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Black boxes to be required in all new cars from 2015

April 23, 2012 by Amara D. Angelica

1984-Big-Brother

A new bill (Senate Bill 1813, known as MAP-21) passed by the U.S. Senate in March calls for “mandatory event data recorders” to be installed in all new passenger motor vehicles sold in the U.S. for recording data before, during, or after a crash.

As stated in Section 31406 of the bill, the government would have the power to access it in a number of

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Cellphones that can see through walls and detect cancer

April 23, 2012 by Amara D. Angelica

Terahertz imager

University of Texas at Dallas researchers have designed an imager chip that could one day turn mobile phones into devices that can see through walls, wood, plastics, paper and other objects.

The UT Dallas imager chip technology being explored by UT Dallas researchers is designed for imaging in the terahertz frequency range, specifically from 280 GHz (.28 THz) to about 1 THz. The terahertz frequency range is 1000 times higher than… read more

Are you a Facebook addict?

May 8, 2012 by Amara D. Angelica

(Credit: iStockphoto)

Are you a Facebook addict? Take the Bergen Facebook Addiction Scale test, developed in Norway, and find out.

Do you (1) Very rarely, (2) Rarely, (3) Sometimes, (4) Often, or (5) Very often:

  • Spend a lot of time thinking about Facebook or plan use of Facebook.
  • Feel an urge to use Facebook more and more.
  • Use Facebook to forget about personal problems.
  • Try to cut

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Swarms of tiny intelligent drones with cameras — what could go wrong?

May 10, 2012 by Amara D. Angelica

flying_3d_eyebots

Are you ready for Eye-Bots — flying smarms of intelligent drones that zoom in and track everything going on?

Yo boy, this one’s gonna make them spyder bots in Minority Report and Big-Brother TV sets in 1984 look positively user-friendly.

A flock of flying robots rises slowly into the air with a loud buzzing noise. They perform an intricate dance in the sky above the seethingread more

Looking to the future of A New Kind of Science

May 15, 2012 by Stephen Wolfram

wolfram

Today ten years have passed since A New Kind of Science (”the NKS book”) was published. But in many ways the development that started with the book is still only just beginning. And over the next several decades I think its effects will inexorably become ever more obvious and important.

Indeed, even at an everyday level I expect that in time there will be all sorts of visible reminders… read more

A robot that learns how to tidy up after you

May 23, 2012 by Amara D. Angelica

A robot places an item in a refrigerator (credit: Saxena Lab)

Finally: a robot I really need. Like right now.

Researchers at Cornell’s Personal Robotics Lab have trained a robot to survey a room, identify all the objects, figure out where they belong, and put them away. Bingo!

“This is the first work that places objects in non-trivial places,” said Ashutosh Saxena, assistant professor of computer science.

“It learns not to put a shoe in the refrigerator,”… read more

‘Avatars’ to replace some humans at NYC area airports

May 23, 2012 by Amara D. Angelica

airlineavatar1

As if TSA groping in airports wasn’t enough, now we’re going to be subjected to some kind of creepy composite of Princess Leia from Star Wars and the advertising scene in Minority Report.

“I can be just about anything you want me to be,” over-enthuses the simulated “customer service representative,” five of which are intended for installation in LaGuardia, JFK. and Liberty Newark airports in early July, according to read more

Ask Ray | How do you find the motivation to live forever?

May 26, 2012 by Ray Kurzweil

Transcendent Man poster earth

Dear Ray:

How do you find motivation to want to live forever? How do you find comfort in your father’s death, knowing you may never truly see him again — only an avatar of what he’d represent?

John Hansen

John:

I have the motivation to live to tomorrow, metaphorically speaking. I think everyone has that motivation. As we get to times in the… read more

A miniature humanoid robot lives on your shoulder and wants to be your friend

May 30, 2012 by Amara D. Angelica

mh2_shoulder_robot

OK, this one pushes me over the “Onion threshold,” to coin a term.

A wearable miniature humanoid lives on your shoulder and can be remotely inhabited by your friends from anywhere in the world.

Hey, I’m not making this stuff up — it comes from IEEE Spectrum, a credible source, and it’s not April 1!

Anyway, it turns out Yamagata University researchers are developing a robot to make… read more

Bing likes Britannica, Bruno burns

June 11, 2012 by Amara D. Angelica

Giordano Bruno, heretical cosmologist

Microsoft has announced a deal with Encyclopaedia Britannica to add entries from the prestigious reference work to Bing search results.

The deal appears related to Britannica’s decision in March to stop producing a print edition and Google’s “knowledge graph,” which consolidates search information about specific subjects.

Et tu, Bruno?

For example, a Bing search for Giordano Bruno would provide a quick overview of… read more

V2V: Department of Transportation’s new communication system helps cars avoid crashes by talking to each other

June 11, 2012 by Amara D. Angelica

vehicle2vehicle

The University of Michigan is conducting a pilot program to test a vehicle-to-vehicle (V2V) communications device that could help drivers avoid accidents, CNET reports.

This technology could prevent up to 81 percent of all vehicle crashes, according to the Department of Transportation (DOT).

The school’s Transportation and Research Institute is seeking 3,000 drivers in the Ann Arbor, Mich., area, and will equip their vehicles with wireless… read more

Getting ‘hallucinating’ robots to arrange your room for you

June 20, 2012 by Amara D. Angelica

A robot populates a room with imaginary human stick figures in order to decide where objects should go to suit the needs of humans (credit: Personal Robotics Lab, Cornell)

When we last (virtually) visited the Personal Robotics Lab of Ashutosh Saxena, Cornell assistant professor of computer science, we learned that they’ve taught robots to pick up after you, while you sit around and watch Futurama.

But why stop there in your search for the ultimate slave robot? Now they’ve taught robots where in a room you might stand, sit, or work,read more

Why the sponge’s protosynapses never evolved into the real thing

June 25, 2012 by Amara D. Angelica

ucsb_sponge

It was a mystery: sponges had evolved a protosynapse — the beginning of a nervous system — but never actually developed a real synapse.

It was the evolutionary period of time when virtually the rest of the entire animal kingdom branched off from a common ancestor it shared with sponges, the oldest known animal group with living representatives.

Ironically, sponges themselves have no nervous system. So what happened to… read more

Is there a biological limit to longevity?

"Medicine is about transcending biology."
July 5, 2012 by Aubrey de Grey

Percent of people surviving to a given age, based on data from the Dept. of Demography, UC Berkeley (credit: C. A. Everone/fig.org)

Gerontologists and demographers have argued about this for a long time, with the balance of opinion heavily influenced by the changes seen in the wealthiest nations’ “survival curves” — graphs showing, broadly speaking, the proportion of an initial population that survived to a given age.

Until a couple of centuries ago, these curves looked very much like radioactive decay curves, because one’s chance of dying at any given age… read more

I’ve seen the future of electronics and it’s … vacuum tubes!

July 12, 2012 by Amara D. Angelica

back_to_the_vacuum

Huh? Yep, you read it right.

We are bumping into a limit to increasing transistor speed, determined by the “electron transit time” — the time it takes an electron to travel, says Hong Koo Kim, a professor in the University of Pittsburgh’s Swanson School of Engineering.

It’s back to the vacuum, folks.

Kim explains: electrons traveling inside a semiconductor device frequently experience collisions or scattering… read more

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