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The snails of war

March 26, 2012


Researchers are experimenting with creating tiny, self-powered remote-controlled animal/machine hybrids as an alternative to tiny robots, starting with snails and cockroaches.

They poke two electrodes coated with enzymes through the shell of the snail into a space between the shell and the body, where glucose is present, produced by the snail for its own biological purposes.

The enzymes promote chemical reactions that produce electricity drawn from glucose molecules.… read more

The sound of silence: an end to noisy communications

March 3, 2010

“Silent sounds,” a new technology developed by the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology, monitors electromyographic signals (from lip muscle movements) and transforms them into a computer-generated voice for the listener at the other end of the phone.

Applications also include helping people who have lost their voice due to illness or accident, and saying a PIN number or password silently to evade eavesdropping.

The Sound of Words

March 7, 2002

Speech-recognition technology is taking off, especially in industrial and medical fields, where there’s a need for hands-free computer use.
Current key applications include systems to ask a car for directions, operate cell phones, automate call centers and directory assistance operations, get connected to a telephone number simply by saying the name of a business or person they are dialing into a handset, and entering patient information by voice.

The Sound War

May 10, 2004

Two inventors have staked competing claims to a potential audio revolution in which focused beams of sound could direct music or speech to a single person in a crowd.

Known as directional sound, it uses an ultrasound emitter to shoot a laserlike beam of audible sound so focused that only people inside a narrow path can hear it.

Both inventors say the ultimate goal is to replace a… read more

The space simulator — modeling the universe on a budget

June 23, 2004

UCLA astrophysicists working at Los Alamos National Laboratory have been using the Space Simulator, a cluster of roughly 300 computer processors to model some of the most intriguing aspects of the Universe.

The Space Simulator is a 294-node Beowulf cluster supercomputer with theoretical peak performance just below 1.5 teraflops.

In addition to simulating the structure and evolution of the Universe, the Space Simulator has been used to study… read more

The speed of light in a vacuum may not be a constant after all

Ephemeral vacuum particles induce speed-of-light fluctuations
April 25, 2013


Two European Physical Journal D papers challenge established wisdom about the nature of vacuum.

In one paper, Marcel Urban from the University of Paris-Sud and colleagues identified a quantum-level mechanism for interpreting vacuum as being filled with pairs of virtual particles with fluctuating energy values.

As a result, the inherent characteristics of vacuum, such as the speed of light, may not be a constant… read more

The split brain: a tale of two halves

March 15, 2012


A drastic procedure called a corpus callosotomy, first used as a treatment for severe epilepsy in the 1940s, disconnects the two sides of the neocortex, the home of language, conscious thought and movement control.

There are fewer than a dozen “split-brain” surviving patients, and now their numbers are dwindling.

Michael Gazzaniga, a cognitive neuroscientist at the University of California, Santa Barbara, and the godfather of modern split-brain science, says… read more

The Stanford education experiment could change higher learning forever

March 22, 2012


CS221: Introduction to Artificial Intelligence, a free graduate-level Stanford University course taught by Stanford professors Sebastian Thrun and Peter Norvig — available online to its 160,000 students worldwide, with YouTube videos viewed 5 million times — has started a revolution in higher learning.

See also:

Sebastian Thrun resigns from Stanford to launch Udacity

The State Of Surveillance

August 9, 2005

Research laboratories envision tools that could identify and track just about every person, anywhere — and sound alarms when the systems encounter hazardous objects or chemical compounds.

Many such ideas seem to leap from the pages of science fiction: An artificial nose in doorways and corridors sniffs out faint traces of explosives on someone’s hair. Tiny sensors floating in reservoirs detect a deadly microbe and radio a warning. Smart… read more

The state of the future: 2013–14

March 19, 2014


On Thursday March 20, The Millennium Project, a global participatory think tank, will launch the “2013–14 State of the Future” report at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars from about 12:20 to 1:30 pm EDT, with an open-access webcast.

The “State of the Future” is a comprehensive annual overview of the present global situation and prospects for humanity. It integrates forecasts, trends,… read more

The State of the Global Telecosm

April 24, 2008

The telecommunications technologies of the “telecosm” that George Gilder envisioned a decade ago–a global network with infinite bandwidth and instantaneous transmission–are becoming available in 2008.

The state of the US election system

Gains in voting-machine technologies could be cancelled out by errors introduced through mail and Internet voting
October 19, 2012

(credit: Caltech/MIT Voting Technology Project)

The good news: widespread technological upgrades have largely eliminated the voting-machine problems that were so evident when Florida’s disputed recount determined the 2000 presidential election.

The bad news: early voting through the mail, which is increasing, is turning out to be a relatively low-accuracy method of voting, according to a new open access research report released by MIT and the Californiaread more

The stealth revolution: digital power technologies

January 13, 2003

“Photon-power technologies are now undergoing the kinds of breathtaking performance improvements that define highly disruptive industries and presage very rapid growth across a wide variety of formerly discrete markets,” advises The Friday Letter from Gilder Publishing.

The report recommends the Digital Power Report, which tracks investment opportunities in digital power technologies.

“The stealth revolution in power is centered on the rising power levels… read more

The strange neuroscience of immortality

July 30, 2012


Neuroscientist Kenneth Hayworth believes that he can live forever, the Chronicle of Higher Education reports. But first he has to die.

“The human race is on a beeline to mind uploading: We will preserve a brain, slice it up, simulate it on a computer, and hook it up to a robot body,” he says.

He wants that brain to be his brain. He wants his 100 billion… read more

The Stranger Side of CHI 2009

April 14, 2009

A wearable system that lets a user control a computer using eye movements, and devices that sync when they touch to show related photos are among the odder inventions demoed at the Computer-Human Interaction Conference in Boston last week.

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