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Achieving fault-tolerant quantum computing

September 20, 2013

This schematic of a bismuth selenide/BSCCO cuprate (Bi2212) heterostructure shows a proximity-induced high-temperature superconducting gap on the surface states of the bismuth selenide topological insulator (credit: Berkeley Lab)

Reliable quantum computing would make it possible to solve certain types of extremely complex technological problems millions of times faster than today’s most powerful supercomputers, or things not even feasible with today’s computers.

But first, we need “fault-tolerant” quantum computers. A small but important step toward this goal has been achieved by an international collaboration of researchers from China’s Tsinghua University and the U.S. Department of Energy… read more

Tesla plans ‘mostly autonomous’ car within three years

September 20, 2013

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Elon Musk has decided that the next step for Tesla Motors cars is to go (mostly) autonomous, IEEE Spectrum reports.

From the Financial Times:
“We should be able to do 90 percent of miles driven within three years,” [Musk] said. Mr Musk would not reveal further details of Tesla’s autonomy project, but said it was “internal development” rather than technology being supplied by another company.read more

How to build a low-cost AFM nanoscope out of LEGO + Arduino board

September 19, 2013

An  AFM made from LEGO and electronics (Credit: Alice Pyne, London Centre for Nanotechnology)

The world’s first low-cost atomic force microscope (AFM) has been developed in Beijing by a group of PhD students from University College London (UCL), Tsinghua University, and Peking University — using LEGO.

LEGO2NANO brought together students, experienced makers and scientists to take on the challenge of building a cheap and effective AFM, a device able to probe objects only a nanometer in size… read more

‘Wired microbes’ generate electricity from sewage

September 19, 2013

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Interdisciplinary team creates ‘microbial battery’ driven by naturally occurring bacteria that evolved to produce electricity as they digest organic material.

Engineers at Stanford University have devised a new way to generate electricity from sewage using naturally occurring “wired microbes” as mini power plants that produce electricity as they digest plant and animal waste.

Yi Cui, a materials scientist, Craig Criddle,… read more

Nearly half of US jobs could be at risk of computerization, Oxford Martin School study shows

Transport, logistics, and office roles most likely to come under threat
September 19, 2013

probability of computerisation featired

Nearly half of U.S. jobs could be susceptible to computerization over the next two decades, a study from the Oxford Martin Programme on the Impacts of Future Technology suggests.

The study, a collaboration between Dr. Carl Benedikt Frey (Oxford Martin School) and Dr. Michael A. Osborne (Department of Engineering Science, University of Oxford), found that jobs in transportation, logistics, and office/administrative support are at “high… read more

An experimental spaceplane with ‘aircraft-like’ operations in orbit

September 19, 2013

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The current generation of satellite launch vehicles is expensive to operate, often costing hundreds of millions of dollars per flight. Moreover, U.S. launch vehicles fly only a few times each year and normally require scheduling years in advance, making it extremely difficult to deploy satellites without lengthy pre-planning. Quick, affordable and routine access to space is increasingly critical for U.S. Defense Department operations.

Imagine a fully reusable unmanned vehicle… read more

A smartphone ‘microscope’ that can detect a single virus, nanoparticles

September 19, 2013

smartphone microscope

UCLA engineers have created a 1/2-pound, portable smartphone attachment that can be used to perform sophisticated field testing to detect viruses and bacteria without the need for bulky and expensive microscopes and lab equipment.

“This cellphone-based imaging platform could be used for specific and sensitive detection of sub-wavelength [smaller than the wavelength of light] objects.

These include bacteria and viruses and therefore could enable the practice… read more

Google announces Calico, a new company focused on health and well-being

September 18, 2013

calico-google

Google announced Calico, a new company that will focus on health and well-being, in particular the challenge of aging and associated diseases. Arthur D. Levinson, Chairman and former CEO of Genentech and Chairman of Apple, will be Chief Executive Officer and a founding investor.

Announcing this new investment, Larry Page, Google CEO said: “Illness and aging affect all our families. With some longer… read more

Where is imagination located in the human brain?

September 18, 2013

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Imagination lies in a widespread neural network — the brain’s “mental workspace” — that consciously manipulates images, symbols, ideas and theories and gives humans the laser-like mental focus needed to solve complex problems and come up with new ideas, Dartmouth researchers conclude in a new study.

“Our findings move us closer to understanding how the organization of our brains sets us apart from other species and provides… read more

BRAIN initiative report lists detailed research priorities

September 18, 2013

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A scientific team has released a report that identifies research priorities for the Brain Research through Advancing Innovative Neurotechnologies (BRAIN) initiative, Science Insider reports.

The report lists nine top research priorities. It highlights the need for cheaper, faster technologies that can trace connections between individual brain cells and record large networks of cells acting in synchrony.

It calls for development of tools that can… read more

How to turn your iPad into a mobile 3D scanner

September 18, 2013

(Credit: Occipital)

Occipital just launched a Kickstarter campaign for the Structure, a portable 3D sensor that straps to the back of your iPad. It should ship by next February for $329 (early adopter package), TechCrunch reports.

Got rhythm? You can learn languages and reading better

The surprising link between music, rhythmic abilities and language skills; can music training help you learn to read?
September 18, 2013

Mechanical metronome (credit: Wikimedia Commons)

Northwestern University researchers have found biological evidence linking the ability to keep a beat to the neural encoding of speech sounds.

The study has significant implications for reading, according to Nina Kraus, director of Northwestern’s Auditory Neuroscience Laboratory.

The study demonstrates that accurate beat-keeping involves synchronization between the parts of the brain responsible for hearing as well as movement.

The experimentread more

New room-temperature magnetic semiconductor material holds promise for ‘spintronics’ data-storage devices

September 17, 2013

Cross-section transmission electron micrograph of SSO/c-YSZ/Si<br />
(001) heterostructure

Researchers at North Carolina State University have created a new compound that can be integrated into silicon chips and is a dilute magnetic semiconductor — meaning that it could be used to make “spintronic” devices, which rely on magnetic force to operate, rather than electrical currents.

“Spintronics” refers to technologies used in solid-state devices that take advantage of the inherent “spin” in electrons and their… read more

It’s time to turn cache management of multicore memory over to software, MIT research shows

September 17, 2013

managing_multicore_memory

In today’s computers, moving data to and from main memory consumes so much time and energy that microprocessors have their own small, high-speed memory banks, known as “caches,”  which store frequently used data.

Managing the caches has traditionally required  fairly simple algorithms that can be hard-wired into the chips. But to meet consumers’ expectations for steadily increasing computational power, chipmakers have had to begin equipping their chips with more… read more

Will phase-change memory replace flash memory?

September 17, 2013

phase_change_memory_arrays

Phase-change memory, a new material built from aluminum and antimony, shows promise for next-generation data-storage devices.

Phase-change memory relies on materials that change from a disordered, amorphous structure to a crystalline structure when an electrical pulse is applied. The material has high electrical resistance in its amorphous state and low resistance in its crystalline state — corresponding to the 1 and 0 states of binary data.… read more

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