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The Cambridge Project for Existential Risk

June 29, 2012

uni_cambridge

Concerned that developments in human technology may soon pose new, extinction-level risks to our species as a whole, Astronomer Royal Martin Rees, Cambridge University philosopher Huw Price, and Skype co-founder Jaan Tallinn have formed The Cambridge Project for Existential Risk.

“These dangers have been suggested from progress in AI, from developments in biotechnology and artificial life, from nanotechnology, and from possible extreme effects of anthropogenic climate change,” the… read more

New way to store solar energy for use whenever it’s needed

July 14, 2011

Storing solar energy in chemical form (credit: Grossman/Kolpak)

MIT researchers have developed a new application of carbon nanotubes that shows promise as an innovative approach to storing solar energy for use whenever it’s needed.

Storing the sun’s heat in chemical form — rather than first converting it to electricity or storing the heat itself in a heavily insulated container — has… read more

Wi-Fi signal used to track moving humans — even behind walls

July 3, 2013

(credit: Christine Daniloff/MIT

‘Researchers at MIT’s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory.are developing a system called “Wi-Vi” that transmits a low-power Wi-Fi signal and uses its reflections to track moving humans — even if they are in closed rooms or hiding behind a wall.

How it works

The researchers borrowed a technique called inverse synthetic aperture radar (ISAR), which has been… 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

IBM’s Watson goes to medical school

November 2, 2012

(Credit: IBM)

Next up for Watson: a stint as a medical student at the Cleveland Clinic Lerner College of Medicine of Case Western Reserve University, New York Times Bits reports.

The collaboration includes a bit of controlled crowdsourcing, with the Cleveland clinicians and medical school students answering Watson’s questions and correcting its mistakes.

“Hopefully, we can contribute to the training of… read more

Harvard scientists to build Iron Man-like suit for military

July 26, 2012

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Harvard University scientists are working on an Iron Man-like smart suit that could improve soldiers’ endurance in war zones, Network World reports.

The university received a $2.6 million research grant for the project from DARPA.

The suit, which is expected to include sensors and its own energy source, will be designed to delay the onset of fatigue, enabling soldiers to travel further in the field, while… 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

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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

Kano: a computer anyone can make

November 22, 2013

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Kano is a computer you make yourself. Simple as Lego, powered by Pi.… read more

Elon Musk designs real-world Iron Man gesture interface and 3D modeler

The future of design
September 6, 2013

(Credit: SpaceX)

Elon Musk has released a video demonstrating SpaceX’s new custom 3D design interface, inspired by Iron Man.

It includes use of Leap Motion control, free-standing glass projections (from Iron Man), 3D projections using glasses, and the Occulus Rift VR headset.

After generating and manipulating the 3D model, Musk then 3D-prints an actual titanium metallic rocket-engine part from the model.

“I believe we are on the… read more

Paging Dr. Watson: artificial intelligence as a prescription for health care

October 18, 2012

(Credit: IBM)

“It’s not humanly possible to practice the best possible medicine. We need machines,” said Herbert Chase, a professor of clinical medicine at Columbia University and member of IBM’s Watson Healthcare Advisory Board, Wired Science reports.

“A machine like [IBM's Watson], with massively parallel processing, is like 500,000 of me sitting at Google and Pubmed, trying to find the right information.”

Yet though Watson is clearly a powerful tool,… read more

Evidence that photosynthesis efficiency is based on quantum mechanics

January 17, 2014

leaves

Light-gathering macromolecules in plant cells transfer energy by taking advantage of molecular vibrations whose physical descriptions have no equivalents in classical physics, according to the first unambiguous theoretical evidence of quantum effects in photosynthesis, published in the journal Nature Communications (open access).

The majority of light-gathering macromolecules are composed of chromophores (responsible for the color of molecules) attached to proteins, which carry out the first step of photosynthesis, capturing… read more

Amazon is developing smartphone with 3D screen

May 10, 2013

emporer

Amazon.com Inc. is developing a high-end smartphone featuring a screen that allows for three-dimensional images without glasses, The Wall Street Journal reports.

Using retina-tracking technology, images on the smartphone would seem to float above the screen like a hologram and appear three-dimensional at all angles, and users may be able to navigate through content using just their eyes, according to sources,

With smartphones, Amazon could collect new… read more

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