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Robot avatar body controlled by thought alone

July 5, 2012

These areas of the motor cortex are activated when thinking about moving things (credit: New Scientist)

For the first time, a person lying in an fMRI machine has controlled a robot hundreds of kilometers away using thought alone.

.”The ultimate goal is to create a surrogate, like in Avatar, although that’s a long way off yet,” says Abderrahmane Kheddar, director of the joint robotics laboratory at the National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology in Tsukuba, Japan.

Teleoperated robots,… read more

Children with autism have extra synapses in brain

May be possible to prune synapses with a future drug after diagnosis
August 26, 2014

A neuron from the brain of young person with autism. A new study finds that young people with autism have excess synapses. (Credit: Guomei Tang and Mark S. Sonders/CUMC)

Children and adolescents with autism have a surplus of synapses in the brain, and this excess is due to a slowdown in a normal brain “pruning” process during development, according to a study by neuroscientists at Columbia University Medical Center (CUMC).

Because synapses are the points where neurons connect and communicate with each other, the excessive synapses may have profound effects on how the brain functions. The… read more

Hands-on with the next generation Kinect: PrimeSense Capri

January 17, 2013

capri_21358236815775

The next generation of PrimeSense‘s 3D sensor (used inside the Microsoft Kinect), called Capri, will revolutionize vision for very cheap and very expensive robots, IEEE Spectrum reports.

Capri is also small enough that it’ll be able to fit into tablets (and eventually smartphones).

The first engineering samples of Capri are expected to ship in 2-3 months, with consumer kits… read more

DARPA flight test of world’s fastest aircraft fails

August 12, 2011

Falcon HTV-2 (credit: DARPA)

In its second flight test, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency’s (DARPA) fastest (13,000 mph) aircraft ever built, the Falcon Hypersonic Technology Vehicle 2 (HTV-2), was successfully inserted into the desired trajectory at near-orbital speed, but the flight  ended in loss of signal (and control) when the aircraft transitioned to Mach 20 (about 13,000 mph) aerodynamic flight around nine minutes into the flight, DARPA… read more

ALS patient hopes to be cryopreserved

By Christine Gaspar
June 17, 2013

Aaron Winborn

I would like to introduce you to Aaron Winborn. It was his birthday this week. He just turned 46.

He has a wife named Gwen, a daughter Ashlin, age 9, and another daughter Sabina, age 3. He is an open-source software developer, author of the book Drupal Multimedia, and community activist.

At the age of 43, he was diagnosed with an aggressive form of… read more

Virus caught in the act of infecting a cell

January 11, 2013

virus_injecting

The detailed changes in the structure of a virus as it infects an E. coli bacterium have been observed for the first time.

To infect a cell, a virus must be able to first find a suitable cell and then eject its genetic material into its host.

This robot-like process has been observed in a virus called T7 and visualized by Ianread more

Combining antennas with solar panels for high efficiency, low weight and volume

December 3, 2013

antenna-solar cell

Researchers at EPFL have managed to combine telecommunication antennas and solar cells to work together with unprecedented efficiency.

Traditionally, antennas and solar cells have never worked well together, as they have to function independently of each other in order to avoid interference. This has an impact on the weight and size of satellites — the surface area has to be large enough for both antenna systems, which… read more

Neuroscience: the mind reader

June 14, 2012

Adrian-Owen

Adrian Owen has found a way to use brain scans to communicate with people previously written off as unreachable in a so-called “vegetative state.” Now he’s fighting to take his methods to the clinic.

Patients in these states are usually written off as lost.

Owen took fMRI scans of a 23-year-old woman in a vegetative state while he asked her to imagine playing tennis and walking through the… read more

How to feel phantom objects floating in air

July 21, 2013

aireal-21

A groundbreaking project called Aireal lets you feel virtual objects, Fast Company reports.

Aireal is the result of research by University of Illinois PhD student Rajinder Sodhi and Disney Reseach’s Ivan Poupyrev. When set by your television or connected to an iPad, this diminutive machine will puff air rings that allow you to actually feel objects and textures in… read more

Computer programs that ace IQ tests

February 16, 2012

(Credit: iStockphoto)

Researchers at the Department of Philosophy, Linguistics and Theory of Science at the University of Gothenburg, Sweden, have created a computer program that scored up to 150 on specific portions of an IQ test: identifying patterns in pictures and number sequences.

IQ tests include progressive matrices, which test the ability to see patterns in pictures, and number sequences, which test the ability to see patterns… read more

Sal Khan’s ‘Academy’ sparks a tech revolution in education

May 31, 2012

salman_khan

Salman Khan’s simply narrated, faceless home videos on everything from algebra to French history have been viewed half a billion times.

Last year, a number of schools began “flipping” their classrooms, having students study Khan videos by night and do homework with teachers by day.

His staff has been ramped up to 32, including the recent high-profile addition of Google’s first hired employee, programming ace Craig Silverstein. The staff’s… read more

Chinese move to their eco-city of the future

March 19, 2012

Tainjin, China

Sino-Singapore Tianjin Eco City — the world’s largest eco-city — is an experimental model for how Chinese cities could develop and solve some of the enormous problems facing them: permanent gridlock, a lack of water, and ruinous electricity bills.

General Motors is using Tianjin to work out if electric driverless cars can function in a normal traffic system, and road-test the next generation of vehicles: small urban cars that drive themselves… read more

Multi-party quantum communication now possible, physicists demonstrate

March 26, 2014

u_waterloo_quantum_nonlocality

Physicists at the Institute for Quantum Computing (IQC) at the University of Waterloo have demonstrated the distribution of three entangled photons at three different locations (Alice, Bob, and Charlie) several hundreds of meters apart for the first time, proving quantum nonlocality for more than two entangled photons.

The findings of the experiment, Experimental Three-Particle Quantum Nonlocality under Strict Locality Conditions, are published in… read more

Ukrainian students develop gloves that translate sign language into speech

July 12, 2012

sign-language_glove

Using a gloves fitted with flex sensors, touch sensors, gyroscopes and accelerometers a Ukrainian team in a Microsoft competition has built a system called EnableTalk that can translate sign language into text and then into spoken words using a text-to-speech engine.

The whole system then connects to a smartphone over Bluetooth.

There are currently about 40 million deaf, mute and deaf-mute people. Many of them use sign language,… read more

Existing drug riluzole may prevent foggy ‘old age’ brain

December 24, 2014

When researchers looked at certain neurons (similar to the one shown on top) in rats treated with riluzole, they found an important change in one brain region, the hippocampus: more clusters of so-called spines, receiving connections that extend from the branches of a neuron (bottom). (Credit: Dr. John H. Morrison's lab, The Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai)

New experiments suggest that riluzole, a drug already on the market as a treatment for ALS (Lou Gehrig’s disease), may help prevent the fading memory and clouding judgment that comes with advancing age.

Researchers at The Rockefeller University and The Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai found they could stop normal, age-related memory loss in rats by treating them with riluzole. The treatment prompted changes known to improve… read more

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