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‘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

Photosynthesis hack needed to feed the world by 2050

March 27, 2015

transforming crops ft.

High-performance computing and genetic engineering could boost crop photosynthetic efficiency enough to feed a planet expected to have 9.5 billion people on it by 2050, researchers report in an open-access paper in the journal Cell.

“We now know every step in the processes that drive photosynthesis in plants such as soybeans and maize,” said University of Illinois plant biology professor Stephen P. Long, who wrote… read more

‘The future might be a hoot’: how Iain M. Banks imagines Utopia

January 23, 2013

The-Hydrogen-Sonata

For 25 years, Scottish science fiction writer Iain M. Banks, author of the Culture Series, has been writing about a utopian post-scarcity civilization managed by artificially intelligent drones known as Minds, and preoccupied by artificial intelligence, games, and interactions with other civilizations.

In the latest novel published in October, The Hydrogen Sonata, a civilization known as the Gzilt are making preparations to Sublime — in… 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

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

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

‘Green Brain’ project to create autonomous flying robot with honeybee brain

October 2, 2012

The honeybee brain: a schematic view of the major neuropils of the central brain area excluding the eyes, showing the olfactory pathway (credit: Randolf Menzel and Martin Giurfa/TRENDS in Cognitive Sciences)

Scientists at the Universities of Sheffield and Sussex are embarking on an ambitious project to produce the first accurate computer models of a honeybee brain in a bid to advance our understanding of Artificial Intelligence (AI) and how animals think.

The team will build models of the systems in the brain that govern a honeybee’s vision and sense of smell. Using this information, the researchers… 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

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

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

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

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

A bucket-full of this material can absorb all the oxygen in a room

The stored oxygen can be easily released again whenever and wherever needed
October 1, 2014

This exotic crystalline material changes color when absorbing or releasing oxygen. Crystals are black when saturated with oxygen and pink when the oxygen has been released. (Credit: University of Southern Denmark)

A new crystalline material absorbs 160 times more oxygen than in the air around you — only a spoonful bucket-full (10 liters) of it is enough to suck up all the oxygen in a room, according to its developer, Professor Christine McKenzie in the Department of Physics, Chemistry and Pharmacy at the University of Southern Denmark.

A few grains of this material might absorb enough oxygen from the… read more

3D printed meat development funded

August 17, 2012

modern_meadow_meat

Billionaire investor Peter Thiel’s philanthropic foundation has announced a six-figure grant for bioprinted meat, part of an ambitious plan to bring to the world’s dinner tables a set of technologies originally developed for creating medical-grade tissues, CNET reports.

The recipient of the Thiel Foundation’s grant, a Columbia, Mo.-based startup named Modern Meadow, is pitching bioprinted meat as a more environmentally-friendly way to satisfy… read more

Robot learns to use tools by ‘watching’ YouTube videos

January 2, 2015

"Hmmm, I can do that." Robot watches videos to detect objects and how to grasp them (credit: Yezhou Yang et al.)

Imagine a self-learning robot that can enrich its knowledge about fine-grained manipulation actions (such as preparing food) simply by “watching” demo videos. That’s the idea behind a new robot-training system based on recent developments of “deep neural networks” in computer vision, developed by researchers at the University of Maryland and NICTA in Australia.

The objective of the system is to improve performance, improving on previous automated robot-training systems such… read more

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