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Neural mechanisms of abstract learning

April 29, 2010

Brown University researchers have found neural mechanisms that underlie our remarkable ability to discover abstract cognitive relationships when dealing with new problems.

In a functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) study, they found that the frontal cortex of the brain appears to be organized in a front to back hierarchy: more anterior regions support rule learning at higher levels of abstraction, and when humans confront new rule learning problems, this… read more

Foiling a ‘malicious manipulator’ of a quantum cryptographic message

February 22, 2012


Quantum cryptography — the ultimate secret message service — can now counter even the ultimate paranoid scenario: when the equipment or even the operator is in the control of a malicious power.

Until now, quantum cryptography protocols have always assumed that an adversary would not have access to information about any choices that are made during the process of encryption.

“We are challenging this assumption,” says Artur… read more

New test detects pathogens in minutes

July 19, 2005

A new technique for detecting dangerous pathogens could lead to faster and cheaper diagnosis of disease and prevent food poisoning, say Cornell University researchers.

The team claims their biosensor is accurate enough to identify different strains of disease-causing organisms in a blood sample in just 30 minutes, and at a fraction of the current cost. The researchers hope the test could soon be incorporated into an inexpensive hand-held device… read more

NewsCred Goes Public With Credibility-Based News Source

August 20, 2008

NewsCred, the news aggregator that ranks stories by the credibility of their source, has launched to the public.

Instead of relying on popularity, as many social news sites do, NewsCred instead allows users to rate each story, author, and publication’s credibility, which is then plugged into an algorithm to determine the site’s prominent headlines.

Virtual people help bridge digital divide

August 1, 2002

Web-based avatars are being developed in the U.K. as a simplified interface to computer systems that inform citizens about services.

Project puts 1M books online for blind, dyslexic

May 6, 2010

The nonprofit Internet Archive in San Francisco has hired hundreds of people to scan thousands of books into its digital database so they can be read by the software and devices that blind people use to convert written pages into speech.

The project will initially make one million books available free (under a special license) to the visually impaired, using money from foundations, libraries, corporations and the government.

‘Smart’ nanoprobes light up disease

August 2, 2005

Rice University’s Center for Biological and Environmental Nanotechnology (CBEN) researchers have developed a quantum dot that is programmed to light up only when activated by specific proteases.

Altered expression of particular proteases is a common hallmark of cancer, atherosclerosis, and many other diseases.

The probe’s design makes use of a technique called “quenching” that involves tethering a gold nanoparticle to the quantum dot to inhibit luminescence. The tether,… read more

Mozilla Extension Would Tap Into Typed Commands

August 27, 2008

Ubiquity, an experimental extension to Mozilla Firefox, lets people substitute simple text commands for complex Web tasks such as putting links to maps in e-mail messages.

The commands that users type in Ubiquity, such as “map” and “e-mail,” find resources on the Web and can gather information from those sources in one place.

Faster Chips That March to Their Own Improvised Beat

August 22, 2002

Self-timing, or asynchronous microprocessors will lead to improved computer performance, providing faster operations and reduced power consumption and electromagnetic emissions.

Sun Microsytems and Phillips Research are pioneering developments in this area.

Nasal spray clears Alzheimer’s brain plaques

August 12, 2005

A new nasal vaccine for Alzheimer’s disease has cleared plaques from the brains of affected mice and will be tested in humans in 2006.

The drug activates cells in the brain known as microglia, whose job it is to ingest unwanted material. In this case, the microglia are ingesting beta amyloid.

The drug is a combination of glatiramer acetate (Copaxone), an approved MS drug that acts as a… read more

Gaming Evolves

September 2, 2008

Spore, a computer game about evolution to be released Friday, starts with single-cell microbes and follows their evolution across billions of years into intelligent multicellular creatures that can build civilizations, colonize the galaxy and populate new planets, while touching on some of the big questions that evolutionary biologists ask.

The Pulse of Life: Music of Our World and Beyond

September 13, 2002
Spectral analysis of a musical selection by Hildegaard of Bingen. CREDIT: Andrew Kaiser

Could ET understand terrestrial music? Composer Andrew Kaiser suggests that music may communicate “something of our consciousness that is essentially human, regardless of the civilization from which it emerges.”

Even if ET is deaf, the language of music could communicate meaning because of its precise mathematically structure, he believes.

Low-cost gesture-based computing

May 21, 2010

(Jason Dorfman/CSAIL)

Using just a multicolored glove and webcam, MIT researchers are making Minority Report-style interfaces more accessible.

The system can translate gestures made with a gloved hand into the corresponding gestures of a 3-D model of the hand on screen. Applications include video games, VR, and manipulating 3-D models of commercial products or large civic structures.

More info: MIT news

Proof that erasing information produces heat

March 12, 2012


Results of an experiment that validates an important principle for information theory and computer science have been published in Nature.

Nanosystems Initiative Munich (NIM) member Eric Lutz and his colleagues show that erasing information produces heat, as predicted by Rolf Landauer fifty years ago, and demonstrates the intimate link between information theory and thermodynamics.

Landauer’s principle applies thermodynamic reasoning to information processing and states… read more

Cybertroops Keep War Games Real

August 24, 2005

With ever-more-sophisticated simulation and modeling technology, the military today can mix and match real tanks, planes and ships with forces that exist only on computers — and those located in virtual training environments, such as pilots in flight simulators thousands of miles away.

Adding virtual and constructive simulations to live exercises allows the military to create training scenarios that approach the complexity of real warfare at roughly one-tenth of… read more

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