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The Human Race to the Future: What Could Happen — and What to Do

July 8, 2013

Human-Race

The Human Race to the Future: What Could Happen — and What to Do, by Dr. Daniel Berleant (388 pages), the first book published by the Lifeboat Foundation, is available free (Kindle version) to KurzweilAI readers on July 8 as a one-day promo.

A non-fiction book verging on science fiction, its imaginative future scenarios include colonizing the planet Mercury (it has water at the poles), GPS-enabled… read more

Is the ‘quantum singularity’ near?

January 18, 2013

quantum_aaronson

Four research groups have announced progress on a quantum-computing proposal made two years ago by MIT researchers.

In early 2011, two theoretical computer scientists at MIT proposed an optical experiment that would harness the weird laws of quantum mechanics to perform a computation impossible on conventional computers.

Commenting at the time, Terry Rudolph, a quantum-computing researcher at Imperial College London said that the experiment… 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

The speed of light in a vacuum may not be a constant after all

Ephemeral vacuum particles induce speed-of-light fluctuations
April 25, 2013

speed_of_light

Two European Physical Journal D papers challenge established wisdom about the nature of vacuum.

In one paper, Marcel Urban from the University of Paris-Sud and colleagues identified a quantum-level mechanism for interpreting vacuum as being filled with pairs of virtual particles with fluctuating energy values.

As a result, the inherent characteristics of vacuum, such as the speed of light, may not be a constant… read more

DARPA’s Cheetah robot beats fastest human

September 6, 2012

Cheetah Robot

DARPA’s Cheetah robot — already the fastest legged robot in history — just broke its own land speed record of 18 miles per hour (mph), clocked at 28.3 mph for a 20-meter split.

In the process, Cheetah also surpassed another very fast mover: runner Usain Bolt. According to the International Association of Athletics Federations, Bolt set the world speed record for a human in 2009 when… read more

Galaxy may swarm with 100,000 times more ‘nomad planets’ than stars

February 24, 2012

This image is an artistic rendition of a nomad object wandering the interstellar medium. The object is intentionally blurry to represent uncertainty about whether it has an atmosphere. A nomadic object may be an icy body akin to an object found in the outer solar system, a more rocky material akin to asteroid or even a gas giant similar in composition to the most massive solar system planets and exoplanets.

There may be 100,000 times more wandering “nomad planets” in the Milky Way than stars, and some may carry bacterial life, according to a new study by researchers at the Kavli Institute for Particle Astrophysics and Cosmology (KIPAC).

If any of these nomad planets are big enough to have a thick atmosphere, they could have trapped enough heat for bacterial life to exist,” said Louis Strigari, leader of… read more

Vicarious announces $15 million funding for AI software based on the brain

August 24, 2012

RCN

Vicarious FPC Inc, an artificial intelligence company that uses the computational principles of the brain to build software that can think and learn like a human, has announced a $15M Series A round of financing for development of machine learning software based on the computational principles of the human brain.

The research at Vicarious is expected to have broad implications for robotics, medical image analysis, image and video… read more

Growing new brains with infrared light [exclusive]

May 24, 2013

Illustration of the "neuronal beacon" for guiding axon growth direction (credit: B. Black et al./Optics Letters)

University of Texas, Arlington, scientists have discovered a way to control the growth or repair of neurons and neuron circuits, using a non-invasive “neuronal beacon” (near-IR laser beam) — essentially rewiring brains, or even creating new ones.

This major discovery, just published today in Optics Letters, promises to enable several new applications, UT Arlington assistant professor of physics Samarendra Mohanty said in an exclusive interview with KurzweilAI:

    read more

    Another augmented-reality glasses design emerges

    October 1, 2012

    epfl_glasses

    EPFL scientists in the Laboratory of Photonic Devices are developing a prototype of a pair of augmented-reality glasses that are similar to Google Glass.

    A mini-projector on the frames projects a holographic image on the lens.

    One technical challenges is to allow the user to simultaneously see the information displayed on the lenses — which are too close to the eye for… read more

    The future of online vs. residential education

    October 8, 2012

    In this correspondence (posted with permission), Ray Kurzweil and MIT president L. Rafael Reif discuss the future of online education and its impacts on residential education. Also see the three related posts today (below). — Ed.

    Hi Rafael,

    I enjoyed your insightful piece in today’s WSJ on the emergence and future of online education. It eloquently makes the point that online teaching is here to stay. But I… read more

    Nanoparticles could lead to stronger drugs, fewer side effects for cancer patients [UPDATE]

    August 30, 2012

    cerulean_science_nanoparticles

    A biotech company called Cerulean says its nanoparticle-delivered cancer drugs are better at attacking tumors, Technology Review reports.

    One result of the side effects of cancer treatments is that patients often can’t tolerate or survive a combination of different drugs at the same time — which can limit a doctor’s ability to knock out the disease. The head of a Boston-area biotech called Cerulean Therapeuticsread more

    Google Introduces new search tools to try to read our minds

    May 16, 2013

    (Credit: Google)

    Google revealed some new search tools on Wednesday at I/O, its annual developers conference, The New York Times reports. Taken together, they are another step toward Google’s trying to become the omnipotent, human-like “Star Trek” search engine that its executives say they want it to be.

    When people ask Google certain questions, it will now try to predict the person’s follow-up questions and answer them, too. Ask… read more

    The secret of longevity for the world’s longest-living rodent: better protein creation

    October 3, 2013

    Naked mole rats are small, hairless, subterranean rodents native to eastern Africa (credit: Adam Fenster/University of Rochester)

    Better-constructed proteins could explain why naked mole rats live long lives — about 30 years — and stay healthy until the very end, resisting cancer, say University of Rochester biologists Vera Gorbunova and Andrei Seluanov.

    Their work focuses on naked mole rat ribosomes, which assemble amino acids into proteins. Ribosomes are composed of ribosomal RNA (rRNA) molecules and proteins.

    When… read more

    Does your brain see things you don’t?

    Doctoral student shakes up 100 years of untested psychological theory
    November 15, 2013

    Sanguinetti showed study participants images of what appeared to be an abstract black object. Sometimes, however, there were real-world objects hidden at the borders of the black silhouette. In this image, the outlines of two seahorses can be seen in the white spaces surrounding the black object. (Image courtesy of Jay Sanguinetti)

    A new study indicates that our brains perceive objects in everyday life that we may not be consciously aware of.

    The finding by University of Arizona doctoral student Jay Sanguinetti challenges currently accepted models, in place for a century, about how the brain processes visual information.

    Sanguinetti showed study participants a series of black silhouettes, some of which contained meaningful, real-world objects hidden in the… read more

    The Red Queen was right: life must continually evolve to avoid extinction

    June 22, 2013

    Alice_&_Red_Queen

    A University of California, Berkeley study has found that a lack of new emerging species contributes to extinction over a period of millions of years.

    The researchers studied 19 groups of mammals that either are extinct or in decline from a past peak in diversity, as in the case of horses, elephants, rhinos and others.

    The “Red Queen” hypothesis

    The study was conducted… read more

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