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Future chips may operate at atomic dimensions

April 23, 2014

perovskite

In an effort to shrink down electronic devices to atomic dimensions, researchers from Cornell University and Brookhaven National Laboratory have shown how to switch exotic transition metal oxide material from a metal to an insulator by making the material less than a nanometer thick.

Transition metal oxides seem to have it all: superconductivity, magnetoresistance, and other exotic properties. These possibilities have scientists excited to understand… read more

Gecko-like adhesives now work on real-world surfaces

UMass Amherst Scientists Develop New, More Versatile Version of Geckskin
April 23, 2014

Geckskin scansor-1

University of Massachusetts Amherst researchers report in Advanced Materials how they have expanded their design theory to allow Geckskin to adhere powerfully to a wider variety of surfaces found in most homes such as drywall, wood, and metal, not just glass — an elusive goal of many research teams across the world.

“Imagine sticking your tablet on a wall to watch your favorite movie and then moving… read more

Excitons observed in action for the first time

Could lead to significant advances in electronics
April 23, 2014

mit_excitons

Scientists at MIT and the City University of New York have imaged excitons’ motions directly for the first time.

A quasiparticle called an exciton — responsible for the transfer of energy within devices such as solar cells, LEDs, and semiconductor circuits — has been understood theoretically for decades. But exciton movement within materials had never been directly observed.

The finding could enable research leading to significant… read more

Laser could trigger rain and lightning

April 22, 2014

Illustration of a high-intensity laser dressed with a secondary laser that helps provide fuel to extend the distance of the primary beam.

Researchers at the University of Central Florida’s College of Optics & Photonics and the University of Arizona have further developed a new technique to aim a high-energy laser beam into clouds to make it rain or trigger lightning.

The solution: surround the beam with a second beam to act as an energy reservoir, sustaining the central beam to greater distances than previously possible. The secondary “dress” beam… read more

Building ‘smart’ cell-based therapies

April 22, 2014

building-smart-cell-based-therapies-header

A Northwestern synthetic biology team has created a new technology for modifying human cells to create programmable therapeutics that could travel the body and selectively target cancer and other sites of disease.

Engineering cell-based biological devices that monitor and modify human physiology is a promising frontier in clinical synthetic biology. However, no existing technology has enabled bioengineers to build devices that sense a patient’s physiological state and respond in… read more

Creating spontaneous ‘cell’ division in artificial cell models

April 22, 2014

active_droplet_large

Scientists of the International School for Advanced Studies (SISSA) of Triest have taken a first step toward the creation of functioning artificial cells by reproducing motility in their computer models, causing the “cells” to divide spontaneously without the action of external forces

The research could provide a better understanding of the development of life on our planet.

Droplets of filamentous material enclosed in a lipid membrane… read more

A neuromorphic-computing ‘roadmap’

April 22, 2014

Professor Jennifer Hasler displays a field programmable analog array (FPAA) board that includes an integrated circuit with biological-based neuron structures for power-efficient calculation.  Hasler’s research indicates that this type of board, which is programmable but has low power requirements, could play an important role in advancing neuromorphic computing. (Credit: Rob Felt)

Electrical engineers at the Georgia Institute of Technology have  published a roadmap that details innovative analog-based techniques that they believe could make it possible to build a practical neuromorphic (brain-inspired) computer while minimizing energy requirements.

“A configurable analog-digital system can be expected to have a power efficiency improvement of up to 10,000 times compared to an all-digital system,” said Jennifer Hasler, a professor in the Georgia… read more

Preventing an autonomous-systems arms race

April 21, 2014

The Switchblade is a self-guided cruise missile designed to fit into a soldiers rucksack (credit: AeroVironment)

A study by AI researcher Steve Omohundro just published in the Journal of Experimental & Theoretical Artificial Intelligence (open access) suggests that humans should be very careful to prevent future autonomous technology-based systems from developing anti-social and potentially harmful behavior.

Modern military and economic pressures require autonomous systems that can react quickly — and without human input. These systems will be required to make rational decisions for themselves.… read more

Thinnest-possible nanomembrane produced

May allow for functional waterproof clothing and ultra-rapid filtration
April 18, 2014

Part of a graphene membrane with a multiplicity of pores (black) of precisely defined size (in this case with a diameter of 50 nanometres; photomicrograph (credit: Celebi K. et al. Science 2014)

ETH Zurich, Empa, LG Electronics researchers  have created the thinnest-possible nanomembrane. Made out of graphene, it is extremely light and breathable, and could lead to a new generation of functional waterproof clothing and ultra-rapid filtration.

The stable porous membrane consists of two layers of  graphene, a two-dimensional film made of carbon atoms, on which the researchers etched tiny pores of a precisely defined size to allow for… read more

3D microvascular network allows for repeated self-healing in composite materials

April 18, 2014

microvascular networks

Researchers at the Beckman Institute for Advanced Science and Technology at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have created a 3D vascular system that allows high-performance composite materials such as fiberglass to heal autonomously and repeatedly.

Internal damage in fiber-reinforced composites, which are used in structures of modern airplanes and automobiles, is difficult to detect and nearly impossible to repair by conventional methods. A small, internal crack… read more

CNN’s Spurlock Inside Man explores extreme life extension

April 18, 2014

(Credit: CNN)

In “Futurism,” an episode in CNN’s original series Morgan Spurlock Inside Man on Sunday April 20, Spurlock enters the “brave new world of extreme life extension, embarking on a life-prolonging regimen and trying everything from genome hacking to creating an avatar and uploading his consciousness in preparation for the ‘Technological Singularity.’

“Spurlock’s quest to live forever includes visits with radical futurist Ray Kurzweil, Stanford University’s Virtual Human Interaction Lab, Cambrian Genomics in San Francisco, North… read more

First Earth-size planet in ‘habitable zone’ discovered

April 18, 2014

An artistic concept of Kepler-186f based on a collaboration of scientists and artists (credit: NASA Ames/SETI Institute/JPL-Caltech)

Astronomers have discovered the first Earth-size planet orbiting a star in the “habitable zone” — the range of distance from a star where liquid water might pool on the surface of an orbiting planet. The discovery of Kepler-186f confirms that planets the size of Earth exist in the habitable zone of stars other than our sun.

Planets have previously been found in the habitable zone, but they are all… read more

Brain abnormalities associated with casual marijuana use

April 17, 2014

Cannabis leaf (credit: Wikimedia Commons)

Young adults who used marijuana only recreationally showed significant abnormalities in two key brain regions that are important in emotion and motivation, scientists report.

The study was a collaboration between Northwestern Medicine and Massachusetts General Hospital/Harvard Medical School.

This is the first study to show casual use of marijuana is related to major brain changes. It showed the degree of brain abnormalities in these regions is directly related… read more

Functional brain imaging reliably predicts which vegetative patients have potential to recover consciousness

Up to 40% of severely brain-damaged patients are misdiagnosed in bedside clinical examinations
April 17, 2014

lancet-consciousness-1

A functional brain imaging technique known as positron emission tomography (PET) is a promising tool for determining which severely brain damaged individuals in vegetative states have the potential to recover consciousness, according to new research published in The Lancet.

Surprisingly, this is the first time that researchers have tested the diagnostic accuracy of functional brain imaging techniques in clinical practice.

“Our findings suggest that PET imaging can reveal… read more

Low-cost, compact optics that turn a smartphone into a powerful portable microscope

April 17, 2014

Lens-uw-larson

University of Washington (UW) graduate Thomas Larson is developing a lens that will turn any smartphone or tablet computer into a handheld microscope that magnifies by 150 times.

It’s a new version of his Micro Phone Lens, a pliable lens that magnifies 15 times, or 60x with phone zoom. (Standard laboratory microscopes usually magnify between 50 and 400 times.)

Users simply stick the lens… 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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