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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

‘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

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

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

Introducing a new feature of IBM’s Watson: The Debater

Can extract information from Wikipedia, "understand" it, and reason from that information, IBM claims
May 5, 2014

(Credit: IBM)

“Can a computer with access to large bodies of information like Wikipedia extract relevant information, digest and reason on that information and understand the context … and present it in natural language, with no human intervention?”

That’s how John Kelly III, Senior Vice President and Director, IBM Research, introduced a new feature of Watson called “The Debater” (starts at 45:25 in video below) at an April 30, 2014… 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

Helping researchers cope with the medical literature knowledge explosion

IBM Watson, other tools to provide automated reasoning and hypothesis generation from the complete medical literature
August 27, 2014

(Credit: IBM)

Computational biologists at Baylor College of Medicine and analytics experts at IBM research are developing a powerful new tool called the Knowledge Integration Toolkit (KnIT) that promises to help research scientists deal with the more than 50 million scientific papers available in public databases — with a new one publishing nearly every 30 seconds.

The goal: allow researchers pursuing new scientific studies to mine all available medical… 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

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

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