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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

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

A wakeup call: what exactly should we do about near-Earth objects?

June 1, 2014

NEOs booklet

The February 2013 event near Chelyabinsk, Russia “has sparked a realization that the incoming rate of small space rocks may be much higher than previously thought, and their impact greater than previously thought,” according to Near-Earth Objects: Responding to the International Challenge, an open-access booklet just published by Secure World Foundation.

The booklet is the first to both bring together the reviews of the… read more

How attention helps you remember: the role of astrocytes

New study finds long-overlooked cells help the brain respond to visual stimuli
October 1, 2012

A human astrocyte cell

A new study from MIT neuroscientists sheds light on a neural circuit that makes us likelier to remember what we’re seeing when our brains are in a more attentive state.

The team of neuroscientists found that this circuit depends on a type of brain cell long thought to play a supporting role, at most, in neural processing. When the brain is attentive, those cells, called… read more

Student engineers design, build, fly ‘printed’ airplane

October 23, 2012

3D_plane_cropped_tight

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

Could synthetic fuels eliminate entire US need for crude oil, create ‘new economy’?

December 7, 2012

Graphical representation of the locations of selected facilities for 50% replacement of petroleum fuels. The facilities are represented by dark brown circles with corresponding sizes. The amounts of coal, biomass, and natural gas feedstock in the United States are represented by the proposed color scheme in the map legend. (Credit: Josephine A. Elia, Richard C. Baliban, and Christodoulos A. Floudas/Princeton University)

The U.S. could eliminate the need for crude oil by using a combination of coal, natural gas, and non-food crops to make synthetic fuel, a team of Princeton researchers has found.

Besides economic and national security benefits, the plan has potential environmental advantages. Because plants absorb carbon dioxide to grow, the United States could cut vehicle greenhouse emissions by as much as 50 percent in… read more

A simplified graphical approach to machine learning

November 14, 2013

graph_theory

An algorithm that extends an artificial-intelligence technique to new tasks could aid in analysis of flight delays and social networks.

Much artificial-intelligence research is concerned with finding statistical correlations between variables: What combinations of visible features indicate the presence of a particular object in a digital image? What speech sounds correspond with instances of what words? What medical, genetic, and environmental factors are correlated with what diseases?

As… read more

Robot hand beats you at rock, paper, scissors 100% of the time

June 27, 2012

scissors_hand

A robot hand will play a game of rock, paper, scissors with you and wins every single time, IEEE Spectrum Automaton reports.

Created by the Ishikawa Oku Lab at the University of Toyko, it’s one of those high speed hands that works with a high speed vision system.

It only takes a single millisecond for the robot to recognize what shape your hand is in, and… read more

Cameras talk to each other to identify, track people

November 13, 2014

tracking subject

University of Washington electrical engineers have developed a way to automatically track people across moving and still cameras by using an algorithm that trains the networked cameras to learn one another’s differences. The cameras first identify a person in a video frame, then follow that same person across multiple camera views.

“Tracking humans automatically across cameras in a three-dimensional space is new,” said lead researcher Jenq-Neng Hwang,… read more

Real Jurassic World not far from reality?

June 9, 2015

Jurassic_World_poster-ft

Jurassic World, the fourth installment in the successful film series, in theaters June 12, will take viewers back to a world in which dinosaurs have been revived.

It’s not just be a movie, says Andrew Torrance, professor at the University of Kansas School of Law. We are close to “de-extinction” — reviving extinct creatures, he suggests.

While dinosaur fossils are too old and… read more

The ‘Internet of cars’ is approaching a crossroads

June 27, 2013

vehicle2vehicle

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

Super-fast Google Fiber for Kansas City

July 27, 2012

google_fiber

Google has announced Google Fiber, to be installed first in Kansas City.

Google Fiber is 100 times faster than today’s average broadband.

Imagine: instantaneous sharing; truly global education; medical appointments with 3D imaging; even new industries that we haven’t even dreamed of, powered by a gig.

Google has divided Kansas City into small communities called “fiberhoods.” To get service, each fiberhood needs a critical… read more

Sugar molecules — building blocks of RNA — found around young star

August 30, 2012

Astronomers have for the first time found glycolaldehyde molecules around a young sun-like star. Glycolaldehyde is a an important pre-biotic species, a simple sugar, consisting of carbon, oxygen and hydrogen atoms. Through observations with ALMA the researchers have shown that the molecules are located within a region with an extent corresponding to our own solar system - and thus exist in the gas from which planets possibly are formed around the young star later in its evolution. (Credit: ESO)

A team of astronomers led by researchers from the Niels Bohr Institute, have observed a simple sugar molecule in the gas surrounding a young star, proving that the building blocks of life were already present during planet formation.

They also found other complex organic molecules, including ethylene-glycol, methyl-formate and ethanol.

Sugar around new stars

“In the protoplanetary disc of gas and dust surrounding… read more

Transhuman week: exploring the frontiers of human enhancement

September 5, 2012

Ekso exoskeleton

Wired U.K.‘s Transhuman Week seeks to navigate transhumanist issues through a series of features, galleries and expert guest posts from September 3 to 7.

Transhumanism explores the application of technology and science to enhance human bodies and minds regardless of whether they are perceived to have any disabilities, and extending human life. It  may include low-level biohacking, physical augmentation, performance-enhancing drugs and even genetic modification.

The London 2012… read more

Miniaturized camera chip provides superfine depth resolution for 3D printing

Could allow driverless cars to see at unprecedented 3D detail
April 6, 2015

A 3D image produced by the new NCI chip. The image, taken from roughly half a meter (1.5 feet) away, shows an angled side view of the penny. (credit: Ali Hajimiri/Caltech)

Imagine you need to have a precise copy of an object. You take a snapshot with your smartphone, send it to your 3D printer, and within minutes you have a replica accurate to within microns of the remote original object.

That’s what a tiny new high-resolution 3D imager developed at Caltech called a “nanophotonic coherent imager” (NCI) could achieve in the future.

The NCI provides the… read more

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