science + technology news

Johnny Depp uploaded to supercomputer in film about the Singularity

December 13, 2012

jd

Johnny Depp will play Will, a scientist whose brain is uploaded into a supercomputer in Transcendence (2014), the movie’s producer told TheWrap.

The plot involves a scientist whose brain is uploaded into a supercomputer with the aim of creating the world’s first self-aware computer. A group of anti-technology terrorists assassinate Will, and his wife Evelyn uploads his brain into a prototype supercomputer.

Will asks… read more

How a choice of social learning networks can make us smarter

November 15, 2013

Experiment 1 - GIMP

The secret to why some cultures thrive and others disappear may lie in our social networks* and our ability to imitate, rather than our individual smarts, according to a new University of British Columbia study.

The study, published in the Proceedings of the Royal Academy: Biological Sciences (open access)shows that when people can observe and learn from a wider range of teachers, groups can better maintain technical skills… read more

Elon Musk donates $10M to ‘keep AI beneficial’

January 15, 2015

FLI

Elon Musk has decided to donate $10M to the Future of Life Institute (FLI) to run a global research program aimed at keeping AI beneficial to humanity.

Musk, who warned last August that “we need to be super careful with AI. Potentially more dangerous than nukes,” said there is now a “broad consensus that AI research is progressing steadily, and that its impact on society… read more

Humanized pig organs to revolutionize transplantation

Initial focus: the almost 400,000 people who die from lung disease, including cancer, each year
May 7, 2014

(Credit: iStock)

Genome pioneer J. Craig Venter’s Synthetic Genomics Inc. (SGI) is teaming up with United Therapeutics Corporation subsidiary Lung Biotechnology Inc. to use synthetic genomic advances to develop humanized pig lungs.

The collaboration will focus on creating organs that are safe and effective for use in human patients in need of transplantation, with an initial focus on lung diseases — addressing specifically the urgent need… read more

Another Earth just 12 light-years away?

December 19, 2012

alpha_centauri_planet_eso

Astronomers have discovered what may be five planets orbiting Tau Ceti, the closest single star beyond our solar system whose temperature and luminosity nearly match the sun’s, Science Now reports.

If the planets are in fact there, one of them is about the right distance from the star to sport mild temperatures, oceans of liquid water, and even life, and slight changes in Tau Ceti’s… read more

Discovery of quantum vibrations in microtubules inside brain neurons corroborates controversial 20-year-old theory of consciousness

January 16, 2014

Structure of a microtubule. The ring shape depicts a microtubule in cross-section, showing the 13 protofilaments surrounding a hollow center. (Credit: Wikimedia Commons)

A review and update of a controversial 20-year-old theory of consciousness published in  Elsevier’s Physics of Life Reviews (open access) claims that consciousness derives from deeper-level, finer-scale activities inside brain neurons.

The recent discovery of quantum vibrations in microtubules inside brain neurons corroborates this theory, according to review authors Stuart Hameroff and Sir Roger Penrose. They suggest that EEG rhythms (brain waves) also derive from deeper level… read more

Carver Mead: ‘A bunch of big egos’ are strangling science

The scientific revolution has stalled, here's how to kickstart it
February 22, 2013

carver_mead

ISSCC Microelectronics pioneer, Caltech professor emeritus, and all-around smart guy Carver Mead believes that the scientific revolution that began with the discovery of special relativity and quantum mechanics has stalled, and that it’s up to us to kickstart it, The Register reports.

“A bunch of big egos got in the way,” he told his audience of 3,000-plus chipheads at the International Soild-State Circuits Conference (ISSCC)… read more

A fuel cell for the home

June 3, 2014

Production of the cell stacks at the Fraunhofer IKTS (credit: Fraunhofer IKTS)

A simple fuel cell for home use has been developed by Fraunhofer Institute for Ceramic Technologies and Systems IKTS in Germany and heater manufacturer Vaillant.

With an output of one kilowatt, they cover the average current consumption for a four-person household.

Fuel cells convert natural gas directly into electrical energy. They are many times more efficient than are combustion engines, such as the car engine.… read more

More evidence that you’re a mindless robot with no free will

How we may confabulate reality and rationalize irrational behavior
May 4, 2016

(Credit: iStockphoto)

The results of two Yale University psychology experiments suggest that what we believe to be a conscious choice may actually be constructed, or confabulated, unconsciously after we act — to rationalize our decisions. A trick of the mind.

“Our minds may be rewriting history,” said Adam Bear, a Ph.D. student in the Department of Psychology and lead author of a paper published April 28… read more

DARPA shows off 1.8-gigapixel surveillance drone, can spot a terrorist from 20,000 feet

January 30, 2013

ARGUS view from 20,000 feet (credit: DARPA)

DARPA and the US Army have taken the wraps off ARGUS-IS, a 1.8-gigapixel video surveillance platform that can resolve details as small as six inches from an altitude of 20,000 feet (6km), ExtremeTech reports.

ARGUS is by far the highest-resolution surveillance platform in the world, and probably the highest-resolution camera in the world, period.

ARGUS, which would be attached to some kind of unmanned UAV (such as… read more

The sixth mass extinction is here, say Stanford researchers

June 19, 2015

extinctions ft

There is no longer any doubt: we are entering a mass extinction that threatens humanity’s existence.

That’s the conclusion of a new study by a group of scientists including Paul Ehrlich, the Bing Professor of Population Studies in biology and a senior fellow at the Stanford Woods Institute for the Environment. Ehrlich and his co-authors call for fast action to conserve threatened species, populations and habitat, but… read more

New York to Beijing in two hours without leaving the ground?

March 26, 2012

maglev-vacuum-train-11

The Evacuated Tube Transport (ETT) system (U.S. Patent 5950543, assigned to ET3.com, Inc.) would take passengers from New York to Beijing in just two hours. Advocates of Evacuated Tube Transport (ETT) claim it is silent, cheaper than planes, trains, or cars and faster than jets.

How it would work: put a superconducting maglev train in evacuated tubes, then accelerate using linear electric motors until the design velocity is attained. Passive superconductors… read more

House approves resolution to keep Internet control out of UN hands

December 6, 2012

ITU_monitors

The House on Wednesday unanimously passed a Senate resolution introduced by Sens. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.) and Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) that calls on the U.S. government to oppose United Nations control of the Internet, The Hill’s Floor Action Blog reports.

The 397-0 vote is meant to send a signal to countries meeting at a U.N. conference on telecommunications this week. Participants are meeting to update an international telecom… read more

Astronomers anticipate 100 billion Earth-like planets

April 4, 2013

Milky Way Galaxy (credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech)

University of Auckland researchers have proposed a new method for finding Earth-like planets in our galaxy and they anticipate that the number will be on the order of 100 billion.

The research supports an earlier estimate based on extrapolations of Kepler data.

The new research uses a technique called gravitational microlensing, currently used by a Japan-New Zealand collaboration called MOA (Microlensing Observations in Astrophysics)… read more

Superintelligence: Bostrom at Berkeley

November 10, 2014

(Credit: C-SPAN)

A video has been posted by Book TV of a talk by Nick Bostrom, a professor, Oxford University, about his book, Superintelligence: Paths, Dangers, Strategies, where he posits a future in which machines are more intelligent than humans and questions whether intelligent machines will try to save or destroy us.

He spoke at an event at University of California, Berkeley, hosted by the Machineread more

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