Breaking news

Top story

Designing the exascale computers of the future

July 24, 2014

Tianhe-2-supercomputer

Several groups in Harvard’s School of Engineering and Applied Sciences (SEAS), are contributing to the basic science and engineering that will be needed to create the hardware and software for the next generation of supercomputers.

The goal: an exascale machine, performing at least 1018 (sextillian) operations per second — 30 times faster than the current fastest machine in the world, China’s Tianhe-2, capable of an Rmax* of 33.86… 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

A fly-inspired miniature microphone

Hypersensitive 2-millimeter-wide device could lead to a new generation of miniaturized low-power hearing aids
July 25, 2014

This is a photograph of the biologically-inspired microphone taken under a microscope, providing a top-side view. The tiny structure rotates and flaps about the pivots (labeled), producing an electric potential across the electrodes (labeled). (Credit: N. Hall/UT Austin)

University of Texas Austin researchers have developed a tiny prototype microphone device that mimics the Ormia ochraceafly’s hearing mechanism. The design may be useful for a new generation of hypersensitive, millimeter-sized, low-power hearing aids.

The yellow-colored Ormia ochracea fly, the inspiration for the design, can pinpoint the location of a chirping cricket with remarkable accuracy because of its freakishly acute hearing, which relies upon a sophisticated sound processing… read more

New Google X Project to look for disease and health patterns in collected data

July 25, 2014

Smart contact lens (credit: Google)

Google X has launched a new Moonshot project called Baseline Study to “collect anonymous genetic and molecular information from 175 people—and later thousands more—to create what the company hopes will be the fullest picture of what a healthy human being should be,” says The Wall Street Journal.

Specifically, Google will collect samples and look for disease and health biomarkers, or patterns.

The project is run by… read more

How to prevent diseases of aging

July 24, 2014

By 2050, the number of people aged over 60 years is projected to be five times that in 1950 (credit: Luigi Fontana, Brian K. Kennedy, and and Valter D. Longo/Nature)

By 2050, the number of people over the age of 80 will triple globally, which could come at great cost to individuals and economies.

Unfortunately, medicine focuses almost entirely on fighting chronic diseases in a piecemeal fashion as symptoms develop, researchers writing in the journal Nature say. Instead, more efforts should be directed to promoting interventions that have the potential to prevent multiple chronic diseases and extend healthy lifespans.… read more

A new approach to SETI: targeting alien polluters

July 24, 2014

In this artist's conception, the atmosphere of an Earth-like planet displays a brownish haze - the result of widespread pollution. New research shows that the upcoming James Webb Space Telescope potentially could detect certain pollutants, specifically CFCs, in the atmospheres of Earth-sized planets orbiting white dwarf stars. (Credit: Christine Pulliam (CfA))

We might be able to spot extraterrestrial civilizations if we assume they spew industrial pollution into the atmosphere, say theorists at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics (CfA).

Conversely, ET could spot us.

The team suggests that under ideal conditions, the upcoming James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) should be able to detect two kinds of chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) — aerosols and ozone-destroying chemicals used in solvents.… read more

A robot with two extra fingers helps you grip stuff

July 23, 2014

The 7-fingered hand can perform tasks that would usually require two hands, such as holding up a tablet computer and typing letters on it (credit: Harry Asad and Faye Wu)

MIT researchers have developed a robot that enhances the grasping motion of the human hand.

The device, worn around your wrist, works like two extra fingers adjacent to the pinky and thumb.

A novel control algorithm enables it to move in sync with the wearer’s fingers to grasp objects of various shapes and sizes. Wearing the robot, a user could use one hand to hold the… read more

Chinese city sealed off after man dies from bubonic plague

July 23, 2014

Yersinia pestis bacteria (credit: Wikimedia Commons)

The Chinese city of Yumen in Gansu province in China was sealed off Tuesday for nine days (ending today) after a man died of bubonic plague,  South China Post reports, based on a report by China Central Television.

“Other reports said the 38-year-old victim had come across a dead marmot on July 13. He is said to have chopped it up to feed to his dog, but… read more

More-efficient solar-powered steam

Can convert 85 percent of incoming solar energy into steam, eliminating need for complex, costly systems to highly concentrate sunlight
July 22, 2014

solar steam generator - ft

A new carbon-based material structure developed at MIT generates steam from solar energy.

The structure — a layer of graphite flakes and an underlying carbon foam — is a porous, insulating material structure that floats on water.

When sunlight hits the structure’s surface, it creates a hotspot in the graphite, drawing water up through the material’s pores, where it evaporates as steam. The brighter the light,… read more

Noninvasive retinal imaging device detects Alzheimer’s 20 years in advance

Device could be FDA-approved by 2015 and early signs of Alzheimer's could be detected in a regular ophthalmologist exam
July 22, 2014

Retina test for Alzheimers - feat

Cedars-Sinai Medical Center researchers have developed a noninvasive retinal imaging device that can provide early detection of changes indicating Alzheimer’s disease 15 to 20 years before clinical diagnosis.

“In preliminary results in 40 patients, the test could differentiate between Alzheimer’s disease and non-Alzheimer’s disease with 100 percent sensitivity and 80.6 percent specificity, meaning that all people with the disease tested positive and most of the people without… read more

3D-printed-anatomy developers aim to revolutionize medical education

July 22, 2014

Part of the ‘3D Printed Anatomy Series’ thought to be the first commercially available resource of its kind (credit: Monash University)

A kit of 3D-printed anatomical body parts could revolutionize medical education and training, according to its developers at Monash University.

Professor Paul McMenamin, Director of the University’s Centre for Human Anatomy Education, said the simple and cost-effective anatomical kit would dramatically improve trainee doctors’ and other health professionals’ knowledge and could even contribute to the development of new surgical treatments.

“Many medical… read more

One injection stops type 2 diabetes without side effects

Helps keep blood sugar under control and reverses insulin insensitivity
July 21, 2014

In the liver tissue of obese animals with type 2 diabetes, unhealthy, fat-filled cells are prolific (small white cells, panel A). After chronic treatment through FGF1 injections, the liver cells successfully lose fat and absorb sugar from the bloodstream (small purple cells, panel B) and more closely resemble cells of normal, non-diabetic animals. (Credit: Salk Institute)

In mice with diet-induced diabetes — the equivalent of type 2 diabetes in humans — a single injection of the protein FGF1 is enough to restore blood sugar levels to a healthy range for more than two days. The discovery by Salk Institute scientists, published in the journal Nature, could lead to a new generation of safer, more effective diabetes drugs.

The team found that… read more

More news

Latest blog posts

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

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

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

X Prize launches artificially intelligent TED presentation contest

March 20, 2014

robots in conversation on stage

Call for feedback from X Prize for a contest, presented by TED, that features a talk written and showcased on stafe 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… read more

More blog posts

@KurzweilAINews

close and return to Home