science + technology news

The computing trend that will change everything

April 10, 2012

computer_trend_600

The electrical efficiency of computing (the number of computations that can be completed per kilowatt-hour of electricity used) has doubled every year and a half since the dawn of the computer age.

The power needed to perform a task requiring a fixed number of computations will continue to fall by half every 1.5 years (or a factor of 100 every decade). As a result, even smaller and less power-intensive computing devices… 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

Digital global intelligence on the future of the world in the palm of your hand

December 11, 2013

(Credit: The Millennium Project)

The Millennium Project’s Global Futures Intelligence System is now available and accessible online, including auto-detected mobile phone data access.

“Overviews, situation charts, references, and latest relevant news on the most important challenges facing humanity are now all immediately available,” explains Jerome Glenn, CEO of The Millennium Project.

“The system presents distillations of the present situation, prospects, and strategies to address issues ranging from climate change to… 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

Paralyzed man walks, thanks to pioneering cell transplanation

October 22, 2014

BBC | Watch Darek Fidyka walk with the aid of a frame

Darek Fidyka, who was paralyzed from the chest down following a knife attack, can now walk, using a frame, thanks to a pioneering cell transplantation treatment developed by scientists at University College London (UCL) and applied by surgeons at Wroclaw University Hospital, Poland.

The technique, developed by UK research team leader Professor Geoff Raisman, Chair of Neural Regeneration at the UCL Institute of Neurology, involved implanting … read more

Solar at grid parity in most of the world within 2 years

January 13, 2015

solar capacity adds ft

In their 2015 solar outlook, investment bank Deutsche Bank is predicting that solar systems will be at grid parity (when an alternative energy source cost is lower or equal to that of electricity from the electrical grid) in up to 80 per cent of the global market within 2 years, Renew Economy notes.

That’s because grid-based electricity prices are rising across the world… read more

A tiny computer attracts a million tinkerers

January 31, 2013

The Raspberry Pi Model B is a credit–card sized computer board that plugs into a TV. It’s a miniature ARM–based PC that can perform many of the functions of a large desktop PC such as spreadsheets, word–processers and games. It also plays High–Definition videos. (Credit: Raspberry Pi)

Almost one million $35 Raspberry Pi computers have shipped since last February, capturing the imaginations of educators, hobbyists and tinkerers around the world, The New York Times reports.

The Raspberry Pi — about 3 inches by 2 inches and less than an inch high — was intended to replace the expensive computers in school science labs. For less than the price of a new keyboard, a… 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

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

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

Offshore wind farms could tame hurricanes before they reach land, Stanford-led study says

Wind farm could reduce peak hurricane wind speeds by up to 92 mph and decrease storm surge by up to 79 percent
February 26, 2014

Offshore wind farm (credit: Seimens)

Computer simulations by Stanford Professor Mark Z. Jacobson have shown that offshore wind farms with thousands of wind turbines could have sapped the power of three real-life hurricanes, significantly decreasing their winds and accompanying storm surge, and possibly preventing billions of dollars in damages.

For the past 24 years,  Jacobson, a professor of civil and environmental engineering at Stanford, has been developing a complex computer model… read more

Neuromorphic ‘atomic-switch’ networks function like synapses in the brain

August 19, 2014

atomic-switch network

Researchers in the U.S. and Japan have developed a self-assembled neuromorphic (brain-like) device comprising more than a billion interconnected “atomic-switch” inorganic synapses embedded in a complex network of silver nanowires.

The researchers are located at the California NanoSystems Institute (CNSI) at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) and the International Center for Materials Nanoarchitectonics (MANA) at the National Institute forread more

Ultra-thin capacitors could acclerate development of next-gen electronics

February 28, 2014

All-nanosheet ultrathin capacitor (credit: C. Wang et al./ACS Nano)

Japanese researchers at the National Institute for Materials Science and Shinshu University have developed a way to shrink capacitors — key components that store energy — further, which could accelerate the development of more compact, high-performance next-gen electronic devices. The study appears in the journal ACS Nano.

Takayoshi Sasaki and colleagues note that current technology has almost reached its limit in terms of materials and processing, which in turn… read more

Crowdsourcing expertise

August 16, 2012

Can a crowd be an expert? Two UVM scientists think the answer is yes. (photo: James Cridland)

Crowdsourcing — posing a question or asking for help from a large group of people — has allowed many problems to be solved, like scan for new galaxies and climate modeling, that would be impossible for experts alone..

But what if the crowd was asked to decide what questions to ask in the first place?

University of Vermont researchers Josh Bongard and Paul Hines decided to explore  that question… read more

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