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Scientists see promise in deep-learning programs

November 27, 2012

speech_translation_microsoft

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 3D microscopic device for high-speed processing of infrared light

November 26, 2012

An illustration shows the design of Rice University researchers’ antenna-on-a-chip for spatial light modulation. The chip is able to process incident infrared light for signal processing at very high speeds. (Credit Xu Group/Rice University)

Rice University researchers have produced a micron-scale spatial light modulator (SLM) like those used in sensing and imaging devices, but with the potential to run orders of magnitude faster.

Unlike other devices that use two-dimensional semiconducting chips, the Rice chips work in three-dimensional “free space.”

The chips promise to speed up applications that are free-space based, such as imaging, display, holographics, metrology and remote… read more

New insights into how the brain stores memories

November 26, 2012

Neuronlae Interaktionen

Exactly how does long-term memory get updated (or “written,” in computer language)?

One hypothesis, for example, is that while in deep dreamless sleep, the hippocampus sends messages to the cortex and changes its plasticity, transferring recently acquired knowledge (in short-term memory) to long-term memory.

Background

Many invasive studies in nonhuman primates and clinical investigations in human patients have demonstrated that the hippocampus, one of the oldest, most… read more

Samsung plans flexible, unbreakable, lighter phones

November 26, 2012

samsung_flexible_phones

Samsung plans to start mass production of  displays using plastic rather than glass to make mobile devices unbreakable, lighter, and bendable, to be released in the first half of next year, The Wall Street Journal reports.

Samsung’s flexible displays will incorporate OLEDs, a display technology that the South Korean company is already using in its smartphones and television sets. OLEDs are thin and can beread more

Can a robot make a better, faster burger?

November 26, 2012

roboburger2

Momentum Machines says it’s created a new robot that can make about 360 burgers an hour in a 24-square foot area and that they plan to use it in “the first restaurant chain that profitably sells gourmet hamburgers at fast food prices.”

Why robots? Besides efficiency, Momentum Machines says they will offer custom meat grinds for every single customer. “Want a patty with 1/3 pork and 2/3 bison ground after… read more

Reform to require warrant for private online messages up for vote, but down on privacy

November 25, 2012

(Credit: iStockphoto)

The Department of Justice argues it can read your private electronic messages, like emails and private Facebook messages, older than 180 days without a warrant, due to an archaic distinction in the outdated Electronic Privacy and Communications Act (ECPA), EFF Deeplinks reports.

Senator Leahy wants to change this and has scheduled a markup hearing the week of Nov. 26. Months ago, he offeredread more

Huge Mars colony eyed by SpaceX founder Elon Musk

November 25, 2012

marslandingspacex

Elon Musk, the billionaire founder and CEO of the private spaceflight company SpaceX, wants to help establish a Mars colony of up to 80,000 people by ferrying explorers there for perhaps $500,000 a trip, Space.com reports.

In Musk’s vision, the ambitious Mars settlement program would start with a pioneering group of fewer than 10 people.

Accompanying the founders of the new Marsread more

A room-temperature spin amplifier

Could lead to storing data more densely and processing it many times faster and with greater energy efficiency
November 23, 2012

spintronics

A fundamental cornerstone for spintronics that has been missing up until now has been constructed by a team of physicists at Linköping University: the world’s first spin amplifier that can be used at room temperature.

Spintronics combines microelectronics, which is built on the charge of electrons, with the magnetism that originates in the electrons’ “spin” (how electrons spin around, much like how the Earth spins on… 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

‘Revolutionary’ eavesdropping technology patent to help governments monitor Internet chats

November 23, 2012

1984-Big-Brother

According to law enforcement agencies, the rising popularity of Internet chat services like Skype has made it difficult to eavesdrop on suspects’ communications.

But now, Dennis Chang, president of Sun Valley-based VOIP-Pal, has received a patent for a “legal intercept” technology that Chang says “would allow government agencies to ‘silently record’ VoIP communications,” Slate Future Tense reports.

Voice over IP chat software allows… read more

Blind patient reads words stimulated directly onto the retina

Neuroprosthetic device uses implant to project visual braille
November 23, 2012

retinal_implant

Researchers have projected braille patterns directly into a blind patient’s retina, allowing him to read four-letter words accurately and quickly with an ocular neuroprosthetic device.
The device, Second Sight‘s Argus II, has been implanted in over 50 patients, many of who can now see color, movement and objects.

It uses a small camera mounted on a pair of glasses, a portable processor to… read more

A Japan-developed robot for disaster response

November 23, 2012

toshiba_robot

Toshiba has developed a remote-controlled tetrapod inspection robot with camera and dosimeter, designed to investigate risky areas, such as Fukushima nuclear power plants.

The multiple joints of its legs are controlled by a movement algorithm that enables the robot to walk on uneven surfaces (like Boston Dynamics’ Big Dog), avoid obstacles, and climb stairs to get access into areas can’t be reached by wheeled robots (such as some iRobot… read more

Building biomimetic synthetic membrane channels out of DNA

November 22, 2012

Schematic illustration of the<br />
channel formed by 54 double-helical DNA domains packed on a honeycomb<br />
lattice. Cylinders indicate double-helical DNA domains. Red denotes transmembrane<br />
stem; orange strands with orange ellipsoids indicate cholesterol-modified<br />
oligonucleotides that hybridize to single-stranded DNA adaptor strands.

Physicists at the Technische Universitaet Muenchen (TUM) and the University of Michigan have constructed synthetic membrane channels using DNA molecules as programmable building materials for custom-designed, self-assembling, nanoscale structures.

Synthetic membrane channels could be used as molecular sensors, antimicrobial agents, and drivers of novel nanodevices.

To wall off the insides of cells from the outside world, organisms in all three domains of life use the… read more

‘Nanospinning’ fibers for ultrafine bioscaffolds, filters, capacitors, fuel cells

Nanofibers have a dizzying range of possible applications, but they’ve been prohibitively expensive to make. MIT researchers hope to change that.
November 22, 2012

nanofibers

A new system for spinning nanofibers that should offer significant productivity increases while drastically reducing power consumption has been designed by MIT research scientists.

Nanofibers — strands of material only a couple hundred nanometers in diameter — have a huge range of possible applications: scaffolds for bioengineered organs, ultrafine air and water filters, and lightweight Kevlar body armor, to name just a few. But so far, the… read more

Nanotech device mimics dog’s nose to detect explosives

Inspired by the biology of canine scent receptors, UC Santa Barbara scientists develop a chip capable of quickly identifying trace amounts of vapor molecules
November 22, 2012

Concept illustration of the microscale free-surface microfluidic channel as it concentrates vapor molecules that bind to nanoparticles inside a chamber. A laser beam detects the nanoparticles, which amplify a spectral signature of the detected molecules. (Credit: Brian D. Piorek et al./UC Santa Barbara)

UCSB researchers have designed a detector that uses microfluidic nanotechnology to mimic the biological mechanism behind canine scent receptors.

These portable, accurate, and highly sensitive devices that sniff out vapors from explosives and other substances could become as commonplace as smoke detectors in public places, thanks to researchers at University of California, Santa Barbara, led by professors Carl Meinhart of mechanical engineering and Martin Moskovits of chemistry.… read more

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