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The Human Brain Project has officially begun

Scientists from the 135 partner institutions meeting in Switzerland this week
October 7, 2013

BlueBrain_web

On Monday, October 7, 2013, scientists from the 135 partner institutions of the Human Brain Project — “the world’s most ambitious neuroscience project”— met at EPFL (Ecole polytechnique fédérale de Lausanne), the coordinating institution, in Switzerland.

Over the course of the coming week, neuroscientists, doctors, computer scientists, and roboticists will fine-tune the project’s details.

Six months after its selection by the EU as one… read more

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

Are you ready for computers as comedians?

January 7, 2013

As verbal interaction between humans and computers becomes more prominent in daily life — from Siri, Apple’s voice-activated assistant technology, to speech-based search engines to fully automated call centers — demand has grown for “social computers” that can communicate with humans in a natural way.

Teaching computers to grapple with humor is a key part of this equation, author Alex Stone writes in The New York Times Sunday Review.… read more

Physicists create synthetic magnetic monopoles

May lead to entirely new materials, such as superconductors
January 30, 2014

monopoli2_sRGB

Nearly 85 years after pioneering theoretical physicist Paul Dirac predicted the possibility of their existence, scientists have created, identified and photographed synthetic magnetic monopoles.

The groundbreaking accomplishment, described by a paper in Nature, paves the way for the detection of the particles in nature, which would be a revolutionary development comparable to the discovery of the electron, according to the scientists.

“The creation of a synthetic magnetic monopole… read more

Stephen Hawking: ‘There is no heaven; it’s a fairy story’

May 16, 2011

A belief that heaven or an afterlife awaits us is a “fairy story” for people afraid of death, Stephen Hawking has said.

“I regard the brain as a computer which will stop working when its components fail. There is no heaven or afterlife for broken down computers; that is a fairy story for people afraid of the dark,” he said.

In a lecture Monday at the Google Zeitgeist meeting… read more

Cloud-computing ‘Internet for robots’ launched

March 11, 2013

RoboEarth_Grafik

Researchers of five European universities have developed the RoboEarth Cloud Engine, a cloud-computing platform for robots.

The platform allows robots connected to the Internet to directly access the powerful computational, storage, and communications infrastructure of modern data centers — the giant server farms behind the likes of Google, Facebook, and Amazon — for robotics tasks and robot learning.

The new platform extends earlier work… read more

Scanadu Scout ‘Tricorder’ launches on indiegogo

May 23, 2013

Scanadu Scout (credit: Scanadu)

Scanadu has announced updates to its Scanadu Scout, the “first medical Tricorder,” a prototype device designed to measure vital signs; and the launch of an indiegogo campaign.

A first-edition Scout can be reserved on indiegogo and will be available in March 2014.

The Scout is sold as an exploratory tool. “By helping us collect data, we can file our application to the FDA for market… read more

Boeing missile zaps electronic devices in first test flight

October 29, 2012

Boeing

A recent weapons flight test in the Utah desert may change future warfare after the missile successfully defeated electronic targets with little to no collateral damage.

Boeing and the U.S. Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) Directed Energy Directorate at Kirtland Air Force Base, N.M., successfully tested the Counter-electronics High-powered Microwave Advanced Missile Project (CHAMP) during a flight over the Utah Test and Training Range.… read more

A simple, non-invasive gene therapy restores sight

Can now safely insert repair genes into photoreceptors in the fine-vision fovea
June 14, 2013

intravitreal_injection2

UC Berkeley researchers have developed an new method for inserting genes into retina cells that is easier and more effective, It could greatly expand gene therapy to help restore sight to patients with blinding diseases ranging from inherited defects like retinitis pigmentosa to degenerative illnesses of old age, such as macular degeneration.

Unlike current treatments, the new procedure delivers genes to hard-to-reach cells throughout the entire retina,… read more

An easy, low-cost way to get into 3D printing

January 7, 2014

MakerBot Mini

If you’ve been thinking about getting into 3D printing, the compact MakerBot Replicator Mini 3D printer, just introduced at CES, could make it easy and affordable at $1,375 (available spring 2014).

It’s limited to printing objects around 4 x 4 x 4 inches, but the company claims it’s easy to use, with no 3D skills needed. You can download models from the free MakerBot Printshop and Thingverse,… read more

A boost for quantum reality

May 9, 2012

joint_measurement_n_qubits

In a controversial paper in Nature Physics, theorists claim they can prove that wavefunctions — the entity that determines the probability of different outcomes of measurements on quantum-mechanical particles — are real states.

The paper is thought by some to be one of the most important in quantum foundations in decades. The authors say that the mathematics leaves no doubt that the wavefunction is not just a statistical tool, but rather, a… read more

Ultra-thin capacitors could acclerate development of next-gen electronics

February 28, 2014

All-nanosheet ultrathin capacitor (credit: C. Wang et al./ACS Nano)

Japanese researchers at the National Institute for Materials Science and Shinshu University have developed a way to shrink capacitors — key components that store energy — further, which could accelerate the development of more compact, high-performance next-gen electronic devices. The study appears in the journal ACS Nano.

Takayoshi Sasaki and colleagues note that current technology has almost reached its limit in terms of materials and processing, which in turn… read more

Flip of a single molecular switch makes an old brain young

March 8, 2013

A cultured neuron with projecting dendrites studded with sites of communication between neurons, known as dendritic spines (Yale University)

The flip of a single molecular switch helps create the mature neuronal connections that allow the brain to bridge the gap between adolescent impressionability and adult stability.

Now Yale School of Medicine researchers have reversed the process, recreating a youthful brain that facilitated both learning and healing in the adult mouse.

Scientists have long known that the young and old brains are very different. Adolescent brains… read more

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