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July 17, 2018

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Plant-e: heats, shoots and leaves — electricity from living plants

July 17, 2018

photo - plant energy - no. 3

— the story —

Plants could soon provide our electricity. In a small way they already are doing that in research labs and greenhouses at project Plant-e — a university and commercially sponsored research group at Wageningen University in the Netherlands.

The Plant Microbial Fuel Cell from Plant-e can generate electricity from the natural interaction between plant roots and soil bacteria. It works by taking advantage… read more

How to predict the side effects of millions of drug combinations

Stanford Univ. computer scientists have figured it out, using artificial intelligence
July 17, 2018

polypharmacy side effects ft

Millions of people take up to five or more medications a day, but doctors have no idea what side effects might arise from adding another drug.*

Now, Stanford University computer scientists have developed a deep-learning system (a kind of AI modeled after the brain) called Decagon** that could help doctors make better decisions about which drugs to prescribe. It could also help researchers find better combinations of drugs… read more

Nanomaterials that mimic nerve impulses (spikes) discovered

Complement current “neuromorphic” (brain-like) chips, which emulate synapses
July 13, 2018

Nanomaterials that simulate nerve impulses (credit: Osaka University)

A combination of nanomaterials that can mimic nerve impulses (“spikes”) in the brain have been discovered by researchers at Kyushu Institute of Technology and Osaka University in Japan.

Current “neuromorphic” (brain-like) chips (such as IBM’s neurosynaptic TrueNorth) and circuits (such as those based on the NVIDIA GPGPU, or general purpose graphical processing unit) are devices based on complex circuits that emulate only one part of the brain’s mechanisms:… read more

MIT’s Cheetah 3 blind robot can climb a staircase littered with debris, leap, and gallop across rough terrain

Could be used for exploring disaster zones and other dangerous or inaccessible environments
July 6, 2018

Cheetah 3 on stairs

MIT’s Cheetah 3 robot — an upgrade to the Cheetah 2, can now leap and gallop across rough terrain, climb a staircase littered with debris, and quickly recover its balance when suddenly yanked or shoved — all while essentially blind.

The 90-pound robot is intentionally designed to do all this without relying on cameras or any external environmental sensors. The idea is to allow it to “feel” its way… read more

Discovering new drugs and materials by ‘touching’ molecules in virtual reality

Scientists can now visualize and experiment with structures and dynamics of complex molecular structures (at atomic-level precision), with real-time multi-user collaboration via the cloud
July 6, 2018

To figure out how to block a bacteria's attempt to create multi-resistance to antibiotics, a researcher grabs a ligand (a binding molecule) that simulates a type of penicillin called benzylpenicillin (red) and interactively guides that molecule to dock within another enzyme (blue-orange) molecule called beta-lactamase, which is produced by bacteria in an attempt to disable the penicillin (by making a patient resistant to a class of antibiotics called β-lactam). (credit: University of Bristol)

University of Bristol researchers have designed and tested a new virtual reality (VR) cloud-based system intended to allow researchers to reach out and “touch” molecules as they move — folding them, knotting them, plucking them, and changing their shape to test how the molecules interact. Using an HTC Vive virtual-reality device, it could lead to creating new drugs and materials and improving the teaching of chemistry.

More… read more

There’s no known upper limit to human longevity, study suggests

New high-precision database of Italians shows risk of death leveling off at age 105
July 2, 2018

Chiyo Miyako of Japan is the world's oldest verified living person as of June 29, 2018, according to the Gerontology Research Group. She credits eating eel, drinking red wine, and never smoking for her longevity. (credit:  Medical Review Co., Ltd.)

Human death risk increases exponentially from 65 up to about age 80. At that point, the range of risks starts to increase. But by age 105, the death risk actually levels off — suggesting there’s no known upper limit for human lifespan.*

That’s the conclusion of a controversial study by an international team of scientists, published Thursday, June 28 in the journal Science.

“The increasing number of exceptionally… read more

New material eliminates need for motors or actuators in future robots, other devices

Low-cost material could bear 3000 times its own weight, triggered by light or electricity
June 29, 2018

A “mini arm” made by two hinges of actuating nickel hydroxide-oxyhydroxide material (left) can lift an object 50 times of its weight when triggered (right) by light or electricity. (credit: University of Hong Kong)

University of Hong Kong researchers have invented a radical new lightweight material that could replace traditional bulky, heavy motors or actuators in robots, medical devices, prosthetic muscles, exoskeletons, microrobots, and other types of devices.

The new actuating material — nickel hydroxide-oxyhydroxide — can be instantly triggered and wirelessly powered by low-intensity visible light or electricity at relatively low intensity. It can exert a force of up to 3000 times… read more

How robots aided by deep learning could help autism therapists

Deep-learning-enhanced robots could help interpret behavior and personalize therapy of autistic children, making it more engaging and natural
June 29, 2018

Personalized Machine Learning in autiism therapy

MIT Media Lab  (no sound) | Intro: Personalized Machine Learning for Robot Perception of Affect and Engagement in Autism Therapy. This is an example of a therapy session augmented with SoftBank Robotics’ humanoid robot NAO and deep-learning software. The 35 children with autism who participated in this study ranged in age from 3 to 13. They reacted in various ways to the robots during their 35-minute sessions — fromread more

Spotting fake images with AI

Adobe and University of Maryland researchers use a deep-learning neural network to detect subtle methods now used in doctoring images
June 26, 2018

tampered image ft

Thanks to user-friendly image editing software like Adobe Photoshop, it’s becoming increasingly difficult and time-consuming to spot some deceptive image manipulations.

Now, funded by DARPA, researchers at Adobe and the University of Maryland, College Park have turned to AI to detect the more subtle methods now used in doctoring images.

Forensic AI

What used to take an image-forensic expert several hours to do can now… read more

New wearable, high-precision brain scanner allows for patients to move around

Could revolutionize diagnosis and treatment of neurological disorders, say University of Nottingham researchers
June 22, 2018

(Left) Current stationary MEG scanner. (Right) New wearable scanner, allowing for movement. (credit: National Institute of Mental Health and University of Nottingham)

A radical new wearable magnetoencephalography (MEG) brain scanner under development at the University of Nottingham allows a patient to move around, instead of having to sit or lie still inside a massive scanner.

Currently, MEG scanners* weigh around 500 kilograms (about 1100 pounds) because they require bulky superconducting sensors refrigerated in a liquid helium dewar at -269°C. Patients must  keep still — even a 5mm movement can… read more

How to supervise a robot with your mind and hand gestures

“Plug and play” system uses a human’s brainwaves and hand-gesture muscle signals to instantly correct robot mistakes
June 22, 2018

controlling a robot ft

Getting robots to do things isn’t easy. Usually, scientists have to either explicitly program them, or else train them to understand human language. Both options are a lot of work.

Now a new system developed by researchers at MIT’s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL), Vienna University of Technology, and Boston University takes a simpler approach: It uses a human’s brainwaves and hand gestures to instantly correct robot mistakes.… read more

Are virtual reality and augmented reality the future of education?

Welcome to the memory palace; and how to safely walk around (or maybe run) in VR
June 19, 2018

VR memory

People learn better through virtual, immersive environments instead of more traditional platforms like a two-dimensional desktop computer: That sounds intuitively right, but researchers at the College of Computer, Mathematical, and Natural Sciences at the University of Maryland (UMD) have now supported that idea with evidence.

The researchers conducted an experiment using the “memory palace” method, where people recall an object or item located… read more

Research suggests that humans could one day regrow limbs

Scientists have identified the specific type of planaria flatworm pluripotent stem cell that is capable of regenerating an entire organism
June 15, 2018

Planaria flatworm (credit: Holger Brandl et al./Wikipedia)

In the June 14, 2018, issue of the journal Cell, researchers at Stowers Institute for Medical Research published a landmark study whose findings have important implications for advancing the study of stem cell biology and regenerative medicine, according to the researchers.*

Over a century ago, scientists traced regenerative powers in a flatworm known as planaria to a special population of planaria adult stem cells called neoblasts (a type… read more

IBM researchers use analog memory to train deep neural networks faster and more efficiently

New approach allows deep neural networks to run hundreds of times faster than with GPUs, using hundreds of times less energy
June 15, 2018

Crossbar arrays of non-volatile memories can accelerate the training of neural networks by performing computation at the actual location of the data. (credit: IBM Research)

Imagine advanced artificial intelligence (AI) running on your smartphone — instantly presenting the information that’s relevant to you in real time. Or a supercomputer that requires hundreds of times less energy.

The IBM Research AI team has demonstrated a new approach that they believe is a major step toward those scenarios.

Deep neural networks normally require fast, powerful graphical processing unit (GPU) hardware accelerators to support the needed high… read more

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