It’s bizarre to feel awestruck and disappointed at the same time. Yet this is often how I feel when I read articles about ultracold atoms and Bose Einstein condensates. I’ll get to the awesome and awestruck parts later, but let me explain my disappointment. These experiments sit right at the boundary between classical and quantum physics. When we play with ultracold atoms, we make macroscopic objects do quantum things. And what have we discovered? That quantum mechanics is pretty much correct.
Ever since its discovery in 2004, graphene, the honey-comb arranged sheet of one atom thick carbon atoms, has continued to make waves in both the physics and engineering worlds. Now comes news from yet another research team heralding a new found property of the fascinating material. This time, as the group describe in their paper published in Physical Review Letters, it’s been found to have optical gain properties as a result of population inversion of electrons when struck with a short blast from a laser.
Kinesins assume a vital function in our cells: The tiny cargo transporters move important substances along lengthy protein fibers and ensure an effective transportation infrastructure. Biophysicists of the Technische Universitaet Muenchen and the Ludwig Maximillians Universitaet Muenchen have now discovered how some of these transporters can, like cars on a multi-lane motorway, change lanes. The researchers report on this hitherto unknown phenomenon in the current edition of the renowned journal Molecular Cell.
By merging data from cars’ onboard computers and drivers’ smart phones, AT&T researchers have created a system that reports on drivers’ real-time behavior and long-term driving trends—and reveals whether a particular mistake might have been caused by phone use.
NASA’s Space Launch System (SLS) is a bit of a mixed bag. Promising a return to Saturn V-type strength, the rocket is a congressional camel reflecting the self interested agendas of the congressmen responsible for its funding.
Former flight director Chris Kraft is adding his to the growing number of dissenting voices decrying SLS as deeply flawed. It’s destroying jobs and killing NASA, he says, and there are cheaper ways to undertake missions to the moon and asteroids.
When the Department of Defense (DoD) wants to build a jet engine, it doesn’t put a team of engineers in a hangar with a block of metal and some chisels. Jet engines are made up of individual components that are carefully assembled into a finished product that possesses the desired performance capabilities. In the case of thin-film deposition—a process in which coatings with special properties are bonded to materials and parts to enhance performance—current science addresses the process as though it is attempting to build a jet from a block of metal, focusing on the whole and ignoring the parts. Like a jet engine, the thin-film deposition process could work better if it was addressed at the component level.
Protein design is technique that is increasingly valuable to a variety of fields, from biochemistry to therapeutics to materials engineering. University of Pennsylvania chemists have taken this kind of design a step further; using computational methods, they have created the first custom-designed protein crystal.
Picking an ambitious design target with challenging features, the researchers’ success bodes well for the technique’s use in better understanding proteins’ makeup or using their self-assembling properties in making new materials with unique properties.
In many futuristic tales, our heroic protagonists are often helped — and sometimes harmed — by intelligent machines far more clever than an iPhone. These computers sometimes walk and talk among us. Quick-witted machines serve on spaceships like Lieutenant Commander Data on “Star Trek: The Next Generation,” or in our homes like the wisecracking housemaid Rosie the Robot on “The Jetsons.”
Food for hungry mouths, feed for animals headed to the slaughterhouse, fiber for clothing and even, in some cases, fuel for vehicles—all derive from global agriculture. As a result, in the world’s temperate climes human agriculture has supplanted 70 percent of grasslands, 50 percent of savannas and 45 percent of temperate forests. Farming is also the leading cause of deforestation in the tropics and one of the largest sources of greenhouse gas emissions, a major contributor to the ongoing maul of species known as the “sixth extinction,” and a perennial source of nonrenewable groundwater mining and water pollution.
Just a handful of cells in the embryo are all that’s needed to form the outer layer of pumping heart muscle in an adult zebrafish.
Researchers at Duke University Medical Center used zebrafish embryos and careful employment of a new technique that allows for up to 90 color labels on different cells to track individual cells and cell lines as the heart formed.
The scientists were surprised by how few cells went into making a critical organ structure and they suspect that other organs may form in a similar fashion, said Kenneth Poss, Ph.D., professor in the Duke Department of Cell Biology and Howard Hughes Medical Institute.
A lot of people were skeptical when two young California-based researchers set out more than a decade ago to create a completely human-derived alternative to the synthetic blood vessels commonly used in dialysis patients. Since then, they’ve done that and more.
If a robot in combat accidentally kills a civilian, who is to blame?
This isn’t as straightforward of a question as it sounds. A team of scientists presented a study at the International Conference on Human-Robot Interaction and found that although robots don’t have free will, people sometimes treat them as if they do.
Open source is powering a revolution in medicine and health care in multiple ways. Open source software and methods make large-scale collaborative research projects feasible, multiplying the brainpower applied to a project, expanding the data pool, and creating transparency and accountability. This is a huge win for the advancement of new treatments and cures, and cutting the costs of research. Open source practice and records software cut the costs of running medical practices, and puts practitioners in charge instead of software vendors.
Once considered unimportant “junk DNA,” scientists have learned that non-coding RNA (ncRNA) — RNA molecules that do not translate into proteins — play a crucial role in cellular function. Mutations in ncRNA are associated with a number of conditions, such as cancer, autism, and Alzheimer’s disease.
Now, through the use of “deep sequencing,” a technology used to sequence the genetic materials of the human genome, Dr. Noam Shomron of Tel Aviv University’s Sackler Faculty of Medicine has discovered that when infected with a virus, ncRNA gives off biological signals that indicate the presence of an infectious agent, known as a pathogen. Not only does this finding give researchers a more complete picture of the interactions between pathogens and the body, but it provides scientists with a new avenue for fighting off infections.
Bostrom rejects Nietzsche as an ancestor of the transhumanist movement, as he claims that there were merely some “surface-level similarities with the Nietzschean vision” (Bostrom 2005a, 4). In contrast to Bostrom, I think that significant similarities between the posthuman and the overhuman can be found on a fundamental level. In addition, it seems to me that Nietzsche explained the relevance of the overhuman by referring to a dimension which seems to be lacking in transhumanism. In order to explain my position, I will progress as follows. First, I will compare the concept of the posthuman to that of Nietzsche’s overhuman, focusing more on their similarities than their differences. Second, I will contextualise the overhuman in Nietzsche’s general vision, so that I can point out which dimension seems to me to be lacking in transhumanist thought.
Science fiction dreams of mining riches from asteroids only make sense if humans can make it worth their time and effort. The new Planetary Resources group backed by Silicon Valley billionaires and Hollywood moguls is now betting on the fact that there is big money in mining space rocks.
Scientists at the U.S. Department of Energy’s Ames Laboratory have designed a method to evaluate different conductors for use in metamaterial structures, which are engineered to exhibit properties not possible in natural materials. The work was reported this month in Nature Photonics.
A paradigm shift may be coming to the digital lifestyle. Instead of the PC being the center of the personal computing universe, consumers will be opting for tablets as their primary computing device and relying on cloud storage to access their content across their devices, according to a new report.
"This burgeoning market is set to disrupt the personal computing device and OS markets," says the report from Forrester Research on the future of computing.
Non-military agencies have been gearing up to get unmanned drones in the sky across America, and now it looks like those controversial aircraft will soon be heading north, as well.
Not only are surveillance drones expected to soar in droves across American airspace in the not-so-distant future, but now it has been confirmed that authorities in Canada have successfully followed through with test flights of the unmanned aircraft for their own use.
The research, published in the May issue of the journal Futures, sits incongruously among more staid titles about new spatial planning methods and urban sprawl. The paper is meant to be a “futuristic scenario” that “pushes plausibility to the limit,” write its authors, Michelle Mars and tourism professor Ian Yeoman, both of the Victoria University of Wellington in New Zealand.
The world’s largest solar power field has been switched on in India’s western state of Gujarat. Accounting for 214 megawatts of photovoltaic solar capacity, it becomes larger than China’s 200 MW Golmud Solar Park, which previously held the record.
That flash of red whizzing by you in Italy now may not necessarily be a Ferrari sports car – it could be a new high-speed train inspired by the car company’s reputation for top performance. Ferrari’s president, Luca Cordero di Montezemolo, has partnered with luxury goods company Tod’s and French rail firm SNCF to launch Nuovo Transporto Viaggiatori, a new private high speed rail network. What NVT bills as Europe’s most modern train, the Italo, will debut on April 28th as service begins between Milan and Naples.
The New York Botanical Garden (NYBG); the Missouri Botanical Garden (MBG); The Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew (RBG Kew); and the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh (RBGE) have announced plans to develop the World Flora—the first modern, online catalog of the world’s plants—by the year 2020. This massive undertaking will include the compilation of information on up to 400,000 plant species worldwide. It will also achieve a primary target of the Global Strategy for Plant Conservation, an ambitious effort first adopted by the United Nations’ Convention on Biological Diversity in 2002, to halt the continuing loss of plant biodiversity around the globe. Representatives of the four botanical gardens recently met to organize a framework to guide their efforts and respond to this need for a baseline survey of the plants of the world that has been called for by the international community. A Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) detailing plans to create the World Flora was recently signed into effect by the four institutions.
As anyone who has watched a medical drama knows, organs are in short supply and must be rushed everywhere in coolers, only to be delivered at the last possible moment. This is actually kind of true. In the U.S., 570,000 people suffer from chronic kidney failure, but last year there were only 16,812 kidneys available to be transplanted. A staggering 92,000 patients were left on the waiting list, which can be a death sentence.
Two years ago, a Dutch student named Dirk Vander Kooij was designing furniture and preparing for his graduation project when he was inspired by an old 3D printer. So he got his hands on an industrial robot from a Chinese production line and reprogrammed it into a 3D printer to print furniture using recycled materials from old refrigerators. The robot, named Furoc, prints out furniture as a continuous line hundreds of meters long and can produce a chair in a variety of colors and designs in just 3 hours. Kooij says the method allows structures to be made 40 times faster than traditional 3D printing and can produce 4,000 chairs a year.
Chasing down staplers and printer cartridges hurting your productivity at the office? Fret not. Hitachi has just come out with the latest version of their tireless office assistant robot, EMIEW2. Ask it where the scissor are, it’ll tell you. Better yet, it will go fetch it for you. You’re going to wish everyone in the office was so agreeable.
The dream of true cybernetics — merging man with machine — just got a bit closer. Scientists at Northwestern University built a device that can send signals from the brain directly to paralyzed muscles, causing them to move by thought. This technology could help patients who have suffered spinal cord injuries regain the use of their limbs.
Future extraterrestrial rovers may be powered remotely by high-energy laser beams shot through miles of thin fiber-optic cables. This new technology could allow robotic probes to penetrate thick layers of ice to explore Antarctic lakes or the subterranean oceans on icy moons like Europa or Enceladus, and even power a new kind of rocket into space.
The homemade bombs known as IEDs accounted for 60 percent of all U.S. military injuries in Iraq and have killed more than 21,000 Iraqi civilians. Last November, a month before the last U.S. troops departed, Iraq’s federal bomb squad paraded with bomb-disposal robots in Baghdad. QinetiQ North America has sold 16 of the $100,000 remote-controlled Talons to the Iraqi police.
This week the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) finally released its first round of records in response to EFF’s Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit for information on the agency’s drone authorization program. The agency says the two lists it released include the names of all public and private entities that have applied for authorizations to fly drones domestically. These lists—which include the Certificates of Authorizations (COAs), issued to public entities like police departments, and the Special Airworthiness Certificates (SACs), issued to private drone manufacturers—show for the first time who is authorized to fly drones in the United States.
The wearable computing wars are about to begin, says a report released Tuesday by Forrester Research.
The report predicts that consumers will begin experimenting more with wearables over the coming year, specifically around health and fitness, navigation, social networking and gaming. This new theme among consumers will hasten big tech companies to begin creating wearable computing products.
Following an extensive seven-month analysis of data collected from the Aug. 11, 2011, second flight of DARPA’s Hypersonic Technology Vehicle (HTV-2), an independent engineering review board (ERB) investigating the cause of a flight anomaly completed its report. The findings of the ERB validated the vehicle’s aerodynamic design and uncovered new information regarding the thermal material properties of the vehicle.
Today is officially the first day of RoboGames, and if you’re reading this blog and are anywhere near San Francisco, there’s really no excuse not to go. Robots will be competing in approximately five million different events, ranging from heavyweight combat to micromouse maze solving to autonomous firefighting to hardcore Mech Warfare. Oh, and there will be a symposium, too, and you really shouldn’t miss that, especially if you like watching certain robot bloggers act all nervous and awkward-like while attempting to give a talk.
Multi-hop wireless networks can provide data access for large and unconventional spaces, but they have long faced significant limits on the amount of data they can transmit. Now researchers from North Carolina State University have developed a more efficient data transmission approach that can boost the amount of data the networks can transmit by 20 to 80 percent.
Could engineered human stem cells hold the key to cancer survival? Scientists at the Institute of Bioengineering and Nanotechnology (IBN), the world’s first bioengineering and nanotechnology research institute, have discovered that neural stem cells possess the innate ability to target tumor cells outside the central nervous system. This finding, which was demonstrated successfully on breast cancer cells, was recently published in leading peer reviewed journal, Stem Cells.
Nearly all organisms share a single genetic language: DNA. But scientists have now demonstrated that several lab-made variants of DNA can store and transmit information much like the genuine article.
Researchers led by Philipp Holliger, a synthetic biologist at the Medical Research Council Laboratory of Molecular Biology in Cambridge, UK, say that the alternative molecules could help others to develop new drugs and nanotechnologies.