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Worldwide annual solar PV installations will double by 2020, says report

November 10, 2013

Annual solar PV

Annual installations of new solar PV capacity will more than double in capacity by 2020, growing from a total 35.9 gigawatts (GW) in 2013 to 73.4 GW in 2020, according to a recent report from Navigant Research.

Despite waning government support, the threat of international trade wars, and high-profile bankruptcies, the solar photovoltaic (PV) market continues to grow, solar PV technology costs have steadily declined, and pathways… read more

‘NAFTA on Steroids’: secret agreements to censor the Internet

September 8, 2012

trans_pacific_partnership

Negotiators from the U.S. and eight other Pacific Rim countries are meeting at a seclude resort in Leesburg, Viriginia, working out deals in the secretive Trans-Pacific Partnership trade agreement that could hamper free speech on the Internet, Common Dreams reports.

The negotiations began in 2007 and have been carried through by the Obama administration and several Pacific nations under conditions of “extreme secrecy” without press, public, or policymaker oversight.

Leaked information… read more

Could ‘genetically edited’ fruits avoid the GMO backlash?

August 15, 2014

Genetically edited apples that don't brown when sliced could be possible (credit: iStock)

Recent advances in precise editing of genomes now raise the possibility that fruit and other crops might be genetically improved without the need to introduce foreign genes, as in  genetically modified organisms (GMOs), say researchers writing in the Cell Press publication Trends in Biotechnology on August 13.

The notion is that “genetically edited” fruits might be met with greater acceptance than GMOs. This could mean “super bananas” that produce more vitamin… read more

Scientists discover key driver of human aging

Salk Institute findings on premature aging syndrome could lead to way of slowing or reversing aging process
May 1, 2015

Salk Institute researchers discovered that a protein mutated in the premature aging disorder, Werner syndrome, plays a key role in stabilizing heterochromatin, a tightly packaged form of DNA. More generally, the findings suggest that heterochromatin disorganization may be a key driver of aging. This image shows normal human cells (left) and genetically modified cells developed by the Salk scientists to model Werner syndrome (right), which showed signs of aging, including their large size. (Credit: Salk Institute for Biological Studies)

A study tying the aging process to the deterioration of tightly packaged bundles of cellular DNA could lead to methods of preventing and treating age-related diseases such as cancer, diabetes and Alzheimer’s disease, scientists at the Salk Institute and the Chinese Academy of Science note in a paper published Thursday, April 30 in the journal Science.

They found that the genetic mutations underlying… 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 display that makes interactive 3D seem mind-bogglingly real

The Z Space display could be revolutionary for designers and animators, but might also inspire innovation in computer gaming and augmented reality
December 19, 2012

z-space1

The “Z Space” display, developed by Californian company Infinite Z, tracks a user’s eye and hand movements and adjusts the 3-D image that he or she sees in real-time, MIT Technology Review reports.

The resulting effect is stunning. Unlike the 3-D video seen in a movie theater or on a 3-D TV, you can move your head around an object — to look it from… read more

Cook affirms Apple wearable-computing scenario

May 30, 2013

FaceTime-Anders-Kjellberg

Speaking at the D11 Conference on Tuesday night in the opening tête-à-tête, Apple CEO Tim Cook offered muted praise for Google Glass but dismissed its mainstream appeal while calling wearable computing on your wrist “interesting” and “natural,” Jason Hiner writes on ZDNet.

Cook also predicted that the next generation of wearable computing will do more than just one thing such as activity tracking.

That kind… read more

Drug laws are ‘worst case of scientific censorship in modern times’

June 17, 2013

brain_psilocybin

Outlawing psychoactive drugs amounts to the worst case of scientific censorship in modern times, leading scientists have argued.

UN conventions on drugs in the 1960s and 1970s have not only compounded the harms of drugs but also produced the worst censorship of research for over 300 years. This has set back research in key areas such as consciousness by decades and effectively stopped the investigation of promising… read more

Scientists speculate on top-secret Mars Rover discovery

November 28, 2012

curiosity-self-portrait-hi-res

NASA’s Curiosity rover’s Sample Analysis at Mars (SAM) instrument has likely relayed some provocative findings, Space.com reports.

John Grotzinger, lead mission investigator for the Curiosity rover, set the rumors in motion during an interview with NPR last week, saying, “We’re getting data from SAM … this data is gonna be one for the history books. It’s looking really good.”

Most scientists contacted… read more

Domestic drones and their unique dangers

March 31, 2013

AR Drone 2.0

The use of drones by domestic U.S. law enforcement agencies is growing rapidly, both in terms of numbers and types of usage, blogger Glenn Greenwald writes in The Guardian.

A short summary of Greenwald’s comprehensive article:

  • The belief that weaponized drones won’t be used on U.S. soil is patently irrational. Police departments are already speaking openly about how their drones “could be equipped to carry

read more

The world as free-fire zone

How drones made it easy for Americans to kill a particular person anywhere on the planet
June 13, 2013

Reaper Drone (Credit: USAF)

“The rise of the drone is not a case of technology run amok. It is the result of human decision: of political calculation and, too often, strategic evasion,” says author Fred Kaplan in MIT Technology Review.

“Judging from its expanded use over the past five years, the drone’s chief danger is that it makes war too easy — so easy that commanders, including the commander-in-chief, can fool themselves… read more

Continued destruction of Earth’s plant life places humankind in jeopardy, say researchers

July 15, 2015

Earth-space battery. The planet is a positive charge of stored chemical energy (cathode) in the form of fossil and nuclear fuels and biomass. As this energy is dissipated by humans, it eventually radiates as heat toward the chemical equilibrium of deep space (anode). The battery is rapidly discharging without replenishment. (credit: John R. Schramski et al./PNAS)

Unless humans slow the destruction of Earth’s declining supply of plant life, civilization like it is now may become completely unsustainable, according to a paper published recently by University of Georgia researchers in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

“You can think of the Earth like a battery that has been charged very slowly over billions of years,” said the study’s lead author,… read more

How science can build a better you

November 4, 2012

How far would you go to modify yourself using the latest medical technology?

In a New York Times article Saturday, author and broadcaster David Ewing Duncan offers a partial checklist of cutting-edge medical-technology therapies now under way or in an experimental phase that might lead to future enhancements, including:

Present:

  • supermemory or attention pill
  • cochlear implant to improve hearing
  • brain-boosting neuro-feedback and

read more

Green tea extract blocks formation of amyloid plaques in Alzheimer’s disease

March 8, 2013

green_tea_alzheimer

Researchers at the University of Michigan have found a new potential benefit of a molecule in green tea: preventing the misfolding of specific proteins in the brain.

U-M Life Sciences Institute faculty member Mi Hee Lim and an interdisciplinary team of researchers used green tea extract to control the generation of metal-associated amyloid-β aggregates associated with Alzheimer’s disease in the lab.

The specific molecule… read more

A ’3D printer’ for customized small molecules such as drugs

March 12, 2015

3D Printer for Small Molecules1

Howard Hughes Medical Institute scientists have developed a simpler way to synthesize small molecules, eliminating a major bottleneck in creating new medicines.

As the scientists note in the March 13, 2015, issue of the journal Science, “small-molecule syntheses typically employ strategies and purification methods that are highly customized for each target, thus requiring automation solutions to be developed [inefficiently] on an ad hoc basis.”

According to Martin Burke, an… read more

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