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Information wants to be free, but the world isn’t ready

January 24, 2013

“Every few years, one of my friends from the early days of digital enthusiasm turns up on the media’s radar as a ‘defector,’” R.U. Sirius, former editor-in-chief of Mondo 2000, writes on The Verge. …

The latest chapter of this saga, “What Turned Jaron Lanier Against the Web,” … portrays Jaron Lanier (You Are Not A Gadget) as being like a… read more

Your memory can be altered by interfering information

A six-hour window
June 6, 2013

(Credit: iStockphoto)

You can manipulate an existing memory simply by suggesting new or different information, Iowa State University researchers have shown.

The key is timing and recall of that memory, said Jason Chan, an assistant professor of psychology at Iowa State.

“If you reactivate a memory by retrieving it, that memory becomes susceptible to changes again. And if at that time, you give people new contradictory… read more

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

Why we need a supercomputer on the Moon

October 3, 2012

lunar_supercomputer

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

uni_cambridge

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

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

An affordable holodeck for civil engineers

December 21, 2014

VuePod2

Brigham Young University (BYU) student civil engineers have constructed an affordable 3D immersive visualization system from commercial off-the-shelf components and open-source software.

The “VuePod” system uses 12 high-definition, 55-inch 3D televisions all connected to a computer capable of supporting high-end, graphics-intensive visualization.  Images are controlled by a Wii remote that interacts with a Kinect-like  3D tracking device called SMARTTRACK. 3D glasses worn by the user create the… 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

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

‘Super-Turing’ machine learns and evolves

April 9, 2012

(Credit: iStockphoto)

Computer scientist Hava Siegelmann of the Biologically Inspired Neural & Dynamical Systems (BINDS) Laboratory at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, an expert in neural networks, has taken Alan Turing’s work to its next logical step.

She is translating her 1993 discovery of what she has dubbed “Super-Turing” computation into an adaptable computational system that learns and evolves, using input from the environment in a way much more like our… read more

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