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Nov 30, 2010

Dispatches From The North Pole: The Science of Santa’s List

Editor’s Note: This is the first in a series of occasional dispatches from Dr. Larry Silverberg, a researcher at NC State who is leading a visiting scholars program at Santa’s Workshop-North Pole Labs (NPL). Dr. Silverberg is an expert in unified field theory and is accompanied by four other mechanical and aerospace engineers: Drs. Mohammad Zikry… 

Oct 28, 2010

How Long Should DNA Strands Be?

This is not a purely abstract question (pun intended). Complementary strands of DNA are drawn to one another like magnets and iron filings – a trait that has created the emerging field of DNA self-assembly. But research, and industrial application, in this area has been hampered by a lack of reliability in how the DNA… 

Sep 30, 2010

We Built This City On Lunar Regolith And Roll!

If you’re going to build a house, you need to know what type of material you’re building the foundation on. That’s been a problem for those designing structures for the moon, or even remote parts of our planet. Now researchers have developed a way to determine how the ground at remote sites will interact with… 

Sep 15, 2010

Science Communication Breakdown (I Got Something I Think You Oughtta Know)

I used to work as a cook. And, as “Top Chef” aficionados know, teamwork is essential to cooking a good meal and getting it out on time. You can imagine how much more important teamwork is in today’s world of multi-institution, interdisciplinary research initiatives targeting complex scientific questions. Luckily, a new field of study is… 

Aug 20, 2010

Hot And Cold Running Wireless

Big buildings use a lot of wiring. For example, the Sears Tower contains enough telephone wiring to wrap around the world 1.75 times. That presents a major problem if you need to install new wiring for climate control, smoke detectors or other new technologies. That problem may have been solved by new research allowing engineers… 

Aug 4, 2010

Keep On Playing Those Mind Games

Video games aren’t just kid stuff any more. It is a multibillion dollar industry that has branched out from entertainment into areas such as educational software. Now researchers are working on ways that video games might be used to boost memory and thinking skills in the elderly – and some people aren’t crazy about that.… 

Jul 12, 2010

Early Warning System For Cloud Computing

Generally speaking, when something bad starts to happen you want to know as early as possible. For example, if you catch cancer early, you can begin treatment and improve your odds of nipping it in the bud. Similarly, if you have advance notice that a tornado is coming, you have time to move to a… 

Jun 30, 2010

Hunting For (Software) Bugs

If you know how to type, you’ve probably made a typo at some point. Normally it’s no big deal. But imagine you’re a computer programmer, churning out line after line of code. That’s when a simple typo can create a “bug” – or defect – with significant repercussions. But researchers from Microsoft Research and North… 

May 18, 2010

Rise Of The (Video Game) Machines

Video games are big business. And the push for faster, flashier graphics has driven not only game developers, but the development of computer hardware to handle those graphics. It’s gotten to the point where computers have a separate “brain” that only handles graphics – and these graphics processing units (GPUs) are usually 100 times more… 

May 11, 2010

New Dimensions For Old Manuscripts

Apparently, you can teach an old poem new tricks. When an unknown 14th Century poet was writing The Siege of Jerusalem, there is no way he or she could imagine the computer age. They had no way of knowing that seven centuries later the poem would lead to the development of a digital labor of… 

Apr 28, 2010

Connecting The Nanodots

Picture a really big library. Imagine that it contains 2.5 million books, and that each of those books is 400 pages long. Now imagine that you could fit ALL of those books onto a computer chip the size of your thumbnail. Researchers just figured out how to do exactly that. The trick is to use… 

Apr 27, 2010

Hey! You! Get Off Of My Cloud Computing!

Cloud computing is a buzzword among tech cognoscenti these days. Its proponents say that it can give people and institutions access to greater computer power than they could otherwise afford by running their programs in a collection of computers and servers located, well, somewhere else. But there are risks too – not least of which… 

Mar 11, 2010

Bring Your Own Laptop

Students in a pilot project tested a classroom design with wireless Internet access and power outlets for personal laptops, eliminating the need for the class to use computer labs. 

Sean Coleman at computer screen in the College of Design.

Feb 25, 2010

An Eye For Design

Industrial design student Sean Coleman's eco-friendly car will be built from the ground up and displayed trackside at the 2010 Shell Eco-Marathon Americas (SEMA) event in Houston in March.