Breaking science & technology news

Top story

Graphene-based neural probe detects brain activity at high resolution and signal quality

Potentially relevant to "neural lace" research
March 29, 2017

16 flexible graphene transistors (inset) integrated into a flexible neural probe enable electrical signals from neurons to be measured at high resolution and signal quality. (credit: ICN2)

Researchers from the European Graphene Flagship* have developed a new microelectrode array neural probe based on graphene field-effect transistors (FETs) for recording brain activity at high resolution while maintaining excellent signal-to-noise ratio (quality).

The new neural probe could lay the foundation for a future generation of in vivo neural recording implants, for patients with epilepsy, for example, and for disorders that affect brain function and motor… read more

Musk launches company to pursue ‘neural lace’ brain-interface technology

March 27, 2017

image credit | Bloomberg

Elon Musk has launched a California-based company called Neuralink Corp., The Wall Street Journal reported today (Monday, March 27, 2017), citing people familiar with the matter, to pursue “neural lace” brain-interface technology.

Neural lace would help prevent humans from becoming “house cats” to AI, he suggests. “I think one of the solutions that seems maybe the best is to add an AI layer,” Musk… read more

Travelers to Mars risk leukemia cancer, weakened immune function from radiation, NASA-funded study finds

March 27, 2017

The spleen from a mouse exposed to a mission-relevant dose (20 cGy, 1 GeV/n) of iron ions (bottom) was ~ 30 times the normal volume compared with the spleen (top) from a control mouse. (credit: C Rodman et al./Leukemia)

Radiation encountered in deep space travel may increase the risk of leukemia cancer in humans traveling to Mars, NASA-funded researchers at the Wake Forest Institute for Regenerative Medicine and colleagues have found, using mice transplanted with human stem cells.

“Our results are troubling because they show radiation exposure could potentially increase the risk of leukemia,” said Christopher Porada, Ph.D., associate professor of regenerative medicine and… read more

Scientists reverse aging in mice by repairing damaged DNA

Could lead to an anti-aging drug that counters damage from old age, cancer, and radiation
March 26, 2017

Disarming a rogue agent: When the NAD molecule (red), binds to the DBC1 protein (beige), it prevents DBC1 from attaching to and incapacitating a protein critical for DNA repair. (credit: David Sinclair)

A research team led by Harvard Medical School professor of genetics David Sinclair, PhD, has made a discovery that could lead to a revolutionary new drug that allows cells to repair DNA damaged by aging, cancer, and radiation.

In a paper published in the journal Science on Friday (March 24), the scientists identified a critical step in the molecular process related to DNA damage.… read more

A printable, sensor-laden ‘skin’ for robots (or an airplane)

March 24, 2017

Illustration of 3D-printed sensory composite (credit: Subramanian Sundaram)

MIT researchers have designed a radical new method of creating flexible, printable electronics that combine sensors and processing circuitry.

Covering a robot — or an airplane or a bridge, for example — with sensors will require a technology that is both flexible and cost-effective to manufacture in bulk. To demonstrate the feasibility of their new method, the researchers at MIT’s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory have… read more

Mayo Clinic discovers high-intensity aerobic training can reverse aging

March 24, 2017

A Mayo Clinic study found high-intensity aerobic exercise may reverse aging (credit: Flickr user Global Panorama via Creative Commons license)

A Mayo Clinic study says the best training for adults is high-intensity aerobic exercise, which they believe can reverse some cellular aspects of aging.

Mayo researchers compared 12 weeks of high-intensity interval training (workouts in which you alternate periods of high-intensity exercise with low-intensity recovery periods), resistance training, and combined training. While all three enhanced insulin sensitivity and lean mass, only high-intensity interval training and combined training improved aerobic capacity and… read more

Infrared-light-based Wi-Fi network is 100 times faster

March 22, 2017

Schematic of a beam of white light being dispersed by a prism into different wavelengths (the TU/e system is actually based on near-infrared light, which is invisible) (credit: Lucas V. Barbosa/CC)

A new infrared-light WiFi network can provide more than 40 gigabits per second (Gbps) for each user* — about 100 times faster than current WiFi systems — say researchers at Eindhoven University of Technology (TU/e) in the Netherlands.

The TU/e WiFi design was inspired by experimental systems using ceiling LED lights (such as Oregon State University’s experimental WiFiFO, or WiFi Free space Optic, system), which… read more

Do-it-yourself robotics kit gives science, tech, engineering, math students tools to automate biology and chemistry experiments

March 22, 2017

liquid-handling robot

Stanford bioengineers have developed liquid-handling robots to allow students to modify and create their own robotic systems that can transfer precise amounts of fluids between flasks, test tubes, and experimental dishes.

The bioengineers combined a Lego Mindstorms robotics kit with a cheap and easy-to-find plastic syringe to create robots that approach the performance of the far more costly automation systems found at universities and biotech labs.

Step-by-step DIYread more

Graphene sheets allow for very-low-cost diagnostic devices

March 20, 2017

Mild heating of graphene oxide sheets makes it possible to bond particular compounds to the sheets’ surface, a new study shows. These compounds in turn select and bond with specific molecules of interest, including DNA and proteins, or even whole cells. In this image the treated graphene oxide on the right is nearly twice as efficient at capturing cells as the untreated material on the left. (credit: Courtesy of the researchers)

A new method developed at MIT and National Chiao Tung University, based on specially treated sheets of graphene oxide, could make it possible to capture and analyze individual cells from a small sample of blood. It could potentially lead to very-low-cost diagnostic devices (less than $5 a piece) that are mass-producible and could be used almost anywhere for point-of-care testing, especially in resource-constrained settings.

A… read more

Deep-brain imaging using minimally invasive surgical needle and laser light

March 20, 2017

This is an image of cells taken inside the mouse brain using a new method developed by University of Utah electrical and computer engineering associate professor Rajesh Menon and his team. (credit: Rajesh Menon)

Using just a simple inexpensive micro-thin glass surgical needle and laser light, University of Utah engineers have developed an inexpensive way to take high-resolution pictures of a mouse brain, minimizing tissue damage — a process they believe could lead to a much less invasive method for humans.

Typically, researchers must either surgically take a sample of the animal’s brain to examine the cells under a microscope or use… read more

This low-power chip could make speech recognition practical for tiny devices

March 17, 2017

MIT automated speech recognizer ft

MIT researchers have built a low-power chip specialized for automatic speech recognition. A cellphone running speech-recognition software might require about 1 watt of power; the new chip requires 100 times less power (between 0.2 and 10 milliwatts, depending on the number of words it has to recognize).

That could translate to a power savings of 90 to 99 percent, making voice control practical for wearables (especially watches,… read more

Space X plans global space internet

March 17, 2017

(credit: SpaceX)

SpaceX has applied to the FCC to launch 11,943 satellites into low-Earth orbit, providing “ubiquitous high-bandwidth (up to 1Gbps per user, once fully deployed) broadband services for consumers and businesses in the U.S. and globally,” according to FCC applications.

Recent meetings with the FCC suggest that the plan now looks like “an increasingly feasible reality — particularly with 5G technologies just a few years away, promising new devices and new… read more

Whole-body vibration may be as effective as regular exercise

March 16, 2017

Hate treadmills? The Tranquility Pod uses “pleasant sound, gentle vibration, and soothing light to transport the body, mind, and spirit to a tranquil state of relaxation” --- and maybe lose weight (and $30,000). (credit: Hammacher Schlemmer)

If you’re overweight and find it challenging to exercise regularly, now there’s good news: A less strenuous form of exercise known as whole-body vibration (WBV) can mimic the muscle and bone health benefits of regular exercise — at least in mice — according to a new study published in the Endocrine Society’s journal Endocrinology.

Lack of exercise is contributing to the obesity and diabetes epidemics, according to the researchers. These… read more

Transcranial alternating current stimulation used to boost working memory

March 16, 2017

The scans show that stimulation 'in beat' increases brain activity in the regions involved in task performance. On the other hand, stimulation 'out of beat' showed activity in regions usually associated with resting. (credit: Ines Violante)

In a study published Tuesday Mar. 14 in the open-access journal eLife, researchers at Imperial College London found that applying transcranial alternating current stimulation (TACS) through the scalp helped to synchronize brain waves in different areas of the brain, enabling subjects to perform better on tasks involving short-term working memory.

The hope is that the approach could one day be used to bypass… read more

First nanoengineered retinal implant could help the blind regain functional vision

Nanowires provide higher resolution than anything achieved by other devices --- closer to the dense spacing of photoreceptors in the human retina
March 16, 2017

nanowire device ft

A team of engineers at the University of California San Diego and La Jolla-based startup Nanovision Biosciences Inc. have developed the first nanoengineered retinal prosthesis — a step closer to restoring the ability of neurons in the retina to respond to light.

The technology could help tens of millions of people worldwide suffering from neurodegenerative diseases that affect eyesight, including macular degeneration, retinitis pigmentosa, and loss of… read more

More news

Blog

The brain: a radical rethink is needed to understand it

March 17, 2017

Has neuroscience been on the wrong track for centuries? (credit: Justin Pickard/Flickr, CC BY-SA)

By Henrik Jörntell, Senior Lecturer in Neuroscience, Lund University

Understanding the human brain is arguably the greatest challenge of modern science. The leading approach for most of the past 200 years has been to link its functions to different brain regions or even individual neurons (brain cells). But recent research increasingly suggests that we may be taking completely the wrong path if we are to ever understand the… read more

video | Ray Kurzweil & daughter Amy Kurzweil on the future of storytelling

Featured session at popular event South by Southwest.
March 12, 2017

South by Southwest - C1

Dear readers,

I will be presenting on stage with my daughter Amy Kurzweil in a featured session at the popular event called South by Southwest. Amy and I share an enthusiasm for the future of storytelling and the arts, and what new digital media can accomplish.

Following our talk, Amy Kurzweil will do a book signing at the event’s book shop. South by Southwest is a huge festival &… read more

Preparing for our posthuman future of artificial intelligence

March 9, 2017

posthuman ft

By David Brin
“Each generation imagines itself to be more intelligent than the one that went before it, and wiser than the one that comes after it.” – George Orwell
What will happen as we enter the era of human augmentation, artificial intelligence and government-by-algorithm? James Barrat, author of Our Final Invention, said: “Coexisting safely and ethically with intelligent machines is the central challenge of the twenty-first century.”… read more

What is the Doomsday Clock and why should we keep track of the time?

The Doomsday Clock was shifted on January 26, 2017 from three minutes to midnight to a new setting of two and a half minutes to midnight --- the nearest the clock has been to midnight for more than 50 years.
March 6, 2017

By Ian Lowe, Emeritus Professor, School of Science, Griffith University

It made headlines recently when the Doomsday Clock was shifted on January 26, 2017 from three minutes to midnight to a new setting of two and a half minutes to midnight.*

That is the nearest the clock has been to midnight for more than 50 years. The body responsible for the clock said the probability of global… read more

Virgin | Richard Branson’s blog: The pace of innovation

World renowned innovator Richard Branson explores Singularity University.
February 22, 2017

Virgin - A7

Dear readers,

Renowned innovator, entrepreneur & billionaire philanthropist Richard Branson — known for founding the Virgin family of companies — recently posted enthusiastically about Singularity University on his official blog. His thoughts are below. He describes his deep interest in understanding the power of rapidly accelerating technologies — he mentions my ideas on singularity and my world view that knowledge can solve humanity’s biggest challenges. He gives some background… read more

Talks at Google | Amy Kurzweil shares her new book Flying Couch: a graphic memoir — video

On stage with father Ray Kurzweil at Google.
February 20, 2017

Amy Kurzweil - E1

video | Google
Interview with Ray & Amy Kurzweil, author of book Flying Couch: a graphic memoir.

summary from Google | Ray Kurzweil, best selling author and a director of engineering at Google, in conversation with his daughter Amy Kurzweil, New Yorker cartoonist and author of the critically acclaimed graphic memoir Flying Couch.

Ray & Amy Kurzweil discuss their creative work, inspirations, and… read more

Future of Life Institute | Ray Kurzweil talks on stage at Beneficial Artificial Intelligence event

With videos of top conversations on computing futures.
February 8, 2017

Future of Life Institute - B1

Dear readers,

I participated in the well organized Future of Life Institute event called Beneficial Artificial Intelligence • 2017 — exploring how we can develop advanced future tech to benefit humanity and avoid risks.

The event gathered many top technologists, policy makers, and executives. I gave several talks, which you can view below. At the event, I also participated in forming the Asilomar AI Principles: 23 guidelines to… read more

Why 2016 was actually a year of hope

January 6, 2017

(credit: iStock)

by Ariel Conn

Just about everyone found something to dislike about 2016, from wars to politics and celebrity deaths. But hidden within this year’s news feeds were some really exciting news stories. And some of them can even give us hope for the future.

Artificial Intelligence

Though concerns about the future of AI still loom, 2016 was a great reminder that, when harnessed for good, AI can… read more

Why connecting all the world’s robots will drive 2017’s top technology trends

December 28, 2016

A robotic dance troupe performed in unison to break the world record for simultaneous robot dancing. A robotic dance troupe performed in unison to break the world record for simultaneous robot dancing. (credit: Guinness World Records/YouTube)

By , Research Fellow, School of Creative Technologies, University of Portsmouth

If you want to make predictions for the future, you need to find the trajectory of events in the past. So to work out what shape digital technology will likely take next year, we should look back to the major developments of 2016.

And the past year’s developments point to a 2017 shaped by the… read more

It may not feel like anything to be an alien

December 23, 2016

arrival ft

By Susan Schneider

Humans are probably not the greatest intelligences in the universe. Earth is a relatively young planet and the oldest civilizations could be billions of years older than us. But even on Earth, Homo sapiens may not be the most intelligent species for that much longer.

The world Go, chess, and Jeopardy champions are now all AIs. AI is projected to outmode many human professions within the next few decades.… read more

So you want to build a Death Star? Here’s how to get started

December 16, 2016

Death Star ft

By , Space Plasma Physicist, Queen Mary University of London

I’m very excited about seeing Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, which tells the tale summarised in the original Star Wars’ opening crawl. This is the story of how the rebels stole the plans to the original “Death Star” – a space station the size of a small moon with a weapon powerful enough to destroy… read more

Dear President Trump: Here’s How to Make Space Great Again

December 15, 2016

(Credit: NASA Innovative Advanced Concepts)

By Brent Ziarnick, Peter Garretson, Everett Dolman, and Coyote Smith

President-elect Donald Trump often says that Americans no longer dream and must do so again. Nowhere can dreams be more inspiring and profitable than in space. But today, expanding space enterprise is not foremost on the minds of Americans or military strategists. As a recent CNN special showed, defense thinkers feel embattled in space, focused on protecting our… read more

Star Wars: Rogue One highlights an uncomfortable fact — military robots can change sides

December 14, 2016

K-2SO ft

By , Professor in Robotics, Queensland University of Technology

The latest Star Wars movie, Rogue One [opens Friday Dec. 16], introduces us to a new droid, K-2SO, the robotic lead of the story.

Without giving away too many spoilers, K-2SO is part of the Rebellion freedom fighter group that are tasked with stealing the plans to the first Death Star, the… read more

New York Times | Ray Kurzweil interview with top journalist Andrew Ross Sorkin

On stage presentation at Global Leaders Collective -- videos now live
November 22, 2016

New York Times - Global Leaders Collective - A1

about the event | The New York Times Global Leaders Collective
Leading thinkers gather to discuss the future of markets & tech impact.

The New York Times will host the Global Leaders Collective on November 28-29, 2016 — a group of CEOs, executives & innovators leading companies in the world luxury space.

The summit brings together the best thinking from diverse industries, to navigate the dramatic… read more

Black Mirror Season 3

November 18, 2016 by Amara D. Angelica

Black Mirror Twitter ft

I just caught up with Season 3 of Black Mirror, the dystopian science-fiction British television series on Netflix. I found the six episodes riveting, but often sort of nightmarish. Think high-tech, R-rated Twilight Zone.

Spoiler alert: the following mentions some things that are not immediately revealed in the episodes, similar to the trailers below (but does not give away endings).

I found… read more

More blog posts

close and return to Home