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New tasks become as simple as waving a hand with brain-computer interfaces

A new marker for BCI task learning
June 13, 2013

This image shows the changes that took place in the brain for all patients participating in the study using a brain-computer interface. Changes in activity were distributed widely throughout the brain. (Credit: University of Washington)

Small brain-computer interface (BCI) electrodes placed on or inside the brain allow patients to interact with computers or control robotic limbs simply by thinking about how to execute those actions.

This technology could improve communication and daily life for a person who is paralyzed or has lost the ability to speak from a stroke or neurodegenerative disease.

Now, University of Washington researchers have demonstrated that… read more

High-Tech Military in Due Course

November 1, 2006

The kind of a war scenario seen in a science fiction film like Star Wars is likely to become a reality in about 10 years, as the government is accelerating plans to equip the South Korean military with high-tech unmanned weapons systems and versatile combat robotic systems.

By 2025, the Army plans to introduce unmanned state-of-the-art vehicles, called Experimental Autonomous Vehicles (XAV), for use in light and heavy combat… read more

Net beats the papers

December 16, 2003

Americans logged onto the Internet to learn about the capture of Saddam Hussein because the news broke after most of the nation’s newspapers had “gone to bed.”

A generation of younger readers admits to getting their news from the Internet, not newspapers.

Internet competition is forcing newspapers — and their giant newsgathering forces — to publish more original reporting on their Web sites, a practice they have resisted… read more

Free will is an illusion, biologist says

March 4, 2010

University of Pennsylvania biologist Anthony Cashmore argues that belief in free will is akin to religious beliefs, since neither complies with the laws of the physical world, representing a continuing belief in vitalism or magic.

He says free will is an illusion derived from consciousness, but consciousness has an evolutionary advantage of conferring the illusion of responsibility.

As Cashmore explains, the human brain acts at both the conscious… read more

Google tests book search

December 18, 2003

Google has launched Google Print Beta, which lets Web surfers access brief excerpts from books, critic reviews, and bibliographic and author’s notes.

The experiment is similar to Amazon’s “Search Inside the Book,” a searchable index of millions of pages of books.

The Google Print feature works by typing “” and any desired term or phrase into the Google search bar.

How to build a superluminal computer

March 9, 2010

Superluminal (faster-than-light) hypercomputers could be created by taking advantage of the nonlocal phenomenon (instant changes to a distant entangled particle), say Volkmar Putz and Karl Svozil at the Vienna University of Technology.

For example, light traveling through a vacuum can be made to spontaneously form into an electron-positron pair–an entangled pair–which then recombine to form a photon again. This process happens instantaneously, allowing the photon to effectively “jump” across… read more

Strongest Material Ever Tested

July 18, 2008
Illustration showning the one-atom-thick atomic structure of graphene (Jeffrey Kysar, Columbia University)

In a strain measurement using perfect samples of graphene, Columbia University researchers have confirmed that is the strongest material ever tested.

The finding provides evidence that graphene transistors could be the most effective material to withstand heat in future ultrafast microprocessors.

New step towards silicon-based quantum computer

June 21, 2013


Researchers at the University of New South Wales have proposed a new way to distinguish between quantum bits that are placed only a few nanometers apart in a silicon chip, taking them a step closer to the construction of a large-scale quantum computer.

Quantum bits, or qubits, are the basic building blocks of quantum computers — ultra-powerful devices that will offer enormous advantages for solving… read more

NASA Studies Manned Asteroid Mission

November 20, 2006

NASA is appraising a human mission to a near-Earth asteroid, gauging the scientific merit of the endeavor while testing out spacecraft gear, as well as mastering techniques that could prove useful if a space rock ever took aim for our planet.

Dead? Social media’s explosive growth is only beginning

January 2, 2012


The period of rapid growth for social media is over, says Vivek Wadhwa in predictions for 2012 published in the Washington Post.

But ReadWriteWeb‘s Marshall Kirkpatrick argues that “given the huge growth of data input that is likely just around the corner, it makes no sense to me that investors and start-ups don’t have plenty of room to make money in social still.”

One tenth of stars may support life

January 5, 2004

One tenth of the stars in our galaxy might provide the right conditions to support complex life, according to a new analysis by Australian researchers. And most of these stars are on average one billion years older than the Sun, allowing much more time, in theory, for any life to evolve.

Human arm transmits broadband

March 16, 2010

Researchers at Korea University in Seoul have demonstrated a prototype of a new biomonitoring system that transmits data through the body, replacing wires and minimizing the need for batteries.

In a test, they transmitted data at a rate of 10 megabits per second through a person’s arm, using a metal electrode coated with a flexible silicon-rich polymer.

The Korean team is working with a large electronics manufacturer to… read more

‘Universal’ allergy therapy a step closer (article preview)

July 24, 2008

Researchers at Cytos Biotechnology have developed a “universal” allergy therapy that makes the immune system stop reacting to harmless allergens (substances that cause allergies).

In trials, the therapy–a series of shots–helped people allergic to house dust mites and cat dander.

An overactive immune system is thought to be the cause of most allergic reactions. The new therapy “distracts” the immune system by giving patients a molecular decoy (CYT003-QbG10)… read more

Scientific American 50

November 30, 2006

The 2006 SCIENTIFIC AMERICAN 50 special issue, December 2006, profiles the technology leaders of the year.

Robots decipher animal communication strategies

January 6, 2012

The physical robot

A joint research project using robots, conducted by researchers at the University of Lausanne (UNIL) and EPFL, showed that communication systems can evolve differently within the same species and even the same environment. The research could enable a better understanding of communication within the animal kingdom.

Scientists followed the evolution of communication in 100 groups of 20 robots over the course of 1000… read more

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