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Edward Snowden: NSA whistleblower answers reader questions

June 20, 2013

NSA logo

Edward Snowden took readers’ questions on why he revealed the NSA’s top-secret surveillance of U.S. citizens, the international storm that has ensued, and the uncertain future he now faces, The Guardian reports.

[A few  excerpts --- Editor.]

Q: Some skepticism exists about certain of your claims, including this: “I, sitting at my desk, certainly had the authorities to wiretap anyone, from you, or your accountant, to… read more

Omega-3 improves working memory in healthy young adults

October 31, 2012

Lovaza

Researchers at the University of Pittsburgh have determined that healthy young adults ages 18–25 can improve their working memory by increasing their Omega-3 fatty acid intake.

Before they began taking the supplements, all participants were asked to perform a working memory test in which they were shown a series of letters and numbers. The young adults had to keep track of what appeared one, two,… read more

A Wikipedia for robots

Allows robots to share knowledge and experience in caring for elders worldwide using a central online database
January 23, 2014

(Credit: TU/e)

European scientists from six institutes and two universities have developed an online platform where robots can learn new skills from each other worldwide — a kind of “Wikipedia for robots.”

The objective is to help develop robots better at helping elders with caring and household tasks.

“The problem right now is that robots are often developed specifically for one task”, says René van de Molengraft, TU/e researcher and… read more

Scientists discover how brain cells age

September 13, 2012

(Credit: iStockphoto)

Newcastle University researchers say they have discovered how neurons age.

Experts previously identified the molecular pathway that reacts to cell damage and stems the cell’s ability to divide, known as cell senescence. However, in cells that do not have this ability to divide, such as neurons in the brain and elsewhere, little was understood of the aging process.

Now scientists at Newcastle University, led by Professorread more

Self-driving cars in 2019, report says

August 23, 2012

kpmg_self_driving_cars

Autonomous cars will be in showrooms as early as 2019, or maybe even sooner, according to a report released by KPMG and the Center for Automotive Research,

The report’s authors explain that “sensor-based technologies” and “connected-vehicle communications” need to converge. Essentially, cars need to be able to communicate with other vehicles on the road so they don’t bash into each other.

They also need the ability to sense… read more

Most distant galaxy discovered: 30 billion light years away

October 24, 2013

Galaxy_Large_Tilvi

The most distant spectroscopically confirmed galaxy ever found — one created at about 700 million years after the Big Bang — has been detected by astronomers at Texas A&M University and the University of Texas at Austin

“It’s exciting to know we’re the first people in the world to see this,” said Vithal Tilvi, a Texas A&M postdoctoral research associate and… read more

New flexible classroom design

February 8, 2013

Classroom (credit:

Researchers at North Carolina State University have developed a classroom design that gives instructors increased flexibility in how to teach their courses and improves accessibility for students, while slashing administrative costs.

The new flexible approach acknowledges the fact that students are now bringing their own laptops to class. The classrooms also include mobile infrastructure, where whiteboards, desks and tables can be reconfigured according to the… read more

FDA clears first autonomous telemedicine robot for hospitals

Now doctors can provide patient care from anywhere in the world via a telemedicine solution. But what happens to nursing jobs, and how will patients react to a giant robotic machine?
January 28, 2013

Robot-for-hospitals

iRobot Corp., a leader in delivering robotic solutions, has announced that its RP-VITA Remote Presence Robot has received 510(k) clearance by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for use in hospitals. RP-VITA is the first autonomous navigation remote presence robot to receive FDA clearance.

RP-VITA is a joint effort between iRobot and InTouch Health. The robot combines the latest in autonomous navigation and mobility… read more

The future of education eliminates the classroom, because the world is your class

March 25, 2013

Hypercities (credit: UCLA et at.)

Technology can turn our entire lives into learning experiences via “socialstructed learning,” an aggregation of microlearning experiences drawn from a rich ecology of content and driven not by grades but by social and intrinsic rewards, suggests Marina Gorbis, Executive Director at the Institute for the Future, in Fast Company.

“Today’s obsession with MOOCs is a reminder of the old forecasting paradigm: In the early stages of technology… read more

Texas wind farms increase land surface temperature

May 2, 2012

Wind Farm

A Texas region containing four of the world’s largest wind farms showed an increase in land surface temperature over nine years that researchers have connected to local meteorological effects of the turbines.

The land surface temperature around the west-central Texas wind farms warmed at a rate of .72 degrees Celsius per decade during the study period relative to nearby regions without wind farms, an effect most likely… read more

How the brain ‘takes out the trash’ while we sleep

October 18, 2013

cerebral_spinal_fluid

A new study shows that a recently discovered system that flushes waste from the brain is primarily active during sleep, giving fresh meaning to the old adage that a good night’s sleep clears the mind.

This revelation could transform scientists’ understanding of the biological purpose of sleep and point to new ways to treat neurological disorders.

“This study shows that the brain has different functional states… read more

Morality for robots?

September 5, 2012

machine-question-book

In new book, NIU Northern Illinois University Professor David Gunkel examines ethical questions raised by 21st century computers, robots and artificial intelligence.

On the topic of computers, artificial intelligence and robots,  he says science fiction is fast becoming “science fact.”

Fictional depictions of artificial intelligence have run the gamut from the loyal Robot in “Lost in Space” to the killer computer HAL in “2001:… read more

Neuroscientists find cortical columns in brain not uniform, challenging large-scale simulation models

October 25, 2013

Cell type-specific 3D reconstruction of five neighboring barrel columns in rat vibrissal cortex (credit: Marcel Oberlaender et al.)

Despite a long-held scientific belief that cortex is built up by repeatedly occurring elementary units called cortical columns, a new study by neuroscientists has found that the structure of the brain’s cortical columns can largely deviate within individual animals, and even within a specific cortical area.

The study also found that these structural differences are not arbitrary, but reflect organizational and functional properties of the… read more

3D printing lowers environmental impact, says study

October 5, 2013

3d_printed_blocks_large

Making things at home on a 3D printer uses less energy — and therefore releases less carbon dioxide — than producing it in a factory and shipping it to a warehouse.

That’s according to a study led by Joshua Pearce, an associate professor of materials science and engineering/electrical and computer engineering at Michigan Technological University.

The team conducted life-cycle impact analyses on three products:… read more

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

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