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A Survival Imperative for Space Colonization

July 17, 2007

In 1993, Princeton professor of astrophysics J. Richard Gott III computed with scientific certainty that humanity would survive at least 5,100 more years. Now he has issued a wake-up call: To ensure our long-term survival, we need to get a colony up and running on Mars within 46 years.

A synthetic creation story

May 25, 2010

With last week’s announcement of the “chemical synthesis of a living organism,” what Craig Venter and his colleagues have achieved is not so much a “synthesis of life” as a semi-synthetic recreation of what we currently deem life to be, says Phillip Ball, consultant editor for Nature.

“‘Life’ in biology, rather like ‘force’ in physics, is a term carried over from a time when scientists thought quite differently, when… read more

A System for Connecting Brains to the Outside World

August 3, 2010

Dr. John Donoghue, a professor of engineering and neuroscience at Brown University, speaks with the New York Times about his studies of how human brain signals could combine with modern electronics to help paralyzed people gain greater control over their environments. He’s designed a machine, the BrainGate, that uses thought to move limbs.

A tablet controlled by your brain

April 19, 2013

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Samsung is researching how to bring mind control to its mobile devices with the hope of developing ways for people with mobility impairments to connect to the world, MIT Technology Review reports.

In collaboration with Roozbeh Jafari, an assistant professor of electrical engineering at the University of Texas, Dallas, Samsung researchers are testing how people can use their thoughts to launch an application, select a… read more

A tactile glove provides subtle guidance to locate objects

October 11, 2012

tactile_glove

Researchers from the University of Helsinki Institute for Information Technology (HIIT) and the Max Planck Institute for Informatics have developed a prototype of a glove that uses vibration feedback on the hand to guide the user’s hand towards a predetermined target in 3D space.

The glove could help users in daily visual search tasks in supermarkets, parking lots, warehouses, libraries etc.

Their study shows an almost three-fold advantage… read more

A Talk with the Brain behind Blue Gene

November 9, 2001

On Nov. 9, IBM will disclose a partnership with Lawrence Livermore National Labs to work on a wide range of scientific applications for Blue Gene. This will be the world’s fastest supercomputer, being designed to operate a hundred times faster than today’s speediest machines. The objective: to simulate how proteins fold themselves into their unique patterns.
With Blue Gene, IBM is trying to set a new supercomputer speed limit –… read more

A telescope bigger than a galaxy

March 11, 2014

Abell 2744 cluster (credit: STScI)

Astronomers have announced a view of the universe though a lens more than 500,000 light years wide, as part of a program called “Frontier Fields” to search for the first galaxies.

The “lens” is actually a massive cluster of galaxies known as Abell 2744. As predicted by Einstein’s Theory of General Relativity, the mass of the cluster warps the fabric of space around it. Starlight passing by… read more

A telescope for your eye

New contact lens design may improve sight of patients with macular degeneration, switches between magnified and normal vision
July 1, 2013

telescopic contact lens

An international team of researchers led by University of California San Diego Professor Joseph Ford has created a slim, telescopic contact lens that can switch between normal and magnified vision. With refinements, the system could offer age-related macular degeneration (AMD) patients a relatively unobtrusive way to enhance their vision.

Visual aids that magnify incoming light help AMD patients see by spreading light around to undamaged parts of… read more

A telescope that sets its sights on cyber-crime

February 5, 2010

Endgame Systems of Atlanta has come up with a system called the Internet telescope that can map the physical location of computers infected with malicious software, or malware, used to run botnets (thousands of computers taken over to run malware). It can even identify the type of malware on the machine and preempt its next moves.

A Terabyte In A Cigar Box

January 15, 2004

LaCie has introduced a 1 Terabyte disk for $1,199.

A Terminator-style contact-lens display

November 23, 2011

(Credit: University of Washington/

Bringing us a step closer to a Terminator-style augmented-reality display, University of Washington engineers have constructed an experimental contact lens with a single-pixel embedded light-emitting diode (LED) and tested it in a rabbit.

The LED lights up when it receives energy from a remote radio frequency transmission, picked up by an antenna around the edge and collected via a silicon power harvesting and radio integrated circuit.

But the… read more

A termite-inspired robot construction team

February 14, 2014

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On the plains of Namibia, millions of tiny termites are building a mound of soil — an 8-foot-tall “lung” for their underground nest. During a year of construction, many termites will live and die, wind and rain will erode the structure, and yet the colony’s life-sustaining project will continue.

Inspired by termites’ resilience and collective intelligence, Harvard  computer scientists and engineers have created an autonomous robotic construction crew comprising… read more

A Test for 400 Inherited Diseases

January 14, 2011

Researchers at the National Center for Genome Resources have developed a new universal screening test that shows promise for accurately identifying a couple’s risk of conceiving a child with any one of 448 devastating and fatal childhood genetic diseases.

The test is expected to become commercially available in the third quarter of 2011, at a cost lower than any single test currently available for any single disease on the… read more

A theoretical metamaterial that acts as an analog computer

Computational metamaterials could almost instantly perform certain complex mathematical operations
January 12, 2014

Edge detection - featured

Metamaterials can be designed to do “photonic calculus” as a light wave goes through them, researchers at the University of Pennsylvania, The University of Texas at Austin and University of Sannio in Italy have discovered.

A light wave, when described in terms of space and time, has a profile in space that can be thought of as a curve on a… read more

A Theory of Evolution, for Robots

September 6, 2002

Scientists have designed a winged robot capable of learning flight techniques automatically with genetic algorithms. Its small motors allow it to manipulate its meter-long, balsa-wood wings in different directions. A computer program feeds the robot random instructions, which let it develop the concept of liftoff on its own.

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