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We can survive killer asteroids — but it won’t be easy

April 4, 2012

(Credit: Don Davis)

More than a thousand known asteroids are classed as “potentially hazardous,” based on size and trajectory, says astronomer Neil deGrasse Tyson in Wired Science.

Currently, it looks doable to develop an early-warning and defense system that could protect the human species from impactors larger than a kilometer wide. … Smaller ones, which reflect much less light and are therefore much harder to detect at great distances, carry enough energy to incinerate entire… read more

We can feed 9 billion people in 2050

January 12, 2011

The 9 billion people projected to inhabit the Earth by 2050 need not starve in order to preserve the environment, says a major report on sustainability out this week based on a huge five-year modeling exercise by the French national agricultural and development research agencies, INRA andCIRAD.

We Are the Web

August 3, 2005

The Web, a planet-sized computer, is comparable in complexity to a human brain. Both the brain and the Web have hundreds of billions of neurons (or Web pages). Each biological neuron sprouts synaptic links to thousands of other neurons, while each Web page branches into dozens of hyperlinks.

That adds up to a trillion “synapses” between the static pages on the Web. The human brain has about 100 times… read more

We are now one year away from global riots, complex systems theorists say

September 11, 2012

Riots

What’s the number one reason we riot? Hunger — food becoming too scarce or too expensive. So argues a group of complex systems theorists in Cambridge, and it makes sense, Motherboard reports.

In a 2011 paper, researchers at the Complex Systems Institute (CSI) unveiled a model that accurately explained why the waves of unrest that swept the world in 2008 and 2011 crashed when they… read more

We Are All Mutants: Measurement Of Mutation Rate In Humans By Direct Sequencing

September 3, 2009

We all carry 100-200 new mutations in our DNA, according to researchers from The Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute/

‘Wavelength disk drive’ speeds distributed computing

June 12, 2001

The “wavelength disk drive” could make interactions between computers up to 20 times faster, expanding the scope of distributed computing.

Exchanged data is stored in wavelengths of light circling in a fiber-optic network. Computers on the network can perform calculations and “write” the data to an assigned wavelength. They then “read” other processors’ results from the light stream, repeating the process until the calculation is done.

Wave-particle duality visualized in quantum movie

March 27, 2012

interference pattern

An international team of scientists has shot a video that shows the build-up of a matter-wave interference pattern from single dye molecules. The pattern is so large (up to 0.1 mm), it can been seen with a video camera.

The video visualizes the dualities of particle and wave, randomness and determinism, and locality and delocalization in an intuitive way.

Physicist Richard Feynman once claimed that… read more

Watson’s new job: IBM salesman

February 8, 2012

IBMWatson

IBM’s Watson is having its biggest impact by pulling in new customers for existing business products as IBM persuades them to organize their data into formats that an AI like Watson can better understand.

IBM has created a slogan, “Ready for Watson,” to help sell its products that way.

At the heart of Watson is a system known as DeepQA. This is not yet for sale,… read more

Watson vs Venter: the loser is race-based medicine

August 21, 2008

A new comparison of the publicly available genome sequences of James Watson and Craig Venter indicates that skin color doesn’t necessarily tell you much about the rest of their genome or how they’ll respond to drugs or which drugs they’ll respond to, says Venter.

But the availability of cheap genetic testing — and soon complete individual genome sequencing — means that such personalized information will become increasingly important in… read more

Watson provides cancer treatment options to doctors in seconds

February 11, 2013

ibm_watson_medical

IBM and Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center unveiled Friday the first commercially developed Watson-based cognitive computing breakthroughs.

These innovations stand alone to help transform the quality and speed of care delivered to patients through individualized, evidence based medicine, says IBM.

For more than a year, IBM has partnered separately with WellPoint and Memorial Sloan-Kettering to… read more

Watson beats humans on ‘Jeopardy!’ with a total prize of $1 million

February 15, 2011

jeopardytfv

The Watson IBM supercomputer finished the third round of the TV show “Jeopardy!” on Wednesday night as winner, with a cumulative total of $77,147, compared with $24,000 for Ken Jennings and $21,600 for Brad Rutter. Watson won a total prize of $1 million; Jennings and Rutter got $300,000 and $200,000 respectively.

News reports

Waterproof Lithium-Air Batteries

June 26, 2009

Lightweight, high-energy batteries that can use the surrounding air as a cathode are being developed by PolyPlus.

Waterloo researchers create ‘world’s largest functioning model of the brain’

November 30, 2012

Serial working memory task (from movie)

A team of researchers from the University of Waterloo have built what the claim is the world’s largest simulation of a functioning brain.

The purpose is to help scientists understand how the complex activity of the brain gives rise to the complex behavior exhibited by animals, including humans.

The model is called Spaun (Semantic Pointer Architecture Unified Network). It consists of 2.5… read more

Water, water everywhere, and now it’s safe to drink

September 24, 2008

A $30 test that takes just half an hour has been developed at Australia’s Environmental Biotechnology Cooperative Research Centre.

Water on the moon: it’s been there all along

February 21, 2013

Traces of water have been detected within the crystalline structure of mineral samples from the lunar highland upper crust obtained during the Apollo missions, according to a University of Michigan researcher and his colleagues.

The lunar highlands are thought to represent the original crust, crystallized from a magma ocean on a mostly molten early moon. The new findings indicate that the early moon was wet and that water there… read more

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