EU-funded researchers from Germany, Italy, Israel and the UK have achieved a breakthrough development in robotic neurosurgery. The ROBOCAST project, has developed a new type of robot that gives two important advantages to surgeons: 13 degrees (types) of movement, compared to the four available to human hands during minimally invasive surgery, and “haptic feedback” the physical cues which allow surgeons to assess tissue and perceive the amount of force applied during surgery. The robot has performed accurate keyhole neurosurgery on dummies, and when ready for humans, could ease the suffering of millions of Europeans diagnosed with tumours, and conditions such as epilepsy, Parkinson’s disease and Tourette syndrome.
Drone aircraft, best known for their role in hunting and destroying terrorist hideouts in Afghanistan and Pakistan, may be coming soon to the skies near you. Police agencies want drones for air support to find runaway criminals. Utility companies expect they can help monitor oil, gas and water pipelines. Farmers believe drones could aid in spraying crops with pesticides.
Researchers at Aalto University in Finland have designed a network proxy that can cut the power consumption of 3G smart phones up to 74 percent. This device enhances performance and significantly reduces power usage by serving as a middleman for mobile devices to connect to the Internet and handling the majority of the data transfer for the smart phone. Historically, the high energy requirements of mobile phones have slowed the adoption of mobile Internet services in developing countries.
As the world — and its landfills and water treatment plants — get more and more crowded, future houses will have to cut down on their waste. Or they could just repurpose it. For instance, they could use household sludge to feed bioluminescent bacteria to light up a room. It’s so simple! Really!
This bioluminescent lamp is part of Philips’ Microbial Home concept, a self-sufficient closed-loop home that wastes not and wants not. The Bio-lamp is fueled by a methane digester, which itself forms the centerpiece of the kitchen (yes) and breaks down waste into a lovely sludge.
The possibility of robot workers raises a certain type of futurey allure combined with a sense of danger — in a variety of settings, they could help humans work better and faster, but they could also replace us, or worse, maim us. So how are we supposed to feel about the news of a new troupe of robot prison guards? It’s awesome. And terrifying.
Creating an original pedagogical tool to get students interested in technology and robotics: this is the challenge that was undertaken by a group of the researchers led by Fancesco Mondada, in EPFL’s Robotics Systems Laboratory. In collaboration with the University of Art and Design Lausanne (ECAL), they developed Thymio II, a little programmable white robot, jam-packed with sensors and LEDs, that can exhibit a wide range of behaviours. “We worked really hard on the hardware,” Mondada explains. “Each sensor is associated with a coloured LED, which allows the kids to visualize the activation of the sensors during a specific manoeuver.” The Thymio II robots, which made their debut in May during EPFL’s robotics festival, has been presented to teachers on November 25, as part of a course organized by the cantonal teacher’s college (HEP).
Handheld gadgets could one day diagnose infections at the push of a button by using the supersensitive touchscreens in today’s smartphones. Many believe that in the future collecting samples of saliva, urine or blood could be performed using a cheap, USB-stick-sized throwaway device called a lab-on-a-chip. The user would inject a droplet of the fluid in the chip, and micropumps inside it would send the fluid to internal vessels containing reagents that extract target disease biomarker molecules. The whole device would then be sent to a lab for analysis.
YaCy is a free search engine that anyone can use to build a search portal for their intranet or to help search the public internet. When contributing to the world-wide peer network, the scale of YaCy is limited only by the number of users in the world and can index billions of web pages. It is fully decentralized, all users of the search engine network are equal, the network does not store user search requests and it is not possible for anyone to censor the content of the shared index. We want to achieve freedom of information through a free, distributed web search which is powered by the world’s users.
A new nanoscale light-based device developed at Stanford’s School of Engineering transmits data at ultrafast rates while using thousands of times less energy than current technologies. The nanophotonic device is a major step forward for on-chip data transmission, the researchers say.
The Turing Church Online Workshop 2 will be held on Sunday, December 11, 2011, with a format similar to the Turing Church Online Workshop 1 on November 20, 2010.
The Workshop will explore transhumanist spirituality and “Religion 2.0″, the convergence of science and religion, highly imaginative future science and technologies for resurrection, emerging science and technologies for immortality, social and memetic engineering.
As the temperature drops and utility bills begin to soar, researchers at Microsoft have come up with a new heat source to warm homes and offices up - data servers. These machines produce an incredible amount of heat – and it requires extra energy to cool them down – so why not use all of that warmth to keep people nice and toasty in the colder months? That’s exactly what Microsoft Research is suggesting in their new study, which proposes transferring that excess heat to buildings and homes.
Neuron transplants have repaired brain circuitry and substantially normalized function in mice with a brain disorder, an advance indicating that key areas of the mammalian brain are more reparable than was widely believed.
Collaborators from Harvard University, Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH), Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center (BIDMC) and Harvard Medical School (HMS) transplanted normally functioning embryonic neurons at a carefully selected stage of their development into the hypothalamus of mice unable to respond to leptin, a hormone that regulates metabolism and controls body weight. These mutant mice usually become morbidly obese, but the neuron transplants repaired defective brain circuits, enabling them to respond to leptin and thus experience substantially less weight gain.
University of Cambridge engineers have created inkjet printer inks based on graphene, allowing for high-performance flexible, transparent electronics devices.
Printing on flexible substrates allows electronics devices to be placed on curved surfaces, but current materials used in printer inks have low mobility (how quickly an electron or hole can move), so their performance is limited.
Researchers in Zurich, Switzerland, are developing nanomagnets that could someday strip potentially harmful substances from the blood. The technology might be used to treat people suffering from drug intoxication, bloodstream infections, and certain cancers.
The project involves magnetized nanoparticles that are coated with carbon and studded with antibodies specific to the molecules the researchers want to purge from the blood: inflammatory proteins such as interleukins, or harmful metals like lead, for example. By adding the nanomagnets to blood, then running the blood through a dialysis machine or similar device, the researchers can filter out the unwanted compounds.
In October, a foreign national named Mike Fikri purchased a one-way plane ticket from Cairo to Miami, where he rented a condo. Over the previous few weeks, he’d made a number of large withdrawals from a Russian bank account and placed repeated calls to a few people in Syria. More recently, he rented a truck, drove to Orlando, and visited Walt Disney World by himself. As numerous security videos indicate, he did not frolic at the happiest place on earth. He spent his day taking pictures of crowded plazas and gate areas.
Two years ago, 35 miles southwest of Seoul, developer Stan Gale cut the ribbon on the world’s newest city—a man-made isthmus in the Yellow Sea named Songdo International Business District. In 2001, the chairman of New York-based Gale International had pledged to borrow $35 billion to build a city the size of downtown Boston, modeled on Paris, Venice, and Manhattan, complete with a 100-acre “Central Park.” Songdo won’t be finished until at least 2016, but Gale isn’t waiting around. These days, he’s pitching China’s mayors on his city-in-a-box—a kit to build their own smart, green city of the future in as little as three years.
After a month of using Siri, the new voice-controlled “personal assistant” available on the iPhone 4S, I’ve decided it may be time to add voice control to the list of paradigm-shifting ways to interact with a computer—right behind the mouse, keyboard and, more recently, touch gestures. While voice control remains far from perfect, the ease of use and instant results Siri delivers may be just enough to shift people’s habits. It’s certainly changed mine.
In a laboratory on the grounds of a police-guarded complex, 11 white-furred rats wait their turn to impress trainers and perhaps receive a bit of sugar as reward.
The rodents could play an important role in making conflict-wracked Colombia safer. They are in the final stages of a training program to find landmines that kill or injure hundreds of people each year in Colombia.
The government project, which began in 2006, trains specially bred rats to detect the metals used in landmines, thousands of which have been laid during the country’s decades-long conflict with left-wing guerrillas.
A data-logging software company is seeking to squash an Android developer’s critical research into its software that is secretly installed on millions of phones, but Trevor Eckhart is refusing to publicly apologize for his research and remove the company’s training manuals from his website.
Though the software is installed on millions of Android, BlackBerry and Nokia phones, Carrier IQ was virtually unknown until the 25-year-old Eckhart analyzed its workings, recently revealing that the software secretly chronicles a user’s phone experience, from its apps, battery life and texts. Some carriers prevent users who actually find the software from controlling what information is sent.
Yaskawa’s SmartPal VII is perhaps not the friendliest looking (or most modern looking) mobile manipulation robot. It may also not be the smartest, but that’s okay, since it’s designed to be teleoperated, relying entirely on you to provide the brains.
A research team led by UT Southwestern Medical Center scientists has identified an atypical metabolic pathway unique to some tumors, possibly providing a future target for drugs that could reduce or halt the spread of cancer.
Planetary scientists sometimes joke that we know more about Mars than we do about the moon. NASA first landed a spacecraft on the surface of the fourth planet during the U.S. Bicentennial, five years before the first space shuttle ever lifted off. And we’ve learned plenty in the intervening 35 years: Viking 1 and 2 analyzed Mars rocks, Spirit and Opportunity found evidence of ancient water, and Phoenix saw the Martian snow. Yet the biggest question — whether Mars could ever be home to life — still eludes us.
Global food demand could double by 2050, according to a new projection reported this week in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS).
The analysis also shows that the world faces major environmental challenges unless agricultural practices change.
Scientists David Tilman and Jason Hill of the University of Minnesota (UMN) and colleagues found that producing the amount of food needed could significantly increase levels of carbon dioxide and nitrogen in the environment, and may cause the extinction of numerous species.
Two NASA California centers have been selected to develop new space-aged technologies that could be game-changers in the way we look at planets from above and how we safely transport robots or humans through space and bring them safely back to Earth.
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif., will use advanced compound semiconductor materials to develop new technologies for the High Operating Temperature Infrared Sensor Demonstration. The higher the temperature at which an infrared detector can operate, the less power is required to cool it. Reduced power needs can translate into operational cost and system weight savings. If successful, this sensor technology could be used in many future NASA Earth and planetary science instruments, as well as for U.S. commercial and defense applications.
Inwindow Outdoor is testing several prototype digital “Experience Stations” in malls and hotel lobbies that combine several interactive technologies — including motion capture, large touch screens, and NFC readers (to buy tickets or unlock deals in local stores) — to create immersive experiences in physical locations, similar to the scene in Minority Report where Tom Cruise is walking through a mall and all the digital signs are talking to him and showing him highly targeted ads.
Carbon nanotubes, tiny cylinders composed of one-atom-thick carbon lattices, have gained fame as one of the strongest materials known to science. Now a group of researchers from the University of Michigan is taking advantage of another one of carbon nanotubes’ unique properties, the low refractive index of low-density aligned nanotubes, to demonstrate a new application: making 3-D objects appear as nothing more than a flat, black sheet.
Aubrey de Grey is a biomedical gerontologist based in Cambridge, England. He is editor-in-chief of the academic journal Rejuvenation Research, author of The Mitochondrial Free Radical Theory of Aging (1999) and co-author of Ending Aging (2007).
As Chief Science Officer of the SENS Foundation, Aubrey has been interviewed by numerous media sources in the US and Europe, including an in-depth 60 Minutes report titled “The Quest for Immortality.”
Inspired by natural products, scientists on the Florida campus of The Scripps Research Institute have created a new class of small molecules with the potential to serve as a rich foundation for drug discovery.
Why wait to be born to develop a healing hand? Mouse fetuses will give up stem cells to repair their mother’s heart. The discovery could explain why half the women who develop heart weakness during or just after pregnancy recover spontaneously.
Hina Chaudhry of the Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York City mated normal female mice with males genetically engineered to produce a green-fluorescing protein in all their body cells. Half the resulting fetuses also produced the protein, making it easy to spot any fetal tissue in the mother.