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What’s next for NASA? 10 wild newly funded projects

August 19, 2012


What’s next for NASA now that Curiosity has touched down on Mars?

For a sneak peek into what the space agency has in store, take a look at the 28 proposals for the NASA Innovative Advanced Concepts program, which gives out awards of $100,000 and $500,000 for ideas that have the potential to “transform future aerospace missions.”

Here are 10 of the most fantastic projects that… read more

What’s Next for E Ink

June 2, 2010

The picture on E Ink’s latest prototypes has a better color gamut, and a higher-resolution black and white screen with better contrast. The company expects to create screens that can also do video by the end of the year.

What’s Next for Computer Interfaces?

December 11, 2008

A project called nanoTouch, developed at Microsoft Research, tackles the challenges of adding touch sensitivity to ever-shrinking displays. A gadget would have a front that is entirely a display, a back that is entirely touch- sensitive, and a side that features buttons.

Perceptive Pixel describes software that recognizes how hard a user is pressing a surface. If they press hard on an image of, say, a playing card and… read more

What’s killing supercentenarians? Amyloidosis, suggest two gerontologists

May 28, 2012


In a newly published review, Dr. Stephen Coles and Robert Young of the UCLA Gerontology Research Group have identified what may be killing supercentenarians: amyloidosis — and drugs to treat it could extend lifespan beyond current limits, Extreme Longevity reports.

Supercentenarians are persons who have lived beyond the age of 110. Currently there are only about 80 such known individuals in the world whose age is verified. The world… read more

What’s Augmented Reality’s Killer App?

September 23, 2009

With Mobilizy’s just-released Augmented Reality Mark-up Language (ARML), programmers can more easily create location-based content for AR applications — the equivalent of HTML for the Web.

Whatever happened to machines that think?

April 21, 2005

“I believe we are heading towards a singularity and we will see it in less than 10 years,” says Doug Lenat of Cycorp, which is putting an artificial brain called Cyc online for the world to interact with.

Opening Cyc up to the masses is expected to accelerate the rate at which it learns, giving it access to the combined knowledge of millions of people around the globe as… read more

What zebrafish can teach us about healing brain damage

November 11, 2012


The zebrafish regenerates its brain after injury, unlike mammals. Is there something we can learn about the process that might help with traumatic brain injury  and neurodegenerative disorders?

A research team at the Center for Regenerative Therapies Dresden (CRTD), Germany decided to investigate.

They found that that in zebrafish — in contrast to mammals — inflammation is a positive regulator of neuronal regeneration in the… read more

What would you prefer: a robot that takes care of you, or the opposite?

July 9, 2013

Robot butler Nao, a social robot developed by Aldebaran Robotics vs. robot-simulating mom (credit:  Aldebaran Robotics)

To determine how human perception of a robot changes based on its role, Penn State researchers observed 60 interactions between college students and Nao, a social robot developed by Aldebaran Robotics, a French company specializing in humanoid robots.

Each interaction could go one of two ways. The human could help Nao calibrate its eyes, or Nao could examine the human’s eyes like a concerned eye doctor and make suggestions to… read more

What will your next body be like?

December 25, 2012

A scene from R.U.R., showing three robots (credit: Wikimedia Commons)

“Many engineers, including me, think that some time around 2050, we will be able to make very high quality links between the brains and machines. … If your mind is so well connected, you could inhabit a new body, without having to vacate your existing one,” suggests futurologist Ian Pearson.

“Using a detachable brain is one option, or not to put a brain in at all, using empty immobile husks that… read more

What Will Life Be Like in the Year 2189?

March 5, 2007

A new fictional children’s book, “21st Century Kids” by Shannon Vyff (Warren Publishing, March 2007), explores the idea that two children, killed in a car accident, are cryonically preserved and reanimated in the year 2189.

Vyff’s own children were the inspiration for the main characters in the book and served as sounding boards. They are also featured along with Vyff in an upcoming Barbara Walter’s Special, “How… read more

What will happen to us? Forecasters tackle the extremely deep future

May 1, 2011

“The community of thinkers on distant-future questions stretches across disciplinary bounds, with the primary uniting trait a willingness to think about the future as a topic for objective study, rather than a space for idle speculation or science fictional reverie,” says writer Graeme Wood.

They include British Astronomer Royal Martin Rees, theoretical cosmologists like Sean Carroll of the California Institute of Technology, who recently wrote a book about time,… read more

What We Don’t Know Can Hurt Us

June 28, 2004

Privacy advocates are hindering development of sophisticated pattern-analysis and data mining tools for detecting terrorist networks, say some experts.

What We Can Learn from Robots

December 28, 2004

Mitsuo Kawato, director of the ATR Computational Neuroscience Laboratories in Kyoto, Japan, believes that experiments on humanoid robots can provide simplified models of what certain groups of neurons in the brain are doing.

Then, using advanced imaging techniques, he looks at whether brain cells in monkeys and humans accord with the models.

By combining magnetic-resonance imaging, which offers millimeter-level resolution, with electrical and magnetic recording techniques, which resolve… read more

What ultra-tiny nanocircuits can do

February 10, 2011

Researchers have used germanium wires to create a 'nanochip'. (Lieber Group/Harvard Univ)

Engineers and scientists collaborating at Harvard University and the MITRE Corp. have developed and demonstrated the world’s first programmable nanoprocessor.

The groundbreaking prototype computer system, described in a paper appearing Feb. 9 in the journal Nature, represents a significant step forward in the complexity of computer circuits that can be assembled from synthesized nanoscale components.

It also represents an advance because these ultra-tiny nanocircuits… read more

What to Wear: Why Not a Computer?

October 15, 2002

Wearable computers are especially well suited for disabled people. Under development: a universal control interface that would allow cell phones, PDAs and wearable control systems read simple hand gestures to control a wide variety of devices; small head-mounted visual displays to provide on-the-fly captioning to manage a variety of devices with wireless connections; tele-health systems for monitoring real-time vital signs in patients; and “way-finding systems,” which use a global positioning… read more

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