Technology

Setting a New Standard

The professor sits at her console and looks to the monitor at her right. There, she sees the smiling, eager faces of her students, 16 strong, for this evening’s lecture. She greets them and is greeted in return.

The Internet of Things

We carry our smartphones everywhere, and they connect us to everything. We feel comfortable talking to them and having them talk back. We call them phones, but they’re pocket computers, as powerful as the supercomputers of a decade ago. We use them as calculators, cameras, memory aids, executive assistants, voice…

Kissing my privacy goodbye

I first became aware that my online privacy wasn’t nearly as confidential as I thought while shopping online with my sister who lives in Florida. Separated by 1,000 miles, phones pressed to our ears, eyes glued to computer screens, my price for a particular web cam was a bargain at…

Robotics has changed surgery forever

During the first 8,500-year history of surgery, surgeons stood at the patient’s side using tools that evolved from knapped flints to tiny, high-​tech cameras. But, in 2000, when the da Vinci Surgical System was cleared by the FDA, surgery changed forever. Surgeons could now sit several feet away from their…
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Quantum couple

He grew up in Manhattan; she, in Patna, India. Both were taken with the way physics accounts for the world around them. After completing undergraduate studies at Harvard and the Indian Technology Institute, respectively, they met as first-​year physics doctoral students at the University of California, Santa Barbara. Upon arrival…
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DNA decoding

Mapping the entire human DNA blueprint was ultimately done to advance medicine, but it has had a bonus impact: giving a jump start to a stagnating economy.
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The genius of Pitt

Kevin Guskiewicz has been called a genius for discovering the link between on-​field head hits to football players and damage to their brains; findings that once put him at odds with the mighty National Football League.
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Breakthrough

On a hot afternoon in late summer 2010, a man in his 30s drove an all-​terrain vehicle on an unpaved path. He was doing nearly 40 miles per hour on rough terrain. And though he was strong — a construction worker by trade — his ATV hit a bump for which he wasn’t prepared.
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Uncharted territory

Science and technology march along, year after year, making gradual progress in transforming our lives. Every now and again, however, a public event is staged — the moon landing, a computer playing a chess champion, decoding the human genome — that gives the public the appearance of a breakthrough.
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Innovations

Come on, Ima, vamanos! That was the exhortation from my 3-​year-​old recently when she wanted me to hurry up and get out the play dough. Like now, Mommy — before I scream…
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We, robot

A decade ago, the Wall Street Journal gave Pittsburgh the moniker “Roboburgh” when compiling its list of the nation’s 13 hottest high-​tech regions. The Steel City is living up to its 21st-​century nickname, making new its rich history of engineering complex things.
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Electrifying knowledge

In 1995, Carnegie Mellon University’s Professor Raj Reddy organized a meeting in Shadyside of the world’s foremost digital thought leaders to discuss the feasibility of electronic libraries. The idea of very large Internet libraries had been gestating in Reddy’s mind for about 15 years, but it was not until then…
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The software business manual

As the computer and Internet business emerges from the collapse of the bubble, the most successful companies seem to be following a new set of rules. Some rules are old and obvious, but the combination is striking.
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