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Drones to extend Internet to remote areas

April 16, 2014

Titan Solera 50 drone (credit: Titan Aerospace)

Two companies have just extended the reach of the  Internet.

Google has acquired Titan Aerospace, a developer of jet-sized drones intended to fly nonstop for years,the New Mexico company has announced. Titan says it could help people by “providing internet connections in remote areas or helping monitor environmental damage like oil spills and deforestation.”

The Wall Street Journal quotes Google as saying the technology could… read more

The lowest-price, easiest-to-use 3D printer yet

April 16, 2014

The Micro 3D printer (credit: MD3)

If you’re on the edge about deciding to get a 3D printer, this Kickstarter campaign for The Micro, billed as the “first truly consumer 3D printer,” may just push you off it.

It already has for more than 9,000 backers, who have pledged an impressive $2.7 million since April 7 — far exceeding the $50,000 goal.

For a pledge of $299, you get the pre-assembled printer… read more

Ten ways 3D printing could change space

April 16, 2014

A close up of a ligthweight titanium lattice ball manufactured using the Additive Manufacturing or 3D printing process. This design is a good example of AM capabilities: these hollow balls possesing a complex external geometry could not have been manufactured in a single part using a conventional manufacturing process. But they are incredibly light while also stiff, opening up possibilities for future space applications.

The European Space Agency (ESA) is investigating the potential of additive manufacturing (AM), or 3D printing, to transform how space missions are put together, and has identified ten ways.

1. Items impossible to make any other way

This titanium-lattice ball is a good example of additive manufacturing capabilities. These hollow balls have a complex external geometry,  making them incredibly light while remaining stiff and… read more

International Space Station to beam video via laser back to Earth

April 15, 2014

nasa-opals

NASA is preparing for an April 14 launch to the International Space Station aboard the SpaceX-3 mission to test NASA’s first space-to-Earth optical communication system.

The Optical Payload for Lasercomm Science (OPALS) system will demonstrate up to 50 megabits per second transmission, compared to 200 to 400 kilobits per second for many deep-space missions.

Future deep space optical communication systems will provide more than… read more

Bio-inspired transparent synthetic materials could protect cars and people

April 15, 2014

NewsImage_BioCeramic3

MIT researchers have analyzed the shells of a sea creature, the mollusk Placuna placenta to determine exactly why they are so resistant to penetration and damage — even though they are 99 percent calcite, a weak, brittle mineral. The shells are exceptionally tough but clear enough to read through,

The properties of this natural armor make it a promising template for the development of bio-inspired synthetic materials… read more

A new self-healing chemistry for plastics

April 15, 2014

Self-healing process (credit:  Kim K. Oehlenschlaeger et al./Advanced Materials)

Scientists at Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT) and Evonik Industries have developed a self-healing chemistry that allows for rapid healing of a plastic material using mild heating, restoring its initial molecular structure. It is based on a reversible chemical crosslinking reaction*.

  • The reaction happens at temperatures from 50°C (122°F) to 120°C (248°F).
  • The material can be restored completely in less than 5 minutes, and

read more

3D-printed tumor model allows for more realistic testing of how cancer cells grow and spread

April 15, 2014

3D cellular morphology on day 8

A group of researchers in China and the U.S. has created a 3D-printed model of a cancerous tumor to help discover new anti-cancer drugs and better understand how tumors develop, grow, and spread throughout the body.

The model consists of a scaffold of fibrous proteins (gelatin, alginate, and fibrin) corresponding to the extracellular matrix (support structure) of a tumor, in the form of a grid structure 10… read more

What is the optimal size of a power grid?

April 14, 2014

Areas affected by the blackout of 2003 (credit: Wikimedia Commons)

David Newman, a physicist at the University of Alaska, believes that smaller grids would reduce the likelihood of severe outages, such as the 2003 Northeast blackout that cut power to 50 million people in the United States and Canada for up to two days.

Newman and co-authors make their case in the journal Chaos.

North America has three power grids that transmit electricity from hundreds of… read more

Improving the human-robot connection

April 14, 2014

robot-eyes-to-bottle

Researchers at the University of British Columbia enlisted the help of a human-friendly robot named Charlie to study the simple task of handing an object to a person. Past research has shown that people have difficulty figuring out when to reach out and take an object from a robot because robots fail to provide appropriate nonverbal cues.

“We hand things to other people multiple times a day… read more

Body-hack app shortcuts jet-lag recovery

April 14, 2014

Entrain iOS app

A new jet-lag mobile app called Entrain released by University of Michigan mathematicians reveals previously unknown shortcuts that can help travelers entrain (synchronize) their circadian rhythms to new time zones as efficiently as possible.

Entrain is built around the premise that light, particularly from the sun and in wavelengths that appear to our eyes as the color blue, is the strongest signal to regulate circadian… read more

Nanoelectronic circuits that operate more than 10,000 times faster than current microprocessors

Could revolutionize high-speed electronics, nanoscale optoelectronics, and nonlinear optics
April 14, 2014

nus-focused-electron-beam

Circuits that can operate at frequencies up to 245 terahertz — tens of thousands times faster than today’s state-of-the-art microprocessors — have been designed and fabricated by researchers at National University of Singapore and Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*STAR).

The new circuits can potentially be used to construct ultra-fast computers or single-molecule detectors in the future, and open up new possibilities in nanoelectronic devices. For… read more

Laboratory-grown vaginas implanted in patients

April 14, 2014

artificial_vagina

A research team led by Anthony Atala, M.D., director of Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center’s Institute for Regenerative Medicine, has reported in The Lancet the first human recipients of laboratory-grown vaginal organs, which were engineered with their own cells.

“This pilot study is the first to demonstrate that vaginal organs can be constructed in the lab and used successfully in humans,” said Atala. “This may represent a… read more

A quantum logic gate combining light and matter

April 11, 2014

quantum_logic_gate

Scientists at Max-Planck-Institute of Quantum Optics (MPQ) have successfully achieved a quantum logic gate using a single photon and a single atom.

In the experiment, described in a Nature paper, the binary states 0 and 1 are represented by the two spin orientations of an atom (upwards or downwards), and by two polarization states of an optical photon (left or right circular), respectively.

The atom is… read more

Light lattice that traps atoms could power networks of quantum computing

April 11, 2014

switch-quantum-computing

Scientists at MIT and Harvard University have developed a new method for connecting atoms and light that could help in the development of powerful quantum computing systems.

The new technique allows researchers to couple a lone atom of rubidium, a metal, with a single photon, or light particle. This allows both the atom and photon to switch the quantum state of each other, providing a mechanism through… read more

Navy researchers demonstrate flight powered by fuel created from seawater

April 11, 2014

Flying a radio-controlled replica of the historic WWII P-51 Mustang red-tail aircraft—of the legendary Tuskegee Airmen—NRL researchers (l to r) Dr. Jeffrey Baldwin, Dr. Dennis Hardy, Dr. Heather Willauer, and Dr. David Drab (crouched), successfully demonstrate a novel liquid hydrocarbon fuel to power the aircraft's unmodified two-stroke internal combustion engine. The test provides proof-of-concept for an NRL developed process to extract carbon dioxide (CO2) and produce hydrogen gas (H2) from seawater, subsequently catalytically converting the CO2 and H2 into fuel by a gas-to-liquids process (credit: U.S. Naval Research Laboratory).

The U.S. Naval Research Laboratory (NRL) has developed a technology for simultaneously extracting carbon dioxide and hydrogen from seawater and converting the two gases to a liquid hydrocarbon fuel, as a possible replacement for petroleum-based jet fuel.

Fueled by the liquid hydrocarbon, the research team demonstrated sustained flight of a radio-controlled  P-51 replica of the legendary Red Tail Squadron, powered by an off-the-shelf, unmodified two-stroke internal combustion engine.… read more

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Latest blog posts

New plant paradigms from The Human Race to the Future

Genetically engineering exotic foods of the future
April 4, 2014 by Daniel Berleant

Dragonfruit (credit: Wikimedia Commons)

Excerpted and adapted from the book The Human Race to the Future: What Could Happen and What to Do.

An exponential change perspective, well-known among futures enthusiasts, was applied to time itself by Freeman Dyson in 1997. He taxonomized the future in terms of different, order of magnitude generations — time horizons of 10 years, 100, 1,000, and so on.

My book The Humanread more

X Prize launches an artificially intelligent TED presentation contest

March 20, 2014

robots in conversation on stage

Call for feedback from X Prize for a TED-related contest that features a talk written and presented by an artificial intelligence.

X Prize | Announcing the creation of a new X Prize in artificial intelligence. Give us your input into the rules of this competition!

On March 20, 2014, from the TED 2014 stage, Chris Anderson and Peter Diamandis joined forces to announce the AI X Prize presented by TED, a… read more

Long before the Spike Jonze film Her there was Teknolust

Lynn Hershman Leeson and her virtual personas
March 6, 2014 by R.U. Sirius

Teknolust film poster

Lynn Hershman Leeson has been making art and films about the thin line between the real and the virtual for four decades.

She is probably best known for her two films Conceiving Ada (I had a small role, 1997) and Teknolust (2002), both starring Tilda
 Swinton — which explore emotions, sexuality and technology, and the ways in which they converge.

Around 1999, while Leeson was working on Teknolust,… read more

Ask Ray | Question about molecular assemblers

February 21, 2014

DNA linkers allow different kinds of nanoparticles to self-assemble and form relatively large-scale nanocomposite arrays. This approach allows for mixing and matching components for the design of multifunctional materials. (credit: Brookhaven National Laboratory)

Hello Ray,

I finished reading your book not long ago, and I had a question regarding your opinion of molecular assemblers.

Suppose molecular assemblers are indeed proven to be feasible on a large scale and we are given an infinite abundance to produce as much as we want — limited only by the amount of matter in our vicinity — with minimal effort.

If this scenario comes… read more

A tour with Ray | Adventure in art and dance at the American Visionary Art Museum award gala honoring Ray Kurzweil

February 19, 2014 by Ray Kurzweil

American Visionary Art Museum Grand Visionary Award 2014 logo

Dear readers,

I was recently honored with the American Visionary Art Museum’s Grand Visionary Award at an exciting gala celebration. The event was a lot of fun.

This eclectic museum is located in Baltimore, Maryland.

“The American Visionary Art Museum (AVAM) selects its award honorees for their courage as intuitive innovators and in recognition of their life’s creative work to expand the realm of human dignity,… read more

A tour with Ray | Sights and sounds of the world famous NAMM 2014 expo with music pioneer Ray Kurzweil

February 19, 2014 by Ray Kurzweil

(credit: National Association of Music Manufacturers)

NAMM 2014 show and tell — in sights and sounds

Kurzweil Music founder Ray Kurzweil recently attended one of the world’s premier music events, the National Association of Music Merchants trade show (NAMM) 2014.

We hope you enjoy this audio|visual tour of the NAMM 2014 tradeshow floor, review of the new Artis keyboard from Kurzweil Music, insights on accelerating electronic developments in the music world from executive Ray Kurzweil,… read more

A review of Her by Ray Kurzweil

February 10, 2014 by Ray Kurzweil

(credit: Warner Brothers)

Her, written, directed and produced by Spike Jonze, presents a nuanced love story between a man and his operating system.

Although there are caveats I could (and will) mention about the details of the OS and how the lovers interact, the movie compellingly presents the core idea that a software program (an AI) can — will — be believably human and lovable.

This is a breakthrough concept in cinematic futurism in… read more

The Ubi ubiquitous computer is here

Talk to your wall and your wall will talk back
February 10, 2014 by Amara D. Angelica

Ubi (credit: Unified Computer Intelligence Corporation)

In the next few days, I expect to receive my Ubi “ubiquitous computer.” I can’t wait.

According to the promo, I’ll be able to plug it into a power outlet and the WiFi-connected, voice-operated Ubi gadget will magically make the environment around it Internet-enabled.

Think an environment-aware version of Siri — with sensors that allow for remote monitoring of temperature, humidity, air pressure, and ambient light,… read more

Humanity in jeopardy

"We should spend 1% of GDP studying singularity issues and deciding what to do," says Max Tegmark
January 13, 2014 by Max Tegmark

Watson vs. humans, January 13, 2011 (credit: IBM)

Exactly three years ago, on January 13, 2011, humans were dethroned by a computer on the quiz show Jeopardy! A year later, a computer was licensed to drive cars in Nevada, after being judged safer than a human. (link to article)

What’s next? Will computers eventually beat us at all tasks, developing superhuman intelligence?

I have little doubt that this can happen: our brains are a bunch of particles obeying the laws of… read more

Panoramic hi-res augmented reality glasses: most radical CES intro so far?

January 7, 2014 by Amara D. Angelica

Innovega Inc. is demonstrating at CES prototypes of what looks like the most radical augmented-reality eyewear yet.

Intrigued, I called Innovega CEO Steve Willey Monday night. He ran down the specs of their iOptik design: binocular 720 x 1280 pixels, 3D (depth) vision, and a humungous field of view of 90 degrees, as shown in the image above. That’s six times the number of… read more

Reverse-engineering Hollywood

How to bypass Netflix and create your own custom search genres
January 6, 2014 by Amara D. Angelica

sliders

If you’re a combo Netflix/Internet-text-algorithm-obsessed geek like me, you will totally love this amazing article in The Atlantic.

Turns out Netflix has created a database of 76,897 micro-genres that offer a peek into the American psyche, The Atlantic senior editor Alexis Madrigal has discovered, using a program called UBot Studio to scrape every single one of them and then deconstruct the system.

Hidden syntax revealed

“As the… read more

Are you ready for virtual taste?

January 3, 2014 by Amara D. Angelica

nus_digital taste

We’ve talked about robot burger makers. How about virtual tasting, so you could sample your burger before buying it, without grossing everyone out — even taste a pizza before having it delivered?

A National University of Singapore (NUS) researcher has taken an early step in that direction. Dr. Nimesha Ranasinghe has invented a digital gadget that can recreate the taste of virtual food and drinks.… read more

Ask Ray | Study shows a 30% lower rate of breast cancer mortality with supplement use

December 30, 2013 by Terry Grossman

Breast Cancer Research and Treatment cover

Dear readers,

Here is a study coming out of the large and well respected Women’s Health Initiative showing positive results for supplements and breast cancer.

Unfortunately, the media has largely ignored it.

It seems there is a strong media bias to headline studies suggesting negative or no benefit results and to ignore positive ones that do show benefit. For example, this study shows a 30% lower rate… read more

Ask Ray | Supplement study quoted in The Wall Street Journal is misleading

December 29, 2013 by Ray Kurzweil

(credit: iStock)

Dear readers,

I read this recent article: The Wall Street Journal | “Multivitamins found to have little benefit — no effect seen in preventing cognitive decline, heart disease”

Readers have asked, “What is your response to the recent ‘anti-supplement’ research study?”

The study quoted by The Wall Street Journal is misleading. It only looked at low potency (and low quality) supplement combinations and set a… read more

Smart glasses from Evena Medical detect patient veins for precise IV placement

December 26, 2013 by Amara D. Angelica

Eyes-On Glasses (credit: Evena Medical)

Ever had a nurse stick you multiple times, trying to locate a vein to draw blood? That pain is about to be history.

The new Eyes-On “smart glasses” from Evena Medical now allow nurses to see through a patient’s skin to the vasculature beneath.

The device adds multispectral 3D imaging to Epson Moverio glasses. Nurses can share images remotely via Bluetooth,… read more

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