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Computers to grade tests and essays at college level: EdX

April 5, 2013

student-laptop-cheering

 

Imagine taking a college exam and receiving a grade back instantly, your essay scored by a software program. Then immediately redoing the test to try to improve your grade.

EdX, the nonprofit enterprise founded by Harvard and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology to offer courses on the Internet, has just introduced such software. It can grade student essays and short written answers, freeing… read more

How to save money by making stuff with 3D printers

July 31, 2013

RepRap print

A Michigan Technological University researcher is predicting that personal manufacturing, like personal computing before it, is about to enter the consumer mainstream in a big way.

“For the average American consumer, 3D printing is ready for showtime,” said Associate Professor Joshua Pearce.

The reason is financial: the typical family can already save a great deal of money by making things with a 3D printer… read more

Plant bacteria breakthrough enables crops worldwide to take nitrogen from the air

"N-Fix" can replace expensive and environmentally damaging nitrate fertilizers
August 1, 2013

Professor Ted Cocking from University of Nottingham with a plant grown using nitrogen fixation N Fix technology

The University of Nottingham scientists have developed a new technology that would enable all of the world’s crops to take nitrogen from the air, instead of requiring expensive and environmentally damaging fertilizers.

Nitrogen fixation, the process by which nitrogen is converted to ammonia, is vital for plants to survive and grow. However, only a very small number of plants, most notably legumes (such as peas,… read more

Earth-like planets are right next door

Life on such a planet would be "much older and more evolved than life on Earth"
February 7, 2013

cfa_exoplanet_art

Six percent of red-dwarf stars have habitable, Earth-sized planets, astronomers at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics (CfA) have found.

Red dwarfs are the most common stars in our galaxy; about 75 percent of the closest stars are red dwarfs. The closest Earth-like planet could be just 13 light-years away, Harvard astronomer and lead author Courtney Dressing calculated.

“We thought we would have to search… read more

US State Dept. orders removal of 3D-printed gun designs

May 10, 2013

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The U.S. State Department has demanded designs by Defense Distributed for a 3D-printed gun be taken offline because publishing them online may breach arms-control regulations, Forbes reports.

The order to remove the blueprints for the plastic gun comes after they were downloaded more than 100,000 times.

However, the files were actually being served by Mega, the New Zealand-based storage service created by ex-hacker entrepreneur Kim… read more

Given tablets but no teachers, Ethiopian children teach themselves

October 29, 2012

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Earlier this year, OLPC workers dropped off closed boxes containing the tablets, taped shut, with no instruction. “I thought the kids would play with the boxes. Within four minutes, one kid not only opened the box, found the on-off switch … powered it up. Within five days, they were using 47 apps per child, per day.

Within two weeks, they were singing ABC songs in the village, and within five months, they had hacked Android,” Negroponte said. “Some idiot in our organization or in the Media Lab had disabled the camera, and they figured out the camera, and had hacked Android.” ….read more

How to lose 50 years of aging in 16 days

January 3, 2013

acs_gold_nanoparticle_hairs

Attention seniors: French scientists have developed a process that permanently dyes white hair without harmful chemicals.

Philippe Walter and colleagues soaked white hairs in a solution containing fluorescent gold nanoparticles.

The hairs turned pale yellow and then darkened to a deep brown. The color remained even after repeated washings.

Using an electron microscope, the scientists confirmed that the particles were forming inside the hairs’ central core cortex.… read more

Existing cropland could feed 4 billion more

An abundant supply of food for a hungry world, hidden in plain sight
August 5, 2013

cropland

Reallocating croplands away from fuels and animal feed could boost food available for people by 70 percent without clearing more land, new research from the Institute on the Environment at the University of Minnesota research shows

The world’s croplands could feed 4 billion more people than they do now just by shifting from producing animal feed and biofuels to producing exclusively food for human consumption,… read more

Coalition drops opposition to a Dow engineered crop

September 13, 2012

Corn_crop_west_of_Lepe_Farm,_Lepe_-_geograph.org.uk_-_33293

Save Our Crops Coalition, a group representing fruit and vegetable growers and canners, has dropped its opposition to regulatory approval of genetically engineered crops resistant to the powerful herbicide 2,4-D, The New York Times reports.

The group said Dow Agrosciences, a subsidiary of Dow Chemical, the crops’ developer, had agreed to take… read more

NSA admits wrongly adding 16,000 phone numbers to ‘alert list’

September 11, 2013

NSA

The National Security Agency admitted in documents released Tuesday that it had wrongly put 16,000 phone numbers on an “alert list” so their incoming calls could be monitored, a mistake that a judge on the secret surveillance court called a “flagrant violation” of the law, the Los Angeles Times reports.

The Electronic Frontier Foundation and the… read more

At last: a low-cost, professional-grade light-based 3D printer

September 27, 2012

form1

Formlabs’ new Form 1 3D printer could bring professional-grade 3-D prints to the home workshop.

Desktop 3-D printing has largely been the domain of extrusion-based machines like MakerBot’s Replicator and homebrew RepRap designs.

These lag behind the capabilities of pricier, professional stereolithography devices, where UV light cures incredibly thin layers of resin to create objects on par with manufactured goods.

Developing this type of printer at a… read more

First map of how the brain organizes everything we see

December 20, 2012

Semantic_space_small

How do we make sense of the thousands of images that flood our retinas each day? Scientists at the University of California, Berkeley, have found that the brain is wired to organize all the categories of objects and actions that we see, and they have created the first interactive map of how the brain organizes these groupings.

Continuous semantic space

The result… read more

The age of enhancement

March 5, 2013

amazing-spiderman

Technology is starting to give us superpowers once reserved for comic-book heroes, Slate reports.

Human enhancement is happening all the time, largely through incremental improvements on existing technologies.

Wearable technology is taking off. Muscle suits are starting to look more plausible. The military is working on “Spider-Man suits” that let the wearer scale vertical walls.

Devices that interact directly… read more

A real-life ‘holodeck’ in 10 years?

January 17, 2013

The holodeck of the USS Enterprise (credit: Wikimedia Commons)

According to software expert Tim Huckaby, we’re on the verge of a science-fiction-like future where doctors manipulate molecules in three-dimensional (3-D) space, augmented music players tune into your thoughts, and retailers deliver coupons in real time based on the focus of your gaze across store shelves, Smart Planet reports.

His predictions for what’s possible within the next 10 years include a functioning “holodeck” (as in Star Trek)… read more

Turning off the ‘aging genes’

Computer algorithm developed by TAU researchers identifies genes that could be transformed to stop the aging process
January 3, 2014

(Credit: iStock)

Tel Aviv University researchers have developed a computer algorithm that predicts which genes can be “turned off” to create the same anti-aging effect as calorie restriction*. The findings, reported in Nature Communications, could lead to the development of new drugs to treat aging.

“Most algorithms try to find drug targets that kill cells to treat cancer or bacterial infections,” says Keren Yizhak, a doctoral student in Prof.… read more

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