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Russian billionaire, Hawking announce $100 million search for ET

July 20, 2015

100 meter Green Bank Telescope, the world's largest steerable radio telescope (credit: Geremia/Wikimedia Commons)

Russian billionaire Yuri Milner, Stephen Hawking, Martin Rees, Frank Drake and others announced at The Royal Society today $100 million funding for Breakthrough Listen — the “most powerful, comprehensive, and intensive scientific search ever undertaken for signs of intelligent life beyond Earth.”

They also announced $1 million prize funding for Breakthrough Message, a competition to generate messages representing humanity and planet Earth.

“It’s time to commit to finding… read more

A challenge facing designers of future computer chips

November 8, 2012

The total conductance per unit area is similar for both tungsten (W) and gold (Au). However, by joining the two highly conducting metals, one finds a conductance density that is about 4 times lower of either material individually. (Credit: David J. Olivera et al./PNAS)

To build the computer chips of the future, designers will need to understand how an electrical charge behaves when it is confined to metal wires only a few atom-widths in diameter.

Researchers at at McGill University General Motors R&D, have shown that electrical current could be drastically reduced when wires from two dissimilar metals meet. The surprisingly sharp reduction in current reveals a significant challenge… 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

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

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

wyss_smart.suit1_1

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

Ivanpah solar electric generating system connects to grid

September 30, 2013

ivanpah featured

The Ivanpah Solar Electric Generating System in California’s Mojave Desert produced its first output of energy when the first of three towers was synchronized last week to the power grid for the first time.

Power generated from Ivanpah will first go to Pacific Gas and Electric (PG&E), followed by Southern California Edison in the coming months.

Ivanpah is the largest solar thermal plant in the… read more

A cardboard bike

October 18, 2012

cardboard-bike

Working from his garden shed, Israeli inventor Izhar Gafni has invented a $20 cardboard bike, says The Telegraph.

The solid tires are made of reconstituted rubber from old car tires and some proprietary materials have been added for water protection and other purposes.

“This is a real game changer,” said Nimrod Elmish, Gafni’s business partner. ”It changes … the way products are manufactured and shipped, it causes factories to… read more

First glimpse of new concepts developing in the brain

June 12, 2015

concepts in brain-ft

Carnegie Mellon University (CMU) scientists have for the first time documented the actual formation of newly learned concepts inside the brain.

Thanks to recent advances in brain imaging technology at CMU and elsewhere, it is now known how specific concrete objects are coded in the brain — neuroscientists can identify which object, such as a house or a banana, someone is thinking about from its… read more

When does your baby become conscious?

April 19, 2013

smart_kid

New research shows that babies display glimmers of consciousness and memory as early as 5 months old, Science Now reports.

Studies on adults show a particular pattern of brain activity: When your senses detect something, such as a moving object, the vision center of your brain activates, even if the object goes by too fast for you to notice. But if the object remains in your visual… read more

The coming revolution in alternative proteins

February 20, 2015

(credit: FutureFood 2050)

Are you ready for cricket-flour energy bars and “steaks” constructed from strips of lab-grown animal muscle fibers?

Some of us may not have a choice. Feeding the rapidly expanding world population will require 470 million tons of annual meat production by 2050, an increase of more than 200 million tons from current annual levels, according to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO).… read more

Stronger than a speeding bullet, but lighter

New tests of nanostructured material could lead to better armor against everything from gunfire to micrometeorites
November 9, 2012

rice_strong_material

While traditional shields have been made of bulky materials such as steel, body armor made of lightweight material such as Kevlar has shown that thickness and weight are not necessary for absorbing the energy of impacts.

Now, a new study by researchers at MIT and Rice University has shown that even lighter materials may be capable of doing the job just as effectively.… 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

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

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