science + technology news

The origin of the robot species

Robots "evolve" over 10 generations to perform a task twice as fast
August 12, 2015

mother robot-ft

Researchers led by the University of Cambridge have built a mother robot that can build its own children, test which one does best, and automatically use the results to inform the design of the next generation — passing down preferential traits automatically.

Without any human intervention or computer simulation, beyond the initial command to build a robot capable of movement, the mother created children constructed of between… read more

Delphi completes first coast-to-coast automated drive

March 31, 2015

(credit: Delphi)

A self-driving car equipped by GM spinoff Delphi Automotive completed today a historic, 3,500-mile journey across the U.S. from San Franscisco to New York.

The trip demonstrated the full capabilities of its active safety technologies with the longest automated drive ever attempted in North America. The coast-to-coast trip, launched in San Francisco on March 22, covered approximately 3,500 miles.

Demonstrated on the streets of Las Vegas at… read more

Stumped by a problem? The ‘generic parts technique’ technique unsticks you

March 8, 2012

CocaCola

University of Massachusetts psychologist Dr. Tony McCaffrey has developed a systematic way of overcoming “functional fixedness” (the tendency to fixate on the common use of an object or its parts, hindering people from solving problems). He calls it the “generic parts technique” (GPT).

He found that people trained in GPT solved eight problems 67 percent more often than those who weren’t trained, and the trained group… read more

Easing brain fatigue with a walk in the park

April 3, 2013

(Credit: iStockphoto)

An innovative new study from Scotland confirms the observation that you can ease brain fatigue simply by strolling through a leafy park, The New York Times reports.

Researchers have long theorized that green spaces are calming, requiring less of our so-called directed mental attention than busy, urban streets do, but it had not been possible to study the brains of people while they were actually outside, moving… read more

Homeland Security looking for (more than) a few good drones

September 28, 2012

Reaper Drone (Credit: USAF)

DHS to test unmanned aircraft for variety of applications.

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security this week issued a call for unmanned systems makers to participate in a program that will ultimately determine their safety and performance for use in first responder, law enforcement and border security situations, Network World Layer 8 reports.

In a twist that will certainly raise some eyebrows,  the program’s results  of… read more

The highest-resolution immersive visualization facility ever built

November 21, 2012

RealityDeck

Stony Brook University (SBU) recently unveiled its new Reality Deck, with 1.5 billion pixels total on 416 super-high-resolution screens in a four-walled surround-view theater — the highest-resolution  immersive display ever built — and driven by a 220 TFLOPs graphic supercomputer.

Its purpose and primary design principle is to enable scientists, engineers, and physicians to tackle current problems that require the visualization of vast amounts of… read more

Brain cells made from urine

December 11, 2012

neurons_from_urine

Some of the waste that humans flush away every day could become a powerful source of brain cells to study disease, and may even one day be used in therapies for neurodegenerative diseases.

Scientists have found a relatively straightforward way to persuade the cells discarded in human urine to turn into valuable neurons, Nature News reports.

The method uses ordinary cells present in urine, and transforms… read more

Assembling big structures out of small ultralight pieces

"Can you 3-D print an airplane?" question leads to major design breakthrough
August 19, 2013

Assemblies of the cellular composite material are seen from different perspectives, showing the repeating "cuboct" lattice structure, made from many identical flat cross-shaped pieces.<br />
PHOTO COURTESY OF KENNETH CHEUNG

MIT researchers have developed a lightweight structure whose tiny blocks can be snapped together much like the bricks of a child’s construction toy.

The new material, the researchers say, could revolutionize the assembly of airplanes, spacecraft, and even larger structures, such as dikes and levees.

The new approach to construction is described in a paper appearing in the journal Science, co-authored by postdoc Kenneth Cheung and… read more

The future of cryonics debate between physicist Michio Kaku and Alcor CEO Max More

December 22, 2013

ALCOR2

In response to a question, “What are the practical applications of cryogenics today, and what potential improvements can we expect 20 to 30 years down the line?” Michio Kaku, PhD, replied with a critique.

Max More, PhD, CEO of Alcor Life Extension Foundation, offered this response, noting that cryonics is “affordable by regular people. Ice does not form inside cells… read more

Following Sandy, DHS seeks security ‘Cyber Reserve’

November 3, 2012

(Credit: iStockphoto)

The damage to the electrical grid from Superstorm Sandy is just a taste of what could happen from a major cyberattack, says Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Janet Napolitano, CSO Security and Risk reports.

And a DHS task force said this week that one way to minimize that kind of risk is to recruit a “Cyber Reserve” of computer security pros that could be… read more

World’s First 3D printing photo booth to open in Japan

November 13, 2012

omote3D-photobooth-6

The world’s first “3D printing photo booth” is set to open for a limited time at the exhibition space EYE OF GYRE in Harajuku, Japan, Spoon & Tamago reports.

From November 24 to January 14, 2013, people with reservations can go and have their portraits taken. Except, instead of a photograph, you’ll receive miniature replicas of yourselves.

Reservations can be madke via… read more

Macaque monkeys have the anatomy for human speech, so why can’t they speak?

December 14, 2016

macaque

While they have a speech-ready vocal tract, primates can’t speak because they lack a speech-ready brain, contrary to widespread opinion that they are limited by anatomy, researchers at Princeton University and associates have reported Dec. 9 in the open-access journal Science Advances.

The researchers reached this conclusion by first recording X-ray videos showing the movements of the different parts of a macaque’s vocal anatomy — such as the tongue,… read more

Whole-body vibration may be as effective as regular exercise

March 16, 2017

Hate treadmills? The Tranquility Pod uses “pleasant sound, gentle vibration, and soothing light to transport the body, mind, and spirit to a tranquil state of relaxation” --- and maybe lose weight (and $30,000). (credit: Hammacher Schlemmer)

If you’re overweight and find it challenging to exercise regularly, now there’s good news: A less strenuous form of exercise known as whole-body vibration (WBV) can mimic the muscle and bone health benefits of regular exercise — at least in mice — according to a new study published in the Endocrine Society’s journal Endocrinology.

Lack of exercise is contributing to the obesity and diabetes epidemics, according to the researchers. These… read more

We can survive killer asteroids — but it won’t be easy

April 4, 2012

(Credit: Don Davis)

More than a thousand known asteroids are classed as “potentially hazardous,” based on size and trajectory, says astronomer Neil deGrasse Tyson in Wired Science.

Currently, it looks doable to develop an early-warning and defense system that could protect the human species from impactors larger than a kilometer wide. … Smaller ones, which reflect much less light and are therefore much harder to detect at great distances, carry enough energy to incinerate entire… read more

IBM unveils cognitive computing chips, combining digital ‘neurons’ and ‘synapses’

August 18, 2011

Cognitive computing chip (credit: IBM Research)

IBM researchers unveiled today a new generation of experimental computer chips designed to emulate the brain’s abilities for perception, action and cognition.

In a sharp departure from traditional von Neumann computing concepts in designing and building computers, IBM’s first neurosynaptic computing chips recreate the phenomena between spiking neurons and synapses in biological systems, such as the brain, through advanced algorithms and silicon circuitry.

The technology could yield many orders… read more

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