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Self-driving vehicles: benefits to society, policy challenges for lawmakers

January 6, 2014

Imagined autonomous vehicle

Self-driving vehicles offer the promise of significant benefits to society, but raise several policy challenges, including the need to update insurance liability regulations and privacy concerns such as who will control the data generated by this technology, according to a new RAND Corporation study.

“Our research finds that the social benefits of autonomous vehicles — including decreased crashes, increased mobility and increases… read more

Mapping the ‘fountain of youth’

April 1, 2013

Tibolium_castaneum_TERT_structure

University of Copenhagen researchers and an international team have for the first time mapped telomerase, an enzyme with a rejuvenating effect on cell aging.

This is one of the results of a major research project involving more than 1,000 researchers worldwide, four years of hard work, DKK 55 million from the EU, and blood samples from more than 200,000 people.

It is the largest collaboration project… read more

Reflected hidden faces in photographs revealed in pupil

What do your Instagram and Facebook photos reveal?
December 27, 2013

corneal reflections - featured

The pupil* of the eye in a photograph of a face can be mined for hidden information, such as reflected faces of the photographer and bystanders, according to research led by Dr. Rob Jenkins, of the Department of Psychology at the University of York and published in PLOS ONE (open access).

The researchers say that in crimes in which the victims are photographed, such as hostage… read more

A long-lasting, water-based nuclear-energy-powered battery

Could be used in cars, emergency devices, and spaceships
September 19, 2014

Schematic diagram and photograph of the Pt-nanoporous TiO2 electrode (credit: Baek Hyun Kim & Jae W. Kwon/Scientific Reports)

University of Missouri (MU) researchers have developed a prototype of an efficient nuclear-energy-powered* battery that does not require recharging and could be a reliable energy source in automobiles and space vehicles.

Betavoltaics [a battery technology that generates electrical power from beta-particle radiation] has been studied as an energy source since the 1950s,” said Jae W. Kwon, an associate professor of electrical and computer engineering and… read more

A Terminator-style contact-lens display

November 23, 2011

(Credit: University of Washington/

Bringing us a step closer to a Terminator-style augmented-reality display, University of Washington engineers have constructed an experimental contact lens with a single-pixel embedded light-emitting diode (LED) and tested it in a rabbit.

The LED lights up when it receives energy from a remote radio frequency transmission, picked up by an antenna around the edge and collected via a silicon power harvesting and radio integrated circuit.

But the… read more

All-optical switching promises terahertz-speed hard drive and RAM memory

April 4, 2013

Magnetic structure in a colossal magneto-resistive manganite is<br />
switched from antiferromagnetic to ferromagnetic ordering during<br />
about 100 femtosecond laser pulse photo-excitation (credit: DOE Ames Laboratory)

Researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy’s Ames Laboratory, Iowa State University, and the University of Crete in Greece have found a new way to switch magnetism that is at least 1000 times faster than currently used in magnetic memory technologies.

Magnetic switching is used to encode information in hard drives, magnetic random access memory and other computing devices. The discovery, reported in the April 4 issue… read more

Electrical pulse treatment pokes tiny holes to kill cancer

April 16, 2013

Lung tumor before (left) and after (right)

A new, minimally invasive treatment that creates microscopic holes in tumors without harming healthy tissue is a promising treatment for challenging cancers, suggests a preliminary study being presented at the Society of Interventional Radiology‘s 38th Annual Scientific Meeting in New Orleans.

“Irreversible electroporation (or IRE) is a new way to attack cancer, using microsecond electrical pulses to kill cancer at the cellular level… 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

A tiny computer attracts a million tinkerers

January 31, 2013

The Raspberry Pi Model B is a credit–card sized computer board that plugs into a TV. It’s a miniature ARM–based PC that can perform many of the functions of a large desktop PC such as spreadsheets, word–processers and games. It also plays High–Definition videos. (Credit: Raspberry Pi)

Almost one million $35 Raspberry Pi computers have shipped since last February, capturing the imaginations of educators, hobbyists and tinkerers around the world, The New York Times reports.

The Raspberry Pi — about 3 inches by 2 inches and less than an inch high — was intended to replace the expensive computers in school science labs. For less than the price of a new keyboard, a… read more

Growing number of chemicals linked with brain disorders in children

214 human neurotoxicants now identified -- many widely used and disseminated extensively in the global environment
February 18, 2014

MRI-scans---mercury

Toxic chemicals may be triggering the recent increases in neurodevelopmental disabilities among children — such as autism, attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder, and dyslexia — according to a new study from Harvard School of Public Health (HSPH) and Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai. The researchers say a new global prevention strategy to control the use of these substances is urgently needed.

The report was published online February… read more

Laser could trigger rain and lightning

April 22, 2014

Illustration of a high-intensity laser dressed with a secondary laser that helps provide fuel to extend the distance of the primary beam.

Researchers at the University of Central Florida’s College of Optics & Photonics and the University of Arizona have further developed a new technique to aim a high-energy laser beam into clouds to make it rain or trigger lightning.

The solution: surround the beam with a second beam to act as an energy reservoir, sustaining the central beam to greater distances than previously possible. The secondary “dress” beam… read more

US road safety agency issues policy on driverless cars

May 31, 2013

google_car

Self-driving vehicle technology is not yet at a stage that it can be authorized for use by the public for general driving, according to a U.S. Department of Transportation recommendation to state governments, PC World reports.

If a state decides to permit operation of self-driving vehicles other than for testing, at a minimum it should require that a person licensed to drive self-driving vehicles should be seated… read more

Scientists suggest that cancer is purely man-made

October 15, 2010

Cancer is a modern, man-made disease caused by environmental factors such as pollution and diet, a study by University of Manchester scientists has strongly suggested.

A study of remains and literature from ancient Egypt and Greece and earlier periods — carried out at the University of Manchester’s KNH Centre for Biomedical Egyptology and published in Nature — includes the first histological diagnosis of cancer in an Egyptian mummy.… read more

Research dispels old myths about aging

May 31, 2012

senior_citizens

Professor Tom Kirkwood has demolished a string of misconceptions about the aging process with a groundbreaking study into the health of more than 1,000 older people in the 85-plus generation.

His study, the largest of its kind ever undertaken, has proved revealing on several fronts:

  • Life expectancy is increasing by about two years every decade.
  • People

read more

IBM unveils concept for a future brain-inspired 3D computer

October 20, 2013

IBM 3D computer

IBM has unveiled a prototype of a new brain-inspired computer powered by what it calls “electronic blood,” BBC News reports.

The firm says it is learning from nature by building computers fueled and cooled by a liquid, like our minds.

The human brain packs phenomenal computing power into a tiny space and uses only 20 watts of energy – an efficiency IBM is keen to match.… read more

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