science + technology news

Faster, cheaper biofuel production

November 22, 2013

Thalassiosira_pseudonana

Researchers at Scripps Institution of Oceanography at UC San Diego have developed a method for greatly enhancing biofuel production in tiny marine algae by genetically engineering a key growth component in biofuel.

The researchers say a significant roadblock in algal biofuel research surrounds the production of lipid oils, the fat molecules that store energy that can be produced for fuel: algae mainly produce the desired… read more

Could emotion detectors make driving safer?

March 17, 2014

epfl_emotion_recognition_driving

Researchers in EPFL’s Signal Processing 5 Laboratory (LTS5), working with PSA Peugeot Citroën, have developed an emotion detector based on the analysis of facial expressions in a car, using an infrared camera placed behind the steering wheel.

The researchers say they can read facial expressions and identify which of the seven universal emotions a person is feeling: fear, anger, joy, sadness, disgust, surprise, or… read more

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

March 4, 2015

iSkin2

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

Chronic stroke patients safely recover after injection of human stem cells

Stanford researchers now actively recruiting 156 patients for new trial
June 3, 2016

Sonia Olea Coontz had a stroke in 2011 that affected the movement of her right arm and leg. After modified stem cells were injected into her brain as part of a clinical trial, she says her limbs "woke up." (credit: Mark Rightmire/Stanford University School of Medicine)

Injecting specially prepared human adult stem cells directly into the brains of chronic stroke patients proved safe and effective in restoring motor (muscle) function in a small clinical trial led by Stanford University School of Medicine investigators.

The 18 patients had suffered their first and only stroke between six months and three years before receiving the injections, which involved drilling a small hole through their skulls.

For most… read more

Blackout

January 18, 2012

wikipedia_blacked_out

“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

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

sunlight_building

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

Thiel tells Schmidt: ‘Google is out of ideas’

July 18, 2012

Google Chairman Eric Schmidt and investor Peter Thiel took aim at each other in a recent debate, CNET reports.

Schmidt said technology and access to information has increased productivity and quality of life worldwide. Thiel thanked Schmidt for “doing a fantastic job” as “minister of propaganda” for Google. The tech sector has made remarkable strides in the areas of computers and software, he said, but has seen a “catastrophic” failure in other… read more

Immortal worms defy aging

February 29, 2012

Planarian flatworm

Researchers from The University of Nottingham have discovered how planarian flatworms overcome the aging process to be potentially immortal: they can rejuvenate their telomeres.

The discovery, funded by the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) and Medical Research Council (MRC), may eventually lead to alleviating aging and age-related characteristics in human cells.

Planarian worms have amazed scientists with their apparently limitless ability to regenerate. Researchers have… read more

How terahertz laser scanners will spy on you in airports

July 12, 2012

Genia

Genia Photonics has developed a programmable picosecond laser that is capable of spotting trace amounts of a variety of substances, including explosives, chemical agents, and hazardous biological substances at up to 50 meters.

It’s basically a spectrometer for radiation in the terahertz band. The beam used by Genia’s spectrometer is capable of penetrating most materials including wood, leather, cloth, ceramics, plastic, and paper, and can essentially… read more

Chinese project probes the genetics of genius

May 15, 2013

(Credit: iStock)

Researchers at BGI (formerly the Beijing Genomics Institute) in Shenzhen, China, the largest gene-sequencing facility in the world, are searching for the quirks of DNA that may contribute to genius in an ethically controversial study.

They are scouring the genomes of 1,600 U.S. adolescents who signed up for the Study of Mathematically Precocious Youth (SMPY) in the 1970s, Nature News reports.

Some geneticists say that the… read more

Wind could meet many times the world’s total power demand by 2030, Stanford researchers say

September 11, 2012

wind farms

Researchers at Stanford University’s School of Engineering and the University of Delaware have used what they call the “most sophisticated weather model available” to  meet many times the world’s total power demand by 2030 — in fact, enough to exceed the total demand by several times, even after accounting for reductions in wind speed caused by turbines.

In related news today, Lawrence Livermore and Carnegie Institute researchers have found… read more

This app lets autonomous video drones with facial recognition target persons

One small step for selfies, one giant leap for cheap deep-learning autonomous video-surveillance drones
November 19, 2015

selfie ft

Robotics company Neurala has combined facial-recognition and drone-control mobile software in an iOS/Android app called “Selfie Dronie” that enables low-cost Parrot Bebop and Bebop 2 drones to take hands-free videos and follow a subject autonomously.

To create a video, you simply select the person or object and you’re done. The drone then flies an arc around the subject to take a video selfie (it moves with the… read more

Billionaire Softbank CEO Masayoshi Son plans to invest in singularity

February 27, 2017

Masayoshi Son (credit: Softbank Group)

Billionaire Softbank Group Chairman and CEO Masayoshi Son revealed Monday (Feb. 27) at Mobile World Congress his plan to invest in singularity. “In next 30 years [the singularity] will become a reality,” he said, Tech Crunch reports.

“If superintelligence goes inside the moving device then the world, our lifestyle dramatically changes,” he said. “There will be many kinds. Flying, swimming, big, micro, run, 2 legs,… read more

Cray unveils Cray XC30 supercomputer, capable of scaling to 100 petaflops

November 12, 2012

Cray XC30 supercomputer (credit:

Cray Inc. has launched the Cray XC30 supercomputer, previously code-named “Cascade,” designed to scale high performance computing (HPC) workloads of more than 100 petaflops, with more than one million cores.

Cray did not specify whether the 100 petaflops was Rpeak or Rmax, or when a 100 petaflops installation might be planned.

China’s Guangzhou Supercomputing Center also recently announced the development of a supercomputer… read more

Real or computer-generated: can you tell the difference?

Training helps humans tell them apart ... but soon, only computers will know what's real or not
February 22, 2016

A Dartmouth College study shows that people find it increasingly difficult to distinguish between computer-generated images and real photos, but that a small amount of training greatly improves their accuracy. (credit: Dartmouth College)

As computer-generated characters become increasingly photorealistic, people are finding it harder to distinguish between real and computer-generated, a Dartmouth College-led study has found.

This has introduced complex forensic and legal issues*, such as how to distinguish between computer-generated and photographic images of child pornography, says Hany Farid, a professor of computer science, pioneering researcher in digital forensics at Dartmouth, and senior author of a paper… read more

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