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A tiny ultrasound-powered chip to serve as medical device

October 20, 2014

Stanford engineers can already power this prototype medical implant chip without wires by using ultrasound. Now they want to make it much smaller. (Credit: Arbabian Lab / Stanford School of Engineering)

Stanford engineers are developing a way to send power — safely and wirelessly — to “smart chips” in the body that are programmed to perform medical tasks and report back the results.

The idea is to get rid of wires and batteries, which would make the implant too big or clumsy.

Their approach involves beaming ultrasound at a tiny device inside the body designed to do three things:… read more

Beyond LEDs: brighter, new energy-saving flat-panel lights based on carbon nanotubes

October 20, 2014

This image shows a planar light source device from the front. (Credit: N.Shimoi/Tohoku University)

Scientists from Tohoku University in Japan have developed a new type of energy-efficient flat light source, based on carbon nanotubes, with very low power consumption of around 0.1 Watt-hours of operation — about a hundred times lower than that of an LED.

In the journal Review of Scientific Instruments, the researchers detail the fabrication and optimization of the device, which is based on a phosphor screen and single-walled carbon nanotubes… read more

Hagel orders formation of military Expeditionary Ebola Support Team

October 19, 2014

USAMRIIDsoldiers

On Sunday (Oct. 18), U.S. Secretary of Defense  Chuck Hagel ordered his Northern Command Commander, Gen. Chuck Jacoby, to “prepare and train a 30-person expeditionary medical support team that could, if required, provide short-notice assistance to civilian medical professionals in the United States.”

The team will consist of 20 critical care nurses, five doctors trained in infectious disease, and five trainers in infectious disease protocols.

Team members will… read more

Bio-inspired ‘nano-cocoons’ trick cancer cells into accepting drug delivery

A less-toxic DNA-based drug delivery system
October 17, 2014

This image illustrates how the nano-cocoon system works. (Credit: Zhen Gu)

Biomedical engineering researchers have developed a drug delivery system consisting of nanoscale “cocoons” made of DNA that target cancer cells and trick the cells into absorbing the cocoon before unleashing anticancer drugs.

The work was done by researchers at North Carolina State University and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

“This drug delivery system is DNA-based, which means it is biocompatible and less toxic to patients… read more

How to build layered 3D graphene-based materials

October 17, 2014

Electron microscopy images of the porous graphene-based structure created by diffusion driven layer-by-layer assembly (Credit: Kyoto University)

Researchers from the Institute for Integrated Cell-Material Sciences (iCeMS) at Kyoto University have developed a novel but simple technique called “diffusion driven layer-by-layer assembly” to construct graphene into porous three-dimensional structures for applications in devices such as batteries and supercapacitors.

Their study was recently published in the journal Nature Communications.

The problem they addressed is the difficulty of piecing together graphene sheets into useful larger structures. The researchers… read more

How teachers’ myths about the brain are hampering teaching

October 17, 2014

Photographs of the left and right midsagittal sections of Einstein’s brain with original labels (Falk et al., 2013), reproduced here with permission from the National Museum of Health and Medicine, Silver Spring, MD. The red circles indicate two breaches on each<br />
hemisphere of Einstein’s corpus callosum that have different shapes, which may have been introduced when the two hemispheres were<br />
separated in 1955.

Teachers in the UK, Holland, Turkey, Greece and China were presented with seven “neuromyths” and asked whether they believe them to be true.

A quarter or more of teachers in the UK and Turkey believe a student’s brain would shrink if they drank less than six to eight glasses of water a day, while around half or more of those surveyed believe a student’s brain is only 10 per… read more

Why your hospital may be unable to prevent spread of Ebola

October 17, 2014

Ebola particle (credit: National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases)

Challenging reassurances by CDC director Tom Frieden, M.D. Thursday in congressional testimony, a group of infectious disease experts has suggested that conventional U.S. medical centers are unprepared and ill equipped to manage Ebola, in an open-access article published Thursday in Annals of Internal Medicine.

The authors recommend that a national network of specialized containment and treatment facilities tied to biosafety level-4 laboratories or airport… read more

Precision control of 3D printing of metals at specific microscale locations and crystal-structure orientations

October 16, 2014

ORNL researchers have demonstrated the ability to precisely control the structure and properties of 3-D printed metal parts during formation. The electron backscatter diffraction image shows variations in crystallographic orientation in a nickel-based component, achieved by controlling the 3-D printing process at the microscale. (Credit: ORNL)

Researchers at the Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) have demonstrated a additive manufacturing method for controlling the structure and properties of metal components at the microscale with precision unmatched by conventional manufacturing processes.

“We can now control local material properties, which will change the future of how we engineer metallic components,” said Ryan Dehoff, staff scientist and metal additive manufacturing lead at the Department of Energy’s… read more

Open-source solar-powered 3D printers can go almost anywhere

October 16, 2014

Quasi-portable Solar 3D Printer<br />
The quasi-portable solar-powered RepRap on a cart meant for schools or small businesses. (Credit: Debbie King)

Open-source solar-powered 3D printers could bring 3D printing to remote areas, Professor Joshua Pearce at Michigan Technological University has proposed.

One version features an array of solar photovoltaic panels and a stand-alone printer that could be stationed in a sunny schoolyard and print anything from consumer toys to science lab equipment.

The second system is smaller and fits in a suitcase, based on a RepRap… read more

World’s thinnest piezoelectricity generator

Could lead to wearable electronic devices based on MoS2 that are transparent, extremely light, and very bendable and stretchable
October 16, 2014

Positive and negative polarized charges are squeezed from a single layer of atoms, as it is being stretched. (Credit: Lei Wang / Columbia Engineering)

Researchers from Columbia Engineering and Georgia Institute of Technology reported Wednesday (Oct. 15) that they have made the first experimental observation of piezoelectricity (generation of electricity from mechanical stress) and the piezotronic effect (using piezoelectricity as a semiconductor gate to control current flow in a device) in an atomically thin material, molybdenum disulfide (MoS2) — potentially resulting in devices that are optically transparent, extremely… read more

Mars One design not feasible, MIT researchers find

October 15, 2014

The non-profit company Mars One plans to establish the first human settlement on Mars by 2025. Pictured is an artist's rendering of a series of habitats. Solar panels (in the foreground), would supply the colony's electricity, while a system to extract water from the soil (in the background) would supply drinking water. (Credit: Bryan Versteeg / Mars One)

MIT researchers have developed a detailed settlement-analysis tool to assess the feasibility of the Mars One plans to establish the first human colony on Mars by 2025,  finding that new technologies will be needed to keep humans alive on Mars.

Mars One —  considered by some to be essentially a Dutch-made reality TV show — claims that the entire mission can be built upon technologies that already… read more

Hypersensitive ‘smart’ material created from neural proteins

October 15, 2014

The height of the new protein brush, made from neurofilament-derived proteins, can be precisely controlled with protein-digesting enzymes, or proteases. The protease thrombin cut the brush superficially at the red cross marks, resulting in a negligible change to the height of the brush. The protease clostripain cut the brush much more deeply at the yellow cross marks, and thus had a more measurable effect on height. (Credit: Sanjay Kumar)

UC Berkeley scientists have taken proteins from nerve cells and used them to create a “smart” material that is extremely sensitive to its environment.

This marriage of materials science and biology could give birth to a flexible, sensitive coating that is easy and cheap to manufacture in large quantities.

The work, published Oct. 14 in the journal Nature Communications, could lead to new types of biological sensors, flow… read more

Creating e-noses using fruit flies

"Surprisingly capable of distinguishing chemicals that they have not evolved to process"
October 15, 2014

Schematic of olfactory sensory functions in a fly's head (credit: Thomas Nowotny et al./Bioinspiration and Biomimetics)

The “nose” (sensors on the antennas) of the common fruit fly (drosophila melanogaster) could soon be used to detect illegal drugs and explosives, based on new research that has revealed the fly’s impressive ability to detect a wide range of smells, as described in an open-access paper published today (October 15) in the  journal Bioinspiration and Biomimetics.

The researchers, from the University of Sussex, Monash University, and… read more

Bioinspired coating for medical devices avoids clotting and suppresses bacterial infection

Repels blood and bacteria, including biofilms
October 15, 2014

This Scanning Electron Microscope (SEM) image shows how red blood cells coagulate to form a blood clot, which is a common and life-threatening risk associated with the use of implanted medical devices. (Credit: James Weaver, Harvard’s Wyss Institute)

A team of Harvard scientists and engineers has developed a new surface coating for medical devices that in tests repelled blood from more than 20 medically relevant substrates and also suppressed biofilm formation.

The study was reported in Nature Biotechnology.

Avoiding blood clotting and bacterial infcction

The problem they addressed was that any device implanted in the body (or in contact with flowing blood) could result in… read more

Microrobots armed with new force-sensing system to probe cells

October 14, 2014

This image shows a "microforce-sensing mobile microrobot" juxtaposed against a U.S. penny. The device is being developed at Purdue University  (Credit: Purdue University)

Purdue University researchers have designed and built a “vision-based micro force sensor end-effector” to measure forces on cells by being attached to microrobots, like a tiny nose.

A camera is used to measure the probe’s displacement while it pushes against cells, allowing for a simple calculation that reveals the force applied. Researchers already know the stiffness of the probe. When combined with displacement, a simple calculation reveals the force… read more

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Latest blog posts

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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