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Edd Gent

Edd Gent

I am a freelance science and technology writer based in Bangalore, India. My main areas of interest are engineering, computing and biology, with a particular focus on the intersections between the three.

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From This Author


This Breakthrough Just Got Us One Step Closer to a Quantum Internet

While quantum computing tends to garner all the headlines, quantum technology also has huge promise for the communication networks of the future. That’s why on top of the roughly $450 million the Trump administration...

The Company That Wants to Fling Rockets Into Space With a Giant Centrifuge

The rapidly falling cost of getting into orbit has spurred a boom in the space industry as a host of new applications become economical. Now a secretive startup plans to slash the cost to...

Could Photonic Chips Outpace the Fastest Supercomputers?

There's been a lot of talk about quantum computers being able to solve far more complex problems than conventional supercomputers. The authors of a new paper say they're on the path to showing an...

How Smart Roads Will Make Driving Easier, Safer, and Greener

Roads criss-cross the landscape, but while they provide vital transport links, in many ways they represent a huge amount of wasted space. Advances in "smart road" technology could change that, creating roads that can...

Precision Fermentation: What It Is, and How It Could Make Farming Obsolete

Concerns around the environmental impact of modern farming are causing us to reassess our relationship with food. But are claims that lab-grown food will replace agriculture in the coming decades realistic? British journalist and environmental...

IBM’s Plan to Design Solid-State Batteries Using Quantum Tech

Batteries are the key to decarbonizing both transport and the grid, but today’s technology is still a long way from living up to this promise. IBM seems to have decided its computing chops are...

How Scientists Squeezed a Particle Accelerator Onto a Tiny Silicon Chip

Particle accelerators have helped us unravel some of the universe’s biggest mysteries, but they're huge, expensive, and inaccessible to most researchers. A new particle accelerator on a chip could soon change that. The world’s biggest...

A New Anti-Aging Therapy Is Starting Its First Human Trial—and It Costs $1 Million

Recent research on longevity is making the idea of an elixir of life sound increasingly plausible. But a startup that's started selling a $1 million anti-aging treatment is most likely jumping the gun. Libella Gene...

First-Ever Artificial Neuron Could Let Us Repair Brain Injuries with Silicon

The merging of man and machine is a staple of sci-fi and at the heart of the philosophy of transhumanism. But interfacing our brains with computers has proven incredibly hard, despite the fact that...

Alphabet Is Developing a Robot to Take Over Boring Everyday Tasks

Robots excel at carrying out specialized tasks in controlled environments, but put them in your average office and they’d be lost. Alphabet wants to change that by developing what they call the Everyday Robot,...

Synthetic ‘Skin’ Is Bringing a Sense of Touch to Virtual Reality

Virtual reality’s ability to create artificial worlds has come a long way in recent years. Now new technology could make those worlds even more realistic by simulating one of the most crucial ways in...

Can You Hack Your Sleep in 28 Days?

Sleep has become the latest frontier in the life-hackers’ battle for self-improvement. But how easy is to to rewire how you spend a third of your life? I took a 28-day crash course to...

Where Should AI Ethics Come From? Not Medicine, New Study Says

As fears about AI’s disruptive potential have grown, AI ethics has come to the fore in recent years. Concerns around privacy, transparency and the ability of algorithms to warp social and political discourse in...

New Battery Lets Electric Cars Go 200 Miles on a 10-Minute Charge

Electric vehicles could decarbonize one of the most polluting sectors of our economy, but they're bedeviled by one major problem: range anxiety. A new battery design that can charge in just 10 minutes promises...

New Tech Is Helping Nuclear Power Make a Comeback

Nuclear power has a lot going for it. It’s carbon-free, can produce huge amounts of power from relatively small amounts of fuel, and once plants are built, they’re cheap to run. But containing the...

With These 4 Breakthroughs, We’ll Be Able to Write Whole Genomes From Scratch

The ability to read genomes has transformed our understanding of biology. Being able to write them would give us unprecedented control over the fabric of life.  Rapid advances in DNA sequencing and gene editing technology...

Investment in Quantum Computing Is Booming—But Will a Quantum Winter Follow?

Quantum computing is red hot right now, not least after Google's recent announcement that it had achieved quantum supremacy. An analysis by Nature shows the quantum hype is translating into a massive investment boost...

Russia Could Take the Lead on Human Gene Editing

There's broad consensus that genetically modifying humans isn't a good idea, at least not anytime in the near future. But it seems Russia has less qualms about the idea, which could leave it to...

AI Can Diagnose Like Doctors. But for Continued Progress, Research Standards Must Improve

Medicine is one of the hottest fields when it comes to applying AI to real-world problems, in particular using deep learning systems to detect disease in medical imagery. There have been promising early results,...

Is the US Doing Enough to Maintain Its Leadership in AI?

Governments around the world are pouring money into AI research and developing detailed AI strategies, but the US has been slow to follow suit. That’s leading some to question whether policy makers are doing...

MIT Future of Work Report: We Shouldn’t Worry About Quantity of Jobs, But Quality

Robots aren't going to take everyone's jobs, but technology has already reshaped the world of work in ways that are creating clear winners and losers. And it will continue to do so without intervention,...

How an AI Startup Designed a Drug Candidate in Just 46 Days

Discovering a new drug can take decades, billions of dollars, and untold man hours from some of the smartest people on the planet. Now a startup says it’s taken a significant step towards speeding...

Silicon Is Reaching Its Limits. Up Next: Carbon Nanotubes

Silicon has powered the information age, but it’s reaching its physical limits. Carbon nanotubes (CNTs) hold a lot of promise as a replacement if we can get around some key obstacles—and the designers of...

This Giant AI Chip Is the Size of an iPad and Holds 1.2 Trillion Transistors

People say size doesn’t matter, but when it comes to AI the makers of the largest computer chip ever beg to differ. There are plenty of question marks about the gargantuan processor, but its...

California Passed the Country’s First Law to Prevent Genetic Biohacking

Genetic engineering technologies are quickly becoming mature and cheap enough for people to start using them in their own homes. That’s got scientists and officials worried, and California has now passed the first bill...

How Cheap Must Batteries Get for Renewables to Compete With Fossil Fuels?

While solar and wind power are rapidly becoming cost-competitive with fossil fuels in areas with lots of sun and wind, they still can’t provide the 24/7 power we’ve become used to. At present, that’s...

Microsoft Invests $1 Billion in OpenAI’s Mission to Build Artificial General Intelligence

Since its inception in 2015, OpenAI has been chasing the lofty goal of developing artificial general intelligence (AGI) for the benefit of all. But it turns out that doesn’t come cheap, so now Microsoft...

The Poker-Playing AI That Beat the World’s Best Players

Poker is a powerful combination of strategy and intuition, something that’s made it the most iconic of card games and devilishly difficult for machines to master. Now an AI built by Facebook and Carnegie...

Alphabet Releases Its Master Plan for Toronto’s New Smart City

Ever dreamed of living in a giant experiment? If so, Toronto may be the city for you. Sidewalk Labs has released blueprints for its proposed waterfront smart city and, depending who you ask, it’s...

The LightSail-2 Mission Launched Last Week. It Could Shape the Future of Solar Spaceflight

Just like the early explorers harnessed the wind to sail around the world, scientists have long dreamed of using light to sail through the cosmos. Last week an ambitious trial of a technology called...

How Facebook’s New ‘Mirror World’ Will Help Train AI

The dream of a robot butler seems tantalizingly close, but first we need to teach them how to navigate our cluttered human environments. That’s why Facebook has created an ultra-realistic simulator to train AI...

CRISPR in Russia: The World’s Next Gene-Edited Babies May Not Be Far Away

When Chinese scientist He Jiankui announced he had edited the genomes of two babies last November, he sparked an international outcry. Many feared he had opened the floodgates to human genetic engineering. It seems...

What’s Behind the International Rush to Write an AI Rulebook?

There's no better way of ensuring you win a race than by setting the rules yourself. That may be behind the recent rush by countries, international organizations, and companies to put forward their visions...

These $10 Sensor-Packed Gloves Could Give Robots a Sense of Touch

Machines are mastering vision and language, but one sense they're lagging behind on is touch. Now researchers have created a sensor-laden glove for just $10 and recorded the most comprehensive tactile dataset to date,...

Wood Gets a Makeover to Provide Energy-Free Air Conditioning

Powering buildings costs America $430 billion a year and accounts for 40 percent of total energy use. Almost half of that is used for heating and cooling. Now scientists have given our oldest building...

Teaching AI the Concept of ‘Similar, but Different’

As a human you instinctively know that a leopard is closer to a cat than a motorbike, but the way we train most AI makes them oblivious to these kinds of relations. Building the...

Could Artificial Photosynthesis Help Tackle the Climate Crisis?

Plants are the planet’s lungs, but they’re struggling to keep up due to rising CO2 emissions and deforestation. Engineers are giving them a helping hand, though, by augmenting their capacity with new technology and...

New Progress in the Biggest Challenge With 3D Printed Organs

We're tantalizingly close to growing organs in the lab, but the biggest remaining challenge has been creating the fine networks of blood vessels required to keep them alive. Now researchers have shown that a...

Scientists Created a ‘Neural Decoder’ That Translates Brain Activity Into Speech

The idea of a mind-reading machine might freak a lot of people out, but a new device that can transform brain activity into speech could be the first step towards a lifeline for patients...

Electric Cars Are Estimated to Be Cheaper Than Regular Cars by 2022

Electric cars have developed a reputation as the ultimate status symbol of the champagne environmentalist, but that could be very close to changing. New research from BloombergNEF says they could be cheaper than combustion-engine...

Where Should We Draw the Line Between Rejecting and Embracing Black Box AI?

Deep learning is powering some amazing new capabilities, but we find it hard to scrutinize the workings of these algorithms. Lack of interpretability in AI is a common concern and many are trying to...

The Private Space Industry Is Breaking Out of Earth’s Orbit

Hopes for the first ever privately-funded moon landing were dashed last Thursday after the Israeli spacecraft Beresheet crashed on its final descent. But despite the disappointment, the episode signals the start of a new...

Watch These Robots Do Tasks You Thought Were Simple (But for Them Are Pretty Hard)

Robots have been masters of manufacturing at speed and precision for decades, but give them a seemingly simple task like stacking shelves, and they quickly get stuck. That's changing, though, as engineers build systems...

Microsoft Is Building an All-In-One DNA Data Storage Device

The modern world is facing a tsunami of data. DNA is emerging as an ultra-compact way of storing it all, and now researchers supported by Microsoft have created the first system that can automatically...

Intel Is Building the World’s Most Powerful Supercomputer

A supercomputer capable of a quintillion operations a second will go online in 2021 after the US government handed Intel and supercomputer manufacturer Cray a contract to build an exascale computer called Aurora. This...

Like Animals, AI Is Learning From Experience

Trial and error is one of the most fundamental learning strategies employed by animals, and we’re increasingly using it to teach intelligent machines too. Boosting the flow of ideas between biologists and computer scientists...

IBM Introduces ‘Quantum Volume’ to Track Progress Towards the Quantum Age

Quantum computing companies are racing to squeeze ever more qubits into their devices, but is this really a solid sign of progress? IBM is proposing a more holistic measure it calls “quantum volume” (QV)...

How Engineered Nanoparticles Gave Mice Infrared Vision

Efforts to use technology to enhance humans’ natural capabilities are moving out of the scientific fringes. A recent study on mice suggests it may eventually be possible to imbue people with infrared vision by...

Scientists Just Added Four New Letters to the Genetic Code

A four-letter alphabet might seem limited, but it’s all nature needed to write the instructions for all life on the planet. News that researchers have added four letters to the genetic alphabet opens the...

Programming Self-Driving Cars Makes People Less Selfish

Self-driving cars are just around the corner, but working out the rules that should govern them is proving tricky. Should they mimic often self-interested human decision making, or be programmed to consider the greater...

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