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Biotech is thrusting us into new political territory

August 29, 2012

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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

Technology mimics the brushstrokes of masters

October 24, 2013

New technology in 3-D printing has reached the art world. The race is on to produce high-quality 3-D reproductions of masterpieces by such artists as Rembrandt and Vincent van Gogh, The New York Times reports.

This year the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam teamed up with Fujifilm in Japan to produce the first fully color-corrected three-dimensional copies of some of van… read more

Genetically engineering ‘ethical’ babies is a moral obligation, says Oxford professor

August 19, 2012

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Genetically screening our offspring to make them better people is just ‘responsible parenting’, claims an eminent Oxford academic, The Telegraph reports.

Professor Julian Savulescu said that creating so-called designer babies could be considered a “moral obligation” as it makes them grow up into “ethically better children”.

He said that we should actively give parents the choice to screen out personality flaws in their children… read more

Whole-genome sequences of 17 of the world’s oldest living people published

Researchers unable to find genes significantly associated with extreme longevity
November 13, 2014

Misao Okawa, the world's oldest living person

Using 17 genomes, researchers were unable to find rare protein-altering variants significantly associated with extreme longevity, according to a study published November 12, 2014 in the open-access journal PLOS ONE by Hinco Gierman from Stanford University and colleagues.

Supercentenarians are the world’s oldest people, living beyond 110 years of age. Seventy-four are alive worldwide; 22 live in the U.S. The authors of this study performed whole-genome sequencing on 17 supercentenarians to… read more

A strange lonely planet found without a star

October 11, 2013

Multicolor image from the Pan-STARRS1 telescope of the free-floating planet PSO J318.5-22, in the constellation of Capricornus. The planet is extremely cold and faint, about 100 billion times fainter in optical light than the planet Venus. Most of its energy is emitted at infrared wavelengths. The image is 125 arcseconds on a side. Credit: N. Metcalfe & Pan-STARRS 1 Science Consortium

An international team of astronomers has discovered an exotic young planet that is not orbiting a star. This free-floating planet, dubbed PSO J318.5-22, is just 80 light-years away from Earth and has a mass only six times that of Jupiter. The planet formed a mere 12 million years ago — -a newborn in planet lifetimes.

It was identified from its faint and unique heat signature by the … read more

Singularity Summit videos posted

October 27, 2012

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The Singularity Institute has just posted videos here for all sessions at the recent Singularity Summit 12. (To view the videos, click on the preview video, and scroll down to WATCH FULL PROGRAM.)

The man behind the Google brain: Andrew Ng and the quest for the new AI

May 9, 2013

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There’s a theory that human intelligence stems from a single algorithm.

The idea arises from experiments suggesting that the portion of your brain dedicated to processing sound from your ears could also handle sight for your eyes. This is possible only while your brain is in the earliest stages of development, but it implies that the brain is — at its core — a general-purpose machine that can be tuned… read more

CES 2013: hands on with the Oculus VR Rift, virtual reality’s greatest hope

January 10, 2013

(Credit: Oculus)

A demo of the Oculus Rift device from Oculus VR. has convinced Will Greenwald of PC Magazine.that it can make first-person games immersive to an unforeseen extent.

“Oculus VR is getting ready to ship developer kits, but the Oculus Rift is a long way from hitting stores. While the technology is there, the combination of stereoscopic vision and head-tracking means games need to be built for the… read more

How to store solar energy more cost-effectively for use at night

November 7, 2014

Graphic shows how electrolysis could produce hydrogen as a way to store renewable energy. During the day, solar panels supply surplus electricity for electrolysis, producing hydrogen. At night, hydrogen would be combined with oxygen from the air to generate electricity. (Credit: Jakob Kibsgaard)

There’s currently no cost-effective, large-scale way to store solar energy, but Stanford researchers have developed a solution: using electrolysis to turn tanks of water and hydrogen into batteries. During the day, electricity from solar cells could be used to break apart water into hydrogen and oxygen. Recombining these gases would generate electricity for use at night.

There’s one major problem. Electrolysis uses electricity to crack the chemical bonds that… 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

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

April 24, 2013

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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

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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

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

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

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