Breaking science & technology news

Top story

Placenta-on-a-chip models the vital mother-fetus placental barrier

Will help in studies on preterm birth
July 25, 2016

The flash-drive-sized device contains two layers of human cells that model the interface between mother and fetus. Microfluidic channels on either side of those layers allow researchers to study how molecules are transported through, or are blocked by, that interface. (credit: University of Pennsylvania)

Researchers at the University of Pennsylvania have developed the first placenta-on-a-chip that can fully model the transport of nutrients across the placental barrier — part of a nationwide effort sponsored by the March of Dimes to identify causes of preterm birth and ways to prevent it.

Prematurely born babies may experience lifelong, debilitating consequences, but the underlying mechanisms of this condition are not well understood due in part to… read more

Cinnamon may be the latest nootropic

July 25, 2016

(credit: The Great American Spice Co.)

Kalipada Pahan, PhD, a researcher at Rush University and the Jesse Brown VA Medical Center in Chicago, has found that cinnamon improved performance of mice in a maze test.

His group published their latest findings online June 24, 2016, in the Journal of Neuroimmune Pharmacology.

“The increase in learning in poor-learning mice after cinnamon treatment was significant,” says Pahan. “For example, poor-learning mice took… read more

Americans worried about gene editing, brain chip implants, and synthetic blood

July 25, 2016

(iStock Photo)

Many in the general U.S. public are concerned about technologies to make people’s minds sharper and their bodies stronger and healthier than ever before, according to a new Pew Research Center survey of more than 4,700 U.S. adults.

The survey covers broad public reaction to scientific advances and examines public attitudes about the potential use of three specific emerging technologies for human enhancement.

The nationally… read more

Whole-brain imaging method identifies common brain disorders

New chemical allows for measuring the density of synapses in the entire brain in vivo for the first time, using a PET scan
July 22, 2016

Human synaptic density ft

How many of the estimated 100 trillion synapses in your brain are actually functioning? It’s an important question for diagnosis and treatment of people with common brain disorders, such as epilepsy, Alzheimer’s disease, autism, depression, schizophrenia, and traumatic brain injury (TBI), but one that could not be answered, except in an autopsy (or an invasive surgical sample of a small area).

Now a Yale-led team of researchers… read more

Distinct stages of thinking revealed by brain activity patterns

July 22, 2016

four stages ft

Using neuroimaging data, Carnegie Mellon University researchers have identified four distinct stages of math problem solving, according to a new study published in the journal Psychological Science.

“How students were solving these kinds of problems was a total mystery to us until we applied these techniques,” says psychological scientist John Anderson, lead researcher on the study. “Now, when students are sitting there thinking hard, we can tell… read more

Mental, physical exercises found to produce different brain benefits

July 22, 2016

(credit: iStock)

Cognitive brain training improves executive function while aerobic activity improves memory, according to a new study by the Center for BrainHealth at The University of Texas at Dallas.

The study, published in Frontiers in Human Neuroscience, compared cerebral blood flow and cerebrovascular reactivity data, obtained via MRI, for two groups of healthy sedentary adults ages 56–75 years. The members of both groups participated in training three… read more

Facebook’s internet-beaming drone completes first test flight

July 21, 2016

(credit: Facebook)

Facebook Connectivity Lab announced today the first full-scale test flight of Aquila — a solar-powered unmanned airplane/drone designed to bring affordable internet access to some of the 1.6 billion people living in remote locations with no access to mobile broadband networks.

When complete, Aquila will be able to circle a region up to 60 miles in diameter, beaming internet connectivity down from an altitude of more than… read more

New nanomaterial mimics cell membranes

Applications include water purification, fuel cells, and selective drug delivery
July 20, 2016

This simulated cross-section shows how the lipid-like peptoids interact to form a membrane. Each peptoid has two sections: a fatty-like region that interacts via benzene rings (shown in pink) with its neighbors to form a sheet. And a water-loving region that juts above or below the flat sheet. Each region can be designed to have specific functions. (credit: Chun-Long Chen/PNNL)

Materials scientists at the Department of Energy’s Pacific Northwest National Laboratory have created a new material that performs like a biological cell membrane — a material that has long been sought for applications like water purification and drug delivery.

The “peptoid” material can assemble itself into a sheet that’s thinner, but more stable, than a soap bubble, the researchers report this week in Nature Communications. The assembled… read more

Musk’s new master plan for Tesla

July 20, 2016

Tesla Autopilot ft

Elon Musk revealed his new master plan for Tesla today (July 20) in a blog post published on Tesla’s website:

  • Create stunning solar roofs with seamlessly integrated battery storage.
  • Expand the electric vehicle product line to address all major segments.
  • Develop a self-driving capability that is 10X safer than manual via massive fleet learning.
  • Enable your car to make money for you when you

read more

Why partially automated cars should be deployed in ‘light-duty vehicles’

Could prevent or reduce the severity of up 1.3 million crashes in the U.S. a year, including 10,100 fatal wrecks
July 20, 2016

crash avoidance technologies

U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration chief Mark Rosekind said at a conference today (July 20) that the government “will not abandon efforts to speed the development of self-driving cars … to reduce the 94 percent of car crashes attributed to human error, despite a fatal accident involving a Tesla Model S operating on an autopilot system,” Reuters reports. But autonomous vehicles must be “much safer” than human… read more

New brain map provides unprecedented detail in 180 areas of the cerebral cortex

Aims to help researchers understand brain disorders, help neurosurgeons avoid damaging important brain areas
July 20, 2016

A detailed new map by researchers at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis lays out the landscape of the cerebral cortex – the outermost layer of the brain and the dominant structure involved in sensory perception and attention, as well as distinctly human functions such as language, tool use and abstract thinking. (credit: Matthew Glasser and Eric Young)

A detailed new map by researchers at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis and associates* lays out the landscape of 180 areas of the cerebral cortex in painstaking detail; 97 of these areas have never been previously described.

The new map is intended to help researchers studying brain disorders such as autism, schizophrenia, dementia and epilepsy. They will be able to use it to understand… read more

US has potential to produce more than a billion tons of biomass annually by 2040

Could substantially decrease greenhouse gas emissions and reduce U.S. dependence on imported oil
July 18, 2016

biomass

Oak Ridge National Laboratory | 2016 Billion-Ton Report

The U.S. has the potential to sustainably produce at least 1 billion dry tons of nonfood biomass resources annually by 2040, according to the 2016 Billion-Ton Report, jointly released by the U.S. Department of Energy and Oak Ridge National Laboratory. That amount would substantially decrease greenhouse gas emissions in the utility and transportation sectors and (as the domestic bioeconomy… read more

World’s smallest storage device writes information atom by atom

Storage density of 500 terabits per square inch --- 500 times better than the best commercial hard disk drive
July 18, 2016

Atomic data storage scheme (credit: Kavli Institute of Nanoscience)

Scientists at Kavli Institute of Nanoscience at Delft University have built a nanoscale data storage device containing 1 kilobyte (8,000 bits) with a storage density of 500 terabits per square inch (Tbpsi) — 500 times denser than the best commercial hard disk drive currently available. Each bit is represented by the position of one single chlorine atom.

“In theory, this storage density would allow all books ever created by… read more

Peering into atomically thin transistors with microwaves, scientists make a radical discovery: a one-dimensional transistor

July 18, 2016

credit: University of Texas at Austin

Physicists at The University of Texas at Austin have had the first-ever glimpse into what happens inside an atomically thin semiconductor device. In doing so, they discovered that a transistor may be possible within a space so small (the edge) that it’s effectively one-dimensional.

Future tech innovations will require finding a way to fit more transistors on computer chips to keep up with Moore’s law, so… read more

Middle-age-plus memory decline may just be a matter of changing focus

MRI study reveals different parts of the brain involved with younger vs. older subjects
July 15, 2016

When middle-aged and older adults were shown a series of faces, red regions of the brain were more active; these include an area in the medial prefrontal cortex that is associated with self-referential thinking. In young adults, by contrast, blue regions -- which include areas important for memory and attention -- were more active during this task. (credit: N. Rajah, McGill University)

Are you middle-aged or older and having problems remembering details, like where you left the keys or parked your car?

Cheer up, it may simply be the result of a change in what information your brain focuses on during memory formation and retrieval, rather than a decline in brain function, according to a study by McGill University researchers.

In the study, published in the journal, NeuroImage,… read more

More news

Latest blog posts

Code of Ethics on Human Augmentation: the three ‘Laws’

Why? To protect us, future consumers and adopters, and society from machines of malice --- whether eventually by AI superintelligence, or right now by corrupt human intelligence. --- Steve Mann
July 5, 2016

seeing radio waves ft

By Steve Mann, Brett Leonard, David Brin, Ana Serrano, Robin Ingle, Ken Nickerson, Caitlin Fisher, Samantha Mathews, Ryan Janzen, Mir Adnan Ali, Ken Yang, Pete Scourboutakos, Dan Braverman, Sarang Nerkar, Keram Malicki-Sanchez, Zack P. Harris, Zach A. Harris, Jesse Damiani, Edward Button

The Human Augmentation Code was presented at the VRTO Virtual & Augmented Reality World Conference + Expo, June 25–27, 2016 by Steve Mann,read more

The Laws of Mixed Reality — without the rose-colored glasses

June 3, 2016

Matric Revolution ft

By John Rousseau

The future of human consciousness will be a hybrid affair. We will live and work in a ubiquitous computing environment, where physical reality and a pervasive digital layer mix seamlessly according to the logic of software and the richness of highly contextual data. This is mixed reality (MR) — and it will soon simply be reality: projected onto our mind’s eye, always on, always connected, and… read more

The trillion dollar question nobody is asking the presidential candidates

May 24, 2016

nuclear inventories ft

By , /The Conversation

As it seeks to modernize its nuclear arsenal, the United States faces a big choice, one which Barack Obama should ponder before his upcoming Hiroshima speech.

Should we spend a trillion dollars to replace each of our thousands of nuclear warheads with a more sophisticated substitute attached to a more lethal delivery system? Or… read more

By the year 2040, embryo selection could replace sex as the way most of us make babies

May 9, 2016

Gattaca - embryos ft

By Jamie Metzl (@JamieMetzl)

(Gattaca 1997)

Human reproduction is about to undergo a radical shift. Embryo selection, in connection with in-vitro fertilization (IVF), will help our species eliminate many genetic diseases, extend healthy lifespans, and enhance people’s overall well-being. Within 20 years, I predict that it will supplant sex as the way large numbers of us conceive of our children.

But while the embryo… read more

Robert Scoble: Life and Tech #48: A New Life 

May 5, 2016

Scoble

By Robert Scoble May 5, 2016

What a month it’s been since I wrote to you last.

I’ve been on a world tour, doing my homework, meeting influencers at conferences and startups. Since I last wrote you I’ve been to Pittsburgh, Quebec City, Napa, London, Palm Springs, New York, Mumbai, New Delhi and New Orleans. Next week I’ll be in Paris. Whew.… read more

Garage Biotech: New drugs using only a computer, the internet and free online data

May 5, 2016

garage startup ft

By
Director of UWA Centre for Software Practice, University of Western Australia

Pharmaceutical companies typically develop new drugs with thousands of staff and budgets that run into the billions of dollars. One estimate puts the cost of bringing a new drug to market at $2.6 billion with others suggesting that it could be double that cost at $5 billion.

One man, Professor Atulread more

In memory of Marvin Minsky [updated]

Originally published Jan. 25, 2016 --- AAAI/Sentient video tribute Mar. 22, 2016 added
April 27, 2016

Marvin Minsky 2008 (Wikimedia Commons)

Ray Kurzweil, January 25, 2016

When I was fourteen I wrote Marvin Minsky a letter asking to meet with him. He invited me to visit him at MIT and he spent hours with me as if he had nothing else to do.

When my daughter Amy was about eleven and we went out for a meal at the Harvest Restaurant in Cambridge with my wife Sonya and his… read more

The Science of Consciousness: Final 2016 conference program

March 25, 2016

TSC2016hires ft

April 25–30, 2016, Loews Ventana Canyon Resort, Tucson, Arizona

“To have a glimpse of what consciousness is would be the scientific achievement before which all others would pale.” – William James

After 23 years, the seminal conference “Toward a Science of Consciousness” is now simply “The Science of Consciousness.” But as consciousness cannot be observed, scientifically explained, nor commonly defined, is there now truly a science of consciousness’? Are we… read more

The Problem of AI Consciousness

March 18, 2016

(credit: Susan Schneider)

Some things in life cannot be offset by a mere net gain in intelligence.

The last few years have seen the widespread recognition that sophisticated AI is under development. Bill Gates, Stephen Hawking, and others warn of the rise of “superintelligent” machines: AIs that outthink the smartest humans in every domain, including common sense reasoning and social skills. Superintelligence could destroy us, they caution. In contrast, Ray Kurzweil, a… read more

Will this new ‘socially assistive robot’ from MIT Media Lab (or its progeny) replace teachers?

This impressive research raises troubling questions about possible future effects on children (and society) when combined with deep learning and immersive media
March 15, 2016 by Amara D. Angelica

Tega ft

Researchers in the Personal Robots Group at the MIT Media Lab, led by Cynthia Breazeal, PhD, have developed a powerful new “socially assistive” robot called Tega that senses the affective (emotional/feeling) state of a learner, and based on those cues, creates a personalized motivational strategy.

But what are the implications for the future of education … and society? (To be addressed in questions below.)

A… read more

Ray Kurzweil talks with host Neal deGrasse Tyson, PhD: on invention & immortality

part of the week long event series 7 Days of Genius at 92 Street Y
March 9, 2016

92 Street Y - A4

92 Street Y | 7 Days of Genius
Conversation on stage during the week long event series, held at the historic community center.

featured talk | Ray Kurzweil with host Neil DeGrasse Tyson, PhD — on Invention & Immortality

Inventor, author and futurist Ray Kurzweil is joined by astrophysicist and science communicator Neil deGrasse Tyson, PhD for a discussion of some of the biggest topics of our time. They explore… read more

Here’s how we could build a colony on an alien world

March 2, 2016

colony ft

By /The Conversation

If the human race is to survive in the long-run, we will probably have to colonise other planets. Whether we make the Earth uninhabitable ourselves or it simply reaches the natural end of its ability to support life, one day we will have to look for a new home.

Hollywood films such as The Martian and Interstellar give us a… read more

Ask Ray | Ethan Kurzweil debates the role of tech firms in personal privacy

business news report from C • NBC
February 27, 2016

privacy - A1

Dear readers,

My son Ethan Kurzweil — who is a partner at Bessemer Ventures Partners — tracks the future of web innovation, social and legal concerns about privacy, and start-ups who have an edge with their business or consumer applications, like team sourcing or software-as-a-service.

He appeared on C • NBC business affairs show Power Lunch. Episode debated the recent news about the US government and law enforcement… read more

Robert Scoble: Life and Tech #42: Learning from Blab.im’s Founder and CEO

February 26, 2016

Scoble

By Robert Scoble Feb. 25, 2016

“Focus beats resources every day of the week.” That’s what Shaan Puri told me when I met with him this week. He’s the founder and CEO of Blab.im, a video chat service that has gotten fairly popular quickly. For instance, he says that every big Google+ Hangout show has already moved to Blab.

Check… read more

Something mechanical in something living

The mechanical comic vs. BigDog
February 22, 2016

venus bot

By Gregg Murray

Why do people find Army robot BigDog creepy but C-3PO funny? It’s not just because BigDog lugs around equipment for killing people and C-3PO delivers whimsical one-liners. Okay, that may be part of it.

In the 1970s, roboticist Masahiro Mori, building upon a fascinating essay of Sigmund Freud, suggested that as robots become more human-like they induce an increasingly eerie response from human… read more

More blog posts

@KurzweilAINews

close and return to Home