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The Octopus as Eyewitness

September 29, 2003

A silicon chip that mimics the structure and functionality of an octopus retina has been created by Albert Titus, an assistant professor of electrical engineering at the University at Buffalo.

The “o-retina” chip can process images just like an octopus eye does. It could give sight to rescue or research robots, allowing them to see more clearly than human eyes.

His ultimate goal: build a complete artificial vision… read more

The Odds It Will Kill You? See New Charts

September 2, 2008

New risk charts in a paper published in The Journal of the National Cancer Institute provide a broader perspective than most of the risk calculators on the Internet, because they cover the risks for 10 different causes of death, and for all causes combined, while differentiating by age and between smokers, nonsmokers and former smokers.

The Opposite of Doping

February 17, 2006

By measuring hormone and other chemical levels before, during and after tough workouts, trainers can precisely tailor an athlete’s regimen.

Scientists at HortResearch in New Zealand are developing a non-invasive and painless method of doing that. Some trainers are already using Hort’s technology by measuring testosterone, cortisol and creatin kinase.

The ultimate goal is to create a portable, non-invasive, ultrasound testing device that can test athletes in real… read more

The Origin of Religions, From a Distinctly Darwinian View

December 24, 2002

Dr. David Sloan Wilson of Binghamton University, a renowned evolutionary biologist, argues that the religious impulse evolved early in hominid history because it helped make groups of humans comparatively more cohesive, more cooperative and more fraternal, and thus able to present a formidable front against bands of less organized or unified adversaries.

The Other Exponentials

October 26, 2004

There are other significant exponentials in IT besides Moore’s law and they suggest opportunities for new research and new business models, says Rodney Brooks.

For example, today’s iPod could store 20,000 books. But just 10 years from now, an iPod might be able to hold 20 million books. By 2017, you’ll be able to carry around the complete text for all the volumes in the Library of Congress.… read more

The Pentagon as Silicon Valley’s incubator

August 29, 2013

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In the last year, former Department of Defense and intelligence agency operatives have headed to Silicon Valley to create technology start-ups specializing in tools aimed at thwarting online threats, The New York Times reports.

In 2012, more than $1 billion in venture financing poured into security start-ups.

Two of the start-ups are Synack and Morta Security, both founded by persons formerly connected… read more

The People vs. Pixel

June 13, 2005

Can actors be replaced with digital replicas?

“We’ve never been able to teach a computer to act,” George Lucas says. “It’s a talent, it’s a skill, it’s something you learn, it’s something you’re born with, and I don’t see in the foreseeable future that computers can become human enough in their artificial intelligence to have the same crazed psychology you need in order to relate to other people, so… read more

The Perfect Human

December 27, 2006

Dean Karnazes ran 50 marathons in 50 days. He does 200 miles just for fun. He’ll race in 120-degree heat. 12 secrets to his success.

The Personal Genome Project Has a Growth Spurt

May 19, 2009

13,000 people are in the process of enrolling in Harvard University genomics pioneer George Church’s personal genome project (PGP), which involves having the coding region of your genome sequenced, and then sharing it, along with medical records and other information, in an open-access database for analysis by geneticists and others around the world.

The Petabyte Age: Because More Isn’t Just More — More Is Different

June 25, 2008

The new availability of huge amounts of data, along with the statistical tools to crunch these numbers, offers a whole new way of understanding the world, suggests Wired editor in chief Chris Anderson.

Science can advance even without coherent models and unified theories, letting statistical algorithms find patterns where science cannot.

The phenomena behind nanotechnology’s many promises

June 15, 2007

In a progress report on nanoscience concepts and applications, Dr. Gary Hodes from the Weizman Institute of Science has described some of the fundamental size-dependent properties that make materials change behavior at the nanoscale.

The physics of the Web

July 14, 2001

Statistical mechanics is offering new insights into the structure and dynamics of the Internet, the World Wide Web and other complex interacting systems.

The challenge for physicists is to unearth the signatures of order from the apparent chaos of millions of nodes and links.

Findings include:

* The Web is a scale-free network whose links follow a power-law distribution, which implies that there is an abundance… read more

The Pirate Bay fights Hollywood with hovering server drones

March 20, 2012

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The Pirate Bay (TPB), which allows users to share media files via BitTorrent, plans to avoid shutdown by Hollywood by putting some of its servers in GPS controlled drones hovering over international waters, the TPB team told TorrentFreak.

“With the development of GPS controlled drones, far-reaching cheap radio equipment and tiny new computers like the Raspberry Pi, we’re going… read more

The Pitter Patter of Little Feet . . . Climbing Straight Up a Wall

January 30, 2008
Credit: J. Lee and R.S. Fearing, UC Berkeley

UC Berkeley researchers have developed the first adhesive that masters the easy attach and easy release seen in the padded feet of the gecko.

The new material is crafted from millions 600nm plastic microfibers that establish grip. A square two centimeters on a side can support 400 grams.

The material could prove useful for a range of products from climbing equipment to medical devices.

The Potential of MEMS

October 25, 2005

Total sales in the MEMS (microlectromechanical systems) market will reach $5.4 billion this year and will grow to more than $7 billion in 2007.

Biggest sellers: inertial devices, micromirrors for projection devices and TVs, pressure sensors, RF applications, analytical instruments, and in biomedical monitoring devices.

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