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Marvin Minsky honored for lifetime achievements in artificial intelligence

January 21, 2014

minsky

MIT Media Lab professor emeritus Marvin Minsky, PhD, 86, a pioneer in the field of artificial intelligence, has won the BBVA Foundation Frontiers of Knowledge Award in the information and communications technologies category.

The BBVA Foundation cited his influential role in defining the field of artificial intelligence, and in mentoring many of the leading minds in today’s artificial intelligence community. The award also recognizes his… read more

Tiny swimming ‘biobots’ propelled by heart cells or magnetic fields

January 21, 2014

Sperm attack

University of Illinois engineers have developed tiny “bio-bot” hybrid machines that swim like sperm, the first synthetic structures that can traverse the viscous fluids of biological environments on their own, according to the engineers.

The devices are modeled after single-celled creatures with long tails called flagella — for example, sperm. The researchers begin by creating the body of the bio-bot from a flexible polymer. Then they culture heart cells… read more

Cosmic web imaged for the first time

January 20, 2014

slug-nebula-400

Astronomers have discovered a distant quasar illuminating a vast nebula of diffuse gas, revealing, for the first time, part of the network of filaments thought to connect galaxies in a cosmic web.

Researchers at the University of California, Santa Cruz led the study, published January 19 in Nature.

Using the 10-meter Keck I Telescope at the W. M. Keck Observatory in Hawaii, the researchers detected a… read more

How Internet surveillance predicts disease outbreak before WHO

Creating your own disease surveillance maps
January 20, 2014

Janies_Supramap

Have you ever Googled for an online diagnosis before visiting a doctor? If so, you may have helped provide early warning of an infectious disease epidemic.

In a new study published in Lancet Infectious Diseases, Internet-based surveillance has been found to detect infectious diseases such as Dengue Fever and Influenza up to two weeks earlier than traditional surveillance methods, according to Queensland University of Technology (QUT) research… read more

3D counterpart to graphene discovered [UPDATE]

Promises faster transistors and more compact hard drives
January 20, 2014

topological_dirac_semimetal

DOE Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) researchers have discovered that sodium bismuthide can exist as a form of matter called a “three-dimensional topological Dirac semi-metal” (3DTDS).

“A 3DTDS is a natural three-dimensional counterpart to graphene with similar or even better electron mobility and velocity,” says Yulin Chen, a physicist with Berkeley Lab’s Advanced Light Source (ALS) when he initiated the study that led to this discovery,… read more

A smart-object recognition algorithm that doesn’t need humans

Skynet alert
January 17, 2014

(Credit: BYU Photo)

BYU engineer Dah-Jye Lee has created an algorithm that can accurately identify objects in images or video sequences — without human calibration.

“In most cases, people are in charge of deciding what features to focus on and they then write the algorithm based off that,” said Lee, a professor of electrical and computer engineering. “With our algorithm, we give it a set of images and let the… read more

The brain can process images seen for just 13 milliseconds

January 17, 2014

An illustration of a sequence of pictures (credit: Potter,M.C.,and Levy,E.I./J. Exp.Psychol)

MIT neuroscientists have found that the human brain can process entire images that the eye sees for as little as 13 milliseconds — the first evidence of such rapid processing speed.

That speed is far faster than the 100 milliseconds suggested by previous studies. In the new study, which appears in the journal Attention, Perception, and Psychophysics, researchers asked subjects to look for a particular type of… read more

Google’s smart contact lens project could allow diabetics to track glucose levels automatically

January 17, 2014

google_contact_lens

To help people with diabetes as they try to keep their blood sugar levels under control, Google is testing a smart contact lens designed to measure glucose levels in tears.

It uses a tiny wireless chip and miniaturized glucose sensor that are embedded between two layers of soft contact lens material, according to Google Official Blog.

People with diabetes must still prick their finger and test… read more

Evidence that photosynthesis efficiency is based on quantum mechanics

January 17, 2014

leaves

Light-gathering macromolecules in plant cells transfer energy by taking advantage of molecular vibrations whose physical descriptions have no equivalents in classical physics, according to the first unambiguous theoretical evidence of quantum effects in photosynthesis, published in the journal Nature Communications (open access).

The majority of light-gathering macromolecules are composed of chromophores (responsible for the color of molecules) attached to proteins, which carry out the first step of photosynthesis, capturing… read more

Directly imaging and analyzing planets around other stars: first light

Early images are almost a factor of 10 better than the previous generation of instruments
January 16, 2014

gemini_planet_imager_first_image

After nearly a decade of development, construction and testing, the world’s most advanced instrument for directly imaging and analyzing planets orbiting around other stars is pointing skyward and collecting light from distant worlds.

“Even these early first-light images are almost a factor of 10 better than the previous generation of instruments. In one minute, we were seeing planets that used to take us an hour to detect,” says Bruce… 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

Life on other planets could be far more widespread

Some of it could be underground
January 16, 2014

snowball_planet

Earth-sized planets can support life at least ten times farther away from stars than previously thought, according to researchers at the University of Aberdeen and the University of St Andrews.

A new paper published in Planetary and Space Science claims cold rocky planets previously considered uninhabitable may actually be able to support life beneath the surface.

The team challenges the traditional “habitable zone” or “Goldilocks zone”… read more

NSA’s top secret technology can tap/infect computers even when not connected to the Internet

January 15, 2014

COTTONMOUTH

The NSA has used secret technology to input and alter data in computers even if they are not connected to the Internet, according to NSA documents provided by Edward Snowden, computer experts, and American officials, The New York Times revealed Tuesday.

The technology uses radio signals generated in tiny circuit boards and inside USB cables inserted surreptitiously into the computers by a spy, manufacturer, or unwitting user,… read more

A low-cost sonification system to assist the blind

January 15, 2014

sonification_prototype

An improved assistive technology system for the blind that uses sonification (visualization using sounds) has been developed by Universidad Carlos III de Madrid (UC3M) researchers, with the goal of replacing costly, bulky current systems.

How it works

Called Assistive Technology for Autonomous Displacement (ATAD), the system includes a stereo vision processor measures the difference of images captured by two cameras that are placed slightly apart (for… read more

World’s first $1,000 genome enables ‘factory’ scale sequencing for population and disease studies

January 15, 2014

The HiSeq X™ Ten, composed of 10 HiSeq X Systems (credit: Illumina)

 

Illumina, Inc. announced Tuesday that its new HiSeq X Ten Sequencing System has broken the “sound barrier” of human genomics by enabling the $1,000 genome.

“This platform includes dramatic technology breakthroughs that enable researchers to undertake studies of unprecedented scale by providing the throughput to sequence tens of thousands of human whole genomes in a single year in a single… read more

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