NASA and Microsoft Corp. announced Tuesday plans to make planetary images and data available via the Internet under a Space Act Agreement. Through this project, NASA and Microsoft jointly will develop the technology and infrastructure necessary to make the most interesting NASA content -- including high-resolution scientific images and data from Mars and the moon -- explorable on WorldWide Telescope, Microsoft's online virtual telescope for exploring the universe.

"Making NASA's scientific and astronomical data more accessible to the public is a high priority for NASA, especially given the new administration's recent emphasis on open government and transparency," said Ed Weiler, associate administrator for NASA's Science Mission Directorate in Washington.

by Anne Trafton

New computer model can design specific protein interactions

Interactions between proteins underlie nearly everything that happens inside a cell -- from reading DNA to communicating with the outside world. Many of those proteins have very similar structures, yet somehow they locate and interact with only their specific partner. For years, scientists have been trying to model and design such interactions, with limited success. Now, MIT researchers have developed a model, reported in this week's issue of Nature, that can be used to design new protein interactions and could help scientists create proteins for use in developing new drugs.

"The proteins we design now are not likely to become drugs or therapeutics, but can be used in order to figure out the basic mechanisms of these interactions, which could be extremely valuable," said Amy Keating, associate professor of biology and senior author of the paper being published in the April 16 issue of Nature.

Despite the known security vulnerabilities introduced by wireless LANs, the inadequacy of early mechanisms such as WEP, and the multitude of attacks that can be mounted with off-the-shelf hardware and publicly-available software, a large portion of enterprise wireless networks still operate with insufficient security measures. For instance, a world-wide wardriving effort performed in June 2004 detected over 200,000 access points, with more than 60% of them running with WEP disabled and over 30% with the default SSID set by the manufacturer. A more recent study performed by RSA and NetSurity revealed that over 30% of enterprise wireless LANs in London, Frankfurt, New York, and San Francisco still lack basic security measures.

by Adam Finkelstein and Lee Markosian, Princeton Dept. Computer Science

Summary

Modeling for 3D computer graphics is a painstaking task that is typically relegated to trained experts. In contrast, drawing is easy for many people. One reason for the difficulty of 3D modeling is that existing tools trade off ease of use for very precise control (which is often undesirable). A second reason stems from the emphasis in computer graphics on photorealism. When the subject matter is a natural scene, realism demands a vast amount of detail. In practice, artists and illustrators nearly always choose some degree of stylization (non-photorealism) to evoke the complexity of the scene indirectly. The result can be much simpler than a literal representation, yet also more expressive. Currently no such option is available to computer graphics designers – no tools exist to model both a geometric shape and the stylized look to be applied to it.

by David Chandler

Researchers at MIT have found a novel method for etching extremely narrow lines on a microchip, using a material that can be switched from transparent to opaque, and vice versa, just by exposing it to certain wavelengths of light.

Such materials are not new, but the researchers found a novel way of harnessing that property to create a mask with exceptionally fine lines of transparency. This mask can then be used to create a correspondingly fine line on the underlying material.

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