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Physics community afire with rumors of Higgs boson discovery

June 21, 2012

A disk full of silicon sensors that sits as an endcap on ATLAS

One of the biggest debuts in the science world could happen in a matter of weeks: the Higgs boson may finally, really have been discovered

Ever since tantalizing hints of the Higgs turned up in December at the Large Hadron Collider, scientists there have been busily analyzing the results of their energetic particle collisions to further refine their search.

The possible news has a… read more

Outage in India could be a harbinger for the rest of the world

August 3, 2012

National_power_grid,_India

An estimated 670 million Indians were affected by this week’s grid outage (see “How Power Outages in India May One Day Be Avoided“). But it would be a mistake to think that India is uniquely vulnerable to large-scale grid failures, Technology Review reports.

The growing complexity and reliance on the electric grid in both developed and fast-growing countries is making stability tougher to achieve.… read more

The library of Utopia

November 19, 2012

The_Reading_Room_at_the_British_Museum

Google’s ambitious book-scanning program is foundering in the courts. Now a Harvard-led group is launching its own sweeping effort to put our literary heritage online, MIT Technology Review reports.

Robert ­Darnton. A distinguished historian, prize-winning author, and director of Harvard’s library system, has an ardent desire to see a universal library established online, a library that would, as he puts it, “make all knowledge availableread more

Silicon-hydrogel electrodes improve lithium-ion battery performance

Inexpensive silicon-based electrodes dramatically improve the charge storage capacity of lithium-ion batteries
June 4, 2013

battery electrode 

Stanford University scientists have dramatically improved the performance of lithium-ion batteries by creating novel electrodes made of silicon and conducting polymer hydrogel, a spongy substance similar to the material used in soft contact lenses and other household products.

“Developing rechargeable lithium-ion batteries with high energy density and long cycle life is of critical importance to address the ever-increasing energy storage needs for portable electronics, electric… read more

What would you prefer: a robot that takes care of you, or the opposite?

July 9, 2013

Robot butler Nao, a social robot developed by Aldebaran Robotics vs. robot-simulating mom (credit:  Aldebaran Robotics)

To determine how human perception of a robot changes based on its role, Penn State researchers observed 60 interactions between college students and Nao, a social robot developed by Aldebaran Robotics, a French company specializing in humanoid robots.

Each interaction could go one of two ways. The human could help Nao calibrate its eyes, or Nao could examine the human’s eyes like a concerned eye doctor and make suggestions to… read more

How to reconstruct from brain images which letter a person was reading

August 24, 2013

Each letter is predicted using models trained on fMRI data for the remaining letter classes to improve the reconstructions.

Researchers from Radboud University Nijmegen in the Netherlands have succeeded in determining which letter a test subject was looking at.

They did that by analyzing the corresponding functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) scanned images of activity in the visual cortex of the brain, using a linear Gaussian mathematical model.

The researchers “taught” the model how 1200 voxels (volumetric pixels) of 2x2x2 mm from the… read more

Controlled atomic-layer crystal growth is ‘breakthrough’ for solar-cell efficiency

October 30, 2013

InGaN-GaN

Arizona State University and Georgia Institute of Technology researchers have developed a new approach to growing indium gallium nitride (InGaN) crystals, promising “record-breaking” photovoltaic solar cell efficiencies.

Researchers previously found that the atomic separation of the crystal layers of the InGaN alloy varies, which can lead to high levels of strain, breakdowns in growth, and fluctuations in the alloy’s chemical composition.

“Being able to ease… read more

Quantum Computing Playground lets you run a simulated quantum computer

May 27, 2014

Quantum Computing Playground (credit: Google)

Google engineers have developed a simulated quantum computer called Quantum Computing Playground that allows you to write, run, and debug software using quantum algorithms.

Quantum Computing Playground runs in a Chrome browser with a simple interactive interface. A scripting language called QScript includes debugging and 3D quantum-state visualization features.

You can efficiently simulate quantum registers up to 22 qubits and run Grover’s and Shor’s algorithms. There’s also a… read more

Why you should go paperless in 2013

January 3, 2013

573px-Tablet

Are you still printing things out? Really?

Amazingly, the average office worker still uses about 10,000 sheets of paper per year, the EPA says.

To make a new push for a really paperless office, the “Paperless Coalition,” which includes Google Drive, HelloFax, Manilla, HelloSign, Expensify, Xero and Fujitsu ScanSnap, has launched a… read more

Software to construct everything with LEGO pieces

October 7, 2013

lego_epfl

Romain Testuz. a student of the Laboratory for Computer Graphics and Geometrics (LGG) at EPFL, has developed software that automatically transforms a three-dimensional image into bricks and simplifies the challenge of construction by proposing a comprehensive plan of the parts to be used at each level.

To overcome structural weaknesses, Testuz used graph theory, representing each piece by a node and each connection by… read more

Patent awarded for treating obesity and related conditions [exclusive]

December 3, 2013

Obese vs. normal mouse (unrelated to the experiment) (credit: Wikimedia Commons)

U.S. Patent No. 8,598,150 was awarded today (Dec. 3) for the use of an antioxidant compound called MnTBAP* for treatment of obesity and obesity-related conditions, such as insulin resistance or pre-diabetes.

The patent was filed by two Skidmore College researchers: Jonathan R. Brestoff Parker and professor Thomas H. Reynolds, IV.

In unpublished mouse experiments, they found that the compound decreases obesity by promoting triglyceride breakdown… read more

‘Electronic tongue’ identifies brands of beer with 81.9% accuracy

February 4, 2014

beer

Spanish researchers have managed to distinguish between different varieties of beer using an “electronic tongue,” with an accuracy of 81.9%.

Scientists at the Autonomous University of Barcelona used an array of 21 sensors formed from ion-selective electrodes, including some with response to cations (ammonium, sodium), others with response to anions (nitrate, chloride, etc.), and electrodes with generic (unspecified) responses.

The authors recorded the multidimensional response generated by the… read more

How would you like a graduate degree for $100?

June 7, 2012

Sebastian Thrun

Getting a master’s degree might cost just $100 from education startup Udacity, says Google Fellow and Udacity co-founder Sebastian Thrun.

However, “It’s pretty obvious that degrees will go away,” Thrun says. “The idea of a degree is that you spend a fixed time right after high school to educate yourself for the rest of your career. But ­careers change so much over a lifetime now that this model isn’t valid… read more

First communication using neutrinos

March 15, 2012

neutrinocommunirochester

A group of scientists led by researchers from the University of Rochester and North Carolina State University have for the first time sent a message using a beam of neutrinos — nearly massless particles that travel at almost the speed of light.

The coded message was sent at .1 bit/sec. over a distance of 1035 m, including 240 meters of stone, and said simply, “Neutrino.”… read more

All of a sudden I could see a little flash of light. It was amazing.

First implantation of an early prototype bionic eye with 24 electrodes
September 3, 2012

Early bionic eye prototype drawing (credit: Bionics Institute)

Bionic Vision Australia researchers have successfully performed the first implantation of an early prototype bionic eye with 24 electrodes.

Dianne Ashworth has profound vision loss due to retinitis pigmentosa, an inherited condition. She has now received what she calls a “pre-bionic eye” implant that enables her to experience some vision.

Her implant was switched on last month at the Bionics Institute, while researchers held their breaths in… read more

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