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How terahertz laser scanners will spy on you in airports

July 12, 2012

Genia

Genia Photonics has developed a programmable picosecond laser that is capable of spotting trace amounts of a variety of substances, including explosives, chemical agents, and hazardous biological substances at up to 50 meters.

It’s basically a spectrometer for radiation in the terahertz band. The beam used by Genia’s spectrometer is capable of penetrating most materials including wood, leather, cloth, ceramics, plastic, and paper, and can essentially… read more

Mapping brain circuits for specific functions

New way to image brain-cell activity could shed light on psychiatric disorders
October 19, 2012

MIT neuroscientists used calcium imaging to label these pyramidal cells in the brain (credit: Qian Chen/MIT)

A team led by MIT neuroscientists has developed a way to monitor how brain cells coordinate with each other to control specific behaviors, such as initiating movement or detecting an odor.

The researchers’ new imaging technique, based on the detection of calcium ions in neurons, could help them map the brain circuits that perform such functions.

It could also provide new insights into the… read more

First human brain-to-brain interface

August 28, 2013

uw_brain2brain_interface_1

University of Washington researchers have performed what they believe is the first noninvasive human-to-human brain interface, with one researcher able to send a brain signal via the Internet to control the hand motions of a fellow researcher.

Using electrical brain recordings and a form of magnetic stimulation, Rajesh Rao sent a brain signal to Andrea Stocco on the other… read more

Finding ET may require giant robotic leap

April 24, 2012

NGC Galaxy

Autonomous, self-replicating robots — exobots — are the way to explore the universe, find and identify extraterrestrial life and perhaps clean up space debris in the process, according to John D. Mathews, professor of electrical engineering at Penn State.

“The basic premise is that human space exploration must be highly efficient, cost effective, and autonomous as placing humans beyond low Earth orbit is fraught with political… read more

Brain-boosting technique might help some functions while hurting others

March 6, 2013

transcranial_stimulation

Electrically stimulating the brain may enhance memory, but impede a person’s ability to react without thinking, MIT Technology Review reports.

Using a noninvasive technique called transcranial electrical stimulation (TES) to stimulate the brain, researchers found they could enhance learning when they targeted a certain spot.

But that also made people worse at automaticity, or the ability to perform a task without really thinking about it. Stimulating another… read more

A low-cost water splitter that runs on an ordinary AAA battery

Could allow for true zero-emissions fuel-cell vehicles and save hydrogen producers billions of dollars in electricity costs
August 22, 2014

Stanford scientists have developed a low-cost device that uses an ordinary AAA battery to split water into oxygen and hydrogen gas. Gas bubbles are produced by electrodes made of inexpensive nickel and iron.

A cheap, emissions-free device that uses a 1.5-volt AAA battery to split water into hydrogen and oxygen by electrolysis has been developed by scientists at Stanford University.

Unlike other water splitters that use precious-metal catalysts, the electrodes in the Stanford device are made of inexpensive, abundant nickel and iron.

“This is the first time anyone has used non-precious metal catalysts to split water at a voltage… read more

iRobot files patent application for autonomous all-in-one 3D printing, milling, drilling and finishing robot

January 28, 2013

irobot_patent

Well, just when you thought 3D printing was finally putting you back in charge of creating your own stuff, along comes iRobot Corporation with a U.S. patent application for a “Robotic Fabricator.”

It’s conceived as a completely autonomous all-in-one product fabrication robot that handles manufacturing (including 3D printing) and all the post-printing work, from seed component to mature product, 3Ders reports.

A… read more

New solar structure cools buildings in full sunlight, replacing air conditioners

Homes and buildings chilled without air conditioners? Car interiors that don't heat up in the summer sun? Tapping the frigid expanses of outer space to cool the planet? Yes.
March 29, 2013

sunlight_building

Stanford University researchers have designed an entirely new form of cooling structure that cools even when the sun is shining, eliminating the need for air conditioning.

Such a structure could vastly improve the daylight cooling of buildings, cars, and other structures by reflecting sunlight back into space.

“We’ve developed a new type of structure that reflects the vast majority of sunlight, while at the same… read more

California passes driverless car bill

September 1, 2012

(Credit: iStockphoto)

Catching up with Nevada, it will be legal for autonomous cars to drive in California, probably within the next five years, if Gov. Brown signs SB 1298, just passed by the California Senate, the San Jose Mercury reports.

The bill charges the DMV by January 2015 with determining standards for vehicles and rules.

Automakers would have to get their vehicles approved by the state, and then licensed… read more

Tablets + cloud vs. desktop PCs

March 5, 2012

Windows on an iPad? Believe it. (Credit: Onlive)

As the action moves to tablets, mobile devices, and the cloud, what’s the future for the desktop PC?

Dim, according to OnLive, Inc., which has just introduced Onlive Desktop Plus, which displays a Windows 7 desktop on an iPad, with the full, latest versions of Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Internet Explorer, Adobe Reader, and Flash videos, plus 5 GB of cloud storage.

The trick:a high-speed server farm in the cloud… read more

World’s first green piglets born in China, sheep next

December 30, 2013

glowing_piglets

In Guangdong Province in Southern China, ten transgenic piglets have been born this year, in  and under a black light, they glow a greenish tint.

A technique developed by reproductive scientists from the University of Hawai`i at Mānoa’s John A. Burns School of Medicine was used to quadruple the success rate at which plasmids carrying a fluorescent protein from jellyfish DNA were transferred into the… read more

Cloning quantum information from the past

January 8, 2014

In the film "Looper," time travel is invented by the year 2074 and, though immediately outlawed, is used by criminal organizations to send those they want killed into the past where they are killed by "loopers." (Credit: TriStar Pictures)

It is theoretically possible for time travelers to copy quantum data from the past, according to three scientists in a recent paper in Physical Review Letters.

It all started when David Deutsch, a pioneer of quantum computing and a physicist at Oxford, came up with a simplified model of time travel to deal with the Grandfather paradox*.  He solved the paradox originally using a slight change to quantum theory,… read more

Researchers use light to coax stem cells to regenerate teeth

Low-level light therapy confirmed
May 29, 2014

tooth regeneration

A Harvard-led team is the first to demonstrate the ability to use low-power light to trigger stem cells inside the body to regenerate tissue.

The research, reported in Science Translational Medicine and led by Wyss Institute Core Faculty member David Mooney, Ph.D., lays the foundation for a host of clinical applications in restorative dentistry and regenerative medicine more broadly, such as wound healing, bone regeneration, and more.… read more

Bitcoin price soars above $9 for the first time in almost a year

July 19, 2012

bitcoinaccepted

The price of Bitcoins surged this week, rising above $9 for the first time in almost a year, Ars Technica reports. The increase suggests growing public interest in the peer-to-peer cryptocurrency.

Vices like pornography and gambling continue to be a significant factor in the currency’s value.

But other new uses for the currency continue to pop up. Coinbase, a startup aiming to… read more

Wind could meet many times the world’s total power demand by 2030, Stanford reseachers say

September 11, 2012

wind farms

Researchers at Stanford University’s School of Engineering and the University of Delaware have used what they call the “most sophisticated weather model available” to  meet many times the world’s total power demand by 2030 — in fact, enough to exceed the total demand by several times, even after accounting for reductions in wind speed caused by turbines.

In related news today, Lawrence Livermore and Carnegie Institute researchers have found… read more

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