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Scooped by Dr. Stefan Gruenwald!

▶ Quantum Computers, AI, Genomics and the Development of a Super Intelligence

Suzanne Gildert's talk at Humanity+ @ Caltech ( ) about "What do super-intelligences REALLY want?" and will they outsmart mankind during in a singularity event.


Here are the 10 D-wave technology presentation videos - lectures given by Dr. Suzanne Gildert in 2009

or all together in a playlist:

and here are her talks on quantum computing - is the end near for silicon chips?

and her adiabatic QC talks plus her QC and AI talks in a playlist:

My personal favorite is:

Where is machine intelligence going? What do superintelligences REALLY want?

She is also the cofounder of - and organization that works on connectome mapping of the brain and downloading memories.

Bian Wu's curator insight, October 12, 2014 6:24 PM

artificial super intelligence. a lot of video reference

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Top 13500+ Science Blogs, ranked by popularity

Top 13500+ Science Blogs, ranked by popularity | Amazing Science |

The top Science blogs in the Technorati Blog Directory seem to never run dry of interesting content.


The concept of science represents a collection of efforts put forth to expand the knowledge base of mankind, through research made in the fields of natural, formal, social, and applied sciences. The scientific method is at the core of these pursuits, with a general structure involving questions formulated leading to conducted experiments, followed by the results being analyzed and published for all to see.  The future of our understanding is based on this research, and resulting scientific discoveries are communicated through the blogosphere in a speedy fashion.


The rate of discovery increases daily, with various blogs reporting on items such as the  condition of the Large Hadron Collider experiment, the expanded usage of stem cells for the benefits of living organisms, and the continued development of nanotechnology for the medical and electronic advances it provides.

Marie Rippen's curator insight, July 24, 2013 2:29 PM

Ooooo! Fun reading to distract from work!


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New Telescopic Contact Lens Magnifies Vision Three Times

New Telescopic Contact Lens Magnifies Vision Three Times | Amazing Science |

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.


Such contacts may one day empower those suffering from macular degeneration or even augment the eyes of those with perfectly healthy vision.


How do they work? The center of the lens allows light directly through for normal vision. Meanwhile, a 1.17 mm thick magnifying ring, located around the lens center and comprised of tiny aluminum mirrors, reflects incoming light from objects into the wearer’s retina, at which point, the image has been magnified almost three times.


One very cool thing about this lens is the selective magnification. The researchers used a pair of modified polarized Samsung 3D TV glasses to switch between normal (light through the central lens aperture) and magnified views (where the polarizing filters block the central lens and admit light from the mirrors).


This technology may help the approximately two million people in the US suffering from macular degeneration—the most common cause of blindness for individuals aged over 55 years. The macula of the eye, which deals with the visual details, slowly degenerates resulting in vision loss from the center field of vision, and the sufferer cannot recognize faces or perform simple tasks.


The current treatments for macular degeneration include invasive surgery or to wear glasses with very thick lenses. Although research continues, development of this new magnifying lens technology has the potential to improve the quality of life for millions of people around the world by using these ‘normal’ looking lenses.


Further applications might include military use to increase soldiers’ vision. (The research was originally funded by DARPA.) But there’s no reason to stop there. We could imagine a pair of these lenses being fun or useful for just about anyone. And perhaps telescopic powers are but one attribute of future contact lenses—others may include filters to see outside our normal band of the spectrum, tiny cameras, and augmented reality.


That said, in the foreseeable future, we’ll have to be content with just dreams of switchable x-ray contacts with telescoping lenses and onboard computers.

eduarmp1's comment, August 2, 2013 12:38 PM
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NOAA's new interactive map shows all the vegetation on planet Earth

NOAA's new interactive map shows all the vegetation on planet Earth | Amazing Science |

Thanks to the NASA/NOAA Suomi NPP satellite, NOAA has put together an incredible interactive map of the world's greenery, we can now see to an amazing degree of detail which parts of the planet is covered in green and which are bare. The map is thanks to the ability of the satellite to collect 2 TB of data every week -- and that's only the portion of data collected for the vegetation index.

Via Lauren Moss
alistairm 's curator insight, June 24, 2013 3:54 AM

I'm hoping we'll see seasonal changes too! Great potential for looking at conservation issues, biodiversity, urban encroachment etc

Steve Mattison's curator insight, July 19, 2013 9:36 AM

It is a lot greener than you would think considering all the slash and burn hype the media puts out.

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Silencing an extra chromosome: Researchers turn off Down’s syndrome genes

Silencing an extra chromosome: Researchers turn off Down’s syndrome genes | Amazing Science |

Individuals with Down's syndrome carry an extra copy of chromosome 21, which causes pervasive developmental delays.  The insertion of one gene can muzzle the extra copy of chromosome 21 that causes Down’s syndrome. The method could help researchers to identify the cellular pathways behind the disorder's symptoms, and to design targeted treatments.


The experiment used induced pluripotent stem cells, which can develop into many different types of mature cells, so the researchers hope that one day they will be able to study the effects of Down’s syndrome in different organs and tissue types. That work could lead to treatments that address degenerative symptoms of Down’s syndrome, such as the tendency of people with the disorder to develop early dementia.


“The idea of shutting off a whole chromosome is extremely interesting” in Down’s syndrome research, says stem-cell researcher Nissim Benvenisty of Hebrew University in Jerusalem. He anticipates future studies that split altered cells into two batches — one with the extra chromosome 21 turned on, and one with it off — to compare how they function and respond to treatments.


Researchers have previously removed the extra chromosome in cells from people with Down’s syndrome using a different type of genetic modification. That technique relied on the fact that induced pluripotent stem cells that carry the third copy of chromosome 21 occasionally boot it out naturally — but "it’s a pain in the neck”, says Mitchell Weiss, a stem-cell researcher at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia in Pennsylvania. “You can’t control it.”


However, Weiss says that the latest method has its own drawbacks: turning on XIST may not block all gene expression in the extra chromosome, and that could muddle experimental results.


Still, Weiss thinks that the approach could yield fresh treatments for Down's syndrome — and prove useful for studying other chromosome disorders such as Patau syndrome, a developmental disorder caused by a third copy of chromosome 13.

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GE wants to use artificial intelligence to predict the future of health care innovations

GE wants to use artificial intelligence to predict the future of health care innovations | Amazing Science |
GE Healthcare is pushing a system called Corvix for doing agent-based simulations on complex problems. In India, the technology simulated a population of 80 million people in order to determine the best places to build medical facilities.


Around the world, the health care system is rife with inefficiencies, and General Electric thinks it can help solve the problem using data. Only it’s not talking about bureaucrats looking at reports: GE has built an artificial intelligence system called Corvix that uses historical data to predict the future, including everything from how diseases will spread to the cities where hospitals will be needed the most.


It might sound futuristic, but the techniques behind Corvix have actually been around for a while. The platform uses agent-based modeling to build, essentially, a reasonable facsimile of some sort of complex system and then simulate its evolution over time. The “agents” represent the atomic units of those systems, such as individual people in the case of human populations or perhaps cells in the case of a biological simulation. They act according to a set of rules in any given situation, which is how the models are able to keep the simulations progressing.


However, thanks to the advent of big data, GE Healthcare Chief Economist Mitch Higashi thinks the time is right for a platform like Corvix to provide some real value to real-world decisions. There’s enough raw computing power, machine intelligence and data-modeling expertise to start doing fast, accurate simulations over very large and complicated datasets. Also, advances in user-interface design have made these types of models more consumable: GE’s Corvix uses a game-like UI “that any 10-year-old can figure out how to use in 10 minutes,” Higashi said.


The first live run for Corvix happened in the state of Andhra Pradesh in India, where the system simulated a population of 80 million people in order to figure out where to build hospitals and medical training centers over the coming years. The GE team used two census datasets and one health care survey in order to build what Higashi calls “a reasonable representation of 80 million people,” as well as a map of India’s existing hospital and energy grid. Health care analysts studying the problem of where to build can drag a new hospital over an area on the map and see how the situation plays out, Higashi explained.


The original plan, said Chaitanya Sarawate, GE’s head of health economics and reimbursement for India, was for the Public Health Foundation of India to invest $2 billion building training institutions in different cities over the next five years. Corvix suggested some possible changes in location of those institutions, including placing two institutions in the country’s most-populous state, Uttar Pradesh, instead of just one as was originally planned. The advice is part of a report from the foundation to India’s Minstry of Health, which will make the ultimate decision.


Developing countries such as India are great places to use this type of technology, Higashi explained, because they are doing greenfield investing in areas such as health infrastructure and a lot of good can happen if they get it right off the bat. The problem, Sarawate noted, is that they often lack detailed data that can help governments make objective comparisons — that’s the kind of stuff a company like GE, in this case, can track down and try to feed into a model that takes into account its relative importance.

Mr. Crawford's curator insight, November 3, 2013 6:01 PM

In this article, an artificial intelliegnce named Corvix uses historical data to predict the future. It figures out how diseases will spread to the citites and where hospitals are needed the most. It's a great article to read because it explains how the Corvix impacts the world and how valuebale it is to populated areas.

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Italian sculptors move over: Prototype unveiled for world’s first 3D-printed room

Italian sculptors move over: Prototype unveiled for world’s first 3D-printed room | Amazing Science |
Michael Hansmeyer and Benjamin Dillenburger unveil prototype for world’s first 3D-printed room as a 1:3 model to be exhibited in Basel and Tokyo.


Named Digital Grotesque and due to be unveiled on 22 July, the full-scale ornate room by Michael Hansmeyer and Benjamin Dillenburger will have 80 million surfaces rendered in smooth sandstone, with certain parts glazed and gilded. A 1:3 scale prototype of the room was shown at the Swiss Arts Awards 2013 in Basel and at the Materializing Exhibition in Tokyo.


Generated using 3D-modelling software, the room will be constructed from grains of sand bonded together to create a new type of sandstone that's capable of achieving the intricate form.


Despite the ornate style of the room, Hansmeyer says they are exploring "new potentials of digital design by using a reduced, minimalist approach that nonetheless transcends rationality."


"Inspired by the natural process of cell division, we develop an algorithm that iteratively divides and transforms the initial geometry of a simple cube," they continue. "Despite simple rules, a complex world of forms arises at multiple scales: between ornament and structure, between order and chaos, foreign and yet familiar: a digital grotesque."


In a TEDTalk last year, Hansmeyer explained how he uses algorithms to replicate nature's morphogenesis process of creation, the splitting of one cell into two cells, which leads him to create forms with millions of facets. "No person could draft them by hand, but they're buildable," he said. "They could revolutionise the way we think of architectural form."


Other structures that have already been printed in sandstone include arobotic 3D printer that builds shelters on the beach and a three-metre-highpavilion resembling a giant egg with large holes in its surface, which was created by Enrico Dini and Andrea Morgante in 2009. Recognised as the first-ever printed architectural structure, it was intended as a scale model of a 10-metre structure that was never built.


Meanwhile the race to build the world's first 3D-printed house continues, with the top contenders being Universe Architecture's looping two-storey house that resembles a Möbius strip, DUS Architects plan to 3D-print a canal house room-by-room in the centre of Amsterdam and Softkill Design's Protohouse 2.0 with a fibrous structure resembling bone growth.

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Electric actuating valves in an all glass-based microchip exploiting the flexibility of ultra thin glass

Electric actuating valves in an all glass-based microchip exploiting the flexibility of ultra thin glass | Amazing Science |

Yo Tanaka from the RIKEN Quantitative Biology Center has developed a reliable and durable system for incorporating glass microfluidics into lab-on-a-chip devices.


Lab-on-a-chip devices are microfluidic cells that incorporate pipes, reaction vessels, valves and a host of other implements typically found in laboratories. These components are typically carved into an inexpensive flat plastic plate, made of polydimethylsiloxane (PDMS), to enable efficient processing of microliter-volume samples.


Plastics, however, have several disadvantages, including degradation when exposed to reactive chemicals and a tendency to adsorb sample molecules before they can be analyzed. They can also interfere with analysis techniques that rely on shining a light through the device due to their imperfect transparency, and are difficult to fabricate due to their fragility.


Glass is an attractive alternative because it is chemically resistant, transparent to light and also capable of withstanding higher fluid pressures than PDMS. Producing flexible and durable glass valves, however, has proved difficult.


To allow glass to be used in these devices, Tanaka developed a Teflon frame to hold an ultrathin sheet of glass so that it could be handled without breaking and incorporated the frame into an all-glass lab-on-a-chip.


Next, Tanaka used hydrogen fluoride to etch channels and chambers into a pair of glass slides, and covered these chambers with ultrathin glass sheets in a way that allowed fluid to be prevented from passing through the chamber by simply pressing down on the glass cover. He then fused the glass sheets together by heating them at 750 °C.


After trying various thicknesses of ultrathin glass sheets, Tanaka found that a 10 micrometer-thick glass film was ideal: strong enough to withstand more than 100 depressions yet able to deform by up to 126 microns — enough to completely close the valve. Tests using water containing small fluorescent polystyrene beads demonstrated that closing the valve using this method blocked fluid flow within 0.12 seconds.


Tanaka now plans to develop his all-glass device for applications such as highly sensitive biochemical analyses and cell studies.

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Shaky sensor: a cantilever covered with bacteria shakes up and down as bacteria metabolize on its surface

Shaky sensor: a cantilever covered with bacteria shakes up and down as bacteria metabolize on its surface | Amazing Science |

A patient admitted to a hospital with a serious bacterial infection may have only a few hours to live. Figuring out which antibiotic to administer, however, can take days. Doctors must grow the microbes in the presence of the drugs and see whether they reproduce. Rush the process, and they risk prescribing ineffective antibiotics, exposing the patient to unnecessary side effects, and spreading antibiotic resistance. Now, researchers have developed a microscopic "tuning fork" that detects tiny vibrations in bacteria. The device might one day allow physicians to tell the difference between live and dead microbes—and enable them to recognize effective and ineffective antibiotics within minutes.


"It's a brilliant method," provided subsequent investigations confirm the researchers' interpretation of their data, says Martin Hegner, a biophysicist at Trinity College Dublin who was not involved in the work.


The research involves tiny, flexible bars called cantilevers that vibrate up and down like the prongs of a tuning fork when they receive an input of energy. Cantilevers are an important part of atomic force microscopy, which is useful for making atomic scale resolutions of surfaces for use in nanotechnology or atomic physics research. In this technique, a minute needle attached to a cantilever moves across a surface, and the deflection of the cantilever gives information about how atoms are arranged on the surface. It can even be used to shunt atoms around. More recently, however, they have been used without the needle as tiny oscillators, allowing scientists to investigate matter directly attached to the cantilever.


Biophysicist Giovanni Longo and colleagues at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Lausanne and the University of Lausanne in Switzerland immersed these cantilevers in a liquid bacterial growth medium and monitored their movement using a laser. They found that the bare cantilever moved very slightly as a result of the thermal movement of the liquid molecules in the medium. They then covered both sides of the cantilever with Escherichia coli bacteria, which can cause food poisoning, and immediately found that the oscillations became much more pronounced. The researchers believe that chemical processes that occur inside the bacteria as they metabolize energy are driving the oscillation. "What we see is that if you have some sort of a moving system on the cantilever, you are going to induce a movement on the cantilever itself," Longo explains. "Exactly what kind of metabolic movement we see is something that we are still studying."


To determine if the cantilevers could detect the impact of drugs, the team added ampicillin, an antibiotic that the cultured bacteria were sensitive to. 


The size of the cantilever's oscillations decreased almost 20-fold within 5 minutes, the researchers report. Fifteen minutes later, the scientists flushed the antibiotic out with fresh growth medium, but the movement of the cantilever did not increase again. This, the researchers say, suggests that the antibiotic had killed the bacteria. When they used an ampicillin-resistant strain of E. coli, however, they found that the oscillations initially decreased but returned to normal within about 15 minutes, indicating that the microbes had recovered.

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Speed of light and other natural constants are indications of the total number of elementary particles in nature

Speed of light and other natural constants are indications of the total number of elementary particles in nature | Amazing Science |

A quantum level mechanism for interpreting vacuum as being filled with pairs of virtual particles with fluctuating energy values has been identified by scientists at the University of Paris-Sud, France, meaning that the inherent characteristics of vacuum, like the speed of light, may not be a constant after all, but fluctuate.

This research comes at the same time as a study conducted at the Max Planck Institute for the Physics of Light in Erlangen, Germany, suggest that physical constants, such as the speed of light and the so called impedance of free space, are indications of the total number of elementary particles in nature.


When observed at the quantum level, vacuum is not empty. It is filled with continuously appearing and disappearing particle pairs such as electron-positron or quark-antiquark pairs. These ephemeral particles are real particles, but their lifetimes are extremely short.


In the French study, Professor Marcel Urban and colleagues established, for the first time, a detailed quantum mechanism that would explain the magnetisation and polarisation of the vacuum, referred to as vacuum permeability and permittivity, and the finite speed of light. This finding is relevant because it suggests the existence of a limited number of ephemeral particles per unit volume in a vacuum. As a result, there is a theoretical possibility that the speed of light is not fixed, as conventional physics has assumed.


Instead, they argue, it could fluctuate at a level independent of the energy of each light quantum, or photon, and greater than fluctuations induced by quantum level gravity. The speed of light would thus be dependent on variations in the vacuum properties of space or time. The fluctuations of the photon propagation time are estimated to be on the order of 50 attoseconds per square metre of crossed vacuum, which might be testable with the help of new ultra-fast lasers.


The German study, meanwhile, led by Professors Gerd Leuchs and Luis L Sánchez-Soto, modelled virtual charged particle pairs as electric dipoles responsible for the polarisation of the vacuum. They found that a specific property of vacuum called the impedance, which is crucial to determining the speed of light, depends only on the sum of the square of the electric charges of particles but not on their masses.


If this is proved to be correct, the value of the speed of light combined with the value of vacuum impedance gives an indication of the total number of charged elementary particles existing in nature. Experimental results support this hypothesis.

Nacho Vega's curator insight, June 27, 2013 8:19 AM

We are so close...

Normand Régis's comment, June 27, 2013 10:42 AM
E = M c 2 it incomplete , speed light it not Constant cosmologies , the only Constant we have it carbon . the empty space , black energy it what give the possibility at the energy and the speed light . E=M=D , GRAVITY , CARBON , ANTIGRAVITY .
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Earth is surrounded by a 'bubble' of live bacteria - at 33 000 feet

Earth is surrounded by a 'bubble' of live bacteria - at 33 000 feet | Amazing Science |

Earth’s upper atmosphere—below freezing, nearly without oxygen, flooded by UV radiation—is no place to live. But last winter, scientists from the Georgia Institute of Technology discovered that billions of bacteria actually thrive up there. Expecting only a smattering of microorganisms, the researchers flew six miles above Earth’s surface in a NASA jet plane. There, they pumped outside air through a filter to collect particles. Back on the ground, they tallied the organisms, and the count was staggering: 20 percent of what they had assumed to be just dust or other particles was alive. Earth, it seems, is surrounded by a bubble of bacteria.

Scientists don’t yet know what the bacteria are doing up there, but they may be essential to how the atmosphere functions, says Kostas Konstantinidis, an environmental microbiologist on the Georgia Tech team. For example, they could be responsible for recycling nutrients in the atmosphere, like they do on Earth. And similar to other particles, they could influence weather patterns by helping clouds form. However, they also may be transmitting diseases from one side of the globe to the other. The researchers found E. coli in their samples (which they think hurricanes lifted from cities), and they plan to investigate whether plagues are raining down on us. If we can find out more about the role of bacteria in the atmosphere, says Ann Womack, a microbial ecologist at the University of Oregon, scientists could even fight climate change by engineering the bacteria to break down greenhouse gases into other, less harmful compounds.

Ed Rybicki's comment, June 25, 2013 3:39 AM
Hey, it's a microbial world - literally! From way above our heads, to way below our feet.
Dmitry Alexeev's curator insight, June 27, 2013 1:21 AM

we are everywhere)

Dmitry Alexeev's curator insight, July 28, 2013 7:31 AM

we'll have that one in our book as well


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Chinese Acupuncture Is "Theatrical Placebo", Study Finds

Chinese Acupuncture Is "Theatrical Placebo", Study Finds | Amazing Science |

Pain is a big problem. If you read about pain management centers, you might think it had been solved. It has not, yet. And when no effective treatment exists for a medical problem, it leads to a tendency to clutch at straws. Research has shown that acupuncture is little more than such a straw.


Although it is commonly claimed that acupuncture has been around for thousands of years, it has not always been popular, even in China. For almost 1000 years, it was in decline, and in 1822, Emperor Dao Guang issued an imperial edict stating that acupuncture and moxibustion should be banned forever from the Imperial Medical Academy.


Acupuncture continued as a minor fringe activity in the 1950s. After the Chinese Civil War, the Chinese Communist Party ridiculed Traditional Chinese Medicine, including acupuncture, as superstitious. Chairman Mao Zedong later revived Traditional Chinese Medicine as part of the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution of 1966. The revival was a convenient response to the dearth of medically trained people in postwar China and a useful way to increase Chinese nationalism. It is said that Chairman Mao himself preferred Western medicine. His personal physician quotes him as saying “Even though I believe we should promote Chinese medicine, I personally do not believe in it. I do not take Chinese medicine.”


The political, or perhaps commercial, bias seems to still exist. It has been reported (by authors who are sympathetic to alternative medicine) that “all trials [of acupuncture] originating in China, Japan, Hong Kong, and Taiwan were positive.”


Acupuncture was essentially defunct in the West until President Nixon visited China in 1972. Its revival in the West was largely a result of a single anecdote promulgated by journalist James Reston in the New York Times after he had acupuncture in Beijing for postoperative pain in 1971. Despite his eminence as a political journalist, Reston had no scientific background and evidently did not appreciate the post hoc ergo propter hoc fallacy, or the idea of regression to the mean.


After Reston’s report, acupuncture quickly became popular in the West. Stories circulated that patients in China had open heart surgery using only acupuncture. The Medical Research Council (UK) sent a delegation, which included Alan Hodgkin, to China in 1972 to investigate these claims, about which they were skeptical. The claims were repeated in 2006 in a British Broadcasting Corporation TV program, but Simon Singh (author of Fermat’s Last Theorem) discovered that the patient had been given a combination of 3 very powerful sedatives (midazolam, droperidol, fentanyl) and large volumes of local anesthetic injected into the chest. The acupuncture needles were purely cosmetic.


Curiously, given that its alleged principles are as bizarre as those on any other sort of prescientific medicine, acupuncture seemed to gain somewhat more plausibility than other forms of alternative medicine. As a result, more research has been done on acupuncture than on just about any other fringe practice.


The outcome of this research, we propose, is that the benefits of acupuncture are likely nonexistent, or at best are too small and too transient to be of any clinical significance.

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A new way to trap light by confining it in a slab to a periodic array of holes

A new way to trap light by confining it in a slab to a periodic array of holes | Amazing Science |
MIT researchers discover a new phenomenon that could lead to new types of lasers and sensors.


There are several ways to “trap” a beam of light — usually with mirrors, other reflective surfaces, or high-tech materials such as photonic crystals. But now researchers at MIT have discovered a new method to trap light that could find a wide variety of applications.

The new system, devised through computer modeling and then demonstrated experimentally, pits light waves against light waves: It sets up two waves that have the same wavelength, but exactly opposite phases — where one wave has a peak, the other has a trough — so that the waves cancel each other out. Meanwhile, light of other wavelengths (or colors) can pass through freely.

The researchers say that this phenomenon could apply to any type of wave: sound waves, radio waves, electrons (whose behavior can be described by wave equations), and even waves in water.

“For many optical devices you want to build,” Soljačić says — including lasers, solar cells and fiber optics — “you need a way to confine light.” This has most often been accomplished using mirrors of various kinds, including both traditional mirrors and more advanced dielectric mirrors, as well as exotic photonic crystals and devices that rely on a phenomenon called Anderson localization. In all of these cases, light’s passage is blocked: In physics terminology, there are no “permitted” states for the light to continue on its path, so it is forced into a reflection.

In the new system, however, that is not the case. Instead, light of a particular wavelength is blocked by destructive interference from other waves that are precisely out of phase. “It’s a very different way of confining light,” Soljačić says.

While there may ultimately be practical applications, at this point the team is focused on its discovery of a new, unexpected phenomenon. “New physical phenomena often enable new applications,” Hsu says. Possible applications, he suggests, could include large-area lasers and chemical or biological sensors.

The researchers first saw the possibility of this phenomenon through numerical simulations; the prediction was then verified experimentally. 

In mathematical terms, the new phenomenon — where one frequency of light is trapped while other nearby frequencies are not — is an example of an “embedded eigenvalue.” This had been described as a theoretical possibility by the mathematician and computational pioneer John von Neumann in 1929. While physicists have since been interested in the possibility of such an effect, nobody had previously seen this phenomenon in practice, except for special cases involving symmetry.

This work is “very significant, because it represents a new kind of mirror which, in principle, has perfect reflectivity,” says A. Douglas Stone, a professor of physics at Yale University who was not involved in this research. The finding, he says, “is surprising because it was believed that photonic crystal surfaces still obeyed the usual laws of refraction and reflection,” but in this case they do not.

Stone adds, “This is in fact a realization of the famous ‘bound state in the continuum’ proposed by von Neumann and [theoretical physicist and mathematician Eugene] Wigner at the dawn of quantum theory, but in a practical, realizable form. The potential applications the authors mention, to high-power single-mode lasers and to large-area chemical [and] biological sensing, are very intriguing and exciting if they pan out.”

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Universe may not be expanding after all but may be gaining mass instead -- initial singularity no longer needed

Universe may not be expanding after all but may be gaining mass instead -- initial singularity no longer needed | Amazing Science |
Particles' changing masses could explain why distant galaxies appear to be rushing away.


The Universe started in a big bang and has been expanding ever since. For nearly a century, this has been the standard view of the Universe. Now one cosmologist is proposing a radically different interpretation of events — in which the Universe is not expanding at all.


In a paper posted on the arXiv preprint server, Christof Wetterich, a theoretical physicist at the University of Heidelberg in Germany, has devised a different cosmology scenario in which the Universe is not expanding but the mass of everything has been increasing. Such an interpretation could help physicists to understand problematic issues such as the so-called singularity present at the Big Bang, he says.


Astronomers measure whether objects are moving away from or towards Earth by analysing the light that their atoms emit or absorb, which comes in characteristic colours, or frequencies. When matter is moving away from us, these frequencies appear shifted towards the red, or lower-frequency, part of the spectrum, in the same way that we hear the pitch of an ambulance siren drop as it speeds past. In the 1920s, astronomers including Georges Lemaître and Edwin Hubble found that most galaxies exhibit such a redshift — and that the redshift was greater for more distant galaxies. From these observations, they deduced that the Universe must be expanding.

But, as Wetterich points out, the characteristic light emitted by atoms is also governed by the masses of the atoms' elementary particles, and in particular of their electrons. If an atom were to grow in mass, the photons it emits would become more energetic. Because higher energies correspond to higher frequencies, the emission and absorption frequencies would move towards the blue part of the spectrum. Conversely, if the particles were to become lighter, the frequencies would become redshifted.

Because the speed of light is finite, when we look at distant galaxies we are looking backwards in time — seeing them as they would have been when they emitted the light that we observe. If all masses were once lower, and had been constantly increasing, the colours of old galaxies would look redshifted in comparison to current frequencies, and the amount of redshift would be proportionate to their distances from Earth. Thus, the redshift would make galaxies seem to be receding even if they were not.

Work through the maths in this alternative interpretation of redshift, and all of cosmology looks very different. The Universe still expands rapidly during a short-lived period known as inflation. But prior to inflation, according to Wetterich, the Big Bang no longer contains a 'singularity' where the density of the Universe would be infinite. Instead, the Big Bang stretches out in the past over an essentially infinite period of time. And the current cosmos could be static, or even beginning to contract.

The idea may be plausible, but it comes with a big problem: it can't be tested. Mass is what’s known as a dimensional quantity, and can be measured only relative to something else. For instance, every mass on Earth is ultimately determined relative to a kilogram standard that sits in a vault on the outskirts of Paris, at the International Bureau of Weights and Measures. If the mass of everything — including the official kilogramme — has been growing proportionally over time, there could be no way to find out.


For Wetterich, the lack of an experimental test misses the point. He says that his interpretation could be useful for thinking about different cosmological models, in the same way that physicists use different interpretations of quantum mechanics that are all mathematically consistent. In particular, Wetterich says, the lack of a Big Bang singularity is a major advantage.


He will have a hard time winning everyone over to his interpretation. “I remain to be convinced about the advantage, or novelty, of this picture,” says Niayesh Afshordi, an astrophysicist at the Perimeter Institute in Waterloo, Canada. According to Afshordi, cosmologists envisage the Universe as expanding only because it is the most convenient interpretation of galaxies' redshift.


Others say that Wetterich’s interpretation could help to keep cosmologists from becoming entrenched in one way of thinking. “The field of cosmology these days is converging on a standard model, centred around inflation and the Big Bang,” says physicist Arjun Berera at the University of Edinburgh, UK. “This is why it’s as important as ever, before we get too comfortable, to see if there are alternative explanations consistent with all known observation.”

Peter Phillips's curator insight, July 25, 2013 3:06 PM

Wetterich points out, the characteristic light emitted by atoms is also governed by the masses of the atoms' elementary particles, and in particular of their electrons. If an atom were to grow in mass, the photons it emits would become more energetic. Because higher energies correspond to higher frequencies, the emission and absorption frequencies would move towards the blue part of the spectrum. Conversely, if the particles were to become lighter, the frequencies would become redshifted.


Because the speed of light is finite, when we look at distant galaxies we are looking backwards in time — seeing them as they would have been when they emitted the light that we observe. If all masses were once lower, and had been constantly increasing, the colours of old galaxies would look redshifted in comparison to current frequencies, and the amount of redshift would be proportionate to their distances from Earth. Thus, the redshift would make galaxies seem to be receding even if they were not.

Marie Rippen's curator insight, July 26, 2013 4:53 PM

Thought-provoking stuff, but the last point is my favorite--the idea that this theory is important mostly because it upends current assumptions. So much of what we think we know about the world is based upon unproven theories that we must keep an open mind even when our cherished dogma is threatened.

Science is so much more about what we don't know than what we do.

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A groundbreaking project called Aireal lets you actually feel virtual objects

A groundbreaking project called Aireal lets you feel virtual objects. Aireal is the result of research by University of Illinois PhD student Rajinder Sodhi and Disney Reseach’s Ivan Poupyrev. When set by your television or connected to an iPad, this diminutive machine will puff air rings that allow you to actually feel objects and textures in midair — no special controllers or gloves required.


The machine itself is essentially a set of five speakers in a box — subwoofers that track your body through IR, then fire low frequencies through a nozzle to form donut-like vortices.


In practice, Aireal can do anything from creating a button for you to touch in midair to crafting whole textures by pulsing its bubbles to mimic water, stone, and sand. … A single Aireal could conceivably support multiple people, and a grid of Aireals could create extremely immersive rooms, creating sensations like a flock of birds flying by.

Marie Rippen's curator insight, July 24, 2013 2:15 PM

Besides entertainment, this could have applications in physical therapy, education, advertising--anything you can think of where communicating the sensation of touch is important. Although, the first thing that popped into my head was Star Trek... holodeck anyone?


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Physicists Debate Whether the World Is Made of Particles or Fields or Something Else Entirely

Physicists Debate Whether the World Is Made of Particles or Fields or Something Else Entirely | Amazing Science |

It stands to reason that particle physics is about particles, and most people have a mental image of little billiard balls caroming around space. Yet the concept of “particle” falls apart on closer inspection. Many physicists think that particles are not things at all but excitations in a quantum field, the modern successor of classical fields such as the magnetic field. But fields, too, are paradoxical. If neither particles nor fields are fundamental, then what is? Some researchers think that the world, at root, does not consist of material things but of relations or of properties, such as mass, charge and spin.


Physicists routinely describe the universe as being made of tiny subatomic particles that push and pull on one another by means of force fields. They call their subject “particle physics” and their instruments “particle accelerators.” They hew to a Lego-like model of the world. But this view sweeps a little-known fact under the rug: the particle interpretation of quantum physics, as well as the field interpretation, stretches our conventional notions of “particle” and “field” to such an extent that ever more people think the world might be made of something else entirely.


The problem is not that physicists lack a valid theory of the subatomic realm. They do have one: it is called quantum field theory. Theorists developed it between the late 1920s and early 1950s by merging the earlier theory of quantum mechanics with Einstein's special theory of relativity. Quantum field theory provides the conceptual underpinnings of the Standard Model of particle physics, which describes the fundamental building blocks of matter and their interactions in one common framework. In terms of empirical precision, it is the most successful theory in the history of science. Physicists use it every day to calculate the aftermath of particle collisions, the synthesis of matter in the big bang, the extreme conditions inside atomic nuclei, and much besides.


So it may come as a surprise that physicists are not even sure what the theory says—what its “ontology,” or basic physical picture, is. This confusion is separate from the much discussed mysteries of quantum mechanics, such as whether a cat in a sealed box can be both alive and dead at the same time.

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Giant Pandoravirus is 1,000 times larger than influenca virus and contains 2556 genes

Giant Pandoravirus is 1,000 times larger than influenca virus and contains 2556 genes | Amazing Science |

Giant viruses turn out to be everywhere. It was the very giant-ness of giant viruses that allowed them to be overlooked for so long. Scientists first discovered viruses in the late 1800s when they were puzzled by a disease that beset tobacco plants. They mashed up wilted tobacco leaves with water and passed the mixture through fine porcelain filters that trapped bacteria and fungi. The clear liquid could still make healthy tobacco leaves sick. The Dutch botanist Martinus Beijerinck dubbed it “a contagious living fluid.”


In the 1930s, the invention of powerful microscopes finally allowed scientists to see viruses. They found that viruses were unlike ordinary cells: they didn’t generate their own fuel; they didn’t grow or divide. Instead, viruses invaded cells, hijacking their biochemistry to make new copies of themselves. Being small and simple seemed like part of the viral way of life, allowing them to replicate fast.


It wasn’t until 2003 that a team of French researchers discovered the first giant virus. They had been puzzling over sphere-shaped objects that were the size of bacteria but contained no bacterial DNA. Eventually they realized that they were looking at a monstrously oversized virus, containing 979 genes, much less than the newly discovered Pandoravirus.


Those first giant viruses were isolated from amoebae living in water from a cooling tower. Once scientists realized that viruses could be so large, they changed their search parameters and started finding other species in all manner of places, from swamps to rivers to contact lens fluid.


And along the way the biggest viruses got bigger. In 2011, Dr. Claverie and his colleagues set a new record with megaviruses, a type of giant virus with 1,120 genes they discovered in sea water off the coast of Chile. They then dug into the sediment below that sea water and discovered pandoravirsues, with more than twice as many genes.


Dr. Claverie speculates that pandoraviruses and other giant viruses evolved from free-living microbes that branched off from other life several billion years ago. “The type of cells they may have evolved from may have disappeared,” he said.


The idea that giant viruses represent separate branches on the tree of life is a controversial one that many other experts aren’t ready to embrace. “They provide no evidence for that notion, so it seems a distraction to me,” said T. Martin Embley, a professor of evolutionary molecular biology at Newcastle University.


Despite those reservations, Dr. Embley and other researchers hail pandoraviruses as an important discovery. “I think it’s wonderful that such crazy and divergent lifeforms continue to be discovered,” said Tom Williams, Dr. Embley’s colleague at Newcastle University.


The new study also drives home the fact that giant viruses are far from rare. Shortly after discovering pandoraviruses in sea floor sediment, Dr. Claverie and his colleagues found them in water from a lake in Australia, 10,000 miles away. “It definitely indicates that they must not be rare at all,” said Dr. Claverie.


Giant viruses may be so common, in fact, that they may be hiding inside of us, too. In a paper published online on July 2 in The Journal of Infectious Diseases, French researchers offered evidence that giant viruses dwell in healthy people. They isolated a new giant virus from blood donated by a healthy volunteer, and then found antibodies and other signs of the virus in four other donors.


Giant viruses may lurk harmlessly in our bodies, invading the amoebae we harbor. Whether they can make us sick is an open question. “I don’t believe we have the proof at the moment that these viruses could infect humans,” said Dr. Claverie.

Tomas Moravec's comment, July 23, 2013 4:14 AM
It is surprising how these large gyus avoided discovery for such a long time.
Ed Rybicki's comment, July 23, 2013 4:17 AM
Well, if they look like bacteria, and we are still finding new exemplars of those...
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3D visual forensic facial reconstruction of a Neanderthal face in front of your eyes

One of the coolest visualization techniques to come along in recent years is the careful forensic reconstruction of likely facial features of deceased people from their bony remains, based on subtleties in bone structure and the knowledge of what each variation means, on average. Originally developed so police could put a face to unknown human remains (an application where it has been quite successful), the technique has spilled over into anthropology.

Recreating a face from the underlying bone involves painstaking work with myriad precision measurements so the muscle and skin will have the correct thickness and placement. It also involves having access to a database of enough samples so that the assigned features have a statistical likelihood of being correct. These are not wild guesses or dreamy-eyed artists impressions, but a reasonable recreation of a face that actually existed.

Done with: Timelapse 3D scanning of skull; Python Photogrammetry Tools; 3D Sculpting; Blender Screen capture; FFMPG Video edigint; Kdenlive.


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MIT develops system to write computer code using ordinary language

MIT develops system to write computer code using ordinary language | Amazing Science |

In a pair of recent papers, researchers at MIT’s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory have demonstrated that it is possible to write computer programs using ordinary language rather than special-purpose programming languages. A new algorithm can automatically convert natural-language specifications into "regular expressions" — special-purpose combinations of symbols that allow very flexible searches of digital files.

The work may be of some help to programmers, and it could let nonprogrammers manipulate common types of files — like word-processing documents and spreadsheets — in ways that previously required familiarity with programming languages. But the researchers’ methods could also prove applicable to other programming tasks, expanding the range of contexts in which programmers can specify functions using ordinary language.

“I don’t think that we will be able to do this for everything in programming, but there are areas where there are a lot of examples of how humans have done translation,” says Regina Barzilay, an associate professor of computer science and electrical engineering and a co-author on both papers. “If the information is available, you may be able to learn how to translate this language to code.”

Skip Stein's curator insight, July 14, 2013 9:12 AM

This used to be called COBOL!  Now they are trying to 'invent' English language programming AGAIN?  There was also a 'language' called 'ENGLISH' by MicroData decades ago (early precursor to SQL).  If COBOL would have been allowed to progress, we wouldn't be coding in C+ and other low level languages.  Thanks to Microsoft who torpedoed the entire computer language development. (IMHO)

Miro Svetlik's curator insight, July 15, 2013 7:13 AM

I am really wondering how would my daily vocal output look like in form of RegEx. However it is a nice achievement that we can map human language to regular expression formula. Still I personally think that successful implementation of AI which will be able to foresee human mistakes will be necessary before such a conversions can take place in daily life.

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Gene therapy for metachromatic leukodystrophy corrects errors in DNA and 'cures children', clinical trial shows

Gene therapy for metachromatic leukodystrophy corrects errors in DNA and 'cures children', clinical trial shows | Amazing Science |

A disease which robs children of the ability to walk and talk has been cured by pioneering gene therapy to correct errors in their DNA, say doctors. The study, in the journal Science, showed the three patients were now going to school. A second study published at the same time has shown a similar therapy reversing a severe genetic disease affecting the immune system.


Gene therapy researchers said it was a "really exciting" development.

Both diseases are caused by errors in the patient's genetic code - the manual for building and running their bodies.


Babies born with metachromatic leukodystrophy appear healthy, but their development starts to reverse between the ages of one and two as part of their brain is destroyed. Wiskott-Aldrich syndrome leads to a defective immune system. It makes patients more susceptible to infections, cancers and the immune system can also attack other parts of the body.


The technique, developed by a team of researchers at the San Raffaele Scientific Institute in Milan, Italy, used a genetically modified virus to correct the damaging mutations in a patient's genes.


Bone marrow stem cells are taken from the patient then the virus is used to 'infect' the cells with tiny snippets of DNA which contain the correct instructions. These are then put back into the patient.


Three children were picked for treatment from families with a history of metachromatic leukodystrophy, but before their brain function started to decline.


Prof Luigi Naldini, who leads the San Raffaele Telethon Institute for Gene Therapy, said: "Three years after the start of the clinical trial the results obtained from the first six patients are very encouraging.


"The therapy is not only safe, but also effective and able to change the clinical history of these severe diseases.


"After 15 years of effort and our successes in the laboratory, but frustration as well, it's really exciting to be able to give a concrete solution to the first patients."


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Household items could be the new way to take control of computer systems

Household items could be the new way to take control of computer systems | Amazing Science |

Household items could be the new way to take control of computer systems. Researchers from the MIT Media Lab have been busy developing a way to superimpose software functionality onto everyday objects – requiring only an iPad, simple processor and WiFi transceiver in the object you want to use as a physical control.


The software “maps” different functions onto the physical object you have chosen. Each area of the object can represent a different function and even movable parts can be used as controls thanks to motion tracking.


It’s a project that seems surprisingly easy – even the name “Smarter Objects” is straight forward – but when put into action probably has a lot more going on under the hood than most of us would want to think about.

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Whole brain cellular-level activity mapping in a second

Whole brain cellular-level activity mapping in a second | Amazing Science |

It is now possible to map the activity of nearly all the neurons in a vertebrate brain at cellular resolution. What does this mean for neuroscience research and projects like the Brain Activity Map proposal?

In a recent publication, Misha Ahrens and Philipp Keller from the HHMI’s Janelia Farm Research Campus used high-speed light sheet microscopy to image the activity of 80% of the neurons in the brain of a fish larva at speeds of a whole brain every 1.3 seconds. This represents—to our knowledge—the first technology that achieves whole brain imaging of a vertebrate brain at cellular resolution with speeds that approximate neural activity patterns and behavior.


In an Article that just went live in Nature Methods, Misha Ahrens and Philipp Keller from HHMI’s Janelia Farm Research Campus used high-speed light sheet microscopy to image the activity of 80% of the neurons in the brain of a fish larva at speeds of a whole brain every 1.3 seconds. This represents—to our knowledge—the first technology that achieves whole brain imaging of a vertebrate brain at cellular resolution with speeds that approximate neural activity patterns and behavior.

Interestingly, the paper comes out at a time when much is being discussed and written about mapping brain activity at the cellular level. This is one of the main proposals of the Brain Activity Map—a project that is being discussed at the White House and could be NIH’s next ‘big science’ project for the next 10-15 years. [Just for clarity, the authors of this work are not formally associated with the BAM proposal].


The details of BAM’s exact goals and a clear roadmap and timeline to achieve them have yet to be presented, but from what its proponents have described in a recent Science paper the main aspiration of the project is to improve our understanding of how whole neuronal circuits work at the cellular level. The project seeks to monitor the activity of whole circuits as well as manipulate them to study their functional role. To reach these goals, first and foremost one must have technology capable of measuring the activity of individual neurons throughout the entire brain in a way that can discriminate individual circuits. The most obvious way to do this is by imaging the activity as it is occurring.


With improvements in the speed and resolution of existing microscopy setups and in the probes for monitoring activity, exhaustive imaging of neuronal function across a small transparent organism was bound to be possible—as this study has now shown.


The study has also made interesting discoveries. The authors saw correlated activity patterns measured at the cellular level that spanned large areas of the brain—pointing to the existence of broadly distributed functional circuits. The next steps will be to determine the causal role that these circuits play in behavior—something that will require improvements in the methods for 3D optogenetics. Obtaining the detailed anatomical map of these circuits will also be key to understand the brain’s organization at its deepest level.

Via Julien Hering, PhD
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Light wheel - new type of light wave extends the possibilities in nanotechnology

Light wheel - new type of light wave extends the possibilities in nanotechnology | Amazing Science |

Propeller or wheel? In circularly polarized light, the vector which represents the electric field of the light wave (blue arrows in above figure) rotates helically in the direction of propagation. Such an electromagnetic wave has longitudinal angular momentum. If two circularly polarised waves rotating in opposite directions meet at a focal point, light with purely transverse angular momentum is generated. Its electric field vector rotates about an axis perpendicular to the direction of propagation like a bicycle spoke.

Light in general can exert incredible forces. According to the rules of quantum mechanics, light is an electromagnetic wave, as well as a stream of photons. Since it has momentum, a transparent particle through which a light beam falls experiences a recoil when the photons leave it. Although the force which a photon exerts in this process is almost infinitesimal, the effect of innumerable light particles in intense and tightly focused laser beams adds up in such a way that objects up to a few micrometres can be held in an optical trap or moved in a specific way. Biologists, for example, use this effect in optical tweezers to fix cells and rotate them at the focus of a microscope. To this effect, scientists working with Gerd Leuchs, Director at the Max Planck Institute for the Science of Light, are now creating new possibilities for them.


The team has created a photonic wheel, i.e. light with purely transverse angular momentum: the electric field of the electromagnetic wave rotates about an axis whose orientation is perpendicular to the direction of motion, just like the axis of a wheel. Until now, physicists have mainly been familiar with light with longitudinal angular momentum where the electric field rotates like a propeller around an axis aligned along the direction of motion. “The possibility that light can have purely transverse angular momentum when averaged over the complete cross-section of the beam had not been realised before,” says Peter Banzer, who made a significant contribution to the discovery.

This is because, as the Erlangen-based physicists have now shown both theoretically and practically, it is indeed possible to generate light with purely transverse angular momentum - and what’s more it is surprisingly easy to do so. “Once it’s down on paper, it looks easy,” says Gerd Leuchs. But somebody has to come up with the idea in the first place. The researchers are now developing this idea using circularly polarised light. A wave of circularly polarised light turns like a screw around the direction of beam propagation and has propeller-like longitudinal angular momentum. Light with circular polarisation can be generated with the aid of a birefringent crystal, for example.

Ivan Koh's curator insight, June 30, 2013 5:47 PM

This article is about telling that using light manipulation, we may be able to utilise nanotechnology. It goes down into the scientific terms of how its done and how it can be used to benefit other things. I think the factors leading to the realization of reaching the possibilities is mostly still limited to science. One may come up with an idea but if it cannot be proven theoretically or scientifically, then its still far from being a possibility.
I wonder then how some science discovery and breakthrough happened through accidents. 

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Tianhe-2, the new Chinese supercomputer takes the lead and clocks in at 33.86 petaflops to break speed record

Tianhe-2, the new Chinese supercomputer takes the lead and clocks in at 33.86 petaflops to break speed record | Amazing Science |

A Chinese supercomputer known as Tianhe-2 was today named the world's fastest machine, nearly doubling the previous speed record with its performance of 33.86 petaflops. Tianhe-2's ascendance was revealed in advance and was made official today with the release of the new Top 500 supercomputer list.


Tianhe-2 was developed at China's National University of Defense Technology and will be deployed in the country's National Supercomputing Center before the end of this year. "The surprise appearance of Tianhe-2, two years ahead of the expected deployment, marks China’s first return to the No. 1 position since November 2010, when Tianhe-1A was the top system," the Top 500 announcement states. "Tianhe-2 has 16,000 nodes, each with two Intel Xeon Ivy Bridge processors and three Xeon Phi processors for a combined total of 3,120,000 computing cores."


The combined performance of the 500 systems on the list is 223 petaflops, up from 162 petaflops in the previous list released six months ago. A petaflop represents one quadrillion floating point operations per second, or a million billion.


26 systems hit at least a petaflop. IBM's Blue Gene/Q accounted for four of the top 10, while Intel provided the processors for 80.4 percent of all Top 500 systems. 39 systems use Nvidia GPUs to speed up calculations, and another 15 use other accelerator or co-processor technology such as AMD's ATI Radeon and Intel's Xeon Phi.


252 of the 500 are installed in the US, 112 are in Europe, 66 are in China, and 30 are in Japan. The slowest computer on the list hit 96.6 teraflops, compared to 76.5 teraflops for the slowest computer on last November's list.


Besides Tianhe-2, the only new entrant in the top ten is a Blue Gene/Q system named Vulcan at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory.

Miro Svetlik's curator insight, June 18, 2013 4:01 AM

Hmm so chinese guys have dropped their famed own cpus and are now buying from intel ;). 33.86 petaflops is not bad however in the last article I have read they were claiming something around having 50+ petaflops so I assume this is a temporary figure (

Investors Europe Stock Brokers's curator insight, June 24, 2013 6:35 AM

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The Bank Where Doctors Can Stash Your Genome

The Bank Where Doctors Can Stash Your Genome | Amazing Science |
A new company offers a “gene vault” for doctors who want to add genomics to patient care.


Genomic sequencing might be more common in medicine if doctors had a simple way to send for the test and keep track of the data.


That’s the hope of Coriell Life Sciences in Camden, N.J., a startup that grew out of a partnership between the Coriell Institute for Medical Research and IBM. The company wants to facilitate the process of ordering, storing and interpreting whole-genome-sequence data for doctors. The company launched in January and is now working with different health-care providers to set up its service.


“The intent is that the doctor would order a test like any other diagnostic test they order today,” says Scott Megill, president of Coriell Life Sciences. The company would facilitate sequencing the patient’s DNA (through existing sequencing companies such as Illumina or Ion Torrent), store it in its so-called gene vault, and act as the middleman between doctors and companies that offer interpretation services. Finally, “we will return the genetic result in the human readable form back to the electronic medical record so the doctor can read it and interpret it for the patient,” says Megill.


“You need a robust software infrastructure for storing, analyzing, and presenting information,” says Jon Hirsch, who founded Syapse, a California-based company developing software to analyze biological data sets for diagnosing patients. “Until that gets built, you can generate all the data you want, but it’s not going to have any impact outside the few major centers of genomics medicine,” he says.


The company will use a board of scientific advisors to guide them to the best interpretation programs available. “No one company is in position to interpret the entire genome for its meaning,” says Michael Christman, CEO of the Coriell Institute for Medical Research. “But by having one’s sequence in the gene vault, then the physician will be able to order interpretative engines, analogous to apps for the iPhone,” he says. Doctors could order an app to analyze a patient’s genome for DNA variants linked to poor drug response at one point, and later on, order another for variants linked to heart disease.


The cloud-based workflow could help doctors in different locations take advantage of expert interpretations anywhere, says Christman. “This would allow a doctor who’s at a community clinic in Tulsa, Okla., order an interpretation of breast cancer sequences derived at Sloan Kettering,” he says.

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