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Bitcoin hits $1 billion

April 1, 2013


Bitcoin, the world’s first open source cryptographic currency, has set a new record for itself as the price listed on the largest online exchange rose past US $92, IEEE Spectrum reports. With nearly 11 million Bitcoins in circulation, this sets the total worth of the currency just over one billion dollars.

Bitcoin is a digital currency that runs on a global peer-to-peer network… read more

Huge online attack exposes Internet’s vulnerability

April 1, 2013

(Credit: iStockphoto)

It was the largest online attack ever reported. Over the course of the past week, servers belonging to an international non-profit company called The Spamhaus Project, which fights email spammers, were inundated with up to 38 gigabytes of traffic each second, New Scientist reports.

The attackers exploited open domain name server (DNS) resolvers, faking their own IP addresses, replacing them with the address of the target. This… read more

TED removes TEDxWestHollywood license: ideas that have ‘failed to gain scientific acceptance’

April 1, 2013


TED has removed the license of TEDxWestHollywood for their planned “Brother, Can You Spare a Paradigm?” event, says the TEDxWestHollywood blog.

The takedown was only a couple of weeks before the April 14 event (and after they had spent more than a year preparing), the blog says.

In an email to Suzanne Taylor, the organizer of TEDxWestHollywood, a representative of TED outlined the objections: “And when… read more

Swarming robots could be our future servants

April 1, 2013

Swarming robots push object (credit: University of Sheffield)

Researchers in the Sheffield Centre for Robotics, jointly established by the University of Sheffield and Sheffield Hallam University, are programming a group of 40 robots.

The researchers have demonstrated that the swarm can carry out simple fetching and carrying tasks, by grouping around an object and working together to push it across a surface.

The robots can also group themselves together into a single… read more

Making robots mimic the human hand

April 1, 2013


As part of a national research project to develop low-cost artificial hands, the Pentagon has released a video of a robot that can change a tire — almost, The New York Times reports.

In the video, the two-armed DARPA-funded robot uses a tool to remove a tire from a car:

The goal of the program, now in its third phase, is to develop robots… read more

Domestic drones and their unique dangers

March 31, 2013

AR Drone 2.0

The use of drones by domestic U.S. law enforcement agencies is growing rapidly, both in terms of numbers and types of usage, blogger Glenn Greenwald writes in The Guardian.

A short summary of Greenwald’s comprehensive article:

  • The belief that weaponized drones won’t be used on U.S. soil is patently irrational. Police departments are already speaking openly about how their drones “could be equipped to carry

read more

The touch-screen generation

March 30, 2013

touch-screen generation

Young children — even toddlers — are spending more and more time with digital technology. What will it mean for their development?

The Atlantic magazine explores this trend in its cover story, “The Touch-Screen Generation.”

Apple’s new iPhone? Wraparound display, no buttons

March 30, 2013


According to patent application 20130076612, just filed by Apple, a potential smartphone design could include a full wraparound display, have no buttons.

A flexible display panel would be configured to display content at any portion of the gadget’s frame, ZDNET reports.

The use of AMOLED and a conical shape for the flexible panel could offer users “an illusion of depth perception [...] mimicking a… read more

A new way to freeze molecules for quantum computing

March 29, 2013


Chilling molecules to a fraction of a degree above absolute zero, the temperature at which they can be manipulated to store and transmit data in quantum computers, has proven to be a difficult challenge for scientists.

At higher temperatures, molecules rocket around, bouncing into each other and exchanging energy. Any information a scientist attempted to store in such a chaotic system would quickly become gibberish.

Now,… read more

How to make perfect nanospheres

March 29, 2013

Researchers led by Dr. Victoria Gelling at North Dakota State University, Fargo, developed a patent-pending technology to produce nanospheres that could enable advances across multiple industries. The environmentally-friendly process oxidizes ozone in water to produce polymer-based nanospheres, ranging from 70 to 400 nanometers in diameter, that are uniform in size and shape, stay suspended in solution, and are easily removed using a centrifuge. The scanning electron microscopy image depicts the uniform spherical morphology of these nanospheres. (Credit: North Dakota State University)

A patent-pending technology to produce nanospheres developed by a research team at North Dakota State University, Fargo, could enable advances across multiple industries, including electronics, manufacturing, and biomedical sectors.

The environmentally-friendly process produces polymer-based nanospheres (tiny microscopic particles) that are uniform in size and shape, while being low-cost and easily reproducible.

The process allows scale-up of operation to high production levels, without requiring specialized… read more

Wireless device powers implanted blood-pressure sensor, eliminating batteries

March 29, 2013

A handheld reader (top right) wirelessly powers and interrogates a tiny blood-pressure sensor embedded inside a prosthetic graft, inserted in this case as a conduit for haemodialysis in a patient with kidney failure (credit: A*STAR Institute of Microelectronics)

Researchers at A*STAR Institute of Microelectronics in Singapore are developing a prototype wireless device that powers an implanted blood-pressure sensor, eliminating the need to recharge or replace a battery.

The microscale electronic sensor monitors blood flow through artificial blood vessels. Surgeons use these prosthetic grafts to bypass diseased or clogged blood vessels in patients experiencing restricted blood supply, for example.

Over time, however, the… read more

Quality control opens path to synthetic biology’s Ikea

March 29, 2013


The next industrial revolution could be biological. Think living machines that produce energy from landfill waste, biological sensors that detect dirty water or bacterial production lines that churn out drugs.

These are just some of the applications that synthetic biology — applying engineering principles to biological parts — could make possible, New Scientist reports.

That goal is looking more likely now that, for the… read more

Biological transistor enables computing within living cells

March 29, 2013

Three-terminal transcriptor-based gates use integrase (Int) control signals to modulate RNA polymerase flow between a separate gate input and output (credit: Bonnet et al./Science)

Stanford University bioengineers have taken computing beyond mechanics and electronics into the living realm of biology by creating the “transcriptor” — a biological transistor made from DNA and RNA.

In electronics, a transistor controls the flow of electrons along a circuit. Similarly, a transcriptor controls the flow of a specific protein, RNA polymerase, as it travels along a strand of DNA.

“Transcriptors are the… read more

Better than X-rays: a more powerful terahertz imaging system

March 29, 2013

optical pump

An electrical engineering research team at the University of Michigan has developed a laser-powered terahertz source and detector system that transmits with 50 times more power and receives with 30 times more sensitivity than existing technologies.

This offers 1,500 times more powerful systems for imaging and sensing applications.

Low-energy terahertz radiation could potentially enable doctors to see deep into tissues without the damaging effects… read more

New solar structure cools buildings in full sunlight, replacing air conditioners

Homes and buildings chilled without air conditioners? Car interiors that don't heat up in the summer sun? Tapping the frigid expanses of outer space to cool the planet? Yes.
March 29, 2013


Stanford University researchers have designed an entirely new form of cooling structure that cools even when the sun is shining, eliminating the need for air conditioning.

Such a structure could vastly improve the daylight cooling of buildings, cars, and other structures by reflecting sunlight back into space.

“We’ve developed a new type of structure that reflects the vast majority of sunlight, while at the same… read more

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