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White House announces ‘We the Geeks: Asteroids’ Google Hangout Friday

May 29, 2013


This Friday, an asteroid nearly three kilometers wide is going to pass by the Earth-Moon system.

To mark the event, on Friday, May 31st at 2pm EDT, the White House will host the second in a series of “We the Geeks” Google+ Hangouts to talk asteroids with experts, according to a White House annoncement.

The President’s new budget calls for increased efforts by NASA to detect and… read more

White House announces new US ‘open access’ policy

A "massive sellout" to big publishers, with 12-month embargo on research, says a PLOS founder
February 25, 2013

(Credit: iStockphoto)

The White House said Friday that publications from taxpayer-funded research should be available to you, but only after a year’s delay.

“The Obama Administration is committed to the proposition that citizens deserve easy access to the results of scientific research their tax dollars have paid for,” the memo said.

But that doesn’t mean fast access. And the policy would, strangely, only apply to Federal agencies with more… read more

White dwarfs could be fertile ground for other Earths

March 31, 2011

White Dwarf

University of Washington associate professor of astronomy Eric Agol has proposed that potentially habitable planets orbiting white dwarfs could be much easier to find than other exoplanets located so far.

White dwarfs, cooling stars believed to be in the final stage of life, typically have about 60 percent of the mass of the sun, but by volume they are only about the size of Earth.… read more

White dwarf star throws light on constant of Nature

July 5, 2013


University of New South Wales (UNSW) physicists are studying a distant star where gravity is more than 30,000 times greater than on Earth to test their controversial theory that α (alpha) — also known as the fine-structure constant — is not a constant.

“If alpha [the fine-structure constant] were bigger than it really is, we should not be able to distinguish matter… read more

Which oil-mopping technology will win $1.4m X prize?

August 2, 2010

The X Prize Foundation is offering $1.4 million in prize money for new technologies to clean up oil spills. Competitors will be invited to test their technologies in 2011 in a 203- by 20-metre tank owned by the US government’s Minerals Management Service.

Which is faster: conventional or quantum computer?

D-Wave quantum computer much faster for specific problems
May 17, 2013

The D-Wave Systems Fridge with Cryogenic Packaging (credit:

A computer science professor at Amherst College has conducted experiments to test the speed of a quantum computing system (from D-Wave) against conventional computing methods.

“Ours is the first paper to my knowledge that compares the quantum approach to conventional methods using the same set of problems,” says Catherine McGeoch, the Beitzel Professor in Technology and Society (Computer Science) at Amherst.

McGeoch,… read more

Whether or not God plays dice, I do

February 5, 2012


Physicist Scott Aaronson is offering a US$100,000 award for a demonstration, convincing to him, that scalable quantum computing is impossible in the physical world. “This award has no time limit other than my death, and is entirely at my discretion (though if you want to convince me, a good approach would be to convince most of the physics community first),” he says.

Where’s my Holodeck? The latest interactive movie news

June 8, 2011

Dennis Del Favero is director of “the world’s first 3D interactive film,” Scenario, in which audience members’ movements around the cinema are tracked using 16 near-infrared cameras.

Unsound debuted in Austin, Texas earlier this year. In this horror film, the visuals, music score, and sound effects change depending on the heart rate and skin response of its collective audience members.

Marc Cavazza at Teesside University, UK, has created… read more

Where Was U.S. Intelligence?

September 13, 2001

The terrorists who orchestrated Tuesday’s strike on the World Trade Center clearly compromised airport security. But it may be even more alarming that they went undetected by United States intelligence.

Where unconscious memories form

December 17, 2010

A small area deep in the brain called the perirhinal cortex is critical for forming unconscious conceptual memories, researchers at the UC Davis Center for Mind and Brain have found.

A small area deep in the brain called the perirhinal cortex is critical for forming unconscious conceptual memories, researchers at the UC Davis Center for Mind and Brain have found.

The perirhinal cortex was thought to be involved,… read more

Where speech recognition is going

May 29, 2012


Voice-recognition software company Nuance is extending its speech-interface technology to television devices, the automobile, and wearable devices.

Dragon TV can scan TV channel listings to select relevant shows; a version is already in some televisions sold by Samsung.

Apple is rumored to be developing its own television, using Siri as its controller.

The Sync entertainment system in Ford automobiles uses Nuance’s technology to let drivers… read more

Where Should Space Exploration Go From Here?

February 5, 2003

“Most of the punditry agrees that extending the shuttle program for many more years is a bad idea. So what are the practical alternatives? I’ve seen ideas for new spacecraft, a carbon nanotube space elevator, among other things….”

Where is thy sting?

August 22, 2003

Genetic medicine is making enormous strides, and it may hold the promise of eventually making us something closer to immortal.

“Our life expectancy will be in the region of 5,000 years” in rich countries in the year 2100, predicts Aubrey de Grey, a scholar at Cambridge University.

News tip: Walter Purvis

Where is the real Matrix?

November 12, 2003

Neuroprostheses — human-computer interfaces that connect directly to the human brain, spinal cord or nerves as in The Matrix — are already a reality. But misguided federal policies are keeping them from the people who need them.

The development of microelectrode arrays has allowed researchers in the field to start thinking seriously about a variety of next-generation neuroprosthetic devices, including new types of neuroprostheses. These include vision prostheses for… read more

Where is self-awareness located in the brain?

July 31, 2012

Brain regions activated more strongly during lucid dreaming than in a normal dream. (credit: MPI of Psychiatry)

Neuroscientists from the Max Planck Institutes of Psychiatry in Munich, Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences in Leipzig, and Charité in Berlin have identified a specific cortical network associated with self-awareness.

They used EEG and fMRI brain imaging to study “lucid dreamers,” who have access to their memories during dreaming and are aware of themselves, although remaining in a dream state and not waking up.

The researchers found neural activations… read more

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