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Neuroscientists simulate tiny part of rat brain in a supercomputer

82 scientists and engineers simulate 37 million synapses in massive Blue Brain Project
October 8, 2015

A virtual brain slice in the rat neocortex (credit: Henry Markram et al./Cell)

The Blue Brain Project, the simulation core of the European Human Brain Project, released today (Oct. 8) a draft digital reconstruction of the neocortical microcircuitry of the rat brain.

The international team, led by Henry Markram of École Polytechnique Fédérale De Lausanne (EPFL) and funded in part by the Swiss government, completed a first-draft computer reconstruction of a piece of… read more

Gartner identifies the top 10 strategic IT technology trends for 2016

October 8, 2015

Top 10 Strategic Trends 2016 ft

At the Gartner Symposium/ITxpo today (Oct. 8), Gartner, Inc. highlighted the top 10 technology trends that will be strategic for most organizations in 2016 and will shape digital business opportunities through 2020.

The Device Mesh

The device mesh refers to how people access applications and information or interact with people, social communities, governments and businesses. It includes mobile devices, wearable, consumer and home electronic devices, automotive devices,… read more

Smaller silver nanoparticles more likely to be absorbed by aquatic life, UCLA study finds

Effects on marine life of the more than 2,000 consumer products that contain nanoparticles are largely unknown
October 7, 2015

Deposits of 20-nanometer silver nanoparticles in zebrafish gill filaments (outlined in red) (credit: Olivia J. Osborne et al./ACS Nano)

A study led by UCLA scientists has found that smaller silver nanoparticles entered fish’s bodies more deeply and persisted longer than larger silver nanoparticles or fluid silver nitrate.

More than 2,000 consumer products today contain nanoparticles — particles so small that they are measured in billionths of a meter. Manufacturers use nanoparticles to help sunscreen work better against the sun’s rays and to make athletic apparel better at wicking… read more

Detecting infectious and autoimmune antibodies with a DNA nanomachine

Aims to replace the current slow, cumbersome, expensive diagnostic process
October 7, 2015

New research may revolutionize the slow, cumbersome and expensive process of detecting the antibodies that can help with the diagnosis of infectious and auto-immune diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis and HIV. An international team of researchers have designed and synthesized a nanometer-scale DNA "machine" whose customized modifications enable it to recognize a specific target antibody. Their new approach, which they described this month in Angewandte Chemie, promises to support the development of rapid, low-cost antibody detection at the point-of-care, eliminating the treatment initiation delays and increasing healthcare costs associated with current techniques. The light-generating DNA antibody detecting nanomachine is illustrated here in action, bound to an antibody. (credit: Marco Tripodi)

An international team of scientists has developed a nanomachine using synthetic DNA for rapid, sensitive, low-cost diagnosis of infectious and auto-immune diseases, including HIV, at the point of care. It aims to replace the current slow, cumbersome, and expensive current process of detecting the protein antibodies used for diagnosis.

An antibody causes a structural change (or switch) in the device, which generates a light signal. The sensor does not… read more

DARPA selects research teams for its ElectRx neuron-sensing/stimulation program

October 6, 2015

ElectRx ft

DARPA announced Monday (Oct. 5, 2015) that it has selected seven teams of researchers to begin work on a radical new approach to healing called Electrical Prescriptions (ElectRx). It would involve a system that stimulates peripheral nerves to modulate functions in the brain, spinal cord, and internal organs, according to program manager Doug Weber.

DARPA envisions a closed-loop system aimed at monitoring and treating conditions such as chronic… read more

A fast cell sorter shrinks to cell phone size

October 6, 2015

An artist's conception of an acoustic cell sorter is the cover image on the current issue of Lab on a Chip. (credit: Huang Group/Penn State)

Penn State researchers have developed a new lab-on-a-chip cell sorting device based on acoustic waves that is capable of the kind of high sorting throughput necessary to compete with commercial fluorescence activated cell sorters, described in the cover story in the current issue of the British journal Lab on a Chip.

Commercial fluorescence activated cell sorters have been highly successful in the past 40 years at rapidly and… read more

Sleep may strengthen long-term memories in the immune system

New evidence shows that lack of sleep puts your body at risk
October 6, 2015

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Deep (slow-wave*) sleep, which helps retain memories in the brain, may also strengthen immunological memories of encountered pathogens, German and Dutch neuroscientists propose in an Opinion article published September 29 in Trends in Neurosciences.

The immune system “remembers” an encounter with a bacteria or virus by collecting fragments from the microbe to create memory T cells, which last for months or years and help the body… read more

How the brain’s wiring leads to cognitive control

The human brain resembles a flock of birds
October 5, 2015

cognitive control ft

How does the brain determine which direction its thoughts travel? Looking for the mechanisms behind cognitive control of thought, researchers at the University of Pennsylvania, University of California, Riverside and Santa Barbara and United States Army Research Laboratory have used brain scans to shed new light on this question.

By using structural imaging techniques to convert brain scans into “wiring diagrams”… read more

First two-qubit logic gate built in silicon

Overcomes crucial hurdle in quantum computing, making silicon quantum computers a reality
October 5, 2015

This is an artist's impression of the two-qubit logic gate device developed at UNSW. Each electron qubit (red and blue in the image) has a 'spin', or magnetic field, indicated by the arrows. Metal electrodes on the surface are used to manipulate the qubits, which interact to create an 'entangled' quantum state. (credit: Tony Melov/UNSW)

University of New South Wales (UNSW) and Keio University engineers have built the first quantum logic gate in silicon, making calculations between two qubits* of information possible and clearing the final hurdle to making silicon quantum computers a reality.

The significant advance appears today (Oct. 5, 2015) in the journal Nature.

“What we have is a game changer,” said team leader Andrewread more

Fusion reactors ‘economically viable’ in a few decades, say experts

Could replace nuclear reactors and fossil fuels
October 5, 2015

An illustration of a tokamak with plasma (credit: ITER Organization)

Fusion reactors could become an economically viable means of generating electricity within a few decades, replacing conventional nuclear power stations, according to new research at Durham University and Culham Centre for Fusion Energy in Oxfordshire, U.K.

The research, published in the journal Fusion Engineering and Design, builds on earlier findings that a fusion power plant could generate electricity at a price similar to that of a fission plant… read more

How to grow a functional 3-D mini-brain for 25 cents

An easy-to-make 3-D testbed for biomedical research such as drug testing, testing neural tissue transplants, or experimenting with how stem cells work
October 2, 2015

A bioengineering team at Brown University has grown 3-D “mini-brains” of neurons and supporting cells that form networks and are electrically active. This reconstruction of confocal images of a 21 day-in-vitro 3D cortical neural spheroid shows β-III-butulin+ neurons in red, GFAP+ astrocytes in green, and DAPI-stained nuclei in blue. (credit: Hoffman-Kim lab/Brown University)

Brown University scientists have developed a “mini-brain” — an accessible method for making a working sphere of central nervous system tissue and providing an inexpensive, easy-to-make 3-D testbed for biomedical research such as drug testing, testing neural tissue transplants, or experimenting with how stem cells work. (No, they don’t think. Yet.)

Mini-brains (cortical neural spheroids) produce electrical signals and form their own synapses. “We think of this… read more

Vertical ‘light antennas’ grown from organic semiconductor crystals

Could absorb light from all directions, improving solar cells and photosensors
October 2, 2015

In full bloom: A scanning electron microscopy image produced by Jessica Wang of a vertical tetraanaline semiconductor crystal (credit: Jessica Wang)

Materials scientists from the California NanoSystems Institute at UCLA have discovered a way to make organic (carbon-based) semiconductors more powerful and efficient by creating “light antennas.” The thin, pole-like devices could absorb light from all directions, an improvement over today’s wide, flat panels that can only absorb light from one surface.

The breakthrough was in creating an improved structure for one type of organic semiconductor: a building… read more

Method to replace silicon with carbon nanotubes developed by IBM Research

Could work down to the 1.8 nanometer node in the future
October 2, 2015

Schematic of a set of molybdenum end-contacted nanotube transistors (Qing Cao et al./Science)

IBM Research has announced a “major engineering breakthrough” that could lead to carbon nanotubes replacing silicon transistors in future computing technologies.

As transistors shrink in size, electrical resistance increases within the contacts, which impedes performance. So IBM researchers invented a metallurgical process similar to microscopic welding that chemically binds the contact’s metal (molybdenum) atoms to the carbon atoms at the ends of nanotubes.

The new method promises… read more

Study of protein folds adds to evidence that viruses are alive and ancient

Scientists estimate there are more than a million viral species, but less than 4,900 viruses have been identified and sequenced
October 1, 2015


Viruses are actually living entities that share a long evolutionary history with cells, researchers report in a study that traces viral evolution back to a time when neither viruses nor cells existed in the forms recognized today.

The new findings appear in an open-access paper in the journal Science Advances.

Some scientists have argued that viruses are nonliving entities, bits of DNA and RNA shed by… read more

New test detects almost all viruses that infect people, animals

Additional research needed to validate the test accuracy
October 1, 2015

A new test developed at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis can detect virtually any virus that infects people and animals, including the Ebola virus (above). (credit: National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases)

A new test that detects virtually any virus that infects people and animals has been developed at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis.

Current tests aren’t sensitive enough to detect low virus levels or are limited to detecting only those viruses suspected of being responsible for a patient’s illness.

“With this test, you don’t have to know what you’re looking for,” said the study’s… read more

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Latest blog posts

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

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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

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

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