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Walking in nature lowers risk of depression, scientists find in MRI study

Urbanization is associated with increased levels of mental illness
July 1, 2015

rumination to sgPFC-ft

A new study has found quantifiable evidence that supports the common-sense idea that walking in nature could lower your risk of depression.

The study, published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Science, found that people who walked for 90 minutes in a natural area, as opposed to participants who walked in a high-traffic urban setting (El Camino Real in Palo Alto, California, a noisy street with three to four… read more

Freezing single atoms to near absolute zero with microwaves brings practical quantum technology closer

July 2, 2015

Winfried Hensinger (right) and Dr. Seb Weidt are freezing individual atoms using microwaves (credit: University of Sussex)

Physicists at the University of Sussex have frozen single ytterbium ions (charged atoms) to within a millionth of a degree of absolute zero (minus 273.15°C), using 12.6 GHz microwave radiation combined with a large static magnetic field gradient. Temperatures near absolute zero are required to hold ions stationary for quantum computing and other applications.

The physicists measured a reduction of almost two orders of magnitude in the… read more

Wait, some stem cells use nanotubes to communicate with other cells? Seriously?

Ask postdoc Mayu Inaba, who discovered something biologists have mistaken for a speck of dust
July 1, 2015

Confocal microscope image showing stem cells (blue) clustering around a hub in the stem cell niche (pink). One stem cell extends a nanotube into the hub. (credit: Mayu Inaba, University of Michigan)

Certain types of stem cells use microscopic, threadlike nanotubes to communicate with neighboring cells, rather than sending a broadcast signal, researchers at University of Michigan Life Sciences Institute and University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center have discovered.

The fruit-fly research findings, published today (July 1) in Nature, suggest that short-range, cell-to-cell communication may rely on this type of direct connection more than was previously understood, said… read more

Future of Life Institute awards $7M to explore artificial intelligence risks

Terminator Genisys film will distract from the real issues posed by future AI, says Tegmark
July 1, 2015

Elon Musk (credit: Wikimedia Commons)

The Future of Life Institute (FLI) announced today (July 1) the selection of 37 research teams around the world to which it plans to award about $7 million from Elon Musk and the Open Philanthropy Project for a global research program aimed at keeping AI beneficial to humanity.

The grants were funded by part of Musk’s $10 million donation to the group in January and $1.2 million from the… read more

Pulsed electric field technology may rejuvenate skin function and appearance

June 30, 2015

electrodes used for PEF-ft

A team of Tel Aviv University and Harvard Medical School researchers has devised a novel non-invasive tissue-stimulation technique using pulsed electric fields (PEF) to generate new skin tissue growth.

The technique produces scarless skin rejuvenation and may revolutionize the treatment of degenerative skin diseases, according to research team leader Alexander Golberg of TAU’s Porter School of Environmental Studies and the Center for Engineering in Medicine at Massachusetts General Hospital, Harvard Medical… read more

How to form 3-D shapes from flat sheets of graphene

Could lead to highly sensitive 3D sensors, graphene-coated atomic force microscope (AFM) probes, electrode arrays, and new biosensing devices
June 30, 2015

Credit: University of Illinois College of Engineering

Researchers from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have developed a new approach for forming 3D shapes from flat, 2D sheets of graphene, paving the way for future integrated systems of graphene-MEMS hybrid devices and flexible electronics.

Reported methods of using graphene transfer have been mostly limited to planar or curvilinear surfaces due to the challenges associated with fractures from local stress during transfer onto… read more

Rice University installs powerful electron microscope with sub-nanoscale resolution

Will create awesome 4K images
June 30, 2015

The Titan Themis microscope at Rice University incorporates a variety of detectors, including X-ray, optical and multiple electron detectors and a 4K-resolution camera. The microscope gives researchers the ability to create three-dimensional structural reconstructions and carry out electric field mapping of subnanoscale materials. (credit: Jeff Fitlow/Rice University)

Rice University has installed the Titan Themis scanning/transmission electron microscope, which will enable scientists from Rice as well as academic and industrial partners to view and analyze materials at angstrom-scale (one-tenth of a nanometer) resolution, about the size of a single hydrogen atom.

Images will be captured with a variety of detectors, including X-ray, optical and multiple electron detectors and a 4K-resolution camera (will create 4K ultra… read more

‘Microswimmer’ robots to drill through blocked arteries within four years

Controlled by an external magnetic field, nanoscale bacteria-like chains could replace stents and angioplasty balloons
June 30, 2015

spiral-shaped microswimmer-ft

Swarms of microscopic, magnetic, robotic beads could be used within five years by vascular surgeons to clear blocked arteries. These minimally invasive microrobots, which look and move like corkscrew-shaped bacteria, are being developed by an $18-million, 11-institution research initiative headed by the Korea Evaluation Institute of Industrial Technologies (KEIT).

These “microswimmers” are driven and controlled by external magnetic fields, similar to how nanowires from … read more

Engineers more than double data transmission capacity over fiber-optic cables

June 29, 2015

A wideband frequency comb ensures that the crosstalk between multiple communication channels within the same optical fiber is reversible. (credit: UC San Diego Photonics Systems Group)

University of California, San Diego electrical engineers have invented a technology that could allow between a two- and fourfold increase in data transmission capacity for the backbone of  Internet, cable, wireless, and landline networks over long distances, while reducing cost and latency (delay).

The new system addresses a problem known as the “Kerr effect”: distortion of optical signals that travel on optical fibers over distances, requiring the… read more

Creating a better semiconductor in femtoseconds with ‘photo-doping’

June 29, 2015

Certain compounds can exhibit multiple quantum phases, including Mott insulator, superconductor, and spin or charge density wave (CDW) states based on subtle physical tunings, including applying heat and photo-doping (credit: Tzong-Ru T. Han et al./Science Advances)

Michigan State University (MSU) researchers have developed a “photo-doping” process by shooting an ultrafast laser pulse into a semiconductor* material — rapidly changing its properties as if it had been chemically “doped.”

Changing the electrical properties of semiconductors formerly required a complex, expensive process of adding different dopants, or trace chemical impurities.

The new research could lead to development of next-generation electronic materials and even optically controlled… read more

Swedish scientists create an artificial neuron that mimicks an organic one

Could remotely stimulate neurons based on specific chemical signals received from different parts of the body, or doctors could artificially bridge damaged nerve cells and restore neural functions
June 29, 2015

Glutamate drops are added to a dish containing a biosensor (green) that generates electronic signals (e–), which (via hardware/software) regulate hydrogen ion delivery  (white tube) to another dish, where pH is monitored microscopically (video). (credit: Daniel T. Simon et al./Biosensors and Bioelectronics)

Scientists at Sweden’s Karolinska Institutet and Linköping University have built what they claim is a “fully functional neuron” that mimicks the functions of a human nerve cell.

The “organic electronic biomimetic neuron” combines a biosensor and ion pump. It senses a chemical change in one dish and translates it into an electrical/ionic signal that travels along an “axon” to a “synapse” and releases chemical signals… read more

D-Wave Systems breaks the 1000 qubit quantum computing barrier

June 26, 2015

(credit: D-Wave Systems)

D-Wave Systems has broken the quantum computing 1000 qubit barrier, developing a processor about double the size of D-Wave’s previous generation, and far exceeding the number of qubits ever developed by D-Wave or any other quantum effort, the announcement said.

It will allow “significantly more complex computational problems to be solved than was possible on any previous quantum computer.”

At 1000 qubits, the new processor considers 21000 possibilities… read more

Could stretching a thin crystal create a better solar cell?

Stretched molybdenum disulfide crystal could absorb more solar energy than conventional solar-cell materials
June 26, 2015

This colorized image shows an ultra thin layer of semiconductor material stretched over the peaks and valleys of part of a device the size of a pinkie nail. Just three atoms thick, this semiconductor layer is stretched in ways enhance its electronic potential to catch solar energy. The image is enlarged 100,000 times. (credit: Hong Li, Stanford Engineering)

Stanford University researchers have stretched an atomically thin Molybdenum disulfide (MoS2) semiconductor crystal to achieve a variable bandgap (defined as the amount of energy it takes to move an electron in a material).

That could lead to solar cells that absorb more energy from the sun by being sensitive to a broader spectrum of light, and could also find applications in next-generation optoelectronics.

Crystalline semiconductors like silicon… read more

Transparent, stretchable conductors using nano-accordion structure

Could this material be used as an interface for your future cell phone?
June 26, 2015

Researchers from North Carolina State University have created stretchable, transparent conductors that work because of the structures' "nano-accordion" design. The material is shown here, rolled up to highlight its flexibility. (credit: Abhijeet Bagal)

Researchers from North Carolina State University (NC State) have created stretchable, transparent conductors based on a “nano-accordion” design inspired by springs.

Why is this important?

Imagine a material that is a flexible, stretchable, and transparent. So it could be attached to human or robot skin (or woven into clothing) for use as a wearable, stretchable, touch-sensitive smartphone display, for example, or used as a… read more

Nanowire implants for remote-controlled drug delivery

June 25, 2015

polyprrole-nanowires-ft

Purdue researchers have created a new implantable drug-delivery system using nanowires that can be wirelessly controlled. The nanowires respond to an electromagnetic field generated by a separate device, which can be used to control the release of a preloaded drug.

The system eliminates the tubes and wires required by other implantable devices that can lead to infection and other complications, said team leader Richard Borgens,… read more

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Latest blog posts

HUMANS

June 26, 2015 by Amara D. Angelica

HUMANS robots

A reminder: HUMANS premieres in the U.S. Sunday June 28, 2015 at 9PM EDT on AMC.

This eight-part drama series takes place in a parallel present, featuring the Synth — a highly developed, artificially intelligent android servant.

Having seen the first two episodes, I’m totally hooked. I found the show surprisingly believable. It (almost) fills the void left after Almost Human and Fringe.

The Atlanticread more

Ask Ray | Health technologies to support sleep apnea and snoring

June 22, 2015

credit | Airing

Dear readers,

Obstructive sleep apnea is a very common sleep disorder caused by periodic obstruction of the upper airway. A sleep apnea is literally a pause in breathing. It can happen many times each hour while the individual is asleep. It leads to reduced oxygen saturation and is a risk factor for heart disease.

Most sufferers are unaware that they have this syndrome. It is often first noticed… read more

Ask Ray | Future artificial intelligence acceptance or fear

May 5, 2015

The future of the human experience connects people and data. -- credit | iStock

Dear Ray,

Take a look at this article in Russia Today. In our film The Singularity Is Near — that we produced and wrote together — the “Jerry Garcia” character is wailing about cyberconscious citizenship.

I’m not sure what part of “we are merging together” these people don’t get! To me it is as obvious as the nose on my face. Funny how well we predicted and depicted… read more

Internet radio without the internet

High quality music service on Kickstarter to offer 40 million songs, using caching instead of streaming
March 23, 2015 by Amara D. Angelica

AIVVY headset (credit: AIVVY)

I got this post today from Martine Rothblatt, PhD, CEO of United Therapeutics:

” I am very excited. March 24, 2015 is Kickstarter launch for AIVVY — CEO in pictures showing me smartphone control interface.  I’m in! It is best audio streaming interface I’ve ever experienced, and compatible with Sirius XM.

“Lets you run/bike and listen to great audio without getting RF power across your skin from cellular… read more

Transhumanist position on human germline genetic modification

March 22, 2015 by James Hughes

(credit: pixabay)

Recently a group of scientists and an industry group have issued statements calling for a moratorium on human heritable or germline genetic modifications (see herehere and here), now that we have the powerful CRISPR technique to pursue such modifications.

These statements have been greeted rapturously by bioconservatives, who want to see a global ban on germline and enhancement genetic therapies.

Of… read more

Ask Ray | Futurist Martine Rothblatt, PhD discusses cyber consciousness

March 19, 2015

brain - A1

Dear readers,

I want to recommend this article in USA Today profiling Martine Rothblatt, PhD’s keynote at South by Southwest.

USA Today | Sirius founder envisions world of cyber clones, tech med

Her talk featured a roundup of concepts about the future of the human brain and the potential for people to interact through virtual avatars and recreations of an individual.

USA Todayread more

Ray Kurzweil music technology breakthroughs – inside story

Background on Kurzweil's Technical Grammy Award
February 8, 2015 by Amara D. Angelica

Kurzweil 250 prototype boards (credit: Kurzweil Music Systems/Young Chang)

In Fall 1983, visitors crammed into a packed demo on the fifth floor of the New York Hilton Hotel during the New York AES convention and marveled at the Kurzweil K250, noted Electronic Musician magazine in its March 2015 issue.

“The first ROM-based sampling keyboard to successfully reproduce the full complexity of acoustic instruments, the 250 offered natural-sounding pianos, thick drums, lush strings, and more, and its… read more

Ray Kurzweil receives 2015 Technical Grammy Award for outstanding achievements in music technology

February 7, 2015

Grammy Awards - 57th - logo

Ray Kurzweil received the 2015 Technical Grammy Award on February 7, 2015 for his outstanding achievements in the field of music technology.

One of his primary inventions paved the way for re-creating acoustic instruments with electronic equivalents.

The Technical Grammy Award is a Special Merit Award presented by vote of the National Academy of Recording Arts & Sciences Trustees, for contributions of outstanding technical significance to the recording… read more

Machine Cognition and AI Ethics at AAAI 2015

February 4, 2015 by Melanie Swan

robot brain chip

The AAAI’s Twenty-Ninth Conference on Artificial Intelligence was held January 25–30, 2015 in Austin, Texas. Machine cognition was an important focal area covered in two workshops on AI and Ethics, and Beyond the Turing Test, and in a special track on Cognitive Systems.

Some of the most interesting emergent themes are discussed in this article.

Computational Ethicsread more

Ask Ray | Immortality via the singularity

February 3, 2015

(credit: iStock)

Dear Dr. Kurzweil,

Thank you so much for all your help, time, and encouragement throughout my paper and presentation. It was really exciting that you could be in my 7th grade presentation.

I realize as a Director of Engineering at Google you are very busy. I would love to visit Google. I really appreciate everything you have done and all the resources that you sent.

— Lucyread more

The future of the newsletter and e-mail

December 31, 2014 by Amara D. Angelica

Oculus Rift: millions sold in 2015? (credit: Samsung)

In “The return of the newsletter,” Wired notes today that with better spam filters and other tools, non-stop overload from Facebook and Twitter, and the death of RSS, newsletters are “making something of a comeback.”

The article mentions KurzweilAI News and nine other newsletters, including mini-AIR, the newsletter of the hilarious Annals of Improbable Research magazine, noted for its annual Ig Nobel Prizes (such as one earlier this… read more

Don’t fear artificial intelligence | by Ray Kurzweil

December 30, 2014 by Ray Kurzweil

Ray Kurzweil responds to concerns from Elon Musk and Stephen Hawking, Phd, on the future possibility of dangers from developments in artificial intelligence. This was also published in Time magazine’s Ideas section.

related reading:
Time | “Don’t fear artificial intelligence” by Ray Kurzweil

Don’t fear artificial intelligence
by Ray Kurzweil

Stephen Hawking, the pre-eminent physicist, recently warned that artificial intelligence… read more

We could get to the singularity in ten years

December 26, 2014 by Ben Goertzel

10 to Singuarlity

It would require a different way of thinking about the timing of the Singularity, says AGI pioneer Ben Goertzel, PhD. Rather than a predictive exercise, it would require thinking about it the way an athlete thinks about a game when going into it, or the way the Manhattan Project scientists thought at the start of the project.

This article, written in 2010, is excerpted with permission from Goertzel’s newread more

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

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