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Spectrum, IEEE

Issue 12 • Date Dec. 2002

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Displaying Results 1 - 18 of 18
  • Synthetic skin

    Page(s): 28 - 33
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    Biomedical science has made a lot of progress in understanding how cells grow into functioning tissue and what chemical and other cues they need to do it right. Tissue engineering is the application of that knowledge to the building or repairing of organs, including skin, the largest organ in the body. Generally, engineered tissue is a combination of living cells and a support structure called a scaffold. The scaffold, depending on the organ in production, can be anything from a matrix of collagen, a structural protein, to synthetic biodegradable plastic laced with chemicals that stimulate cell growth and multiplication. The "seed" cells that initiate this propagation come from laboratory cultures or from the patient's own body. For future ventures to succeed, precise sensors and control systems will be needed to create and maintain the biochemical and mechanical environments that nurture tissues like skin. Also, robotics and other automation will be needed to remove people from the tissue growth process. Already, fledgling firms and tissue engineering labs are borrowing some advanced engineering practices, like high-precision rapid prototyping and photolithography, as they strive to create engineered bone, cartilage, blood vessels, and internal organs. View full abstract»

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  • When bad things happen to good technologies

    Page(s): 9
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  • FCC nixes U.S. satellite TV merger

    Page(s): 16
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  • Microsoft's anticlimactic victory

    Page(s): 17 - 18
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  • American superconductor wins key patent

    Page(s): 20 - 21
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  • How close is Iraq to getting the bomb?

    Page(s): 21 - 23
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    How close is Iraq to developing a nuclear weapon? Evidence of an imminent threat is underwhelming but still unsettling. US President George W, Bush, supported by some independent strategic experts, says it could be a matter of months. Others say international arms inspectors effectively destroyed Saddam Hussein's nuclear program in the aftermath of the 1991 Persian Gulf War and that it would take him several years of unconstrained work to produce an atomic bomb-an unlikely prospect given the tough new arms inspection regime adopted by the United Nations Security Council and the threat of a US-led invasion. Coloring all these estimates is a palette of war fever, proliferation fears, and the murky politics of arms inspections. The short answer is that nobody knows how close the secretive Saddam is to having his long-sought atomic bomb. There is simply no way to tell, but that hasn't stopped the speculation about what is surely the most pressing issue in international affairs, if only because the Bush administration has stated it will take unilateral military action, if necessary to stop Saddam. View full abstract»

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  • Life lessons

    Page(s): 46
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  • Hacking humanity

    Page(s): 47 - 48
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  • When work is fun and games

    Page(s): 50
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  • Faster, better - costlier? [US Patent & Trademark Office??s strategic plan]

    Page(s): 52 - 54
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    The US Patent & Trademark Office??s (PTO) 350-page strategic plan, unveiled last June, is reviewed. The 21st Century Strategic Plan to dig the PTO out of a growing backlog of patent applications is bold and controversial. The plan got a push on 2 November, when US President George W. Bush signed into law the 21st Century Department of Justice Appropriations Authorization Act, which, among other things, requires that the plan officially be submitted to Congress within four months. The act also provides the PTO with up to US $50 million a year for the next three years for an electronic system for filing and processing patents and trademarks. View full abstract»

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  • Tall poppy syndrome dot-com

    Page(s): 68
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  • The ethical organization

    Page(s): 56 - 58
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    From the front-page scandals at WorldCom and Tyco to quieter issues like the theft of office equipment, there was usually a point when an employee knew what was happening and could have told someone to prevent further wrongdoing. At a growing number of companies, the question of whom to tell has a simple answer-the ethics officer. It's the ethics officer's role to help promote the company's values, making him- or herself available when employees feel those values are being compromised. In essence, they're a living reminder to employees that honesty and integrity matter. View full abstract»

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  • Paving the last mile with glass

    Page(s): 13 - 14
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    Each year, the local phone companies (more properly known as ILECs, for incumbent local exchange carriers) replace 3-4 percent of their copper twisted-pair subscriber lines because of physical deterioration. They also add 1.5 million lines annually to newly built homes. But by largely ignoring the opportunity to use fiber for these installations, they are putting their very survival at risk. The future does in fact belong to fiber-based high-performance broadband (plus wireless for lower bit rates and shorter distances), and if the telephone companies don't provide it, the cable companies will drive them to the wall. In their aggressive long-range game, cable companies are wiring as many homes as possible, first with TV and then with cable-modem service. Then they can easily add telephone service, connecting to the public-switched telephone network via the ILECs' central offices. Before long, thanks to the high bandwidth of coaxial cable, they will also begin pushing high-definition television on the shorter links, strengthening their position as the home portal of choice. It's hard to see how the ILECs will be able to match these offerings with their copper twisted pairs. View full abstract»

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  • Took a licking, kept on ticking [Internet security]

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    A mysterious assault on its root server system left the Internet unscathed, but chastened. At almost exactly 9 p.m. GMT on 21 October, the Internets 13 root servers started to receive about 10 times their normal traffic. Unknown digital assailants had taken control of other machines on the Internet, making them send a flood of packets that threatened to overwhelm the root servers. Had the attack succeeded, the Web and e-mail would have gradually become unusable. While four of the servers, all in the United States, saw virtually no disruption, the other nine, including the three overseas, failed to respond to legitimate queries for at least a few minutes. The people who run the domain name system say they learned a lot from the October episode. They want lower-level name servers to do even more caching, perhaps of the entire root server database, and for longer than two days. Root server operators also must make sure their own networks are in good working order. View full abstract»

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  • North Korea's nuclear revelation puts spotlight on China

    Page(s): 22 - 23
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    When North Korea admitted in mid-October that it had been actively developing nuclear weapons, in violation of international agreements, it put several big diplomatic players in awkward positions: the United States, because it wanted to keep the focus on Iraq; Japan, which was eager to keep improving relations with the Koreas; but most of all China, nominally an ally of North Korea, but with plenty of good reasons to be unhappy with the prospect of its erratic neighbor's acquiring weapons of mass destruction. On the surface, relations between Asia's two Communist countries still seemed cozy at the time the United States confronted North Korea with intelligence on the latter's clandestine nuclear program. But in fact, the fast-industrializing People's Republic has had less and less in common with its mostly pre-modern neighbor. So it is perhaps no wonder that China seized on Pyongyang's surprise admission as an opportunity to improve its relationship with the United States. View full abstract»

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  • Techno cops [police robotic and electronic technology]

    Page(s): 34 - 39
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    The LA. sherriff's deputy Sid Heal is creating a world-renowned test bed for police technology to combat criminals. This paper describes Heal's technology project which was started in 1997 with the emphasis on nonlethal weapons such as the taser. In 2001 the technology development project was opened up beyond nonlethal weapons to include anything useful to the bureau. He assigned a SWAT team to be his technical-assault squad. Though this squad still trains and operates just like the other SWAT teams, its members are also responsible for deploying robotics and electronics equipment as needed, and for scouting out and evaluating new products. View full abstract»

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  • Mind games [computer game AI]

    Page(s): 40 - 44
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    An increasing number of other games are taking advantage of changes in computer architecture and the growth in processing power to become smarter than ever before. Although most of these games use relatively unsubtle AI techniques, a few pioneers are even showing the academic AI community a trick or two. While AI originated in the laboratory, it has now been coopted by designers of video games, and work is under way on increasing the learning powers of a video games cast of characters and refining their social interactions with one another and with human players, too. At this point, even cinematographers and the military are showing interest in possible applications. To beat the competition, video games are getting smarter. Game AIs have two big advantages over their academic counterparts-they can cheat, and they can get a lot of help from the world they find themselves in. View full abstract»

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  • State-of-the-art recycling plant

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    Consumer electronics giant Matsushita has opened up the METEC (Matsushita Eco Technology Center Company) recycling plant in Japan. The center, the largest of its kind in Japan, opened in 2001 in response to Japan's new law for recycling specific kinds of home appliances. The Hyogo plant recycles all four appliances specified in the law: television sets, refrigerators, air conditioners, and washing machines. For the most part, it recycles these products in kind-that is, crushed glass from TV tubes is used to make new TV tubes; reprocessed plastic from refrigerators is used to make parts for new refrigerators; metals from air conditioner compressors are used to make new compressors; and polypropylene from washing machines is extracted from the other plastics and used to make the bases of new washing machines. View full abstract»

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IEEE Spectrum Magazine, the flagship publication of the IEEE, explores the development, applications and implications of new technologies.

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