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Blind patient reads words stimulated directly onto the retina

Neuroprosthetic device uses implant to project visual braille
November 23, 2012

retinal_implant

Researchers have projected braille patterns directly into a blind patient’s retina, allowing him to read four-letter words accurately and quickly with an ocular neuroprosthetic device.
The device, Second Sight‘s Argus II, has been implanted in over 50 patients, many of who can now see color, movement and objects.

It uses a small camera mounted on a pair of glasses, a portable processor to… read more

‘Revolutionary’ eavesdropping technology patent to help governments monitor Internet chats

November 23, 2012

1984-Big-Brother

According to law enforcement agencies, the rising popularity of Internet chat services like Skype has made it difficult to eavesdrop on suspects’ communications.

But now, Dennis Chang, president of Sun Valley-based VOIP-Pal, has received a patent for a “legal intercept” technology that Chang says “would allow government agencies to ‘silently record’ VoIP communications,” Slate Future Tense reports.

Voice over IP chat software allows… read more

Uncommon features of Einstein’s brain might explain his remarkable cognitive abilities

November 23, 2012

Photographs of the left lateral surface of Einstein’s brain (credit: National Museum of Health and Medicine)

Portions of Albert Einstein’s brain have been found to be unlike those of most people and could be related to his extraordinary cognitive abilities, according to a new study led by Florida State University evolutionary anthropologist Dean Falk.

Falk and colleagues examined the entire cerebral cortex of Einstein’s brain based on 14 recently discovered photographs. The researchers compared Einstein’s brain to 85 “normal” human brains… read more

A room-temperature spin amplifier

Could lead to storing data more densely and processing it many times faster and with greater energy efficiency
November 23, 2012

spintronics

A fundamental cornerstone for spintronics that has been missing up until now has been constructed by a team of physicists at Linköping University: the world’s first spin amplifier that can be used at room temperature.

Spintronics combines microelectronics, which is built on the charge of electrons, with the magnetism that originates in the electrons’ “spin” (how electrons spin around, much like how the Earth spins on… read more

Huge Mars colony eyed by SpaceX founder Elon Musk

November 25, 2012

marslandingspacex

Elon Musk, the billionaire founder and CEO of the private spaceflight company SpaceX, wants to help establish a Mars colony of up to 80,000 people by ferrying explorers there for perhaps $500,000 a trip, Space.com reports.

In Musk’s vision, the ambitious Mars settlement program would start with a pioneering group of fewer than 10 people.

Accompanying the founders of the new Marsread more

Reform to require warrant for private online messages up for vote, but down on privacy

November 25, 2012

(Credit: iStockphoto)

The Department of Justice argues it can read your private electronic messages, like emails and private Facebook messages, older than 180 days without a warrant, due to an archaic distinction in the outdated Electronic Privacy and Communications Act (ECPA), EFF Deeplinks reports.

Senator Leahy wants to change this and has scheduled a markup hearing the week of Nov. 26. Months ago, he offeredread more

Can a robot make a better, faster burger?

November 26, 2012

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Momentum Machines says it’s created a new robot that can make about 360 burgers an hour in a 24-square foot area and that they plan to use it in “the first restaurant chain that profitably sells gourmet hamburgers at fast food prices.”

Why robots? Besides efficiency, Momentum Machines says they will offer custom meat grinds for every single customer. “Want a patty with 1/3 pork and 2/3 bison ground after… read more

Samsung plans flexible, unbreakable, lighter phones

November 26, 2012

samsung_flexible_phones

Samsung plans to start mass production of  displays using plastic rather than glass to make mobile devices unbreakable, lighter, and bendable, to be released in the first half of next year, The Wall Street Journal reports.

Samsung’s flexible displays will incorporate OLEDs, a display technology that the South Korean company is already using in its smartphones and television sets. OLEDs are thin and can beread more

New insights into how the brain stores memories

November 26, 2012

Neuronlae Interaktionen

Exactly how does long-term memory get updated (or “written,” in computer language)?

One hypothesis, for example, is that while in deep dreamless sleep, the hippocampus sends messages to the cortex and changes its plasticity, transferring recently acquired knowledge (in short-term memory) to long-term memory.

Background

Many invasive studies in nonhuman primates and clinical investigations in human patients have demonstrated that the hippocampus, one of the oldest, most… read more

A 3D microscopic device for high-speed processing of infrared light

November 26, 2012

An illustration shows the design of Rice University researchers’ antenna-on-a-chip for spatial light modulation. The chip is able to process incident infrared light for signal processing at very high speeds. (Credit Xu Group/Rice University)

Rice University researchers have produced a micron-scale spatial light modulator (SLM) like those used in sensing and imaging devices, but with the potential to run orders of magnitude faster.

Unlike other devices that use two-dimensional semiconducting chips, the Rice chips work in three-dimensional “free space.”

The chips promise to speed up applications that are free-space based, such as imaging, display, holographics, metrology and remote… read more

Scientists see promise in deep-learning programs

November 27, 2012

speech_translation_microsoft

Using deep learning, an AI technique inspired by theories about how the brain recognizes patterns, technology companies are reporting startling gains in fields as diverse as computer vision, speech recognition and the identification of promising new molecules for designing drugs, The New York Times reports.

The advances have led to widespread enthusiasm among researchers who design software to perform human activities like seeing, listening and thinking. They offer… read more

How Google plans to find the UnGoogleable

November 27, 2012

google_data_center

Google wants to improve its mobile search services by automatically delivering information you wouldn’t think to search for online in a research exercise known as the Daily Information Needs Study, MIT Technology Review reports.

For example, contextual information provided by mobile devices — via GPS chips and other sensors — can provide clues about a person and his situation, allowing Google to guess what that person wants.… read more

New hope for sufferers of degenerative muscle disorders

New therapy combines two existing techniques for muscle repair --- cell transplantation (mesoangioblast stem cells) and tissue engineering
November 27, 2012

muscle_fibers

A new therapeutic technique to repair and rebuild muscle for sufferers of degenerative muscle disorders has been developed by an international team of researchers, according to a study published today in BioMed Central’s open access journal Skeletal Muscle.

The therapy brings together two existing techniques for muscle repair — cell transplantation (mesoangioblast stem cells) and tissue engineering, delivering the stem cells via a… read more

A 3D printer to turn waste plastic into composting toilets, rainwater harvesting systems

November 27, 2012

3dprinting_machine_3d4dchallenge

A University of Washington team claimed a $100,000 prize in the first 3D4D Challenge, an international contest to use 3-D printing for social benefit in the developing world.

The three undergraduates won to form a company that will work with partners in Oaxaca, Mexico.

Matthew Rogge, a mechanical engineering grad student, proposed to use giant 3-D printers to create composting latrines that areread more

Proving quantum computers feasible

Researchers show that relatively simple physical systems could yield powerful quantum computers
November 27, 2012

The possible quantum states of a chain of particles can be represented as points in space, with lines connecting states that can be swapped with no change in the chain's total energy. MIT researchers and their colleagues showed that such networks are densely interconnected, with heavily trafficked pathways between points. (Credit: Christine Daniloff)

A group of researchers at MIT, IBM, Masaryk University in the Czech Republic, the Slovak Academy of Sciences and Northeastern University proved that even in simple spin chains, the degree of entanglement scales with the length of the chain.

The research thus offers strong evidence that relatively simple quantum systems could offer considerable computational resources.

Quantum computers are devices — still largely theoretical — that… read more

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