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How to become the engineers of our own evolution

March 20, 2012


Adherents of “transhumanism” — a movement that seeks to transform Homo sapiens through tools like gene manipulation, “smart drugs” and nanomedicine — hail developments such as prototype bionic eyes and printed tracheas as evidence that we are becoming the engineers of our own evolution.

Transhumanists say we are morally obligated to help the human race transcend its biological limits; those who disagree are sometimes called Bio-Luddites. “The human quest… read more

Printable houses are coming

April 11, 2012

Italian inventor Enrico Dini, chairman of Monolite UK Ltd, has developed a huge three-dimensional printer called D-Shape that can print entire buildings out of sand and an inorganic binder. The printer works by spraying a thin layer of sand followed by a layer of magnesium-based binder from hundreds of nozzles on its underside. The glue turns the sand to solid stone, which is built up layer-by-layer from the bottom up to form anything from a sculpture to a sandstone building. (Credit: Monolite)

The first “printed homes” will be coming soon, says World Future Society blogger Thomas Frey.

One construction technology that has great potential for low-cost, customized buildings is “contour crafting — a form of 3D printing that uses robotic arms and nozzles to squeeze out layers of concrete or other materials, moving back and forth over a set path to fabricate a large component.

Structures would be quicker to make,… read more

The threat of silence

Meet the groundbreaking new encryption app set to revolutionize privacy and freak out the feds
February 6, 2013


For the past few months, some of the world’s leading cryptographers have been keeping a closely guarded secret about a pioneering new invention. Today, they’ve decided it’s time to tell all, Slate Future Tense reports.

Back in October, the startup tech firm Silent Circle ruffled governments’ feathers with a “surveillance-proof” smartphone app to allow people to make secure phone calls and send texts… read more

Brain-boosting technique might help some functions while hurting others

March 6, 2013


Electrically stimulating the brain may enhance memory, but impede a person’s ability to react without thinking, MIT Technology Review reports.

Using a noninvasive technique called transcranial electrical stimulation (TES) to stimulate the brain, researchers found they could enhance learning when they targeted a certain spot.

But that also made people worse at automaticity, or the ability to perform a task without really thinking about it. Stimulating another… read more

Researchers use light to coax stem cells to regenerate teeth

Low-level light therapy confirmed
May 29, 2014

tooth regeneration

A Harvard-led team is the first to demonstrate the ability to use low-power light to trigger stem cells inside the body to regenerate tissue.

The research, reported in Science Translational Medicine and led by Wyss Institute Core Faculty member David Mooney, Ph.D., lays the foundation for a host of clinical applications in restorative dentistry and regenerative medicine more broadly, such as wound healing, bone regeneration, and more.… read more

New results indicate that new particle is a Higgs boson

March 14, 2013

An example of simulated data modelled for the CMS particle detector on the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) at CERN. Here, following a collision of two protons, a Higgs boson is produced which decays into two jets of hadrons and two electrons. The lines represent the possible paths of particles produced by the proton-proton collision in the detector while the energy these particles deposit is shown in blue. (Image credit: CERN)

At the recent Moriond Conference, the ATLAS and CMS collaborations at the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) presented preliminary new results, finding that the new particle is looking more and more like a Higgs boson, the particle linked to the mechanism that gives mass to elementary particles.

It remains an open question, however, whether this is the Higgs… read more

World’s first green piglets born in China, sheep next

December 30, 2013


In Guangdong Province in Southern China, ten transgenic piglets have been born this year, in  and under a black light, they glow a greenish tint.

A technique developed by reproductive scientists from the University of Hawai`i at Mānoa’s John A. Burns School of Medicine was used to quadruple the success rate at which plasmids carrying a fluorescent protein from jellyfish DNA were transferred into the… read more

Flexible sensors turn skin into a touch-sensitive interface for mobile devices

March 4, 2015


Computer scientists at Saarland University and Carnegie Mellon University are studying the potential use of the human body as a touch sensitive surface for controlling mobile devices. They have developed flexible silicone rubber stickers with pressure-sensitive sensors that fit snugly to the skin.

By operating these touch input stickers, users can use their own body to control mobile devices. Because of the flexible material used, the sensors can be… read more

Are populations aging more slowly than we think?

60 is the new middle age
April 16, 2015

(credit: iStock)

Increases in life expectancy do not necessarily produce faster overall population aging, according to new open-access research published in the journal PLOS ONE.

This counterintuitive finding was the result of applying new measures of aging, developed at the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA) to future population projections for Europe up to the year 2050.

IIASA World Population Program Deputy Director Sergei Scherbov led… read more

D-Wave Systems breaks the 1000 qubit quantum computing barrier

June 26, 2015

(credit: D-Wave Systems)

D-Wave Systems has broken the quantum computing 1000 qubit barrier, developing a processor about double the size of D-Wave’s previous generation, and far exceeding the number of qubits ever developed by D-Wave or any other quantum effort, the announcement said.

It will allow “significantly more complex computational problems to be solved than was possible on any previous quantum computer.”

At 1000 qubits, the new processor considers 21000 possibilities… read more

New solar structure cools buildings in full sunlight, replacing air conditioners

Homes and buildings chilled without air conditioners? Car interiors that don't heat up in the summer sun? Tapping the frigid expanses of outer space to cool the planet? Yes.
March 29, 2013


Stanford University researchers have designed an entirely new form of cooling structure that cools even when the sun is shining, eliminating the need for air conditioning.

Such a structure could vastly improve the daylight cooling of buildings, cars, and other structures by reflecting sunlight back into space.

“We’ve developed a new type of structure that reflects the vast majority of sunlight, while at the same… read more


January 18, 2012


“Better the government shut down than Wikipedia go on strike. That would be like part of my mind going on strike. Just give them [Wikipedia] whatever they want — we don’t even need to hear what it is.” — Ray Kurzweil

Studying ethical questions as the brain’s black box Is unlocked

Excerpt from The New York Times
December 18, 2012

MRI Head

S. Matthew Liao, director of the bioethics program at New York University, has a singular title: neuroethicist.

Some researchers claim to be near to using fMRIs to read thoughts. Is this really happening?

The technology, though still crude, appears to be getting closer. For instance, there’s one research group that asks subjects to watch movies. When they

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

3D graphene could replace expensive platinum in solar cells

August 22, 2013

A field emission scanning electron microscopy (FESEM) image of 3D honeycomb-structured graphene. The novel material can replace platinum in dye-sensitized solar cells with virtually no loss of generating capacity. Hui Wang image

Michigan Technological University, scientists have replaced expensive ($1,500 an ounce) platinum in solar cells with low-cost 3D graphene.

Regular graphene is a two-dimensional form of carbon. Yun Hang Hu, the Charles and Caroll McArthur Professor of Materials Science and Engineering at MTU, and his team invented a way to synthesize a 3D version, with a honeycomb-like structure.

The 3D graphene had excellent conductivity and high… read more

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