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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

‘We have detected gravitational waves’ — LIGO scientists

February 11, 2016

The gravitational-wave event on Sept. 14, 2015 at 09:50:45 UTC was observed by the two LIGO detectors in Livingston, Loiusiana (blue) and Hanford, Washington (orange). The matching waveforms represent gravitational-wave strain generated by the inferred merger of two inspiraling black holes. (credit: B. P. Abbott et al./PhysRevLett)

On Sept. 14, 2015 at 5:51 a.m. EDT (09:51 UTC) for the first time, scientists observed ripples in the fabric of spacetime called gravitational waves, arriving at Earth from a cataclysmic event in the distant universe, the National Science Foundation and scientists at the LIGO Scientific Collaboration announced today. This confirms a major prediction of Albert Einstein’s 1915 general theory of relativity and opens an unprecedented new window to the… read more

Spooky alignment of quasar axes across billions of light-years with large-scale structure

November 21, 2014

This artist's impression shows schematically the mysterious alignments between the spin axes of quasars and the large-scale structures that they inhabit that observations with ESO’s Very Large Telescope have revealed. These alignments are over billions of light-years and are the largest known in the Universe. The large-scale structure is shown in blue and quasars are marked in white with the rotation axes of their black holes indicated with a line around them. This picture is for illustration only and does not depict the real distribution of galaxies and quasars. (Credit: ESO/M. Kornmesser)

New observations with ESO’s Very Large Telescope (VLT) in Chile have revealed alignments over the largest structures ever discovered in the Universe. A European research team has found that the rotation axes of the central supermassive black holes in a sample of quasars are parallel to each other over distances of billions of light-years. The team has also found that the rotation axes of these quasars tend to… 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

Can robots be trusted to know right from wrong?

May 12, 2014

HAL 9000 (credit: Warner Bros.)

Is it possible to develop “moral” autonomous robots with a sense for right, wrong, and the consequences of both?

Researchers from Tufts University, Brown University, and Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute think so, and are teaming with the U.S. Navy to explore technology that would pave the way to do exactly that.

“Moral competence can be roughly thought about as the ability to learn,… read more

Google’s self-driving car prototype: no steering wheel, brake, or accelerator

May 30, 2014

Google car

Google is exploring what fully self-driving vehicles would look like without a steering wheel, accelerator pedal, or brake pedal. “Our software and sensors do all the work,” says the company.

The early prototypes have sensors that remove blind spots, and can detect objects out to a distance of more than two football fields in all directions, which is especially helpful on busy streets with lotsread more

Are jobs obsolete?

September 8, 2011

We need a new productivity-based model to cope with human work replaced by technology (case in point: U.S. Post Office vs. email), says Douglas Rushkoff in a special to CNN. It’s not about jobs, he says, it’s about productivity. Technology lets us bypass corporations, make our own work — a new model.

“The question we have to begin to ask ourselves is not how do we employ… read more

The interspecies internet

Could the Internet connect us with dolphins, apes, elephants and other highly intelligent species?
March 2, 2013

(Credit: Peter Gabriel)

At TED 2013 Thursday, Diana Reiss, Peter Gabriel, Neil Gershenfeld, and Vint Cerf launched the idea of the “interspecies internet.”

Diana Reiss, a cognitive psychologist, has been been teaching dolphins to communicate through an underwater keyboard of symbols that correspond to whistles and playful activities.

Through this keyboard, the dolphins learned to perform activities on demand, and also to express their desire for them. (Also see… read more

Given tablets but no teachers, Ethiopian children teach themselves

October 29, 2012

olpc_children

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 use laser cloaking to hide Earth from remote detection by aliens

NASA's Kepler telescope detects habitable exoplanets by watching for tiny dips in the light from stars. What if aliens have the same idea when observing our Sun?
April 1, 2016

laser for Very Large Telescope-ft

We could use lasers to conceal the Earth from observation by an advanced extraterrestrial civilization by shining massive  laser beams aimed at a specific star where aliens might be located — thus masking our planet during its transit of the Sun, suggest two astronomers at Columbia University in an open-access paper in Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society.

The idea comes from the NASAread 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

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

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

May 10, 2013

liberator_1

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

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

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

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