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West Antarctic Ice Sheet collapse is underway

May 13, 2014


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

Is this the future of augmented reality?

March 22, 2015

Magic Leap vid pic

Augmented reality start-up Magic Leap has released a mind-boggling video that dramatically dissolves the boundary between real and virtual. In the video, we look from the user’s POV as he manipulates virtual objects — such as a monitor playing a YouTube video and a rolodex — in the air with his fingers, Minority Report-style. He then picks up a real toy ray gun and plays a shooter video… read more

‘We should stop designing perfect circuits’

October 8, 2013

Computer chips (credit: iStockphoto)

Christian Enz, head of the EPFL Integrated Circuits Laboratory (ICLAB), says we should build future devices with unreliable circuits, and adopt the “good enough engineering” trend to reduce energy consumption and continue to reduce transistor size.

The problem: We are beginning to hit a wall on miniaturization. As transistors get smaller, they produce more mistakes, so hardware must be added and performance must be decreased, which… read more

One million metric tons of CO2 stored underground in Illinois

Goal is to help slow global warming trends
January 12, 2015

Carbon storage concept (credit: U.S. Department of Energy)

One of the largest carbon sequestration projects in the U.S., the Illinois Basin – Decatur Project (IBDP), has reached its goal of capturing 1 million metric tons of carbon dioxide (CO2) and injecting it deep underground in the Mount Simon Sandstone formation beneath Decatur, Illinois, a Deep Saline reservoir.

For context, three million tons are emitted annually from a typical medium-sized, coal-fired power plant.… read more

A computational algorithm for fact-checking

Yet another "computers can't..." myth busted
June 19, 2015

truth scores-ft

Computers can now do fact-checking for any body of knowledge, according to Indiana University network scientists, writing in an open-access paper published June 17 in PLoS ONE.

Using factual information from summary infoboxes from Wikipedia* as a source, they built a “knowledge graph” with 3 million concepts and 23 million links between them. A link between two concepts in the graph can be read as a… read more

How do you feed 9 billion people?

June 11, 2013

(credit: Michigan State University)

An international team of scientists has developed crop models to better forecast food production to feed a growing population — projected to reach 9 billion by mid-century — in the face of climate change.

In a paper appearing in Nature Climate Change, Members  of the Agricultural Model Intercomparison and Improvement Project unveiled an all-encompassing modeling system that integrates multiple crop simulations with improved climate change models.

AgMIP’s… read more

A new process for producing synthetic gasoline based on carbon nanofibers

December 4, 2013

carbon nanofibers featured

A chemical system developed by researchers at the University of Illinois at Chicago can efficiently perform the first step in the process of creating synthetic gasoline (syngas) and other energy-rich products out of carbon dioxide.

The key to the new process is a novel “co-catalyst” system using inexpensive, easy-to-fabricate carbon-based nanofiber materials that efficiently convert carbon dioxide to carbon monoxide, a useful starting material for synthesizing fuels. The… read more

Rejuvenating blood by reprogramming stem cells

March 27, 2013


Lund University researchers have succeeded in rejuvenating the blood of mice by reversing, or reprogramming, the stem cells that produce blood.

Stem cells form the origin of all the cells in the body and can divide an unlimited number of times. When stem cells divide, one cell remains a stem cell and the other matures into the type of cell needed by the body, for example a blood… read more

Houston, we have liftoff: HumanBirdWings guy finally enjoys the miracle of human flight UPDATE

March 21, 2012


Jarno Smeets, famous for his HumanBirdWings project, may just have made semi-self-propelled aeronautical history, flying over 100 meters on his self-built wings. His inspiration: the albatross.

UPDATE: The ‘birdman’ is FAKE

If this video doesn’t inspire you, nothing will. — Ed. 

Drive wearing Glass, get a ticket

... and Glass updates
October 31, 2013


In a possible first, Cecilia Abadie received a traffic ticket Tuesday for wearing Google Glass while driving in San Diego, she noted on Google+:

According to CNN, the California law cited in Abadie’s case, V C 27602, prohibits televisions and similar monitors from being turned on and facing the driver. “There are exceptions for GPS and mapping tools and… read more

Stanford bioengineers close to brewing opioid painkillers

A decade-long effort in genetic engineering is close to re-programming yeast cells to make palliative medicines
August 27, 2014

tanford Bioengineer Christina Smolke has been on a decade-long quest to genetically alter yeast so they can "brew" opioid medicines in stainless steel vats, eliminating the need to raise poppies and then industrially refine derivatives of opium into pain pills. (Credit: Poppy image created by Rachel Sakai)

Stanford bioengineers have hacked the DNA of yeast, reprograming these simple cells to make opioid-based medicines* via a sophisticated extension of the basic brewing process that makes beer.

Led by Associate Professor of Bioengineering Christina Smolke, the Stanford team has already spent a decade genetically engineering yeast cells to reproduce the biochemistry of poppies, with the ultimate goal of producing opium-based medicines, from start to… read more

Sri Lanka to be first country in the world with universal Internet access

July 29, 2015

(credit: Google)

Sri Lanka may soon become the first country in the world to have universal Internet access. On July 28, the government of Sri Lanka signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Google to launch Project Loon, according to Sri Lanka Internet newspaper ColumboPage.

Google is providing high-altitude balloons, using the standard telco high-speed 4G LTE protocol, according to Project Loon project lead Mike Cassidy, in a… read more

2 billion jobs to disappear by 2030

February 6, 2012


Futurist Thomas Frey predicts that over 2 billion jobs will disappear by 2030, roughly 50% of all the jobs on the planet.

Industries that will go away (with some news jobs created):

  • The power industry (micro grids)
  • Automobile transportation (going driverless)
  • Education (OpenCourseware replacing teachers)
  • Manufacturing (3D printers and bots taking over).


Evidence that dendrites actively process information in the brain

The brain's theoretical information processing power has just been multiplied
October 29, 2013

This is a dendrite in a single neuron in the brain. The bright object from the top is a pipette attached to a dendrite in the brain of a mouse. The pipette allows researchers to measure electrical activity, such as a dendritic spike.

University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill researchers have discovered that dendrites do more than passively relay information from one neuron to the next — they actively process information, according to  Spencer Smith, PhD, an assistant professor in the UNC School of Medicine.

Axons are where neurons conventionally generate electrical spikes, but many of the same molecules that support axonal electrical spikes (firing) are also present… read more

Will robot pets replace the real thing?

May 20, 2015

Sony - A2

University of Melbourne animal welfare researcher Jean-Loup Rault, PhD says pets will soon become a luxury in an overpopulated, high-density world and the future may lie in robot pets that mimic the real thing.

“It might sound surreal for us to have robotic or virtual pets, but it could be totally normal for the next generation,” Rault said. “If 10 billion human beings live on the… read more

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