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Supercomputers with 100 million cores coming by 2018

November 17, 2009

The U.S. Department of Energy has begun holding workshops on building a system that’s 1,000 times more powerful than today’s top supercomputer (Jaquar’s 2.3 petaflops): an exascale (10^18 calculations per second) system, which would likely arrive around the year 2018.

Exascale systems will be needed for high-resolution climate models, bio energy products and smart grid development as well as fusion energy design.

The Energy Department, which is responsible… read more

Mental Activity Seen in a Brain Gravely Injured

September 11, 2006

A severely brain-damaged woman in an unresponsive, vegetative state showed clear signs on brain imaging tests that she was aware of herself and her surroundings, based on peaks in the premotor cortex and other areas of her brain during functional MRI tests.

Nano RNA Delivery

April 29, 2008

An experimental and potentially powerful way to fight disease, called RNA interference (RNAi), could now be closer to reality, as researchers at MIT and Alnylam, a biotech company based in Cambridge, MA, have addressed a key obstacle to effectively delivering the treatment to targeted cells.

The researchers report a method for quickly synthesizing more than a thousand different lipid-like molecules and screening them for their ability to deliver short… read more

The High and Low Notes of the Universe

November 3, 2003

The 10-micron-long Cornell nano-guitar, first built in 1997 but only now played for the first time, twangs at a frequency of 40 megahertz, some 17 octaves (or a factor of 130,000) higher than a normal guitar.

There is no practical microphone available for picking up the guitar sounds, but the reflected laser light could be computer processed to provide an equivalent acoustic trace at a much lower frequency. The… read more

Carbon nanotube forest camouflages 3-D objects

November 22, 2011

Scanning electron microscope images show a tank etched out of silicon, with and without a carbon nanotube coating (top row). When the same structures are viewed under white light with an optical microscope (bottom row), the nanotube coating camouflages the tank structure against a black background. (credit: L. J. Guo et al., University of Michigan)

University of Michigan researchers are taking advantage of the unique low refractive index of carbon nanotubes’ low-density aligned nanotubes to demonstrate a new application: making 3-D objects appear as nothing more than a flat, black sheet.

The refractive index of a material is a measure of how much that material slows down light, and carbon nanotube “forests” have a low index of refraction very close… read more

Origami Solar Cells

November 25, 2009


Researchers at the University of Illinois have developed self-assembling spherical solar cells capable of capturing more sunlight than flat ones.

If they prove practical, the devices could be wired up into large arrays that have the same power output as conventional cells, but that save on materials costs by using less silicon.

What if Bionics Were Better?

September 26, 2006

A tiny population of early adopters eager to test bionics by choice rather than out of need is emerging.

Supercomputer-discovered drug could lead to new blood pressure medicines

May 5, 2008

University of Florida researchers used a supercomputer to compare the shapes of 140,000 molecules with the structure of the ACE2 enzyme, which protects against high blood pressure.

They found a drug that lowers blood pressure, improves heart function, and prevents damage to the heart.

University of Florida News Release

Can Robots Become Conscious?

November 11, 2003

What is consciousness? Can you put it in a machine? And if you did, how could you ever know for sure?

With the continuing gains in computing power, many believe that artificial intelligence will be attainable within a few decades.

Dr. Hans Moravec, a professor of robotics at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, believes a human being is nothing more than a fancy machine, and that as technology… read more

How our brains build social worlds

December 3, 2009

The Interacting Minds project at the Danish Neuroscience Centre in Aarhus aims to develop a new kind of psychological experiment focused on interactions.

The Internet has dramatically increased both the possibilities for interactions and the size of the interacting groups. But there are also greater possibilities for false models, in the shape of deception, propaganda, or genuinely held but dangerously wrong-headed ideas.

Time capsule to be beamed from Mexican pyramid

October 11, 2006

Mexico’s Teotihuacan, once the center of a sprawling pre-Hispanic empire, is set to become the launch pad for an attempt to communicate with extraterrestrial life.

Starting on Tuesday, enthusiasts from around the world will have a chance to submit text, images, video and sounds that reflect human nature to be included in the message.

Those contributions–part of media company Yahoo’s “Time Capsule” project–will be digitized and beamed with… read more

Nanoworms target tumors

May 8, 2008

Scientists at UC San Diego, UC Santa Barbara and MIT have developed nanometer-sized “nanoworms” that can cruise through the bloodstream without significant interference from the body’s immune defense system and home in on tumors, reminiscent of the science fiction movie, Fantastic Voyage.

The scientists constructed their nanoworms from spherical iron oxide nanoparticles that join together, like segments of an earthworm, to produce tiny gummy worm-like structures about 30 nanometers… read more

Meet Paro, the therapeutic robot seal

November 21, 2003

Prototypes of Paro, a stuffed animal seal robot, are being tested at nursing homes and with autistic and handicapped children.

Surface tactile sensors beneath its fur and whiskers trigger Paro to move and respond to petting: eyes open and close, flippers move. Just holding and stroking the critter has a calming effect.

Forget 3D, here comes the QD TV

December 13, 2011

Manchester University spinoff Nanoco has developed paper-thin, flexible displays, using quantum dots, that can be rolled up and carried in a pocket, built into wallpaper to create giant room-size screens, and used in TVs with improved color, to be available in stores by the end of 2012.


Brain Implant Cuts Seizures

December 10, 2009


The Responsive Neurostimulator, a brain implant designed by Neuropace to detect and block the onset of seizures, can significantly reduce their frequency in people with difficult-to-treat epilepsy.

The device, which consists of a neurostimulator that’s smaller than a deck of cards, a battery, and a small computer, continuously monitors electrical activity. It’s surgically implanted into a hollowed out part of the skull, along with a set of electrical leads… read more

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