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New flexible classroom design

February 8, 2013

Classroom (credit:

Researchers at North Carolina State University have developed a classroom design that gives instructors increased flexibility in how to teach their courses and improves accessibility for students, while slashing administrative costs.

The new flexible approach acknowledges the fact that students are now bringing their own laptops to class. The classrooms also include mobile infrastructure, where whiteboards, desks and tables can be reconfigured according to the… read more

When machines do your job

Researcher Andrew McAfee says advances in computing and artificial intelligence could create a more unequal society
July 13, 2012


Are American workers losing their jobs to machines?

That was the question posed by Race Against the Machine, an influential e-book published last October by MIT business school researchers Erik Brynjolfsson and Andrew McAfee.

The pair looked at troubling U.S. employment numbers — which have declined since the recession of 2008-2009 even as economic output has risen — and concluded that computer technology was… read more

AI and robotics researchers call for global ban on autonomous weapons

"If any major military power pushes ahead with AI weapon development, a global arms race is virtually inevitable"
July 27, 2015


More than 1,000 leading artificial intelligence (AI) and robotics researchers and others, including Stephen Hawking and Elon Musk, just signed and published an open letter from the Future of Life Institute (FLI) today calling for a ban on offensive autonomous weapons.

FLI defines “autonomous weapons” as those that select and engage targets without human intervention, such as armed quadcopters that can search for and eliminate… read more

Driverless vehicles to zip at full speed through intersections

December 6, 2012


Driverless vehicles will safely wiz through intersections at the full speed limit, according to researchers from Virginia Tech Transportation Research.

Autonomous vehicles will turn themselves over to an automated intersection controller, with the controller tweaking their trajectory to prevent crashes, explained Ismail Zohdy of Cairo, Egypt, a Ph.D. student in civil engineering at Virginia Tech, and Hesham Rakha, director of the Center for Sustainableread more

BigBrain: an ultra-high-resolution 3D roadmap of the human brain

June 21, 2013

BigBrain (credit: Montreal Neurological Institute and Forschungszentrum Jülich)

A landmark three-dimensional (3-D) digital reconstruction of a complete human brain, called the BigBrain, shows for the first time the brain anatomy in microscopic detail — at a spatial resolution of 20 microns, smaller than the size of one fine strand of hair — exceeding that of existing reference brains presently in the public domain.

The new tool is made freely available to the broader scientific community to advance… read more

Psychotherapy via Internet found as good as or better than face-to-face

July 31, 2013

(Credit: iStockphoto)

Online psychotherapy is just as efficient as conventional therapy, University of Zurich clinical researchers have found in a study of online psychotherapy vs. conventional face-to-face therapy.

And three months after the end of the therapy, patients given online treatment even displayed fewer symptoms.

Six therapists treated 62 patients, the majority of whom were suffering from moderate depression. The patients were divided into two equal groups… read more

‘Spin-orbitronics’ could ‘revolutionize the electronics industry’ by manipulating magnetic domains

April 14, 2015

magnetic-domain switching ft.

Researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE)’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) have found a new way of manipulating the walls that define magnetic domains (uniform areas in magnetic materials) and the results could one day revolutionize the electronics industry, they say.

Gong Chen and Andreas Schmid, experts in electron microscopy with Berkeley Lab’s Materials Sciences Division, led the… read more

A Wikipedia for robots

Allows robots to share knowledge and experience in caring for elders worldwide using a central online database
January 23, 2014

(Credit: TU/e)

European scientists from six institutes and two universities have developed an online platform where robots can learn new skills from each other worldwide — a kind of “Wikipedia for robots.”

The objective is to help develop robots better at helping elders with caring and household tasks.

“The problem right now is that robots are often developed specifically for one task”, says René van de Molengraft, TU/e researcher and… read more

Possible breakthrough using graphene for solar cells

Graphene retains its exceptional conductivity and transparency when coated with silicon film
October 14, 2013


Researchers at the Helmholtz-Zentrum Berlin (HZB) Institute for Silicon Photovoltaics have shown that graphene retains its impressive set of properties when it is coated with a thin silicon film.

These findings may allow for entirely new possibilities to use graphene in thin-film photovoltaics.

Graphene has extreme conductivity and is completely transparent while being inexpensive and nontoxic. This would makes it a perfect candidate material… read more

Most distant galaxy discovered: 30 billion light years away

October 24, 2013


The most distant spectroscopically confirmed galaxy ever found — one created at about 700 million years after the Big Bang — has been detected by astronomers at Texas A&M University and the University of Texas at Austin

“It’s exciting to know we’re the first people in the world to see this,” said Vithal Tilvi, a Texas A&M postdoctoral research associate and… read more

‘Data smashing’ could automate discovery, untouched by human hands

October 28, 2014

(Credit: iStock)

From recognizing speech to identifying unusual stars, new discoveries often begin with comparison of data streams to find connections and spot outliers. But simply feeding raw data into a data-analysis algorithm is unlikely to produce meaningful results, say the authors of a new Cornell study.

That’s because most data comparison algorithms today have one major weakness: somewhere, they rely on a human expert to specify what aspects of the… read more

New microbatteries a boost for electronics

April 19, 2013

Scanning electron microscopy (SEM) cross-section of the interdigitated electrodes spanning two<br />
periods. The interdigitated electrodes alternate between anode and cathode. The insets show the magnified electrodes with the nickel scaffold coated<br />
with nickel–tin on the left and lithiated manganese oxide on the right. Scale bars, 50mm and 1mm in the insets. (Credit: Nature Communications)

New microbatteries developed by researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, out-power even the best supercapacitors and could drive new applications in radio communications and compact electronics.

“This is a whole new way to think about batteries,”  said William P. King, the Bliss Professor of mechanical science and engineering. “A battery can [now] deliver far more power than anybody ever thought.… read more

Scientists discover how brain cells age

September 13, 2012

(Credit: iStockphoto)

Newcastle University researchers say they have discovered how neurons age.

Experts previously identified the molecular pathway that reacts to cell damage and stems the cell’s ability to divide, known as cell senescence. However, in cells that do not have this ability to divide, such as neurons in the brain and elsewhere, little was understood of the aging process.

Now scientists at Newcastle University, led by Professorread more

How to connect your home appliances to the Internet of Things

Is it really smart to connect smart grids to the Internet?
November 13, 2012


French startup SigFox thinks it can help usher in a second mobile Internet boom by connecting millions of low-power sensors worldwide to the Internet, MIT Technology Review reports.

SigFox is focused on connecting cheap sensors and “dumb” home appliances to the Internet. The goal is to make all kinds of appliances and infrastructure, from power grids to microwave ovens, smarter by letting them share data.… read more

Neuroscientists find cortical columns in brain not uniform, challenging large-scale simulation models

October 25, 2013

Cell type-specific 3D reconstruction of five neighboring barrel columns in rat vibrissal cortex (credit: Marcel Oberlaender et al.)

Despite a long-held scientific belief that cortex is built up by repeatedly occurring elementary units called cortical columns, a new study by neuroscientists has found that the structure of the brain’s cortical columns can largely deviate within individual animals, and even within a specific cortical area.

The study also found that these structural differences are not arbitrary, but reflect organizational and functional properties of the… read more

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