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How improved batteries will make electric vehicles competitive

It will likely take a decade, but improvements to lithium-ion batteries could lead to much cheaper EVs
November 9, 2012

Electric cars like the Nissan Leaf are expensive. Cheaper batteries could eventually change that. (Credit: Tennen-Gas/Wikimedia Commons)

For electric vehicles and plug-in hybrids to compete with gas-powered cars, battery prices need to drop by between 50 and 80 percent, according to recent estimates by the U.S. Department of Energy.

Improvements to the lithium-ion batteries that power the current generation of electric vehicles may be enough, MIT Technology Review reports.

Electric vehicles costread more

Wanted: Mars colonists to explore red planet

January 9, 2013

mars-one-colony-2023

The Netherlands-based nonprofit Mars One, which hopes to put the first astronauts on the Red Planet in 2023, released its basic astronaut requirements on Jan. 8, setting the stage for a televised global selection process that will begin later this year, Space.com reports.

Anyone who is at least 18 years old can apply to become a Mars colony pioneer. The most important criteria, officials say, are intelligence,… read more

Introducing ATLAS, DARPA’s most advanced robot

Let's get ready to rescue
July 12, 2013

Atlas robot (credit: DARPA)

He stands at 6′ 2, 330 pounds. His name: ATLAS — possibly the most advanced humanoid robot every built.

Move over Petman. The mighty ATLAS, Boston Dynamics‘ new robot, sports an on-board real-time control computer, 28 hydraulically actuated joints, two sets of hands, and a sensor head with LIDAR (measures distance with a laser, as in Google’s self-driving car) and stereo vision… read more

Russia asteroid impact: ESA update and assessment

February 22, 2013

The estimated orbit around the Sun of the Chelyabinsk object. It illustrates the orbits of Venus, Mars and Earth, together with the Sun and Earth at impact. The illustration is based on data provided by Dr Peter Brown. (Credit: NASA)

The first firm details of the 15 February asteroid impact in Russia, the largest in more than a century, are becoming clear. ESA is carefully assessing the information as crucial input for developing the Agency’s asteroid-hunting effort.

At 03:20 GMT on 15 February, a natural object entered the atmosphere and disintegrated in the skies over Chelyabinsk, Russia.

Extensive video records indicate a northeast to… read more

What will your next body be like?

December 25, 2012

A scene from R.U.R., showing three robots (credit: Wikimedia Commons)

“Many engineers, including me, think that some time around 2050, we will be able to make very high quality links between the brains and machines. … If your mind is so well connected, you could inhabit a new body, without having to vacate your existing one,” suggests futurologist Ian Pearson.

“Using a detachable brain is one option, or not to put a brain in at all, using empty immobile husks that… read more

Thought experiment: build a supercomputer replica of the human brain

May 17, 2013

Neocortical column in Henry Markram's Blue Brain project (Credit: Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne)

Henry Markram’s Human Brain Project (HBP), backed by 1 billion euros ($1.3 billion) funding Jan. 2013 from the European Commission, plans to integrate findings from the Allen Brain Atlas, the National Institutes of Health-funded Human Connectome Project, and the Brain (“Brain Activity Map”) project, Wired reports.

The HBP is an ambitious attempt to build a complete model of a human brain using predictive reverse-engineering and simulate it… read more

NASA aims for human rendezvous at Mars in 2033

May 24, 2012

mars-gale-crater-nasa

It would be the most precious cargo since the Apollo astronauts returned Moon rocks to Earth.

In 2033, humans would arrive in Mars orbit to pick up and return to Earth a small collection of Mars rocks that would have been previously collected and put into orbit.

An internal NASA study group, tasked with replanning the agency’s beleaguered Mars program, revealed onread more

IBM ships Watson system to RPI researchers to develop new markets

January 31, 2013

rpi_watson

IBM announced Wednesday that it will provide a modified version of an IBM Watson system to Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, making it the first university to receive such a system.

The Watson system will enable upstate New York-based RPI to find new uses for Watson and deepen the systems’ cognitive capabilities, IBM says.

Watson has a unique ability to understand the subtle nuances of human language, sift… read more

Building a lunar base with 3D printing

February 1, 2013

Lunar base made with 3D printing (credit: ESA)

Setting up a lunar base could be made much simpler by using a 3D printer to build it from local materials.

Renowned architects Foster + Partners have joined with ESA to test the feasibility of 3D printing using simulated lunar soil (regolith).

The architects devised a weight-bearing “catenary” dome design with a cellular structured wall to shield against micrometeoroids and space radiation, incorporating a… read more

‘You, Robot’: personal robots for the masses

July 20, 2012

Bina48 android (credit:

What would it be like if you could transfer your personal data, your consciousness, to a robot or a machine?”

That’s what almost every major technology organization seems to be asking, says Huffington Post blogger  Lucas Kavner.

Examples:

  • Terasem’s LifeNaut project allows you to create a mindfile for yourself, or anybody else close to you, using photos and online data and other “digital reflections” you

read more

Scientists achieve fuel gain exceeding unity in confined fusion implosion

February 13, 2014

30757_Hohlraum_cut_away_with_capsule

The milestone of achieving fuel gains greater than 1 has been reached at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL) National Ignition Facility (NIF) — for the first time ever at any facility.

Ignition — the process of releasing fusion energy equal to or greater than the amount of energy used to confine the fuel — has long been considered the “holy grail” of inertial confinement… read more

NSA hacks Yahoo, Google data-center cables worldwide

October 30, 2013

NSA-Google

The NSA has secretly broken into fiber-optic cables that connect Yahoo and Google data centers around the world — positioning itself to collect at will from hundreds of millions of user accounts, many of them belonging to Americans, according to documents obtained from former NSA contractor Edward Snowden and interviews with knowledgeable officials, the Washington Post reported today.

According to a top-secret accounting dated… read more

XKeyscore: NSA tool collects ‘nearly everything a user does on the Internet’

NSA analysts require no prior authorization for searches of emails, social media activity, and browsing history
August 1, 2013

XKeyscore map

A top secret National Security Agency program allows analysts to search with no prior authorization through vast databases containing emails, online chats and the browsing histories of millions of individuals — its “widest-reaching” system for developing intelligence from the Internet — according to documents provided by whistleblower Edward Snowden, Guardian columnist Glenn Greenwald reported Wednesday.

The latest revelations come as senior intelligence officials… read more

The most important education technology in 200 years

November 3, 2012

NLP_course

Education is about to change dramatically, says Anant Agarwal, who heads edX, a $60 million MIT-Harvard effort to stream a college education over the Web, free, with plans to teach a billion students, Technology Review reports.

“Massive open online courses,” or MOOCs, offered by new education ventures like edX, Coursera, and Udacity, to name the most prominent (see “The Crisis in Higher Education”) will affect markets… read more

Is a scientific definition of consciousness possible?

Consciousness arises from the mode in which billions of neurons communicate with one another, psychologists suggest
October 20, 2013

Parcellation of brain data into 194 cortical, subcortical and cerebellar ROIs.

UCLA psychologists have used brain-imaging techniques to study what happens to the human brain when it slips into unconsciousness.

Their research, published in the online open-access journal PLOS Computational Biology, is an initial step toward developing a scientific definition of consciousness, the researchers say.

“In terms of brain function, the difference between being conscious and unconscious is a bit like the difference between driving… read more

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