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America’s Hackable Backbone

August 24, 2007

Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition software, or SCADA, used around the country to control infrastructure like nuclear power plants, water filtration and distribution, trains and subways, dams, manufacturing, and natural gas and oil pipelines, are increasingly connected to the Internet, leaving large parts of America’s critical infrastructure exposed to anyone with moderate information technology training and a laptop.

America’s next ethical war

April 12, 2001

Politicians and regulators in America are floundering as they try to understand the immense implications of genetic science.

The first human clone could mark a turning-point in humanity’s story, joining genetically modified plants, gene patents, in-vitro fertilization, stem-cell research, and eugenics in prompting a whole series of perplexing ethical questions that will affect politics everywhere.

America’s Robot Army: Are Unmanned Fighters Ready for Combat?

March 17, 2008
Three unmanned ground vehicles

Popular Mechanics has reviewed the state of unmanned ground vehicle (UGV) development in the U.S. military, where already there are 6,000 robots in use by the Army and Marine Corps in Iraq and Afghanistan.

While unarmed UGVs are common, armed UGVs are not yet considered ready for combat without significant human guidance.

America’s ultra-secret weapon

January 20, 2003

High-power microwave weapons (“e-bombs”) that fry electronic circuits could be deployed on long-range cruise missiles if there’s a second Gulf War.

America’s new CIO wants to disrupt government and make it a startup

October 27, 2011

Steven VanRoekel

Steven VanRoekel, America’s new CIO, wants to overhaul the federal bureaucracy to become more agile in an age of services delivered via mobile apps, and where information is atomized so that it can be mashed up by anyone to provide deeper insights, Talking Points Memo reports.

He launched a new “Future First” initiative Tuesday night at Xerox PARC to establish new principles for how the federal government… read more

Amino acid recipe could be right for long life

December 3, 2009

The life-extending properties of caloric restriction may be due not only to fewer calories in the diet, but also to just the right mix of essential amino acids, a study of fruit flies by University College London researchers has found.

Adding only the essential amino acid methionine (instead of all essential amino acids) allowed for egg-laying without reducing lifespan, the team found.

Amoeboid robot navigates without a brain

March 12, 2012


A new blob-like robot described in the journal Advanced Robotics uses springs, feet, “protoplasm” and a distributed nervous system to move in a manner inspired by the slime mold Physarum polycepharum, Technology Review Mims’s Bits reports.

Ref.: Umedachi, Takuya et al., Fluid-Filled Soft-Bodied Amoeboid Robot Inspired by Plasmodium of True Slime Mold, Advanced Robotics, 2012 [DOI: 10.1163/156855312X626316]

Amplified Intelligence

July 28, 2004

Will machines make humans smarter or just more dependent on our calculators, car navigators, and kitchen conveniences? Dr. Ken Ford of the Institute of Human and Machine Cognition reclassifies several key problems in developing smarter machines into a category called “Amplified Intelligence.”

His Institute for the Interdisciplinary Study of Human & Machine Cognition is involved in “building cognitive prostheses, computational systems that leverage and extend human intellectual capacities, just… read more

‘Amplified’ nanotubes may power the future

July 15, 2011

A single carbon nanotube before and after amplification (credit: Barron Lab/Rice University)

Scientists at Rice University say they have achieved a pivotal breakthrough in the development of a carbon nanotube-based electrical cable that will make an efficient electrical grid of the future possible, a prediction made in 2004 by carbon nanotube co-inventor Richard E. Smalley.

A prime technical hurdle in the development of this “miracle cable,” said Rice chemist Andrew R. Barron, is the manufacture of… read more

Amputee athletes push physical boundaries at unique clinic

June 6, 2012


At UCSF’s Amputee Comprehensive Training program at the Orthopaedic Institute, amputees can push themselves further than they had ever imagined possible.

They came together because they are bonded by a singular experience: all have lost a leg and are learning to push physical boundaries with the help of state-of-the-art artificial limbs. Some lost their legs early in life due to birth defects. Others lost them later in life, after… read more

Amygdala size correlated with size, complexity of one’s social networks

January 5, 2011

(Brain Atlas)

A new study by a Northeastern University researchers indicates that the amygdala in the human brain appears to play an important role in social life among adult humans.

Their finding, published in the journal Nature Neuroscience, provides insight into how abnormalities in regions of the brain may affect social behavior in neurologic and psychiatric disorders.

The interdisciplinary study, led by Distinguished Professor of Psychology Lisa Feldman Barrett, advances Northeastern’s… read more

Amyloids Have Have Potential as a Nanomaterials

May 29, 2008

Amyloids (found in tissues and linked to a number of diseases) have potential as nanomaterials because of their self-assembly and synthetic-polymer properties, according to University of Tel Aviv scientists Ehud Gazit and Izhack Cherny.

For example, they can be used to produce a conducting nanoscale coaxial cable by filling amyloid nanotubes with sliver and externally coating them with gold, and for encapsulation and controlled release of drugs.

An Active, Purposeful Machine That Comes Out at Night to Play

October 23, 2007

New neuroscience findings suggest that sleep plays a critical role in flagging and storing important memories, both intellectual and physical, and perhaps in seeing subtle connections that were invisible during waking.

An affordable point-and-shoot 3D scanner

Combines high-resolution 3D modeling and accurate color capture for 3D printing
August 9, 2013


Fuel3D Inc. has announced a Kickstarter campaign to fund the Fuel3D scanner,  an affordable handheld 3D scanner that delivers high resolution shape and color capture for a range of 3D modeling applications, such as 3D printing, 3D art, and 3D game development.

Pledgers will be able to access the first production units for less than $1,000. Today, a buyer could expect to pay… read more

An agile humanoid robot

November 6, 2012


University of Bonn computer scientists have developed a scoccer-playing robot called NimbRo-OP intended to develop new capabilities for humanoid bipedal robots, such as using tools, climbing stairs, and using human facial expressions, gestures and body language for communicating.

With 20 drive elements that convert computer commands into mechanical motions, NimbRo-OP is highly agile. For example, it can kick a soccer ball, and get… read more

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