science + technology news

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

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

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

DARPA’s four-legged robots ace tests in demo

September 13, 2012

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DARPA’s Legged Squad Support System (LS3) program demonstrated two robotic “pack mule” prototypes for the Commandant of the Marine Corps, Gen. James F. Amos, and DARPA Director, Arati Prabhakar.

The goal of the LS3 program is to demonstrate that a legged robot can unburden dismounted squad members by carrying their gear, autonomously following them through rugged terrain, and interpreting verbal and visual commands.

During… read more

‘Big data’ and cloud computing empower smart machines to do human work, take human jobs

January 28, 2013

The "bookBots" in the Hunt Library on Centennial Campus at NC State University will house over 2 million volumes of books. The Hunt Library will be one of the most high-tech, innovative libraries around the world. (Credit: NC State - College of Design)

From giant corporations to university libraries to start-up businesses, employers are using rapidly improving technology to do tasks that humans used to do.

That means millions of workers are caught in a competition they can’t win against machines that keep getting more powerful, cheaper and easier to use, the Washington Post reports.

To better understand the impact of technology on jobs, The Associated Press analyzed employment… read more

Is this the biggest breakthrough in propulsion since the jet engine?

November 30, 2012

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Reaction Engines Ltd. has announced what is says is the “biggest breakthrough in aerospace propulsion technology since the invention of the jet engine.”

Critical tests have been successfully completed on the key technology for SABRE, an engine that will enable aircraft to reach the opposite side of the world in under four hours, or to fly directly into orbit and return in a single stage,… read more

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

March 26, 2012

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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

Bringing people back from the dead

April 25, 2013

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A doctor says people can be revived several hours after they have seemingly died, BBC News reports. Should this change the way we think about death?

“While 45 minutes is absolutely remarkable and a lot of people would have written her off, we now know there are people who have been brought back, three, four, five hours after they’ve died and have led remarkably good quality lives,”… 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

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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

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

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

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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

‘Breakthrough Starshot’ aims to reach Alpha Centauri 20 years after launch

$100 million research and engineering program to study concept of using laser light beam to propel gram-scale "nanocraft" to 20 percent of light speed
April 11, 2016

Lightsail and StarChip powered by Light Beamer (credit: Breakthrough Initiatives)

Internet investor and science philanthropist Yuri Milner and physicist Stephen Hawking announced Tuesday a $100 million research and engineering program, Breakthrough Starshot, aiming to demonstrate proof of concept for light-propelled “nanocrafts” that could travel to Alpha Centauri, our nearest star system.

The nanocrafts would fly at 20 percent of light speed and capture images of possible planets and other scientific data, arriving in just over 20 years after their launch.

“Earth is a wonderful… 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

Will AI replace judges and lawyers?

October 25, 2016

(credit: iStock)

An artificial intelligence method developed by University College London computer scientists and associates has predicted the judicial decisions of the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) with 79% accuracy, according to a paper published Monday, Oct. 24 in PeerJ Computer Science.

The method is the first to predict the outcomes of a major international court by automatically analyzing case text using a machine-learning algorithm.*

“We don’t… read more

Musk reveals Hyperloop concept

August 13, 2013

Hyperloop passenger transport

Elon Musk has published a blog post detailing the Hyperloop concept; a solar-powered, elevated transit system that could take passengers and cars from Los Angeles to San Francisco in 30 minutes.

Here are the core designs. Bloomberg has further details.

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