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Making Gasoline from Bacteria

August 1, 2007

LS9 plans to use recombinant DNA and gene synthesis techniques to grow hydrocarbon-producing bacteria. The bacteria can process sugar derived from corn kernels into hundreds of hydrocarbons, a substance called biocrude.

The company hopes to start selling its biocrudes to refineries in three to five years, but it has plenty of competition: Craig Venter and his company, Synthetic Genomics, are working on the same problem.

Military robo-surgeon prepares for battle

August 25, 2006

Life-saving operations on soldiers in combat zones could become possible thanks to a remotely operating portable robotic surgeon that allows doctors to perform surgery on the battlefield without endangering themselves.

Holographic discs set to smash storage records

January 23, 2009

Pioneering companies developing holographic data-storage devices could benefit from a new technique by storing at least 1000 gigabytes of data onto a standard disc.

A dual-layer Blu-ray disc can store 50 gigabytes.

IBM’s ‘Watson’ will compete on Jeopardy! in February

December 14, 2010

IBM and America’s Favorite Quiz show Jeopardy! today announced that an IBM computing system named “Watson” will compete on Jeopardy! against the show’s two most successful and celebrated contestants — Ken Jennings and Brad Rutter.

The first-ever man vs. machine Jeopardy! competition will air on February 14, 15 and 16, 2011, with two matches being played over three consecutive days.

Watson, named after IBM founder Thomas J. Watson, was built… read more

A New Kind of Genomics, With an Eye on Ecosystems

October 21, 2003

Researchers are beginning to sequence “metagenomes,” the DNA of entire microbial ecosystems.

Some scientists think can will be used to find new enzymes, monitor the health of environments, predict environmental impacts, and find patterns in the bacterial population in humans that will predict when someone is about to get sick.

In Case of Apocalypse Later, a Plan to Ensure America’s Regreening

August 9, 2007

The Millennium Seed Bank Project, run by the Royal Botanical Garden, in Kew, England, aims to collect seeds from 10 percent of the world’s flowering plant species and to stow them in a sort of climate-controlled Noah’s Ark against the possibility of depletion, whether by climate change, alien-species invasion, overdevelopment or apocalypse.

The project has received seeds from 100 countries and every imaginable ecosystem, from the palm forests of… read more

First robotic legs to fully model biologically accurate walking

July 6, 2012


University of Arizona researchers have produced a robotic set of legs that they believe is the first to fully model walking in a biologically accurate manner.

The neural architecture, musculoskeletal architecture, and sensory feedback pathways in humans have been simplified and built into the robot, giving it a remarkably human-like walking gait that can be viewed in the video.

The biological accuracy of this robot, presented today (Friday… read more

Fastest supercomputer to be built

September 8, 2006

IBM will build the world’s most powerful supercomputer at Los Alamos National Laboratory by 2008.

The machine, codenamed Roadrunner, will be able to achieve 1.5 petaflops.

The new computer is a hybrid design, using both conventional supercomputer processors and the new “cell” chip designed for Sony’s PlayStation 3.

Digging Deeper in Web Search

January 30, 2009

Surf Canyon’s browser add-on enhances individual searches on major search engines by evaluating which links you click on, and then instantly giving you revised search returns–including three sites that relate in some way to the site you clicked on, allowing for “real-time personalization.”

The cultural genome: Google Books reveals traces of fame, censorship and changing languages

December 20, 2010


Harvard University researchers have been analyzing the more than 15 million books scanned by Google, which created a massive electronic library that represents 12% of all the books ever published.

As the team says, the corpus “will furnish a great cache of bones from which to reconstruct the skeleton of a new science.”

There are strong parallels to the completion of the human genome. Just as that… read more

Japan team reports quantum computing breakthrough

October 31, 2003

A research team in Japan says it has successfully demonstrated for the first time in the world in a solid-state device one of the two basic building blocks that will be needed to construct a viable quantum computer.

The team has built a controlled NOT (CNOT) gate, a fundamental building block for quantum computing. The CNOT gate is one of two gates used with quantum bits (qubits). The other,… read more

A Free Mesh Network for San Francisco

August 17, 2007

Meraki Networks, a wireless mesh-network company is bypassing San Francisco city hall, giving away some 200 wireless routers to city residents in the past couple of months.

The routers have been accessed by more than 6,000 city residents who can pick up the Wi-Fi signal. Meraki is now offering to expand the program to give away a few thousand routers, thereby building a free Wi-Fi mesh-network system from the… read more

Virtual bees help robots see in 3D

September 22, 2006

Software that mimics the way honeybees work together to search for food could help robots explore and navigate.

Explorer bees report the location of a new food source by dancing. A new type of stereoscopic computer vision system takes inspiration from this trick. It uses virtual honeybees to home in on potential points of interest, which can then be rendered in 3D, based on all the simulated bees’ movements.… read more

Born believers: How your brain creates God

February 5, 2009

Scientists suggest various causes of the origin of religious belief, including:

- Religion is an evolutionary adaptation that makes people more likely to survive and pass their genes onto the next generation.

- The unique cognitive capacities that have made us so successful as a species also work together to create a tendency for supernatural thinking.

- Our brains have separate cognitive systems for dealing with living… read more

Ray Kurzweil: Building bridges to immortality

December 28, 2010

Make it to the year 2045 and you can live forever, the controversial futurist claims. So how’s his personal quest for immortality going?

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