science + technology news

Russian diamonds: Siberian meteorite crater said to hold trillions of carats

September 21, 2012

Artist's impression of asteroid hitting Earth (Credit: Don Davis/NASA)

Russian scientists are claiming that a gigantic deposit of industrial diamonds found in a huge Siberian meteorite crater during Soviet times could revolutionize industry, Huffington Post reports.

The Siberian branch of Russian Academy of Sciences said that the Popigai crater in eastern Siberia contains “many trillions of carats” of “impact diamonds” — good for technological purposes, not for jewelry, and far exceeding the currently known global… read more

Craig Venter’s bugs might save the world

May 31, 2012

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Inside the laboratories of biotechnology, a literal possibility of artificial life is taking hold: What if machines really were alive?

The possibility of designing a new organism, entirely from synthetic DNA, to produce whatever compounds we want, would mark a radical leap forward in biotechnology and a paradigm shift in manufacturing.

The appeal of biological machinery is manifold:

  • Because organisms reproduce, they can generate not only their

read more

California’s taking the lead on self-driving cars

June 5, 2012

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Intrigued by the idea of eliminating human error from driving, a California legislator has introduced a bill to clarify that driverless cars are street legal.

The technology has a supporter in state Sen. Alex Padilla, D-Los Angeles, a Massachusetts Institute of Technology-trained mechanical engineer. Padilla’s Senate Bill 1298 would make it clear under California law that autonomous vehicles can use the public roads.… 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

Training the brain to improve on new tasks

April 17, 2013

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UPDATE Jan. 7, 2016: 

Lumosity to Pay $2 Million to Settle FTC Deceptive Advertising Charges for Its “Brain Training” Program — U.S. Federal Trade Commission

A brain-training task that increases the number of items an individual can remember over a short period of time may boost performance in other problem-solving tasks by enhancing communication between different brain areas.

The new study is one of… read more

Russia developing anti-terrorist robots

May 23, 2013

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Russian experts are developing robots designed to minimize casualties in terrorist attacks and neutralize terrorists, Russian Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin said on May 17, RIA Novosti reports.

Robots could also help evacuate injured servicemen and civilians from the scene of a terrorist attack, said Rogozin, who oversees the defense industry.

Other anti-terror equipment Russia is developing includes systems that can see terrorists through obstacles and… read more

A radical new holistic view of health based on cooperation and disease based on competition

September 16, 2013

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Researchers at The Mount Sinai Medical Center have developed a radical holistic view of health — seeing it as a cooperative state among cells, while they see disease as result of cells at war that fight with each other for domination.

Their unique approach is backed by experimental evidence. The researchers show a network of genes in cells, which includes the powerful tumor suppressor p53,… read more

Behold the Cheetah Robot. The Singularity is nigh!

March 6, 2012

Cheetah Robot

The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) is funding Boston Dynamics’ development of a prototype robot called the Cheetah.

The cat-like bot managed to gallop 18 mph on a treadmill, setting a new land speed record for legged robots. (The previous record: 13.1 mph, set at MIT in 1989.)

The company has a prototype human-like robot in the works called the Atlasread more

With ‘flyover’ 3D rendering and Yelp/Siri integration, Apple Maps makes Google Maps look like child’s play

June 21, 2012

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Apple just launched its stunning Maps product, with “Flyover” — Apple’s incredible new 3D maps display, which makes Google Maps look antiquated.

“We built an entire new mapping solution from the ground up,” Forstall said while demoing the product, “It is beautiful. We did all the cartography ourselves.”

In addition to the 3D display, Maps will have Siri integrated turn-by-turn directions. Crucial to the new Maps… read more

What is 5G and when can I get it?

March 25, 2015

(credit: Huawei)

Imagine being able to download a full-length 8GB HD movie to your phone in six seconds (versus seven minutes over 4G or more than an hour on 3G) and video chats so immersive that it will feel like you can reach out and touch the other person right through the screen.

That’s the vision for the 5G concept — the next generation of wireless networks — presented at the… read more

Will robot pets replace the real thing?

May 20, 2015

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University of Melbourne animal welfare researcher Jean-Loup Rault, PhD says pets will soon become a luxury in an overpopulated, high-density world and the future may lie in robot pets that mimic the real thing.

“It might sound surreal for us to have robotic or virtual pets, but it could be totally normal for the next generation,” Rault said. “If 10 billion human beings live on the… read more

Making solar power competitive with coal

February 24, 2012

This 25-micrometer-thick film of silicon, used to make solar cells, has a metal backing that keeps it from breaking (credit: Astrowatt)

By the end of the decade, U.S. manufacturers could make solar panels that are less than half as expensive as the ones they make now.

At 52 cents per watt, that would be cheap enough for solar power to compete with electricity from fossil fuels, according to a new study by MIT researchers in Energy & Environmental Science.

Assuming similar cost reductions for installation and equipment, solar power would… 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

Finding ET may require giant robotic leap

April 24, 2012

NGC Galaxy

Autonomous, self-replicating robots — exobots — are the way to explore the universe, find and identify extraterrestrial life and perhaps clean up space debris in the process, according to John D. Mathews, professor of electrical engineering at Penn State.

“The basic premise is that human space exploration must be highly efficient, cost effective, and autonomous as placing humans beyond low Earth orbit is fraught with political… read more

A world record for highest-surface-area materials

Greatly expands storage density for natural gas (for vehicles), light harvesting, and drug delivery
September 13, 2012

NU-110

Northwestern University researchers have broken a world record by creating two new synthetic materials with the greatest amount of surface areas reported to date.

Named NU-109 and NU-110, the materials belong to a class of crystalline nanostructure known as metal-organic frameworks (MOFs) that are promising vessels for natural-gas and hydrogen storage for vehicles, and for catalysts, chemical sensing, light harvesting, drug delivery, and other uses requiring a large… read more

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