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The Cambridge Project for Existential Risk

June 29, 2012

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Concerned that developments in human technology may soon pose new, extinction-level risks to our species as a whole, Astronomer Royal Martin Rees, Cambridge University philosopher Huw Price, and Skype co-founder Jaan Tallinn have formed The Cambridge Project for Existential Risk.

“These dangers have been suggested from progress in AI, from developments in biotechnology and artificial life, from nanotechnology, and from possible extreme effects of anthropogenic climate change,” the… read more

The Car That Makes Its Own Fuel

October 25, 2005

A unique system that can produce Hydrogen inside a car using common metals such as magnesium and aluminum and running on water has been developed by an Israeli company.

The system reportedly solves the obstacles associated with the manufacturing, transporting and storing of hydrogen to be used in cars. When it becomes commercial in a few years time, the system will be incorporated into cars that will cost about… read more

The case for optionally manned aircraft

September 18, 2012

Contender concept image of LRS-B next-generation stealth bomber (credit: Boeing/Lockheed Martin)

Purely manned or purely unmanned aircraft possess various inherent advantages and limitations. Optionally manned aircraft provide the best of both worlds, allowing commanders to employ force at various risk levels and to employ their aircraft and crews to their fullest capacities, says Lt. Col. Peter Garretson in Armed Forces Journal.

Such platforms — and in particular, the planned Long Range Strike-Bomber (LRS-B) — represent the lowest-cost, lowest-risk path toward… read more

The cat is out of the bag: cortical simulations with 10^9 neurons, 10^13 synapses

November 18, 2009

BlueMatter, a new algorithm created in collaboration with Stanford University, exploits the Blue Gene supercomputing architecture in order to noninvasively measure and map the connections between all cortical and sub-cortical locations within the human brain using magnetic resonance diffusion weighted imaging. Mapping the wiring diagram of the brain is crucial to untangling its vast communication network and understanding how it represents and processes information. (IBM Research)

Results of massively parallel cortical simulations of a cat cortex, with 1.5 billion neurons and 9 trillion synapses, running on Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory’s Dawn Blue Gene/P supercomputer, will be presented by IBM and LLNL researchers today at the SC09 Conference on High Performance Networking and Computing in Portland.

“The simulations, which incorporate phenomenological spiking neurons, individual learning synapses, axonal delays, and dynamic synaptic channels,… read more

The Cell Hijackers

May 19, 2004

Soon, our knowledge of life processes will let us program cells as we do computers, says Rodney Brooks.

This engineering revolution is coming to be known as synthetic biology. Examples include modifying protein production processes to turn E. coli cells into primitive digital computers; the creation of cells that are genetically altered to deliver drugs within a person’s body; programming a cell to sense blood sugar levels and produce… read more

The Cellphone, Navigating Our Lives

February 18, 2009

With the dominance of the cellphone, the map is emerging as a new metaphor for how we organize, find and use information.

A new generation of smartphones like Google’s Android G1 and a range of Japanese phones now “augment” reality by painting a map over a phone-screen image of the user’s surroundings produced by the phone’s camera.

With this sort of map it is possible to see a… read more

The CEO’s Tech Toolbox

July 26, 2005

Podcasts, RFID tags, and mesh networks are among the 10 new technologies that should be on the radar of every chief exec.

For example, IBM is developing AI-based software called the Uber-Personal Assistant (UPA). It will analyze your schedule, e-mails, and the text you’re typing to figure out exactly what you’re working on. Then, it will alert you to new e-mails pertinent to that project.

The cerebellum as navigation assistant

November 7, 2011

The cerebellum is far more intensively involved in helping us navigate than previously thought.

To move and learn effectively in spatial environments, “place cells” in the hippocampus, create a cognitive map of the environment through the integration of multisensory inputs combining external information (such as visual, auditory, olfactory and tactile cues) and inputs generated by self-motion (optic flow, and proprioceptive and vestibular information)..

The cerebellum contributes… read more

The Challenge of Molecular Communication

June 28, 2010

Emulating the efficient way that bacteria communicate with molecules, computer scientists are developing a mathematical theory of molecular communication based on a wetware model that includes quorum sensing and factors such as Brownian motion, the velocity of fluid flow, and the rate of molecular diffusion.

The Chaos Inside a Cancer Cell

December 26, 2008

Baylor College of Medicine in Houston have now compared the genome of a type of breast cancer cell with that of normal cells. They find 157 rearrangements. The impairment of double strand break repair could be a major cause of all the other rearrangements, the researchers suggest.

The Charge of the Ultra-Capacitors

November 5, 2007

MIT scientists plan to replace the activated carbon of current ultracapacitors, which can can store more charge than a capacitor, with a dense, microscopic forest of carbon nanotubes grown directly on the surface of the current collector.

This would create a device that can hold up to 50 percent as much electrical energy as a comparably sized battery, while being more effective at rapid, regenerative energy storage than chemical… read more

The ‘chemputer’ that could print out any drug

July 26, 2012

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Professor Lee Cronin has turned a 3D printer into a universal chemistry set that could make its own prescription drugs via downloadable chemistry.

Cronin is the leader of a world-class team of 45 researchers at Glasgow University, primarily making complex molecules.

The “inks” are simple reagents, from which more complex molecules are formed.

As he points out, nearly all drugs are made of carbon, hydrogen and… read more

The Children of Cyberspace: Old Fogies by Their 20s

January 11, 2010

The ever-accelerating pace of technological change may be minting a series of mini-generation gaps, with each group of children uniquely influenced by the tech tools available in their formative stages of development, says psychologist Larry Rosen and the author of the coming “Rewired: Understanding the iGeneration and the Way They Learn.”

Now in their 20s, those in the Net Generation, according to Dr. Rosen, spend two hours a day… read more

The Chinese Government’s Plans for Nanotechnology

February 18, 2008

University of California at Santa Barbara researchers say China aims to leapfrog the United States in technological development with substantial investment in nanotechnology.

Nanotechnology research is one of four Chinese “science Megaprojects” that have the central purpose of catching the country up to US research by 2020.

The Chinese solar machine

December 20, 2011

China's production of solar cells

Chinese manufacturers make about 50 million solar panels a year — over half the world’s supply in 2010 — and include four of the world’s top five solar-panel manufacturers.

The industry elsewhere has been doubling in size every two years, and Chinese manufacturers have done even better, doubling their production roughly every year.

They have succeeded in large part because it’s faster and cheaper for them to build… read more

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