)이 31일 발표했다.
과학자들은 화성에 물이 존재할 것이라는 확신을 갖고 있었지만 정황 증거에 근거했을 뿐 직접 물 성분이 확인되기는 이번이 처음이다. 
 


 
화성은 지구에서 대략 3억 7천 8백만 킬로미터 정도 떨어져 있지만(가장 가까이 접근할 때는 6천 9백 42만 킬로미터 정도) 맨눈으로도 볼 수 있는 행성이다. ― QUALIA

화성 탐사로봇 피닉스의 '열 및 방출가스 분석기'(TEGA) 분석팀 수석과학자 윌리엄 보인턴 교수(애리조나 주립대)는 기자회견에서 "물을 찾았다. 궤도탐사선 마스 오디세이 오비터의 관측을 통해 우리는 이미 물로 이루어진 얼음의 증거를 발견했고, 바로 지난 달에도 화성 표면의 얼음 덩어리가 증발해 사라지는 것을 피닉스가 목격했지만 화성의 물을 직접 만지고 맛 보기는 이번이 처음"이라고 말했다.

화성에 생명체가 살 수 있는지, 또는 과거에라도 살 수 있었는지 확인하기 위해 발사된 피닉스는 지난 5월25일 화성 북극권에 착륙한 뒤 3개월 예정으로 토양 채취 및 분석 작업에 들어갔다. 
 



화성 탐사선 피닉스 호의 로봇팔이 화성의 흙을 퍼담아 현미경 분석기로 가져가고 있다. 사진 출처: 《사이언티픽 아메리칸 Scientific American》 ― QUALIA

보인턴 교수는 피닉스가 지난 주 얼음을 발견한 것은 우연이라면서 오븐에 얼음 섞인 흙 표본을 넣으려다 두 차례 실패한 끝에 과학자들은 마른 흙을 분석하기로 계획을 바꿨고 놀랍게도 흙 표본은 오븐 안에서 얼음 용융점으로 가열되자 녹아서 물 입자를 방출했다고 밝혔다. 연구진은 흙 표본에 유기물질이 들어 있는 지는 아직 밝혀지지 않았다면서 관련 자료를 분석하는 데는 3∼4주 소요될 것이라고 말했다. 

NASA는 피닉스의 작업 성과가 물을 찾는 데서 생명체 존재 가능성을 찾는 쪽으로 발전하고 있다면서 이에 따라 피닉스의 작업 시한을 5주 연장한다고 밝혔다.

NASA의 과학자들은 피닉스의 작업 기간이 연장됨에 따라 '찬장'과 '네버랜드'로 명명된 두 개의 도랑을 추가로 파서 표본을 채취할 계획이라고 밝혔다.

NASA 관계자들은 "피닉스는 현재 양호한 상태이며 태양 전지판의 상태도 양호하다."고 밝히고 "우리는 화성에서 가장 흥미 있는 곳 중 하나인 이 곳에 지금 보유하고 있는 자원을 십분 활용할 계획"이라고 말했다.

과학자들은 피닉스가 수집한 자료들을 이제 막 받아보기 시작하고 있다면서 이를 통해 화성이 생명체가 살 수 있는 곳인지, 다시 말해 주기적으로 공급되는 액체 상태의 물과 생명체의 기본 구성물질이 존재하는지 밝힐 수 있기를 기대한다고 밝혔다.

로스앤젤레스 AP · 로이터 = 연합뉴스

▷ 출처: 《서울신문》 2008. 08. 01. 금요일. 11:28 검색
http://www.seoul.co.kr/news/newsView.php?id=20080801800018 
 


 
Image above: The Phoenix Mars Lander, partway through assembly and testing at Lockheed Martin Space Systems in September 2006. Credit: NASA/JPL/UA/Lockheed Martin (photo from: www.nasa.gov)

▷ 《사이언티픽 아메리칸 Scientific American》 기사

NASA says Mars craft "touched and tasted" water

By Jill Serjeant

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - NASA scientists said on Thursday they had definitive proof that water exists on Mars after further tests on ice found on the planet in June by the Phoenix Mars Lander.

"We have water," said William Boynton, lead scientist for the Thermal and Evolved-Gas Analyzer instrument on Phoenix.

"We've seen evidence for this water ice before in observations by the Mars Odyssey orbiter and in disappearing chunks observed by Phoenix last month, but this is the first time Martian water has been touched and tasted," he said, referring to the craft's instruments. 
 



NASA says Mars craft "touched and tasted" water The Robotic Arm on NASA's Phoenix Mars Lander carries a scoop of Martian soil bound for the spacecraft's microscope in handout photo released on June 13, 2008. REUTERS/NASA/JPL-Caltech/University of Arizona/Handout

NASA on Thursday also extended the mission of the Phoenix Mars Lander by five weeks, saying its work was moving beyond the search for water to exploring whether the red planet was ever capable of sustaining life.

"We are extending the mission through September 30," Michael Meyer, chief scientist for NASA's Mars exploration program, told a televised news conference.

The extension will add about $2 million to the $420 million cost of landing Phoenix on May 25 for what was a scheduled three-month mission, Meyer said.

Phoenix is the latest NASA bid to discover whether water ― a crucial ingredient for life ­― ever flowed on Mars and whether life, even in the form of mere microbes, exists or ever existed there.

Phoenix touched down in May on an ice sheet and samples of the ice were seen melting away in photographs taken by the lander's instruments in June.

Boynton said that water was positively identified after the lander's robotic arm delivered a soil sample on Wednesday to an instrument that identifies vapors produced by heating.

Mission scientists said the extension would give time for more analysis of Martian samples. They plan to dig two additional trenches ― dubbed "cupboard" and "neverland" ― using the robotic arm on the Phoenix craft.

"We hope to be able to answer the question of whether this was a habitable zone on Mars. It will be for future missions to find if anyone is home on this environment," Phoenix principal investigator Peter Smith told the news conference.

Mission scientists said in June that Martian soil was more alkaline than expected and had traces of magnesium, sodium, potassium and other elements. They described the findings as a "huge step forward."

Meyer said the scientific proof of the existence of water meant that Phoenix could "move from looking for water to seeing whether there were habitats for life.

"We are moving towards understanding whether there were or could be places on Mars that are habitable," Meyer said.

(Reporting by Jill Serjeant; Editing by Eric Walsh)
 

▷ Source : Scientific American July 31, 2008
http://www.sciam.com/article.cfm?id=nasa-phoenix-confirms-mars-water 

지금 2008. 08. 01. 금요일. 맑음. 더위 한풀 꺾이다. 낮 11시 38분.

콸리아/퀄리아/qualia 
 


 
▷ 피닉스 호 화성 탐사(Phoenix Mars Mission) 홈페이지 
http://phoenix.lpl.arizona.edu
 

 
윌리엄 보인턴 (윌리엄 보인튼), Dr. William V. Boynton, Professor, Cosmochemistry, Geochemistry, Ph.D., 1971, Carnegie Mellon
Department of Planetary Sciences, Lunar and Planetary Laboratory (LPL), University of Arizona, Tucson AZ 85721, USA. Email: wboynton [AT] lpl.arizona.edu
 

댓글(4) 먼댓글(0) 좋아요(0)
좋아요
북마크하기찜하기
 
 
람혼 2008-08-01 18:43   좋아요 0 | 댓글달기 | URL
아, 정말 흥미로운 기사로군요! 잘 읽었습니다, 감사드려요.^^

qualia 2008-08-01 23:56   좋아요 0 | URL
람혼 님, 찾아주셔서 감사합니다. 혹시 화성에서 물의 음악이 들려오지 않는가요? 어쩌면 화성인(Martians)의 노래 소리도 들려옴직한데요.^^ 람혼 님께서 우주적 영감을 받아 언젠가 화성의 음악(A Music of the Mars)을 작곡하실 줄도 모른다는 묘한 예감이 드는 것은 웬일이죠? ^^

람혼 2008-08-02 01:14   좋아요 0 | URL
저는 실로 지구적 영감도 다 소화하지 못하여 언제나 숨이 찬 사람 중 하나이지만, qualia님의 그 예감이 적중하기를 가장 고대하는 사람도 바로 제가 될 것 같습니다.^^ 정진하겠습니다!

qualia 2008-08-02 22:06   좋아요 0 | URL
저 멀리 아득한 화성의 인면암 옆에서 피아노를 연주하시는 람혼 님, 혹은 한 우주인 음악가의 영상을 상상 속에 그려봅니다. 저 우주의 깊은 지층 속에서 가늘게 흐르는 물소리처럼 신비로운 음악이 벌써 들려오는 듯합니다. 람혼 님의 음악, 정말 기대됩니다.
 

  

The article below from: EE TIMES (www.eetimes.com

—rearranged by SCW-Qualia 
   

 
  

35 People, Places, & Things That Will Shape The Future 
  

   

Thirty-five years ago, EE Times began covering the electronics industry from the engineer's perspective. We have chronicled the rise of ICs and how they have forever changed communications, computing and consumer technology. Here, as we quickly move into the new century, we serve up the "35 people, places and things that will shape the future," a future well beyond just chips. It appears to be an interdisciplinary future, in which electronics will meet biology, physics and even medicine. Click through this image gallery to see what and who EE Times' editors think will bring this future to life. Enjoy the trip.
  

http://www.eetimes.com/galleries/index.jhtml 

  

People: Al Gore

   


   

He didn't "invent" the Internet, but Al Gore played a key role in moving a military data communications network called Arpanet into the commercial realm. The rest is history. Gore has since moved beyond a turbulent political career to become the planet's spokesman on climate change. Along the way he picked up an Oscar (Best Documentary, for "An Inconvenient Truth") and the Nobel Peace Prize. When not campaigning against greenhouse gases, Gore has built a considerable business empire based largely on extensive contacts in Silicon Valley, particularly among venture capitalists along Palo Alto's Sand Hill Road. On Jan. 28, he announced that his interactive cable TV company, Current Media, plans to raise as much as $100 million in an IPO on the Nasdaq. Underwriters led by JPMorgan and Lehman Brothers are reportedly preparing a prospectus. The proposed launch brings Gore full circle, back to the merger of conventional media and the Internet. Gore didn't invent the Internet, but he seems determined to reinvent it. 

By George Leopold 

  

People: Vinton Cerf 
   

   

Vint Cerf didn't sit still after developing the TCP/IP protocols for the Internet in the 1980s. He spent several years at MCI Communications enhancing transport and security protocols, and he has worked to ruggedize TCP/IP for deep space. In 2005, he became chief Internet evangelist at Google and chairman of the Internet Corporation of Assigned Names and Numbers. Cerf continues his TCP/IP work with NASA's Jet Propulsion Labs. Testing in hostile mobile terrestrial environments will be followed by deep-space testing in 2011. Cerf's Google gig, meanwhile, has him talking policy with governments and corporations on such topics as IPv6 and domain-name system security extensions. While he might not "invent" another Internet, Cerf will clearly make his mark on the cyber world of the future. "The economics of digital information are transforming business models and making practical that which was unthinkable even 10 years ago," he said. "I can hardly wait to see what the second decade of Google and the 21st century will bring."

By Loring Wirbel
  

People: Tony Fadell 

   

   

These days, any new system is the product of many, many hands. But this former junior engineer wearing cutoffs and a T-shirt in his cubicle at General Magic has grown up to be the poster boy for the innovative and often unsung mobile-systems architect. As a kid not that long out of college, Tony Fadell toiled to make the startup's clunky and over-hyped PDA into something worthy of the billing of its high-profile partners, such as Apple and Sony. When the venture went belly up, Fadell went on to craft serviceable handheld products for Philips. One day, he brought a concept for a digital music player to Apple, and the rest is iPod history. Fadell and Apple did not invent the MP3 player, by a long shot. Nor did they conceive of the Web-enabled smart phone or the multitouch interface. But the duo has helped crystallize and popularize all that is good about both products, creating icons of the digital media age. And this young man's career has plenty of runway ahead, which could turn out to be iGood for the mobile world. 

By Rick Merritt
  

People: Mary Lou Jepsen 
  

   

Bill Gates wasn't the only one who said the One Laptop per Child project wouldn't work. Even the sympathetic thought OLPC would produce merely a conventional laptop stripped down to the lowest common denominator. But OLPC's chief technology officer, Mary Lou Jepsen, and her team proved that real innovation was possible by rethinking the computer from the ground up and questioning everything. Jepsen is now commercializing the technology the cheapest, greenest and lowest power machine around through the OLPC spin-off company she started: Pixel Qi. Choosing the opportunity to make things happen over the security of a professorship offered by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology's Media Laboratory, Jepsen aims to show that her approach will benefit not only the developing world, but the rest of us as well. 

By Sunny Bains
  

People: David May 
  


   

Parallelism is one of the biggest challenges on the electronics agenda, and few people have a better grasp of its theoretical background and software implications than David May. A professor of computer science at Bristol University, as well as chief technology officer at fabless startup XMOS Semiconductor Ltd. (Bristol, England), May was chief architect of the Transputer architecture for Inmos Ltd. between 1979 and the mid-1980s. The Transputer was a pioneering single-chip processor designed to support parallel processing. The Transputer, alas, is no more, but it is arguable that the design was 25 years ahead of its time. XMOS is today one of a host of companies including Intel working on how to offer parallelism using the abundance of transistors on a single IC. May, the developer of the company's Software-Defined Silicon product architecture, clearly will remain at the forefront of advances in parallelism as the decade rolls on. 

By Peter Clarke
  

People: Mohamed Ibrahim 
  
 
  

Mohamed (Mo) Ibrahim is, arguably, one of the most powerful telecommunications entrepreneurs on the planet. But the former British Telecom engineer who founded Celtel, a mobile operator covering sub-Saharan Africa, has bigger things on his mind. Ibrahim launched Celtel in the late 1990s, when few others would touch Africa. In 2005, MTC of Kuwait acquired 85 percent of Celtel, making Ibrahim and his shareholders rich. Today, his Mo Ibrahim Foundation promotes good governance in Africa and fights the African stereotype. Ibrahim knows that winning the battle of perceptions is key to the continent's economic emergence. "Aid and charity are fine and sometimes necessary, but they don't create wealth. Investment does," he said. Ibrahim discerned early on what others didn't see: the great need for mobile phones in Africa, which suffers from a shortage of land lines and presents daunting challenges to delivery of rural telecommunications services, such as reliable power, cost-effective handsets and affordable access. Anybody thinking of investing in this largely untapped but volatile market should probably be talking to Mo. 

By Junko Yoshida
  

Places: EMS providers 
  

  

Outsourcing specialists seem destined to play an even bigger role as OEMs focus increasingly on product design, sales and brand marketing. The linchpin of the revamped industry supply chain is the electronics manufacturing services provider. Some EMS contractors already dwarf many of their OEM customers. Foxconn International Ltd. and Flextronics International Ltd., the top two EMS players, together command more than $50 billion in cost of goods sold annually. The only OEM that could match the combined purchasing clout of the top 10 EMS providers is Hewlett-Packard Co., which reported COGS of $79 billion for its fiscal year ended Oct. 31. Most OEMs must pool their COGS at EMS providers to gain leverage when negotiating procurement agreements with component suppliers. A phone call from Foxconn or Flextronics can change a parts supplier's fortunes and reverberate throughout the supply chain. Industry analysts predict OEMs will become even more dependent on a handful of EMS providers in the future- in effect putting their operations at the mercy of their contractors.

By Bolaji Ojo
  

Places: Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft
  

   

To prepare for a future in which prodigal energy consumption is no longer an option, research scientists are driving efficiency in both power generation and power consumption. A central player in this quest is Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft, a diversified research entity headquartered in Munich, Germany. One of its 56 research institutes, Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy Systems, regularly grabs headlines with new ways to improve the efficiency of photovoltaic generators. Another, Fraunhofer Institute for Applied Solid State Physics, has made breakthroughs in white LEDs. The highly decentralized nonprofit entity, named after a 19th-century German optician, is involved in a range of disciplines, including microelectronics, industrial ergonomics, life sciences and materials research. Its Fraunhofer Institute for Integrated Circuits developed MP3 audio technology in the late 1980s. Armed with a $1.9 billion budget and already active in 11 countries, Fraunhofer is going global with a stated goal of pursuing "applied research ... of wide benefit to society." The Fraunhofer effect will soon be felt all around the world.

By Christoph Hammerschmidt
  

Places: China 
   

   

China is on a collision course with the future. Already the "factory to the world," China's raucous, robust, roiling transition from centrally planned to market-driven economy has reshaped the global technology sector. Now the planet's No. 2 consumer society, China is at once a magnet and a crucible for multinational companies seeking cheap labor and down-and-dirty design talent. Tomorrow's market leaders need to be much smarter. They must move from merely exploiting an advantageous cost structure to competing with a new class of China bred rivals such as Lenovo which have the same (or better) access to capital, engineering, design and development talent and are focused on the local market rather than exports. The test? How well can you adapt your hardware, software and firmware to rapidly emerging domestic applications and markets unique to China and the rest of Asia? Don't look for a level playing field. China is hell-bent on driving a homegrown standards process and creating its own versions of Intel, Microsoft and Google. It's all part of the plan for the future. 

By Richard Wallace
  

Places: Google 
   

  

No list of relevant and forward-looking technology "places" would be complete without Google. The high-flying search firm has defined the current age with its focus on Web services, its self-effacing approach to mass markets and its freewheeling corporate culture. Google has led the charge not just in Internet search, but also in bringing to the Net images, maps, blogs, video and a new model for advertising. As a corollary to its services mission, Google has redefined how to build a PC server and a data center with technologies it is still keeping secret. As it reaches out to the billions of potential mobile Web users, it may very well help define the next generation of handsets. Google has taken on the mantle of industry leader, as it begins to eclipse even the Microsoft juggernaut. Perhaps most important, it is funneling its hefty profits into building a world-class computer science research center that may someday rival the entrenched labs at IBM and Hewlett-Packard. In so many ways, Google in its many forms looks like a template for the shape of things to come. 

By Rick Merritt
  

Places: India 
  

   

To hear the pundits tell it, India's future in electronics is bleak, and the subcontinent will remain merely an outsource destination. Don't believe a word of it. The digital electronics in the next-generation HDTV that Sony introduced at the Consumer Electronics Show were like a growing number of communications, consumer and industrial products designed and developed in India. Their "Made in China" label belies the fact that more and more of the core engineering value takes place in India. India is not China, but its future in electronics is far more certain, for two reasons: software and innovation. The Nokias, Sonys and TIs of the world are quietly doing some of their most advanced R&D and design work in India, in everything from networking systems and advanced communications to consumer electronics. China copies, India innovates. Domestic electronics industry growth has been slow, but that's about to change. An expanding network of OEMs, EMS providers and chip makers is coalescing around a next-wave design ecosystem that's domestic-market focused. China, take note. 
By Richard Wallace 

  

Places: Apple 
  

   

Apple hasn't announced any plans to enter the videogaming market, but does anyone doubt the company would be an instant hit in that segment? Does anyone further doubt that Apple has succeeded in breaking away from its traditional computing business and moving into other parts of the electronics market? If chairman and CEO Steve Jobs could live forever, runaway successes like the iPod and the iPhone would likely keep flowing endlessly out of Cupertino, Calif. Industry analysts see Jobs' real role at Apple as motivator-in-chief, a position that involves keeping the fan base charged up and giving rival executives a reason to dread what might be coming next. The bottom line is that if Jobs doesn't falter, and if the company keeps its design engine churning out innovative products, Apple's revenue could easily top the $50 billion mark by 2011, up from $13.9 billion in 2005. That growth will come from Apple's branching into areas where it has no presence today- a prospect that's bound to make rivals sweat. 

By Bolaji Ojo
  

Places: Switzerland 
  

   

At the heart of Europe, with close ties to the Union but comfortably outside EU bureaucracy, Switzerland's 7.5 million people punch above their collective weight technologically. The country makes the world's top-five list for several important indicators: prominence of scientific literature (first), scientific papers generated per capita (first), proportion employed in science and technology (third), share of total gross value added in tech-intensive industries (fifth) and R&D intensity (fifth). Thanks to Switzerland's watchmaking history, the country has longstanding expertise in micro- and nanofabrication. That, combined with major biotech and pharmaceutical industries, gives it an advantage in the increasingly important medical-technologies sector. "Swiss universities enjoy generous, stable research funding from government and have close ties to an industry that includes world leaders in biotechnology, energy and information technologies," said Demetri Psaltis, dean of engineering at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (Lausanne). "This creates an attractive academic environment, where cutting-edge discovery and applied technology harmoniously coexist." 

By Sunny Bains
  

Places: USA 2.0 
   

   

Move over Microsoft, Intel and Google. The titans that shaped the Silicon Valley economy most likely won't be the ones to drive the next iteration of the U.S. tech industry. Venture capitalists and technologists are banking instead on breakthroughs in green technologies. Chips, software and the Internet will inevitably advance, but industry leaders realize future innovations will not be sustainable without a comprehensive commitment to power management, alternative-energy development and clean technologies. The transformation of solar, fuel cell and biofuel projects into viable industries is key to the advent of USA 2.0. As the fiscal, environmental and social costs of fossil fuels soar especially with the rise of consumer economies in China and India the eventual turn to green technology seems inescapable. If U.S. business leaders continue to focus obsessively on short-term returns, they might well delay the creation of USA 2.0, perhaps allowing the next great era of innovation to sprout on some other continent. 

By Junko Yoshida
  

Places: Academic research labs 
  

   

For close to 50 years, research in electronic circuits, computing systems and device physics has been borne, in part, by vertically integrated IT and electronics companies. But as stalwarts such as Intel and IBM cut back in basic R&D, the work has gone back to school. Although Japanese giants and a few U.S. companies- such as Hewlett-Packard - maintain a presence in emerging fields like nanodevices, the bulk of new development in optoelectronics, specialized thin films, quantum computing and telecommunications is coming, once again, from engineering-oriented universities. Rensselaer Polytechnic, Stanford University, Harvard and MIT dominate nanotechnology. Optical communications and compound semiconductors are hot at several Arizona and California state schools, including UC Berkeley, UC Santa Barbara, UCLA and the University of Arizona. Berkeley and Stanford remain strong in microprocessor design and are expanding into logic structures for quantum computing. Expect great things to come from these and other academic research engines as the decade progresses. 

By Loring Wirbel
  

Place: IMEC 
  

   

The Interuniversity Microelectronics Center bases its success on a fine-grained, "pick and mix" approach to collaboration with industry that lets companies join in where and when they want. The European nonprofit research organization's model has eclipsed the one-price, all-you-can-eat model fielded by Sematech in the United States in more affluent times. Founded in Leuven, Belgium, in 1984 with Flemish government backing, IMEC has now reached the point where it is driving the global visionary agenda in key areas such as CMOS, mobile terminals, immersion and extreme-ultraviolet lithography, and EDA. Its European locus has always valued specialization and outreach; that will pay dividends in an Asian-oriented electronics industry. IMEC started with an emphasis on bringing the brightest engineers from around the world to conduct research in Europe. Its 1,500 researchers now represent more than 50 countries. The work they do will help determine how CMOS is delivered in the future-and how the industry moves beyond that technology. 

By Peter Clarke
  

Things: Multicore processing
  


   

Multicore processing is on track to place the throughput of individual microprocessors into the computing stratosphere formerly occupied by the largest supercomputers. Already, quad-core designs from Intel and AMD are becoming commonplace on desktops and in servers. Sun Microsystems has spun the eight-core Niagara. And Intel has designed a prototype 80-core processor called the Teraflops Research Chip. Demonstrated in 2007, it could become a practicable reality by 2011. Access to so many available, parallel computing cycles will revolutionize applications. EDA will exploit such power to establish a beachhead in nanoscale chip design. Artificial intelligence could see a multicore-inspired revival. And traditional high-performance computing strongholds such as finite-element analysis and computational fluid dynamics will take to the desktop with ease. Still, it won't all be smooth sailing, as techniques to program software to exploit multicore processors will likely continue to lag the hardware. 

By Alexander Wolfe
  

Things: Bioelectronics 
  

   

When Jack Kilby assembled the first integrated circuit at TI in 1958, he was commingling the principles of chemistry and physics. It is at the nexus of physics, chemistry and biology that the next quantum leap in scientific development will occur. Work so far has focused on chemicals and materials that can lessen the odds of rejection of, say, electromechanical implants. The implanted systems themselves, however, do not interact with the biological world. But thanks to seminal research on the physical/biological interface at institutions like IMEC, life can now form on biofriendly silicon. The barriers between the two worlds are crumbling, paving the way for development of neural implants to overcome such maladies as Parkinson's disease while opening the door to more-advanced biosensors and the in vivo release of neurotransmitters to overcome the limitations of electrical stimulation. Research into advanced prostheses is also under way. Much will derive from this cross-disciplinary work, with implications for semiconductors, electronics and the life sciences. 

By Patrick Mannion
  

Things: Nanomaterials 
  

   

Since President Bush signed the National Nanotech Initiative into law in 2003, the United States has been concentrating its efforts on staying ahead in nanomaterial development. In the meantime, both Asia and Europe have launched aggressive nanomaterial development cooperatives of their own. Nanoscale materials, it seems, are poised to enhance almost every sector of the electronic-materials industry. Nanoscale materials use ultraprecise fabrication techniques to harness effects impossible to craft in normal bulk materials-from invisibility cloaks, on-chip energy harvesters and superhigh-speed transistors to carbon-impregnated plastic that's as strong as steel. Despite the calls to slow nanoscale-material development for fear of health hazards, there is no letup in sight. In fact, the medical community has embraced nanomaterials for everything from ultralow-cost medical tests to targeting diseased cells for pinpoint drug delivery and even eliminating the need for pharmaceuticals altogether with nanoparticle magnets. It would seem that there's nowhere nanomaterials won't go-and nothing they won't change-in the years to come. 

By R. Colin Johnson
  

Things: Cognitive radio 
  

   

Joe Mitola, who coined the term "cognitive radio," has described it as "a really smart radio that would be self-aware, RF-aware, user-aware, and that would include language technologyand machine vision, along with a lot of high-fidelity knowledge of the radio environment." In fact, the levels of intelligence that CR can reach are almost infinite. The baseband processing capabilities of today's handsets have advanced to the point where one processor can process the various waveforms that may be used across those bands. Along with even more-capable baseband processors that continue to follow Moore's Law, real progress toward CR rests on development in a few key technologies: location capabilities to enable spatial awareness; reliable, cheaper RF MEMS for flexible front-end filtering; more-efficient antenna designs; denser and lower-power memory for portable data storage and retrieval; and better cognitive algorithms that can manage and apply that data. The barriers are many, but the core enabling technologies are becoming increasingly available. Easy listening, indeed.

By Patrick Mannion
  

Things: Creative Commons
  


   

As Hollywood studios and record companies clash with the computer and consumer electronics industries over copyrights, a nonprofit organization called Creative Commons is showing a different way through the content-ownership morass. Creative Commons' goal is to let anyone "share, remix and reuse [content]- legally." The idea is to put free tools in the hands of authors, scientists, artists and educators, allowing them to create work with the appropriate level of "freedom," ranging from full copyright (all rights reserved) to the public domain (no rights reserved). The Massachusetts Institute of Technology uses Creative Commons' "Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike" license to make its entire Open CourseWare curriculum available. Hewlett-Packard Labs' Mediascape research project leverages Creative Commons to share its work-in-progress software with developers and participants. Creative Commons aims to replicate the success of the free-software and open-source movements; its ends are cooperative and community-minded, its means voluntary and libertarian. Many hope the balance it advocates will free innovation from the copyright straitjacket. 
By Junko Yoshida

  

Things: Gaming
  


   

Explosive growth in the gaming industry is driven by a new generation of players using the Xbox 360, Playstation 3 and Wii as their consoles of choice. These boxes deliver immersive high-definition game play, an interactive online community and innovative control systems. Indeed, their technological capabilities are so advanced that they are migrating to other applications. The PS3's Cell processor, for example, is being used in medical imaging, industrial inspection, aerospace and defense, seismic processing and telecommunications. Gaming is the ultimate consumer product, the result of development in everything from hardware design and manufacturing to software, services and content. As the consoles mature, developers will learn how to take full advantage of them, enhancing the experience and thus drawing more consumers to the gaming nation. Imagine a game with the production qualities of a movie, where players-locally and online-direct the action and define the story line. This is where gaming has been headed for years. Now the technology exists to make it happen. 

By Gregory Quirk
  

Things: Fuel cell
  


   

Mobility and energy awareness have spurred unprecedented interest in the fuel cell, an electrochemical device that combines hydrogen and oxygen to produce electricity, with water and heat as its by-products. A collection of mostly Japanese companies has tipped novel designs to power everything from battery chargers to laptops, and an emerging group of developers is working on new materials needed to boost efficiency. With each breakthrough, fuel cells move closer to the commercial market. Industry studies show that demand for power in portable devices is rising three times faster than the rate of battery improvement. At the same time, the massive recalls that occurred when laptop batteries burst into flames have heightened awareness about power needs. Hence, the prospects for fuel cells have never been brighter. The biggest hurdle appears to be regulatory: Developers are still awaiting clear guidelines for carrying fuel cells onto airplanes. But one way or the other, the technology is likely to be the power to reckon with in tomorrow's systems. 

By George Leopold
  

Things: 3-D Stacking
  


  

The soaring costs of next-generation IC designs-and the attendant exotic fabrication techniques-are fueling interest in a 3-D packaging technology called through-silicon vias (TSVs). In place of scaling, chips can be vertically stacked and interconnected by a collection of tiny vias to yield "true" 3-D devices. IBM, Intel, Samsung and a host of others are working on the technology, and for good reason: TSV-based 3-D designs avoid the pending "interconnect crisis" in chip scaling. As interconnects shrink and get crammed into IC designs, they cause problematic timing delays and electrical parasitics. Early TSV-based designs were somewhat expensive and initially targeted aerospace and military applications. Eventually, as the costs drop, true 3-D chips could appear in commercial systems, including next-generation cellular phones and PDAs. "The industry is moving past the feasibility [R&D] phase . . . and into the commercialization phase, where economic realities will determine which technologies are adopted," said E. Jan Vardaman, president of TechSearch International Inc. 3-D without the glasses, coming soon to a fab near you. 

By Mark LaPedus
  

Things: Intellectual property
  


   

A few years ago, Nathan Myhrvold, former chief technology officer of Microsoft, famously observed that "intellectual property is the new software." Today, many leaders across the global electronics industry have arrived at just about the same conclusion. The progenitors of ARM and Rambus, among others, founded companies based on that very concept. China has launched country-specific standards efforts in every major technology area-including cellular-to capitalize, as it were, on the new reality. Meanwhile, patent applications and court cases have bloomed like viral infections. At last count, the U.S. patent office had a backlog of 750,000 applications. Patent reform has been the talk-and sometimes the action item-of the U.S. Congress, the Supreme Court and other venues large and small. But whatever changes governments put in place, it's clear a new economy of ideas is alive and well, and raring to keep going. Certainly, Myhrvold thinks so. His new company, Intellectual Ventures, makes its living buying and selling patents. 

By Rick Merritt
  

Things: Personal medicine
  


   

The same computer and communications technologies that drove the high-tech boom of the 1980s and '90s are now being applied in the natural sciences, spawning new digital revolutions. Nowhere is this more profoundly felt than in medicine. Heart meters, home defibrillators, and insulin testers and pumps are just the tip of the iceberg. A broad array of home monitors and treatment devices is in development to link patients remotely to health-care providers. The gear promises to make health care more efficient and effective, just as waves of baby boomers claim senior status. Coming right behind those advances is an expanding generation of implantable devices to treat a range of ailments-from Alzheimer's and Parkinson's to obesity-with increasing sophistication. At a more distant pinnacle of development, biomedical researchers are laying the infrastructure for digital systems that will mine genetic data to predict and prevent illness. 

By Rick Merritt
  

Things: The next CMOS 
  


   

As lithographic line widths approach 10 nanometers, the search for a CMOS replacement is paramount. No longer will the structure of complementary metal-oxide semiconductors allow for smooth scaling at such fine geometries. In pursuit of a new way to make circuits and systems, researchers are forced to manipulate novel materials with atomic or molecular precision as they apply the revolutionary substances in devices and systems with unprecedented density and functionality, even at ultralow energy and material consumption. The quest for a seamless transition from CMOS to other logic and memory devices based on the new materials and synthesis technologies is taking three directions: nanowires and dots, molecular memories, and spintronic devices. Clearly, semiconductors as we know them are on their last legs. Whatever the next big thing in chip making turns out to be, it will steer the course of computing for decades. 

By Nicolas Mokhoff
  

Things: Flexible displays 
  


   

Organic LEDs promise a new way to access content on the go. OLED displays are visually more attractive than the now-ubiquitous LCD, delivering video-rate imagery with faster response times, wider viewing angles and brighter, more saturated colors. A much thinner and lighter form factor makes OLEDs ideal for many mobile electronic products. Indeed, the technology has the potential to spawn entirely new types of displays, such as ultrathin or even transparent screens that can be "printed" on flexible surfaces. OLEDs are also very durable and can operate in a broad temperature range. These factors have engineers dreaming of eventually using OLEDs as flexible content providers in the form of, say, wireless wristbands. Just as LCD and plasma technologies have placed flat-panel TVs in millions of homes, OLEDs can bring displays to the ultimate mobile device-the human body. Progress will be slow, but expect flexible OLED displays to become your daily content medium in the next decade.

By Nicolas Mokhoff
  

Things: Virtualization 
  


   

As time-to-market windows shrink, designers must ensure that what they build works the first time. They are abandoning hardware prototypes for electronics virtualization, a technology that can lop eight months off a schedule, according to VaST, a leading player in the field. Virtualization predicts and abstracts redundant details when designing electronic control units for the automotive industry, for example. It gauges talk time or the number of digital photographs that can be processed for a given battery capacity in a wireless phone, all before the device gets built. In vehicle designs, a virtual system prototype can be created for each engine control unit, including a specific processor, cache size, clock rate and peripherals. As the foundation for software development, this virtual prototype provides greater visibility into operation and performance than can be obtained with actual hardware. "If hardware can be abstracted away, the root of many software problems goes away with it," said embedded-industry analyst Jim Turley. Virtualizing a product, in short, will decrease design iterations. That's something all designers are waiting for. 

By Nicolas Mokhoff
  

Things: Open source 
  


   

Open-source software has surged into the mainstream, almost despite the efforts of its most ardent supporters. Yet the archetypal geeks who once pulled the strings of the free-software movement-and railed against newbies who hadn't RTFM ("read the freaking manual")-have given way to savvy businesspeople intent on seeing Linux and its brethren succeed. Already, open source has established a considerable beachhead, whether in Web servers powered by Apache and the LAMP stack or in Eclipse, the application platform and integrated development environment endorsed by IBM, Intel and Wind River. Even Microsoft seems to recognize the sea change and is quietly shifting its strategy from all-out war to grudging competition. Clearly, open source soon will be less about discrete pieces of code and more a way of doing business, with development efforts that adhere to the GNU Public License entering every technology extant, especially mobile platforms and embedded targets. Further out, the technology will become so pervasive that it will no longer be referred to as "open source." It will simply be "software."

By Alexander Wolfe
  

Things: Open cellular nets 
  


   

As the desktop PC gives way to the cell phone as the one indispensable end-user device, today's proprietary cellular networks are likely to morph more and more into one big wireless Web. The services that spring up freely on this mobile "network of networks" will fuel innovation in the next several generations of devices that access and run it. Apple Inc. pushed the industry a big step in this direction in 2007, delivering the first pocket-size phone that is a truly useful Internet access device. The 700-MHz spectrum auctions in the United States promise to take the concept another step forward, creating the first open mobile net. It will take years to break out of the walled gardens put up by well-heeled comms companies from AT&T to Verizon, but the direction is clear and the goal all but inevitable. The speed with which the mobile Internet takes shape likely will define the pace at which the entire mobile industry grows. 

By Rick Merritt
  

Things: Quantum devices 
  


   

Quantum devices are harnessing effects that enable applications impossible for a standard computer to perform. For instance, id Quantique SA (Geneva) has used single-photon quantum effects to craft essentially uncrackable encryption code. Likewise, D-Wave Systems Inc. (Vancouver, B.C.) recently demonstrated that the world's first commercial quantum computer can handle the search-by-image algorithm that Google acquired from Neven Vision but was unable to execute on even its fastest conventional computer. Quantum computers encode parallel operations into quantum bits. These "qbits" can encode a whole table full of "coherent" values, perform operations on them simultaneously, then pick out the optimal result by a process called decoherence. Conventional computers would have to perform those operations serially, then compare all the results to find the best solution. With the first quantum computer out of the gate, every major semiconductor research organization is vying to build one of its own. New entries will soon pour into the market, as the nature of computing makes a quantum leap. 

By R. Colin Johnson 
  

Things: RFID 
  


   

No technology has stirred livelier privacy-vs.- security debates than radio-frequency identification, and the controversy won't end anytime soon. RFID has already quietly invaded many applications around the globe. This bar code replacement technology introduces more intelligence, efficiency and security in product tracking and inventory control. Various governments have embraced it for national ID cards, driver's licenses, health cards and electronic passports. RFID technology allows the eventual collection of huge volumes of data, because the information stored in the card itself can be easily linked to an external database. Promoters hail its potential to link machines, goods and people while measuring and calibrating consumer preferences. But privacy advocates fear universal monitoring and tracking. "It hurtles us down the path toward the surveillance society, where you will not be able to engage in any transaction without having your actions recorded," said Barry Steinhardt, director of the ACLU's Technology and Liberty Program. Which future will RFID bring? It's too soon to tell.

By Junko Yoshida 
  

Things: Neuromorphic engineering 
  


   

Twenty years after Carver Mead invented it at the California Institute of Technology, neuromorphic engineering-building devices that process information in a brainlike, often analog way-is slowly coming into its own. Mead showed that by using the intrinsic physics of electronic devices, engineers could chip away at biological neurons' six-orders-of-magnitude edge in energy efficiency over their artificial counterparts. More often found in university research projects than in commercial products (with Robosapiens a notable exception), neuromorphic systems have nevertheless proved particularly useful in areas where more-conventional technology has failed, such as in the real-time adaptive processing of large-bandwidth signals from sensors. Increasingly, compact devices will be expected to "see" and "hear" in more sophisticated ways than just capturing images and sound files. At the same time, the value of sensor fusion as a means of providing context for cognition will start to be recognized. Together, the trends will lead engineers in industry to take advantage of this biologically inspired technique. 

By Sunny Bains 
   

Things: The Analog Shell 
  


   

Hardware optimization becomes increasingly important as designers add higher-bandwidth sensors to machines, while tightening constraints on size and power consumption. Preprocessing signals in analog before A/D conversion and subsequent processing is an obvious way to make systems faster and more efficient. As a result, the thickening of the "analog shell" around the digital core will be an increasing trend. That will deepen the need for engineers with analog expertise, and widen the understanding that analog and digital are not competing technologies, but complementary ones. Gene Frantz, Texas Instruments principal fellow, explained what this means as we settle into the 21st century: "For years, advances in IC technology have favored the digital world over the analog world. But these same advances, including DSP, are exposing new opportunities, many of which are demanding more analog in the solution space. I see two obvious drivers: More real-world signals are becoming interesting, and advances that have allowed for higher digital performance are making analog solutions viable, if not more attractive than their digital counterparts." 

By Sunny Bains

  

  

지금 2008. 03. 08. 토요일. 암청색의 맑은 밤하늘에 별빛이 하나 제법 밝게 반짝이고 있다. 춥지 않은 밤이다. 우편함을 보니 교보문고 서울 본점에서 《사람과 책》(2008, 03월호)를 보내주었다. 그리고 미국 다나(www.dana.org)에서 정기적으로 보내주는 우편물이 하나 와 있었다. 새벽밤 02시 24분.

  

콸리아/퀄리아/qualia

  


댓글(0) 먼댓글(0) 좋아요(0)
좋아요
북마크하기찜하기