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Monthly Archives: March 2014

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Want a Cheap 2,000x Microscope? Just Fold This $0.50 Piece of Paper

Stanford University physicist Manu Prakash has garnered attention for a microscope made of paper and assembled by folding in the origami style. Each device costs 50 cents and weighs less than 9 grams, even with a battery and LED light source built in.

Patient’s Cranium Replaced With Custom 3D Printed Implant

Three months ago, a 22-year-old woman, suffering from a rare bone ailment, underwent brain surgery in Holland. Her skull, which had grown some three times thicker than average, was putting pressure on her brain,...

Contact Lenses with Infrared Vision? Ultra-thin Graphene Opens Up The Possibilities

Researchers at the University of Michigan, led by electrical engineer Zhaohui Zhong, have devised a way to capture the infrared spectrum that is no longer dependent on the cooling that makes infrared goggles so cumbersome. The method uses the nanomaterial graphene and works on a device smaller than a pinky nail.
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Singularity Surplus: Put on Your Electric Thinking Cap!

Brain stimulation leads to faster learning; TED marks 30th anniversary with giant digital art display; flying wind turbine poised for test run in Alaska.

Future Wearable Devices Need Flexible Antennas, Like This One Made of Silver Nanowires

It's difficult to make a flexible antenna to power a wearable computer because they have to transmit at a fixed bandwidth. But North Carolina State engineers Yong Zhu and Jacob Adams recently managed to build such an antenna using silver nanowires set in a flexible polymer.

Facebook’s Oculus Acquisition Disheartens Some, But Won’t End Virtual Reality Rebound

Palmer Luckey, inventor of the virtual reality headset Oculus Rift, was literally hacking VR goggles in his garage 18 months ago. Now, he’s a billionaire. A little over a month after paying $19 billion...

Watch how robots and drones are transforming wildlife documentaries

Will Burrard-Lucas is a wildlife photographer. Sometimes that means documenting dangerous animals, and of course, to do this, he needs a good zoom lens and a low profile perch. But it’s not ideal. He’d...

U.S. Navy Explores Beaming Solar Power From Space

The Naval Research Laboratory has built a solar module capable of capturing and transmitting solar power from space, where it's never cloudy.

More News Is Being Written By Robots Than You Think

It’s easy to praise robots and automation when it isn’t your ass on the line. I’ve done it lots. But I may have to eat my own Cheerios soon enough. Software is writing news stories...

Lego Robot Smashes Its Own Rubik’s Cube Record, 40% Faster in 3 Years

A Lego robot just crushed the Rubik’s cube speed world record. David Gilday and Mike Dobson’s Cubestormer 3, posted a mark of 3.253 seconds at the UK’s Big Bang Fair—over two seconds faster than...

Genetically Engineered T Cells Used as a Weapon Against HIV/AIDS

U. Penn researchers have published promising results from what they claim is the first clinical trial of a genetic approach to fighting HIV/AIDS. Doctors removed HIV-positive patients’ T cells and genetically modified a portion of them to include a rare HIV-resistant genetic mutation before reintroducing the cells.

Singularity Surplus: Other News in Exponential Sci/Tech From the Week

Potential treatment for deadly brain cancer; climate change shrinks crops; banking your own stem cells just in case.

Nerve-Stimulating Headband Gets FDA Nod for Treatment of Migraine Headaches

The FDA recently approved an external device that uses nerve stimulation to decrease the frequency of debilitating migraine headaches. The Cefaly headband, which connects to a stick-on electrode to stimulate the endings of the trigeminal nerve, is the first non-pharmaceutical migraine treatment to get the agency’s okay.

Beyond the SmartWatch — Startups Push Body Monitoring Wearables

It’s easy to be a skeptic in Silicon Valley. The probability a hot startup will be passé within a year or two is much higher than the probability it’ll be the next Apple, Facebook,...

Can Buffett’s $1B Bracket Gamble or Nate Silver’s Statistical Tricks Tame March Madness?

It’s late March, and the NCAA college basketball tournament is underway. Each year, millions print brackets of the 64 teams and pencil in their picks. And each year, many a bracket is fit for...

Robotic Fish Swims as Deftly as the Real Thing

MIT's Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory has made a significant step in achieving both safety and agility in the same device with a soft robot fish, made of soft silicone, that can perform sophisticated, agile movements and is safe for operation near humans.

Can a Prosthetic Arm Turn a Drummer’s Disability Into a Superability?

It was the summer of 1987. I, in my hypercolor t-shirt, nibbled astronaut ice cream to an endless parade of MTV hair bands dispensing bar-closing mainstays like “Livin’ On a Prayer,” “Here I Go...

Driverless Cars, Meet Captainless Ships: Autonomous Vehicles To Take To The Sea

If artificial intelligence is sophisticated enough to handle a car on a Bay Area freeway, surely it can pilot a ship safely from port to port. That’s the premise of a European Union-funded project called MUNIN tasked with designing largely automated cargo ships by the beginning of 2015.

Patient’s Face Reconstructed Using 3D-Printed Parts

Stephen Power, a 29-year-old Welsh man who was badly injured in a 2012 motorcycle crash, underwent major reconstructive surgery on his face and now wears custom-made 3D-printed structural implants that were devised and installed using 3D-printed models of his facial bones.

As Robots Evolve the Workforce, Will Labor Laws Keep Pace?

Humans aren’t just being replaced by robots, particularly as job descriptions adapt to new divisions of labor: A growing number will find themselves working alongside the droids. The situation raises some thorny legal issues.

Backing Up the World’s Food Supply with 800,000 Plant Species on Ice

In March 2008, on a remote Norwegian island in the Arctic circle the Svalbard Global Seed Vault, or “doomsday vault,” took its first deposits. The vault’s builders had spent the prior year blasting a tunnel and three chambers into the mountainside’s permafrost. To be stored within each chamber? Treasure. The doomsday vault was constructed to store the world’s agriculture heritage in deep freeze, should the worst happen. Six years on, and following a recent deposit of 20,000 species, the vault now houses over 800,000 plant species, and with an average 500 seeds per sample, some 400 million seeds.

Will Sensor-Packed Body Armor Launch a New Blood(less) Sport?

Chiron Global’s martial arts armor has been described as Iron Man-like, but we’d call it a cross between the Dark Knight and Darth Vader. But hey, splitting hairs. You get the point. Technology, superheroes, ninjas—dark forces shrouded in mystery.

Tiny Ultrasonic Device to Travel Arteries and Image Coronary Blockages

There’s a rule of thumb in surgery—the less invasive the procedure, the better. Less invasive surgeries reduce patient discomfort, foster faster recoveries, and limit the risk of infection. Problem is, you have to get...

Virtual Arm Eases Amputee’s Phantom Limb Pain

Swedish researchers created an augmented reality system in which myoelectric electrodes on an amputee patient's stump indicated his attempted muscle movements for the missing arm, and an arm image on screen reflected those movements back to him. The patient reported that his chronic phantom limb pain diminished dramatically.

Sharing Photos Online? Companies Are Tracking What You Wear and How You Feel

Ditto, a Boston-based social analytics company, is using emerging computer vision technologies to give corporations insight into what users are saying about them in photos shared online.

Can Graphene Oxide Filters Unlock Our Most Abundant Water Source?

Figuring out how to cheaply, efficiently remove salt from Earth’s ocean water would provide an nearly inexhaustible source of our most precious resource, and wouldn’t you know it? Graphene may present a solution to the problem.

Superstrong Artificial Muscles Developed From Fishing Line and Sewing Thread

We tend to dream of a future enabled by miraculous materials—nanoscale honeycomb lattices of strong, ultralight superconducting metals. Carbon nanotubes and graphene come to mind. Fishing line and sewing thread? Not so much. But recent research out of XX shows how miraculous outcomes can be firmly rooted in even the most mundane materials. By twisting fishing line and thread like a rubber band and selectively passing an electric current through it, they were able to produce artificial muscle 100 times stronger than human muscle.

Controversy Brews Over Role Of ‘Killer Robots’ In Theater of War

As the science advances, it’s becoming increasingly possible to dispatch robots into war zones alongside or instead of human soldiers. Several military powers, including the United States, the United Kingdom, Israel and China, are already using partially autonomous weapons in combat and are almost certainly pursuing other advances in private, according to experts.

100% Renewable Energy Is Feasible and Affordable, According to Stanford Proposal

Stanford University researchers led by civil engineer Mark Jacobson has drawn up detailed plans for each state in the union that show how the United States could move to 100 percent wind, water and solar power by 2050 using only technology that’s already available.

Cheap Devices, Like Mozilla’s $25 Smartphone, to Bring More of Developing World Online

More than ever, the Internet is connecting people to information—if you live in the developed world. According to a recent Pew survey, however, most people in many developing countries are still offline. Broadening Internet access isn’t about building more infrastructure or selling laptops, however. Just as developing countries leapfrogged landlines with cellphones, they'll tap the Internet on mobile connections and affordable smartphones.

In Depth With Jason Silva: Brain Games, Trance States, and The Abomination of Death

It’d been awhile, so we contacted Jason Silva to find out what gets him up in the morning these days. Though he’s added a mainstream audience, Silva seems eager as ever to chase the “adjacent possible” and leap over it into even dreamier domains. To learn why, among other things, he’s slightly disappointed Google Glass isn’t Scarlett Johansson, why privacy is malleable and mostly overrated, and how femto-scale computing at black hole densities accounts for the eery silence of the universe—read on.

Scientists Control Tiny Mechanical Probes Inside Human Cells

In what they claim is a first, researchers have navigated nanomotors inside living human cells in the lab. The motors — made from gold and ruthenium and ostensibly safe for use inside the body — derive power from ultrasound waves as the sound scatters off the ends of the rod-shaped devices. The ultrasound source can be turned down to pause the motors, and magnetism crudely controls their direction.

Self-Driving Cars Proposed as Solution to U.S. Highway Woes, Saving Money and Lives

Traffic congestion costs the U.S. economy $100 billion a year, according to Winston's research. Roughly 30,000 people die every year in car accidents, and many more are injured. Could self-driving cars bring those numbers down?

Expanded Google Fiber to Bring 10 Gigabit Internet in Coming Years

Google is on a mission to update the web's wiring—and they're not talking a decade or more to do it. The firm's CFO, Patrick Pichette, recently said his firm is working to boost internet speeds a thousand fold in the next three years. "That's where the world is going. It's going to happen." The project is called Google Fiber and, though it's in just three cities so far, an additional 34 cities in nine metro areas may be approved for Fiber by yearend.

From Scans, Doctors 3D Print Custom Heart Wraps to Deliver Treatments

Researchers used MRI and CT scans of rabbit and human hearts to 3D-print custom fitting flexible mesh sacs that fitted each heart perfectly and stayed in place as it beat. The mesh holds sensors and electrodes precisely in place and could deliver drug therapies.

Inside the Future of Healthcare With Singularity University’s Daniel Kraft

The benefits of modern medicine are clear. Lower infant mortality; longer life expectancy; a range of once killer diseases all but eradicated—fewer leeches. But challenges? Yes, there are still plenty of those too. In a recent conversation, Dr. Daniel Kraft, Medicine and Neuroscience Chair at Singularity University, told Singularity Hub that the US spends some 18% of gross domestic product on healthcare and yet, according to a 2013 report, ranks 17th on a list of 17 developed countries by outcome.

Google Adds Kinect-Like 3D Sensing to New Prototype Smartphones

How does a search firm keep its brand fresh and relevant? Not by talking about search. Google’s mastered the art of baiting the hook with exciting moonshot projects, and whether they pan out or...

Fleet of Toaster-Sized Satellites Will Orbit Earth, Provide Near Real-Time Monitoring

In early January, Planet Labs sent 28 satellites to the international space station; earlier this month, NASA began deploying them into orbit. Sixteen of the toaster-sized satellites are already sending photos back to Earth, and the company hopes the fleet will revolutionize satellite imaging.

Squarepusher Explores ‘Emotional Machine Music’ With 78-Fingered Robot Guitarist

Worried about the impending robot takeover? Maybe you should be. Once confined to specific tasks, automatons are now capable of activities we tend to think reserved for human beings. Case in point? This music video performed...

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