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Mutant H5N1 ‘bird flu’ research set to resume

January 25, 2013

A(H5N1) virus

One year after public uproar forced them to pause, researchers who study H5N1 avian influenza by designing new, extra-virulent strains are set to resume their work, Wired Science reports.

In a letter published Jan. 23 in the journals Nature and Science, 40 virologists, including leaders of the most high-profile experiments, declared that their voluntary moratorium is now over.

Other experts say concerns about the… read more

Does future hold ‘Avatar’-like bodies for us?

October 18, 2011

Dmitry Itskov introduced his “Project Immortality 2045: Russian Experience” at the Singularity Summit in New York, reports MSNBC’s Innovation blog.  His plans include creating a humanoid avatar body within five to seven years, transplanting a human brain into a new “body B” in 10 to 15 years, digitally uploading a human brain’s consciousness in 20 to 25 years, and moving human consciousness to hologram-like bodies… read more

A ‘shockingly bright’ gamma-ray burst

May 7, 2013

Swift's X-Ray Telescope took this 0.1-second exposure of GRB 130427A at 3:50 a.m. EDT on April 27, just moments after Swift and Fermi triggered on the outburst. The image is 6.5 arcminutes across. (Credit: NASA/Swift/Stefan Immler)

A record-setting blast of gamma rays from a dying star in a galaxy about 3.6 billion light-years away has wowed astronomers around the world — the highest-energy light ever detected from such an event.

At 3:47 a.m. EDT, April 27, Fermi’s Gamma-ray Burst Monitor (GBM) triggered on an eruption, designated GRB 130427A, of high-energy light in the constellation Leo.

The Fermi Large Area Telescope (LAT) recorded one gamma ray… read more

DARPA’s human-augmentation suit

August 27, 2013

DARPA's Warrior Web program seeks to create a soft, lightweight under-suit that would help reduce injuries and fatigue and improve Soldiers' ability to efficiently perform their missions. The photos above are examples of three prototypes currently under development.

One of the most common risks that dismounted Soldiers face in the field is injury from carrying their gear — often topping 100 pounds — for extended periods over rough terrain.

Heavy loads increase the likelihood of musculoskeletal injury and also exacerbate fatigue, which contributes to both acute and chronic injury and impedes Soldiers’ physical and cognitive abilities to perform mission-oriented tasks.

To… read more

‘Team Frankenstein’ launch bid to build a human brain within decade

May 18, 2011


Dr. Henry Markram, a neuroscientist at the École Polytechnique Fédérale in Lausanne, Switzerland, has assembled a team of nine top European scientists to build a computer model of a human brain in 12 years.

The Human Brain Project is in discussion with the EU for a £1 billion grant. The project has already created an artificial neocortical column that is unique to mammals, digitally… read more

Kurzweil ranks 30 in TIME’s 2011 TIME 100 Poll, edging out Stewart and Colbert; voting still open [UPDATING]

April 14, 2011

TIME has announced its 2011 TIME 100 Poll, which asks readers to “cast your votes for the leaders, artists, innovators, icons and heroes that you think are the most influential people in the world.” The Top 100 will be included in TIME’s annual TIME 100 special edition.

Update: as of 1:00 p.m. EDT Tuesday April 14, Ray Kurzweil ranks 30, edging out Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert,… read more

Cloud computing modernizes education in China

May 13, 2013


Chinese cloud services provider 3Tcloud is deploying the country’s biggest education cloud project to optimize resource allocation and cut maintenance cost, ZDNET reports.

According to a report last week on Chinese tech site, the city of Zhuji in Zhejiang — one of China’s most developed provinces — has installed more than 6,000 3Tcloud computing terminal devices in 118 schools.

The project,… read more

A moveable, flexible display made of paper

September 12, 2013


Flexpad transforms a standard sheet of paper into a moveable, flexible display.

The technology was developed in the “Flexpad” research project under the leadership of Jürgen Steimle in the MIT Media Lab and the Max Planck Institute for Informatics in Saarbrücken, in cooperation with Kiel University.

“We routinely deform objects intuitively in many different ways. We bend back pages in books, deflate… read more

Electrical ‘mind control’ shown in primates for first time

'Free choice' in primates can be altered with brain stimulation
June 4, 2014

Visual cues used in preference test (credit: John T. Arsenault et al./Current Biology)

In an update to the legendary Jose Delgado experiment (see video below), researchers Wim Vanduffel and John Arsenault (KU Leuven and Massachusetts General Hospital) changed a monkey’s preferences for an image by stimulating a part of the brain called the ventral tegmental area (VTA) with electrical pulses

The VTA is located in the midbrain and helps regulate learning and reinforcement in the brain’s reward system. It produces… read more

‘Artificial leaf’ could power a home: MIT scientist

March 29, 2011

(Credit: iStockphoto)

Scientists today claimed one of the milestones in the drive for sustainable energy — development of the first practical “artificial leaf.” Speaking at the 241st National Meeting of the American Chemical Society, they described an advanced solar cell the size of a poker card that mimics photosynthesis.

“A practical artificial leaf has been one of the Holy Grails of science for decades,” said MIT chemist Daniel Nocera, Ph.D.,… read more

Deepest-ever view of the Universe

Looking at 5500 galaxies as they were 13.2 billion years ago
September 26, 2012


Astronomers have assembled a new, improved portrait of our deepest-ever view of the Universe called the eXtreme Deep Field, or XDF, by combining ten years of NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope observations taken of a patch of sky within the original Hubble Ultra Deep Field.

The XDF is a small fraction of the angular diameter of the full Moon — a small area of space in the… read more

A ‘universal smart window’ for instant control of lighting and heat

August 16, 2013

Smart-window glass that can be switched to block heat and light (credit: Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory)

Researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) have designed a new material to make smart windows even smarter.

The material is a thin coating of nanocrystals embedded in glass that can dynamically modify sunlight as it passes through a window.

Unlike existing technologies, the coating provides selective control over visible light and heat-producing near-infrared (NIR) light independently, so windows can… read more

Design and print your own robot

April 4, 2012

An insect-like robot printed and designed using the new process being developed to revolutionize the way robots are developed. The robot could be used for exploring areas inaccessible to humans (photo credit:Jason Dorfman/CSAIL)

MIT is leading an ambitious new project to reinvent how robots are designed and produced.

Funded by a $10 million grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF), the project will aim to develop a desktop technology that would make it possible for the average person to design, customize and print a specialized robot in a matter of hours.

“This research envisions a whole new way of… read more

Autotuning wireless power transfer systems for better performance

May 18, 2012

Wireless power transfer experimental setup (credit: Z. Pantic and S. Lukic)

Researchers from North Carolina State University (NC State) have developed a new way to fine-tune wireless power transfer (WPT) receivers, making the systems more efficient and functional. WPT systems hold promise for charging electric vehicles, electronic devices, and other technologies.

Researchers have previously shown that it is possible to transmit power wirelessly by using magnetic resonance, but even minor changes in how the transmitter or receiver is… read more

Neurons lose information at one bit per second

January 25, 2011

Neuron activity pattern indicates which neuron is active at a given time Max Planck Institute for Dynamics and Self-Organization)

Information stored in the activity patterns of cerebral cortex neurons is discarded at the surprisingly high rate of one bit per active neuron per second, scientists from the Max Planck Institute for Dynamics and Self-Organization at the University of Gottingen and the Bernstein Center for Computational Neuroscience Gpttingen have found.

The new results obtained by the scientists in Göttingen have also revealed that the processes in the cerebral cortex… read more

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