April 17/24, 2002   

   Shake and serve


Small electronic devices worthy of James Bond might one day be built like the fictional spy's favorite cocktail -- shaken, not stirred. Researchers at Harvard have come up with a way to make components literally fall into place. This and other self-assembly techniques could lead to cheaper electronics and new devices like odd-shaped displays.
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Odds not hopeless for new Web sites
The structure of the Web may have a lot to do with how easy it is for a new site to set up shop. The latest model shows the new guys on the block have a chance -- depending on what they're trying to sell.

Content scheme banishes browser plug-ins
Matching content to the right software could be a thing of the past if a digital content scheme catches on. It's all about context.

Polarized light speeds messages
Spinning light beams around a glass ring could be a good way to speed up telecommunications.

File compressor ID's authors
The key to zipping files is weeding out redundancies, which means finding patterns. The pattern recognition capability of common file compression programs turns out to be useful for automatically distinguishing between, say, Spanish and French, or even Shakespeare and Beaumont.

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