science + technology news

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November 20, 2012


Cyborg swarm maps unknown environments

October 17, 2013


Remember the much-debated “biobots” (remotely controlled cockroaches — see How to remotely control cockroach cyborgs and Kinect tracks bionic rescue roaches) created by researchers from North Carolina State University?

Well, here’s an update: they have now developed software that allows for mapping unknown environments — such as collapsed buildings — based on the movement of a swarm of the insect cyborgs.… read more

Government lab reveals it has operated quantum internet for over two years

May 6, 2013


A quantum internet capable of sending perfectly secure messages has been running at Los Alamos National Labs for the last two and a half years, MIT Technology Review reports.

One of the dreams for security experts is the creation of a quantum internet using quantum cryptography that allows perfectly secure communication based on the powerful laws of quantum mechanics.

The researchers created a quantum network based around… read more

How to get off the grid for under $10K

July 8, 2014

Beacon 10 Stirling engine (credit: Deka Research)

Inventor Dean Kamen is planning a 2.5 kW home version of his Deka Research Beacon 10 Stirling engine that could provide efficient around-the-clock power or hot water to a home or business, reports Forbes.

Kamen says the current Beacon is intended for businesses like laundries or restaurants that use a lot of hot water. “With commercialization partner NRG Energy, he’s deployed… read more

Sandia nuclear-fusion liners break even in tests

September 19, 2012


Magnetically imploded tubes called liners, intended to help produce controlled nuclear fusion at scientific “break-even” energies or better within the next few years, have functioned successfully in preliminary tests, according to a Sandia research paper accepted for publication by Physical Review Letters (PRL).

To exceed scientific break-even is the most hotly sought-after goal of fusion research, in which the energy released by a fusion reaction is… 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

DARPA seeks 2000 percent increase in robot power transmission efficiency

July 6, 2012

DARPA_M3 Actuation

DARPA seeks revolutionary advances in the efficiency of robotic actuation; fundamental research into biology, physics and electrical engineering could benefit all engineered, actuated systems.

DARPA has created the M3 Actuation program, with the goal of achieving a 2,000 percent increase in the efficiency of power transmission and application in robots, to improve performance potential.

A robot that drives into an industrial disaster area and shuts off… read more

How to turn audio clips into realistic lip-synced video

Is this the future of fake TV news?
July 12, 2017

A neural network first converts the sounds from an audio file into basic mouth shapes. Then the system grafts and blends those mouth shapes onto an existing target video and adjusts the timing to create a realistic, lip-synced video of the person delivering the new speech. (credit: University of Washington)

UW (University of Washington) | UW researchers create realistic video from audio files alone

University of Washington researchers at the UW Graphics and Image Laboratory have developed new algorithms that turn audio clips into a realistic, lip-synced video, starting with an existing video of  that person speaking on a different topic.

As detailed in a paper to be presented Aug. 2 at  read more

Bitcoin price soars above $9 for the first time in almost a year

July 19, 2012


The price of Bitcoins surged this week, rising above $9 for the first time in almost a year, Ars Technica reports. The increase suggests growing public interest in the peer-to-peer cryptocurrency.

Vices like pornography and gambling continue to be a significant factor in the currency’s value.

But other new uses for the currency continue to pop up. Coinbase, a startup aiming to… read more

Leading AI country will be ‘ruler of the world,’ says Putin

"When one party’s drones are destroyed by drones of another, it will have no other choice but to surrender.”
September 3, 2017

Autonomous drone swarms (credit: U.S. Dept. of Defense)

Russian President Vladimir Putin warned Friday (Sept. 1, 2017) that the country that becomes the leader in developing artificial intelligence will be “the ruler of the world,” reports the Associated Press.

AI development “raises colossal opportunities and threats that are difficult to predict now,” Putin said in a lecture to students, warning that “it would be strongly undesirable if someone wins a monopolist position.”

Future wars will be… read more

Would you eat ‘eco-friendly’ meat created from stem cells?

May 23, 2014

cells to food

In a paper in the Cell Press journal Trends in Biotechnology, Cor van der Weele of Wageningen University in The Netherlands and coauthor Johannes Tramper describe a potential meat manufacturing process, starting with a vial of cells taken from a cell bank and ending with a pressed cake of minced meat.

Cor van der Weele  point out that the rising demand for meat around the world is… read more

An automated ‘time machine’ to reconstruct ancient languages

Will greatly accelerate and improve the process of reconstructing hundreds of ancestral languages
February 14, 2013

Computer scientists have reconstructed ancient Proto-Austronesian, which gave rise to languages spoken in Polynesia, among other places  (credit: A. Bouchard-Cote et al./University of California - Berkeley)

Researchers from University of California, Berkeley and the University of British Columbia have created a computer program that can rapidly reconstruct “proto-languages” — the linguistic ancestors from which all modern languages have evolved.

These earliest-known languages include Proto-Indo-European, Proto-Afroasiatic and, in this case, Proto-Austronesian, which gave rise to languages spoken in Southeast Asia, parts of continental Asia, Australasia and the Pacific.

Ancient languages hold… read more

An agile humanoid robot

November 6, 2012


University of Bonn computer scientists have developed a scoccer-playing robot called NimbRo-OP intended to develop new capabilities for humanoid bipedal robots, such as using tools, climbing stairs, and using human facial expressions, gestures and body language for communicating.

With 20 drive elements that convert computer commands into mechanical motions, NimbRo-OP is highly agile. For example, it can kick a soccer ball, and get… read more

Nanostructured ‘sandwich’ boosts solar-cell efficiency almost three times

December 10, 2012

A conventional solar cell, left, reflects light off its surface and loses light that penetrates the cell. New technology, right, develop by Princeton professor Stephen Chou and colleagues in electrical engineering, prevents both types of loss and is much thinner. (Credit: Dimitri Karetnikov/Princeton University)

Princeton researchers have found a simple and economical way to nearly triple the efficiency of organic solar cells, the cheap and flexible plastic devices that many scientists believe could be the future of solar power.

The researchers, led by electrical engineer Stephen Chou, the Joseph C. Elgin Professor of Engineering, were able to increase the efficiency of the solar cells 175 percent by using… read more

Watson provides cancer treatment options to doctors in seconds

February 11, 2013


IBM and Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center unveiled Friday the first commercially developed Watson-based cognitive computing breakthroughs.

These innovations stand alone to help transform the quality and speed of care delivered to patients through individualized, evidence based medicine, says IBM.

For more than a year, IBM has partnered separately with WellPoint and Memorial Sloan-Kettering to… read more

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