Neal Vitale Reviews: Knocked Up
Norman Sandler, RIP


by Craig Reynolds

Stem cells: can it be as simple as that? Adult mouse skin cells were apparently converted into the equivalent of embryonic stem cells, with all their potential for gene therapy. All it took was to insert four genetic factors into the cell. If an analogous procedure can be found for humans, and the carcinogenic side effects avoided, it would make stem cell therapies a near term possibility. No ethical problem with using embryos, and the stem cells would be genetic clones of the individual patient: Turn Back Time and Bloggers on the stem-cell research breakthrough. While elsewhere: House Passes Stem Cell Bill Despite Veto Threat and Scientists plan stem cell cure for blindness.

Games: from the current top selling game machine, Putting the We Back in Wii, to this historical odd-ifact: Soviet-Era Arcade Games Crawl Out of Their Cold War Graves. Kids online: more and more MMORPGs for kids continue to pop up: Doll Web Sites Drive Girls to Stay Home and Play, Children 'meet net friends often' and Kids socialize in a virtual world as avatars. AIIDE: last week I attend the conference on AI in Interactive Digital Entertainment. One of the more unique research papers was by Dapeng Zhang about his work on robotic foosball players. They were not quite as good as the best human players but the recent work is closing the gap.

The Purple Frog of Suriname: once again a careful biodiversity study of a remote region has turned up a bonanza of new species: Scientists find 24 species in Suriname. In this case it is having an impact on economic policy: Science Is Guiding Business Decisions in Suriname. Perhaps the most striking discovery is a beautiful black frog with vivid purple markings. (I guess that headline was a cross between Purple Rose of Cairo and The Tale Of The Giant Rat of Sumatra.)

Technobits: like Tesla envisioned in the 1890's Wireless Power Demonstrated (MIT news release) --- Higgs boson found?! Quantum Scoop --- 'Quantum Keys' Sent 200 Kilometers: New Long-distance Record ---  The pit crews behind DARPA's robot race and Robot Scans Ancient Manuscript in 3-D --- Calif. sees sprawl as warming culprit --- Think You've Previously Read About This? Click This to Find Out Why (Researchers pinpoint the part of the brain that causes déjà-vu, which could lead to new memory-boosting therapies) --- Ask's answer to Google Universal: Ask re-writes web search rules while Google Keeps Tweaking Its Search Engine --- Netflix Prize Still Awaits a Movie Seer --- HDTV test disc (Remember stereo test records from the days when hi-fi stereo was novel technology?) --- RIAA Accused of Extortion, Conspiracy, Being Jerks --- The Shock of the New (What the history of the electric dynamo teaches about the future of the computer) --- The Internets, They Can Be Cruel (...Not since Senator Ted Stevens, Republican of Alaska, referred to the Internet as “a bunch of tubes,” or President Bush spoke of the “Internets,” had the Web grinned so widely...)