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Monthly Archives: September 2013

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A Long-Lived Rodent Offers Hints to the Causes of Aging

The secret to a long life could lie with the naked mole-rat. This admittedly unsightly rodent is about the size of a mouse but lives about 10 times as long. Vera Gorbunova, a biologist at the University of Rochester, wants to know why. In her lab’s most recent study on this unlikely animal, published September 30 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Gorbunova and her colleagues show that naked mole-rat cells made just one-tenth the protein-synthesis errors of mouse cells. (Other studies put humans on a par with mice.) The accuracy may stem from an extra strand of RNA that makes their ribosomes different from those of most mammals.

Peachy Printer Kickstarter Promises $100 3D Printer and Scanner – Can They Do It?

3D printers tend to blow up on Kickstarter. And one of the latest, the Peachy Printer, is no exception. The project's raised almost C$500,000, about ten times its original goal. Peachy is an innovative approach to 3D printing being offered for as little as C$100. But there are yet many unmet challenges to be navigated before its June 2014 delivery date.

Google Joins Top Universities in Quest to Fulfill Potential of Online Education

With online education, you don't have to go to MIT to learn from one of their top professors. You don't have to spend six figures or four years to get knowledge applicable to the career of your choosing. Education can continue all your life, if you like. Eventually online ed may even facilitate career adaptation in a more rapidly changing economic environment. Online education is full of potential. But today, it's still an experiment, and as anyone who's taken a course will tell you, the experience isn't perfect.

Space Panel at the 2013 Graduate Studies Program

Recorded during the 2013 Graduate Studies Program, a panel discussion about the future of space exploration and the role of government and commercial interests in the return to space. The participants include: Dan Barry -...

FDA Approves Artificial Pancreas You Can Wear

The Food and Drug Administration recently issued its first-ever approval of an artificial pancreas that may make life easier and healthier for such patients. The device, made by Minneapolis-based Medtronics, relies on a computer algorithm to sync the results of a continuous reading of the wearer’s glucose levels and with a pump that provides appropriate amounts of insulin.

Tim Maupin’s Film, ‘The Last Generation to Die,’ to Explore Longevity and Life Extension

The May issue of National Geographic boldy states, “This Baby Will Live to Be 120 (and It’s Not Just Hype)”; Pew Research published a poll on radical life extension in August; Google funded a new company, Calico, to tackle aging in September. Independent of all these developments, Chicago filmmaker, Tim Maupin, launched a Kickstarter for a short film titled, “The Last Generation to Die.” Maupin, thinks now is a great time to start a conversation about life extension. And he’s right. The idea that within decades a genetic fountain of youth may plausibly reverse the aging process, even indefinitely stave off death, is rising up in pop culture.

Life Expectancy Gains Are Slowing, Especially in the U.S.

Modern medicine has undeniably extended the lives of people around the world, but, recently, a few data points have begun to muddle the clean upward trends. Gains in life expectancy have begun to slow, particularly in the United States.

Stem Cell Breakthrough in Mice Points Toward a Way to Repair Tissue in Humans

Some Spanish researchers were the first to turn mature cells into stem cells inside the body itself. They prompted the cells of adult mice to regain the ability to develop into any type of specialized cell, which is normally only briefly present during embryonic development. The results were published in September in the journal Nature.

Nearly Half of U.S. Jobs Could Be Done by Computers, Study Says

A recent study out of Oxford University found that almost half of U.S. jobs are vulnerable to being taken over by computers as artificial intelligence continues to improve. The study, based on 702 detailed job listings, found that computers could already replace many workers in transportation and logistics, production labor and administrative support. But computers are also increasingly qualified to perform "non-routine cognitive tasks."

Global Grand Challenge Framing — 2013 Graduate Studies Program

This video filmed during the 2013 Graduate Studies Program presents Singularity University's efforts in tackling eight initiates dubbed Global Grand Challenges. A variety of speakers present the current state of each area offering insights...

3D iPad Scanner by Occipital Digitizes the World for 3D Printing and Augmented Reality

Three days into its Kickstarter, app developer Occipital had raised just under $600,000, or roughly six times its $100,000 goal—which was met in the first three hours. What’s got early adopters and developers so excited? A 3D scanner called Structure that attaches to and runs on an iPad.

Intel Unveils Tiny, Low-Power Quark Chip For Internet of Things

Intel recently announced their newest line of chips, dubbed Quark, are a fifth the size and consume a tenth the power of Atom, their smallest low-power chip to date. Quark marks a shift, a few years in the making, from Intel’s traditional focus on powerful, fast processors for PCs. In fact, the chipline aims beyond even mobile. According to Intel CEO, Brian Krzanich, "Smartphones and tablets are not the end-state. The next wave of computing is still being defined. Wearable computers and sophisticated sensors and robotics are only some of the initial applications."

Google To Fight Aging With New Health Startup Calico – Experts Weigh In

Google made a big press splash when it announced the launch of a life sciences spinoff company, Calico. But what exactly will the company do? The breadcrumbs point to a data-driven approach to improving healthy life expectancy by attacking common diseases.

Seabreacher X Is Both Submersible and Rocket Boat

Innespace’s Seabreacher series is biomimetic. Sort of. These special watercraft behave like a rocket-powered shark or killer whale might. And in case you wonder what inspired its inventors, they erase all doubt with the paint job. Yes, that's a shark. Seabreacher may not positively affect the lives of billions worldwide, but it might positively affect your day to watch this video.

NSA Leaks Could Spur Security Renaissance

Most tech players are now engaged in a race to distance themselves from the NSA by safeguarding user data. Such efforts, if they reach fruition, will help users, who have ever-expanding parts of their lives in digital format stored with a handful of tech companies. But they shouldn't be mistaken for altruism.

Summit Europe, Singularity University’s First Public Event, Coming November 15-16 To Budapest

In just a few months, Summit Europe — the first European conference hosted by Singularity University — will take place in Budapest, Hungary on November 15-16, 2013. This special two-day program will play host...

Elon Musk’s Tesla Motors to Introduce Self-Driving Cars in Three Years

Elon Musk and his companies have been a PR treasure trove of late. SpaceX continues to make strides in reusable rocket tech with its Grasshopper rocket. Musk showed off an Iron Man 3D design interface his engineers are building. Then of course, there’s his hypothethical 700+ mph Hyperloop from SF to LA. And now, he’s pushing the envelope again. This time it’s self driving cars—a hot topic any way you slice it. Big automakers are stumbling over each other to forecast and commit to bold timelines. First, it was BMW's prediction we’d have partially autonomous cars by 2020 and the fully automated variety by 2025. More recently, Nissan upped the ante with their prediction of fully self-driving autos by 2020.

Open Glass Overlays Digital Information on the Real World With Google Glass

Google Glass is augmented reality—and then again, it isn’t. At least, not yet. True augmented reality would take in your view and attach applicable information to any object you like, maybe the name of the person you’re currently talking to and a few key points from their Facebook bio. Or the prices of those delicious pastries you’re perusing at the local café. Think Terminator or Tony Stark's Iron Man suit.

Is The Developed World So Hygienically Clean That It’s Making Us Sick?

Few would argue the overall health benefits of living in the industrialized world. But does it also bring threats to health that aren’t present in countries that have stuck to their agrarian traditions? A recent Cambridge University study suggested that, paradoxically, improved sanitation in developed countries may leave residents more exposed to Alzheimer’s disease. The study is apparently the first to link Alzheimer’s disease to an increasingly accepted theory called the hygiene hypothesis.

Scientists Struggle to Provide Better Data on Fish Populations

Even as climate change has made it more important for us to monitor the health of marine ecosystems, the science of tracking and counting fish remains relatively rudimentary and haphazard. A recent study from the University of Mānoa proposes a method to expand what is known about fish populations and migrations within the limits of current underwater tracking technology.

Amazon’s New Home Automation Storefront Offers Smart Locks, Light Bulbs, and Thermostats

Amazon’s latest dedicated storefront channels a well-worn idea—the fully automated home! The idea, common in 20th century visions of the future from the World’s Fair to the Jetsons, is at the same time futuristic and quaint. Something that’s always seemed right around the corner and never been fully realized.

Larry Brilliant — Fireside Chat At The Night Of Impact

Larry Brilliant, CEO of the Skoll Global Treats Fund and former Google VP and Executive Director of, chatted with Peter Diamandis is a fireside-like discussion in which they assessed the state of the world,...

200,000 Apply to Mars One to Live Out Their Lives on the Red Planet

Mars One wants to send permanent settlers to Mars by 2023. To make the trip’s cost and logistics more realistic, said settlers won’t get a return ticket. But returning home seems a minor detail for many. From late April through the end of August, the organization took in 202,586 applications from aspiring astronauts across the globe.

3D Printing Delivers Functional Prosthetic Hands at a DIY Price

Dylan Laas, 12, says Robohand makes him look like Darth Vader. For $150, the 3-D printed Robohand also lets Dylan, who is missing the fingers on one hand as a result of Amniotic Band Syndrome, grab things with bendable fingers, which most prosthetic hands don’t.

iPhone 5S Will Be a Trial Balloon for Biometric Log-in Systems

Apple is giving biometrics a huge bump as a result of its latest iPhone, the 5S, which goes on sale September 20. The model employs fingerprint identification as the way users unlock their devices. If users like it, they may be more open to other biometric identification systems. But the reverse is also true.

Can Bacteria Fight Obesity? Gut Bacteria From Thin Humans Can Make Obese Mice Slim

Why are some people fat? It’s not just a question that fat people ask themselves, but also one that drives much medical research because obesity increases the risk of serious illnesses, including heart disease and diabetes. The proposed causes of obesity range from diet plain and simple to hormonal conditions to genetics. A study recently published in Science adds to that list gut bacteria.

Paul Allen Hires AI Luminary, Oren Etzioni, to Head New Artificial Intelligence Institute

Microsoft cofounder, Paul Allen, has lured long-time AI academic Oren Etzioni from his 22-year University of Washington post to head a new project called the Allen Institute for Artificial Intelligence or AI2.

Bitcoin’s Big Year Attracts Regulators in the US, Sparks IPOs in China

If you hadn’t heard of Bitcoin before this year, chances are you have now. Launched in 2009, Bitcoin is a virtual currency, traded incognito for drugs, cars, houses…a pair of alpaca socks. The currency’s dollar exchange rate went meteoric this spring, jumping +1900% from January to April, before crashing -81% over the next six days.*

Israeli Researchers Debut Software That Extracts 3-D Objects From Photos

When editing digital images, algorithms struggle to differentiate one object from another, even when it seems obvious to the human eye. Some Israeli researchers have developed a workaround software that prompts the human user to do the identifying work, and then allows the computer to do what it’s good at: turning the object into data that can be manipulated.

Robots Are So Hot, Even Robotic Cockroaches Sell Like Hotcakes

The hottest holiday gift this year for children of tech geeks will be the Dash. That’s right, all across Silicon Valley, little Jacks and Jills will be diving into their Christmas stockings or Hanukkah gifts to find robotic cockroaches. If geek world isn’t your world, perhaps this requires some explanation.

Despite Faster Care, Heart Attack Mortality Rates Remain Steady

Heart disease is the most common cause of death in the world, accounting single-handedly for one in eight deaths. It has proved a difficult incumbent to unseat, and a new a study just published in the New England Journal of Medicine shows just how difficult. It turns out that faster treatment times have not budged the mortality rates among patients who present with heart attacks.

Robot Car Wars: Nissan Jumps Into the Fray With Driverless Car by 2020

A few months ago BMW predicted cars would be highly automated by 2020 and driverless by 2025. Pretty cool, but perhaps a touch conservative. Nissan recently upped the bar. At a press event in California, Executive Vice President, Andy Palmer, said Nissan will bring “multiple affordable, energy efficient, fully autonomous-driving vehicles to the market by 2020.”

GSP 101 — Introduction To Exponentials

Singularity University produced a series of “101″ videos for the Graduate Studies Program to help acclimate the participants of the 2013 class to the emergent technologies that are shaping the world today. In this video,...

Branson: Virgin Galactic On Schedule To Put Tourists In Space Next Year

Virgin Galactic’s Spaceship Enterprise successfully fired its rockets for a second time this week. The spacecraft was released at 46,000 feet by its WhiteKnightTwo mothership, where the craft commenced a 20-second burn, reaching 69,000 feet and a speed of mach 1.43. After the burn, Enterprise folded its wing and tail sections upward into a “feathered” position to slow its rate of descent smoothly, like a “shuttlecock.” It was the fastest and highest test yet. But more importantly, the spacecraft successfully executed all phases of flight together for the first time.

Musk Tests Oculus Rift, Leap Motion Controller to Design 3D Printed Rocket Parts

It’s been said Iron Man’s Tony Stark (the movie version) was modeled after Elon Musk. Apparently, the admiration's mutual. Musk is now modeling his space exploration firm, SpaceX, after Iron Man. Or Minority Report. Or name the sci-fi film or show with gesture-based 3D computer systems. (There are more.)

Will Peek’s Mobile Eye Exam System Take a Bite Out of Developing World Blindness?

Mobile computing and miniaturized sensors are threatening to transform medicine. Peek, a mobile eye exam system, is a great example of the power of mobile. In tandem with a phone camera, flash, and external clip on device (?), Peek can perform simple vision tests, check for cataracts, and even scan the retina for disease.

Singularity University Soars Past 5th-Year Anniversary Milestone In Exponential Fashion

Singularity University, the Silicon Valley-based learning institution founded by Ray Kurzweil and Peter Diamandis, has reached its first major milestone: five years of cutting-edge programs that acclimate participants to the exponential changes in technology,...

Ring Could Log Users In to Houses, Phones and Website as Soon as Next Month

After Google researchers floated the idea of a USB stick or a ring that would generate login keys, it appeared the Web giant would lead the way in wearable access keys. But a UK project recently closed a $380,000 Kickstarter campaign, promising delivery of 61,000 password-bearing rings in September.

Sarah Murnaghan’s Two Double Lung Transplants Inspiring and Sobering

Sarah Murnaghan just turned eleven years old. She wouldn’t be here but for two lung donors, a crack team of surgeons, and a last-minute suspension of the rules.

Facebook Plans to Add Millions More Faces to Its Facial Recognition Database

Facebook is proposing to expand its use of facial recognition technology, which has been controversial since the company acquired in 2012. The Israeli startup’s app, which suggested whom a user might want to tag in photos, became an integral part of the social network.

The More Participants Used Facebook in a Michigan Study, the Worse They Felt

Social networking makes it easier than ever to compare yourself with others—but forget about vanity. It’s not uncommon to hear Facebookers complain many of their social contacts appear to be living vastly more interesting and fulfilling lives than they are. So, has social networking created a billion bitter Facebookers? A team of University of Michigan researchers decided to move past the anecdotal and apply the scientific method to this bit of common wisdom.

Harvest Automation Brings Affordable Robotics to Big Ag

Harvest Automation has built a robot to do something not especially difficult or sexy: move potted plants around in nurseries and greenhouses. It’s a task the company decided to tackle with its first robot, dubbed Harvey, not because humans can’t do it, but because they don’t.

GSP 101 — Introduction To Artificial intelligence

Singularity University produced a series of “101″ videos for the Graduate Studies Program to help acclimate the participants of the 2013 class to the emergent technologies that are shaping the world today. In this video,...

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