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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

Germany to tap brakes on high-speed trading

October 29, 2012

hft_chart

Germany is set to advance a bill Wednesday imposing a spate of new rules on high-frequency trading, escalating Europe’s sweeping response to concerns that speedy traders have brought instability to the markets.

The measure seeks to require traders to register with Germany’s Federal Financial Supervisory Authority, collect fees from those who use high-speed trading systems excessively, and force stock markets to install circuit breakers that can interrupt trading if… read more

This is how the universe will end: not with a bang but a rip

First the galaxies are destroyed. Then the solar system breaks apart and the Earth explodes. Finally, the atoms themselves are ripped apart.
July 3, 2015

This is a time line of life of the universe that ends in a Big Rip. (credit: Jeremy Teaford, Vanderbilt University)

Vanderbilt University mathematicians have come up with a new theory of “cosmological viscosity” (how sticky the universe is) that challenges current theories.

For decades, cosmologists have had trouble reconciling the classic notion of viscosity based on the laws of thermodynamics with Einstein’s general theory of relativity, according the the team, which has now come up with a fundamentally new mathematical formulation of the problem that appears to… 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

Scientists shoot anticancer drugs deep into tumors

Ultrasonic vibrations cause gas microbubbles to explode, releasing nanoparticles containing anticancer drugs
April 18, 2016

Schematic of magnetic microbubbles used in the study contain gas cores (blue) and shells of magnetic iron-oxide nanoparticles (red), forming a dense shell (center) around a drug-containing nanoparticles. When stimulated by ultrasound at resonant frequencies, the nanoparticles can travel hundreds of micrometers into tumor tissue.  (credit:  Yu Gao et al./NPG Asia Materials)

Scientists at Nanyang Technological University (NTU Singapore) have invented a new way to deliver cancer drugs deep into tumor cells.

They created micro-sized gas bubbles coated with anticancer drug particles embedded in iron oxide nanoparticles and used MRI or other magnetic sources to direct these microbubbles to gather around a specific tumor. Then they used ultrasound to vibrate the microbubbles, providing the energy to direct the drug particles into… read more

How to reconstruct from brain images which letter a person was reading

August 24, 2013

Each letter is predicted using models trained on fMRI data for the remaining letter classes to improve the reconstructions.

Researchers from Radboud University Nijmegen in the Netherlands have succeeded in determining which letter a test subject was looking at.

They did that by analyzing the corresponding functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) scanned images of activity in the visual cortex of the brain, using a linear Gaussian mathematical model.

The researchers “taught” the model how 1200 voxels (volumetric pixels) of 2x2x2 mm from the… read more

Researchers observe never-before-detected brain activity in deep coma

September 25, 2013

Flat line and Nu-complex (credit: Daniel Kroeger et al./PLoS ONE)

University of Montreal researchers have found brain activity that kicks in after a patient’s EEG shows an isoelectric (“flat line”) EEG, according to their paper in PLoS ONE (open access).

The flatline EEG (brainwave) pattern is usually recorded during very deep coma and is considered to be one of the limit points in establishing brain death. In particular clinical conditions, it is accepted as the only criterion.… read more

Life on other planets could be far more widespread

Some of it could be underground
January 16, 2014

snowball_planet

Earth-sized planets can support life at least ten times farther away from stars than previously thought, according to researchers at the University of Aberdeen and the University of St Andrews.

A new paper published in Planetary and Space Science claims cold rocky planets previously considered uninhabitable may actually be able to support life beneath the surface.

The team challenges the traditional “habitable zone” or “Goldilocks zone”… read more

How would you like a graduate degree for $100?

June 7, 2012

Sebastian Thrun

Getting a master’s degree might cost just $100 from education startup Udacity, says Google Fellow and Udacity co-founder Sebastian Thrun.

However, “It’s pretty obvious that degrees will go away,” Thrun says. “The idea of a degree is that you spend a fixed time right after high school to educate yourself for the rest of your career. But ­careers change so much over a lifetime now that this model isn’t valid… read more

A solar energy funnel to harness a broader spectrum of light

MIT engineers propose a new way of harnessing photons for electricity, with the potential for capturing a wider spectrum of solar energy
November 28, 2012

A visualization of the broad-spectrum solar energy funnel (credit: Yan Liang/MIT)

The quest to harness a broader spectrum of sunlight’s energy to produce electricity has taken a radically new turn, with the proposal of a “solar energy funnel” that takes advantage of materials under elastic strain.

“We’re trying to use elastic strains to produce unprecedented properties,” says Ju Li, an MIT professor. In this case, the “funnel” is a metaphor: Electrons and their counterparts, holes… read more

Largest network of cortical neurons mapped from ~100 terabytes data set

"Functional connectomics" research bridges gap between function and wiring in the brain --- a major step in an IARPA project to create a roadmap for reverse-engineering the brain
April 1, 2016

A network of cortical neurons whose connections were traced from a multi-terabyte 3D data set. The data were created by an electron microscope designed and built at Harvard Medical School to collect millions of images in nanoscopic detail, so that every one of the “wires” could be seen, along with the connections between them. Some of the neurons are color-coded according to their activity patterns in the living brain. This is the newest example of functional connectomics, which combines high-throughput functional imaging, at single-cell resolution, with terascale anatomy of the very same neurons. (credit: Clay Reid, Allen Institute; Wei-Chung Lee, Harvard Medical School; Sam Ingersoll, graphic artist)

The largest network of the connections between neurons in the cortex to date has been published by an international team of researchers from the Allen Institute for Brain Science, Harvard Medical School, and Neuro-Electronics Research Flanders (NERF).

In the process of their study*, the researchers developed new tools that will be useful for “reverse engineering the brain by discovering relationships between circuit wiring… read more

IBM Research achieves new record for quantum computing device performance

February 28, 2012

ibmqubits

Scientists at IBM Research have achieved major advances in quantum computing device performance that they say may accelerate the realization of a practical, full-scale quantum computer, with quantum states lasting up to 100 microseconds — a 2 to 4 times improvement over previous results.

The scientists have established three new records for reducing errors in elementary computations and retaining the integrity of quantum mechanical properties in quantum bits (qubits)… read more

Biologists engineer algae to make complex anti-cancer ‘designer’ drug

December 13, 2012

Chlamydomonas reinhardtii, a green alga used widely in biology laboratories, can produce many kinds of “designer proteins” (credit: Nathan Schoepp/University of California - San Diego)

Biologists at UC San Diego have succeeded in genetically engineering algae  to produce what has been a complex and expensive human therapeutic drug used to treat cancer.

Their achievement opens the door for making these and other “designer” proteins in larger quantities and much more cheaply than can now be made from mammalian cells.

“Because we can make the exact same drug in algae,… read more

What would you prefer: a robot that takes care of you, or the opposite?

July 9, 2013

Robot butler Nao, a social robot developed by Aldebaran Robotics vs. robot-simulating mom (credit:  Aldebaran Robotics)

To determine how human perception of a robot changes based on its role, Penn State researchers observed 60 interactions between college students and Nao, a social robot developed by Aldebaran Robotics, a French company specializing in humanoid robots.

Each interaction could go one of two ways. The human could help Nao calibrate its eyes, or Nao could examine the human’s eyes like a concerned eye doctor and make suggestions to… read more

IBM forms new Watson group for cloud-delivered cognitive innovations, with $1 billion investment

January 12, 2014

IBM Watson Group Unveils Cloud-Delivered Watson Services

IBM has announced it will establish the IBM Watson Group, a new business unit dedicated to the development and commercialization of cloud-delivered cognitive innovations.

Headquartered in NYC’s “Silicon Alley,” the move signifies a strategic shift by IBM to accelerate into the marketplace a new class of software, services and apps that think, improve by learning, and discover answers and insights to complex questions from massive amounts of… read more

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