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Technology: A New Computing Speed Record

A computing milestone was reached last week when an American military supercomputer nicknamed Roadrunner processed more than 1.026 quadrillion calculations per second. The new $133 million supercomputer, more than twice as fast as its closest rival, was built by engineers and scientists at IBM and Los Alamos National Laboratory.

British researchers at Lancaster University say they have designed a carbon nanotube that spins in a current of electrons like a wind turbine. They say this simple motor could be used to shrink optical communications components or to devise new forms of computer memory.

Biomaterials pioneer Robert Langer at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology last week won the Millennium Technology Prize, often called the unofficial Nobel Prize for technology. His work has involved finding a way to gradually release drug molecules into a patient's body.

Meanwhile, the most advanced bionic hand yet devised won the U.K.'s top engineering prize, the MacRobert Award. The prosthetic device has five individually powered digits and has been fitted to more than 200 people.

And as the price of gasoline soars, many students are now taking field trips on the Internet, according to the Christian Science Monitor. As of last month, more than 1.1 million students had participated in virtual field trips organized through the Center for Interactive Learning and Collaboration in Indianapolis.

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PODCAST & VIDEO: 3D Printing Replacement Body Parts

Regenerative medicine, a fledgling field with the aim of regrowing parts from a person’s own cells, is being amplified with 3D-printing technology, which can now use organic materials to create scaffolds that cells need to grow into their final forms. Richard Wysk, a professor of industrial and systems engineering at North Carolina State University, discusses the latest successes with this research, and the timeline for creating more complicated structures.

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