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Cameron Scott

Cameron Scott

Cameron received degrees in Comparative Literature from Princeton and Cornell universities. He has worked at Mother Jones, SFGate and IDG News Service and been published in California Lawyer and SF Weekly. He lives, predictably, in SF.

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Raspberry Pi Keeps Wowing Us Even Two Years After Launch

With the Raspberry Pi, a programmable credit card-sized computer, British computer scientists sought to rekindle garage innovation. What would young students do with the power of computing if they could buy a computer for just $35 and access all of its parts?

Network of 75 Million Neurons of the Mouse Brain Mapped for the First Time

A new atlas of study results related to the mouse connectome offers the equivalent of a highway map, with local roads to be filled in later. The atlas, described in a recent paper in Nature, represents more than four years of work undertaken at the Allen Institute for Brain Science. It’s the most detailed information we have on the brain of any animal other than that of the roundworm C. elegans, which has just 302 neurons.

Clean Energy Growth Stalls With Loss of Incentives

In 2013, the addition of renewable capacity slowed slightly compared to the previous year as a result of shrinking governmental incentives and investment, according to a new report from The Pew Chartiable Trusts. While the survey found that renewable energy still relies on public incentives, it also suggested that at least parts of the industry are not as dependent as they once were on such incentives, thanks to falling prices.

Singularity Surplus: Counting Coup and Calories

Military uses drones as mobile hotspots; sponge injection helps heal gunshot wounds; calorie-counting device questioned; robotic surgeon designed to operate in space.

New App Offers Chat Without an Internet Connection

A San Francisco startup called Open Garden has a use for mesh networking that has drummed up excitement: a chat app that works even when there's no phone or internet service available.

Air Pollution Killed 7 Million in 2012, According to WHO

Air pollution claimed 7 million lives in 2012, according to a report just released by the World Health Organization, with the vast majority of deaths occurring in low- and middle-income countries. One out of every eight premature deaths in 2012 was attributable to air pollution, the numbers reveal — a rate double that reported in previous years due to more accurate measures of pollution in both outdoor and indoor environments and in a broader range of rural areas.

Singularity Surplus: Smile, You’re on Candid Camera!

Computers' EQ rises; lab-grown muscles get stronger; Texas goes big in wind power; and researchers create real-time video game interface of the human brain.

Fruits and Vegetables Do More to Reduce Cancer and Extend Life Than Many Prescription Drugs

Those who eat seven or more servings of fruits and vegetables a day cut their risk of death at any age by more than half, compared to those who don’t get a full serving of the foods. The study was able to document the death-defying benefit of each additional daily portion of fruits and vegetables.

Why Farmers Are Connecting Their Cows to the Internet

A Wi-Fi-connected collar called Silent Herdsman monitors cows' movements to determine, with the help of artificial intelligence software, when they are in heat. It may sound absurd, but the name of the game in milk production is impregnating cows as soon as possible after they’ve had their last calf.

Facebook Will Expand Global Internet Access And Reach With Drones and Satellites

Echoing Google's Project Loon, Facebook is now looking to connect those would-be users. Facebook will use drones, along with satellites and the emerging free-space optical communications protocol, to connect the unconnected.

Robotic Telescope Searches Full-time for Habitable Planets

The first robotic telescope has shown early success scouring the universe for planets likely to support life.

Will Virus Particles Meet Their End In These Tiny Death Traps?

Nanotechnology is gradually turning its hypothetical promise into real applications. Some see nanotech-based medicines as an entirely new set of tools in a doctor’s medical bag. Among commercial companies, Vecoy Nanomedicines is most bullish on the promise of nanotechnology to combat viruses.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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?

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.

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.

Netflix Utilizing Amazon Cloud To Support Its Next-Gen AI For Recommendations

Netflix has tried a number of different ways to improve its recommendations, and it recently announced that it is increasingly using artificial intelligence to do so. But Netflix isn’t buying all the computing power to build an artificial intelligence system for itself. Instead, Netflix will host its efforts right on competitor Amazon’s cloud.

U.S. Border Patrol Sends Robots To Combat Drug Smuggling

Beginning in 2012, the U.S. Border Patrol has turned to robots to help it find and search the tunnels smugglers use to get drugs into the United States from Mexico.

Stem Cells Repair, Strengthen Muscles in Aged Mice

Stanford’s Helen Blau, director of the Baxter Laboratory for Stem Cell Biology, studies a banal, but also ubiquitous, use of stem cells in the body: helping muscles repair themselves. The lab's most recent findings suggest that stem cell therapy could be used to help older patients recover from muscular injuries, for example from falls, or perhaps even weakness following surgery.

IBM Markets Watson as Potential Solution to Africa’s Health and Education Woes

IBM recently announced that it will invest in a research program in Africa to improve water and sanitation, agriculture, healthcare and education on the continent using its artificial intelligence platform, Watson.

Pioneering Cell Therapy Achieves Complete Remission In Patients With End-Stage Leukemia

With a test group of 16 of the most dire cases of adult B-cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia, or B-ALL, a cell therapy approach that boosts the patient's own immune system managed to guide nearly 90 percent into complete remission.

Termite-Inspired Robots Erect Buildings Based on a Picture

A system of robots built by researchers at the Harvard School of Engineering and Applied Sciences and the Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering demonstrates that robots can build human-scale buildings working independently with a set of simple rules.

Connecticut Car Crash Highlights Challenges in Regulating Civilian Drones

A fatal car crash in Hartford, Connecticut, would have been little more than a blip on local news programs but for one thing: The police spotted a drone flying around the accident. With the FAA actively trying to determine how to regulate the civilian use of drones, everything about the accident then became news. But, as an indication of how little the public understands the issues related to drones, news reports got most of it wrong.

X-Ray App Assists Doctors In Diagnosing Rare Conditions

The Irish company Experior Medical aims to make doctors better readers of diagnostic X-ray films by giving them real-world practice on the go on their iPads.

Google Partnering With Foxconn to Test Industrial Robots

Perhaps in hindsight we all should have seen Google’s turn to robotics coming when, under Andy Rubin, the company dubbed its mobile operating system Android. With Rubin now in charge of Google’s still mostly...

Tiny Injected Sponges Stop Bleeding From Gunshot Wounds in 15 Seconds

With a former Army medic as one of its founders, RevMedX’s mission is to stop bleeding faster so that those who suffer traumatic injuries like gunshot wounds have a better chance of survival. The company’s high-tech solution to this brutal problem is the sponge.

Latest Tool to Fight Cancer Is a Crowdsourcing ‘Asteroids’-Like Mobile Game

Cancer Research UK is asking humans to sort through its data to mark genetic areas that have extra copies of a particular chromosome because, it says, humans can see the disparities better than computers. And they're doing it with a mobile game.

Wristband Lets Users Unlock Bitcoin Wallets With Heartbeats

The Nymi wristband that taps the user’s heartbeat as a biometric marker has said that it will also double as a bitcoin wallet. Is it revolutionary or just a digital twist on cash in pocket wallets?

Prosthetic Hand Wires In Patient’s Nerves For Sensations Of Touch

Dennis Sørensen underwent a month-long clinical trial of a computerized prosthetic hand that established a two-way exchange of information between his brain and sensors in the artificial hand that allowed him to feel for the first time in a decade.

Wirelessly Charging All-Electric Transit Buses Grow Their Numbers in Europe

In Milton Keynes, 75 miles north of London, the UK is launching its first all-electric buses. The years-long pilot program consists of eight buses traveling a 15-mile route between the suburbs of Wolverton and...
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Color-Coded 3D Brain Map Comes to Life in Video

The Harvard SEAS Connectome Group is building a color-coded three-dimensional map from scans of paper-thin slices of a mouse brain, and the map comes to life in a recent National Geographic video.

U.S. Agencies Take Significant Step Toward Wirelessly Connecting Vehicles To One Another

Even cars that retain their human drivers despite growing numbers of self-driving vehicles will gain automated safe-driving features in the United States, according to an announcement this week that U.S. federal agencies will encourage vehicle-to-vehicle, or V2V, communication technology for passenger vehicles. The proposal relates to a kind of internet in which the connected computers are cars and trucks sharing data about speed, position and nearby traffic signals ten times a second in order to reduce accidents.

A Simple Test Tells Seniors If Their Memory Is Waning

Douglas Scharre, an Ohio State University neurologist, has developed a cognitive test that’s cheap and easy and can be administered to large groups of people at once. Particularly since as many as 4 in 10 cases of dementia stem from issues other than Alzheimer’s disease, some eminently treatable, the elderly stand to gain quite a bit from getting regular cognitive check-ups. But, for the most part, they don’t.

Simple Method for Creating Stem Cells Promises Cheaper, Faster Therapies

New research has found a way to develop the malleable stem cells using a much simpler method than the one that earned the 2012 Nobel Prize. In a paper published in Nature, researchers from Harvard University and Japan’s RIKEN Center show that by simply giving an adult cell an acid bath, they can convert it into a stem cell.

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