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Black holes growing faster than expected

February 14, 2013


Black holes are growing faster than previously thought possible, according to new research published Wednesday in the Astrophysical Journal.

Even the black hole in our own Milky Way Galaxy, which otherwise appears very quiet, has probably been consuming the equivalent of one Sun every 3000 years.

Until recently, astronomers thought that black holes grow mostly when galaxies crash into each other, at which time a large… read more

Harnessing the energy of 2,000 suns

April 29, 2013


The Swiss Commission for Technology and Innovation has awarded scientists a $2.4 million (2.25 million CHF) grant to develop an affordable photovoltaic system capable of concentrating solar radiation 2,000 times and converting 80 percent of the incoming radiation into useful energy.*

The system would also provide desalinated water and cool air in sunny, remote locations where they are often in short supply.

The prototype HCPVT system… read more

Google simulates brain networks to recognize speech and images

October 5, 2012


This summer Google set a new landmark in the field of artificial intelligence with software that learned how to recognize cats, people, and other things simply by watching YouTube videos (see “Self-Taught Software“).

That technology, modeled on how brain cells operate, is now being put to work making Google’s products smarter, with speech recognition being the first service to benefit, Technology Review reports.… read more

3D printed car is as strong as steel, half the weight, and nearing production

March 1, 2013


Picture an assembly line not that isn’t made up of robotic arms spewing sparks to weld heavy steel, but a warehouse of plastic-spraying printers producing light, cheap and highly efficient automobiles.

If Jim Kor’s dream is realized, that’s exactly how the next generation of urban runabouts will be produced, Wired reports. His creation is called the Urbee 2 and it could revolutionize parts manufacturing while creating… read more

Eating more plant protein associated with lower risk of death

August 1, 2016

Some high-protein plant-based foods (credit: iStock)

Eating more protein from plant sources was associated with a lower risk of death, while eating more protein from animals was associated with a higher risk of death — especially among adults with at least one unhealthy behavior such as smoking, drinking, and being overweight or sedentary — according to an open-access survey article published online by JAMA Internal Medicine.

Mingyang Song, M.D., Sc.D., of… read more

Mystery radio signal may be from distant star system — or a military transmitter

August 29, 2016

RATAN-600 radio telescope (credit:

A star system 94 light-years away known as HD 164595 is a possible candidate for intelligent life, based on an announcement by an international team of researchers.

On May 15, 2015, Russian astronomers picked up a radio signal on the RATAN-600 radio telescope in Russia “in the direction of HD164595,” an international group of astronomers stated in a document* now being circulated through contact person Alexander Panov,… read more

Computer modeling: brain in a box

February 23, 2012

Neocortical column (credit: EPFL)

Henry Markram’s controversial proposal for the Human Brain Project (HBP) — an effort to build a supercomputer simulation that integrates everything known about the human brain, from the structures of ion channels in neural cell membranes up to mechanisms behind conscious decision-making — may soon fulfill his ambition.

The project is one of six finalists vying to win €1 billion (US$1.3 billion) as one of the European Union’s two new… read more

The drone threat — in the US

March 27, 2012


Drone proliferation raises an issue that has received too little attention: the threat that they could be used to carry out terrorist attacks.

President Obama signed a sweeping aviation bill in February that will open American airspace to “unmanned aircraft systems,” a.k.a.  drones.

The technology exists to build drones that fit into a backpack and are equipped with a video camera and a warhead so they can be… read more

Sequencing the Connectome

Genetic barcoding to trace the brain's wiring down to the neuron level
October 25, 2012

DNA barcode

A team of neuroscientists led by Professor Anthony Zador, Ph.D., of Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory have proposed a revolutionary new way to create a connectivity map (“connectome”) of the whole brain of the mouse at the resolution of single neurons: high-throughput DNA sequencing.

The only current method for obtaining the connectome with high precision relies on laboriously examining individual cell-to-cell contacts (synapses) in electron microscopes, which is slow, expensive… read more

‘Mind-Control’ gaming devices leak users’ secrets

August 22, 2012

A sequence of credit cards is presented to the user. Her brainwaves from an EEG device (EPOC from Emotiv Systems in this case) are monitored by a computer.

In a study of 28 subjects wearing brain-machine interface devices built by companies like Neurosky and Emotiv and marketed to consumers for gaming and attention exercises, researchers found they were able to extract hints directly from the electrical signals of the test subjects’ brains that partially revealed private information, like the location of their homes, faces they recognized and even their credit card PINs, Forbes reports.

In… read more

Rollable, foldable e-devices coming

November 2, 2012


What if a tablet screen were a paper-thin plastic that rolled like a window shade?

University of Cincinnati researchers have now announced experiment verification that such “electrofluidic imaging film” works. The breakthrough is a white, porous film coated with a thin layer of reflective electrodes and spacers that are then subjected to unique and sophisticated fluid mechanics in order to electrically transport the colored ink and clear-oil… read more

Stay cool and live longer?

Scientists have known for nearly a century that cold-blooded animals, such as worms, flies and fish all live longer in cold environments, but have not known exactly why
February 20, 2013

C. elegans nematode worm (credit: The Goldstein Lab)

Researchers at the University of Michigan Life Sciences Institute have identified a genetic program that promotes longevity of roundworms (nematodes) in cold environments — and this genetic program also exists in warm-blooded animals, including humans.

“This raises the intriguing possibility that exposure to cold air — or pharmacological stimulation of the cold-sensitive genetic program — may promote longevity in mammals,” said… read more

First biological signature of a supernova

May 10, 2013


Researchers at the Technical University of Munich have found a radioactive iron isotope in bacteria microfossils.that they trace back to a supernova in our cosmic neighborhood.

This is the first proven biological signature of a starburst on our earth. The age determination of the deep-drill core from the Pacific Ocean showed that the supernova explosion must have occurred about 2.2 million years ago, roughly around the… read more

Will Google sell ‘pay-per-gaze’ advertising with Google Glass?

August 21, 2013


Google has been granted a patent that appears to reveal some far-reaching plans for the eye-tracking sensor that exists — but currently isn’t formally used — on Google Glass, Marketing Land suggests.

In the patent, Google is calling it “pay-per-gaze” advertising, and it involves charging advertisers if the user looks at an ad — online or offline — while wearing a Glass-like device.

The… read more

Cool or fool? Which of these news stories are fake?

April 1, 2012


OK, we admit it may not always be obvious, but KurzweilAI does not make up its news items. Really. Well … except this time. Your mission: figure out which of these stories are fake or real. (No fair Googling, or clicking “REVEAL” until you answer in Comments below!) — Ed.

1. Bonobos to communicate with humans via robots and the Internet 

Using large touchscreen… read more

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