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CMU Robot finds life ‘all by itself’

March 16, 2005

A Carnegie Mellon University rover called Zoe is the first robot to remotely detect life, finding fluorescent signals from both visible lichens and microscopic bacteria in Chile’s barren Atacama Desert.

The NASA-sponsored test thus demonstrated that scientists can use robots to identify life in harsh regions.

The CMU instrument detects life by looking for natural fluorescence from cells that contain chlorophyll. It also can spray four special dyes… read more

How Can You Tell If Your IM Buddy Is Really a Machine?

March 30, 2009

One of the quickest and easiest ways to sniff out a bot is to test a chatter’s medium-term memory, suggests computer scientist Kevin Warwick.

While a human will likely remember that you asked, “What color is an apple?” three minutes ago, a bot may not, so asking the same question a second time will produce an identical answer. The reverse can also be true: A computer is more likely… read more

Quality leap for e-paper developers

December 6, 2001

Five-centimetre-square electronic display represents a leap in quality and brings affordable electronic paper a step closer, say its developers, Philips Research.The tiny display uses active matrix technology, the kind used in good quality laptop computer displays.

But this display is made of parts that use flexible plastic instead of silicon and should be cheap to make in bulk, Philips Research spokesman Koen Joosse told BBC News Online.

“In… read more

Oil from Wood

November 9, 2007

Dutch biofuels startup Bioecon and Khosla Ventures have launched a joint venture called Kior, which will commercialize Bioecon’s process for converting agricultural waste directly into “biocrude,” a mixture of small hydrocarbon molecules that can be processed into fuels such as gasoline or diesel in existing oil refineries.

Expanding synthetic biology’s toolkit for creating genetic circuits

Engineers design new proteins that can help control novel synthetic genetic circuits in cells
August 3, 2012

Synthetic biology (credit: Christine Daniloff/iMol)


By assembling genetic components into “circuits” that perform logical operations in living cells, synthetic biologists aim to artificially empower cells to solve critical problems in medicine, energy and the environment.

Achieving these complex functions requires controlling many genetic and cellular components, including not only genes but also the regulatory proteins that turn them on and off. In a living cell, proteins called transcription factors often regulate that… read more

Grand Odyssey Futurecast System — You Star!

March 29, 2005

Visitors to the Space Child Adventure Grand Odyssey, an animated film showing at the Aichi Expo 2005 in Japan, get a high-resolution digital full-face scan that is edited into the “film” in real time.

Every person who enters the theater gets a role; a Toshiba supercomputer inserts the necessary information and presents the one-time-only film.

Similar technology can be found in John Brunner’s Stand on Zanzibar, Neil Stephenson’s… read more

Yeast-powered fuel cell feeds on human blood

April 2, 2009

Yeast cells feeding on the glucose in human blood might one day power implants such as pacemakers, eliminating the need for regular operations to replace batteries.

University of British Columbia scientists have developed tiny microbial fuel cells by encapsulating yeast cells in a flexible capsule.

Flying robotic insect slated to explore Mars

January 16, 2002

NASA is backing a research project to build toy-sized flying robots, modeled on the entomology of insects, that can hover like helicopters. Patented as “entomopters,” the robots are on the drawing board of University of Missouri professor Kakkattukuzhy Isaac.
NASA is sponsoring a large team of diverse researchers on the project, titled “Planetary Exploration Using Biomimetics.” Isaac’s part is the wing design and aerodynamic analysis to ensure that sufficient lift… read more

Research shows the brain’s processing speed is significantly faster than real time

November 16, 2007

Bruce McNaughton, a University of Arizona professor of psychology and physiology, and his colleague David Euston have shown that during sleep, the reactivated memories of real-time experiences are processed within the brain at a higher rate of speed.

That rate can be as much as six or seven times faster, and what McNaughton calls “thought speed.”

While an actual dining experience might have taken up an hour of… read more

Cells That Go Back in Time

April 11, 2005

Some animals can grow new body parts through a process called dedifferentiation — and humans may be able to do so, too. New regeneration studies could solve ethical concerns about embryonic stem-cell research.

Harnessing Direct Solar Power for Propulsion

April 13, 2009
A four-finned rotor (center) floating on a pool of water spins when exposed to sunlight(Stefan Pastine)

Researchers at the University of California, Berkeley, are using carbon nanotubes to build small, simple waterborne machines propelled directly by sunlight. In theory, they say, these machines could be scaled up to make energy-generating pumps directly powered by the sun.

Biotech firms target artificial blood

February 11, 2002

Scientists may be close to an elusive goal of creating artificial blood, a breakthrough that could ease shortages and save countless lives.

Biopure Corp. in Cambridge, Mass., has produced artificial hemoglobin from the red blood cells of cows. It has been cleared for use in the Republic of South Africa and is awaiting Food and Drug Administration review of its phase III clinical trials in the United States. U.S.… read more

Prosthetic Limbs That Can Feel

November 27, 2007

Scientists from Northwestern University, in Chicago, have shown that transplanting the nerves from an amputated hand to the chest allows patients to feel hand sensation there.

The findings are the first step toward prosthetic arms with sensors on the fingers–now under development–that will transfer tactile information from the device to the chest, making the wearer feel as though he or she has a real hand.

Nanomagnets bend the rules

April 21, 2005

Scientists at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) and Brookhaven National Laboratory have found that a class of nanostructured materials that are key components of computer memories and other important technologies undergo a previously unrecognized shift in the rate at which magnetization changes at low temperatures.

The results could point the way to marked improvements in the performance of microwave devices.

National Institute ofread more

Innovation: Harnessing spammers to advance AI

April 20, 2009

If spammers are able to write a program to read distorted text (and images) in CAPTCHAs (scrambled letters that attempt to block spammers), they have solved an AI problem,” says their creator Luis von Ahn of Carnegie Mellon University.

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