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The Ascent of the Robotic Attack Jet

February 7, 2005

The first working models of networked autonomous attack jets have recently been tested. The U.S. Department of Defense would like to start building them by 2010.

They’ll tackle jobs such as attacking enemy air defenses, identifying new targets, and releasing precision bombs.

One major challenge: constructing what amounts to a mobile Internet in the sky, with data communication handoffs from planes travelling at high speeds.

The Atkinson-Phoenix Nanotech Debate

July 21, 2003

William Atkinson wrote a book, Nanocosm, critical of Eric Drexler’s approach to nanotech and of Drexler himself. Chris Phoenix (CRN) wrote a review of the book, critical of Bill’s understanding of the topic. Bill responded. This touched off an email discussion.

The audacity of nano-hope

February 26, 2009

There has been a flurry of interest in nanobots over the past week, casting quite a wide net that ranges from Nadrian Seeman’s experimental lab work to Ray Kurzweil’s hopeful dreams for the far future, says Foresight Institute president J. Storrs Hall.

The avatar economy

Are remote workers the brains inside tomorrow's robots?
July 19, 2012

iRobot-ava

A robot remotely controlled by a low-wage foreign worker could soon compete with some U.S. workers,  suggests MIT doctoral student in information technology Matt Beane in Technology Review.

Companies now produce and sell robots that allow users to navigate through a remote working environment, interacting by means of a computer screen.

The next wave promises much more capability per dollar. DARPA recently issued a robotic challenge involving… read more

The avatar will see you now

June 11, 2013

sensely

Patients needing knee replacements at the San Mateo Medical Center in California are being coached by a digital avatar, MIT Technology Review reports.

The avatar, Molly, interviews them in Spanish or English about the levels of pain they feel as a video guides them through exercises, while the 3-D cameras of a Kinect device measure their movements.

The ultimate goal is for the routine to be… read more

The Beam of Light That Flips a Switch That Turns on the Brain

August 14, 2007

A new generation of genetic and optical technology can give researchers unprecedented power to turn on and off targeted sets of cells in the brain, and to do so by remote control.

Some day, the remote-control technology might even serve as a treatment for neurological and psychiatric disorders.

The Bear’s Lair: Exponential or asymptotic?

July 9, 2002

Do we live in an economy whose growth is primarily exponential, or primarily asymptotic (approaches a limit)?

“The transition from exponential to asymptotic growth occurs when market saturation comes into play as a constraint on growth,” says UPI Business and Economics Editor Martin Hutchinson. “The United States is today primarily an asymptotically growing economy, and … investors should buy stocks only when they can obtain a high and secure… read more

The benefits of 80 million years without sex

October 12, 2007

University of Cambridge researchers have discovered how Adineta ricciae, a species of bdelloid rotifer that has evolved without sex, has survived dehydration.

The two copies of the gene lea in Adineta ricciae are different and therefore generate proteins with different functions that protect the animal during dehydration. One copy protects essential proteins from clumping together as the animal dries out, while the other helps to maintain the fragile membranes… read more

The Best Computer Interfaces: Past, Present, and Future

April 6, 2009

Multitouch screens, gesture sensing, force feedback, voice recognition, augmented reality, spatial interfaces, and future brain-computer interfaces are key developments in computer interfaces.

The Best Inventions of 2002

November 25, 2002

Time’s list of the best inventions of 2002 includes 3-D Online Environment, a lifelike 3-D virtual world now evolving on the Internet; Carver Mead’s Foveon X3 technology; the Earth Simulator, the most powerful supercomputer; and “virtual” keyboards, using a laser beam that projects a glowing red outline of a keyboard.

The best neuroscience images of 2013

December 27, 2013

Brainbow - featured

The brain bank science blog (by a group of Manchester, UK-based scientists) has posted 12 images from 2013 that are as much fantastic works of art as neuroscience. Shown here: “Brainbow,” a transgenic system designed to label different types of brain cells in a festive panoply of colors.

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The Big Bang and the Bucks Set to Collide in Inner Space

February 9, 2007

An international consortium of physicists released the first detailed design of what they believe will be the Next Big Thing in physics: the International Linear Collider, a machine 20 miles long that will slam together electrons and their evil-twin opposites, positrons, to produce fireballs of energy recreating conditions when the universe was only a trillionth of a second old.

The cost: cost about $6.7 billion and 13,000 person-years of… read more

The Biggest Jolt to Power Since Franklin Flew His Kite

April 27, 2004

Companies say they are closing in on the goal of producing relatively inexpensive superconducting wire for power generators, transformers and transmission lines.

The billionaire who is planning his 125th birthday

March 8, 2012

David Howard Murdock

David Murdock, age 87, wants to reach 125, and sees no reason he can’t, provided that he continues eating the way he has for the last quarter century: with a methodical, messianic correctness that he believes can, and will, ward off major disease and minor ailment alike.

He has spent some $500 million of his fortune in recent years to construct the North Carolina Research Campus, a scientific center… read more

The biology of politics: liberals roll with the good, conservatives confront the bad

January 6, 2012

From cable TV news pundits to red-meat speeches in Iowa and New Hampshire, our nation’s deep political stereotypes are on full display: conservatives paint self-indulgent liberals as insufferably absent on urgent national issues, while liberals say fear-mongering conservatives are fixated on exaggerated dangers to the country.

A new study from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln (UNL) suggests there are biological truths to such broad brushstrokes.

In a… read more

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