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We’re underestimating the risk of human extinction

March 7, 2012

h-bomb

Unthinkable as it may be, humanity, every last person, could someday be wiped from the face of the Earth. We have learned to worry about asteroids and supervolcanoes, but the more-likely scenario, according to Nick Bostrom, a professor of philosophy at Oxford, is that we humans will destroy ourselves.

Most worrying to Bostrom is the subset of existential risks that arise from human technology, a subset that he expects… read more

Making old muscles young again

September 27, 2012

Muscular tissue (credit: Polarlys/Wikimedia Commons)

Researchers at King’s College London, Harvard University and Massachusetts General Hospital have identified a key factor responsible for declining muscle repair during aging, and discovered how to halt the process in mice with a common drug.

The finding provides clues as to how muscles lose mass with age, which can result in weakness that affects mobility and may cause falls.

The study looked at stem… read more

NASA mulls plan to drag asteroid into moon’s orbit

January 3, 2013

asteroid

NASA is mulling over a plan to build a robotic spacecraft to grab a small asteroid and place it in high lunar orbit, according to researchers with the Keck Institute for Space Studies in California.

The mission would cost about $2.6 billion and could be completed by the 2020s, New Scientist reports.

The Obama administration has said it also wants to send astronauts to a near-Earth asteroid. One… read more

Kano: a computer anyone can make

November 22, 2013

ll_ages_over_the_world_kano

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

Meshnet activists rebuilding the Internet from scratch

August 12, 2013

(Credit: Foobaz/Wikimedia Commons)

Fed up with government spying, some people have decided to take matters into their own hands, and are building a user-owned Internet from scratch, using meshnets, New Scientist reports.

These wireless networks are intended to permit secure communication without surveillance or any centralized organization, and ultimately, if their designers get their way, they will span the country.

Each node in the mesh, consisting of a radio transceiver… read more

The NSA is building the country’s biggest spy center (watch what you say)

March 19, 2012

iStock_hackerSmall

The Utah Data Center, being built for the National Security Agency, is intended to intercept, decipher, analyze, and store vast swaths of the world’s communications. The heavily fortified $2 billion center should be operational in September 2013.

It has established warrantless listening posts throughout the nation to collect and sift through billions of email messages and phone calls, whether they originate within the country or overseas in a program codenamed… 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

Giant black hole could upset galaxy evolution models

November 30, 2012

Image of the disk galaxy (lenticular galaxy) NGC 1277, taken with the Hubble Space Telescope. This small, flattened galaxy contains one of the biggest central super-massive black holes ever found in its center. With the mass of 17 billion Suns, the black hole weighs in at an extraordinary 14% of the total galaxy mass. (Credit: NASA / ESA / Andrew C. Fabian / Remco C. E. van den Bosch (MPIA))

A group of astronomers led by Remco van den Bosch from the Max Planck Institute for Astronomy (MPIA) have discovered a black hole that could shake the foundations of current models of galaxy evolution.

At 17 billion times the mass of the Sun, its mass is much greater than current models predict — in particular in relation to the mass of its host galaxy. This… read more

Google Glass: how to get one

February 21, 2013

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“We’re looking for bold, creative individuals who want to join us and be a part of shaping the future of Glass,” says the Google Glass team.

“We’d love to make everyone an Explorer, but we’re starting off a bit smaller. We’re still in the early stages, and while we can’t promise everything will be perfect, we can promise it will be exciting.”

“Using Google+… read more

Mayo Clinic study unmasks regulator of healthy life span

Promising target for aging disorders and cancer
December 20, 2012

A new series of studies in mouse models by Mayo Clinic researchers uncovered that the aging process is characterized by high rates of whole-chromosome losses and gains in various organs, including heart, muscle, kidney and eye, and demonstrate that reducing these rates slows age-related tissue deterioration and promotes a healthier life span.

“We’ve known for some time that reduced levels of BubR1 are a hallmark of aging… read more

Has dark matter finally been found?

February 19, 2013

Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer-2 (left) (credit: NASA)

Big news in the search for dark matter may be coming in about two weeks, the leader of a space-based particle physics experiment said Feb. 17 at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, Space.com reports.

That’s when the first paper of results from the Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer, a particle collector mounted on the outside of the International Space Station,… read more

Supplement added to a standard diet improves health and prolongs life in mice

March 5, 2014

Representative photographs from blinded histopathological analysis of kidney, liver, and lung panels for mice on standard diet (SD) and SRT1720 supplementation

Activating a protein called sirtuin 1 extends lifespan, delays the onset of age-related metabolic diseases, and improves general health in mice. The findings, which appear online February 27 in the Cell Press journal Cell Reports, point to a potentially promising strategy for improving health and longevity.

Sirtuin 1, or SIRT1, is known to play an important role in maintaining metabolic balance in multiple tissues, and studies in… read more

How to prevent diseases of aging

July 24, 2014

By 2050, the number of people aged over 60 years is projected to be five times that in 1950 (credit: Luigi Fontana, Brian K. Kennedy, and and Valter D. Longo/Nature)

By 2050, the number of people over the age of 80 will triple globally, which could come at great cost to individuals and economies.

Unfortunately, medicine focuses almost entirely on fighting chronic diseases in a piecemeal fashion as symptoms develop, researchers writing in the journal Nature say. Instead, more efforts should be directed to promoting interventions that have the potential to prevent multiple chronic diseases and extend healthy lifespans.… read more

Why software’s wealthiest should fund experimental technologies

September 12, 2012

terrapower_tp1

In the next few decades, we need more technology leaders to reach for some very big advances, says Nathan Myhrvold, a founder and vice chairman of TerraPower and former chief technology officer of Microsoft, writing in Technology Review.
If 20 of us were to try to solve energy problems — with carbon capture and storage, or perhaps some other crazy idea — maybe one or two… read more

Independent Mars mission planned for 2018

February 25, 2013

775px-Dennis_Tito

The Inspiration Mars Foundation,  led by Dennis Tito, the first space tourist, will announce on Wednesday Feb. 27 a planned mission to Mars in 2018.

The mission would take advantage of a unique window of opportunity; the orbits of Earth and Mars will be closely aligned. The round-trip journey would start in January 2018 and take 501 days.

No details are available yet on how they… read more

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