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Nanopropeller could be used for microscopic medicine

July 31, 2014

Schematic of micro- and nanopropellers in hyaluronan gels. The polymeric mesh structure blocks the larger micropropellers (top left), but smaller propellers with a diameter close to the mesh size can pass through it (credit: Debora Schamel et al./ACS Nano)

Israeli and German researchers have created a nanoscale screw-shaped propeller that can move in a gel-like fluid, mimicking the environment inside a living organism, as described in a paper published in the June 2014 issue of ACS Nano.

The team comprises researchers from Technion, the Max Planck Institute for Intelligent Systems, and the Institute for Physical Chemistry at the University of Stuttgart.

The… read more

A ‘nanosubmarine’ that could deliver drug molecules to cells

July 31, 2014

The sequential transport of donors and acceptors across cell membranes with independent and dynamic nanocarriers enables energy transfer exclusively in the intracellular space with concomitant fluorescence activation (credit: Francisco Raymo, professor of Chemistry and director of the laboratory for molecular photonics, at the University of Miami College of Arts and Sciences)

Researchers at the University of Miami and the University of Ulster have created self-assembling nanoparticles that can transport drugs and other molecules into target living cells.

The new nanocarriers are just 15 nanometers in diameter, based on building blocks called amphiphilic polymers: they have both hydrophilic (water-loving, polar) and lipophilic (fat-loving) properties). That allows the nanocarriers to hold the… read more

A rice genome to feed the world

Will it deal with the "9 billion-people question" for the year 2050?
July 31, 2014

Understanding the complete genome of African rice will enable researchers and agriculturalists to develop new varieties of rice with African rice's hardiness, making them better able to adapt to conditions of a changing climate. (Credit: International Rice Research Institute)

An international team of researchers led by the University of Arizona (UA) has sequenced the complete genome of African rice.

The genetic information will enhance scientists’ and agriculturalists’ understanding of the growing patterns of African rice, and help development of new rice varieties that are better able to cope with increasing environmental stressors to help solve global hunger challenges, the researchers say.

The research paper was… read more

Brainwaves of a few people predict mass audience reaction to TV programs and ads

July 31, 2014

Herewego

Brain responses of just a few individuals are a remarkably strong predictor of response to future products and messages, according to a study conducted at the City College of New York (CCNY)  and Georgia Tech.

By analyzing the brainwaves of just 16 individuals as they watched mainstream television content, the researchers were able to accurately predict the preferences of large TV audiences — up to… read more

Simple vision-correcting overlay and algorithm could replace reading glasses for viewing devices

July 30, 2014

Researchers placed a printed pinhole array mask on top of an iPod touch as part of their prototype display. Shown above are top-down and side-view images of the setup. (Credit: Fu-Chung Huang)

UC Berkeley and MIT researchers have developed a prototype of a simple vision-correcting display (and associated algorithm) that uses a printed pinhole screen sandwiched between two layers of clear plastic attached to an iPod display to enhance image sharpness.

The tiny pinholes are 75 microns (millionths of a meter) each and spaced 390 microns apart.

The algorithm adjusts the intensity of each direction of light that emanates from… read more

Beyond GPS: five next-generation technologies

July 30, 2014

DARPA is pioneering the next-generation of PNT capabilities beyond GPS, which includes using miniaturization, pulsed lasers, quantum physics and even lightning strikes for external navigational fixes (credit: DARPA)

Several DARPA programs are exploring innovative technologies and approaches that could supplement GPS to provide reliable, highly accurate real-time positioning, navigation and timing (PNT) data for military and civilian uses and deal with possible loss of GPS accuracy from solar storms or jamming, for example.

DARPA Director Arati Prabhakar  said DARPA currently has five programs that focus on PNT-related technology.

Adaptable Navigation Systems (ANS)read more

Astrocytes — not neurons — found to control the brain’s gamma waves and some forms of memory

Cells thought to play only supporting roles demonstrate surprising effects on object-recognition memory and cognitive behavior
July 30, 2014

Poisoned astrocytes

In a study published July 28 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Salk Institute for Biological Sciences researchers have found that brain cells called astrocytes — not neurons — can control the brain’s gamma waves.

They also found that astrocytes — a type of glial cell traditionally thought to provide more of a support role in the brain —… read more

3D-printing objects containing multiple metals and alloys

July 29, 2014

This is a prototype of a mirror mount that scientists made using a new 3-D printing technique. The part at the top near the glass mirror is made of a metal with low thermal expansion, so that it won't shrink in space as much as most metals do. Using this kind of metal therefore prevents stress in the epoxy adhesive between the mirror and the metal. The bottom part of this mount is stainless steel, and could be connected to a stainless steel component of a spacecraft. (Credit: NASA-JPL/Caltech)

Researchers at NASA‘s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), California Institute of Technology, and Pennsylvania State University have developed a 3D printing process that transitions from one metal or alloy to another in a single object.

For example, they created a prototype of an improved telescope mirror mount. The part at the top near the glass mirror is made of a metal with low… read more

An alternative to the Turing test: ‘Winograd Schema Challenge’ annual competition announced

Invites researchers and students to design computer programs that simulate human intelligence
July 28, 2014

(credit: iStock)

Nuance Communications, Inc. announced today an annual competition to develop programs that can solve the Winograd Schema Challenge, an alternative to the Turing test that provides a more accurate measure of genuine machine intelligence, according to its developer, Hector Levesque, Professor of Computer Science at the University of Toronto, and winner of the 2013 IJCAI Award for Research Excellence.

Nuance is sponsoring the yearly… read more

Designing nanoparticles that can deliver drugs more easily

July 28, 2014

MIT engineers created simulations of how a gold nanoparticle coated with special molecules can penetrate a membrane. At left, the particle (top) makes contact with the membrane. At right, it has fused to the membrane. (Credit: Reid Van Lehn)

A new study led by MIT materials scientists reveals the reason why gold nanoparticles  can easily slip through cell membranes to deliver drugs directly to target cells.

The nanoparticles enter cells by taking advantage of a route normally used in vesicle-vesicle fusion, a crucial process that allows signal transmission between neurons.

In the July 21 issue of Nature Communications, the researchers describe in detail the mechanism… read more

Understanding graphene’s electrical properties at the atomic level

"If you cut it one way, it might behave more like a metal, and, if you cut it another way, it could be more like a semiconductor."
July 28, 2014

An illustration of a graphene nanoribbon shaped by the beam of a transmission electron microscope (credit: Robert Johnson)

University of Pennsylvania researchers have used a cutting-edge microscope to study the relationship between the atomic geometry of a ribbon of graphene and its electrical properties.

A deeper understanding of this relationship will be necessary for the design of graphene-based integrated circuits, computer chips, and other electronic devices.

The study was published in the journal Nano Letters.

The researchers used Brookhaven National Laboratory‘s aberration-corrected… read more

A cost-effective nanotube-based catalyst for producing hydrogen fuel

July 28, 2014

A new technology based on carbon nanotubes promises commercially viable hydrogen production from water (credit: Tewodros Asefa)

Rutgers researchers have used carbon nanotubes as a catalyst for splitting water into hydrogen and oxygen, which could replace expensive platinum for making clean-burning hydrogen fuel — which could one day replace expensive, environmentally harmful fossil fuels.

The Rutgers technology is also far more efficient than other low-cost catalysts investigated to date for electrolysis reactions, which use electric currents to split water molecules into hydrogen and oxygen,… read more

Curiosity’s images show Earth-like soils on Mars, suggest microbial life

July 26, 2014

Rover image from Gale Crater reveals soil features similar to paleosols on Earth (credit: NASA)

Ancient fossilized soils potentially found deep inside an impact crater suggest microbial life.

Soil deep in a crater dating to some 3.7 billion years ago contains evidence that Mars was once much warmer and wetter, says University of Oregon geologist Gregory Retallack, based on recent images from Curiosity.

The images from the impact Gale Crater, Retallack said, reveal Earth-like soil profiles with cracked surfaces… read more

Study suggests probiotics could prevent obesity and insulin resistance

A pill that prevents obesity (even with a high-fat diet) could be on the horizon
July 25, 2014

Obese vs. normal mouse (credit: Wikimedia Commons)

Vanderbilt University researchers have discovered that engineered probiotic bacteria (“friendly” bacteria like those in yogurt) in the gut produce a therapeutic compound that inhibits weight gain, insulin resistance, and other adverse effects of a high-fat diet in mice.

“Of course it’s hard to speculate from mouse to human,” said senior investigator Sean Davies, Ph.D., assistant professor of Pharmacology. “But essentially, we’ve prevented most… read more

New clues to how synapses in the brain are programmed

July 25, 2014

Cerebellar granule cells, parallel fibers, and flattened dendritic trees of Purkinje cells (credit: Wikimedia Commons)

Washington University School of Medicine researchers have identified a group of proteins that program synapses in the brain, controlling neural development and learning, with implications for conditions such as autism.

In a study of the cerebellum (which plays a central role in controlling the coordination of movement and is essential for “procedural motor learning”) of mice, published in the journal Neuron, they found that a complex of… read more

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Latest blog posts

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

CNN Morgan Spurlock Inside Man episode ‘Futurism’ featuring Ray Kurzweil and Terry Grossman, MD

May 1, 2014

CNN | CNN original series Morgan Spurlock Inside Man, hosted and produced by the Oscar-nominated documentary filmmaker, launches its second season on CNN on April 13, 2014.

The second episode, “Futurism,” featuring Ray Kurzweil and Terry Grossman, MD, will rebroadcast on the evening of May 2, 2014. It will air on Friday, May 2, at 11:00 pm ET and 8:00 pm PT. It will also air Friday, May… read more

Ask Ray | Supporting women in the sciences and technology

April 28, 2014

(credit: iStock)

Dear readers,

There is a major push in Silicon Valley to recruit more women into software engineering. The overall issue of the lack of women in this field is a national issue.

I strongly encourage and support women in the sciences and in technology.

A recent article I found interesting, and wanted to share:
The New York Times | “Technology’s man problem”

Here is… read more

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

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