May 5/12, 2004   

   DNA bot targets cancer
Artificial DNA can solve mathematical problems, but so far electronics is better suited to that task. A different kind of DNA computer handles a problem computer chips can't touch -- fighting cancer. The DNA automaton senses cancer cells and releases a strand of DNA that kills cancer cells -- at least in test tubes.
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Memory stores three bits in one
A method for making memory from tiny wires promises to cram more than 10 DVD's-worth of data into a square centimeter by using small memory cells that hold three bits rather than one each. The memory cell is a nanowire transistor with a twist -- it is coated with an organic compound that undergoes a chemical reaction whenever voltage is applied. The reaction gives the transistor eight levels rather than the usual on and off.

Chaos seems to aid learning
At the conscious level, chaos and learning don't mix very well. But at the neural level things might be different. A computer simulation shows that chaotic nerve signals may play a key role in learning motor skills. It comes down to using chaos to pack more information in each pulse. The method could boost robotics and communications technologies.

Y switches set up low-power logic
It's getting harder to make blazingly fast computers that aren't also blazingly hot. One possible solution is replacing today's logic circuits with designs that do the math without throwing away bits, a major cause of heat in computers. A plan for implementing this reversible logic using tiny Y-shaped switches promises ultra low-power computers.

Color display blocks prying eyes... Net lets hand-helds view 3D data... Speed limits could slow viruses... Nano test tubes fabricated... Nanowires make tiny compasses... Upbeat computers boost users.

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