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Stealth DNA-based carbon nanotubes tunnel into cells to deliver targeted drugs

October 31, 2014

An artist’s view of a carbon nanotube inserted in a plasma membrane of a cell. The nanotube forms a nanoscale tunnel in the membrane and the image shows a single long strand of DNA passing through that tunnel. (Credit: LLNL)

A team led by the Lawrence Livermore scientists has created a new way to selectively deliver drugs to a specific area in the body using carbon nanotubes (CNTs).

(KurzweilAI reported on October 17 a similar attempt to sneak drugs into cells using a DNA-based drug-delivery system: nanoscale “cocoons” made of DNA target cancer cells, tricking the cells into absorbing the cocoon, which then unleashes anticancer drugs.)

“Many… read more

What running robots can learn from turkeys

October 30, 2014

Model of motion (Credit: OSU)

With an eye toward making better running robots, researchers from from Oregon State University, the Royal Veterinary College and other institutions have made surprising new findings about some of nature’s most energy-efficient bipeds — running birds.

These are some of the most sophisticated runners of any two-legged land animals, including humans, the researchers found in a study published Wednesday (Oct. 29) in the Journal of Experimental Biology, with an… read more

Watson to help find new sources of oil

World’s first cognitive-technologies collaboration for oil industry applications
October 30, 2014

IBM's Cognitive Environments Lab researchers are developing software agents called "cogs" that will help energy company Repsol make better decisions on acquiring new oil fields and optimizing its strategy for current oil production (credit: Jon Simon/Feature Photo Service for IBM)

Scientists at IBM and Repsol SA, Spain largest energy company, announced today (Oct. 30) the world’s first research collaboration using cognitive technologies like IBM’s Watson to jointly develop and apply new tools to make it cheaper and easier to find new oil fields.

An engineer will typically have to manually read through an enormous set of journal papers and baseline reports with models of reservoir, well, facilities, production, export,… read more

Sprouting ideas in 3D with a novel ‘blended reality’ device

October 30, 2014

Sprout (credit: HP)

What happens when you combine a scanner, depth sensor, high-resolution camera, projector, Windows 8.1 desktop computer with Intel i7 processor and 1TB of storage, and two touch screens, all squeezed into a single device?

HP calls it “Sprout,” part of a new immersive “Blended Reality” ecosystem that is “designed to break down the barriers between the digital and physical worlds.”

A friendly maker tool

HP pitches… read more

DARPA amplifier circuit achieves speeds of 1 trillion Hz, enters Guinness World Records

270 times faster than a 3.7 GHz Mac Pro
October 29, 2014

Terahertz Monolithic Integrated Circuit (Credit: Northrop Grumman Corp.)

Officials from Guinness World Records have recognized DARPA’s Terahertz Electronics program for creating the fastest solid-state amplifier integrated circuit ever measured: one terahertz (1012 Hz), or one trillion cycles per second — 150 billion cycles faster than the existing world record set in 2012.

“This breakthrough could lead to revolutionary technologies such as high-resolution security imaging systems, improved collision-avoidance radar, communications networks with many times the… read more

Google X plans to use magnetic nanoparticles and wearable sensors to detect diseases

October 29, 2014

Left: Nanoparticles circulate in the blood and can be built to attach to particular types of cells, such as circulating cancer cells. Right: A device worn on the outside of the body can detect the nanoparticles and provide useful information to physicians. (Credit: Google X)

Google announced a new “Nanoparticle Platform” project Tuesday to develop medical diagnostic technology using nanoparticles, Andrew Conrad, head of the Google X Life Sciences team, disclosed at The Wall Street Journal’s WSJD Live conference.

The idea is to use nanoparticles with magnetic cores circulating in the bloodstream with recognition molecules to detect cancer, plaques, or too much sodium, for example.

There are a number of similar… read more

Interstellar film features radical new black-hole model

Special-effects design leads to astrophysics discovery
October 28, 2014

A CGI model of a black hole for the movie Interstellar based on new discoveries by astrophysicist Kip Thorne (credit: Warner Brothers)

With our time on Earth coming to an end, a team of explorers undertakes the most important mission in human history: traveling beyond this galaxy to discover whether mankind has a future among the stars.

That’s the theme of the upcoming film Interstellar, directed by Christopher Nolan and starring Matthew McConaughey and Anne Hathaway and opening Nov. 7.

A black hole also plays a key role… read more

‘Data smashing’ could automate discovery, untouched by human hands

October 28, 2014

(Credit: iStock)

From recognizing speech to identifying unusual stars, new discoveries often begin with comparison of data streams to find connections and spot outliers. But simply feeding raw data into a data-analysis algorithm is unlikely to produce meaningful results, say the authors of a new Cornell study.

That’s because most data comparison algorithms today have one major weakness: somewhere, they rely on a human expert to specify what aspects of the… read more

An engineered protein microfiber that can also deliver drugs

Next step: milliscale protein fibers, such as hair
October 27, 2014

Engineered protein microfibers (credit: Jasmin Hume et al./Biomacromolecules)

Researchers at the New York University Polytechnic School of Engineering have engineered microfiber proteins for the first time, for use in medicine and nanotechnology. Previously, scientists could only create new proteins capable of self-assembling into nanofibers.

Jin Kim Montclare, an associate professor of chemical and biomolecular engineering at the NYU School of Engineering, and her collaborators began their experiments with the intention of designing nanoscale proteins bound with… read more

How ferroelectrics could replace silicon in computers

October 27, 2014

The herringbone pattern of nanoscale domains is key to enabling faster switching in ferroelectric materials. (Credit: Ruijuan Xu and Lane W. Martin, UC Berkeley)

Ferroelectric materials — commonly used in RFID cards and video game memory — could become candidates for use in next-generation low-power computing and electronics, new research suggests.

Ferroelectric materials have spontaneous polarization as a result of small shifts of negative and positive charges within the material. The polarization can be reversed in response to an electric field, enabling the creation of a “0” or “1” data bit for… read more

Synthetic biology on ordinary paper: a new operating system

A tiny paper color test for a strain-specific Ebola virus, antibiotic-resistant bacteria, or other pathogens --- no lab required
October 24, 2014

Wyss Institute scientists have embedded effective synthetic gene networks in pocket-sized slips of paper. An array of RNA–activated sensors uses visible color changing proteins to indicate presence of a targeted RNA, capable of identifying pathogens such as antibiotic–resistant bacteria and strain–specific Ebola virus. (Credit: Harvard's Wyss Institute)

Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering announced Thursday (Oct. 23) a way to allow complex cellular recognition reactions to proceed outside of living cells, using pocket-sized slips of paper.

Imagine inexpensive, shippable, and accurate test kits using a pocket-sized paper diagnostic tool using saliva or a drop of blood to identify specific disease or infection — a feat that could be accomplished anywhere in the world, within minutes and… read more

This new ultrathin, energy-efficient 3D LCD display technology could be in your future TV or flexible e-book

Images stay on for years without power
October 24, 2014

In this concept of a LCD display, light is twisted in different directions to make the image appear three-dimensional. (Credit: Abhishek Kumar Srivastava)

Researchers from the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology have invented an ultra-thin LCD screen capable of displaying images without a sustained power source and in 3D, making it a compact, energy-efficient way to display visual information.

In a traditional liquid crystal display (LCD), liquid crystal molecules are sandwiched between polarized glass plates. Electrodes pass current through the apparatus, influencing the orientation of the liquid crystals inside and… read more

Magnetic mirrors reflect light more efficiently

Could lead to more powerful solar cells, lasers, and other optoelectronic devices
October 24, 2014

Artist's impression of a comparison between a magnetic mirror with cube-shaped resonators (left) and a standard metallic mirror (right). The incoming and outgoing electric field of light (shown as alternating red and white bands) illustrates that the magnetic mirror retains light's original electrical signature while a standard metallic mirror reverses it upon reflection. (Credit: Authors)

Sandia National Laboratories scientists have created a new type of mirror that reflects infrared light by using an unusual magnetic property of a non-metallic metamaterial, instead of a reflective material.

By placing nanoscale antennas at or very near the surface of these “magnetic mirrors,” scientists are able to capture and harness electromagnetic radiation in ways that have potential in new classes of chemical sensors, solar cells, lasers, and other… read more

Ultra-high-resolution movies of live 3D biomolecules now possible with new microscope

October 23, 2014

A single HeLa cell in metaphase, imaged by lattice light sheet microscope. Growing microtubule endpoints and tracks are color coded by growth phase lifetime Credit: Betzig Lab, HHMI/Janelia Research Campus, Mimori-Kiyosue Lab, RIKEN Center for Developmental Biology)

A new imaging platform called a “lattice light sheet” developed by Nobel laureate Eric Betzig and colleagues at the Howard Hughes Medical Institute’s Janelia Research Campus is a significant leap forward for light microscopy. It captures high-resolution images rapidly and minimizes damage to cells, so it can image the three-dimensional activity of molecules, cells, and embryos in fine detail over longer periods than was previously possible, according to… read more

Will cosmic rays threaten Mars One, other deep-space astronaut projects?

October 23, 2014

Artist's rendition of the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter at the moon. The CRaTER telescope is seen pointing out at the bottom right center of the LRO spacecraft. (Credit: Chris Meaney/NASA)

Crewed missions to Mars such as Mars One may face dangerous levels of cosmic rays (energetic particles), according to a new paper in the journal Space Weather by University of New Hampshire (UNH) scientists.

This is due to a recent highly abnormal and extended lack of solar activity, resulting in extremely low densities and magnetic field strengths in the solar wind.

This results in a serious reduction in the… read more

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Ask Ray | Article on integrating digital media into children’s lives by my wife Sonya Kurzweil, PhD

August 21, 2014

(credit: iStockphoto)

Dear readers,

I want to share some articles written by my wife, Sonya Kurzweil, PhD who is a psychologist in private practice and clinical instructor in Psychology at Harvard Medical School. Sonya’s medical expertise is women, children, parents and families.

She is interested in the way that digital media can be integrated into the lives of children and teens.

Her recent essays on parenting and digital technology… read more

Are copyrighted works only by and for humans?

The copyright Planet of the Apes and robots
August 20, 2014 by Mark A. Fischer

Macaca nigra self-portrait (credit: Wikimedia Commons)

Why should humans own all the world’s copyrights? The question is prompted by a photograph that’s made worldwide news. In Indonesia, a female crested black macaque monkey picked up a camera owned by photographer David Slater.

I won’t focus much on the story of the monkey and her selfie because that topic has already been well-discussed in the media. Yet the story sets the table for more… read more

‘The end of work’ with Ray Kurzweil, Andrew McAfee, Chris Lydon [UPDATE: podcast available]

July 31, 2014

Radio Open Source - The End of Work - one

The jobless economy: a fully automated, engineered, robotic system that doesn’t need you, or me either. Anything we can do, machines can do better — surgery, warfare, farming, finance. What’s to do? Shall we smash the machines, or go to the beach, or finally learn to play the piano?

Economists predict that 50% of US jobs could be automated in a decade or two. Big fun show with… read more

Ask Ray | Can technology help us find love?

July 29, 2014

(credit: iStock)

Ray,

The promises of accelerating technology are impressive, possibly eliminating disease, poverty, and even death.

But I wonder what hope there is for the lonely. Personally, I’m approaching middle age and have never been on a date. And I know I’m not the only one out there in this situation.

Is there anything technology can do in the near or far future to help people like me… read more

Ask Ray | The incredible unlikelihood of being

July 24, 2014

(credit: iStock)

Hello Ray,

The universe existed several billion years before humans were conscious, and will exist several billion years after we are conscious.

So, it is statistically improbable for the chronological timeline of the universe to be located at this precise moment, when we are conscious, that is, an 80 year lifespan within some 30 billion years.

Are you aware of any theories, besides survivorship bias from statistics, that… read more

Wait six years to buy your next car

July 23, 2014 by Randal O'Toole

A demonstrator car with two Lidar laser sensors hanging on the front bumper, five radar sensors hiding behind the fenders, and two optical sensors with 360-degree fields of view on the roof. Click image for a larger view. (Credit: Harbrick)

You’ll be able to buy a car that can drive itself under most conditions, with an option for override by a human driver, in 2020, according to the median estimate in a survey of 217 attendees of the 2014 Automated Vehicles Symposium. By 2030, the group estimated, you’ll be able to buy a car that is so fully automated it won’t even have the option for a human driver.… read more

Wild ride ahead: glimpse at humanity’s long range future

July 23, 2014 by Richard (Dick) Pelletier

A Type III civilization can harness all the energy of a galaxy (credit: ESA)

Imagine if you could take an exotic vacation billions of light years from Earth, peek in on the dinosaurs’ first-hand, or jump into a parallel universe where another you is living a more exciting life than yours — and you could swap places if you like.

For years, scientists have bandied about radical ideas that future humans will one day harness wormholes to zip across the universe at faster-than-light… read more

Ask Ray | Jewish scholar says robots will achieve human level intelligence

July 16, 2014

(credit: iStock)

Dear readers,

I recently saw this article by the Jewish Telegraphic Agency and wanted to share it with you.

I have an ongoing interest in the Turing test — a competition that gauges whether an artificial intelligence is capable of human level conversation.

There was a recent test of a chatbot named Eugene Goostman, and I’ve written my reaction to its test results.

This article is… read more

Ask Ray | There are already many cyborgs among us

July 15, 2014

(credit: iStock)

Dear readers,

Check out this article on NBC News. I discussed this topic at Time’s 2003 The Future of Life Summit, during the session “The next frontier.” My full dialog is below. My point was “there are already many cyborgs among us.”

Ray Kurzweil

NBC | “Cyborgs among us: human biohackers embed chips in their bodies”

related viewing from NBC:read more

Ask Ray | E.M. Forster’s 1909 story ‘The Machine Stops’ predicts the web, tablets and artificial intelligence

June 30, 2014

The Machine Stops - book cover front

Dear readers,

A remarkable foreshadowing of the internet, tablet computers and artificial intelligence from a century ago: E.M. Forster’s 1909 short story “The Machine Stops.”

Ray Kurzweil

Wikipedia | “The Machine Stops” is a science fiction short story by E. M. Forster. After initial publication in The Oxford and Cambridge Review in November 1909, the story was republished in Forster’s The Eternal Moment and Otherread more

Ask Ray | US Supreme Court acknowledges that personal space has merged with the digital world

June 28, 2014 by Ray Kurzweil

(credit: iStock)

Dear readers,

My friend — of 50 years! — Mark Bergmann, brought this recent quote from US Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts to my attention:

“Modern cell phones are such a pervasive and insistent part of daily life that the proverbial visitor from Mars might conclude they were an important feature of human anatomy,” said Roberts, commenting in the recent Supreme Court ruling on cell phones warrants.… read more

Google I/O 2014 | video: Ray Kurzweil presents “Biologically Inspired Models of Intelligence”

June 20, 2014

IO 2014

Google I/O 2014 | Ray Kurzweil: “Biologically Inspired Models of Intelligence,” filmed June 25, 2014

Google | For decades Ray Kurzweil has explored how artificial intelligence can enrich and expand human capabilities. In his latest book How to Create a Mind, he takes this exploration to the next step: reverse-engineering the brain to understand precisely how it works, then applying that knowledge to create intelligent machines.

In… read more

Ask Ray | Music videos on living forever ** updated **

June 19, 2014

(credit: Oasis)

Dear readers,

I enjoyed these two hit songs on the modern theme of living forever. I want to share these popular music videos, and their concepts.

Ultimately, their lyrics move toward a perspective that reflects my own optimistic, positive outlook on what is possible.

The choruses include the phrases “Move towards the future” and “I want to live forever, now’s the time to find out.” Both songs reiterate:… read more

Ask Ray | Response to announcement of chatbot Eugene Goostman passing the Turing test

June 10, 2014 by Ray Kurzweil

Eugene Goostman chatbot screenshot (credit:

On June 8, 2014, The University of Reading announced that a computer program “has passed the Turing test for the first time.”

University of Reading professor Kevin Warwick, PhD, described it this way:
“Some will claim that the test has already been passed. The words ‘Turing test’ have been applied to similar competitions around the world. However, this event involved more simultaneous comparison tests than ever before, was independently… read more

TED Talk 2014 | Ray Kurzweil: “Get ready for hybrid thinking” video now playing

June 4, 2014

TED 30 years logo

TED | Two hundred million years ago, our mammal ancestors developed a new brain feature: the neocortex. This stamp-sized piece of tissue, wrapped around a brain the size of a walnut, is the key to what humanity has become.

Now, futurist Ray Kurzweil suggests, we should get ready for the next big leap in brain power, as we tap into the computing power in the cloud.… read more

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