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Proposed satellite would beam solar power to earth

April 9, 2012

Space-based energy factory, SPS-ALPHA --- the Solar Power Satellite via Arbitrarily Large PHased Array (credit: John Mankins)

A NASA-funded new approach to power-beaming solar-power satellites has been developed by John Mankins, who led the first NASA solar-power-satellite development team in the 90s.

Called the SPS-ALPHA (Solar Power Satellite via Arbitrarily Large PHased Array), this “first practical solar-power satellite concept” uses a novel “biomimetic” approach.

Mankins said that this project would make possible the construction of huge platforms from tens of thousands of small elements that can deliver… read more

UC Berkeley joins edX

July 25, 2012

edx_announcement

EdX, the online learning initiative founded by Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and launched in May, announced today the addition of the University of California, Berkeley to its platform.

UC Berkeley will offer two courses on edX this Fall — on AI and software — and the university will also serve as the inaugural chair of the to-be-formed “X University” Consortium.… read more

Makerbot Replicator 2 review

September 20, 2012

make_replicator_2

The Makerbot Replicator 2, a second generation of MakerBot’s wildly popular Replicator 3D printer, is now faster, quieter, and more rigid than the original, Make reports.

The Replicator now sports a sleek modern look with an all-black sheet metal frame and PVC side panels that are removable, customizable, and allow for easy cleaning of any excess material.

A larger, more responsive LCD panel on the front… read more

Genome hunters go after martian DNA

October 18, 2012

Mars

Two high-profile entrepreneurs say they want to put a DNA sequencing machine on the surface of Mars in a bid to prove the existence of extraterrestrial life.

In what could become a race for the first extraterrestrial genome, researcher J. Craig Venter said Tuesday that his Maryland academic institute and company, Synthetic Genomics, would develop a machine capable of sequencing and beaming back DNA data… read more

First micro-structure atlas of the human brain completed

October 23, 2012

Rendering of long white-matter fiber bundles (credit: CONNECT)

European scientists have built the first atlas of white-matter microstructure in the human brain in a project called CONNECT (Consortium of neuroimagers for the non-invasive exploration of brain connectivity and tracts).

The new atlas combines 3D images from the MRI scans of 100 brains of volunteers. To achieve this, the scientists developed advanced diffusion… read more

An electric car that actually goes far?

July 20, 2012

electric_car_goes_far

Researchers have made the first stable lithium-air batteries, Science NOW reports. They may one day give electric cars a driving range similar to today’s gas guzzlers.

Lithium-air batteries have potential to store 10 times more energy than the best lithium-ion batteries on the market today, but have been unstable, falling apart after a few charges.

So researchers at the University of St Andrews in the United… read more

Human brains share a consistent genetic blueprint and possess enormous biochemical complexity

First extensive analysis of Allen Human Brain Atlas has implications for basic understanding of the human brain and for medicine
September 20, 2012

3D rendering from the Allen Human Brain Atlas

The same basic functional elements are used throughout the cortex and understanding how one area works in detail will uncover fundamentals that apply to the other areas as well, scientists at the Allen Institute for Brain Science reported in the latest issue of the journal Nature.

Human brains share a consistent genetic blueprint, and possess enormous biochemical complexity, they said, based on the first deep and large-scale… read more

Why 3D printing will go the way of virtual reality

January 26, 2012

A 3D-printed object. (credit: Carter West Engineering, Inc.)

The notion that 3D printing will on any reasonable time scale become a “mature” technology that can reproduce all the goods on which we rely is to engage in a complete denial of the complexities of modern manufacturing, unless you’d like everything made out of plastic, says Technology Review | Mim’s Bits blog.

Microsoft’s Cortana to battle Siri

September 13, 2013

Cortana (credit: Microsoft)

Microsoft is preparing a Siri-like personal voice assistant based on Bing, code-named Cortana, for Windows Phone,  eWeek reports. (Cortana is a holographic AI construct that figures prominently in the Halo video game series.)

Like its Halo counterpart, Cortana “will be able to learn and adapt, thanks to machine-learning technology and the ‘Satori’ knowledge repository powering Bing,” according to ZDNet’s Mary Jane Foley.

Satori, which… read more

Did ants invent the Internet?

The behavior of harvester ants as they forage for food mirrors the protocols that control traffic on the Internet
August 26, 2012

Pogonomyrmex barbatus (credit: Steve Jurvetson)

Two Stanford researchers have discovered that harvester ants determine how many foragers to send out of the nest in much the same way that Internet protocols discover how much bandwidth is available for the transfer of data.

The researchers are calling it the “anternet.”

Deborah Gordon, a biology professor at Stanford, has been studying ants for more than 20 years.

When she figured out how the… read more

Student engineers design, build, fly ‘printed’ airplane

October 23, 2012

3D_plane_cropped_tight

The MITRE Corporation hired two University of Virginia engineeering students to build an unmanned aerial vehicle, using 3D printing technology, part of a Department of the Army project to study the feasibility of using such planes.

The result was a plane with a 6.5-foot wingspan, made from assembled “printed” parts.  It achieved a cruising speed of 45 mph and is only the third 3D-printed plane known to… read more

Samsung plans flexible, unbreakable, lighter phones

November 26, 2012

samsung_flexible_phones

Samsung plans to start mass production of  displays using plastic rather than glass to make mobile devices unbreakable, lighter, and bendable, to be released in the first half of next year, The Wall Street Journal reports.

Samsung’s flexible displays will incorporate OLEDs, a display technology that the South Korean company is already using in its smartphones and television sets. OLEDs are thin and can beread more

A wakeup call: what exactly should we do about near-Earth objects?

June 1, 2014

NEOs booklet

The February 2013 event near Chelyabinsk, Russia “has sparked a realization that the incoming rate of small space rocks may be much higher than previously thought, and their impact greater than previously thought,” according to Near-Earth Objects: Responding to the International Challenge, an open-access booklet just published by Secure World Foundation.

The booklet is the first to both bring together the reviews of the… read more

How to print 3D microstructures in seconds

September 14, 2012

fast_printed_3d_microstructures

Nanoengineers at the University of California, San Diego have developed a novel technology that can fabricate, in mere seconds, microscale three dimensional (3D) structures out of soft, biocompatible hydrogels.

Near term, the technology could lead to better systems for growing and studying cells, including stem cells, in the laboratory. Long-term, the goal is to be able to print biological tissues for regenerative medicine.

For… read more

A pressure switch inside the head

November 8, 2012

View of the not yet completely enclosed intracranial pressure sensor (credit: Dr. Thomas Velten/Fraunhofer IBMT)

An increase in cerebral pressure may cause dementia or even destroy the brain, but there’s no reliable sensor available (they quickly corrode), and current intracranial pressure systems keep patients in a hospital for days or weeks.

So Fraunhofer Institute for Biomedical Engineering (IBMT) researchers have developed a small implantable sensor for cerebral pressure that’s waterproof, using a casing made from high-grade titanium. It’s… read more

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