science + technology news

Solve for X: radical ‘moonshot’ technology ideas for solving global problems

February 7, 2012


“We’d like to introduce Solve for X, an experiment to encourage individuals and groups to undertake “moonshot” technology projects to solve global problems,” says Google’s new Solve for X forum in a low-key announcement on Google+. It continues:

Solve for X is a place where people can go to hear and discuss radical technology ideas for solving global problems.

Radical in the sense that the solutions could… read more

Solving a 3.5 billion-year-old mystery

June 6, 2013

This artist's conception shows a young, hypothetical planet around a cool star. A soupy mix of potentially life-forming chemicals can be seen pooling around the base of the jagged rocks. Photo illustration by NASA.

A University of South Florida researcher is part of a team that determined that life-producing phosphorus was carried to Earth by meteorites.

USF Assistant Professor of Geology Matthew Pasek and researchers from the University of Washington and the Edinburg Centre for Carbon Innovation, revealed new findings that explain how the reactive phosphorus that was an essential component for creating the earliest life forms came to Earth.… read more

Solving the ‘cocktail party problem’: how we can focus on one speaker in noisy crowds

March 11, 2013

This is a cartoon illustrating the idea that at a cocktail party the brain activity synchronizes to that of an attended speaker, effectively putting them ‘on the same wavelength’ (credit: Zion-Golumbic et al./Neuron)

Researchers have demonstrated how the brain hones in on one speaker to solve the “cocktail party problem.”

Researchers discovered that the brain can selectively track the sound patterns from the speaker of interest and at the same time exclude competing sounds from other speakers.

The findings could have important implications for helping individuals with a range of deficits such as those associated with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder,… read more

Some blind people ‘see’ spatially with their ears

March 17, 2011

(image credit: Saint-Justine Hospital Research Centre/PNAS)

The visual cortex, the part of the brain that normally works with our eyes to process vision and space perception, can rewire itself to process sound information instead, Dr. Olivier Collignon of the University of Montreal’s Saint-Justine Hospital Research Centre and Dr. Franco Lepore of the Centre for Research in Neuropsychology and Cognition have found.

The research builds on other studies that show that the blind have a heightened… read more

Some sweet news: Chocolate could be good for your memory

February 18, 2007

Flavanols found in unprocessed chocolate could boost brain power as well as in treating certain kinds of stroke and dementia, researchers suggest.

The chemicals stimulate an increase of blood flow to the brain, particularly in areas that light up during tasks that require alertness.

Some Technologies Will Annoy

November 9, 2005

If you’re waiting for the “home of the future,” filled with talking appliances and complex networks that let all our devices communicate with each other, prepare to keep holding your breath. It’s not that those things aren’t technically possible. It’s just that if we had them, they’d irritate us.

Professional futurists weigh in.

Someday your brain could brake for you

July 29, 2011

(Credit: Journal of Neural Engineering)

Electrical signals from the brain are seen 130 milliseconds before drivers actually hit the brakes, Technical University of Berlin researchers have found, as reported in the Journal of Neural Engineering.

Seated facing three monitors in a driving simulator called The Open Source Racing Car Simulator, each subject was told to drive about 18 meters behind a computer-driven virtual car traveling at about 60 miles per hour.

The… read more

Someone is learning how to take down the Internet

September 23, 2016

Submarine cable map (credit: TeleGeography)

“Over the past year or two, someone has been probing the defenses of the companies that run critical pieces of the Internet,” according to a blog post by security expert Bruce Schneier.

“These probes take the form of precisely calibrated attacks designed to determine exactly how well these companies can defend themselves, and what would be required to take them down. It feels like a nation’s military… read more

‘Something very big is coming: our most important technology project yet,’ hints Stephen Wolfram

November 14, 2013


In a blog post Wednesday, Stephen Wolfram said that “recently something amazing has happened” that is “profoundly important in the technological world, and beyond.”

He said he and his team have figured out how to take all the things they have been working on in the context of Wolfram|Alpha, Mathematica, CDF and so on — computational knowledge, symbolic programming,… read more

Sonic ‘Lasers’ Head to Flood Zone

September 5, 2005

Prototypes of non-lethal sonic devices have been demonstated to military and law enforcement.

The Magnetic Acoustic Device, or MAD, can beam audible sounds a mile away, to replace conventional public address systems; at closer range, they can be used for crowd control.

Sony announces PS4 PlayStation

February 21, 2013

Sony PS4 controller (credit: Sony Computer Entertainment, Inc.)

The PlayStation 4, as you’d expect for a seven-years-later follow-up, has impressively bumped specs. An eight-core X86 AMD “Jaguar” CPU and a 1.84 Teraflop AMD Radeon graphics engine (with “18 compute units”) comprise the central processing on the PS4, CNET reports.

There’s also 8GB of fast GDDR5 memory. The PS4 will use a hard drive for storage versus an SSD, but the included capacity in the box… read more

Sony CEO warns of ‘bad new world’

May 18, 2011

After a weeks-long outage that compromised the personal information of more than 100 million subscribers to Sony’s Playstation Network and lost Sony as much as $1 billion, CEO Howard Stringer says that no online network’s security can be guaranteed in the ‘bad new world’ of cybercrime.

Sony creates holodeck using Playstation Move and EyeToy

December 6, 2011


To promote the immersiveness of movies available on the Playstation Store, Sony commissioned a team to do “projection-mapping” of an entire room in real-time (no post-production), Gizmag reports.

Projection mapping has become more common in advertising recently, but has always been limited by the effect only being visible from a single, static point. The production team found a way around this using Sony’s Playstation Move.… read more

Sony demos game controller to track motion and emotion

November 6, 2009

Sony has unveiled a hands-free, full-body game controller, the Interactive Communication Unit (ICU).

Like Microsoft’s Natal, Sony’s ICU tracks a person’s whole body without their having to wear the body markers used in motion-capture studios, and it can detect a player’s emotions by watching their facial expressions, and judge sex and approximate age from their appearance.

CU “reads” facial expressions using a pattern-matching algorithm that has been trained… read more

Sony develops paper-based disc

April 19, 2004

Sony and Tappan have announced a new Blu-Ray-based disc capable of holding 25 GB. It uses 51 percent paper, replacing a polycarbonate plastic substrate.

The new disc promises to be more environmentally friendly and secure when destroyed than traditional discs.

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