science + technology news

Berkeley Lab scientists record first inside look at carbon-capture molecular structure

November 26, 2013

Mg-MOF-74 is an open metal site MOF whose porous crystalline structure could enable it to serve as a storage vessel for capturing and containing the carbon dioxide emitted from coal-burning power plants. (National Academy of Sciences)

Researchers with Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) have recorded the first electronic structure observations of the adsorption of carbon dioxide inside a metal-organic framework (MOF).

The “Mg-MOF-74″ MOF’s porous crystalline structure could enable it to serve as a storage vessel for capturing and containing the carbon dioxide emitted from coal-burning power plants.

MOFs are molecular systems consisting of a metal oxide center surrounded by organic… read more

IBM developing 150-petaflops supercomputers for national labs

New "data-centric" architecture deals with Big Data by embedding compute power everywhere data resides
November 14, 2014

One trillion connected objects and devices on the planet will be generating data by 2015 --- currently 2.5 gigabytes per day (credit: IBM)

IBM today (Nov. 14) announced that the U.S. Department of Energy has awarded IBM contracts valued at $325 million to develop and deliver “the world’s most advanced ‘data-centric’ supercomputing systems” at Lawrence Livermore and Oak Ridge National Laboratories to advance innovation and discovery in science, engineering and national security.”

The world is generating more than 2.5 billion gigabytes of “big data” every day, according to IBM’s 2013 annual report, requiring… read more

Mapping brain circuits for specific functions

New way to image brain-cell activity could shed light on psychiatric disorders
October 19, 2012

MIT neuroscientists used calcium imaging to label these pyramidal cells in the brain (credit: Qian Chen/MIT)

A team led by MIT neuroscientists has developed a way to monitor how brain cells coordinate with each other to control specific behaviors, such as initiating movement or detecting an odor.

The researchers’ new imaging technique, based on the detection of calcium ions in neurons, could help them map the brain circuits that perform such functions.

It could also provide new insights into the… read more

IBM Watson AI XPRIZE announced at TED

February 17, 2016

ibm-watson-ai-xprize ft

The IBM Watson AI XPRIZE, a Cognitive Computing Competition was announced on the TED Stage today (Feb 17) by XPRIZE Foundation chairman Peter Diamandis and IBM Watson general manager David Kenny.

It’s a $5 million competition challenging teams from around the world to develop and demonstrate how humans can collaborate with powerful cognitive technologies to tackle some of the world’s grand challenges.

According to IBM, “the… read more

How to identify and predict human activities from video

October 30, 2012


A video shows a woman carrying a box into a building.  Later, it shows her leaving the building without it. What was she doing?

Carnegie Mellon University’s (CMU) Mind’s Eye program is creating intelligent software that will recognize human activities in video and predict what might happen next. It will also flag unusual events and deduce actions that may be occurring off-camera.

Automating the time-consuming job of… read more

Hawking offers new solution to ‘black hole information paradox’

New hope if you fall into a black hole
August 27, 2015

Nobel physics laureate Gerard 't Hooft of Utrecht University, the Netherlands, confers with Stephen Hawking at a weeklong conference at KTH Royal Institute of Technology on the information loss paradox. (photo credit: Håkan Lindgren)

Addressing a current controversy in physics about information in black holes, “I propose that the information is stored not in the interior of the black hole as one might expect, but on its boundary, the event horizon.”

The event horizon is a boundary around a black hole beyond which events cannot affect an outside observer, also known as “the point of no return” — where gravitational pull… read more

Tablets + cloud vs. desktop PCs

March 5, 2012

Windows on an iPad? Believe it. (Credit: Onlive)

As the action moves to tablets, mobile devices, and the cloud, what’s the future for the desktop PC?

Dim, according to OnLive, Inc., which has just introduced Onlive Desktop Plus, which displays a Windows 7 desktop on an iPad, with the full, latest versions of Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Internet Explorer, Adobe Reader, and Flash videos, plus 5 GB of cloud storage.

The trick:a high-speed server farm in the cloud… read more

Teaching household robots to manipulate objects more efficiently

New algorithms could help household robots work around their physical shortcomings
February 26, 2013


At this year’s IEEE International Conference on Robotics and Automation, students in the Learning and Intelligent Systems Group at MIT’s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory will present a pair of papers showing how household robots could use a little lateral thinking to compensate for their physical shortcomings.

Many commercial robotic arms perform what roboticists call “pick and place” tasks: The arm picks… read more

Are you ready for mood-altering drugs precisely inserted into your brain?

June 24, 2016

PFC-directed oscillatory interactions ft

Imagine if doctors could precisely insert a tiny amount of a custom drug into a specific circuit in your brain and improve your depression (or other mood problems) — instead of treating the entire brain.

That’s exactly what Duke University researchers have explored in mice. Stress-susceptible animals that appeared depressed or anxious were restored to relatively normal behavior this way, according to a study appearing in the… read more

Cloning quantum information from the past

January 8, 2014

In the film "Looper," time travel is invented by the year 2074 and, though immediately outlawed, is used by criminal organizations to send those they want killed into the past where they are killed by "loopers." (Credit: TriStar Pictures)

It is theoretically possible for time travelers to copy quantum data from the past, according to three scientists in a recent paper in Physical Review Letters.

It all started when David Deutsch, a pioneer of quantum computing and a physicist at Oxford, came up with a simplified model of time travel to deal with the Grandfather paradox*.  He solved the paradox originally using a slight change to quantum theory,… read more

First Earth-size planet in ‘habitable zone’ discovered

April 18, 2014

An artistic concept of Kepler-186f based on a collaboration of scientists and artists (credit: NASA Ames/SETI Institute/JPL-Caltech)

Astronomers have discovered the first Earth-size planet orbiting a star in the “habitable zone” — the range of distance from a star where liquid water might pool on the surface of an orbiting planet. The discovery of Kepler-186f confirms that planets the size of Earth exist in the habitable zone of stars other than our sun.

Planets have previously been found in the habitable zone, but they are all… read more

A cheap, long-lasting, sustainable battery for grid energy storage

Oh, and they don't explode
September 2, 2016

Zinc-ion battery (credit: Dipan Kundu et al./Nature Energy

University of Waterloo chemists have developed a long-lasting, safe, zinc-ion battery that costs half the price of current lithium-ion batteries. It could help communities shift from traditional power plants to renewable solar and wind energy production, where electricity storage overnight is needed.

The battery is water-based and uses cheap but safe, non-flammable, non-toxic materials, compared to expensive, flammable, organic electrolytes in lithium-ion batteries, which are used in the… 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

How to become the engineers of our own evolution

March 20, 2012


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

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