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First biological signature of a supernova

May 10, 2013

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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

Rollable, foldable e-devices coming

November 2, 2012

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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

An information-processing approach to the origin of life

New perspective would allow for living systems instantiated in different chemical substrates --- including potentially non-organic substrates
December 17, 2012

Is life based on software and information? (Plants in the Rwenzori Mountains, Uganda; credit: Wikimedia Commons)

A novel approach to the question of life’s origin, proposed by two Arizona State University scientists — Paul Davies, an ASU Regents’ Professor and director of the Beyond Center for Fundamental Concepts in Science, and Sara Walker, a NASA post-doctoral fellow at the Beyond Center — in an open-access Journal of the Royal Society Interface paper, attempts to dramatically redefine the problem.

The authors shift… read more

Beam yourself to work in a remote-controlled body

September 26, 2012

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To make it more practical for engineers and others living in cheaper places to telecommute to work, Suitable Technologies (a Willow Garage spinoff) has developed a roving telepresence system that is more practical and less awkward to use than previous systems, says founder Scott Hassan, Technology Review reports.

The $16,000 Beam Remote Presence telepresence system, now available, can save on the expense and time of long-haul travel and allows remote workers to be… read more

Can computers understand art?

Another “only humans can…” belief has just been shattered
September 27, 2012

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Computer scientists Computer scientists Lior Shamir and Jane Tarakhovsky of Lawrence Technological University in Michigan have developed a program that analyzes paintings in a manner similar to how expert art historians perform their analysis, and conducted an  experiment that showed that machines can outperform untrained humans in the analysis of fine art.

In the experiment, the researchers used approximately 1, 000 paintings of 34 well-known artists, and let the computer… read more

Recording and replaying human touch: the next user-interface revolution?

September 9, 2013

haptic output

University of California, San Diego researchers have demonstrated a new user interface technology: electronic recording and replay of human touch.

“Touch was largely bypassed by the digital revolution, except for touch-screen displays, because it seemed too difficult to replicate what analog haptic [touch] devices can produce,” said Deli Wang, a professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering (ECE) in UC San Diego’s… 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

The future of medicine is now

December 31, 2012

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Six medical innovations are poised to transform the way we fight disease, The Wall Street Journal reports.

  • Surgeons at Boston Children’s Hospital have developed a way to help children born with half a heart to essentially grow a whole one — by marshaling the body’s natural capacity to heal and develop.
  • Oxford Nanopore Technologies has unveiled the first of a generation of tiny DNA sequencing devices that

read more

Ford predicts self-driving, traffic-reducing cars by 2017

July 4, 2012

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According to Ford, the self-driving car will be here within five years, using technologies available today.

The technology concept, known as Traffic Jam Assist, uses adaptive cruise control, lane keep assist, and the sensors from its active park assist.

While driver safety is the primary benefit, the environment wins as well. If one in four cars has Traffic Jam Assist or similar self-driving technologies, travel times are reduced… read more

National Ignition Facility makes history with record 500 terawatt shot

July 18, 2012

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Fifteen years of work by the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory‘s National Ignition Facility (NIF) team paid off on July 5 with a historic record-breaking laser shot. The NIF laser system of 192 beams delivered more than 500 trillion watts (terawatts or TW) of peak power and 1.85 megajoules (MJ) of ultraviolet laser light to its target.

Five hundred terawatts is 1,000 times more power than… read more

Single-molecule motor sits on a single-atom ball bearing

Can be run forward or in reverse, depending on where electrons are injected
December 31, 2012

The base of the device holds a Ru atom, and the five-armed device can rotate on top of it (credit:

Researchers have created a reversible rotor that sits atop a ball bearing — a single ruthenium atom, Ars Technica reports.

The base of the system involves a boron atom that coordinates three ringed structures that are chemically similar to the bases of DNA. Nitrogens at a corner of these ringed structures coordinate the ruthenium atom, placing it at the peak of a three-sided pyramid.

The ruthenium atom acts… read more

Obama to unveil specifics of Brain Activity Map project

April 2, 2013

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President Obama on Tuesday will announce specifics on the Brain Activity Map project Tuesday, The New York Times reports. The initiative, which will officially be known as Brain Research Through Advancing Innovative Neurotechnologies, or Brain for short, has been designated a grand challenge of the 21st century by the Obama administration.

The broad new research initiative, starting with $100 million in 2014, is intended to invent and… read more

Google’s smart contact lens project could allow diabetics to track glucose levels automatically

January 17, 2014

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To help people with diabetes as they try to keep their blood sugar levels under control, Google is testing a smart contact lens designed to measure glucose levels in tears.

It uses a tiny wireless chip and miniaturized glucose sensor that are embedded between two layers of soft contact lens material, according to Google Official Blog.

People with diabetes must still prick their finger and test… read more

Humanoid robot learns language like a baby [updated 6/15/2012]

Uncanny valley warning: video with slightly creepy talking robot baby
June 14, 2012

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With the help of human instructors, a robot has learned to talk like a human infant, learning the names of simple shapes and colors, reports Wired Science.

“Our work focuses on early stages analogous to some characteristics of a human child of about 6 to 14 months, the transition from babbling to first word forms,” wrote computer scientists led by Caroline Lyon of the University of Hertfordshire.… read more

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