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NASA And Virgin Galactic To Explore Future Cooperation

February 22, 2007

NASA officials announced they have signed an agreement with a U.S. company, Virgin Galactic, to explore collaborations on development of future space systems and support to commercial human spaceflight activities.

These areas of research will include hybrid rocket motors and hypersonic vehicles capable of traveling five or more times the speed of sound, employing NASA Ames’ unique capabilities and world-class facilities.

Leading geneticist Steve Jones says human evolution is over

October 9, 2008

Human evolution is grinding to a halt because of a shortage of older fathers (more likely to pass on mutations) in the West, according to Professor Steve Jones of University College London.

This is because cell divisions in males increase with age. “Every time there is a cell division, there is a chance of a mistake, a mutation, an error,” he said.

Also, as populations are becoming connected,… read more

Brain Scans Teach Humans to Empathize with Bots

August 2, 2010

robot+human

To test whether the sections of the brain that are activated when a human sees a robot expressing powerful emotions are the same as when a human sees another human expressing them, an international group of researchers stuck volunteers into an fMRI machine. They did not respond to the robots’ facial movement. But when they were told to concentrate on the emotional content of the robots’ expressions, their brains evidenced… read more

‘Switched on’ muscle stem cells morph to resemble nerve cells

April 15, 2004

Researchers have turned muscle progenitor cells — stem cells that are “committed” to becoming muscle tissue — into cells that look and act like neurons.

Using an artificial gene they created, the researchers “switched on” a panel of genes that are normally silent in the muscle cells, causing them to morph into cells that show biochemical, physiological, and structural properties of neurons.

The researchers say the advance provides… read more

Iran unveils human-like robot

July 6, 2010

Iran has developed a new human-like walking robot, Surena-2, named after an ancient Persian warrior, to be used in “sensitive jobs.”

To Be Almost Human Or Not To Be, That Is The Question

March 2, 2007

Researchers are developing robots that will assist the elderly and disabled, but the vote is split on how human-like they should become.

Roving brain electrodes reverse paralysis in monkeys

October 16, 2008

Research with monkeys using a brain implant with 12 electrodes that were moved with piezoelectric motors has been shown potential for people paralyzed by spinal injuries to get back control of their own limbs, Washington National Primate Research Center researchers have found.

Implants like these could control prosthetic limbs more precisely because they relay signals from carefully chosen neurons, rather than having software calculate a signal from recordings of… read more

The First Church of Robotics

August 10, 2010

“By allowing artificial intelligence to reshape our concept of personhood, we are leaving ourselves open to the flipside: we think of people more and more as computers, just as we think of computers as people,” says author and computer scientist Jeron Lanier. “The constant stream of stories about AI suggests that machines are becoming smart and autonomous, a new form of life, and that we should think of them as… read more

Getting Molecules To Do The Work

April 23, 2004

Molecular self-assembly can make manufacturing fast and cheap and also develop products that would be impossible to make using conventional methods.

Fibers that can hear and sing

July 13, 2010

Acoustic fibers with flat surfaces, like those shown here, could prove particularly useful in acoustic imaging devices.	(Research Laboratory of Electronics at MIT/Greg Hren)

Fibers that can detect and produce sound have been developed by scientists at MIT’s Research Lab of Electronics.

How it works

The heart of the new acoustic fibers is a plastic commonly used in microphones. By playing with the plastic’s fluorine content, the researchers were able to ensure that its molecules remain lopsided — with fluorine atoms lined up on one side and hydrogen… read more

Subliminal advertising leaves its mark on the brain

March 12, 2007

University College London researchers have found the first physiological evidence that invisible subliminal images do attract the brain’s attention on a subconscious level.

Using fMRI to detect the impact on brain activity in the primary visual cortex, they found subjects’ brains did respond to the object even when they were not conscious of having seen it.

“These findings point to the sort of impact that subliminal… read more

Packs of robots will hunt down uncooperative humans

October 24, 2008

The Army is looking for contractors to provide a “Multi-Robot Pursuit System” that will let packs of robots “search for and detect a non-cooperative human.”

Google Offers Cloud-Based Learning Engine

August 20, 2010

Google has launched a service that could bring machine learning to many more apps. Google Prediction API provides a simple way for developers to create software that learns how to handle incoming data.

For example, the Google-hosted algorithms could be trained to sort e-mails into categories for “complaints” and “praise” using a dataset that provides many examples of both kinds. Future e-mails could then be screened by software using… read more

Sasser computer worm wriggles worldwide

May 5, 2004

More than a million computers around the world have been infected by the “Sasser” computer worm or one of its variants.

Sasser does not rely on email to spread and requires no action by users to infect a machine. Each variant of the worm infects computers across a network by exploiting a bug in a part of Microsoft’s Windows XP and Windows 2000 operating systems called the Local Security… read more

Polymer synthesis could aid future electronics

July 20, 2010

A high-resolution scanning tunneling microscope image (top) and density functional theory-calculated structures (bottom) reveal the formation of a well-organized PEDOT polymer (ORNL)

In a paper published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, a team of researchers from Canada and the Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory. and two Canadian universities outlined their success in growing highly structured short chains of polymer poly(3,4-ethylenedioxythiophene), or PEDOT.

Synthesis of a conjugated organic polymer–widely used as a conductive material in devices like light-emitting diodes, televisions and… read more

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