science + technology news

Could robots become ‘aware’ of their own limitations?

April 3, 2013

(credit: Allegra Boverman and Christine Daniloff/MIT)

MIT researchers have developed software for robots that enables them to be more “aware” of their own limitations, such as knowing the whereabouts of an object, or its own location within a room.

Most successful robots today tend to be used either in fixed, carefully controlled environments, such as manufacturing plants, or for performing fairly simple tasks such as vacuuming a room,

But carrying out complicated sequences… read more

Bioethics Commission releases volume one response to the BRAIN Initiative

May 21, 2014

(Credit: Bioethics Commission)

The Presidential Commission for the Study of Bioethical Issues (Bioethics Commission) has released volume one of its two-part response to President Obama’s request related to the Brain Research through Advancing Innovative Neurotechnologies (BRAIN) Initiative, entitled Gray Matters: Integrative Approaches for Neuroscience, Ethics, and Society.

“Neuroscience has begun to make important breakthroughs, but given the complexity of the brain, we must better understand it in order to make desired… read more

‘Social voting’ really does rock the vote

September 14, 2012

The experiment and direct effects. Examples of the informational message and social message Facebook treatments (a) and their direct effect on voting behaviour (b). Vertical lines indicate s.e.m. (they are too small to be seen for the first two bars). (Credit: /Nature)

Brace yourself for a tidal wave of Facebook campaigning before November’s U.S. presidential election. A study of 61 million Facebook users finds that using online social networks to urge people to vote has a much stronger effect on their voting behavior than spamming them with information via television ads or phone calls, Science Now reports.

The study follows a Science paper that tracked howread more

Why some nations become wealthy and powerful, while others remain stuck in poverty

March 26, 2012

forumrome

Why do some nations, such as the United States, become wealthy and powerful, while others remain stuck in poverty? And why do some of those powers, from ancient Rome to the modern Soviet Union, expand and then collapse?

Politics makes the difference, say economists Daron Acemoglu of MIT and James Robinson of Harvard University in their new book, Why Nations Fail. Countries that have what they call “inclusive”… read more

First spin-entangled electrons on a chip

July 2, 2015

False colour scanning image-ft

A team from the RIKEN Center for Emergent Matter Science, along with collaborators from the University of Tokyo and University of Osaka, have successfully produced pairs of spin-entangled electrons and demonstrated, for the first time, that these electrons remain entangled even when they are separated from one another on a chip.

This research could allow information contained in quantum bits (qubits) to be shared between… read more

Scientists discover how to slow down aging in mice and increase longevity

Blocking a specific protein complex in the hypothalamus and injecting a hormone slow aging and cognitive decline
May 3, 2013

Hypothalamus:  (credit: iStockphoto)

Scientists at Albert Einstein College of Medicine of Yeshiva University have found that the hypothalamus of mice controls aging throughout the body.

Their discovery of a specific age-related signaling pathway opens up new strategies for combating diseases of old age and extending lifespan.

Background: the hypothalmus and inflammation

“Scientists have long wondered whether aging occurs independently in the body’s various tissues or if it… read more

Is this Elon Musk’s secret design for a high-speed train?

July 16, 2013

Hyperloop2

Elon Musk has been hinting at an idea he calls the Hyperloop — a ground-based transportation technology that would get people from Los Angeles to San Francisco in under half an hour, for less than 1/10 the cost of California’s $69 billion plan.

On Monday, Musk tweeted that he will publish an “alpha design” for the Hyperloop by Aug. 12. As Slateread more

Teleporting information achieved by TU Delft

A key step toward a "quantum internet"
June 2, 2014

(Credit: TU Delft)

Teleporting people through space, as in Star Trek, is impossible by the laws of physics, but researchers at TU Delft‘s Kavli Institute of Nanoscience have succeeded in teleporting information.

Using quantum entanglement, they transferred the information contained in a quantum bit in a diamond to a quantum bit in another diamond three meters away, without the information having traveled through the intervening space.

The… read more

Scientists reverse aging in mice by repairing damaged DNA

Could lead to an anti-aging drug that counters damage from old age, cancer, and radiation
March 26, 2017

Disarming a rogue agent: When the NAD molecule (red), binds to the DBC1 protein (beige), it prevents DBC1 from attaching to and incapacitating a protein critical for DNA repair. (credit: David Sinclair)

A research team led by Harvard Medical School professor of genetics David Sinclair, PhD, has made a discovery that could lead to a revolutionary new drug that allows cells to repair DNA damaged by aging, cancer, and radiation.

In a paper published in the journal Science on Friday (March 24), the scientists identified a critical step in the molecular process related to DNA damage.… read more

Texas wind farms increase land surface temperature

May 2, 2012

Wind Farm

A Texas region containing four of the world’s largest wind farms showed an increase in land surface temperature over nine years that researchers have connected to local meteorological effects of the turbines.

The land surface temperature around the west-central Texas wind farms warmed at a rate of .72 degrees Celsius per decade during the study period relative to nearby regions without wind farms, an effect most likely… read more

Fusion reactors ‘economically viable’ in a few decades, say experts

Could replace nuclear reactors and fossil fuels
October 5, 2015

An illustration of a tokamak with plasma (credit: ITER Organization)

Fusion reactors could become an economically viable means of generating electricity within a few decades, replacing conventional nuclear power stations, according to new research at Durham University and Culham Centre for Fusion Energy in Oxfordshire, U.K.

The research, published in the journal Fusion Engineering and Design, builds on earlier findings that a fusion power plant could generate electricity at a price similar to that of a fission plant… read more

Multi-material 3D printer creates realistic neurosurgical models for training

December 12, 2013

A perforator creates a burr hole in the model of a skull. The model, produced using a multimaterial 3D printer, is composed of a variety of materials that simulate the various consistencies and densities of human tissues encountered during neurosurgery. (Credit: American Association of Neurosurgeons)

Researchers* from Malaysia and the UK have used a new multi-material 3D printer to create realistic, low-cost model of the skull for use by students in practicing neurosurgical techniques.

The model uses a variety of materials that simulate the various consistencies and densities of human tissues encountered during neurosurgery.

Neurosurgery is a difficult discipline to master. Trainees may spend as many as 10 years after graduation from medical… read more

Groups concerned over arming of domestic drones

May 25, 2012

blog_armedrone

Chief Deputy Randy McDaniel of the Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office in Texas said his department is considering using rubber bullets and tear gas on its drone, CBS DC reports.

“Drone manufacturers are also considering offering police the option of arming these remote-controlled aircraft with (nonlethal for now) weapons like rubber bullets, Tasers, and tear gas,” the ACLU says on their website.

Catherine Crump, staff… read more

Craig Venter’s team designs, builds first minimal synthetic bacterial cell

New record for the least number of genes needed for independent cell growth
March 28, 2016

A cluster of JCVI-syn3.0 cells, showing spherical structures of varying sizes (scale bar, 200 nm) (credit: Clyde A. Hutchison III et al./Science)

Just 473 genes were needed to create life in a new synthesized species of bacteria created by synthetic biologists from the J. Craig Venter Institute (JCVI) and Synthetic Genomics, Inc.

Knowing the minimum number of genes to create life would answer a fundamental question in biology.

This “minimal synthetic cell,” JCVI-syn3.0, was reported in an open-access paper published last week in the  journal Science. By… read more

Battery breakthrough charges in seconds, lasts for a week

November 25, 2016

Supercapacitor prototype showing flexible design (credit: ACS Nano)

University of Central Florida researchers have developed a radical new supercapacitor design that could one day replace lithium-ion batteries, allowing users to charge a mobile phone in a few seconds and with a charge that lasts a week, according to the researchers. The new battery would be flexible and a fraction of the size of a lithium-ion battery.

The proof-of-concept design is based on a hybrid supercapacitor composed of… read more

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