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USC engineers build synthetic synapse with carbon nanotubes

May 2, 2011 by Amara D. Angelica

Field effect transistor using carbon nanotubes to create synthetic synapse (credit: USC Viterbi School of Engineering)

Engineering researchers at the University of Southern California have built a carbon nanotube circuit that reproduces the function of a neural synapse.

“This is a necessary first step in the process,” said Professor Alice Parker, who began the complex project of looking at the possibility of developing a synthetic brain in 2006.

“We wanted to answer the question: Can you build a circuit that… read more

book review | Alone Together: Why We Expect More from Technology and Less from Each Other

January 24, 2011 by R.U. Sirius

In 1938, existentialist philosopher Jean Paul Sartre wrote “Hell is other people.” Sartre may never have cobbled together his existential philosophy that viewed human individuals as utterly alone — alienated, atomized beings in a vast meaningless universe — if he had grown up playing with social robots and holding others at a discreet psychological distance by communicating with them nearly exclusively via instant messaging.

According to Wikipedia, one… read more

How to synthesize a new kind of yeast cell — or person

September 19, 2011 by Amara D. Angelica

Dr._Moreau

Scientists, in theory, could one day create whole new lifeforms, going way beyond simple cloning, new research at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine suggests.

The scientists have now replaced the DNA in a yeast chromosome with computer-designed, synthetically produced DNA (structurally distinct from its original DNA), producing a healthy yeast cell.

So perhaps one day, a mad scientist could even create an entirely new… read more

A super-memory smart drug?

December 15, 2011 by Amara D. Angelica

Suppression of PKR

Could this be the “Limitless” breakthrough we’ve been looking for?

Researchers at Baylor College of Medicine  (BCM) have discovered that when the activity of PKR — a molecule normally elevated during viral infections — is inhibited in the brain, mice learn and remember dramatically better.

“The molecule PKR (the double-stranded RNA-activated protein kinase) was originally described as a sensor of viral infections,… read more

Virtual self

January 25, 2011

A still image of a Project LifeLike avatar conversing with a person. Project LifeLike is a collaboration between the Intelligent Systems Laboratory (ISL) at the University of Central Florida (UCF) and the Electronic Visualization Laboratory (EVL) at the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC) that aims to create visualizations of people, or avatars, that are as realistic as possible. While their current results are far from perfect replications of a specific person, their work has advanced the field forward and opens up a host of possible applications in the not-too-distant future.  (University of Chicago/University of Central Florida)

Your avatar may be just a virtual identity, but it can also affect how you are in the real world.

“In this world of new media, people spend a lot of time interacting with digital versions of one another.” — Jeremy Bailenson

If you spend a lot of time online, you may even have an electronic alter ego–an avatar. An avatar is a movable image that people design… read more

Ask Ray | The future of human self-awareness: deeper mirrors

November 15, 2010 by Ray Kurzweil

The False Mirror, by René Magritte, 1928. Oil on canvas. © 2010 C. Herscovici, Brussels / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York.

Hello Ray,

In the last few years I have been basically writing in Persian and hardly anything in English. One thing I’ve been recently discussing that I thought may be of interest to you is that it seems to me the next stage of human consciousness will be about being self-aware of ourselves in a different body.

Maybe recognizing ourselves in the mirror after plastic surgery is the first… read more

How Watson works: a conversation with Eric Brown, IBM Research Manager

January 31, 2011 by Amara D. Angelica

IBM Watson

For nearly two years IBM scientists have been working on a highly advanced Question Answering (QA) system, codenamed “Watson.” The scientists believe that the computing system will be able to understand complex questions and answer with enough precision, confidence, and speed to compete in the first-ever man vs. machine Jeopardy! competition, which will air on February 14, 15 and 16, 2011.

We had some questions, so we spoke… read more

Are you ready for virtual taste?

January 3, 2014 by Amara D. Angelica

nus_digital taste

We’ve talked about robot burger makers. How about virtual tasting, so you could sample your burger before buying it, without grossing everyone out — even taste a pizza before having it delivered?

A National University of Singapore (NUS) researcher has taken an early step in that direction. Dr. Nimesha Ranasinghe has invented a digital gadget that can recreate the taste of virtual food and drinks.… read more

How to Live Forever*

May 12, 2011 by Amara D. Angelica

buster

* Results may vary 

I love the premise: take off on a global trek to interview the world’s oldest people, top health and fitness gurus, and smartest life-extension scientists, and ask one question: what’s your secret? 

In How To Live Forever, a new film from Variance Films (opening in New York Friday May 13 and L.A. May 20), producer/director Mark Wexler (Seeing Double, Me & My Matchmaker,read more

teleXLR8 returns, featuring quantum physicist Gildert on ‘Hack the Multiverse!’

August 16, 2011 by Amara D. Angelica

hack_the_multiverse

This exciting news just in from Giulio Prisco: “teleXLR8 is reopening on Sunday 21 10 a.m. PST with a talk by [experimental quantum physicist/programmer] Suzanne Gildert on Hack the Multiverse!.”

The teleXLR8 online talk program is “a telepresence community for cultural acceleration,” as their blog puts it. Translation: an audiovideo seminar — think TED in Second Life, plus webcam videoconferencing and video session… read more

Former president of India wants to beam energy from space

November 3, 2010 by Amara D. Angelica

SSP03

On Thursday November 4 at the National Press Club the National Space Society (NSS) will reveal a plan for solving the global energy crisis — along with the carbon crisis and America’s jobs crisis: the Kalam-NSS Energy Initiative (Dr. A.P.J. Kalam is the former President of India). This is a visionary, ambitious plan for harvesting solar power in space and beaming… read more

Will a Dutch discovery lead to understanding dark matter and a real quantum computer? UPDATE APR 17

April 16, 2012 by Amara D. Angelica

Indium Antemonide

UPDATE APR 17, 2012: “One, however, has to be cautious because while this experiment from Delft has provided the likely necessary evidence for the existence of the Majorana, the sufficient conditions are more difficult to achieve and may take more time.” — Sankar Das Sarma, University of Maryland (press release). Also see: “Zero bias conductance peak in Majorana wires made of semiconductor-superconductor hybrid structures” C.H. Lin, J.D. Sau, andread more

Jeopardy!, IBM, and Wolfram|Alpha

February 2, 2011 by Stephen Wolfram

About a month before Wolfram|Alpha launched, I was on the phone with a group from IBM, talking about our vision for computable knowledge in Wolfram|Alpha. A few weeks later, the group announced that they were going to use what they had done in natural language processing to try to make a system to compete on Jeopardy!

I thought it was a brilliant way to showcase their work —… read more

Another faster-than-light neutrinos challenge

October 1, 2011 by Amara D. Angelica

Cherenkov radiation (credit: Wikimedia Commons)

This just in: a new critique of the CERN OPERA finding of faster-than-light neutrinos. In “New Constraints on Neutrino Velocities,” Cohen and Glashow argue that the high-energy (17.5 GeV) superluminal muon neutrinos would actually lose energy rapidly (down to about 12.5GeV) on the 730km trip, long before arriving in Italy.

But that didn’t happen. Ergo, the neutrino weren’t really traveling faster than light, say Cohen… read more

book review | Science fiction bots becoming fact

March 3, 2011 by R.U. Sirius

We, Robot book cover

An interview with Mark Stephen Meadows, author of We, Robot: Skywalker’s Hand, Blade Runners, Iron Man, Slutbots, and How Fiction Became Fact.

 With We, Robot (Lyons Press, 2010), Mark Stephen Meadows explores the recent edges of robotic development in the context of some of our favorite fictional narratives.

It’s a smart, edgy read, written in a very hip, almost cyberpunk style (for one example, the author describes himself

read more

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