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A strange computer promises great speed

March 25, 2013

dwave_ones_in_the_lab_large

Academic researchers and scientists at companies like Microsoft, IBM, and Hewlett-Packard have been working to develop quantum computers.

Now, Lockheed Martin — which bought an early version of such a computer from the Canadian company D-Wave Systems two years ago — is confident enough in the technology to… read more

Could robots become ‘aware’ of their own limitations?

April 3, 2013

(credit: Allegra Boverman and Christine Daniloff/MIT)

MIT researchers have developed software for robots that enables them to be more “aware” of their own limitations, such as knowing the whereabouts of an object, or its own location within a room.

Most successful robots today tend to be used either in fixed, carefully controlled environments, such as manufacturing plants, or for performing fairly simple tasks such as vacuuming a room,

But carrying out complicated sequences… read more

Why some nations become wealthy and powerful, while others remain stuck in poverty

March 26, 2012

forumrome

Why do some nations, such as the United States, become wealthy and powerful, while others remain stuck in poverty? And why do some of those powers, from ancient Rome to the modern Soviet Union, expand and then collapse?

Politics makes the difference, say economists Daron Acemoglu of MIT and James Robinson of Harvard University in their new book, Why Nations Fail. Countries that have what they call “inclusive”… read more

World’s biggest geoengineering experiment ‘violates’ UN rules

October 17, 2012

Geoengineering with bloom : high concentrations of chlorophyll in the Eastern Gulf of Alaska

Controversial U.S. businessman’s iron fertilization off west coast of Canada contravenes two UN conventions.

Russ George, a controversial California businessman, dumped about 100 tons of iron sulphate into the Pacific Ocean as part of a geoengineering scheme off the west coast of Canada in July, a Guardian investigation reveals.

Lawyers, environmentalists and civil… read more

‘Social voting’ really does rock the vote

September 14, 2012

The experiment and direct effects. Examples of the informational message and social message Facebook treatments (a) and their direct effect on voting behaviour (b). Vertical lines indicate s.e.m. (they are too small to be seen for the first two bars). (Credit: /Nature)

Brace yourself for a tidal wave of Facebook campaigning before November’s U.S. presidential election. A study of 61 million Facebook users finds that using online social networks to urge people to vote has a much stronger effect on their voting behavior than spamming them with information via television ads or phone calls, Science Now reports.

The study follows a Science paper that tracked howread more

Paul Allen: the Singularity isn’t near

October 13, 2011

The Microsoft cofounder and a colleague say the Singularity is a long way off.

Their main issue: the “complexity brake. As we go deeper and deeper in our understanding of natural systems, we typically find that we require more and more specialized knowledge to characterize them, and we are forced to continuously expand our scientific theories in more and more complex ways…. Without having a scientifically deep understanding of… read more

Taking 3D printing into the metal age

October 16, 2013

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The European Space Agency (ESA)and the EU, together with industrial and educational partners, are developing the first large-scale production methods to 3D-print complex 3D-printed parts made of metal that can withstand temperatures at 1000°C — fit for space and the most demanding applications on Earth.

3D printers are expected to revolutionize the way we live but until recently they could work with only plastic, which… read more

Waterloo researchers create ‘world’s largest functioning model of the brain’

November 30, 2012

Serial working memory task (from movie)

A team of researchers from the University of Waterloo have built what the claim is the world’s largest simulation of a functioning brain.

The purpose is to help scientists understand how the complex activity of the brain gives rise to the complex behavior exhibited by animals, including humans.

The model is called Spaun (Semantic Pointer Architecture Unified Network). It consists of 2.5… read more

Physicists solve uncertainty about uncertainty principle

September 10, 2012

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The Heisenberg uncertainty principle is one of the cornerstones of quantum mechanics: it’s impossible to measure anything without disturbing it.

For instance, any attempt to measure a particle’s position must change its momentum.

But never mind all that. It’s wrong, University of Toronto physicists say they have just proven.

(This has important implications for quantum information and especially quantum cryptography, where it is fundamental to the security of certain protocols.)… read more

Stronger than a speeding bullet, but lighter

New tests of nanostructured material could lead to better armor against everything from gunfire to micrometeorites
November 9, 2012

rice_strong_material

While traditional shields have been made of bulky materials such as steel, body armor made of lightweight material such as Kevlar has shown that thickness and weight are not necessary for absorbing the energy of impacts.

Now, a new study by researchers at MIT and Rice University has shown that even lighter materials may be capable of doing the job just as effectively.… read more

A cardboard bike

October 18, 2012

cardboard-bike

Working from his garden shed, Israeli inventor Izhar Gafni has invented a $20 cardboard bike, says The Telegraph.

The solid tires are made of reconstituted rubber from old car tires and some proprietary materials have been added for water protection and other purposes.

“This is a real game changer,” said Nimrod Elmish, Gafni’s business partner. ”It changes … the way products are manufactured and shipped, it causes factories to… read more

A challenge facing designers of future computer chips

November 8, 2012

The total conductance per unit area is similar for both tungsten (W) and gold (Au). However, by joining the two highly conducting metals, one finds a conductance density that is about 4 times lower of either material individually. (Credit: David J. Olivera et al./PNAS)

To build the computer chips of the future, designers will need to understand how an electrical charge behaves when it is confined to metal wires only a few atom-widths in diameter.

Researchers at at McGill University General Motors R&D, have shown that electrical current could be drastically reduced when wires from two dissimilar metals meet. The surprisingly sharp reduction in current reveals a significant challenge… read more

When does your baby become conscious?

April 19, 2013

smart_kid

New research shows that babies display glimmers of consciousness and memory as early as 5 months old, Science Now reports.

Studies on adults show a particular pattern of brain activity: When your senses detect something, such as a moving object, the vision center of your brain activates, even if the object goes by too fast for you to notice. But if the object remains in your visual… read more

Brain abnormalities linked to casual marijuana use

April 17, 2014

Cannabis leaf (credit: Wikimedia Commons)

Young adults who used marijuana only recreationally showed significant abnormalities in two key brain regions that are important in emotion and motivation, scientists report.

The study was a collaboration between Northwestern Medicine and Massachusetts General Hospital/Harvard Medical School.

This is the first study to show casual use of marijuana is related to major brain changes. It showed the degree of brain abnormalities in these regions is directly related… read more

Ivanpah solar electric generating system connects to grid

September 30, 2013

ivanpah featured

The Ivanpah Solar Electric Generating System in California’s Mojave Desert produced its first output of energy when the first of three towers was synchronized last week to the power grid for the first time.

Power generated from Ivanpah will first go to Pacific Gas and Electric (PG&E), followed by Southern California Edison in the coming months.

Ivanpah is the largest solar thermal plant in the… read more

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