science + technology news

Stanford’s ‘autonomous’ helicopters teach themselves to fly

September 2, 2008

Stanford computer scientists have developed an AI system that enables robotic helicopters to teach themselves to fly difficult stunts by watching other helicopters perform the same maneuvers.

The result is an autonomous helicopter than can perform a complete airshow of complex tricks on its own.

There is interest in using autonomous helicopters to search for land mines in war-torn areas or to map out the hot spots of… read more

Stanford’s free ‘Intro to AI’ course

August 4, 2011


Stanford University’s CS221: Introduction to Artificial Intelligence Fall quarter 2011 is now available, for free, Stanford has announced.

You can take this online course from professors Sebastian Thrun and Peter Norvig, along with several hundred Stanford undergrads, without having to fill out an application, pay tuition, or live in a dorm.

This is more than just downloading materials and following along with a live stream; you’re… read more

Stanford’s free online iPhone & iPad course is baaack — with peer-to-peer help

June 20, 2012


Stanford’s popular free iPhone and iPad apps online course opens June 25 with a new feature: help and inspiration 24×7 via Piazza, a peer-to-peer social learning site — a first for Stanford online courses and on iTunes U.

Whazzit: your questions are answered by course instructors (“course captains”) and by fellow online learners.

When: June 25 to Aug. 27. Registration opens June 19 and ends July 6.… read more

Stanford’s New Driverless Car

June 18, 2007

A computer-controlled car named Junior is Stanford University’s official entry in the DARPA Urban Challenge, a race in which an autonomous car must navigate city streets, obey traffic laws, avoid obstructions, and, crucially, drive well among other cars in traffic.

Stanford’s new surfing robot opens ocean to exploration

New robotic sensors expand the possibilities, and new iPhone/iPad app brings sharks into your living room
August 27, 2012


Cue the Jaws theme music….

Stanford marine biologists have launched the ”Wave Glider” robot, which probing the Pacific Ocean off the California coast to provide researchers with near real-time data of sharks and other animals.

The Blue Serengeti Initiative, as the effort is called, picks up where the decade-long Tagging of Pacific Predators (TOPP) project left off. TOPP, an international collaboration among 75 scientists, involved tagging thousands of… read more

Stanford’s robotic Audi to brave Pikes Peak without a driver

February 4, 2010

A team of researchers at the Center for Automotive Research at Stanford (CARS) plans to race an autonomous vehicle up the 14,000-foot Pikes Peak without a driver at race speeds, something never done before.

The Audi TTS, nicknamed Shelley, knows exactly where she is on the road by using a differential GPS. Unlike a standard GPS system, hers corrects for interference in the atmosphere, showing the cars position on… read more

Star crust is 10 billion times stronger than steel

April 15, 2009

The crust of neutron stars is 10 billion times stronger than steel, according to new simulations by Los Alamos National Laboratory. That makes the surface of these ultra-dense stars tough enough to support long-lived bulges that could produce gravitational waves detectable by experiments on Earth.

‘Star in a jar’ could lead to limitless fusion energy

New compact spherical tokamak design may overcome physics challenges
August 30, 2016

Spherical torus/tokamak design for fusion nuclear science facility showing magnets and other systems and structures (credit: J.E. Menard et al./Nucl. Fusion)

Physicists at the U.S. Department of Energy’s Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory (PPPL)* are building a “star in a jar” — a miniature version of the how our Sun creates energy through fusion. It could provide humankind with near limitless energy, ending dependence on fossil fuels for generating electricity — without contributing greenhouse gases that warm the Earth, and with no long-term radioactive waste.

But that requires a… read more

Star ripped apart by unknown black hole

Scientists record signal as distant black hole consumes star
August 4, 2012


Astronomers think they have seen a star being ripped to pieces by a previously unknown black hole (see ‘The awakening of a cosmic monster‘), says Nature News.

The astronomers saw a pulse of X-rays that rose and fell in intensity every 200 seconds. The team thinks that the oscillation is coming from the last bits of the star, which are making their final orbits before being sucked… read more

Star supply dwindling

August 12, 2003

Star formation is now 30 times slower than it was 6 billion years ago, a University of Edinburgh team has found. More stars are fizzling out than are being born.

Star survey reaches 70 sextillion

July 22, 2003

The total number of stars in the known universe visible with modern telescopes is 7 x 10^22, according to a study by Australian astronomers.

The actual number of stars could be infinite, said Dr. Simon Driver, speaking at the General Assembly of the International Astronomical Union meeting in Sydney. The universe is so big, light from the other side of the universe “hasn’t reached us yet.”

Star Trek HoloDeck 1.0 — HoloVizio 3D Makes Its Debut

June 10, 2008

Researchers with the EU-funded COHERENT project have developed the HoloVizio, a 3-D screen that can present realistic, animated 3-D images simultaneously to an unlimited number of freely moving viewers.

Viewers can walk around the screen in a wide field of view, seeing the objects and shadows moving continuously as in the normal perspective. It is even possible to look behind the objects; hidden details appear, while others disappear.… read more

Star Trek-like invisible shield discovered 7200 miles above Earth that blocks ‘killer electrons’

December 1, 2014

Scientists have discovered an invisible shield about 7,200 miles above Earth (credit: Andy Kale/University of Alberta)

A team led by the University of Colorado Boulder has discovered an invisible shield some 7,200 miles above Earth that blocks “killer electrons,” which whip around the planet at near-light speed and have been known to threaten astronauts, fry satellites, and degrade space systems during intense solar storms.

The barrier to the particle motion was discovered in the Van Allen radiation belts, two doughnut-shaped rings above Earth — an inner… read more

Star Trek-like ‘Phraselateor’ device helps police communicate

January 17, 2008

VoxTec’s Phraselator PDA-like device, developed through DARPA for use by soldiers in Afghanistan and Iraq, is now being used by police in California, Florida, and Nevada.

Star Trek-like ‘Tricorder’ becomes science fact

February 28, 2007

Purdue University researchers have developed a portable sensing system to analyze chemical components, with “numerous promising uses for detecting everything from cancer in the liver to explosives residues on luggage and biomarkers in urine that provide an early warning for diseases.”

The device miniaturizes a mass spectrometer combined with a technique called desorption electrospray ionization.

“We like to compare it to the tricorder because it is truly a… read more

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