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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

What do futurists really know?

August 17, 2006

The World Future Society’s annual meeting in Toronto featured keynote speaker Ray Kurzweil, citing “an impressive set of statistics about technologic acceleration to support his predictions, from the increasing number of transistors on a chip to the decreasing cost of sequencing a single unit of DNA. When Kurzweil is explaining it, a glorious future seems almost inevitable.”

What Dictionaries and Optical Illusions Say About Our Brains

June 2, 2008

Mark Changizi, assistant professor of cognitive science at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, has writtten papers that explain how our lexical systems evolved and another that suggests how the brain’s visual system is adapted to anticipate the future a fraction of a second before we actually see it.

What could you make with a 3D printer on the Moon?

You're on the Moon or Mars, and you urgently need a new tool or replacement part. Solution: feed rocks into a 3D printer. Rocks in your head?
November 29, 2012

(credit: Amit  Bandyopadhyay/Washington State University)

Not for Amit Bandyopadhyay, professor in the School of Mechanical and Materials Engineering at Washington State University, and colleagues, who recently published a paper in Rapid Prototyping Journal demonstrating how to do just that.

Bandyopadhyay and Susmita Bose, professor in the School of Mechanical and Materials Engineering, are well known researchers in the area of three-dimensional printing, creating bone-like materials for orthopedic implants.

The… read more

What Comes After Web 2.0?

December 4, 2006

Today’s primitive prototypes show that a more intelligent Internet is still a long way off.

Most of the current projects are so far from producing practical tools–let alone services that could be commercialized–that it’s premature to say they represent a “third generation” of Web technology. For that, judging from today’s state of the art, we’ll need to wait another few years.

What comes after the cloud? How about the fog?

February 11, 2013

(Credit: Rick Hyman/iStockphoto)

Startup Symform thinks it can provide better disaster resilience than even data centers hundreds of miles apart. And, says Bassam Tabbara, Symform cofounder and Chief Technical Officer, it can do that in a way that’s extremely cheap — and in some cases free — to its customers, Tekla Perry writes on IEEE Spectrum.

Tabbara describes Symform’s approach as a “decentralized, distributed, virtual, and crowd-sourced” cloud. .… read more

What campuses can learn from online teaching

October 8, 2012

edx_announcement

Also see the three related posts today (below). — Ed.

Higher education is at a crossroads not seen since the introduction of the printing press, said MIT president L. Rafael Reif* in The Wall Street Journal.

“Residential education’s long-simmering financial problem is reaching a crisis point,” he said. “At the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and other campuses, the upheaval today is coming from the technological change posed by… read more

What Are We Thinking When We (Try to) Solve Problems?

January 30, 2008

Researchers have monitored the brain activity of volunteers tackling verbal problems to uncover what goes through the mind–literally–when the brain has an “aha!” moment of problem solving.

What a trip through a wormhole would look like

March 14, 2012

The singularity of a black hole

Now you can see what an epic journey through a tunnel in space-time might look like, thanks to an animation by astrophysicist Andrew Hamilton from University of Colorado at Boulder.

First, you free fall through the outer horizon of a black hole. Once you reach its inner horizon, you see an infinitely-energetic flash of light from the outside world containing an image of the entire… read more

Whales boast the brain cells that ‘make us human’

November 28, 2006

Whales have spindle neurons — specialised brain cells that are involved in processing emotions and helping us interact socially.

The cells occur in parts of the human brain that are thought to be responsible for our social organization, empathy, speech, intuition about the feelings of others, and rapid “gut” reactions.

What is more, whales appear to have had these cells for at least twice as long as humans,… read more

‘Wet’ computer server could cut wasted energy for cooling

February 27, 2013

iceotope_leeds

A revolutionary liquid-cooled computer server design that could slash the carbon footprint of the Internet is being tested at the University of Leeds.

Unlike most computers, which use air to cool their electronics, all of the components in the new server are completely immersed in liquid. The power-hungry fans of traditional computing are replaced by a silent liquid-cooling process that relies on the natural convection… read more

Western diets turn on fat genes

December 1, 2009

A diet high in fat and sugar switches on genes that ultimately cause our bodies to store too much fat, adding to the already difficult task of converting high-fat and high-sugar foods to energy, according to a study published online in the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology Journal.

West Antarctic Ice Sheet collapse is underway

May 13, 2014

ThwaitesShelf

Antarctica’s fast-moving Thwaites Glacier will likely disappear in a matter of centuries, potentially raising sea level by more than a half-a-meter (two feet), National Science Foundation-funded researchers at the University of Washington have concluded

Data gathered by NSF-funded airborne radar, detailed topography maps, and computer modeling were used to make the determination.

The glacier acts as an ice dam, stabilizing and regulating movement toward the sea… read more

We’re Watching U.

March 31, 2012

MQ-9 Reaper drone (credit: U.S. Air Force)

Amid a worldwide boom in unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), a handful of U.S. colleges have begun offering classes and even four-year degrees for students looking for jobs in this fast-growing field, where even newcomers can earn six-figure salaries, The Daily reports.

Starting salaries for drone pilots range from $50,000 to $120,000 per year, said Tom Kenville, who founded a trade group called Unmanned Applications Institute International for development… read more

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