science + technology news

Will cities of the future be filled with vertical slums?

November 4, 2012

Torre David

After a skyscraper in Caracas was abandoned, it quickly became home to 750 families. As cities develop, will slums build up instead of out? Fast Company Co.EXIST explores.

The 45-story Torre David office tower in Caracas, Venezuela, was nearly complete in the early 1990s when a pair of events changed the building’s trajectory forever: First, the project’s developer, David Brillembourg, died in 1993.

Then, the next year,… read more

NASA’s new Z-2 prototype spacesuit

May 2, 2014

nasa_z2_suit

With 233,431 votes, the “Technology” option has won NASA’s Z-2 Spacesuit design challenge with just over 63% of the total vote. This design now will be incorporated into the final version of the suit, which is expected to be ready for testing by November 2014.

Each new version of the Z-series will advance new technologies that one day will be used in a suit worn by the first astronauts… read more

FDA allows marketing of ‘next generation’ gene-sequencing devices

A boost for personalized medicine and pharmocogenomics
November 25, 2013

MiSeq Benchtop Sequencer (credit: Illumina)

The FDA has approved marketing of four diagnostic devices from Illumina (a manufacturer of DNA sequencing machines) for “next generation sequencing” (NGS) — meaning the devices can now quickly and cheaply read and interpret large segments of the genome (the set of genetic information in your body) in a single test.

Two of the devices allow laboratories to sequence a patient’s genome for any purpose, according… read more

An alternative to the Turing test: ‘Winograd Schema Challenge’ annual competition announced

Invites researchers and students to design computer programs that simulate human intelligence
July 28, 2014

(credit: iStock)

Nuance Communications, Inc. announced today an annual competition to develop programs that can solve the Winograd Schema Challenge, an alternative to the Turing test that provides a more accurate measure of genuine machine intelligence, according to its developer, Hector Levesque, Professor of Computer Science at the University of Toronto, and winner of the 2013 IJCAI Award for Research Excellence.

Nuance is sponsoring the yearly… read more

Autómata: a believable robot future

YOUR TIME IS COMING TO AN END. OURS IS NOW BEGINNING.
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

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

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

ibm_synaptic_corelets

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

The ‘chemputer’ that could print out any drug

July 26, 2012

cronin_molecules

Professor Lee Cronin has turned a 3D printer into a universal chemistry set that could make its own prescription drugs via downloadable chemistry.

Cronin is the leader of a world-class team of 45 researchers at Glasgow University, primarily making complex molecules.

The “inks” are simple reagents, from which more complex molecules are formed.

As he points out, nearly all drugs are made of carbon, hydrogen and… read more

Are you ready for RFID chips built into your money and documents?

May 7, 2013

ndsu_smart_paper_money

North Dakota State University. researchers have developed a new way of embedding traceable chips within “smart” paper — raising the possibility of banks and governments guarding against counterfeiting and even tracking the usage of paper money, IEEE Spectrum reports.

The new method of embedding radio frequency identification chips (RFID) in paper uses a patent-pending technology called Laser Enabled Advanced Packaging (LEAP) to transfer and assemble… read more

New imagery of NASA’s asteroid mission released

August 23, 2013

Astronaut on asteroid - featured

NASA released Thursday new photos and video animations depicting the agency’s planned mission to find, capture, redirect, and study a near-Earth asteroid.

The images show crew operations including the Orion spacecraft’s trip to and rendezvous with the relocated asteroid, and astronauts maneuvering through a spacewalk to collect samples from the asteroid.

NASA plans to identify and characterize near-Earth objects for scientific investigation, and to find potentially… read more

World’s first $1,000 genome enables ‘factory’ scale sequencing for population and disease studies

January 15, 2014

The HiSeq X™ Ten, composed of 10 HiSeq X Systems (credit: Illumina)

 

Illumina, Inc. announced Tuesday that its new HiSeq X Ten Sequencing System has broken the “sound barrier” of human genomics by enabling the $1,000 genome.

“This platform includes dramatic technology breakthroughs that enable researchers to undertake studies of unprecedented scale by providing the throughput to sequence tens of thousands of human whole genomes in a single year in a single… read more

$99 Raspberry Pi-sized ‘supercomputer’ touted in Kickstarter project

September 28, 2012

adapteva-parallella-640x363

Chipmaker Adapteva wants to make parallel computing available to everyone, using a Kickstarter project to raise at least $750,000 and a stretch goal of $3 million, Ars Technica reports.

Adapteva calls it “Parallella: A Supercomputer For Everyone,” a 16-core board hitting 13GHz and 26 gigaflops performance, costing $99 each. If the $3 million goal is hit, Adapteva will make a $199 64-core board hitting… read more

ProtoHouse

October 26, 2012

ProtoHouse (credit: Softkill Disign)

Softkill Design‘s ProtoHouse project investigates the architectural potential of the latest Selective laser sintering technologies, testing the boundaries of large scale 3D printing by designing with computer algorithms that micro-organize the printed material itself.

With the support of Materialise, Softkill Design produced a high-resolution prototype of a 3D printed house at 1:33 scale. The model consists of 30 detailed fibrous pieces that can be assembled into one… read more

Researchers in China have created genetically modified human embryos

Public interest group calls for strengthening global policies against human germline modification
April 23, 2015

Human embryos are at the centre of a debate over the ethics of gene editing (credit: Dr. Yorgos Nikas/SPL)

A research team in China has created genetically modified human embryos using the gene-editing technique CRISPR/Cas9, according to a report in the online journal Protein & Cell.

The experiments were conducted by a research team led by Junjiu Huang of Sun Yat-sen University in Guangzhou, China.

Human germline modification is widely considered unethical for both safety and social reasons. Using germline modification… read more

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