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Unreal Meetings

July 11, 2007

MIT researcher Drew Harry designs virtual spaces that don’t look like the familiar world–his virtual meeting room looks more like a football field than like a conference room. He says his goal is to stop mimicking the physical world and start creating a new kind of space.

His virtual meeting room arranges people based on their allegiance. Where an avatar stands signifies whether a person agrees or disagrees with… read more

Unprecedented growth seen for solar energy

February 9, 2009

“To go from the 1 gigawatt of generation capacity that we have now [in the United States] to the 170 to 200 gigawatts called for by 2030 amounts to a 26 percent compounded annual growth rate over the next 20 years,” according to John Lushetsky, program manager of the U.S. Department of Energy’s Solar Energy Technology Program for Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy.

Lushetsky predicted that the solar energy… read more

Unplugged? Sue your ISP (at least in Germany)

January 25, 2013

Palais-Bundesgerichtshof-Karlsruhe-Germany

Can you force your ISP to pay for loss of access to an Internet connection?

Apparently yes, at least in Germany, where a Federal Court of Justice awarded a plaintiff €50 ($65) per day for the period his was unable to use his DSL, fax over IP and VoIP services, Computerworld UK reports.

The rationale: the Internet has been a crucial part of people’s economic living… read more

Unplugged: Without the Grid, Modern Man Is Totally in the Dark

August 16, 2003

Perhaps this is time for everyone to take stock of their dependence on invisible technologies.

Ray Kurzweil, author of “The Age of Spiritual Machines,” says the Blackout of 2003 shows that the electrical grid is merely a first Industrial Revolution technology. It’s highly centralized. It’s old-fashioned. We are now in the midst of the second Industrial Revolution, which favors decentralized technologies such as the Internet.

“The second is… read more

Unplugged: Goodbye cables, hello energy beams

February 8, 2010

Wireless power transmission, resonant magnetic coupling, and infrared lasers are three methods of charging home appliances currently being researched, but safety concerns have been voiced.

Unnatural selection: Robots start to evolve

February 5, 2009

Researchers at Robert Gordon University in Aberdeen, UK have created a robot that adapts to such changes by mimicking biological evolution, using an incremental evolutionary algorithm (IEA) capable of adding new parts to its robot brain over time.

The robot is controlled by a neural network that can be trained. For example, if the goal is to remain balanced and the robot receives inputs from sensors that it is… read more

Unnatural Selection

January 28, 2005

Evolutionary algorithms, also known as genetic algorithms, are proving useful for solving complex problems, such as antenna design, and even creating inventions.

Unmaking Memories

December 29, 2003
Image: Paramount Pictures

In the sci-fi thriller movie Paycheck, an engineer has his memory erased after completing a sensitive reverse-engineering job. Scientific American.com spoke with a leading neurobiologist to find out just how close scientists are to controlling recall.

Unlocking the Paralysis Riddle

October 25, 2001

Researchers studying spinal cord injuries have observed certain patterns of the human brain that may ultimately enable paraplegics and quadriplegics to regain some motor activity in their paralyzed limbs — or use their brains to control robotic limbs.

Researchers took MRI snapshots of the brains of quadriplegics as they were asked to move their hands, elbows, feet, knees and lips. The images revealed neural activity in all the places… read more

Unlocking The Matrix

May 12, 2003

TIME offers “an exclusive look at the year’s most avidly anticipated film epic.”

Unlocking the Brain’s Secrets

August 1, 2003

An international team of six scientists has been involved in scanning thousands of images of the brains of people of all ages with a range of conditions, in the hopes of creating a “map” that would reveal the mysteries of how the brain controls everything from language to movement.

Unleash your inner Asimov

October 28, 2012

science_fiction_prototyping_book

Writing science-fiction stories about encounters with imaginary worlds and futuristic devices could have a decisive influence on innovation, G. Pascal Zachary, writer and professor at Arizona State University, suggests in IEEE Spectrum.

David Brian Johnson, Intel’s staff futurist, even insists in a recent book, Science Fiction Prototyping, that by writing stories about future products, engineers can do a better job of actually making them, he… read more

Unknown molecule opens the door to quantum computing

June 30, 2008

Purdue University researchers have have created a new hybrid molecule in which its quantum state can be intentionally manipulated. The discovery could allow for quantum computing in semiconductors in the future.

University to Investigate Fusion Study

March 8, 2006

Purdue University has opened an investigation into “extremely serious” concerns regarding the research of a professor who said he had produced nuclear fusion in a tabletop experiment.

The vibrations, they said, collapsed tiny gas bubbles in the liquid, heating them to millions of degrees, hot enough to initiate fusion. If true, the phenomenon, often called sonofusion or bubble fusion, could have far-reaching applications, including the generation of energy.… read more

University of Saskatchewan researchers discover cannabis ‘pharma factory’

July 17, 2012

hemp_cannabis_sativa

University of Saskatchewan researchers have discovered the chemical pathway that Cannabis sativa uses to create bioactive compounds called cannabinoids, paving the way for the development of marijuana varieties to produce pharmaceuticals or cannabinoid-free industrial hemp.

U of S adjunct professor of biology Jon Page explains that the pathway is an unusual one, involving a specialized version of one enzyme, called hexanoyl-CoA synthetase, and another enzyme,… read more

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