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The new word in electronics is ‘plastics’

July 4, 2013

plastics

Imperial College London scientists say improving “crystallization,” an industrial process for making plastics, could revolutionize the way we produce electronic products,  reducing the cost and improving the design of solar cells and other electronic devices.

The process of making many well-known products from plastics involves controlling the way that microscopic crystals are formed within the material.

That allows engineers to determine the exact properties they want,… read more

Douglas C. Engelbart, inventor of the computer mouse, dies at 88

July 3, 2013

Douglas C. Engelbart with an early prototype of the computer mouse in 1968 (credit: SRI International)

Douglas C. Engelbart, a visionary scientist whose singular epiphany in 1950 about technology’s potential to expand human intelligence led to a host of inventions — among them the computer mouse — that became the basis for both the Internet and the modern personal computer, died on Tuesday at his home in Atherton, Calif., The New York Times reports. He was 88….

In a single stroke he had what… read more

Wi-Fi signal used to track moving humans — even behind walls

July 3, 2013

(credit: Christine Daniloff/MIT

‘Researchers at MIT’s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory.are developing a system called “Wi-Vi” that transmits a low-power Wi-Fi signal and uses its reflections to track moving humans — even if they are in closed rooms or hiding behind a wall.

How it works

The researchers borrowed a technique called inverse synthetic aperture radar (ISAR), which has been… read more

Revolutionary adaptive optics delivers sharper universe to astronomers

July 3, 2013

NGC 4038

A unique new instrument at Gemini South in Chile takes the removal of atmospheric distortions (using new adaptive-optics technology) to a new level. The release of seven ultrasharp, large-field images from the instrument’s first science observations demonstrate its remarkable discovery potential.

Astronomers recently got their hands on Gemini Observatory’s revolutionary new adaptive optics system, called GeMS (Gemini Multi-conjugate adaptive optics System), “and the data are… read more

Intel’s Justin Rattner on a new laser chip

July 3, 2013

justin-rattner

Intel Labs’ “silicon photonics” venture is developing a 100-gigabit-per-second transceiver [a device that sends data between computers along an optical fiber], says former Intel CTO Justin Rattner in an interview with MIT Technology Review.

It is targeted to the data center — [meaning] more bandwidth at much lower cost, and what looks like a big win on the energy-efficiency side.

Regarding Moore’s law, “we… read more

High-speed customization of novel nanoparticles for drug delivery and electronics

July 3, 2013

mit_coated_nanoparticles

A new coating technology developed at MIT, combined with a novel nanoparticle-manufacturing technology developed at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, may offer scientists a way to quickly mass-produce tailored nanoparticles that are specially coated for specific applications, including medicines and electronics.

Using this new combination of the two existing technologies, scientists can produce very small, uniform particles with customized layers of material… read more

Seven software teams ace DARPA’s Virtual Robotics Challenge

July 2, 2013

VRCTask1ATLASEnteringCar1

The DARPA Robotics Challenge (DRC) was created to spur development of advanced robots that can assist humans in mitigating and recovering from future natural and man-made disasters.

Twenty-six teams from eight countries qualified to compete June 17–21 in the first DRC event, the Virtual Robotics Challenge (VRC).

This was a software competition carried out in a virtual environment that looked like… read more

Robot ape to colonize the Moon?

July 2, 2013

iStruct_robot

The German Research Center for Artificial Intelligence (DFKI) and the University of Bremen are working on an ape-like robot called the iStruct Demonstrator that they classify as a “Space Robot.”

Lately the mechanical monkey has been practicing how to walk and balance in the center’s mock lunar landscape, Gizmag reports.

An ape-like body has certain benefits over a wheeled robot: its four-legged stance is… read more

Testing for bacteria in minutes instead of weeks

July 2, 2013

Escherichia_coli_Gram

EPFL researchers have built a matchbox-sized device that can test for the presence of bacteria in a couple of minutes, instead of up to several weeks.

A nano-lever vibrates in the presence of bacterial activity, while a laser reads the vibration and translates it into an electrical signal that can be easily read: absence of a signal signifies the absence of bacteria.

This makes… read more

60 billion planets in our galaxy could sustain water, life: researchers

July 2, 2013

A planet with clouds and surface water orbits a red dwarf star in this artist’s conception of the Gliese 581 star system.

A new study by University of Chicago and Northwestern University researchers that calculates the influence of cloud behavior on climate doubles the number of potentially habitable planets orbiting red dwarfs, the most common type of stars in the universe.

In our Milky Way galaxy alone, 60 billion planets may be orbiting red dwarf stars in the habitable zone.

Current data from NASA’s… read more

Artificial Superintelligence: A Futuristic Approach

July 1, 2013

artificial_superintelligence_futurist_approach

Indiegogo fundraiser for Roman V. Yampolskiy‘s book. The book will present research aimed at making sure that emerging superintelligence is beneficial to humanity.

Many philosophers, futurologists and artificial intelligence researchers have conjectured that in the next 20 to 200 years a machine capable of at least human level performance on all tasks will be developed.

Since such a machine would among other things be… read more

Large-scale quantum chip validated

July 1, 2013

dwave_ones_in_the_lab_large

A team of scientists at USC has verified that quantum effects are indeed at play in the first commercial quantum optimization processor.

The team demonstrated that the D-Wave processor housed at the USC-Lockheed Martin Quantum Computing Center behaves in a manner that indicates that quantum mechanics has a functional role in the way it works. The demonstration involved a small subset of the… read more

Revolutionary space engine turns an airplane into a spaceplane

July 1, 2013

skylon

A revolutionary engine that can turn an aircraft into an orbiting spaceplane has won fresh backing from the British Government.

The hybrid engine called Skylon (Synergistic Air-Breathing Rocket Engine) — is currently being developed by Reaction Engines, SEN reports.

Until now, spacecraft heading for orbit have had to be launched by conventional rockets because of the amount of fuel needed to be get them… read more

Repairing bad memories

July 1, 2013

(Credit: iStockphoto)

Recent research has shown that memories are not unchanging physical traces in the brain. Instead, they are malleable constructs that may be rebuilt every time they are recalled, MIT Technology Review reports.

Doctors (and psychotherapists) might be able to use this knowledge to help patients block the fearful emotions they experience when recalling a traumatic event, converting chronic sources of debilitating anxiety into benign trips down memory… read more

If you must wear your tech, try not to look like an idiot

"If wearable tech companies are going to proliferate and incorporate themselves into our daily lives, they should start hiring fashion directors,"
July 1, 2013

fitbit_flex

Your wearable tech is making you look like a tool, advises TechCrunch writer Eliza Brooke. She recommends:

Fitbit Flex: Fitness bands are the easiest entry point into wearables, because everyone knows that if you want to be cool, go where the jocks go. This one is best, she says.

Nike Hyperdunk+: Basketball shoes embedded with sensors synced to the Nike+Basketball… read more

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