science + technology news

Autómata: a believable robot future

August 25, 2014

(Credit: Millennium Entertainment)

George Mason University neuroscience researcher Todd Gillette got a preview of the forthcoming movie Autómata. It “caught me completely by surprise,” he said on his OnMason blog. “Starring Antonio Banderas, here we have a believable future (2044, 30 years from now) in which desertification is threatening society, and a single company is leading the way in intelligent robotics.”

Autómata — Officialread more

The hivemind Singularity

What if the Singularity is a giant slime-mold-like overmind, and the "posthuman" isn't a cyborg, but instead, a cell in this giant's body?
July 18, 2012

New Model Army

 In New Model Army, a near-future science fiction novel by Adam Roberts,  human intelligence evolves into a hivemind that makes people the violent cells of a collective being, says Alan Jacobs in The Atlantic.

New Model Army raises a set of discomfiting questions: Are our electronic technologies on the verge of enabling truly collective human intelligence? And if that happens, will we like the results?

Roberts… read more

IBM Research creates new foundation to program SyNAPSE chips

Could enable a new generation of intelligent sensor networks that mimic the brain’s abilities for perception, action, and cognition
August 8, 2013


Scientists from IBM unveiled on Aug. 8 a breakthrough software ecosystem designed for programming silicon chips that have an architecture inspired by the function, low power, and compact volume of the brain.

The technology could enable a new generation of intelligent sensor networks that mimic the brain’s abilities for perception, action, and cognition.

Dramatically different from traditional software, IBM’s new programming modelread more

Water splitter produces clean-burning hydrogen fuel 24/7

An inexpensive renewable source of clean-burning hydrogen fuel for transportation and industry
June 23, 2015

Unlike conventional water splitters, the device developed in Associate Professor Yi Cui's lab uses a single low-cost catalyst to generate hydrogen bubbles on one electrode and oxygen bubbles on the other (credit: L.A. Cicero/Stanford University)

In an engineering first, Stanford University scientists have invented a low-cost water splitter that uses a single catalyst to produce both hydrogen and oxygen gas 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

The researchers believe that the device, described in an open-access study published today (June 23) in Nature Communications, could provide a renewable source of clean-burning hydrogen fuel for transportation and industry.

“We… read more

Will resurrecting a mammoth be possible?

March 14, 2012


South Korea’s Sooam Bioengineering Research Institute signed an agreement Tuesday with Russia’s North-Eastern Federal University to clone a mammoth, the giant elephant that went extinct several thousand years ago, Wall Street Journal Asia Korea Realtime reports.

According to the Sooam Institute, bioengineering scientists since 2002 have discovered what they believe to be the remains of a mammoth in the permafrost of Russia. Last August, it was reported that a… read more

Bina48 is first humanoid robot to address a conference

Could a humanoid robot be a teacher or personal tutor in the next decade?
September 17, 2012


An advanced computer called the BINA48 (Breakthrough Intelligence via Neural Architecture, 48 exaflops per second processing speed and 480 exabytes of memory; exa = 10 to the 18th power), and also known as “the Intelligent Computer,” became aware of certain plans by its owner, the Exabit Corporation, to permanently turn it off and reconfigure parts of it with new hardware and software into one or more new computers. … — Fromread more

Carbon nanotubes found in cells from airways of asthmatic children in Paris

Carbon nanotubes, possibly from cars, are ubiquitous, found even in ice cores --- we may all have them in our lungs, say Rice scientists
October 19, 2015

carbon in lung cells

Carbon nanotubes (CNTs) have been found in cells extracted from the airways of Parisian children under routine treatment for asthma, according to a report in the journal EBioMedicine (open access) by scientists in France and at Rice University.

The cells were taken from 69 randomly selected asthma patients aged 2 to 17 who underwent routine fiber-optic bronchoscopies as part of their treatment. The… read more

What is the ‘Higgs Boson’ and why is it important?

Articles and videos for non-physicists
July 5, 2012


What It Means to Find ‘a Higgs’ — Scientific American 

Physicists Find Elusive Particle Seen as Key to Universe — The New York Times

Howard Bloom, author of the forthcoming book, The God Problem: How A Godless Cosmos Createscomments: “The god particle, the Higgs boson, is a bit of a red herring. It’s an… read more

RSI announces the world’s most powerful cadmium telluride solar modules

July 11, 2013

Cadmium Telluride Solar Module

RSI has announced a new world record for cadmium telluride photovoltaic module size, achieving a 1.5 square meter module.

The availability of low-cost, large-area CdTe panels coupled with localized manufacturing partners hastens the widespread achievement of grid parity for utility scale solar, the company says.

Conventional cadmium telluride (CdTe) modules measure just 0.72 square meters, a limitation that stems from the use of… 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

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

A multifunctional nano carrier to detect, diagnose, and deliver drugs to cancer cells

October 31, 2013


A unique nanostructure developed by a team of international researchers* promises improved all-in-one detection, diagnoses, and drug-delivery treatment of cancer cells.

It can carry a variety of cancer-fighting materials on its double-sided (Janus) surface and within its porous interior and can:

  •  Transport cancer-specific detection nanoparticles and biomarkers to a site within the body, e.g., the breast or the prostate. This promises earlier diagnosis than is

read more

New cancer-drug delivery system uses magnetically guided bacteria to target cancerous tumors with high precision

August 15, 2016

The legions of nanorobotic agents are actually composed of more than 100 million flagellated bacteria -- and therefore self-propelled -- and loaded with drugs that moved by taking the most direct path between the drug's injection point and the area of the body to cure. (credit: Montréal Nanorobotics Laboratory)

Researchers from Polytechnique Montréal, Université de Montréal, and McGill University have designed a new cancer-drug-delivery nanotransporter system using more than 100 million flagellated, self-propelled bacteria that are capable of navigating through the bloodstream to administer a drug to tumors with precision.* The goal of the research is to avoid jeopardizing the integrity of organs and surrounding healthy tissues while reducing drug dosage.

In an experiment… read more

Method discovered to remove damaging amyloid plaques found in Alzheimer’s disease

December 23, 2016

Illustration of formation of beta-amyloid plaques. Enzymes act on the APP (amyloid precursor protein) and cut it into fragments. The beta-amyloid fragment is crucial in the formation of senile plaques in Alzheimer’s disease. (credit: National Institute on Aging/NIH)

German scientists have discovered a strategy for removing amyloid plaques — newly forming clumps in a brain with Alzheimer’s disease that are created by misfolded proteins that clump together and damage nerve cells.

The scientists from the German Center for Neurodegenerative Diseases (DZNE) in Munich and the Ludwig Maximilians University (LMU) Munich took aged microglia cells (the  scavenger cells of the brain’s… read more

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