Somewhere in a distant future lies the ultimate goal: machines that can learn and act in ways that demonstrate cognitive functioning. Realizing that goal may be many years away, but that hasn't stopped Beckman Institute for Advanced Science and Technology researcher Stephen Levinson from dedicating more than two decades to a concept that went from science fiction fantasy to a scientific possibility with the dawn of the computer age. In fact, it's been his driving research interest since graduate school and during a career at Bell Labs.
Most researchers receive their inspiration from a mentor, or colleague, or perhaps even a lecture that strikes a chord. Beckman Institute researcher Kara Federmeier got hers from her younger brother when she was still in high school.
A paper presentation at Siggraph 2005 in Los Angeles last month by Hongcheng Wang, a member of the Computer Vision and Robotics Laboratory, enlightened thousands attending the annual graphics convention about techniques the group developed for compactly representing multidimensional visual datasets for efficient image-based rendering on a PC.
Working at the nanoscale often presents new challenges for researchers, such as dealing with forces that aren't an issue at the microscale. Researcher Narayana Aluru of the Molecular and Electronic Nanostructures Research Initiative is answering those challenges by offering the first physical theory for modeling nanoelectromechanical (NEMS) systems. Aluru is publishing a series of papers, including one in the June issue of the Journal of Applied Physics, that address these issues in this new but rapidly growing field.
Through a focus on neural protein synthesis, the William T. Greenough Laboratory (BI) is reaching some startling conclusions about nervous system development. Current Greenough lab research into the protein FMRP has important implications for understanding Fragile X Mental Retardation Syndrome, the most common genetically inherited form of mental retardation, as well as FMRP's role in protein synthesis. A paper by Greenough Lab member Ivan Jeanne Weiler, Professor Greenough, et al., published by the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences discusses recent findings of their research.