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What if your laptop knew how you felt?

December 22, 2006

Computers can now analyze a face from video or a still image and infer almost as accurately as humans (or better) the emotion it displays.

Developed at MIT, “Mind Reader” uses input from a video camera to perform real-time analysis of facial expressions.

What if We Ran Universities Like Wikipedia?

October 19, 2010

David J. Staley has laid out the findings of a focus group he conducted asking educators what a college would look like if it ran like Wikipedia.

First, it wouldn’t have formal admissions, said Mr. Staley, director of the Harvey Goldberg Center for Excellence in Teaching at Ohio State University. People could enter and exit as they wished. It would consist of voluntary and self-organizing associations of teachers and… read more

What if there is only one universe?

June 8, 2009

Theories of cosmology based on a multiverse are flawed, says Lee Smolin, author of the bestselling science book The Trouble with Physics and a founding member and research physicist at the Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics.

Smolin points out why a timeless multiverse means that our laws of physics are no longer determinable from experiment and how the connection between fundamental laws, which are unique and applicable universally from… read more

What if quantum entanglement worked on the macroscopic level?

July 26, 2013

entangled photons

Quantum entanglement works for photons, and even molecuiles, but what about larger objects?

University of Geneva (UNIGE) researchers managed to entangle crystals in 2011, but now they have entangled two optic fibers, populated by 500 photons.

To do this, the team first created an entanglement between two fiber optics on a microscopic level before moving it to the macroscopic level. The entangled state survived… read more

What if Humans were Designed to Last?

March 30, 2007

Experts across fields were challenged to imagine a new way to solve the problems of human aging by fiddling with physiology and tinker with the inner mechanics of life at the cellular or even molecular level.

What if Bionics Were Better?

September 26, 2006

A tiny population of early adopters eager to test bionics by choice rather than out of need is emerging.

What I Meant to Say Was Semantic Web

October 22, 2007

Radar Networks has introduced Twine, a Web 3.0 service that uses semantic Web technology to improve sharing information with friends and coworkers.

Twine is intended to let you suck in email, bookmarks, RSS news feeds, websites, photos, videos, database and any other digital information. Then it tries to make sense of it by extracting and categorizing information automatically.

Individuals can sign up to be invited to the beta… read more

What happens when silicon can shrink no more?

December 8, 2008

Crossbar switching arrays made from self-assembled semiconducting nanowires or rotaxanes and graphene transistor channels are among the emerging innovations that promise to overcome the limitations of silicon as a transitor base material.

What happens during the brain’s ‘resting state’?

September 20, 2012

fMRI images

Over the past few years, some researchers have been adding a bit of down time to their study protocols, Nature News reports. While subjects are still lying in the functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) scanners, the researchers ask them to try to empty their minds. The aim is to find out what happens when the brain simply idles. And the answer is: quite a lot.

Some circuits… read more

What Happened to the Hominids Who Were Smarter Than Us?

January 4, 2010

The Boskops had big eyes, child-like faces, and an average intelligence of around 150, based on a brain perhaps 25 percent or more larger than our own, making them geniuses among Homo sapiens.

What happened to them?

What Dreams Are Made Of

August 3, 2004

New technology is helping brain scientists unravel the mysteries of the night. Their work could show us all how to make the most of our time in bed.

The long-range goal of dream research is a comprehensive explanation of the connections between sleeping and waking, a multidimensional picture of consciousness and thought 24 hours a day.

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

What Does a Plant Sound Like?

March 24, 2008

University of Tubingen researchers have developed a bat-imitating computer algorithm that can identify plant species by their unique sonar echoes.

The sonar algorithm functions in low light or darkness and provides higher resolution than infrared thermal imaging.

What do you say to an alien?

February 12, 2012

earthspeaks

The news last week that a concerted scientific search for extraterrestrial intelligence by the SETI Institute in California has resumed raises fundamental questions: If we made contact, what would we say? And what answers would we anticipate?

The SETI Institute has begun an online outreach program called Earth Speaks to solicit messages. Dimitra Atri, a physics professor at the University of Kansas, and several colleagues recently created… read more

What do memories look like?

Glowing neurons reveal memory formation in vivo
June 21, 2013

A living neuron in culture: Green dots indicate excitatory synapses and red dots indicate inhibitory synapses. (Photo/Don Arnold)

A USC research team has engineered microscopic probes that light up synapses in a living neuron in real time by attaching fluorescent markers onto synaptic proteins, without affecting the neuron’s ability to function.

The fluorescent markers allow scientists to see live excitatory and inhibitory synapses for the first time, and how they change as new memories are formed.

The synapses appear as bright spots along dendrites… read more

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