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Interstellar film features radical new black-hole model

Special-effects design leads to astrophysics discovery
October 28, 2014

A CGI model of a black hole for the movie Interstellar based on new discoveries by astrophysicist Kip Thorne (credit: Warner Brothers)

With our time on Earth coming to an end, a team of explorers undertakes the most important mission in human history: traveling beyond this galaxy to discover whether mankind has a future among the stars.

That’s the theme of the upcoming film Interstellar, directed by Christopher Nolan and starring Matthew McConaughey and Anne Hathaway and opening Nov. 7.

A black hole also plays a key role… 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

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

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

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

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

Google has officially eaten the newspaper industry

November 16, 2012

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Newspapers have continued to churn out the same content while watching their advertisers steadily flee for sites like Craigslist, Yahoo, the Huffington Post/AOL, Facebook, and Google, says writer Will Oremus in Slate Future Tense.  

The chart above, from Statista’s Felix Richter, plots Google’s digital advertising revenue against the print advertising revenue of all U.S.… read more

Real-world stereotypes continue to exist in virtual worlds

May 6, 2015

Avatar-to-study-reactions-ft

Stereotypes related to gender and appearance that burden women in the real world could follow them into virtual ones, according to Penn State researchers.

In a study of how people interacted with avatars in an online game, women received less help from fellow players than men when they operated an unattractive avatar and when they used a male avatar, said T. Franklin Waddell, a doctoral candidate in massread 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

Future foods: what will we be eating in 20 years’ time?

August 6, 2012

800px-Insect_food_stall

Volatile food prices and a growing population mean we have to rethink what we eat, say food futurologists. So what might we be serving up in 20 years’ time, asks BBC News?

  • Insects will become a staple of our diet: a great source of protein, cost less to raise than cattle, consume less water and do not have much of a carbon footprint.
  • Sonic-enhanced food: certain sounds could

read more

Chinese-made unmanned vehicle passes freeway test

January 24, 2013

fierce_lion_3

An unmanned vehicle designed by Military Transportation University of the PLA (MTU) recently won top prize in the fourth Future Challenge, a contest for intelligent vehicles, China.org.cn reports.

The vehicle, a third-generation prototype named “Fierce Lion 3,” completed a 114-kilometer journey within 85 minutes, with a top speed of 105 kilometers per hour, making itself China’s first unmanned vehicle to pass a freeway test.

Third party… 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

Kim Suozzi cryopreserved January 17 at Alcor

by Shannon Vyff
January 19, 2013

kim_suozzi

Kim Suozzi, diagnosed at age 21 with brain cancer while studying neuroscience at college, passed away Thursday, January 17, 2013 at age 23.

The Society for Venturism, a cryonics advocacy and support group, started a charity fund for her cryonic suspension in August of 2012 and through an overwhelming amount of support from the extreme life extension community, enough funds were raised for her to be cryopreserved with Alcor.… read more

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