science + technology news

Evidence that our Sun could release ‘superflares’ 1000x greater than previously recorded

Could release energy equivalent to a billion megaton bombs, potentially disastrous for life on Earth
December 2, 2015

SUN_B & BORDER: What the Sun might look like if it were to produce a superflare. A large flaring coronal loop structure is shown towering over a solar active region (credit: University of Warwick/Ronald Warmington)

Astrophysicists have discovered a stellar “superflare” on a star observed by NASA’s Kepler space telescope with wave patterns similar to those that have been observed in the Sun’s solar flares. (Superflares are flares that are thousands of times more powerful than those ever recorded on the Sun, and are frequently observed on some stars.)

The scientists found the evidence in the star KIC9655129 in the Milky Way. They suggest… read more

The more science you know, the less worried you are about climate

May 30, 2012

Iceberg

Americans with higher levels of scientific and mathematical knowledge are more skeptical regarding the dangers of climate change than their more poorly educated fellow citizens, a U.S. National Science Foundation-funded study has found.

The results of the survey are especially remarkable as the researchers were doing so from the position that the “scientific consensus” (carbon-driven global warming is ongoing and extremely dangerous) is a settled fact, and the priority is… read more

23andme now explores your ancestry

Reveals people's ancestral origins going back 500 years and more
December 14, 2012

Worldwide Distribution of Maternal Haplogroup H (credit: 23andme)

23 and me announced today Ancestry Composition, a new service that will reveal the geographic origins of your DNA, included in 23 and me’s new $99 one-time price (was $299).

Using 22 reference populations, the feature indicates what percent of a person’s ancestry comes from various regions around the world. The analysis includes DNA inherited from all ancestors on both sides of the family. The results… 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

How to kill cancer cells by starving them

July 15, 2013

eEF2 starves

University of Southampton researchers have discovered a novel way of killing cancer cells by leaves healthy cells undamaged, unlike traditional therapies such as radiotherapy.

Chris Proud, Professor of Cellular Regulation in Biological Sciences at the University of Southampton says: “Cancer cells grow and divide much more rapidly than normal cells, meaning they have a much higher demand for and are often starved of, nutrients and… read more

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

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

Millennium Project releases ’2015–16 State of the Future’ report

August 3, 2015

2015-16 State of the Future

The Millennium Project released today its annual “2015-16 State of the Future” report, listing global trends on 28 indicators of progress and regress, new insights into 15 Global Challenges, and impacts of artificial intelligence, synthetic biology, nanotechnology and other advanced technologies on employment over the next 35 years.

“Another 2.3 billion people are expected to be added to the planet in… read more

Graphene micro-supercapacitors to replace batteries for microelectonics devices

Will power biomedical implants, active RFID tags, embedded micro-sensors, and flexible electronics
February 27, 2013

Micro-supercapacitor

UCLA researchers have developed a groundbreaking technique that uses a DVD burner to fabricate miniature graphene-based supercapacitors — devices that can charge and discharge a hundred to a thousand times faster than standard batteries.

These micro-supercapacitors, made from a one-atom–thick layer of carbon, can be easily manufactured and readily integrated into small devices, such as next-generation pacemakers.

The new cost-effective fabrication method holds promise for the… 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

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