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Can space elevators really work?

February 28, 2014

Climber ascends space elevator, heading spaceward from its aeroshell (credit: Frank Chase/Chase Design Studios)

Yes. A space elevator appears possible and space elevator infrastructure could indeed be built via a major international effort, a study conducted by experts under the auspices of the International Academy of Astronautics has found, writer Leonard David reports.

Two technologies pacing the development of the space elevator are an ultra-strong space tether and other space elevator components, and lightweight solar cells, according to study lead… read more

Can robots with ‘altruism genes’ evolve?

May 4, 2011

Foraging Robots

Foraging robots that are evolved over many generations start to show altruistic, cooperative behavior when given the choice to share seed-like objects, researchers at École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL) and the University of Lausanne have found.

The foraging robots were designed to perform simple tasks, such as pushing seed-like objects across the floor to a destination, and evolved over many generations.

Those… read more

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

Can robots be trusted to know right from wrong?

May 12, 2014

HAL 9000 (credit: Warner Bros.)

Is it possible to develop “moral” autonomous robots with a sense for right, wrong, and the consequences of both?

Researchers from Tufts University, Brown University, and Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute think so, and are teaming with the U.S. Navy to explore technology that would pave the way to do exactly that.

“Moral competence can be roughly thought about as the ability to learn,… read more

Can proteins perform logic?

September 27, 2005

Theoretical physicists in the UK have shown that it should be possible to use clusters of proteins to perform complex logic operations.

Can Pleo Robot Charm the Market?

February 7, 2006

Caleb Chung, the co-inventor of the popular Furby doll, is launching a new dinosaur robot for kids called Pleo that he hopes will build upon his dream of creating lifelike, emotionally responsive mechanical animals.

The $200 Pleo will have soft-polymer-based skin that covers a series of pressure sensors, infrared in the head to “see” objects and avoid edges, a potentiometer in its belly, force-feedback sensors in its toes to… read more

Can personalized medicine fix healthcare?

November 15, 2009

“Healthcare is a trial and error industry…because the current pharma R&D model of blockbusters for broad patient groups is broken,” says Rita Lim-Wilby, Conference Director at PCI Pharma. “The solution is targeted therapeutics.”

That’s the premise of PCI Pharma’s “Advances Towards Personalized Medicine,” a one-day symposium, to be held at the Claremont Resort and Spa, Berkeley, California, on Thursday, November 19, 2009, featuring ten speakers from the University of… read more

Can next-generation reactors power a safe nuclear future?

March 28, 2011

Areva's Taishan 1 EPR Facility Under Construction in China	 (credit: Areva)

The Union of Concerned Scientists has proposed that safe, secure nuclear power requires smaller plants that simply cannot melt down, says Ed Lyman, a physicist and expert on nuclear plant design.

Generation III-plus includes a handful of high-tech plant designs, many of which still await regulatory approval. Others, like France-based Areva’s Evolutionary Power Reactor (EPR) and Westinghouse’s AP1000 (both are pressurized water reactors) are already under construction, and they are designed… read more

Can neuroscience help Gap produce a better logo?

October 21, 2010


After Gap’s new logo failed, Neuromarketing company NeuroFocus used EEG and eye-tracking techniques to investigate the neural responses of a group of volunteers who were shown both Gap logos.

Neurofocus explained that the new logo didn’t register as novel or stylish in the volunteer’s brains, two big no-nos for a successful logo. The old logo on the other hand was a big hit, scoring high in the company’s… read more

Can Neanderthals be brought back from the dead?

January 22, 2013


In a SPIEGEL interview, synthetic biology expert and Harvard University professor of genetics George Church explains how DNA will become the building material of the future — one that can help create virus-resistant human beings and possibly bring back lost species like the Neanderthal.

In his new book, “Regenesis: How Synthetic Biology Will Reinvent Nature and Ourselves,” which he has also… read more

Can nanotech keep chipmaking up to speed?

March 11, 2004

Chipmakers should do more extensive nanotechnology research, right now, says Juri Matisoo, vice president of technology, Semiconductor Industry Association.

The SIA is predicting that today’s manufacturing techniques may stop finding advances some time around 2011.

Can nanopulses heal?

February 5, 2004

Exposing cells noninvasively to an extremely powerful electric field for nanoseconds might one day be used to treat cancer, speed up healing or tackle obesity.

Teams led by Vernier, Karl Schoenbach of Old Dominion University and Stephen Beebe of Eastern Virginia Medical School, both in Norfolk, Virginia, have shown that “nanopulsing” with electric fields with gradients of tens of megavolts per meter, applied for nanoseconds, can kill tumor cells… read more

Can micro-scaffolding help stem cells rebuild the brain after stroke?

April 14, 2008

Neural stem cell-scaffold combinations could be injected into the brain to provide a framework inside the cavities caused by stroke so that the cells are held there until they can work their way to connect with surrounding healthy tissue, University of Nottingham neurobiologists propose.

Strokes cause temporary loss of blood supply to the brain, which results in areas of brain tissue dying, causing loss of bodily functions… read more

Can internal ‘brain music’ be used in therapy?

April 27, 2009

Researchers at the U.S. Department of Homeland Security suggest that piano renditions of an individual’s cerebral music can help in dealing with insomnia and fatigue in the aftermath of a stressful experience.

The DHS researchers hope to record the brain’s natural activity during periods of calm or alertness. Human Bionics will convert the signal into an audible polyphonic melody. Individuals will be asked to listen to the tracks at… read more

Can interacting with avatars reduce depression?

February 12, 2013


A preliminary study by researchers at Case Western Reserve University suggests that depression symptoms may be significantly reduced when 18- to 25-year-olds interact with computerized avatars — virtual 3D images of a healthcare provider like a nurse practitioner or physician — as a way to rehearse office visits ahead of time and learn self-management skills.

At this age, a majority of young people do not… read more

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