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An affordable holodeck for civil engineers

December 21, 2014

VuePod2

Brigham Young University (BYU) student civil engineers have constructed an affordable 3D immersive visualization system from commercial off-the-shelf components and open-source software.

The “VuePod” system uses 12 high-definition, 55-inch 3D televisions all connected to a computer capable of supporting high-end, graphics-intensive visualization.  Images are controlled by a Wii remote that interacts with a Kinect-like  3D tracking device called SMARTTRACK. 3D glasses worn by the user create the… read more

It might be possible to restore lost memories

Memories not stored in synapses, neurobiologist finds
December 22, 2014

Synapse (credit: Curtis Neveu/Wikimedia Commons)

New UCLA research indicates that lost memories can be restored, offering hope for patients in the early stages of Alzheimer’s disease.

For decades, most neuroscientists have believed that memories are stored at the synapses — the connections between brain cells, or neurons — which are destroyed by Alzheimer’s disease. The new study provides evidence contradicting the idea that long-term memory is stored at synapses.

“Long-term memory is not… read more

Could ibuprofen be an anti-aging medicine?

December 19, 2014

Ibuprofen extends the lifespan of C. elegans worms: survival curves treated with ibuprofen at 0.1 mM (red) compared to experiment-matched untreated (credit: Chong He et al./PLOS Genetics)

Ibuprofen, a common over-the-counter drug used to relieve pain and fever, could hold the keys to a longer healthier life, according to a study by researchers at the Buck Institute for Research on Aging.  Publishing in PLoS Genetics (open access) December 18, scientists showed that regular doses of ibuprofen extended the lifespan of yeast, worms and fruit flies.

Brian Kennedy, PhD, CEO of the Buck Institute, said treatments, given… read more

New magnetoelectric memory promises low-power, instant-on computing devices

December 19, 2014

multiferroic12-18a

A team led by postdoctoral associate John Heron of Cornell University has developed a room-temperature magnetoelectric memory design that replaces power-hungry electric currents with an electric field. It could lead to low-power, instant-on computing devices.

“The advantage here is low energy consumption,” Heron said. “It requires a low voltage, without current, to switch it. Devices that use currents consume more energy and dissipate a significant amount of that energy… read more

Deep neural network rivals primate brain in object recognition

December 19, 2014

object category recognition ft

A new study from MIT neuroscientists has found that for the first time, one of the latest generation of “deep neural networks” matches the ability of the primate brain to recognize objects during a brief glance.

Because these neural networks were designed based on neuroscientists’ current understanding of how the brain performs object recognition, the success of the latest networks suggests that neuroscientists have a fairly accurate grasp of… read more

Organic matter detected on Mars

December 18, 2014

PIA16937-web

The team responsible for the Sample Analysis at Mars (SAM) instrument suite on NASA’s Curiosity rover has made the first definitive detection of organic molecules at Mars, but there’s not enough evidence to tell if the matter came from ancient Martian life or from a non-biological process, such as interplanetary dust or fragments of asteroids and comets.

The surface of Mars is currently inhospitable to life as we know it,… read more

Quadriplegic shapes robot hand with her thoughts

Demonstrates ability of brain-computer interface
December 18, 2014

Using mind control, a woman with quadriplegia moves robot arm and hand in. (Credit: Journal of Neural Engineering/IOP Publishing)

In an experiment, a woman with quadriplegia shaped the almost-human hand of a robot arm with just her thoughts, directing it to pick up big and small boxes, a ball, an oddly shaped rock, and fat and skinny tubes and showing that brain-computer interface technology has the potential to improve the function and quality of life of those unable to use their own arms.

The findings by researchers at… read more

Spider webs, leaves inspire touch-screen, solar-cell designs

December 18, 2014

Refined by natural selection, spider webs and leaves serve as models for new and highly effective optoelectronic networks and displays (credit: Boston College)

Natural scaffoldings perfected by evolution such as spider webs and leaf veins can lead to near-optimal performance when copied to create flexible and durable networks for optoelectronic applications such as photovoltaic devices and display screens, researchers at Boston College, South China Normal, and University of Houston reported in the journal Nature Communications.

A network design inspired by the quasi-fractal vein-laced structure of a leaf served as an effective electrode for solar… read more

Stanford to host 100-year study on artificial intelligence

December 16, 2014

AI100

Stanford University has invited leading thinkers from several institutions to begin a 100-year effort to study and anticipate how the effects of artificial intelligence on every aspect of how people work, live, and play.

This effort, called the One Hundred Year Study on Artificial Intelligence (AI100) is the brainchild of computer scientist and Stanford alumnus Eric Horvitz. As former president of the Association for the Advancement of Artificial Intelligence,… read more

Stanford engineers invent radical ‘high-rise’ 3D chips

December 16, 2014

A four-layer prototype high-rise chip built by Stanford engineers. The bottom and top layers are logic transistors. Sandwiched between them are two layers of memory. The vertical tubes are nanoscale electronic “elevators” that connect logic and memory, allowing them to work together efficiently. (Credit: Max Shulaker, Stanford)

Stanford engineers have build 3D “high-rise” chips that could leapfrog the performance of the single-story logic and memory chips on today’s circuit cards, which are subject to frequent traffic jams between logic and memory.

The Stanford approach would attempt to end these jams by building layers of logic atop layers of memory to create a tightly interconnected high-rise chip. Many thousands of nanoscale electronic “elevators” would move data between… read more

Android app from GCHQ emulates the Enigma Machine

December 15, 2014

(Credit: GCHQ)

GCHQ, the British counterpart of the NSA, announced Friday a free Android (iOS planned) educational app called Cryptoy, which “enables users to understand basic encryption techniques, learn about their history, and then have a go at creating their own encoded messages.

“These can then be shared with friends via social media or more traditional means and the recipients can use the app to see “how… read more

New pulsed-magnetic method uses nanorods to deliver drugs deeply in the body

December 14, 2014

A new treatment technique applies quick magnetic pulses to ferromagnetic nanorods to delivery therapies to exact locations in the body in real time (credit: Iron Focus Medical)

A new technique to magnetically deliver drug-carrying nanorods to deep targets in the body using fast-pulsed magnetic fields could transform the way deep-tissue tumors and other diseases are treated, say researchers at the University of Maryland (UMD) and Bethesda-based Weinberg Medical Physics LLC (WMP).

Instead of surgery or systemically administered treatments (such as chemotherapy), the use of magnetic nanoparticles as drug carriers could potentially allow clinicians to use external magnets to focus… read more

Could a Blu-ray disc improve solar-cell performance?

December 12, 2014

It was rated of one of the 25 worst movie conversions to Blu-ray. But never mind that. A Teen Wolf Blu-ray disc will work just as fine in improving your future solar collector. (Credit: 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment)

Here’s an idea: recycle that old grade-B movie Blu-ray disc to improve your future solar collector. Well, sort of. It turns out the Blu-ray data storage pattern when used with a solar collector increases light absorption by 21.8 percent, according to new research from Northwestern University, thanks to Blu-ray discs’ quasi-random pattern and high data density.

The researchers tested a wide range of movies and television shows stored on… read more

A disposable organic oximeter

December 12, 2014

UC Berkeley engineers have created a pulse oximeter sensor composed of all-organic optoelectronics that uses red and green light. The red and green organic light-emitting diodes (OLED) are detected by the organic photodiode (OPD). The device measures arterial oxygen saturation and heart rate as accurately as conventional, silicon-based pulse oximeters. (Credit: Yasser Khan)

Engineers at UC Berkeley have designed a wearable organic (carbon-based) oximeter (for  blood-oxygen levels) device that could ultimately be thin, cheap, and flexible enough to be slapped on like a Band-Aid.

“There are various pulse oximeters already on the market that measure pulse rate and blood-oxygen saturation levels, but those devices use rigid conventional electronics, and they are usually fixed to the fingers or earlobe,” said Ana Arias, an… read more

Saving information on a computer boosts human memory resources for new information

.. but only when the storage medium is trusted
December 11, 2014

(Credit: iStock)

The simple act of saving something, such as a file on a computer, may improve our memory for the information we encounter next, according to new research published in Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science. The research suggests that the act of saving helps to free up cognitive resources that can be used to remember new information.

“Our findings show that people are significantly better at… read more

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Explainer: what is 4D printing?

December 19, 2014 by Dan Raviv

Shapeshifting: 3D printed materials that change shape over time. (Credit: Dan Raviv/Scientific Reports)

Additive manufacturing — or 3D printing — is 30 years old this year. Today, it’s found not just in industry but in households, as the price of 3D printers has fallen below US$1,000. Knowing you can print almost anything, not just marks on paper, opens up unlimited opportunities for us to manufacture toys, household appliances and tools in our living rooms.

But there’s more that can be done with… read more

Ray Kurzweil receives IEEE Eta Kappa Nu honor society’s top honor

November 30, 2014

Saurabh Sinha, PhD, Chair of the IEEE Educational Activities Board; Ray Kurzweil, IEEE Eta Kappa Nu “Eminent Member” honoree; Karen Panetta, PhD, Chair of the IEEE Education Activities Board and Recognition Committee; John Orr, PhD, President of Eta Kappa Nu, the IEEE Honor Society. (credit: IEEE)

Ray Kurzweil was presented with the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers Eta Kappa Nu honor society top honor, Eminent Member, at the 2014 IEEE Educational Activities Board Awards Ceremony. He received the honor for technical attainments and contributions to society through outstanding leadership in the profession of electrical and computer engineering.

The Induction and Awards presentation took place during the week of IEEE’s Meeting Series. Members of the… read more

Ask Ray | Living in virtual worlds as an avatar

November 19, 2014

Second Life - 1

Dear Mr. Kurzweil,

I’m in seventh grade, taking a research class called Da Vinci. I have to produce a 10 page annotated paper. I will produce a multimedia presentation on my topic.

My topic is immortality through genetics, nanotechnology and robotics with a special emphasis on artificial intelligence, such as living in a virtual world as an avatar.

Our teacher encouraged us to reach out to experts.… read more

Ask Ray | Potential for elitization of the singularity

November 18, 2014 by Ray Kurzweil

(credit: stock image)

Dear Professor Kurzweil,

I was hoping for your views on the potential elitization of singularity that could lead to exacerbation of class, opportunity and economic division.

The ongoing quest for extending human life and artificially enhancing its quality testifies to our instincts for permanence and survival at all cost.

Technologically acquired supremacy breaks the well accepted paradigm that improved life span, physical and cognitive performance is possible only with practice, studious effort… read more

Who blew up the rocket?

What happens when you mix space pork, greedy megacorporations, and recycled Russian rocket engines?
November 6, 2014 by Howard Bloom

Antares launch failure, (credit: NASA)

Exactly what exploded in a ball of flame over Wallops Island, Virginia, on Tuesday October 28 at 6:22 pm? And what brought down Virgin Galactic’s SpaceShipTwo over the Mojave Desert Friday morning just after ten am?

Was the vehicle that exploded above the launch pad in Virginia, as some headlines have proclaimed, a NASA rocket? Was it, as others have said, a commercial rocket? Or were both… read more

Private spaceflight will survive Virgin tragedy because we choose to dream big

November 4, 2014 by Fredrick Jenet

Spaceship Two (credit: Virgin Galactic)

This week, I can predict with a high degree of accuracy that more than 50,000 car accidents will occur in the U.S., over 500 of which will involve fatalities. Last week was no different. Is social media alive with discussions on the future of the automotive industry due to these incidents? Have the “Big Three” seen major losses in stock prices? Are people now afraid to get into their cars… read more

When parallel worlds collide, quantum mechanics is born

November 3, 2014 by Howard Wiseman

Many different worlds but a finite number (credit: Flickr/fdecomite, CC)

Parallel universes — worlds where the dinosaur-killing asteroid never hit, or where Australia was colonised by the Portuguese – are a staple of science fiction. But are they real?

In a radical paper published this week in Physical Review X [and available here in open-access arXiv  --- Ed.] we (Dr Michael Hall and I from Griffith University and Dr Dirk-André Deckert from the University of California) propose not only that parallel… read more

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

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