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Break gridlock on global challenges or risk an unstable future, says report

October 28, 2013

now_for_the_long_term

The Oxford Martin Commission for Future Generations has launched a report, Now for the Long Term, on the successes and failures in addressing global challenges over recent decades.

Published by the Oxford Martin School at Oxford University, the report calls for a radical shake-up in politics and business to deliver progress on climate change, reduce economic inequality, improve corporate practices, and address the chronic… read more

Robots designed to assist people with disabilities, aid doctors

Robots enhance mobility for visually and physically impaired, improve treatment for atrial fibrillation
October 28, 2013

Cane with description_nih

Three projects have been awarded funding by the National Institutes of Health to develop innovative robots that work cooperatively with people and adapt to changing environments to improve human capabilities and enhance medical procedures. Funding for these projects totals approximately $2.4 million over the next five years, subject to the availability of funds.

The awards mark the second year of NIH’s participation in the National… read more

Vicarious AI breaks CAPTCHA ‘Turing test’

October 28, 2013

CAPTCHA - featured

Vicarious, a startup developing artificial intelligence software, today announced that its algorithms can now reliably solve modern CAPTCHAs (Completely Automated Public Turing tests to tell Computers and Humans Apart).

Stanford University researchers have suggested that a CAPTCHA scheme (which are used by websites to verify that a visitor is human by asking them to transcribe a string of distorted letters) should be considered “broken” if an algorithm… read more

Here’s how to best secure your data now that the NSA can crack almost any encryption

October 27, 2013

NSA

The latest Snowden-supplied bombshell shook the technology world to its core on Thursday: The NSA can crack many of the encryption technologies in place today, PC World reports — a day after Pew reported that 90 percent of Internet users have taken steps to avoid surveillance in some way.

PC World recommends several open-source encryption tools, such as… read more

‘Stop watching us’ rally protests surveillance

October 25, 2013

stop_watching_us

On October 26th, the 12th anniversary of the signing of the USA Patriot Act, StopWatching.us — a coalition of more than 100 public advocacy organizations and companies from across the political spectrum — is holding the largest rally yet against NSA surveillance.

According to StopWatching.us:
The revelations about the National Security Agency’s surveillance apparatus, if true, represent a stunning abuse of our basic rights. We demand the… read more

3D-printing non-toxic biocompatible medical implants

October 25, 2013

scaffold_for_tissue_engineering

A common vitamin — riboflavin (vitamin B2) — has made it possible to 3D-print non-toxic medical implants, researchers from North Carolina State University, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and Laser Zentrum Hannover have discovered.

“This opens the door to a much wider range of biocompatible implant materials, which can be used to develop customized implant designs using 3-D printing technology,” says Dr.… read more

Hydrogel implant enables light-based communication with cells inside the body

October 25, 2013

Hydrogel implant

Researchers at the Wellman Center for Photomedicine at Massachusetts General Hospital have developed a way to deliver a light signal to specific tissues deep within the body for sensing or treatment.

The use of light to communicate with cells has previously been restricted by its limited ability to pass through tissues, especially the skin.

Called a light-guiding hydrogel, the implant is constructed from a polymer-based scaffolding capable of… read more

NASA laser communication system sets record with data transmissions to and from Moon

October 25, 2013

OpticalModule

NASA‘s Lunar Laser Communication Demonstration (LLCD) has made history using a pulsed laser beam to transmit data over the 239,000 miles between the moon and Earth at a record-breaking download rate of 622 megabits per second (Mbps).

LLCD is NASA’s first system for two-way communication using a laser instead of radio waves. It also has demonstrated an error-free data upload rate… read more

Neuroscientists find cortical columns in brain not uniform, challenging large-scale simulation models

October 25, 2013

Cell type-specific 3D reconstruction of five neighboring barrel columns in rat vibrissal cortex (credit: Marcel Oberlaender et al.)

Despite a long-held scientific belief that cortex is built up by repeatedly occurring elementary units called cortical columns, a new study by neuroscientists has found that the structure of the brain’s cortical columns can largely deviate within individual animals, and even within a specific cortical area.

The study also found that these structural differences are not arbitrary, but reflect organizational and functional properties of the… read more

Technology mimics the brushstrokes of masters

October 24, 2013

New technology in 3-D printing has reached the art world. The race is on to produce high-quality 3-D reproductions of masterpieces by such artists as Rembrandt and Vincent van Gogh, The New York Times reports.

This year the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam teamed up with Fujifilm in Japan to produce the first fully color-corrected three-dimensional copies of some of van… read more

A billion-year storage medium that could outlive the human race

... and a holographic coding system using a graphene oxide substrate to protect data from physical damage
October 24, 2013

A QR code etched in tungsten (Credit: University of Twente)

Researcher Dr. Jeroen de Vries from the University of Twente MESA+ Institute for Nanotechnology suggests we could store data for one million to one billion years, using a new storage medium based on tungsten and graphene oxide.

He imagines two possible scenarios:

  • Disaster has devastated the earth and society must rebuild the world
  • We need to create a legacy for

read more

Most distant galaxy discovered: 30 billion light years away

October 24, 2013

Galaxy_Large_Tilvi

The most distant spectroscopically confirmed galaxy ever found — one created at about 700 million years after the Big Bang — has been detected by astronomers at Texas A&M University and the University of Texas at Austin

“It’s exciting to know we’re the first people in the world to see this,” said Vithal Tilvi, a Texas A&M postdoctoral research associate and… read more

Radical genome recoding

First-ever entirely genomically reprogrammed organism
October 24, 2013

ChurchRecodingEColi360

In two parallel projects by Harvard’s Wyss Institute, researchers have created new genomes inside the bacterium E. coli in ways that test the limits of genetic reprogramming and open new possibilities for increasing flexibility, productivity. and safety in biotechnology.

The work was led by Dr. George Church, Robert Winthrop Professor of Genetics at Harvard Medical School and founding core faculty member at the Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering.… read more

Google entangles Minecraft with quantum physics

October 23, 2013

qcraft_google

Thanks to Google, Minecraft players can now toy with quantum teleportation and Einstein’s “spooky action at a distance,” MIT Technology Review reports.

One reason for the popularity of the video game Minecraft is the way its blocky universe faithfully adheres to the physics of the real one. Google has now released a software package that introduces quantum physics to the game, an area of… read more

Nanoparticles deliever ‘one-two punch’ to disable tumors’ defenses

October 23, 2013

nanoparticle with anticancer drug-featured

An aggressive form of breast cancer known as “triple negative” is very difficult to treat: Chemotherapy can shrink such tumors for a while, but in many patients they grow back and gain resistance to the original drugs.

MIT chemical engineers have designed nanoparticles that carry the cancer drug doxorubicin, as well as short strands of RNA that can shut off one of the genes that cancer cells… read more

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