WIN SOME ...A group of London-based, high-tech detectives are using optical disk technology to combat theft in the art world. International Art and Antique Loss Register operates a computer database of 45,000 stolen art objects with a total value of $300 million. The ever-expanding system stores pictures and descriptions of over 350,000 images of art. A team of historians inputs references of each piece along with data from Scotland Yard, the FBI, and insurers. Reuters reports the system helped recover a million-dollar Picasso stolen from a Manhattan residence in the early 1980s and replaced with a fake. The robbery was not discovered until 1991; the painting was recovered the same day.
LOSE SOME...Two of the hottest items on the New York hit list are Macintosh and fuel-injection computers. Reported thefts of these items reached an all-time high in 1992. Auto repair shops in the tri-state area can't keep enough of the dashboard-based computers in stock; while Mac banditry has soared to the billion dollar mark nationwide. Thieves have also become more sophisticated--Mac robbers tend to go for nothing cheaper than the IIci model. Late model Chevys and Pontiacs seem to house the more popular fuel-injection computers which reportedly retail for about $350.
RUSSIAN CONNECTIONS...Funding to aid the sorry state of science in the former Soviet Union has been promised from around the world, but so far little has found its way into the hands of scientists. The U.S., Canada, Japan and European Communities have pledged some $70 million to Russian scientists and $12 million to the Ukraine, but as of February no grants have been awarded. In addition, a U.S. philanthropist has announced plans to create the International Science Foundation for the Former Soviet Union and spend $100 million to help former defense scientists adapt to the new world market.
ILLUMINATING PROGRESS...A research team from the University of Colorado at Boulder has built the first general-purpose optical computer, a machine that stores its own program and processes information using light rather than electricity. Experts predict computer power by light could eventually reach speeds hundreds of times faster than the most powerful conventional machines. Professors Harry Jordon and Vincent Heuring directed the research team that developed UC's bit-serial optical computer. Says Jordon: "For the first time we have a computer in which the program and data are always on the fly in the form of light, eliminating the need for static storage."
DUE COURSE...The NSF's Division of Undergraduate Education (DUE) has released a new integrated program announcement describing grant opportunities in undergraduate science, math, engineering and technology for all types of institutions, universities and two-and four-year colleges. DUE serves as the NSF focal point for undergraduate education, conducting leadership activities and managing leveraged support programs for undergraduate instructional improvements. The NSF92-135 announcements may be obtained by contacting either pubs @NSF (Bitnet), pubs@NSF.gov (Internet), or fax: 703-644-4278.
NEW EDITION...A computerized magazine for high school students debuts this month. Orchestrated by the Public Broadcasting Service, HiWavz is an interactive CD magazine produced by students from 21 high schools across the U.S. who will write the news stories, personality profiles, sports and TV/movie reviews, as well as create the art and video concepts. PBS and 16 affiliate stations will reproduce the work on disk and beam it to the pilot schools via satellite. PBS plans to also distribute the paper magazine version to schools not yet supported with the necessary equipment.
READING RADIO...The radio industry has recently announced a standard for transmitting text on FM radio signals. Based on a similar system that has been in use in Europe since 1985, the "radio broadcast data system" will allow consumers in the states to see song titles displayed on a small screen on their radio, scan stations by music type or read advertising pitches. The new technology also makes it possible for stations to double as paging services, transmitting short messages to individual radios much like beepers now display phone numbers. Industry executives say the system may eventually be the ultimate replacement for the current broadcast system.
PROFILING PATENTS...With 70% of new inventions in computer technology never reported or revealed, it's a wonder how researchers and engineers can keep abreast of valuable information. Now there's Computer Technology Patents Profiles, a service published by Derwent Publications of London. The Profiles contain easy-to-read abstracts of original documents issued for patents in more than 30 different countries. Some titles include: Input and Output Interfaces, Image Processing, AI and Data Storage and Retrieval. The Profiles are available on an annual basis at cost per title. For further details contact: Derwent Publications--fax: 44 71 405 3630.
SLOW TO THE PUNCH...A report by a European Commission panel urged the EC to begin a decade-long, high-performance computing research program using public and private funds. The two areas attracting most attention are massively parallel processing and the linking of high-performance computers to networks. The report states that although the current research and development programs, ESPRIT and RACE, have pushed the high-performance computing technology ahead and produced start-up companies, larger companies from outside Europe are often quick to exploit the newly created market.
EMAIL FOR ALL TO SEE...A federal ruling has stopped a plan by the White House to erase millions of email messages that have accumulated on computer tapes. The tapes contain messages ranging from lunch orders and office memos to matters as serious as foreign policy initiatives and strategies. The decision is expected to have profound implications for journalists, prosecutors, plaintiffs and Congressional investigators who have sought access to information stored in the government's computer records.
HELLO, I MUST BE GOING...From our only-in-L.A. file comes this story about the world's first drive-thru mobile-phone shop. Cellular Specialists opened last month with car-hopping clerks working the parking lot serving cappuccino and pastries along with menus of their phone models, parts, and services. Shoppers sit and snack in the comfort of their own cars while waiting for credit checks or new purchases. Owner Bob Neman says he intends to cut the waiting time to buy a phone from 30 minutes to 10; a luxury he admits will cost more than a cup of java.
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|Publication:||Communications of the ACM|
|Article Type:||Brief Article|
|Date:||Mar 1, 1993|
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