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Biotech is thrusting us into new political territory

August 29, 2012

Human_fetus_10_weeks_with_amniotic_sac

Stem cells, embryo research and synthetic biology are just a few of the issues that will force strange new political alliances, University of Pennsylvania bioethicist Jonathan D. Moreno writes in New Scientist.

The new biology, or biotechnology — including stem cells, embryo research, synthetic biology and reproductive technology — has unprecedented power to change basic life processes.

One recent example is the controversy over the “three-parent… read more

IBM launches functioning brain-inspired chip

Operates at 46 billion “synaptic operations” per second per watt; 100 trillion "synapses" planned, matching the approximate number in the human brain
August 7, 2014

IBM neurosynaptic chip (credit: IBM)

IBM announced today, August 7, the first computer chip to achieve one million programmable “neurons,” 256 million programmable “synapses,” and 46 billion “synaptic operations” per second per watt — simulating the function of neurons and synapses in the brain.*

Neurosynaptic. At 5.4 billion transistors, this low-power, production-scale “neurosynaptic” (brain-inspired) chip (the size of a postage stamp), is one of the largest CMOS chips ever built, IBM says.… read more

Internet activists on red alert ahead of United Nations conference

How the ITU could put the Internet behind closed doors
November 16, 2012

R.I.P._Internet

Internet activists are warning that next month’s meeting of the International Telecommunications Union, a United Nations body charged with overseeing global communications, may have significant and potentially disastrous consequences for everyday Internet users, Mashable reports.

Called the World Conference on International Telecommunications, the meeting is intended to update some of the aging international law that governs the flow of information online. The meeting is mostly closed to… read more

Future Day: a new global holiday March 1

February 29, 2012

future_day

Why are nearly all our holidays focused on celebrating the past, or the cyclical processes of nature? Why not celebrate the amazing future we are collectively creating?

That’s the concept behind a new global holiday, Future Day (March 1), conceived by AI researcher Dr. Ben Goertzel.

Future Day 2012 gatherings are scheduled in more than a dozen cities, as well as in… read more

Will cosmic rays threaten Mars One, other deep-space astronaut projects?

October 23, 2014

Artist's rendition of the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter at the moon. The CRaTER telescope is seen pointing out at the bottom right center of the LRO spacecraft. (Credit: Chris Meaney/NASA)

Crewed missions to Mars such as Mars One may face dangerous levels of cosmic rays (energetic particles), according to a new paper in the journal Space Weather by University of New Hampshire (UNH) scientists.

This is due to a recent highly abnormal and extended lack of solar activity, resulting in extremely low densities and magnetic field strengths in the solar wind.

This results in a serious reduction in the… read more

Mysterious cosmic burst of radio waves detected by astronomers

January 20, 2015

This is a schematic illustration of CSIRO's Parkes radio telescope receiving the polarised signal from the new 'fast radio burst'. (Credit: Swinburne Astronomy Productions)

On May 14, 2014, astronomers at Parkes Radio Telescope led by Emily Petroff at Swinburne University of Technology observed live an extremely short, sharp “fast radio burst” for 2.8 milliseconds at a microwave frequency of 1.4 GHz from an unknown source at an estimated distance of up to 5.5 billion light years from Earth. 24 seconds later, an email alert went out to astronomers at… read more

The world’s first 3D-printed guitar

October 12, 2012

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Scott Summit created a 3D model of his ideal guitar and sent the computer design to 3D Systems, which used its massive 3D printers to transform the graphic model into an actual acoustic instrument that Summit can play, Bloomberg Businessweek reports.

As far as anyone seems to know, this is the first 3D-printed guitar on the planet, and it raises all kinds musical possibilities. “It’s rich and full and… read more

Mars One starts search for the first humans on Mars in 2023

April 24, 2013

mars_one

Mars One has launched its astronaut selection program for the first humans to set foot on Mars and make it their home.

Mars One invites would-be Mars settlers from anywhere in the world to submit an online application — the first of the four rounds in the selection procedure.

Round One will run for over five months and end on 31st August… read more

Sequoia is the new world’s fastest supercomputer at 16 petaflops

June 19, 2012

sequoia650

Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL)’s IBM Blue Gene/Q Sequoia supercomputer is the new world’s fastest high-performance computing system, at 16.32 sustained petaflops (quadrillion floating point operations per second), according to the Top500 list of the world’s fastest supercomputers.

For the first time since November 2009, a U.S. supercomputer tops the ranking.

A 96-rack system, Sequoia will enable simulations that explore phenomena at a level of detail… read more

First therapy in the western world to correct errors in a person’s genetic code approved

November 5, 2012

Creation of the adeno-associated virus (AAV) vector (credit: uniQure),

European regulators have approved the first therapy in the western world that can correct errors in a person’s genetic code, according to Amsterdam-based uniQure (formerly Amsterdam Molecular Therapeutics),

Europe has approved Glybera for treatment of Lipoprotein Lipase Deficiency (LPLD), a very rare, inherited disease. Patients with LPLD are unable to metabolize the fat particles carried in their blood, which leads to inflammation of the pancreas (pancreatitis).… read more

New world-record efficiency for thin-film silicon solar cells

February 14, 2013

Record efficiency with less than 2 micrometers of silicium (credit: PVLab/EPFL)

EPFL’s Institute of Microengineering has reached a remarkable 10.7% efficiency for a single-junction microcrystalline silicon solar cell, surpassing the previous world record of 10.1% held by the Japanese company Kaneka Corporation since 1998.

The efficiency increase was also achieved with with only 1.8 microns of photovoltaic active material — 100 times less material than with standard wafer-based crystalline silicon PV technology.

The new thin-film… read more

How the Internet (and sex) amplifies irrational group behavior

April 15, 2013

(Credit: New Line Home Video)

New research from the University of Copenhagen combines formal philosophy, social psychology, and decision theory to understand and tackle these phenomena.

“Group behavior that encourages us to make decisions based on false beliefs has always existed.

However, with the advent of the Internet and social media, this kind of behavior is more likely to occur than ever, and on a much larger scale, with… read more

Scientists extend telomeres to slow cell aging

A modified RNA that encodes a telomere-extending protein to cultured human cell yielded large numbers of cells for study
January 26, 2015

Human chromosomes (gray) capped by telomeres (white) (credit: Wikimedia Commons)

Scientists at the Stanford University School of Medicine have developed a new procedure that uses modified messenger RNA to quickly and efficiently increase the length of human telomeres, the protective caps on the ends of chromosomes that are associated with aging and disease.

Treated cells behave as if they are much younger than untreated cells, multiplying with abandon in the laboratory dish rather than stagnating… read more

The Singularity and schools: an interview with Vernor Vinge

July 24, 2012

(Credit: Vernor Vinge)

John Moravec of Education Futures interviewed mathematician and science-fiction writer Vernor Vinge, noted for his foundational 1993 essay, “The Coming Technological Singularity.

“I’m still where I was in my 1993 essay that I gave at a NASA meeting, and that is that I define the Technological Singularity as being our developing, through technology, superhuman intelligence — or becoming, ourselves, superhuman intelligent through technology,” said Vinge.

“And,… read more

Magic tricks using artificial intelligence

November 17, 2014

Phoney app (credit: QApps Online)

Queen Mary University of London researchers have developed a Google Play app called Phoney based on a mind-reading card trick, part of a research exploration into what can be achieved when human intelligence is replaced or assisted by machine intelligence.

The app arranges a deck of playing cards in such a way that a specific card picked by an audience member can beread more

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