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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

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

The world’s first 3D-printed guitar

October 12, 2012

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Scott Summit created a 3D model of his ideal guitar and sent the computer design to 3D Systems, which used its massive 3D printers to transform the graphic model into an actual acoustic instrument that Summit can play, Bloomberg Businessweek reports.

As far as anyone seems to know, this is the first 3D-printed guitar on the planet, and it raises all kinds musical possibilities. “It’s rich and full and… read more

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

Real-world stereotypes continue to exist in virtual worlds

May 6, 2015

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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

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

June 19, 2012

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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

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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

Breakthrough nanoparticle halts multiple sclerosis, diabetes, allergies

November 20, 2012

Microsphere image (credit: Daniel R. Getts et al./Northwestern University)

Northwestern Medicine researchers have developed a biodegradable nanoparticle  that stealthily delivers an antigen that tricks the immune system into stopping its attack on myelin and haltd a model of relapsing remitting multiple sclerosis (MS) in mice, according to new research.

The nanoparticles can also be applied to other immune-mediated diseases, including Type 1 diabetes, food allergies, and asthma.

In… read more

British Army deploys tiny helicopters

February 4, 2013

MINIATURE SURVEILLANCE HELICOPTERS HELP PROTECT FRONTLINE TROOPS

A tiny remote-control helicopter is being used for surveillance on the front line to detect enemy threats to British troops.

British troops are using a nano drone just 10cm long and weighing 16 grams on the front line in Afghanistan to provide vital information on the ground, Sky News reports.

They are the first to use the state-of-the-art handheld tiny surveillance helicopters, which relay reliable full… read more

New rechargeable flow battery enables cheaper, large-scale energy storage

Design may support widespread use of solar and wind energy
August 20, 2013

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MIT researchers have engineered a new rechargeable flow battery that doesn’t rely on expensive membranes to generate and store electricity. The device, they say, may one day enable cheaper, large-scale energy storage.

The palm-sized prototype generates three times as much power per square centimeter as other membraneless systems — a power density that is an order of magnitude higher than that of many lithium-ion batteries… read more

Space-based solar farms power up

February 28, 2013

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Space-based solar power (SBSP) has once again begun to attract attention with projects emerging in the US, Russia, China, India and Japan, among others. All are driven by increasing energy demands, soaring oil and gas prices, a desire to find clean alternatives to fossil fuels and by a burgeoning commercial space industry that promises to lower the cost of entry into space and spur on a host of new industries,… read more

Cell-phone-radiation study finds associated brain and heart tumors in rodents

May 27, 2016

Glioma in rat brain (credit: Samuel Samnick et al./European Journal of Nuclear Medicine)

A series of studies over two years with rodents exposed to radio frequency radiation (RFR) found low incidences of malignant gliomas (tumors of glial support cells) in the brain and schwannoma tumors in the heart.*

The studies were performed under the auspices of the U.S. National Toxicology Program (NTP).

Potentially preneoplastic (pre-cancer) lesions were also observed in the brain and heart of male rats… read more

Migrant workers in China face competition from robots

July 20, 2012

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The International Federation of Robotics tracked a 50 percent jump in purchases of advanced industrial robots by Chinese manufacturers in 2011, to 22,600 units, and now predicts that China will surpass Japan as the world’s largest market in two years, Technology Review reports.

Foxconn, said last July that the Taiwan-based manufacturing giant would add up to one million industrial robots to its assembly lines inside of three years.

The… read more

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