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First real-time imaging of neural activity invented

November 24, 2015

A series of images from a Duke engineering experiment show voltage spreading through a fruitfly neuron over a matter of just 4 milliseconds, a hundred times faster than the blink of an eye. The technology can see impulses as fleeting as 0.2 millisecond -- 2000 times faster than a blink. (credit: Yiyang Gong, Duke University)

Researchers at Stanford University and Duke University have developed a new technique for watching the brain’s neurons in action with a temporal (time) resolution of about 0.2 milliseconds — a speed that is just fast enough to capture the action potentials in mammalian brains in real time for the first time.

The researchers combined genetically encoded voltage indicators, which can sense individual action potentials from… read more

Do fish have emotions and consciousness?

Or are chilled fish just thermotropic?
December 1, 2015

Zebrafish (credit: Azul/CC)

Researchers in Spain and the U.K. have made the first observations infish of an increase in body temperature of 2–4 ºC when zebrafish were subjected to a stressful situation (they were confined in a net inside the tank at an uncomforable 27ºC for 15 minutes).*

This phenomenon is called “emotional fever” because it’s related to the emotions that animals feel in the face of an external stimulus, which been… read more

New inventions track greenhouse gas, remediate oil spills

December 1, 2015

Camera test at Foljesjon, a lake in a research area west of Vanersborg, Sweden. (credit: Linkoping University)

A new camera that can image methane in the air, allowing for precision monitoring of a greenhouse gas, has been developed by a team of researchers from Linköping and Stockholm Universities.

The new camera should help us better understand the rapid but irregular increase of methane in the atmosphere (which has puzzled researchers) and identify the sources and sinks of methane in the landscape. It may also suggest ways… read more

‘Invisible wires’ could improve solar-cell efficiency

November 30, 2015

Silicon pillars emerge from nanosize holes in a thin gold film. The pillars funnel 97 percent of incoming light to a silicon substrate, a technology that could significantly boost the performance of conventional solar cells. (credit: Vijay Narasimhan, Stanford University)

Stanford scientists have discovered how to make the electrical wiring on top of solar cells nearly invisible to incoming light, using nanosize silicon pillars to hide the wires. The new design could dramatically boost solar-cell efficiency, the researchers suggest.

A solar cell is basically a semiconductor that converts sunlight into electricity, sandwiched between metal contacts that carry the electrical current generated by the cell. But with current… read more

Capturing a single photon

Devices based on the research findings may be essential for future quantum communications systems
November 30, 2015

Capturing a single photon from a pulse of light: Devices based on the Weizmann Institute model may be the backbone of future quantum communications systems (credit: Weizmann Institute of Science)

Weizmann Institute of Science researchers have managed to isolate a single photon out of a pulse of light. Single photons may be the backbone of future quantum communication systems, the researchers say.

The mechanism relies on a physical effect that they call “single-photon Raman interaction” (SPRINT). “The advantage of SPRINT is that it is completely passive; it does not require any control fields — just the interaction… read more

Army ants’ ‘living’ bridges suggest collective intelligence

Could we use ant-based rules to program swarms of simple robots to build bridges and other structures by connecting to each other?
November 25, 2015

Researchers from Princeton University and the New Jersey Institute of Technology report for the first time that the "living" bridges army ants of the species Eciton hamatum (pictured) build with their bodies are more sophisticated than scientists knew. The ants automatically assemble with a level of collective intelligence that could provide new insights into animal behavior and even help in the development of intuitive robots that can cooperate as a group. (credit: Courtesy of Matthew Lutz, Princeton University, and Chris Reid, University of Sydney)

Researchers from Princeton University and the New Jersey Institute of Technology (NJIT) report for the first time that army ants of the species Eciton hamatum that form “living” bridges across breaks and gaps in the forest floor are more sophisticated than scientists knew. The ants exhibit a level of collective intelligence that could provide new insights into animal behavior and even help in the development of intuitive… read more

Biologists induce flatworms to grow heads and brains of other species

Findings shed light on role of a new kind of epigenetic signaling in evolution, could yield clues for understanding birth defects, regeneration of organs
November 25, 2015

Tufts biologists induced one species of flatworm -- G. dorotocephala, top left -- to grow heads and brains characteristic of other species of flatworm, top row, without altering genomic sequence. Examples of the outcomes can be seen in the bottom row of the image. (credit: Center for Regenerative and Developmental Biology, School of Arts and Sciences, Tufts University.)

Tufts University biologists have electrically modified flatworms to grow heads and brains characteristic of another species of flatworm — without altering their genomic sequence. This suggests bioelectrical networks as a new kind of epigenetics (information existing outside of a genomic sequence) to determine large-scale anatomy.

Besides the overall shape of the head, the changes included the shape of the brain and the distribution of the worm’s adult stem cells.… read more

Master genetic switch for brain development discovered

November 24, 2015

Figure 1: Cells in which NeuroD1 is turned on are reprogrammed to become neurons. Cell nuclei are shown in blue (Höchst stain) and neurons, with their characteristic long processes, are shown in red (stained with neuronal marker TUJ1). (credit: A. Pataskar/J. Jung & V. Tiwari)

Scientists at the Institute of Molecular Biology (IMB) in Mainz, Germany have unraveled a complex regulatory mechanism that explains how a single gene, NeuroD1, can drive the formation of brain cells. The research, published in The EMBO Journal, is an important step towards a better understanding of how the brain develops and may lead to breakthroughs in regenerative medicine.

Neurodegenerative disorders, such as Parkinson’s disease, are often… read more

An ultrafast 3-D imaging system to investigate traumatic brain injury

November 24, 2015

Still frame filmed at 200,000 frames/sec of a violently collapsing vapor bubble inside a brain-mimicking collagen gel (bubble size is approximately 100 microns). Inside the gel are thousands of brain cells (neurons). (credit: J. Estrada (Franck Lab)/Brown U)

Researchers at Brown University are using an ultrafast 3-D imaging system to investigate the effects of microcavitation bubbles on traumatic brain injury (TBI), experienced by some soldiers and football players.

In the fleeting moments after a liquid is subjected to a sudden change in pressure, microscopic bubbles rapidly form and collapse in a process known as cavitation.

In mechanical systems such as propellers, the resulting shock waves and… read more

Quantum entanglement achieved at room temperature in macroscopic semiconductor wafers

November 23, 2015

quantum entanglement in silicon chip

Researchers in Prof. David Awschalom’s group at the Institute for Molecular Engineering have demonstrated macroscopic entanglement at room temperature and in a small (33 millitesla) magnetic field.

Previously, scientists have overcome the thermodynamic barrier and achieved macroscopic entanglement in solids and liquids by going to ultra-low temperatures (-270 degrees Celsius) and applying huge magnetic fields (1,000 times larger than that of a typical refrigerator magnet) or… read more

Physicists plan a miniaturized particle accelerator prototype in five years

November 23, 2015

Three “accelerators on a chip” made of silicon. A shoebox-sized particle accelerator would use a series of these “accelerators on a chip” to boost the energy of electrons. (SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory)

The Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation has awarded $13.5 million to Stanford University for an international effort to build a working particle accelerator the size of a shoebox, based on an “accelerator on a chip” design, a novel technique using laser light to propel electrons through a series of glass chips, with the potential to revolutionize science, medicine, and other fields by dramatically shrinking the size and cost… read more

Storing solar, wind, and water energy underground could replace burning fuel

November 23, 2015

WWS solution

Stanford and UC Berkeley researchers have a solution to the problem of storing energy from wind, water and solar power overnight (or in inclement weather): store it underground. The system could result in a reliable, affordable national grid, replacing fossil fuel, they believe.

How it would work

  • Summer heat gathered in rooftop solar collectors could be stored in soil or rocks and used for heating

read more

E-coli bacteria, found in some China farms and patients, cannot be killed with antiobiotic drug of last resort

"One of the most serious global threats to human health in the 21st century" --- could spread around the world, requiring "urgent coordinated global action"
November 20, 2015

meat sampling & patient screening ft

Widespread E-coli bacteria that cannot be killed with the antiobiotic drug of last resort — colistin — have been found in samples taken from farm pigs, meat products, and a small number of patients in south China, including bacterial strains with epidemic potential, an international team of scientists revealed in a paper published Thursday Nov. 19 in the journal The Lancet Infectious Diseases.

The scientists in… read more

Google Glass helps cardiologists complete difficult coronary artery blockage surgery

November 20, 2015

coronary artery ft

Cardiologists from the Institute of Cardiology, Warsaw, Poland have used Google Glass in a challenging surgical procedure, successfully clearing a blockage in the right coronary artery of a 49-year-old male patient and restoring blood flow, reports the Canadian Journal of Cardiology.

Chronic total occlusion, a complete blockage of the coronary artery, sometimes referred to as the “final frontier in interventional cardiology,” represents a major challenge for catheter-based… read more

A sensory illusion that makes yeast cells self-destruct

A possible tactic for cancer therapeutics
November 20, 2015

fooling yeast ft

UC San Francisco researchers have discovered that even brainless single-celled yeast have “sensory biases” that can be hacked by a carefully engineered illusion — a finding that could be used to develop new approaches to fighting diseases such as cancer.

In the new study, published online Thursday November 19 in Science Express, Wendell Lim, PhD, the study’s senior author*, and his team discovered that yeast cells… read more

More news

Latest blog posts

classic film | The Age of Intelligent Machines

November 10, 2015

The Age of Intelligent Machines - film - A2

Dear readers,

From my archives, I wanted to share this classic documentary film and book from the late 1980s, almost 30 years ago. It’s an interesting restrospective of my early visions of the future of computing, along with commentary and insights from many industry experts.

I wrote and produced the film in 1987 to accompany the museum exhibit “Robots and Beyond.” The film became the basis for my… read more

Celebrating the 10 Year Anniversary of book The Singularity Is Near

October 6, 2015

anniversary - A5

Dear readers,

This month celebrates the 10 year anniversary of the classic book The Singularity Is Near, written by Ray Kurzweil, published in September 2005.

In the decade since its publication, we’ve witnessed an explosion of breakthroughs in genetic engineering, medical regeneration of the human body, autonomous robotics, computing power, and renewable energy. Advanced sensor arrays and internet meshes are uniting all people and things within the interconnected… read more

Should humans be able to marry robots?

Are you robophobic?
August 12, 2015 by Amara D. Angelica

(credit: AMC)

The Supreme Court’s recent 5–4 decision in Obergefell v. Hodges legalizing same-sex marriage raises the interesting question: what’s next on the “slippery slope”? Robot-human marriages? Robot-robot marriages?

Why yes, predicts on Slate.

“There has recently been a burst of cogent accounts of human-robot sex and love in popular culture: Her and Ex Machina, the AMC drama series Humans, and the novel … read more

Why we really should ban autonomous weapons: a response

By Stuart Russell, Max Tegmark & Toby Walsh
August 10, 2015

President Richard Nixon (seen here during his historical meeting with Chinese leader Mao Zedong) argued that a ban on biological weapons would strengthen U.S. national security (credit: White House Photo Office)

We welcome Sam Wallace’s contribution to the discussion on a proposed ban on offensive autonomous weapons. This is a complex issue and there are interesting arguments on both sides that need to be weighed up carefully.

His article, written as a response to an open letter signed by over 2500 AI and robotics researchers, begins with the claim that such a ban is as “unrealistic… read more

The proposed ban on offensive autonomous weapons is unrealistic and dangerous

So says former U.S. Army officer and autonomous weapons expert Sam Wallace
August 5, 2015

From Call of Duty Black Ops 2 (credit: Activision Publishing)

The open letter from the Future of Life Institute (FLI) calling for a “ban on offensive autonomous weapons” is as unrealistic as the broad relinquishment of nuclear weapons would have been at the height of the cold war.

A treaty or international agreement banning the development of artificially intelligent robotic drones for military use would not be effective. It would be impossible to completely stop nations from… read more

Ask Ray | Renowned economist and author George Gilder’s new information theory of money

August 4, 2015

money - A3

Dear readers,

Renowned economist, activist, author, and my long time friend, George Gilder has come out with his latest book titled A 21st Century Case for Gold: A New Information Theory of Money.

He makes a new case for understanding why the United States economy has had trouble rebounding.

George Gilder explains this is due to a misunderstanding of what monetary policy can do, and the creation of… read more

Ask Ray | My middle school supported my interest in Ray Kurzweil’s work and teen trip to Singularity University

July 25, 2015

Arduino is an open source electronics platform based on easy to use hardware and software. It's intended for anyone making interactive projects. -- credit | Arduino

Dear Dr. Kurzweil,

My middle school was supportive of my interest in your work and my visit to your school Singularity University, as a teenager, to see the program you founded for exploring the future.

Thank you for inviting me, and for the opportunity to audit two days there. I had a fantastic time. Everyone at Singularity University was very nice and welcoming.

My favorite presentation was… read more

Hit TV show Humans on intelligent android servants

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 web

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

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