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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

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

What does the assistive robot of the future look like?

October 16, 2013

human vs robot face

It depends. Older and younger people have varying preferences about what they would want a personal robot to look like, and they change their minds based on what the robot is supposed to do, a new study from the Georgia Institute of Technology has found.

Participants were shown a series of photos portraying either robotic, human, or mixed human-robot faces and were asked to select… 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

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

Are three-person designer babies ethical?

The Hastings Center asks how should parents determine what sort of child they have?
March 17, 2014

(Credit: iStock)

From genetic and genomic testing to new techniques in human assisted reproduction, various technologies are providing parents with more of a say about the children they have and “stirring the pot of designer baby concerns,” writes Thomas H. Murray, President Emeritus of The Hastings Center, in a commentary in Science.

Murray calls for a national conversation about how much discretion would-be parents should have. “Preventing a lethal… read more

Most realistic android infant?

July 29, 2012

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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

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

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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

Neuroscientists plant false memories in the brain

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

memory_traces_hippocampus

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

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