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Preventing an autonomous-systems arms race

April 21, 2014

The Switchblade is a self-guided cruise missile designed to fit into a soldiers rucksack (credit: AeroVironment)

A study by AI researcher Steve Omohundro just published in the Journal of Experimental & Theoretical Artificial Intelligence (open access) suggests that humans should be very careful to prevent future autonomous technology-based systems from developing anti-social and potentially harmful behavior.

Modern military and economic pressures require autonomous systems that can react quickly — and without human input. These systems will be required to make rational decisions for themselves.… read more

Thinnest-possible nanomembrane produced

May allow for functional waterproof clothing and ultra-rapid filtration
April 18, 2014

Part of a graphene membrane with a multiplicity of pores (black) of precisely defined size (in this case with a diameter of 50 nanometres; photomicrograph (credit: Celebi K. et al. Science 2014)

ETH Zurich, Empa, LG Electronics researchers  have created the thinnest-possible nanomembrane. Made out of graphene, it is extremely light and breathable, and could lead to a new generation of functional waterproof clothing and ultra-rapid filtration.

The stable porous membrane consists of two layers of  graphene, a two-dimensional film made of carbon atoms, on which the researchers etched tiny pores of a precisely defined size to allow for… read more

3D microvascular network allows for repeated self-healing in composite materials

April 18, 2014

microvascular networks

Researchers at the Beckman Institute for Advanced Science and Technology at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have created a 3D vascular system that allows high-performance composite materials such as fiberglass to heal autonomously and repeatedly.

Internal damage in fiber-reinforced composites, which are used in structures of modern airplanes and automobiles, is difficult to detect and nearly impossible to repair by conventional methods. A small, internal crack… read more

CNN’s Spurlock Inside Man explores extreme life extension

April 18, 2014

(Credit: CNN)

In “Futurism,” an episode in CNN’s original series Morgan Spurlock Inside Man on Sunday April 20, Spurlock enters the “brave new world of extreme life extension, embarking on a life-prolonging regimen and trying everything from genome hacking to creating an avatar and uploading his consciousness in preparation for the ‘Technological Singularity.’

“Spurlock’s quest to live forever includes visits with radical futurist Ray Kurzweil, Stanford University’s Virtual Human Interaction Lab, Cambrian Genomics in San Francisco, North… read more

First Earth-size planet in ‘habitable zone’ discovered

April 18, 2014

An artistic concept of Kepler-186f based on a collaboration of scientists and artists (credit: NASA Ames/SETI Institute/JPL-Caltech)

Astronomers have discovered the first Earth-size planet orbiting a star in the “habitable zone” — the range of distance from a star where liquid water might pool on the surface of an orbiting planet. The discovery of Kepler-186f confirms that planets the size of Earth exist in the habitable zone of stars other than our sun.

Planets have previously been found in the habitable zone, but they are all… read more

Brain abnormalities associated with casual marijuana use

April 17, 2014

Cannabis leaf (credit: Wikimedia Commons)

Young adults who used marijuana only recreationally showed significant abnormalities in two key brain regions that are important in emotion and motivation, scientists report.

The study was a collaboration between Northwestern Medicine and Massachusetts General Hospital/Harvard Medical School.

This is the first study to show casual use of marijuana is related to major brain changes. It showed the degree of brain abnormalities in these regions is directly related… read more

Functional brain imaging reliably predicts which vegetative patients have potential to recover consciousness

Up to 40% of severely brain-damaged patients are misdiagnosed in bedside clinical examinations
April 17, 2014

lancet-consciousness-1

A functional brain imaging technique known as positron emission tomography (PET) is a promising tool for determining which severely brain damaged individuals in vegetative states have the potential to recover consciousness, according to new research published in The Lancet.

Surprisingly, this is the first time that researchers have tested the diagnostic accuracy of functional brain imaging techniques in clinical practice.

“Our findings suggest that PET imaging can reveal… read more

Low-cost, compact optics that turn a smartphone into a powerful portable microscope

April 17, 2014

Lens-uw-larson

University of Washington (UW) graduate Thomas Larson is developing a lens that will turn any smartphone or tablet computer into a handheld microscope that magnifies by 150 times.

It’s a new version of his Micro Phone Lens, a pliable lens that magnifies 15 times, or 60x with phone zoom. (Standard laboratory microscopes usually magnify between 50 and 400 times.)

Users simply stick the lens… read more

Drones to extend Internet to remote areas

April 16, 2014

Titan Solera 50 drone (credit: Titan Aerospace)

Two companies have just extended the reach of the  Internet.

Google has acquired Titan Aerospace, a developer of jet-sized drones intended to fly nonstop for years,the New Mexico company has announced. Titan says it could help people by “providing internet connections in remote areas or helping monitor environmental damage like oil spills and deforestation.”

The Wall Street Journal quotes Google as saying the technology could… read more

The lowest-price, easiest-to-use 3D printer yet

April 16, 2014

The Micro 3D printer (credit: MD3)

If you’re on the edge about deciding to get a 3D printer, this Kickstarter campaign for The Micro, billed as the “first truly consumer 3D printer,” may just push you off it.

It already has for more than 9,000 backers, who have pledged an impressive $2.7 million since April 7 — far exceeding the $50,000 goal.

For a pledge of $299, you get the pre-assembled printer… read more

Ten ways 3D printing could change space

April 16, 2014

A close up of a ligthweight titanium lattice ball manufactured using the Additive Manufacturing or 3D printing process. This design is a good example of AM capabilities: these hollow balls possesing a complex external geometry could not have been manufactured in a single part using a conventional manufacturing process. But they are incredibly light while also stiff, opening up possibilities for future space applications.

The European Space Agency (ESA) is investigating the potential of additive manufacturing (AM), or 3D printing, to transform how space missions are put together, and has identified ten ways.

1. Items impossible to make any other way

This titanium-lattice ball is a good example of additive manufacturing capabilities. These hollow balls have a complex external geometry,  making them incredibly light while remaining stiff and… read more

International Space Station to beam video via laser back to Earth

April 15, 2014

nasa-opals

NASA is preparing for an April 14 launch to the International Space Station aboard the SpaceX-3 mission to test NASA’s first space-to-Earth optical communication system.

The Optical Payload for Lasercomm Science (OPALS) system will demonstrate up to 50 megabits per second transmission, compared to 200 to 400 kilobits per second for many deep-space missions.

Future deep space optical communication systems will provide more than… read more

Bio-inspired transparent synthetic materials could protect cars and people

April 15, 2014

NewsImage_BioCeramic3

MIT researchers have analyzed the shells of a sea creature, the mollusk Placuna placenta to determine exactly why they are so resistant to penetration and damage — even though they are 99 percent calcite, a weak, brittle mineral. The shells are exceptionally tough but clear enough to read through,

The properties of this natural armor make it a promising template for the development of bio-inspired synthetic materials… read more

A new self-healing chemistry for plastics

April 15, 2014

Self-healing process (credit:  Kim K. Oehlenschlaeger et al./Advanced Materials)

Scientists at Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT) and Evonik Industries have developed a self-healing chemistry that allows for rapid healing of a plastic material using mild heating, restoring its initial molecular structure. It is based on a reversible chemical crosslinking reaction*.

  • The reaction happens at temperatures from 50°C (122°F) to 120°C (248°F).
  • The material can be restored completely in less than 5 minutes, and

read more

3D-printed tumor model allows for more realistic testing of how cancer cells grow and spread

April 15, 2014

3D cellular morphology on day 8

A group of researchers in China and the U.S. has created a 3D-printed model of a cancerous tumor to help discover new anti-cancer drugs and better understand how tumors develop, grow, and spread throughout the body.

The model consists of a scaffold of fibrous proteins (gelatin, alginate, and fibrin) corresponding to the extracellular matrix (support structure) of a tumor, in the form of a grid structure 10… read more

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