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DARPA’s four-legged robots ace tests in demo

September 13, 2012

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DARPA’s Legged Squad Support System (LS3) program demonstrated two robotic “pack mule” prototypes for the Commandant of the Marine Corps, Gen. James F. Amos, and DARPA Director, Arati Prabhakar.

The goal of the LS3 program is to demonstrate that a legged robot can unburden dismounted squad members by carrying their gear, autonomously following them through rugged terrain, and interpreting verbal and visual commands.

During… read more

House approves resolution to keep Internet control out of UN hands

December 6, 2012

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The House on Wednesday unanimously passed a Senate resolution introduced by Sens. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.) and Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) that calls on the U.S. government to oppose United Nations control of the Internet, The Hill’s Floor Action Blog reports.

The 397-0 vote is meant to send a signal to countries meeting at a U.N. conference on telecommunications this week. Participants are meeting to update an international telecom… read more

Carver Mead: ‘A bunch of big egos’ are strangling science

The scientific revolution has stalled, here's how to kickstart it
February 22, 2013

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ISSCC Microelectronics pioneer, Caltech professor emeritus, and all-around smart guy Carver Mead believes that the scientific revolution that began with the discovery of special relativity and quantum mechanics has stalled, and that it’s up to us to kickstart it, The Register reports.

“A bunch of big egos got in the way,” he told his audience of 3,000-plus chipheads at the International Soild-State Circuits Conference (ISSCC)… read more

Is this the biggest breakthrough in propulsion since the jet engine?

November 30, 2012

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Reaction Engines Ltd. has announced what is says is the “biggest breakthrough in aerospace propulsion technology since the invention of the jet engine.”

Critical tests have been successfully completed on the key technology for SABRE, an engine that will enable aircraft to reach the opposite side of the world in under four hours, or to fly directly into orbit and return in a single stage,… read more

New York to Beijing in two hours without leaving the ground?

March 26, 2012

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The Evacuated Tube Transport (ETT) system (U.S. Patent 5950543, assigned to ET3.com, Inc.) would take passengers from New York to Beijing in just two hours. Advocates of Evacuated Tube Transport (ETT) claim it is silent, cheaper than planes, trains, or cars and faster than jets.

How it would work: put a superconducting maglev train in evacuated tubes, then accelerate using linear electric motors until the design velocity is attained. Passive superconductors… read more

‘Big data’ and cloud computing empower smart machines to do human work, take human jobs

January 28, 2013

The "bookBots" in the Hunt Library on Centennial Campus at NC State University will house over 2 million volumes of books. The Hunt Library will be one of the most high-tech, innovative libraries around the world. (Credit: NC State - College of Design)

From giant corporations to university libraries to start-up businesses, employers are using rapidly improving technology to do tasks that humans used to do.

That means millions of workers are caught in a competition they can’t win against machines that keep getting more powerful, cheaper and easier to use, the Washington Post reports.

To better understand the impact of technology on jobs, The Associated Press analyzed employment… read more

DARPA shows off 1.8-gigapixel surveillance drone, can spot a terrorist from 20,000 feet

January 30, 2013

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DARPA and the US Army have taken the wraps off ARGUS-IS, a 1.8-gigapixel video surveillance platform that can resolve details as small as six inches from an altitude of 20,000 feet (6km), ExtremeTech reports.

ARGUS is by far the highest-resolution surveillance platform in the world, and probably the highest-resolution camera in the world, period.

ARGUS, which would be attached to some kind of unmanned UAV (such as… read more

A fuel cell for the home

June 3, 2014

Production of the cell stacks at the Fraunhofer IKTS (credit: Fraunhofer IKTS)

A simple fuel cell for home use has been developed by Fraunhofer Institute for Ceramic Technologies and Systems IKTS in Germany and heater manufacturer Vaillant.

With an output of one kilowatt, they cover the average current consumption for a four-person household.

Fuel cells convert natural gas directly into electrical energy. They are many times more efficient than are combustion engines, such as the car engine.… read more

Astronomers anticipate 100 billion Earth-like planets

April 4, 2013

Milky Way Galaxy (credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech)

University of Auckland researchers have proposed a new method for finding Earth-like planets in our galaxy and they anticipate that the number will be on the order of 100 billion.

The research supports an earlier estimate based on extrapolations of Kepler data.

The new research uses a technique called gravitational microlensing, currently used by a Japan-New Zealand collaboration called MOA (Microlensing Observations in Astrophysics)… read more

A new — and reversible — cause of aging

NAD, a naturally produced compound in cells, rewinds aspects of age-related demise in mice
December 20, 2013

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Researchers have discovered a cause of aging in mammals that may be reversible: a series of molecular events that enable communication inside cells between the nucleus and mitochondria.

As communication breaks down, aging accelerates. By administering a molecule naturally produced by the human body, scientists restored the communication network in older mice. Subsequent tissue samples showed key biological hallmarks that were comparable to those of much younger animals.… read more

3D printing factory opens in New York City

October 20, 2012

(Credit: Shapeways)

Shapeways, a Netherlands-based online 3D printing company, has opened a “factory of the future” in Queens, New York that plans to house 50 high-resolution industrial 3D printers and print custom-designed products a year, Popular Science reports.

The company will allow customers to upload custom 3D designs, and then prints them using materials including acrylic, nylon, glass, gypsum, ceramic, and sandstone, and precious metals such as silver, and ships the… read more

Email services close and destroy data rather than reveal files

August 11, 2013

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Lavabit, a Texas-based service that was reportedly used by Edward J. Snowden, announced the suspension of its service Thursday afternoon to avoid being “complicit in crimes against the American people,” The New York Times reports.

Within hours, a fast-growing Maryland-based start-up called Silent Circle also closed its e-mail service and destroyed its e-mail servers.

In effect, both businesses destroyed their assets — in part or in… read more

Mars One plans to establish human settlement on Mars in 2023

No return ticket
June 3, 2012

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Help wanted: astronaut. Must be willing to relocate to Mars — permanently. Hire date: 2013. Benefits: make history, start new planetary civilization, star in reality TV show. Apply to: Mars One.  

Netherlands-based Mars One hopes to establish the first human settlement on Mars in 2023. It has created a technical plan for this ambitious mission that is “as simple as possible” and says it has identified potentialread more

Vicarious AI breaks CAPTCHA ‘Turing test’

October 28, 2013

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Vicarious, a startup developing artificial intelligence software, today announced that its algorithms can now reliably solve modern CAPTCHAs (Completely Automated Public Turing tests to tell Computers and Humans Apart).

Stanford University researchers have suggested that a CAPTCHA scheme (which are used by websites to verify that a visitor is human by asking them to transcribe a string of distorted letters) should be considered “broken” if an algorithm… read more

Discovery of quantum vibrations in microtubules inside brain neurons corroborates controversial 20-year-old theory of consciousness

January 16, 2014

Structure of a microtubule. The ring shape depicts a microtubule in cross-section, showing the 13 protofilaments surrounding a hollow center. (Credit: Wikimedia Commons)

A review and update of a controversial 20-year-old theory of consciousness published in  Elsevier’s Physics of Life Reviews (open access) claims that consciousness derives from deeper-level, finer-scale activities inside brain neurons.

The recent discovery of quantum vibrations in microtubules inside brain neurons corroborates this theory, according to review authors Stuart Hameroff and Sir Roger Penrose. They suggest that EEG rhythms (brain waves) also derive from deeper level… read more

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