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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

A new battery that’s cheap, clean, rechargeable, and organic

Could pave the way for renewable energy sources to make up a greater share of a country's energy generation by economically storing energy at night
July 3, 2014

USC professor Sri Narayan's research focuses on the fundamental and applied aspects of electrochemical energy conversion and storage to reduce the carbon footprint of energy use and by providing energy alternatives to fossil fuel (credit: USC Photo/Gus Ruelas)

Scientists at USC have developed a water-based organic battery that is long-lasting and built from cheap, eco-friendly components (no metals or toxic materials).

The new battery is intended for use in power plants, where it could make the energy grid more resilient and efficient by creating a large-scale means to store energy for use as needed.

“The batteries last for about 5,000 recharge cycles, giving them an estimated… read more

Sequoia is the new world’s fastest supercomputer at 16 petaflops

June 19, 2012

sequoia650

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

May 9, 2013

Artificial.intelligence

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

Scientists extend telomeres to slow cell aging

A modified RNA that encodes a telomere-extending protein to cultured human cell yielded large numbers of cells for study
January 26, 2015

Human chromosomes (gray) capped by telomeres (white) (credit: Wikimedia Commons)

Scientists at the Stanford University School of Medicine have developed a new procedure that uses modified messenger RNA to quickly and efficiently increase the length of human telomeres, the protective caps on the ends of chromosomes that are associated with aging and disease.

Treated cells behave as if they are much younger than untreated cells, multiplying with abandon in the laboratory dish rather than stagnating… 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

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

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

Typhoon Maysak’s strongest winds tightly wound

April 3, 2015

Image of Typhoon Maysak from International Space Station (Credit: ESA)

ESA astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti has shot some awesome (and scary) images of super typhoon Maysak from the International Space Station.

The RapidScat instrument on the ISS saw Typhoon Maysak’s strongest winds wrapped tightly around its center, extending outward to over 30 miles from the eye.

With sustained winds at 160 mph, Maysak struck the Micronesian nation over the weekend, killing at least five people,… read more

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

August 19, 2012

Human_fetus_10_weeks_with_amniotic_sac

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

Australian researchers set new world record in solar-energy efficiency

December 8, 2014

Spectrum splitting prototype (credit: UNSW)

University of New South Wales (UNSW) solar researchers have converted more than 40% of the sunlight hitting a solar system into electricity, “the highest efficiency ever reported for sunlight conversion into electricity,” UNSW Scientia Professor and Director of the Australian Centre for Advanced Photovoltaics (ACAP) Professor Martin Green said.

“We used commercial solar cells, but in a new way, so these efficiency improvements are readily accessible to the solar… 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

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

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

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

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