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Obama or Romney? Face-reading software monitors viewers’ responses to debate

November 5, 2012

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New Scientist asked readers to take part in an online project designed to give a more fine-grained view of the public’s reactions to politics.

About 80 readers watched clips from the third and final presidential debate while face-reading software recorded subtle emotional cues via webcams. Developed by Affectiva of Waltham, Massachusetts, the software tracked six categories of expression: smiles, surprise,… read more

Cheap, easy technique to snip DNA could revolutionize gene therapy

January 8, 2013

The bacterial enzyme Cas9 is the engine of RNA-programmed genome engineering in human cells (credit: Jennifer Doudna/UC Berkeley)

A simple, precise, and inexpensive method for cutting DNA to insert genes into human cells could transform genetic medicine, making routine what now are expensive, complicated and rare procedures for replacing defective genes to fix genetic disease or even cure AIDS.

Discovered last year, two new papers published last week in the journal Science Express demonstrate that the technique also works in human cells.

“The ability… read more

Earth-sized planets in habitable zones are more common than previously thought

March 14, 2013

(Credit: Chester Harman)

The number of potentially habitable planets in our galaxy is greater than previously thought, according to a  new analysis by a Penn State researcher, and some of those planets are likely lurking around nearby stars.

“We now estimate that if we were to look at 10 of the nearest small stars we would find about four potentially habitable planets,” said Ravi Kopparapu, an Evan… read more

A fatigue detection device to help keep your eyes on the road

July 17, 2013

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An EPFL student, Peugeot Citroën, has developed a video analysis algorithm able to estimate the level of a driver’s fatigue based on the degree of eyelid closure and has built a prototype to test it in real driving conditions.

Nearly a third of highway accidents are caused by fatigue. Nowadays, there exist several attention detection systems for drivers, such as detection of loss of vehicle… read more

UC Berkeley joins edX

July 25, 2012

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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

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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

First direct brain-to-brain communication between human subjects

EEG and TMS signals enable first successful brain-to-brain transmission
September 10, 2014

BCI-CBI ft.

An international team of neuroscientists and robotics engineers have demonstrated the first direct remote brain-to-brain communication between two humans located 5,000 miles away from each other and communicating via the Internet, as reported in a paper recently published in PLOS ONE (open access).

In India, researchers encoded two words (“hola” and “ciao”) as binary strings and presented them as a series of cues on a computer monitor. They recorded… read more

New graphene-based supercapacitors rival lead-acid batteries

August 5, 2013

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Monash University researchers have developed a completely new strategy to engineer graphene-based supercapacitors (SC), making them viable for widespread use in renewable energy storage, portable electronics and electric vehicles.

SCs are generally made of highly porous carbon impregnated with a liquid electrolyte to transport the electrical charge. Known for their almost indefinite lifespan and the ability to re-charge in seconds, the drawback of existing SCs… read more

Using Bayesian statistics to rank Wikipedia entries

Algorithm outperforms a human user by up to 23 percent in correctly classifying quality rank of articles, say researchers
August 8, 2014

(Credit: Wikimedia Commons)

Computer scientists in China have devised a software algorithm based on Bayesian statistics that can automatically check a Wikipedia entry and rank it by its quality.

Bayesian analysis is commonly used to assess the content of emails and determine the probability that the content is spam or junk mail, and if so, filter it from the user’s inbox if the probability is high.

Writing in the… read more

The ‘Internet of cars’ is approaching a crossroads

June 27, 2013

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Wireless vehicle networks could make driving safer, more efficient, and less polluting, but the cost of deployment will be significant, MIT Technology Review reports.

This week, officials from the U.S. Department of Transportation in Washington, DC, will see the technology in action, in a demonstration organized by experts from the University of Michigan’s Transportation Research Institute and various communications equipment and car manufacturers.… read more

Fast time and the aging mind

July 21, 2013

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The apparent velocity of time is a big fat cognitive illusion and ,,, there may be a way to slow the velocity of our later lives, Richard A. Friedman, a professor of clinical psychiatry and the director of the psycho-pharmacology clinic at the Weill Cornell Medical College, writes in The New York Times. …

If you want time to slow down, become a student again.… 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

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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

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