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Why we need a supercomputer on the Moon

October 3, 2012

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Building a supercomputer on the moon would be a mammoth technical undertaking, but a University of Southern California graduate student thinks there’s a very good reason for doing it: help alleviate a coming deep-space network traffic jam that’s had NASA scientists worried for several years now.

Ouliang Chang floated his lunar supercomputer idea a few weeks ago at a space conference in Pasadena, California, read more

NSA collects millions of e-mail address books globally

October 15, 2013

NSA documents

The National Security Agency is harvesting hundreds of millions of contact lists from personal e-mail and instant messaging accounts around the world, many of them belonging to Americans, according to senior intelligence officials and top-secret documents provided by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden, The Washington Post reports.

  • The collection program, which has not been disclosed before, intercepts e-mail address books

read more

The Cambridge Project for Existential Risk

June 29, 2012

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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

Cosmic web imaged for the first time

January 20, 2014

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Astronomers have discovered a distant quasar illuminating a vast nebula of diffuse gas, revealing, for the first time, part of the network of filaments thought to connect galaxies in a cosmic web.

Researchers at the University of California, Santa Cruz led the study, published January 19 in Nature.

Using the 10-meter Keck I Telescope at the W. M. Keck Observatory in Hawaii, the researchers detected a… read more

Growing human organs inside pigs in Japan

January 6, 2014

(Credit: iStock)

Meiji University professor Hiroshi Nagashima is creating chimeric pigs, which carry genetic material from two different species, BBC News reports. It starts off by making what Nagashima calls “a-pancreatic” embryos. Inside the white pig embryo, the gene that carries the instructions for developing the animal’s pancreas has been “switched off.”

The Japanese team then introduces stem cells from a black pig into the embryo. What they have… read more

Amazon hopes to deliver packages via drones within 5 years

December 1, 2013

(Credit: Amazon)

Amazon hopes to use autonomous octocopter drones to deliver small packages to customers within 30 minutes, Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos announced Sunday in a 60 Minutes interview with Charlie Rose.

Amazon says putting the new Amazon Prime Air service into commercial use “will take some number of years as we advance the technology and wait for the… read more

Forget electric cars, this one runs on compressed air

August 19, 2012

tata airpod car 2

India’s Tata Motors is pushing technology for compressed air to power cars forward with its project to build “Airpods zero-pollution, cute-as-a-bug smartcars that zip along at 40 m.p.h. via the magic of squeezed air, The Atlantic Cities reports.

They are built with pneumatic motors that use pressurized air to drive pistons.

The mid-sized model fits three passengers, although one must face backward.… read more

New evidence on how compound found in red wine can help prevent cancer

How resveratrol can prevent cancer, heart disease and diabetes
December 7, 2012

400px-Glass_of_red_wine

University of Leicester scientists have presented groundbreaking new evidence about how a chemical found in red wine can help prevent cancer.

Experts from around the world attended Resveratrol 2012, a major conference at the University to assess the latest advances in the study of resveratrol — a compound found in the skins of red grapes.

The conference featured new findings based on… read more

Boston Dynamics’ new running robot: WildCat

October 6, 2013

WildCat2

Boston Dynamics has unleashed Cheetah as “WildCat” — a four-legged robot being developed to run fast on all types of terrain.

So far, WildCat has run at about 16 mph on flat terrain using bounding and galloping gaits — still slower than tethered Cheetah, with a top speed of 28.3 mph. Boston Dynamics is developing WildCat with funding from DARPA’s M3 program. (To… read more

Most realistic android infant?

July 29, 2012

Affetto-internalmech2

Osaka University’s Asada Lab roboticists say Affetto is the most realistic infant robot ever made, thanks to the 12 degrees of freedom of its head, its smile, and the 20 flexible pneumatic actuators to move its arms, neck, and spine.

What do you think? Does this bypass the uncanny valley yet? (Warning: fast-forward to :58 to bypass the scary part.)… read more

Neuroscientists plant false memories in the brain

MIT study also pinpoints where the brain stores memory traces, both false and authentic
July 26, 2013

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The phenomenon of false memory has been well-documented: In many court cases, defendants have been found guilty based on testimony from witnesses and victims who were sure of their recollections, but DNA evidence later overturned the conviction.

In a step toward understanding how these faulty memories arise, MIT neuroscientists have shown that they can plant false memories in the brains of mice.

They also… read more

Lab-grown model 3D brains

"Cerebral organoids” can model complex human brain disorders and the earliest stages of brain development
August 30, 2013

organoid

Scientists in an Austrian laboratory have developed complex human brain tissue made from stem cells in a laboratory 3D culture system for the first time. The method allows induced pluripotent stem (iPS) cells (which have the potential to differentiate into almost any cell in the body) to develop into “cerebral organoids” — or “mini brains.”

These mini brains, which are a few millimeters across, develop several… 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

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