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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

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

An Earth-like exoplanet in mass and size discovered

October 31, 2013

Gliese436b

MIT researchers have found that Kepler 78b, a small, intensely hot planet 400 light-years from Earth discovered by the researchers in August, shares Earth’s mass.

By analyzing the movement of its host star, Kepler 78, the scientists determined that the exoplanet is about 1.7 times as massive as the Earth.

From the same measurements, they calculated that the planet’s density is 5.3 grams… read more

BioPen rewrites orthopedic implant surgery

Delivers live stem cells and growth factors at the time of surgery to regenerate bone, cartilage, muscle, or nerve tissue
December 13, 2013

biopen3

Australian researchers have developed a handheld “BioPen” that will allow surgeons to precisely design and deliver customized bone and other implant materials (live stem cells and growth factors) at the time of surgery to regenerate bone, cartilage, muscle, or nerve tissue.

Here’s how it works:

  1. Similar to a multi-material 3D printer, the BioPen delivers stem cells embedded in a biopolymer carrier (such as alginate, a seaweed extract), protected

read more

Are you ready for computers as comedians?

January 7, 2013

As verbal interaction between humans and computers becomes more prominent in daily life — from Siri, Apple’s voice-activated assistant technology, to speech-based search engines to fully automated call centers — demand has grown for “social computers” that can communicate with humans in a natural way.

Teaching computers to grapple with humor is a key part of this equation, author Alex Stone writes in The New York Times Sunday Review.… read more

Physicists create synthetic magnetic monopoles

May lead to entirely new materials, such as superconductors
January 30, 2014

monopoli2_sRGB

Nearly 85 years after pioneering theoretical physicist Paul Dirac predicted the possibility of their existence, scientists have created, identified and photographed synthetic magnetic monopoles.

The groundbreaking accomplishment, described by a paper in Nature, paves the way for the detection of the particles in nature, which would be a revolutionary development comparable to the discovery of the electron, according to the scientists.

“The creation of a synthetic magnetic monopole… read more

Stephen Hawking: ‘There is no heaven; it’s a fairy story’

May 16, 2011

A belief that heaven or an afterlife awaits us is a “fairy story” for people afraid of death, Stephen Hawking has said.

“I regard the brain as a computer which will stop working when its components fail. There is no heaven or afterlife for broken down computers; that is a fairy story for people afraid of the dark,” he said.

In a lecture Monday at the Google Zeitgeist meeting… read more

Cloud-computing ‘Internet for robots’ launched

March 11, 2013

RoboEarth_Grafik

Researchers of five European universities have developed the RoboEarth Cloud Engine, a cloud-computing platform for robots.

The platform allows robots connected to the Internet to directly access the powerful computational, storage, and communications infrastructure of modern data centers — the giant server farms behind the likes of Google, Facebook, and Amazon — for robotics tasks and robot learning.

The new platform extends earlier work… read more

Scanadu Scout ‘Tricorder’ launches on indiegogo

May 23, 2013

Scanadu Scout (credit: Scanadu)

Scanadu has announced updates to its Scanadu Scout, the “first medical Tricorder,” a prototype device designed to measure vital signs; and the launch of an indiegogo campaign.

A first-edition Scout can be reserved on indiegogo and will be available in March 2014.

The Scout is sold as an exploratory tool. “By helping us collect data, we can file our application to the FDA for market… read more

A simple, non-invasive gene therapy restores sight

Can now safely insert repair genes into photoreceptors in the fine-vision fovea
June 14, 2013

intravitreal_injection2

UC Berkeley researchers have developed an new method for inserting genes into retina cells that is easier and more effective, It could greatly expand gene therapy to help restore sight to patients with blinding diseases ranging from inherited defects like retinitis pigmentosa to degenerative illnesses of old age, such as macular degeneration.

Unlike current treatments, the new procedure delivers genes to hard-to-reach cells throughout the entire retina,… read more

Boeing missile zaps electronic devices in first test flight

October 29, 2012

Boeing

A recent weapons flight test in the Utah desert may change future warfare after the missile successfully defeated electronic targets with little to no collateral damage.

Boeing and the U.S. Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) Directed Energy Directorate at Kirtland Air Force Base, N.M., successfully tested the Counter-electronics High-powered Microwave Advanced Missile Project (CHAMP) during a flight over the Utah Test and Training Range.… read more

Flip of a single molecular switch makes an old brain young

March 8, 2013

A cultured neuron with projecting dendrites studded with sites of communication between neurons, known as dendritic spines (Yale University)

The flip of a single molecular switch helps create the mature neuronal connections that allow the brain to bridge the gap between adolescent impressionability and adult stability.

Now Yale School of Medicine researchers have reversed the process, recreating a youthful brain that facilitated both learning and healing in the adult mouse.

Scientists have long known that the young and old brains are very different. Adolescent brains… read more

The touch-screen generation

March 30, 2013

touch-screen generation

Young children — even toddlers — are spending more and more time with digital technology. What will it mean for their development?

The Atlantic magazine explores this trend in its cover story, “The Touch-Screen Generation.”

Rooftop solar, other renewables make 9GW of baseload fossil fuels no longer needed in Australia

August 1, 2013

800px-Panneaux_photovoltaïques

AGL Energy, one of the big three power utilities in Australia, says that 9,000MW of fossil-fuel baseload capacity needs to be taken out of the national electricity market (NEM) to bring it back into balance, RenewEconomy reports.

That assessment of 9,000MW equates to nearly one-third of the country’s baseload generation — a sure sign that renewables, and in particularly rooftop solar, are changing the dynamics of the… read more

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