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Milky Way may have 100 million life-giving planets

“It seems highly unlikely that we are alone.”
June 5, 2014

Milky Way arch as seen from Chile (credit: Bruno Gilli/European Southern Observatory)

There are some 100 million other places in the Milky Way galaxy that could support life above the microbial level, reports a group of astronomers in the journal Challenges (open access), based on a new computation method to examine data from planets orbiting other stars in the universe.

“This study does not indicate that complex life exists on that many planets; we’re saying that there are planetary conditions that… read more

Over-65s at increased risk of developing dementia with benzodiazepine

October 1, 2012

senior_citizens

Patients over the age of 65 who begin taking benzodiazepine (a popular drug used to treat anxiety and insomnia) are at an approximately 50% increased risk of developing dementia within 15 years compared to never-users, an open access study published on bmj.com suggests.

The authors say that “considering the extent to which benzodiazepines are prescribed and the number of potential adverse effects, indiscriminate widespread use… read more

AI game bots ‘more human-like’ than half of human competitors

A ‘Turing test' for game bots
September 27, 2012

ut2_botprize

An artificially intelligent virtual game bot created by computer scientists at The University of Texas at Austin has won the BotPrize by convincing a panel of judges that it was more human-like than half the humans it competed against.

The competition, sponsored by 2K Games, was set inside the virtual world of “Unreal Tournament 2004,” a first-person shooter video… read more

Brainwave training boosts brain network for cognitive control

October 25, 2012

eeg_amplitide_change_during_feedback

Researchers at  University of Western Ontario and the Lawson Health Research Institute have found that functional changes within a key brain network occur directly after a 30-minute session of noninvasive, neurofeedback training.

Background

Dysfunction of this cognitive-control network has previously been implicated in a range of brain disorders including attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, schizophrenia, depression, and post-traumatic stress disorder.

During neurofeedback, users learn to… read more

Following Sandy, DHS seeks security ‘Cyber Reserve’

November 3, 2012

(Credit: iStockphoto)

The damage to the electrical grid from Superstorm Sandy is just a taste of what could happen from a major cyberattack, says Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Janet Napolitano, CSO Security and Risk reports.

And a DHS task force said this week that one way to minimize that kind of risk is to recruit a “Cyber Reserve” of computer security pros that could be… read more

AR goggles restore depth perception to people blind in one eye

January 21, 2013

Wrap 920AR (credit:

People who’ve lost sight in one eye can still see with the other, but they lack binocular depth perception.

A pair of augmented reality glasses being built at the University of Yamanashi in Japan artificially introduces a feeling of depth in a person’s healthy eye, MIT Technology Review reports.

The researchers created software that makes use of the twin cameras in a Vuzix Wrap… read more

New multilayer graphene structure allows ‘ultraprecise,’ ‘ultrafast’ water filtering

Next step: reduce the filter size to filter out even the smallest salts like in seawater for drinkable water -- "no longer science fiction"
February 18, 2014

graphene_water

University of Manchester researchers have taken another key step toward a seawater filter: they’ve developed one-atom-wide graphene-oxide (GO) capillaries by building multilayer GO membranes (laminates).

As described in Science, these new laminates allow for “ultraprecise” selection of molecules that can go through the filter and “ultrafast” flow of water.

The new GO filters have an “astonishingly” accurate mesh that allows them to distinguish between atomic species… read more

Navy’s Star Wars-style laser weapon to be tested in Persian Gulf this summer

A "revolutionary capability" -- Chief of Naval Research
April 10, 2014

navy-laws

The U.S. Navy plans to install a prototype of the first laser weapon on USS Ponce for at-sea testing in the Persian Gulf late this summer.

The Laser Weapon System (LaWS) is a “revolutionary capability,” said Chief of Naval Research Rear Adm. Matthew Klunder. “It’s absolutely critical that we get this out to sea with our Sailors for these trials, because this very affordable technology is going to change… read more

Breaking the million-core supercomputer barrier

January 30, 2013

A floor view of the newly installed Sequoia supercomputer at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratories (credit: Lawrence Livermore National Laboratories)

Stanford Engineering‘s Center for Turbulence Research (CTR) has set a new record in computational science by successfully using a supercomputer with more than 1.5 million computing cores to solve a complex fluid dynamics problem: the prediction of noise generated by a supersonic jet engine.

Joseph Nichols, a research associate in the center, worked on the newly installed Sequoia IBM Bluegene/Q system at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratories (LLNL)… read more

Fukushima fuel pool is urgent national security issue for America, ‘top threat facing humanity’

May 7, 2012

Fukushima

After visiting Fukushima, Senator Ron Wyden warned that the situation was worse than reported, Washington’s Blog reports … and urged Japan to accept international help to stabilize dangerous spent fuel pools.

Wyden said that the spent fuel is a national security threat to the U.S.: “The radiation caused by the failure of the spent fuel pools in the event of another earthquake could reach the West… read more

A computerized house that generates as much energy as it uses

NIST unveils net-zero energy residential test facility to improve testing of energy-efficient technologies
September 18, 2012

NIST Net Zero Energy Residential Test Facility

The U.S. Commerce Department’s National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) has unveiled a laboratory in the form of a typical suburban home, designed to demonstrate that a family of four can generate as much energy as it uses in a year.

The two-story, four-bedroom, three-bath “Net-Zero Energy Residential Test Facility“ was built to U.S. Green Building Council LEED Platinum standards — the highest standard for sustainable… read more

GOP lawmaker seeks ‘virtual Congress’ with telecommuting plan

March 25, 2013

US_capitol_building

Under a resolution Pearce introduced on Thursday, Rep. Steve Pearce (R-N.M.) wants to create a “virtual Congress,” where lawmakers would leverage videoconferencing and other remote work technology to to hold hearings, debate and vote on legislation virtually from their home district offices, The Hill reports.

Pearce says the resolution would eradicate the need for members to jet back and forth from their districts to Washington each weekend. This… read more

The real Limitless drug

April 8, 2013

Modafinil (Provigil in the United States) was first approved by the FDA in 1998 for the treatment of narcolepsy, but since has become better known as a nootropic, a “smart drug,” especially among entrepreneurs, says New York magazine.

Rumored to be the model for the fictional pills in the movie Limitless, no scientist has conducted a study of its long-term effects on healthy brains yet. At the very… read more

A new method for producing clean hydrogen

May 23, 2013

TEM_image_Au-a-Fe2O3_catalyst

Duke University engineers have developed a novel method for producing clean hydrogen, which could prove essential to weaning society off of fossil fuels and their environmental implications.

While hydrogen is ubiquitous in the environment, producing and collecting molecular hydrogen for transportation and industrial uses is expensive and complicated. Just as importantly, a byproduct of most current methods of producing hydrogen is carbon monoxide, which is… read more

Events in the future seem closer than those in the past

We tend to feel closer to the future because we feel like we’re moving toward it
March 15, 2013

Screen capture of a virtual environment for testing time perception (credit: Caruso E M et al./Psychological Science)

We say that time flies, it marches on, it flows like a river — our descriptions of time are closely linked to our experiences of moving through space.

Now, new research suggests that the illusions that influence how we perceive movement through space also influence our perception of time. The findings provide evidence that our experiences of space and time have even more in common than previously… read more

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