science + technology news

Meet Nexi, MIT Media Lab’s latest robot and Internet

April 19, 2008

Nexi, a new experimental robot from the MIT Media Lab, can show a wide assortment of facial expressions to communicate with people in human-centric terms.

Created by a group headed by Media Lab’s Cynthia Breazeal, known for earlier expressive robots such as Kismet, the new robot is known as an MDS (mobile, dextrous, social) robot. Unlike Kismet, which consisted only of a robotic head, the… read more

Disorder creates order

April 5, 2006

According to a computational study conducted by physicists at Washington University in St. Louis, one may create order by introducing disorder.

While working on their model — a network of interconnected pendulums, or “oscillators” – the researchers noticed that when driven by ordered forces the various pendulums behaved chaotically and swung out of sync like a group of intoxicated synchronized swimmers. This was unexpected –shouldn’t synchronized forces yield synchronized… read more

New method can speed development of organic semiconductors for flexible displays

August 18, 2011

A single crystal of the new organic semiconductor material shown in polarized light. It is approximately twice as fast as the parent organic material from which it was derived. The white scale bar at the bottom center of the photo represents 10 microns (10 millionths of a meter). (Credit: Stanford University)

A team led by researchers at Stanford and Harvard universities has developed a new organic semiconductor material that is among the speediest yet in the search for a fast, durable organic semiconductor. The scientists also accelerated the development process by using a predictive approach that lopped many months or years off the typical timeline.

Organic semiconductors hold immense… read more

Who’s in Charge?

June 26, 2003

“A good illustration of why the scientist needs the philosopher can be found in Daniel C. Dennett’s new book, Freedom Evolves, in a fine discussion of the experimental data of Benjamin Libet … which show that the neural activity that begins an action starts up around a third of a second before the agent’s conscious decision to act.

“Neuroscientists have frequently interpreted this as showing that decisions are somehow… read more

3,000 Images Combine for Stunning Milky Way Portrait

November 3, 2009

(Axel Mellinger of Central Michigan University)

A new 648-megapixel panoramic image of the full night sky, melded together from 3,000 individual photographs with mathematical models, shows stars 1,000 times fainter than the human eye can see, as well as hundreds of galaxies, star clusters and nebulae.

Complete ‘cookbook’ for running a genome published

April 23, 2008

Salk Institute researchers and colleagues have sequenced the first full plant epigenome–the rules for how genes are used and when they are switched on and off, based on methylation.

The researchers sequenced this “methylome” of the cress Arabidopsis for every letter of its genetic code, and they have begun to use their sequencing process on the human methylome.

Organisms can change the expression of their genetic material without… read more

Code for Unbreakable Quantum Encryption

April 20, 2006

Raw code for “unbreakable” quantum encryption has been generated at record speed over optical fiber at NIST.

The work is a step toward using conventional high-speed networks such as broadband Internet and local-area networks to transmit ultra-secure video for applications such as surveillance, confidential data, and military opertions.

NIST achieves record low error rate for quantum information processing with one qubit

September 1, 2011

Micrograph of NIST ion trap with red dot indicating where a beryllium ion hovers above the chip. The horizontal and vertical lines separate gold electrodes, which are tuned to hold the ion and generate microwave pulses to manipulate it. The chip was used in experiments demonstrating record-low error rates in quantum information processing with a single quantum bit (credit: NIST)

Physicists at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) have achieved a record low probability of error in quantum information processing with a single quantum bit (qubit): 1 per 50,000 logic operations.

This is the first published error rate small enough to meet theoretical requirements for building viable quantum computers.

The NIST experiment with a single… read more

Being Invisible

July 9, 2003

Next-gen optical camouflage is busting out of defense labs and into the street.

US Defense Department press releases citing “adaptive,” “advanced,” and “active” camouflage suggest that the government is working on devices like this.

But to achieve true invisibility, optical camouflage must capture the background from all angles and display it from all perspectives simultaneously. This requires a minimum of six stereoscopic camera pairs, allowing the computer to… read more

A Dream Interpretation: Tuneups for the Brain

November 11, 2009

Dr. J. Allan Hobson, a psychiatrist and sleep researcher at Harvard, argues that dreaming is a parallel state of consciousness that is continually running but normally suppressed during waking. This is supported by research on lucid dreaming, which has been found to have elements of both rapid-eye-movement (REM) sleep and of waking.

Hobson argues that the main function of REM, when most dreaming occurs, is physiological: the brain is… read more

Mapping the individual — cheaply

April 25, 2008

By 2015, babies might have their entire DNA read at birth, as costs of sequencing plunge below $100.

The first full human-genome sequencing, completed in 2003, took 13 years and cost $437 million. James Watson’s 2008 sequencing, carried out by 454 Life Sciences, took only two months and cost about $1 million. Other companies, such as Illumina and Applied Biosystems, are relentlessly pushing the cost down further.

The… read more

Now you see it, now you don’t: cloaking device is not just sci-fi

May 4, 2006

Mathematicians claim to have worked out how to make a cloaking device to render objects invisible at certain frequencies of light.

The cloaking device relies on recently discovered materials that have a negative refractive index, which effectively makes light travel backwards.

The Next Wave of Botnets Could Descend from the Skies

September 8, 2011
Flying bot

Stevens Institute of Technology researchers have demonstrated low-cost remote-controlled drones that could create and control a botnet —- a network of compromised computers — automatically detecting and compromising wireless networks.

CMU team to develop a software ‘secretary’

July 18, 2003

Researchers are developing “personalized cognitive assistant” software with $7 million DARPA funding.

Users will be able to establish a degree of trust with this software, just as they do with human assistants or secretaries. It will have to learn enough of the nuances of human interaction that it will know, for instance, when the user can be interrupted.

How Will We Keep Supercomputing Super?

November 17, 2009

Building an exascale supercomputer that can deliver a billion billion (10^18) calculations per second is going to force designers to change the way they think about putting these supercomputers together.

Graphics processors (GPUs) are the first step in that process, although more esoteric technologies may emerge.

close and return to Home