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An amplifier that’s quantum quiet

December 15, 2011

The Aalto amplifier

In an advance that may make observing observe the tiny quantum signals that drive quantum computation easier, engineers at Aalto University in Finland have created a new kind of  sensitive, low-noise microwave amplifier based on a mechanical resonator — essentially a nanoscale tuning fork.

The mechanical design eliminates electronic flicker noise, allowing for reducing noise down to 20 quanta. A future design will further reduce thermal noise by cooling… read more

Aggregators Attack Info Overload

August 19, 2003

A new breed of software, called newsreaders or aggregators, is helping manage information overload by allowing users to subscribe to feeds from diverse news sources and blogs.

Gates, venture capitalist Doerr issue warning about America’s future

June 15, 2010

Bill Gates, General Electric Co. CEO Jeff Immelt and venture capitalist John Doerr are lobbying Congress and the White House on a proposal to increase annual U.S. spending on clean energy research and development from $5 billion to $16 billion.

Of the top 30 new energy technology companies worldwide that produce batteries, solar technologies and advanced wind energy, only four are headquartered in the United States, Doerr said.

New Technique Could Image Oceans on Faraway Planets

July 6, 2006

A thin plastic “starshade” shaped like a giant daisy flower placed inside a telescope could one day help astronomers observe faraway planets by blocking out unwanted light from their parent stars, a new study in Nature reports.

Invention: Universal detector

September 29, 2008

University of California, San Diego researchers have invented a low-power, small, portable Star Trek tricorder-like device that can test for any surface contamination and detect everything from explosives to bacteria.

It uses a nanoperforated plate zapped with laser light, causing surface plasmons to emit light with a spectrum related to materials touching the plate, combined with a sensor device to decode the emitted spectrum associated with the detected material.

When sci-fi forgets the science

August 26, 2003

Every fan of science fiction film knows that for every genuinely good movie they see, they will have to endure an awful lot of rubbish.

A strange idiocy seems to have over-taken the makers of blockbusters such as The Matrix Reloaded, Star Wars: Attack of the Clones and others who are bolstering their creations with some decidedly dodgy science.

Neuroscientists predict students’ behavior better than their self reports

June 24, 2010

UCLA neuroscientists have found in an experiment that monitoring activity in the medial prefrontal cortex using fMRI was a more accurate predictor of future behavior than self reports by 20 college students.

“From this region of the brain, we can predict for about three-quarters of the people whether they will increase their use of sunscreen beyond what they say they will do,” said the study’s senior author, Matthew Lieberman,… read more

A chlorophyll-based phototransistor

June 18, 2013


Shao-Yu Chen at the Institute of Atomic and Molecular Sciences in Taiwan and associates have incorporated chlorophyll into graphene transistors to make light-activated switches, MIT Technology Review reports.

The new phototransistor design consists of two silver electrodes connected by a sheet of graphene. The graphene is then covered by a layer of chlorophyll using a method known as drop casting. .

This layer has a significant influence… read more

Marvin Minsky on Common Sense and Computers That Emote

July 13, 2006

“What surprises me is how few people have been working on higher-level theories of how thinking works. That’s been a big disappointment,” says Marvin Minsky, whose forthcoming book, The Emotion Machine, reinterprets the human mind as a “cloud of resources,” or mini-machines that turn on and off depending on the situation and give rise to our various emotional and mental states.

This is your grid on brains

October 3, 2008

Researchers at Missouri University of Science and Technology plan to use living neural networks composed of thousands of brain cells from laboratory rats to control simulated power grids in the lab.

From those studies, they hope to create a “biologically inspired” computer program to manage and control complex power grids in Mexico, Brazil, Nigeria and elsewhere, and possibly other complex systems, such as traffic-control systems or global financial networks.… read more

China’s parallel online universe

December 28, 2011


China’s social-media clones are diverse and likely, but careful to follow Communist Party censorship.

Western social media services are blocked in China. This clears the playing field for homegrown (and heavily monitored) firms, such as Renren (Facebook-type functions), (YouTube-like video sharing service), Sina Weibo (Twitter-like microblogging service), QQ (MSN messenger-like), and Baike (Wikipedia-like).

See also: A geek’s guide to China’s Silicon ValleyTencent’s QQ, notread more

Bacterial Battery Converts Sugar into Electricity

September 9, 2003

Researchers have developed a primitive microbial fuel cell that can convert simple sugars into electricity with 81 percent efficiency.

Fossilised cell blobs could be oldest multicellular life

July 1, 2010

(El Albiani & Mazurier)

At 2.1 billion years old, a new fossil from Gabon, West Africa, could be the earliest known multicellular life form.

Two-dimensional atomically flat transistors show promise for next-generation green electronics

June 25, 2013


Researchers at UC Santa Barbara in collaboration with University of Notre Dame have demonstrated the highest reported drive current on a transistor made of a monolayer of tungsten diselenide (WSe2), a 2-dimensional atomic crystal categorized as a transition metal dichalcogenide (TMD).

The discovery is also the first demonstration of an “n-type” WSe2 field-effect-transistor (FET), showing the tremendous potential of this material for future low-power and… read more

Scientists Say They’ve Found a Code Beyond Genetics in DNA

July 25, 2006

Researchers believe they have found a second code in DNA in addition to the genetic code. The second code, superimposed on the first, sets the placement of the nucleosomes, miniature protein spools around which the DNA is looped.

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