Scientists Go Back to Nature

A recap of articles from CNET News.com describes the year in science:

"In 2004, scientists were literally in the woods.
Researchers in increasing numbers are trying to harness the forces of nature. Chip companies such as IBM, Intel and ZettaCore are trying to develop designer molecules that will assemble themselves into circuits in order to make smaller, cheaper and more powerful semiconductors. One start-up announced plans to try to develop new electronic materials by harnessing proteins secreted by viruses.

Energy, once a fairly dormant field, is now a high priority at the national laboratories, venture capital firms and universities. Both energy and nanotechnology are receiving an increasing portion of government grants.

Nature also emerged as something of a role model. Security experts talked of the danger of monocultures and speculate that the wide proliferation of Windows could create a digital potato famine. Robot researchers, meanwhile, have come up with robots that walk like crabs or collectively accomplish tasks through swarming like bees.

The growth in consumer electronics also prompted increased activity toward creating the digital home. Giants like Samsung and Sony, along with several national governments in Asia, sunk money and energy into broadband technologies for homes, cars and portable devices. Similarly, improving Internet search has become an obsession at several start-ups as well as stalwarts like IBM.

Several projects also proved that the future won't be devoid of amusement. A group in Canada said it would fly an ornithopter, a plane with flapping wings, next year, while a start-up in Pennsylvania has harnessed the power of nanotechnology to make stink-free socks."