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Email services close and destroy data rather than reveal files

August 11, 2013

1984-Big-Brother

Lavabit, a Texas-based service that was reportedly used by Edward J. Snowden, announced the suspension of its service Thursday afternoon to avoid being “complicit in crimes against the American people,” The New York Times reports.

Within hours, a fast-growing Maryland-based start-up called Silent Circle also closed its e-mail service and destroyed its e-mail servers.

In effect, both businesses destroyed their assets — in part or in… read more

Mars One plans to establish human settlement on Mars in 2023

No return ticket
June 3, 2012

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Help wanted: astronaut. Must be willing to relocate to Mars — permanently. Hire date: 2013. Benefits: make history, start new planetary civilization, star in reality TV show. Apply to: Mars One.  

Netherlands-based Mars One hopes to establish the first human settlement on Mars in 2023. It has created a technical plan for this ambitious mission that is “as simple as possible” and says it has identified potentialread more

Vicarious AI breaks CAPTCHA ‘Turing test’

October 28, 2013

CAPTCHA - featured

Vicarious, a startup developing artificial intelligence software, today announced that its algorithms can now reliably solve modern CAPTCHAs (Completely Automated Public Turing tests to tell Computers and Humans Apart).

Stanford University researchers have suggested that a CAPTCHA scheme (which are used by websites to verify that a visitor is human by asking them to transcribe a string of distorted letters) should be considered “broken” if an algorithm… 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

Can DARPA spark a DIY brain-scanning movement?

September 30, 2013

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A working prototype of a low-cost electroencephalography device funded by the US Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) made its debut in New York this weekend, the first step in the agency’s effort to jumpstart a do-it-yourself revolution in neuroscience, The Verge reports.

Dr. Bill Casebeer, a DARPA program manager, is hoping to spark a neuroscience fad within the maker movement. His goal is to return to… read more

Mars may get hit by a comet in 2014

March 4, 2013

(Credit: Image credit: Mars: NASA/JPL/MSSS; Comet Halley: Hale Observatory; composite: Phil Plait)

A comet called C/2013 A1 (Siding Spring) is expected to miss Mars around Oct. 19, 2014 by 37,000 km (23,000 miles), says Bad Astronomy Slate blogger Phil Plait.

Assuming it does hit, while the nucleus size is not well known, it may be as small as 15 kilometers (9 miles) or as big as 50 km (30 miles). Even using the small number means Mars would… read more

Uncommon features of Einstein’s brain might explain his remarkable cognitive abilities

November 23, 2012

Photographs of the left lateral surface of Einstein’s brain (credit: National Museum of Health and Medicine)

Portions of Albert Einstein’s brain have been found to be unlike those of most people and could be related to his extraordinary cognitive abilities, according to a new study led by Florida State University evolutionary anthropologist Dean Falk.

Falk and colleagues examined the entire cerebral cortex of Einstein’s brain based on 14 recently discovered photographs. The researchers compared Einstein’s brain to 85 “normal” human brains… read more

Metallic 3D carbon discovered

New metallic structure may be stable at ambient temperature and pressure, with potential applications ranging from electronics and superconductivity to lightweight space materials
November 8, 2013

3D Metallic carbon with interlocking hexagons (credit: Qian Wang, Ph.D.)

A theoretical, three-dimensional (3D) form of carbon that is metallic under ambient temperature and pressure has been discovered by an international research team.

The search for this form of carbon has remained an ongoing challenge for scientists in the field.

Researchers from Peking University, Virginia Commonwealth University and Shanghai Institute of Technical Physics employed state-of-the-art theoretical methods to show that it is possible to manipulate carbon… read more

Scientists see promise in deep-learning programs

November 27, 2012

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Using deep learning, an AI technique inspired by theories about how the brain recognizes patterns, technology companies are reporting startling gains in fields as diverse as computer vision, speech recognition and the identification of promising new molecules for designing drugs, The New York Times reports.

The advances have led to widespread enthusiasm among researchers who design software to perform human activities like seeing, listening and thinking. They offer… read more

A cure for type 1 diabetes

February 14, 2013

Diabetic dog cured from the disease

Researchers at the Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona (UAB) have succeeded in completely curing type 1 diabetes in dogs with a single session of gene therapy by introducing a “glucose sensor” into muscle.

This is the first time the disease has been cured in large animals, a fundamental step towards applying the therapy in humans. The dogs recovered their health and no longer show symptoms of the… read more

IBM ships Watson system to RPI researchers to develop new markets

January 31, 2013

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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

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

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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

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