science + technology news

New brain gene gives us edge over apes

November 15, 2012

human_and_ape

An international team led by the University of Edinburgh has discovered a new gene called miR-941 that helps explain how humans evolved evolved from apes by playing a crucial role in human brain development, and may shed light on how we learned to use tools and language.

The researchers say it is the first time that a new gene — carried only by humans and not by apes —… read more

Space-based solar farms power up

February 28, 2013

spsalpha-concept

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

‘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

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

Wireless device converts ‘lost’ microwave energy into electric power

November 8, 2013

Power harvesting split-ring resonator

Using inexpensive materials configured and tuned to capture microwave signals, researchers at Duke University’s Pratt School of Engineering have designed a power-harvesting device with efficiency similar to that of modern solar panels.

The device wirelessly converts a microwave signal to direct current voltage that is capable of recharging a cell phone battery or other small electronic device.

It operates on a principle similar to… read more

Why Google’s self-driving car may save lives — if all cars are computer-driven

May 11, 2012

Google_autonomous_vehicle

The technology behind Google’s self-driving car represents a potential leap forward in auto safety.

More than 30,000 people are killed each year in crashes despite huge advances in auto safety. The overwhelming majority of those crashes are caused by human-driver error.

Computer driven cars could reduce traffic deaths by a very significant degree, said David Champion, head of auto testing at Consumer Reports, but only if all cars are… read more

How teachers’ myths about the brain are hampering teaching

October 17, 2014

Photographs of the left and right midsagittal sections of Einstein’s brain with original labels (Falk et al., 2013), reproduced here with permission from the National Museum of Health and Medicine, Silver Spring, MD. The red circles indicate two breaches on each<br />
hemisphere of Einstein’s corpus callosum that have different shapes, which may have been introduced when the two hemispheres were<br />
separated in 1955.

Teachers in the UK, Holland, Turkey, Greece and China were presented with seven “neuromyths” and asked whether they believe them to be true.

A quarter or more of teachers in the UK and Turkey believe a student’s brain would shrink if they drank less than six to eight glasses of water a day, while around half or more of those surveyed believe a student’s brain is only 10 per… 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

Panetta warns of dire threat of cyberattack on US

October 12, 2012

(Credit: iStockphoto)

Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta warned Thursday that the United States was facing the possibility of a “cyber-Pearl Harbor” and was increasingly vulnerable to foreign computer hackers who could dismantle the nation’s power grid, transportation system, financial networks and government, The New York Times reports.

He said he was reacting to increasing aggressiveness… read more

2012 State of the Future

October 24, 2012

2012-stateofthefuture

“The world is getting richer, healthier, better educated, more peaceful, and better connected, and people are living longer; yet half the world is potentially unstable,” according to Jerome C. Glenn, CEO of The Millennium Project and co-author of the “2012 State of the Future,” an overview of our global situation, problems, solutions, and prospects for the future.

The 16th Annual Edition includes 145 pages and… read more

Driverless vehicles to zip at full speed through intersections

December 6, 2012

intersection

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

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

First fully 3D-printed gun test-fired

May 7, 2013

liberator_1

Defense Distributed founder Cody Wilson has test-fired the world’s first fully 3D-printed gun — “the Liberator.”

The CAD file is downloadable* at DEFCAD, operated by Defense Distributed — a “makeshift response to Makerbot Industries’ decision to censor files uploaded in good faith at Thingiverse, specifically firearms-related files.”

More

Meet The ‘Liberator’: Test-Firing The World’s First Fully 3D-Printed Gunread more

Google Glass update

January 2, 2013

google_glass

Summary of an IEEE Spectrum report

In the next few weeks, Google will start shipping its Google Glass to developers. More-polished consumer models are expected in 2014.

Details about Glass are still sketchy but here’s what we know:

  • The lightweight browband, which looks like an ordinary pair of reading glasses minus the lenses, connects to an earpiece that has much the same electronics you’d

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

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