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Thinking Cap or Dunce’s Hat?

April 19, 2002

Researchers are using Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS) to temporarily shut down the left hemisphere of the brain, where speech and short-term memory are supported, to mimic temporarily the brain pattern of autistic savants and achieve very fast brain processing.

Some autism experts are skeptical.

Also see: TMS: Twilight Zone Science?

Ray Kurzweil Vows to Right E-Reader Wrongs

June 21, 2010

Ray Kurzweil is developing Blio, a software package that can run on everything from PCs to hand-held devices. It displays colorful images and varying fonts with formatting similar to what people find in physical texts.

Kurzweil argued that the existing e-readers and tablets had limitations in the text formats they support and the way they handle the original images and layouts in printed texts. Blio preserves the original formatting,… read more

A robot dog with an iPhone face

March 29, 2012

robotdogiphone

Bandai — the Japanese company that brought us the Tamagotchi — has announced Smartpet, a robotic dog that uses an iPhone for a face, Technology Review Hello World reports..

Using a free app (due out March 31) and the iPhone Facetime camera, you can make movements to tell the robo-pup to do various tricks. Smartpet can also recognize voice commands, serve as an alarm clock and hands-free phone, and it… read more

Study shows hotels’ Internet connections unsafe

October 2, 2008

An analysis of the networks in 46 hotels and survey of 147 U.S. hotels by Cornell’s School of Hotel Administration found that a majority of the hotels do not use all available tools to maintain network security.

For example, about 20 percent of the hotels surveyed still use simple hub-type systems, which are most vulnerable to hacking.

Twitter mood maps reveal emotional states of America

July 22, 2010

The mood of the nation at midday and 11 pm EST (Alan Mislove/Sune Lehmann/Yong-Yeol Ahn/Jukka-Pekka Onnela/J. Niels Rosenquist, 2010)

Emotional words contained in 300 million tweets suggest that the West Coast is happier than the East Coast, and across the country happiness peaks each Sunday morning, with a trough on Thursday evenings, computer scientists at Northeastern University have found, describing the technique as “the pulse of the nation.” 

To glean mood from the 140-character-long messages, they filtered the tweets to find ones that contained… read more

Printing press spells out bugs’ behaviour

May 30, 2005

The world’s first bacterial printing press will print live bacteria onto solid surfaces in precise patterns, a technique that may help explain how bacteria influence each other spatially.

Understanding these relationships will help find ways of thwarting their attacks and using them to clean up pollutants.

Are Science and Technology Governable?

May 15, 2002

“Living with the Genie: Governing scientific and technological transformation in the 21st century” brought together scientists to discuss life extension, using new genetics tools and nanotechnologies.

Nanoparticles combat cancer by inducing hyperthermia

June 29, 2010

Kansas State University researchers are exploring the use of iron-iron oxide nanoparticle-induced hyperthermia to overheat or bore holes through cancerous tissue to kill it.

An organic coating attracts the cancer cells to the nanoparticles. An external alternating magnetic field then causes the particles to produce friction heat, which is transferred to the cancer cells’ surrounding proteins, lipids and water, creating little hotspots. With enough hotspots the tumor cells are… read more

Leading geneticist Steve Jones says human evolution is over

October 9, 2008

Human evolution is grinding to a halt because of a shortage of older fathers (more likely to pass on mutations) in the West, according to Professor Steve Jones of University College London.

This is because cell divisions in males increase with age. “Every time there is a cell division, there is a chance of a mistake, a mutation, an error,” he said.

Also, as populations are becoming connected,… read more

Brain Scans Teach Humans to Empathize with Bots

August 2, 2010

robot+human

To test whether the sections of the brain that are activated when a human sees a robot expressing powerful emotions are the same as when a human sees another human expressing them, an international group of researchers stuck volunteers into an fMRI machine. They did not respond to the robots’ facial movement. But when they were told to concentrate on the emotional content of the robots’ expressions, their brains evidenced… read more

Honey, I Shrunk the PC

June 10, 2005

University of Arizona scientists have discovered how to use quantum mechanics to turn molecules into working transistors in the lab at room temperature, a breakthrough that might one day lead to high-powered computers the size of a postage stamp.

The proposed transistor is a ring-shaped molecule such as benzene. Attaching the two electrical leads to non-opposite sides of the ring allows the electrons to flow through the molecular ring… read more

Researchers run molecular machines on light

June 10, 2002

Researchers at the Center for Nanoscience, Ludwig-Maximilians Universität have demonstrated the feasibility of operating molecular machines with light.

A polymer made from photoactive chromophores was deposited on a microscope slide. The polymers were seen expanding and contracting under illumination, performing mechanical work.

Advantages of optical control and energy transfer include picosecond reaction times and simple, massively parallel addressability.

Iran unveils human-like robot

July 6, 2010

Iran has developed a new human-like walking robot, Surena-2, named after an ancient Persian warrior, to be used in “sensitive jobs.”

Roving brain electrodes reverse paralysis in monkeys

October 16, 2008

Research with monkeys using a brain implant with 12 electrodes that were moved with piezoelectric motors has been shown potential for people paralyzed by spinal injuries to get back control of their own limbs, Washington National Primate Research Center researchers have found.

Implants like these could control prosthetic limbs more precisely because they relay signals from carefully chosen neurons, rather than having software calculate a signal from recordings of… read more

The First Church of Robotics

August 10, 2010

“By allowing artificial intelligence to reshape our concept of personhood, we are leaving ourselves open to the flipside: we think of people more and more as computers, just as we think of computers as people,” says author and computer scientist Jeron Lanier. “The constant stream of stories about AI suggests that machines are becoming smart and autonomous, a new form of life, and that we should think of them as… read more

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