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The Promise of Plastic Transistors

April 13, 2001

Integrated circuits made from polymers could usher in a whole new era in computing.

The idea: plastic circuits could be manufactured simply by spraying them out of ink-jet printers, ushering in an era of lightweight, ultracheap, and flexible computer displays and electronics. “Imagine a large sheet of plastic that could download your favorite newspapers and that you could roll up underneath your arm.”

The proton shrinks in size

July 11, 2010

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The proton seems to be 0.00000000000003 millimeters (4 percent) smaller than researchers previously thought, according to work published in today’s issue of Nature. The new measurements could mean that there is a gap in existing theories of quantum mechanics.

Something is wrong. The most intriguing possibility is that previously undetected particles are changing the interaction of the muon (used to measure the proton’s size) and the proton. Such particles could… read more

The Pulse of Life: Music of Our World and Beyond

September 13, 2002
Spectral analysis of a musical selection by Hildegaard of Bingen. CREDIT: Andrew Kaiser

Could ET understand terrestrial music? Composer Andrew Kaiser suggests that music may communicate “something of our consciousness that is essentially human, regardless of the civilization from which it emerges.”

Even if ET is deaf, the language of music could communicate meaning because of its precise mathematically structure, he believes.

The quantified brain of a self-tracking neuroscientist

June 3, 2013

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A neuroscientist is getting a brain scan twice every week for a year to try to see how neural networks behave over time, MIT Technology Review reports.

Every day, Russell Poldrack, a neuroscientist at the University of Texas at Austin, tracks his mood and mental state, what he ate, and how much time he spent outdoors.

Twice a week, he gets his brain scanned… read more

The quantum internet

Quantum information stored in an atom is converted into a photon for transmission
February 7, 2013

The atom’s quantum information is written onto the polarization state of the photon (credit: Harald Ritsch)

A University of Innsbruck research team has directly transferred the quantum information stored in an atom onto a particle of light for the first time.

Background

Thanks to the strange laws of quantum mechanics, quantum computers would be able to carry out certain computational tasks much faster than conventional computers. Among the most promising technologies for the construction of a quantum computer are… read more

The quantum Singularity

March 3, 2011

If two identical photons reach a beam splitter at exactly the same time, they will both go either right or left; they won’t take different paths. (Photo and graphic: Christine Daniloff)

A paper describing an experiment that, if it worked, would offer strong evidence that quantum computers can do things that classical computers can’t will be presented at the Association for Computing Machinery’s 43rd Symposium on Theory of Computing in June by associate professor of computer science Scott Aaronson and his graduate student Alex Arkhipov.

Although building the experimental apparatus would be difficult, it shouldn’t be as difficult as building… read more

The quantum world is about to get bigger

November 1, 2006

The quantum world is about to get bigger, thanks to a technique that will allow objects big enough to see with the naked eye to exist in two places at once.

The trick: eliminate thermal vibrations by bombarding a mirror of roughly 10^14 atoms with photons in a way that damps out thermal vibrations and cooling it to 135 millikelvin.

The Quest For Immortality

January 1, 2006

60 Minutes correspondent Morley Safer interviewed Dr. Aubrey de Grey, who says that sometime in the next 20 to 30 years or so, we’ll be able to recondition ourselves for the first steps towards immortality.

(Video of interview available)

The Quest for the $1,000 Human Genome

July 18, 2006

The goal now being pursued by the NIH and by several manufacturers is to drive the costs of decoding a human genome down to as little as $1,000.

At that price, it could be worth decoding people’s genomes in certain medical situations and, one day, even routinely at birth.

The race to bring quantum teleportation to your world

There'd an international quantum teleportation space race heating up
October 5, 2012

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Around the world, countries are investing time and millions of dollars into the technology, which uses satellites to beam bits of quantum information down from the sky and and could profoundly change worldwide communication, Wired Science reports.

In the past year, a team from China and another in Austria set new records for quantum teleportation, using a laser to beam photons through the open… read more

The Race to Read Genomes on a Shoestring, Relatively Speaking

February 11, 2008

Pacific Biosciences is developing a DNA sequencing machine that within a few years might be able to unravel an individual’s entire genome in minutes, for less than $1,000.

The company is just one entrant in a heated race for the “$1,000 genome”–a gold rush of activity whose various contestants threaten to shake up the current $1-billion-a-year market for machines that sequence genomes.

The price today: $350,000.

The Race to Reverse Engineer the Human Brain

December 3, 2009

IBM’s recent announcement of simulation of a cat’s cortext on a Dawn Blue Gene/P Supercomputer aligns with IBM’s “smarter planet” initiative, a method of integrating sensors into infrastructure and analyzing the data they produce to optimize systems like the electrical grid, water systems, and traffic.

The rational aspect of empathy

July 18, 2011

According to a new study from the University of Southern California, even failing to possess a full complement of limbs will not stop your brain from understanding what it is like for someone else to experience pain in one of them. It may, however, change the way your brain does so, the researchers have found.

They showed videos of tasks being performed by hands, feet,… read more

The Real 3D Mandelbulb

November 17, 2009

(Click image for 500x4500 pixel version)

An awesome 3D equivalent of the Mandelbrot fractal has been developed.

The real Limitless drug

April 8, 2013

Modafinil (Provigil in the United States) was first approved by the FDA in 1998 for the treatment of narcolepsy, but since has become better known as a nootropic, a “smart drug,” especially among entrepreneurs, says New York magazine.

Rumored to be the model for the fictional pills in the movie Limitless, no scientist has conducted a study of its long-term effects on healthy brains yet. At the very… read more

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