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A Computing Pioneer Has a New Idea

November 17, 2008

The Convey supercomputer, to be introduced this week, promises to be simpler to program, using Intel-based field programmable gate arrays (FPGAs) that can be reconfigured with different hardware “personalities” to compute problems for different industries, initially aiming at bioinformatics, computer-aided design, financial services and oil and gas exploration.

Larry Smarr, director of the California Institute for Telecommunications and Information Technology at the University of California, San Diego, believes that… read more

A conclusive test for ‘spooky action at distance’

January 19, 2012

belltestsetup

University of Vienna researchers have proposed  the first conclusive experimental test of “Bell’s theorem” (“Bell’s inequality”) — that measuring a particle can instantly influence another quantum-entangled particle arbitrarily far away.

The researchers say they have succeeded in devising a new “Bell test” (of this theorem), taking into account the decay property of high-energy particles systems, called kaon-antikaon systems.

This procedure ensures that the test is conclusive… read more

A Contact Lens for Lasers

July 29, 2008

Researchers at Harvard University and Hamamatsu Photonics have created a highly directional semiconductor laser that should–by averting light loss with a nano-patterned metal coating akin to a contact lens–enable highly sensitive portable chemical sensors and cheaper, more efficient optical communications.

A Conversation with Peter Thiel

March 26, 2012

Peter Thiel

Some comments by entrepreneur Peter Thiel, interviewed by author Francis Fukuyama:

  • I think there’s a close link between technological deceleration and increasing cynicism and pessimism about politics and economics.
  • We should debate whether it should be decentralized or centralized, but what the United States has today is an extremely big government, a quasi-socialist government, but without a five-year plan, with no plan whatsoever.
  • If there is going

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A cosmic factory for making building blocks of life

September 16, 2013

Comet_Hartley_2

Scientists have discovered a “cosmic factory” for producing the building blocks of life, amino acids.

The team from Imperial College London, the University of Kent, and Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory have discovered that when icy comets collide into a planet, amino acids can be produced.

These essential building blocks are also produced if a rocky meteorite crashes into a planet with an icy surface.… read more

A cosmic illusion revealed

First example of strong gravitational lensing of a supernova
April 29, 2014

gravitational_lens

A team of researchers led by Robert Quimby at the Kavli Institute for the Physics and Mathematics of the Universe (Kavli IPMU) has announced the discovery of a galaxy that magnified a supernova thirtyfold via gravitational lensing. This is the first example of strong gravitational lensing of a supernova and confirms the team’s previous explanation for the unusual properties of this supernova.

The team has also shown… read more

A cost-effective nanotube-based catalyst for producing hydrogen fuel

July 28, 2014

A new technology based on carbon nanotubes promises commercially viable hydrogen production from water (credit: Tewodros Asefa)

Rutgers researchers have used carbon nanotubes as a catalyst for splitting water into hydrogen and oxygen, which could replace expensive platinum for making clean-burning hydrogen fuel — which could one day replace expensive, environmentally harmful fossil fuels.

The Rutgers technology is also far more efficient than other low-cost catalysts investigated to date for electrolysis reactions, which use electric currents to split water molecules into hydrogen and oxygen,… read more

A crime-fighting armored glove

June 1, 2011

(Credit: John B. Carnett)

The BodyGuard is an armored glove equipped with a high voltage stun gun, laser pointer for aiming, video camera and flashlight.
A robber is cornered in a dead-end alley. He turns to face the police officer pursuing him, ready to fight. He pauses. The officer’s left forearm is encased in ballistic nylon, and half a million volts arc menacingly between electrodes on his wrist. A green laser target lands… read more

A Critique of Shortsighted Anthropic Principles

May 19, 2008

A new paper in Physical Review Letters from a group of physicists at Case Western Reserve University argues that any connection between the laws of physics and the existence of life is likely to be an illusion stemming from our shortsighted definition of intelligent life.

The paper implies that the anthropic claim that “we observe things the way they are because otherwise we wouldn’t be here to see them”… read more

A crowdsourced artificial chat partner that’s smarter than Siri-style personal assistants

September 10, 2012

The Chorus system. User requests are forwarded to crowd workers, who then submit and vote on responses. Once sufficient agreement is reached, responses are made visible to users. The crowd’s working memory is updated by workers selecting lines from the conversation or summarizing important facts.

Personal assistants such as Apple’s Siri may be useful, but they are still far from matching the smarts and conversational skills of a real person.

Researchers at the University of Rochester have demonstrated a new, potentially better approach that creates a smart artificial chat partner from fleeting contributions from many crowdsourced workers, Technology Review reports.

When people talk to the new crowd-powered chat system,… read more

A Crystal Ball Submerged in a Test Tube

April 12, 2006

A new generation of genetic tests represents some of the first fruit of the long-anticipated genome revolution and could help pave the way to personalized medicine, in which treatments would be tailored for each therapy, potentially making them more effective and less costly.

Such tests are either now available or being developed for purposes like detecting cancer early, monitoring heart transplants and choosing which drugs might work best to… read more

A cure for the common cold?

November 3, 2010

virusdisposal

Landmark research led by Dr. Leo James from the Medical Research Council Laboratory of Molecular Biology (LMB) in Cambridge UK has discovered that antibodies can fight viruses from within infected cells.

This finding transforms the previous scientific understanding of our immunity to viral diseases like the common cold and gastroenteritis. It also gives scientists a different set of rules that pave the way to the next generation of antiviral… read more

A cure for type 1 diabetes

February 14, 2013

Diabetic dog cured from the disease

Researchers at the Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona (UAB) have succeeded in completely curing type 1 diabetes in dogs with a single session of gene therapy by introducing a “glucose sensor” into muscle.

This is the first time the disease has been cured in large animals, a fundamental step towards applying the therapy in humans. The dogs recovered their health and no longer show symptoms of the… read more

A Cyber-Attack on an American City

April 23, 2009

The recent attack on the electronic infrastructure of the Northern California city of Morgan Hill, in which eight fiber cables were cut, demonstrated a severe fault in American infrastructure: its centralization.

Managers of critical services should reconsider their dependence on software-as-a-service rather than local servers, and install two-way radios, stand-alone pager systems, and radio repeaters that enable regional communications.

A dashboard for your body

August 5, 2011

Blood pressure monitor (credit: Withings)

Useful gadgets in the self-tracking or quantified self movement include:

  • Fitbit ($100) monitors movements while you sleep and counts your steps; it sends all the data back to Fitbit’s Web-based tracking program, which displays your activities on precise charts and graphs.
  • MyTrek, a wireless pulse monitor made by Scosche,
  • Withings WiFi Body Scale, an electronic scale with an Internet connection that displays your

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