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Is your smartphone making you stupid?

March 6, 2015

(credit: Universal Studios)

A study by University of Waterloo researchers suggests that smartphone users who are intuitive thinkers — more prone to relying on gut feelings and instincts when making decisions — frequently use search engines rather than their own brainpower.

“They may look up information that they actually know or could easily learn, but are unwilling to make the effort to actually think about it,” said Gordon Pennycook, co-lead author of… read more

A quantum device that detects and corrects its own errors

UC Santa Barbara researchers form partnership with Google
March 5, 2015

A photograph of the nine qubit device. Qubits interact with their nearest neighbors to detect and correct errors. (credit: Julian Kelly)

In what they are calling a major milestone, researchers in the John Martinis Lab at UC Santa Barbara have developed quantum circuitry that self-checks for errors and suppresses them — preserving the qubits’ state(s) and imbuing the system with reliability that is foundational for building powerful large-scale superconducting quantum computers.

“One of the biggest challenges in quantum computing is that qubits are inherently faulty,” said Julian Kelly,… read more

Kids and robots learn to write together

March 5, 2015

Kids and robots2

EPFL researchers have developed a new teaching tool called CoWriter based on the pedagogical principle of “learning by teaching.”

When children experience difficulties in writing, they can easily lose confidence, begin to shut down, or even gradually lose interest in the learning process. Eventually, their entire education can be affected. When students put themselves in the place of a teacher and pass on what they know to their peers,… read more

What happens when we all drive electric vehicles?

March 5, 2015

(credit: Hasselt University)

The European Union predicts that electric vehicles (EV) could be in mass production by 2020. But what might be their impacts, such as new demands on electrical distribution grids and on how and where we travel?

The EU DATA SIM project, a  consortium of nine partners from seven countries with EUR 2,3 million investment from the EU, was created for that purpose.

It has… read more

Flexible sensors turn skin into a touch-sensitive interface for mobile devices

March 4, 2015

iSkin2

Computer scientists at Saarland University and Carnegie Mellon University are studying the potential use of the human body as a touch sensitive surface for controlling mobile devices. They have developed flexible silicone rubber stickers with pressure-sensitive sensors that fit snugly to the skin.

By operating these touch input stickers, users can use their own body to control mobile devices. Because of the flexible material used, the sensors can be… read more

Researchers enable solar cells to use more sunlight

March 4, 2015

Scientists of the University of Luxembourg and of the Japanese electronics company TDK have extended sensitivity of a conductive oxide film used in solar cells in the near-infrared region to use more energy of the sun and thus create higher current.

Similar attempts have been made before, but this is the first time that these films were prepared by a one-step process and, at the same time, stable in… read more

Unzipped nanotubes as an alternative to costly platinum for fuel cells

March 4, 2015

An illustration shows a three-dimensional aerogel created by researchers at Rice University who combined graphene nanoribbons with boron and nitrogen. The aerogels show promise as a possible alternative to expensive platinum in fuel cells (credit: Ajayan Group/Rice University)

Rice University researchers have formed graphene nanoribbons into a three-dimensional aerogel enhanced with boron and nitrogen as catalysts for fuel cells as a replacement for platinum.

In tests involving half of the catalytic reaction that takes place in fuel cells, a team led by materials scientist Pulickel Ajayan and chemist James Tou discovered that versions with about 10 percent boron and nitrogen were efficient in catalyzing an… read more

Black phosphorus improves optical communication for chip interconnects

March 3, 2015

This illustration shows the high performance photodetector which uses few layer black phosphorus (red atoms) to sense light in the waveguide (green material). Graphene (gray atoms) is also used to tune the performance. (credit: College of Science and Engineering)

University of Minnesota researchers have found that an ultrathin black phosphorus film — only 20 layers of atoms — allows for high-speed data communication on nanoscale optical circuits. Black phosphorus is a crystaline form of the element phosphorus.

The devices showed vast improvement in efficiency over comparable devices using graphene.

The work by University of Minnesota Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering Professors Mo Li and Steven Koester… read more

Worker robots that can learn from humans

March 3, 2015

Illustration of human-aware motion planning. The left panel depicts a<br />
shared workspace in which a human and robot are placing and sealing screws,<br />
respectively. The right panel depicts both the standard, shortest-path motion (dashed<br />
arrow) and a human-aware motion (solid arrow) that the robot could take given the<br />
expected human workspace occupancy, represented by the cylinder. (credit: Lasota, P. A., and J. A. Shah/Human Factors: The Journal of the Human Factors and Ergonomics Society)

Roboticist and aerospace engineer Julie Shah and her team at MIT are developing next-generation assembly line robots that are smarter and more adaptable than robots available on today’s assembly lines.

The team is designing the robots with artificial intelligence that enables them to learn from experience, so the robots will be more responsive to human behavior. The more robots can sense the humans around them and make adjustments,… read more

Imaging the 3D structure of a single virus

Using the intense beam of the world’s most powerful x-ray free-electron laser (XFEL)
March 2, 2015

Three-dimensional reconstruction of the giant mimivirus particle with an X-ray<br />
free-electron laser (credit: Tomas Ekeberg et al./Physical Review Letters)

By measuring a series of diffraction pattern from a virus injected into an XFEL beam, researchers at Stanford’s Linac Coherent Light Source (LCLS) have determined the first three-dimensional structure of a virus, using a mimivirus.

X-ray crystallography has solved the vast majority of the structures of proteins and other biomolecules. The success of the method relies on growing large crystals of the molecules, which isn’t possible… read more

We can make multicore chips smarter, faster — we have the technology

March 2, 2015

(credit: Christine Daniloff/MIT)

Computer chips’ clocks have stopped getting faster, so chipmakers are instead giving chips more cores, which can execute computations in parallel.

Now, in simulations involving a 64-core chip, MIT computer scientists have improved a system that cleverly distributes data around multicore chips’ memory banks — increasing system computational speeds by 46 percent while reducing power consumption by 36 percent.

“Now that the way to improve performance is… read more

Researchers ‘overclocking’ world’s fastest supercomputers to process big data faster

"Approximate computing" tricks use controlled errors to achieve speed increases and reduce power consumption
March 2, 2015

High performance computing (HPC) systems (credit: Queens University Belfast)

Researchers at Queen’s University Belfast, the University of Manchester, and the STFC Daresbury Laboratory are developing new software to increase the ability of supercomputers to process big data faster while minimizing increases in power consumption.

To do that, computer scientists in the Scalable, Energy-Efficient, Resilient and Transparent Software Adaptation (SERT) project are using “approximate computing” (also known as “significance-based computing”) — a form… read more

Schmidhuber to do AMA (Ask Me Anything) on reddit /r/MachineLearning

March 1, 2015

jurgen-schmidhuber

Jürgen Schmidhuber, Director of the Swiss Artificial Intelligence Lab (IDSIA), will do an AMA (Ask Me Anything) on reddit/r/MachineLearning on Wednesday March 4, 2015 at 10 AM EST. You can post questions now in advance in this thread.

A key figure in AI in Europe and noted for his quirky sense of humor, Schmidhuber’s ideas and writing have been featuredread more

Quantum radar could detect stealth cancer cells or aircraft

February 27, 2015

quantum radar ft.

A prototype “quantum radar” that has the potential to detect objects that are invisible to conventional systems has been developed by an international research team led by a quantum information scientist at the University of York.

The new breed of radar is a hybrid system that uses quantum correlation between microwave and optical beams to detect objects of low reflectivity such as cancer cells or aircraft with a stealth… read more

A superconductor advance using ‘superatoms’

February 27, 2015

Superconductivity is the ability to transmit electricity without resistance (credit: USC/Original image/DC Comics Mystery in Space #56, December 1959)

USC scientists may have discovered a family of superconductor materials called superatoms that could lead to room-temperature supercomputers.

A team led by Vitaly Kresin, professor of physics at the USC Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences, found that aluminum “superatoms” — homogenous clusters of atoms — appear to form Cooper pairs of electrons (one of the key elements of superconductivity) at temperatures around 100 Kelvin.

Though 100… read more

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