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How telecom convergence may widen the digital divide

May 18, 2012

(Credit: iStockphoto)

Technology is helping communication companies merge telephone, television and Internet services, but a push to deregulate may leave some customers on the wrong side of the digital divide during this convergence, according to a Penn State telecommunications researcher.

“Moving away from copper lines is an example of abandoning obsolete technology and embracing technology that is faster, better, cheaper and more convenient,” said Rob Frieden, Pioneers Chair in… read more

Brain signals from a primate directly move paralyzed limbs in another primate ‘avatar’

February 24, 2014

Neural activity signals recorded from pre-motor neurons (top) are decoded and played back to control limb movements in a functionally paralyzed primate avatar (bottom) --- a step toward making brain-machine interfaces for paralyzed humans to control their own limbs using their brain activity alone (illustration adapted) (credit: Maryam M. Shanechi et al./Nature Communications)

Taking brain-machine interfaces (BMI) to the next level, new research may help paralyzed people move their own limb just by thinking about it.

Previous research has been limited to controlling external devices, such as robots or synthetic avatar arms.

In a paper published online Feb. 18 in Nature Communications, Maryam Shanechi, assistant professor of electrical and computer engineering at Cornell University, working with Ziv Williams,… read more

World’s most human-like android head

April 26, 2013

GF2045

Dr. Dmitry Itskov, founder of the 2045 Initiative and Global Future 2045 congress (GF2045), announced Thursday that he will unveil Dr. David Hanson’s latest android, the Dmitry Avatar-A head — the “world’s most human-like android head” — at the GF2045 congress, scheduled for June 15–16 at Lincoln Center in New York City.

The new android, a robotic replica of Itskov’s head, is being created by… read more

Researchers prove that memories reside in specific brain cells

March 23, 2012

Mouse Hippocampus

In a new MIT study, researchers used optogenetics to show that memories reside in very specific brain cells, and that simply activating a tiny fraction of brain cells can recall an entire memory — explaining, for example, how Marcel Proust could recapitulate his childhood from the aroma of a once-beloved madeleine cookie.

“We demonstrate that behavior based on high-level cognition, such as the expression of a specific memory, can… read more

Gigabit Internet may be coming to 35 US cities

February 20, 2014

Google Fiber projects in the U.S. (credit: Google)

Google has invited cities in nine metro areas around the U.S. — 34 cities altogether — to “work with us to explore what it would take to bring them Google Fiber” at gigabit speeds — “100 times faster than what most of us live with today,” said Milo Medin, VP, Google Access, writing on the Google Fiber blog.

“We aim to provide updates by the end… read more

Could synthetic fuels eliminate entire US need for crude oil, create ‘new economy’?

December 7, 2012

Graphical representation of the locations of selected facilities for 50% replacement of petroleum fuels. The facilities are represented by dark brown circles with corresponding sizes. The amounts of coal, biomass, and natural gas feedstock in the United States are represented by the proposed color scheme in the map legend. (Credit: Josephine A. Elia, Richard C. Baliban, and Christodoulos A. Floudas/Princeton University)

The U.S. could eliminate the need for crude oil by using a combination of coal, natural gas, and non-food crops to make synthetic fuel, a team of Princeton researchers has found.

Besides economic and national security benefits, the plan has potential environmental advantages. Because plants absorb carbon dioxide to grow, the United States could cut vehicle greenhouse emissions by as much as 50 percent in… read more

Scientists and bankers — a new model army

April 12, 2012

450px-New_York_City_Stock_Exchange_NYSE_03

Bankers must surrender more information on their activities to scientists to use it to build better system-wide financial models, says John Liechty, director of the Center for the Study of Global Financial Stability and Professor of Marketing and Statistics at Pennsylvania State University in University Park.

Existing financial models failed to predict the crisis of 2008 and the follow-on crisis of 2011–12. They missed the huge system-wide risks that… read more

Eureka! When a blow to the head creates a sudden genius

May 20, 2012

Stephen Wiltshire

How can we explain “acquired savants” — people with extraordinary talent who’ve miraculously developed artistic, musical, or mathematical abilities as a result of a brain injury, or temporarily from a transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) session — since they weren’t born with the talent and didn’t learn it later?

For example, how is it that somebody like Derek Amato (video below), who’d never demonstrated any musical talent before hitting his head at the… read more

Printing computer displays and solar cells

November 20, 2013

oleds_fraunhofer

Printable curved computer displays, TV screens, signs, clothing, fluorescent wallpaper, and flexible solar cells will soon be possible using a new printing process for flexible, organic light-emitting diodes, or OLEDs, say German scientists.

“Almost any surface can be made into a display,” said Dr. Armin Wedel, head of division at the Fraunhofer Institute for Applied Polymer Research IAP.

The first curved OLED screens were demonstrated at… read more

A genetically engineered weight-loss implant

Enjoy your Thanksgiving dinner --- they're working on it
November 28, 2013

implantable_slimming_aid

ETH-Zurich biotechnologists have constructed an implantable genetic regulatory circuit that monitors blood-fat levels. In response to excessive levels, it produces a messenger substance that signals satiety (fullness) to the body. Tests on obese mice revealed that this helps them lose weight.

According to the WHO, over half the population in many industrialized nations is overweight, one in three people extremely so, with high-calorie and fatty food a lifetime on… read more

We’re all living longer, but longevity increases not benefitting everybody

December 21, 2012

Life_expectancy

Global lifespans have risen dramatically in the past 40 years, but the increased life expectancy is not benefitting body equally, say University of Toronto researchers. In particular, adult males from low- and middle-income countries are losing ground.

People are living longer on average than they were in 1970, and those extra years of life are being achieved at lower cost, the researchers, led by U of… read more

Leap 3D out-Kinects Kinect

May 22, 2012

leap_motion

Leap Motion is unveiling its Leap 3D motion control system, Technology Review Hello World reports.

Leap Motion appears to outrank Kinect in terms of its capability. The technology, reports CNET, can detect motion with up to a hundredth of a millimeter accuracy; it’s nuanced enough to detect fingers, for instance, enabling the possibility of touch-free pinch-to-zoom.

When the device is available for commercial release,… read more

Low-cost design makes ultrasound imaging affordable to the world

September 17, 2012

ultrasound-fetus

An ultra-low cost scanner that can be plugged into any computer to show images of an unborn baby has been developed by Newcastle University engineers.

The handheld USB device — roughly the size of a computer mouse — works like existing ultrasound scanners, using pulses of high frequency sound to build up a picture of the unborn child on the computer screen.

However, unlike the… read more

NASA investigates use of graphene for new sensors

December 7, 2012

Graphene

NASA researchers have developed graphene-based sensors to detect trace elements in Earth’s upper atmosphere and structural flaws in spacecraft.

Technologist Mahmooda Sultana at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center is investigating nano-sized detectors that could detect atomic oxygen and other trace elements in the upper atmosphere and structural strains in everything from airplane wings to spacecraft buses.

“The cool thing about graphene is its properties,”… read more

Walking again after spinal cord injury

June 1, 2012

mouse_Courtine_lab_EPFL

Rats with spinal cord injuries and severe paralysis are now walking (and running) thanks to researchers at EPFL.

They found that a severed section of the spinal cord can make a comeback when its own innate intelligence and regenerative capacity is awakened.

The study points to a profound change in our understanding of the central nervous system. According to lead author Grégoire Courtine, it… read more

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