science + technology news

Woman dies from antibiotic-resistant bacteria when no antibiotics worked

Deadly “CRE” family of superbug bacteria spreading more widely and stealthily, Harvard study finds
January 18, 2017

CRE bacteria

The death of a hospitalized patient in Reno Nevada for whom no available antibiotics worked highlights what World Health Organization and other public-health experts have been warning: antibiotic resistance is a serious threat and has gone global.

The patient — a female in her 70s — was admitted in for an infection and died in September 2016 from septic shock the CDC announced on Jan.… read more

An agile humanoid robot

November 6, 2012

NimbRo-OP_5_900

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

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

A 50 gigapixel camera five times better than 20/20 human vision

June 21, 2012

gigapixel_camera

By synchronizing 98 tiny cameras in a single device, engineers from Duke University and the University of Arizona have created a prototype camera that could capture up to 50 gigapixels of data (50,000 megapixels) and images with unprecedented detail.

The AWARE-2 camera’s resolution is five times better than 20/20 human vision over a 120 degree horizontal field.

By comparison, most consumer cameras are capable of taking photographs with sizes ranging… read more

Watson provides cancer treatment options to doctors in seconds

February 11, 2013

ibm_watson_medical

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

Gene mutation associated with ‘Internet addiction,’ German researchers suggest

Gene is associated with nicotine addiction, women more affected
August 30, 2012

(Credit: iStockphoto)

Researchers from the University of Bonn and the Central Institute of Mental Health in Mannheim found that “pro­blematic” Internet users, especially women, are more often carriers of a variation in the CHRNA4 gene, the nicotinic acetylcholine receptor gene, which that also plays a major role in nicotine addiction and generation of dopamine.

The T- variant (CC genotype) of the rs1044396 polymorphism on the CHRNA4 gene occurred significantly more frequently*, the… read more

‘Revolutionary’ eavesdropping technology patent to help governments monitor Internet chats

November 23, 2012

1984-Big-Brother

According to law enforcement agencies, the rising popularity of Internet chat services like Skype has made it difficult to eavesdrop on suspects’ communications.

But now, Dennis Chang, president of Sun Valley-based VOIP-Pal, has received a patent for a “legal intercept” technology that Chang says “would allow government agencies to ‘silently record’ VoIP communications,” Slate Future Tense reports.

Voice over IP chat software allows… read more

A cost-effective nanotube-based catalyst for producing hydrogen fuel

July 28, 2014

A new technology based on carbon nanotubes promises commercially viable hydrogen production from water (credit: Tewodros Asefa)

Rutgers researchers have used carbon nanotubes as a catalyst for splitting water into hydrogen and oxygen, which could replace expensive platinum for making clean-burning hydrogen fuel — which could one day replace expensive, environmentally harmful fossil fuels.

The Rutgers technology is also far more efficient than other low-cost catalysts investigated to date for electrolysis reactions, which use electric currents to split water molecules into hydrogen and oxygen,… read more

Space X plans global space internet

March 17, 2017

(credit: SpaceX)

SpaceX has applied to the FCC to launch 11,943 satellites into low-Earth orbit, providing “ubiquitous high-bandwidth (up to 1Gbps per user, once fully deployed) broadband services for consumers and businesses in the U.S. and globally,” according to FCC applications.

Recent meetings with the FCC suggest that the plan now looks like “an increasingly feasible reality — particularly with 5G technologies just a few years away, promising new devices and new… 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

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

How to become the engineers of our own evolution

March 20, 2012

singularityfringe

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

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

The threat of silence

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

silent_circle_zimmerman

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

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