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Monthly Archives: July 2013

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Smelling Cancer: Device Detects Bladder Cancer From Odor of Urine

The smell of urine is not usually associated with having life-saving properties. But a new UK device called the ‘Odoreader’ can analyze urine odors and determine if bladder cancer (BC) is present. Although this is a pilot study, it has positive implications for early BC diagnosis and improved patient survival.

Is Cisco’s Forecast of 50 Billion Internet-Connected Things by 2020 Too Conservative?

As a tech memes go, the Internet of Things is getting a bit long in tooth. The idea of internet-connected smart stuff has been heralded for years now. But where exactly are we in the quest to connect all things? Networking titan Cisco decided to put a number on it.

Lab Grown Retinal Cells Implanted Into Blind Mice – And They Work

What if we could reverse degenerative forms of blindness with but an injection of new cells? Stem cell therapies—still promising, if not particularly speedy—may someday do just that. A recent paper in the journal Nature Biotechnology documents the successful implantation of photoreceptor cells, grown from embryonic stem cells, into the retinas of night-blind mice. The cells not only took root, but they remained present six weeks after implantation and formed the necessary neural connections to communicate visual data to the brain.

Functional 3D Human Liver Buds Made From Stem Cells in Mice

Researchers led by Takanori Takebe, MD and Hideki Taniguchi, MD, of Yokohama City University in Japan recently reported the first 3D vascularized organ derived from stem cells in the journal Nature. Though it is still years away from clinical trials in humans, the approach, used to generate human liver cell buds in mice, has implications for future transplantations of liver and potentially other organs in humans.

Canvas, Camera, Brush, and Algorithms Enable Robot Artist’s Beautiful Paintings

If there were a Turing test for artificial creativity (AC)—e-David might well be on its way to passing. The robotic system, created by researchers at the University of Konstantz in Germany, employs a variety of styles to produce paintings remarkably similar to their human counterparts.

Ray Kurzweil — Fireside Chat At The 2013 Graduate Studies Program

Ray Kurzweil speaks to the GSP13 class at Singularity University on July 25,2013.

The Cost of China’s Economic Miracle: Shorter Lives, Due to Air Pollution

A study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences analyzed the health impacts of coal pollution by taking advantage of a de facto control group created by a Chinese government policy that provided free heating coal to homes and offices in northern China but not to those in southern China. The findings were dramatic.

DARPA’s Brain-controlled Prosthetic Arm and a Bionic Hand That Can Touch

The US Department of Defense has a good reason to fund research in advanced bionic limbs—in fact, it has a couple thousand good reasons. In the last thirteen years, 2,000 men and women have lost a limb in military service. And of course, military amputees aren’t the only amputees. Far from it.

New Telescopic Contact Lens Magnifies Vision Three Times

Researchers led by Eric Tremblay from the École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EDFL) in Switzerland and Joseph Ford from UC San Diego have developed a new ‘Superman-style contact lens that can magnify the wearer’s vision by 2.8 times when worn with a modified pair of 3D glasses. These contacts may one day empower those suffering from macular degeneration or even augmenting the eyes of those with perfectly healthy vision.

New Techinique Makes IVF Dramatically Cheaper, More Accurate

Connor Levy is proof of concept. Barely two months old, Connor is the first child born from an embryo screened with next-generation DNA sequencing techniques to ensure that doctors provided his mother, Marybeth Scheidts, 36, with a genetically viable fertilized egg. The new process is dramatically cheaper and has initially proven at least as effective as the genetic methods fertility clinics use now.

Hype Builds Before Elon Musk’s August Alpha Plan for SF to LA Hyperloop

Elon Musk, the billionaire tech mogul behind PayPal, Tesla Motors, and SpaceX, the entrepreneur who wants to colonize Mars with a vertically landing, reusable rocket—that guy—recently announced he’s been busy thinking about a pneumatic tube for people called the Hyperloop. In a recent post on Twitter, Musk said he’ll publish the “Hyperloop alpha design by Aug 12."

Robot Fighter Jet X-47B Autonomously Lands on Aircraft Carrier

The Navy’s newest fighter is a high-tech batwing the size of an F/A 18 Super Hornet. The stealthy X-47B can carry 4,500 pounds of weapons at half mach speed, up to 40,000 feet, and over 2,400 miles. The aircraft lacks but one thing. A cockpit. The X-47B is a next-generation military drone. Unlike previous military drones, the X-47B is completely autonomous. And we’re not just talking the ability to fly simple missions from one airstrip to another. Recently, the X-47B landed on an aircraft carrier by algorithm alone. That’s something only elite fighter pilots have been able to do until now.

Two Boston Patients Free of HIV After Bone-Marrow Transplant

In June, at the 2013 International AIDS Society conference, medical researchers made an extraordinary announcement. Two HIV positive cancer patients are HIV-free after undergoing bone marrow transplants. The patients have been off anti-retroviral drugs for seven weeks and fifteen weeks respectively, but doctors are, as yet, hesitant to call them cured. The virus may yet reemerge at a later date.

New 3D Brain Map 50 Times More Detailed Than Previous Maps

A better understanding of the brain may help us better understand thought, behavior and neurological disorders. An improved tool to facilitate this—a new 3D map of the human brain—has recently been released. It’s hoped the map might reveal novel insights into brain function and perhaps help find cures for related diseases.

Welcoming Your New Robot Overlords

Last year at the second annual Bay Area Art & Science Interdisciplinary Collaborative Sessions (BAASICS), I was invited to give a brief presentation on any future-related topic I wished. As a Singularity Hub alum...

Boston Dynamics’ Humanoid Robot, ATLAS, In Latest Video

Boston Dynamics, the robotics design company, has been demonstrating to the world that we're knee deep in the robot revolution. It was only back in April when the company released a series of videos...

Solar Powered Aircraft Flies From SF to NYC Under Solar Power (With a Few Pitstops)

A manned solar-powered plane, dubbed Solar Impulse, recently touched down at New York’s JFK after flying the final leg of its journey across the US. The trip, a decade in the making, was itself but another step on the Solar Impulse team’s quest to fly around the world on solar power alone.

Golf Robot Chips Balls Into Washing Machines, Talks Smack to Rory McIlroy

Is there anything humans can do that robots can't? First it was factory jobs, then chess, call centers, Jeopardy--and now, golf. In an ad for the European PGA Tour, professional golfer, Rory McIlroy, goes head to head with a golf robot to see who can chip more balls into washing machines down range. The bot shows off an flawlessly repeating swing, effortlessly knocks balls into machines, and talks trash like a pro. (Of course, McIlroy doesn't do too shabby himself. This is an ad for humans after all.)

Philip Rosedale — Fireside Chat At The 2013 Graduate Studies Program

Philip Rosedale is an entrepreneur best known for creating the virtual world Second Life that has a virtual economy and a thriving population. Currently, he is developing High Fidelity, a virtual world startup. Hosted by...

NASA’s Trial Polar Rover Studies One of the Harshest Places on Earth

NASA recently concluded a successful six-week test of a prototype polar rover near the highest point in Greenland, where the robotic vehicle traversed icy terrain in temperatures of minus 30 Celsius to help scientists learn more about how ice sheets are faring in the changing climate — without having to break for hot cocoa.

70,000+ Have Played ‘Eyewire’ Game That Trains Computers To Map the Brain

Your connectome, the map of all 86 billion connected neurons in your brain, is hopelessly complex. In fact, one human connectome has a staggering 10,000 times that number of neural pathways. Every thought you...

Kickstarter Project to Send Thousands of Personal Spacecraft to the Moon

NASA's twin Voyager spacecraft famously carry a pair of golden records encoded with images and sounds from Earth. Now, a new project hopes to similarly send discs to space. Only these discs are slightly more advanced. In fact, they’re spacecraft in their own right; thousands will fit into a CubeSat; and each one carries "computing power comparable to that of the Voyager spacecraft and Apollo flight computers."

Medical Tricorder Startup Scanadu Scout Raises Over $1.3M With Two Weeks Left

Over the years, it has become increasingly evident that Star Trek is a highly influential -- if not the most influential -- work in science fiction that has inspired generations of people to pursue...

Realeyes Emotion Detection Software Knows How You’re Feeling About Their Clients’ Ads

While some firms are using computer vision to empower factory robots, others are turning digital eyes on you and me to perfect the art of advertising, and an increasingly data-hungry ad industry is buying in. One of the latest to jump onboard, AOL’s content subsidiary, Be On, recently announced a partnership with Realeyes, a provider of face and emotion detection software.

Peter Diamandis — Fireside Chat At The 2013 Graduate Studies Program

Rather than hosting a fireside chat, Peter Diamandis takes center stage to speak to the GSP13 class at Singularity University on July 30,2013.

Miniature, Freaky Fast Quadruped Robots

One of the longstanding goals in robotics is the mastery of motion, such that balance, precision, and control provide the same kind of  all-terrain navigation seen in biological quadruped counterparts. Another goal? Make robots

How Serious Is Virtual Reality Headset Oculus Rift? $16 Million ‘Series A’ Serious

A year and a half ago virtual reality was yet an elusive technodream. It may still be, even today. But the Oculus Rift, VR’s latest great hope, is winning over developers and newbies alike, accruing accolades, awards—and now cold cash.

Monsanto Unapproved GMO Wheat Escapes From The Lab, Lawsuits Follow

Monsanto, the world’s largest seed company, recently reported the finding of unapproved genetically modified wheat in an Oregon field—and nobody knows where it came from. This is of concern, especially to farmers, but raises a larger question too. If genetic modification is the future, how will we control our creations?

China’s Tianhe-2 Doubles World’s Top Supercomputing Speed Two Years Ahead Of Schedule

The name of China’s newest supercomputer, Tianhe-2, translates to Milky Way 2. It’s a fitting moniker, maybe even a modest one. There are an estimated 400 billion stars in our galaxy. The Tianhe-2 can run a million times as many calculations per second as there are stars in the Milky Way. Tianhe-2 is now the fastest computer on Earth, doubling the speed of its American rival, Titan—and it arrived two years ahead of schedule. Moore’s Law may not apply to chips anymore, but thanks to improving interconnects, evolving architecture, and ingenious software to exploit massively parallel processing, elite computing continues along an exponential trajectory.

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