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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

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

How to use mind-controlled robots in manufacturing, medicine

December 6, 2013

robot control via bci

University at Buffalo researchers are developing brain-computer interface (BCI) devices to mentally control robots.

“The technology has practical applications that we’re only beginning to explore,” said Thenkurussi “Kesh” Kesavadas, PhD, UB professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering and director of UB’s Virtual Reality Laboratory. “For example, it could help paraplegic patients to control assistive devices, or it could help factory workers perform advanced… read more

It might be possible to restore lost memories

Memories not stored in synapses, neurobiologist finds
December 22, 2014

Synapse (credit: Curtis Neveu/Wikimedia Commons)

New UCLA research indicates that lost memories can be restored, offering hope for patients in the early stages of Alzheimer’s disease.

For decades, most neuroscientists have believed that memories are stored at the synapses — the connections between brain cells, or neurons — which are destroyed by Alzheimer’s disease. The new study provides evidence contradicting the idea that long-term memory is stored at synapses.

“Long-term memory is not… read more

Events in the future seem closer than those in the past

We tend to feel closer to the future because we feel like we’re moving toward it
March 15, 2013

Screen capture of a virtual environment for testing time perception (credit: Caruso E M et al./Psychological Science)

We say that time flies, it marches on, it flows like a river — our descriptions of time are closely linked to our experiences of moving through space.

Now, new research suggests that the illusions that influence how we perceive movement through space also influence our perception of time. The findings provide evidence that our experiences of space and time have even more in common than previously… read more

A virus that kills cancer: the cure that’s waiting in the cold

September 5, 2012

oncolytic_virus

Professor Magnus Essand has developed a virus that may kill cancer cells, The Telegraph reports.

Cheap to produce, the virus is exquisitely precise, with only mild, flu-like side-effects in humans. But Ad5[CgA-E1A-miR122]PTD is never going to be tested to see if it might also save humans, due to lack of funding.

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Brainwave training boosts brain network for cognitive control

October 25, 2012

eeg_amplitide_change_during_feedback

Researchers at  University of Western Ontario and the Lawson Health Research Institute have found that functional changes within a key brain network occur directly after a 30-minute session of noninvasive, neurofeedback training.

Background

Dysfunction of this cognitive-control network has previously been implicated in a range of brain disorders including attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, schizophrenia, depression, and post-traumatic stress disorder.

During neurofeedback, users learn to… read more

MIT cheetah robot now jumps over obstacles autonomously

First four-legged robot to run and jump over obstacles autonomously
June 1, 2015

MIT researchers have trained their robotic cheetah to see and jump over hurdles as it runs — making this the first four-legged robot to run and jump over obstacles autonomously (credits: Haewon Park, Patrick Wensing, and Sangbae Kim)

Massachusetts Institute of Technology| MIT cheetah robot lands the running jump

The MIT researchers who built a robotic cheetah have now trained it to see and jump over hurdles as it runs — making it the first four-legged robot to run and jump over obstacles autonomously.

The robot estimates an obstacle’s height and distance, gauges the best distance from which to jump, and adjusts… read more

New multilayer graphene structure allows ‘ultraprecise,’ ‘ultrafast’ water filtering

Next step: reduce the filter size to filter out even the smallest salts like in seawater for drinkable water -- "no longer science fiction"
February 18, 2014

graphene_water

University of Manchester researchers have taken another key step toward a seawater filter: they’ve developed one-atom-wide graphene-oxide (GO) capillaries by building multilayer GO membranes (laminates).

As described in Science, these new laminates allow for “ultraprecise” selection of molecules that can go through the filter and “ultrafast” flow of water.

The new GO filters have an “astonishingly” accurate mesh that allows them to distinguish between atomic species… read more

Self-braking cars will save thousands of lives

October 8, 2012

car_crash

How effective are systems that warn a driver about an impending front collision, then slam on the brakes if the driver doesn’t act quickly enough?

A lot, says a paper recently published in IEEE Transactions on Intelligent Transportation Systems, IEEE Spectrum Tech Talk reports.

Researchers at Virginia Tech’s Center for Injury Biomechanics studied systems that rely on radar to tell the car when it is coming… read more

Why doesn’t my phone understand me yet?

January 13, 2016

context lacking ft

Because machines can’t develop a shared understanding of the people, place and situation — often including a long social history, the key to human communication) — say University of California, Berkeley, postdoctoral fellow Arjen Stolk and his Dutch colleagues.

In other words, machines don’t consider the context of a conversation the way people do.

The word “bank,” for example, would be interpreted one way if… read more

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