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Scooped by Dr. Stefan Gruenwald!

Can Life Evolve from Wires and Plastic?

Can Life Evolve from Wires and Plastic? | Amazing Science |

In a laboratory tucked away in a corner of the Cornell University campus, Hod Lipson’s robots are evolving. He has already produced a self-aware robot that is able to gather information about itself as it learns to walk.


Hod Lipson reports: "We wrote a trivial 10-line algorithm, ran it on big gaming simulator, put it in a big computer and waited a week. In the beginning we got piles of junk. Then we got beautiful machines. Crazy shapes. Eventually a motor connected to a wire, which caused the motor to vibrate. Then a vibrating piece of junk moved infinitely better than any other… eventually we got machines that crawl. The evolutionary algorithm came up with a design, blueprints that worked for the robot."

The computer-bound creature transferred from the virtual domain to our world by way of a 3D printer. And then it took its first steps. Was this arrangement of rods and wires the machine-world’s equivalent of the primordial cell? Not quite: Lipson’s robot still couldn’t operate without human intervention. ‘We had to snap in the battery,’ he told me, ‘but it was the first time evolution produced physical robots. Eventually, I want to print the wires, the batteries, everything. Then evolution will have so much freedom. Evolution will not be constrained.’


Not many people would call creatures bred of plastic, wires and metal beautiful. Yet to see them toddle deliberately across the laboratory floor, or bend and snap as they pick up blocks and build replicas of themselves, brings to mind the beauty of evolution and animated life.


One could imagine Lipson’s electronic menagerie lining the shelves at Toys R Us, if not the CIA, but they have a deeper purpose. Lipson hopes to illuminate evolution itself. Just recently, his team provided some insight into modularity—the curious phenomenon whereby biological systems are composed of discrete functional units.


Though inherently newsworthy, the fruits of the Creative Machines Lab are just small steps along the road towards new life. Lipson, however, maintains that some of his robots are alive in a rudimentary sense. ‘There is nothing more black or white than alive or dead,’ he said, ‘but beneath the surface it’s not simple. There is a lot of grey area in between.’


The robots of the Creative Machines Lab might fulfill many criteria for life, but they are not completely autonomous—not yet. They still require human handouts for replication and power. These, though, are just stumbling blocks, conditions that could be resolved some day soon—perhaps by way of a 3D printer, a ready supply of raw materials, and a human hand to flip the switch just the once.


According to Lipson, an evolvable system is ‘the ultimate artificial intelligence, the most hands-off AI there is, which means a double edge. All you feed it is power and computing power. It’s both scary and promising.’ What if the solution to some of our present problems requires the evolution of artificial intelligence beyond anything we can design ourselves? Could an evolvable program help to predict the emergence of new flu viruses? Could it create more efficient machines? And once a truly autonomous, evolvable robot emerges, how long before its descendants make a pilgrimage to Lipson’s lab, where their ancestor first emerged from a primordial soup of wires and plastic to take its first steps on Earth?

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Tech Visionary Elon Musk Talks About Electric Cars, Spaceships, Mars Colonization and Hyperloops at D11

Tech Visionary Elon Musk Talks About Electric Cars, Spaceships, Mars Colonization and Hyperloops at D11 | Amazing Science |
"Mars is a fixer-upper of a planet, but we could make it work," says Tesla and SpaceX head Elon Musk.


Elon Musk dreams big. It’s hard not to get taken along for the ride — whether it’s a soon-to-launch cross-country Supercharger network that allows Tesla drivers to cross from Los Angeles to New York, an in-the-works reusable rocket that will help pioneer the colonization of Mars, or a hypothetical replacement for high-speed rail called the Hyperloop.

He was the evening speaker at D11 2013, where he said a mainstream Tesla is three to four years out, shook off electric car naysayers, announced the new nationwide Supercharger network, explained why he’s so excited about Mars, shared his views on immigration and how they diverged from and tried to convince other smart folks to join him in doing big-picture stuff.

Bonnie Bracey Sutton's curator insight, June 8, 2013 1:53 PM

Sharing great ideas.

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Bionic eye prototype unveiled that has iPhone camera and wirelessly transfers signal to brain

Bionic eye prototype unveiled that has iPhone camera and wirelessly transfers signal to brain | Amazing Science |
A team of Australian industrial designers and scientists have unveiled their prototype for the world's first bionic eye.


It is hoped the device, which involves a microchip implanted in the skull and a digital camera attached to a pair of glasses, will allow recipients to see the outlines of their surroundings.


If successful, the bionic eye has the potential to help over 85 per cent of those people classified as legally blind.


With trials beginning next year, Monash University's Professor Mark Armstrong says the bionic eye should give recipients a degree of extra mobility. "There's a camera at the front and the camera is actually very similar to an iPhone camera, so it takes live action for color," he said. "And then that imagery is then distilled via a very sophisticated processor down to, let's say, a distilled signal.

"That signal is then transmitted wirelessly from what's called a coil, which is mounted at the back of the head and inside the brain there is an implant which consists of a series of little ceramic tiles and in each tile are microscopic electrodes which actually are embedded in the visual cortex of the brain."


Professor Armstrong says is it is hoped the technology will help those who completely blind, enabling them to navigate their way around.

"What we believe the recipient will see is a sort of a low resolution dot image, but enough... [to] see, for example, the edge of a table or the silhouette of a loved one or a step into the gutter or something like that," he said.

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12 disruptive multi-trillion dollar technologies that may transform our daily lives in the near future

12 disruptive multi-trillion dollar technologies that may transform our daily lives in the near future | Amazing Science |

1. Mobile Internet $3.7-10.5 trillion
2. Automation of knowledge work $5.2-6.7 trillion
3. Internet of things $2.7-6.2 trillion
4. Cloud $1.7-6.2 trillion
5. Advanced robotics $1.7-4.5 trillion
6. Autonomous or near-autonomous cars $0.2-1.9 trillion
7. Next generation genomics $0.7-1.6 trillion

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Welcome To A Fully Programmable World Where All Objects Act as One

Welcome To A Fully Programmable World Where All Objects Act as One | Amazing Science |

We are surrounded by tiny, intelligent devices that capture data about how we live and what we do. Soon we'll be able to choreograph them to respond to our needs, solve our problems, and even save our lives.


Imagine a factory where every machine, every room, feeds back information to solve problems on the production line. Imagine a hotel room (like the ones at the Aria in Las Vegas) where the lights, the stereo, and the window shade are not just controlled from a central station but adjust to your preferences before you even walk in. Think of a gym where the machines know your workout as soon as you arrive, or a medical device that can point toward the closest defibrillator when you have a heart attack. Consider a hybrid car—like the new Ford Fusion—that can maximize energy efficiency by drawing down the battery as it nears a charging station.


There are few more appropriate guides to this impending future than Hawkinson, whose DC-based startup, SmartThings, has built what’s arguably the most advanced hub to tie connected objects together. At his house, more than 200 objects, from the garage door to the coffeemaker to his daughter’s trampoline, are all connected to his SmartThings system. His office can automatically text his wife when he leaves and tell his home A/C system to start powering up.


In this future, the intelligence once locked in our devices now flows into the universe of physical objects. Technologists have struggled to name this emerging phenomenon. Some have called it the Internet of Things or the Internet of Everything or the Industrial Internet—despite the fact that most of these devices aren’t actually on the Internet directly but instead communicate through simple wireless protocols. Other observers, paying homage to the stripped-down tech embedded in so many smart devices, are calling it the Sensor Revolution.


But here’s a better way to think about what we’re building: It’s the Programmable World. After all, what’s remarkable about this future isn’t the sensors, nor is it that all our sensors and objects and devices are linked together. It’s the fact that once we get enough of these objects onto our networks, they’re no longer one-off novelties or data sources but instead become a coherent system, a vast ensemble that can be choreographed, a body that can dance. Really, it’s the opposite of an “Internet,” a term that even today—in the era of the cloud and the app and the walled garden—connotes a peer-to-peer system in which each node is equally empowered. By contrast, these connected objects will act more like a swarm of drones, a distributed legion of bots, far-flung and sometimes even hidden from view but nevertheless coordinated as if they were a single giant machine.


For the Programmable World to reach its full potential, we need to pass through three stages. The first is simply the act of getting more devices onto the network—more sensors, more processors in everyday objects, more wireless hookups to extract data from the processors that already exist. The second is to make those devices rely on one another, coordinating their actions to carry out simple tasks without any human intervention. The third and final stage, once connected things become ubiquitous, is to understand them as a system to be programmed, a bona fide platform that can run software in much the same manner that a computer or smartphone can.


Once we get there, that system will transform the world of everyday objects into a design­able environment, a playground for coders and engineers. It will change the whole way we think about the division between the virtual and the physical. This might sound like a scary encroachment of technology, but the Programmable World could actually let us put more of our gadgets away, automating activities we normally do by hand and putting intelligence from the cloud into everything we touch.

CAEXI BEST's curator insight, May 15, 2013 5:21 PM
Bienvenue dans un monde entièrement programmable où tous les objets agissent comme un seul
Tom Leckrone's curator insight, May 26, 2013 10:03 AM

Excerpt: "The third and final stage, once connected things become ubiquitous, is to understand them as a system to be programmed, a bona fide platform that can run software in much the same manner that a computer or smartphone can." 

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Bioteeth From Stemcells Will Regrow Complete Tooth, Superior to Implants

Bioteeth From Stemcells Will Regrow Complete Tooth, Superior to Implants | Amazing Science |

Replacing missing teeth with new bioengineered teeth, grown from stem cells generated from a person's own gum cells, is a new method that will be vastly superior to the currently used implant technology.


New research, published in the Journal of Dental Research and led by Professor Paul Sharpe, an expert in craniofacial development and stem cell biology at King's College London's Dental Institute, describes advances in the development of this method by sourcing the required cells from a patient's own gum.


Research towards producing bioengineered teeth, also called bioteeth, aims to grow new and natural teeth by employing stem cell technology which generates immature teeth (teeth primordia) that mimic those in the embryo. These can be transplanted as small cell pellets into the adult jaw to develop into functional teeth, the researchers say.


Remarkably, despite the very different environments, embryonic teeth primordia can develop normally in the adult mouth. Embryonic tooth primordia cells can readily form immature teeth following dissociation into single cell populations and subsequent recombination, but such cell sources are impractical to use in a general therapy.


"What is required is the identification of adult sources of human epithelialand mesenchymal [stem] cells that can be obtained in sufficient numbers to make biotooth formation a viable alternative to dental implants," said Sharpe.


This challenge was now solved by the researchers, who sucessfully isolated adult human gum (gingival) tissue from patients at the Dental Institute at King's College London, grew more of it in the lab, and then combined it with the cells of mice that form teeth (mesenchyme cells). By transplanting this combination of cells into mice, the researchers were able to grow hybrid human/mouse teeth containing dentine and enamel, as well as viable roots.


"Epithelial cells derived from adult human gum tissue are capable of responding to tooth inducing signals from embryonic tooth mesenchyme in an appropriate way to contribute to tooth crown and root formation and give rise to relevant differentiated cell types, following in vitro culture," said Sharpe.


"These easily accessible epithelial cells are thus a realistic source for consideration in human biotooth formation. The next major challenge is to identify a way to culture adult human mesenchymal cells to be tooth-inducing, as at the moment we can only make embryonic mesenchymal cells do this."


Current implant-based methods of whole tooth replacement fail to reproduce a natural root structure and as a consequence of the friction from eating and other jaw movement, loss of jaw bone can occur around the implant.

Jennifer Frezza 's curator insight, December 8, 2013 6:28 PM

Isn't science amazing?

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Self-assembling furniture 'grows like popcorn'

Assembling your own furniture, after you have brought it home from the showroom, is a nightmare for many people. So, what if flat-pack furniture was smart enough to assemble itself?

Belgian designer and engineer Carl de Smet is experimenting with a kind of smart foam technology, which he believes could do just that. Once heated to a set temperature, the material he works with, shape memory polyurethane (SMPU), will expand to a given design.

Currently working with scaled-down models, de Smet is close to building the technology to achieve the effect with full-size furniture.

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US report: How to cut U.S. gasoline use in half by 2030

US report: How to cut U.S. gasoline use in half by 2030 | Amazing Science |
A new report from the National Academy of Sciences shows how it can be done, but no single technology or policy will get us there.


Those are audacious goals. But if the United States ever plans to deal seriously with climate change, the transportation sector will have to change drastically. And the National Academy of Sciences report concludes that no one single policy or technology will do the trick.


Case in point: In the past few years, the Obama administration has enacted a series of ambitious corporate average fuel economy  standards that will require new cars to get around 54.5 miles per gallon by 2025. (That will translate into about 35.4 miles per gallon on the road.) That sounds impressive, but the NAS study concludes that current standards aren’t enough to hit even that 2030 goal for oil use.


In fact, the report argues, it’s tough to find any single technology that can cut oil use in half by 2030 on its own. Making conventional cars more efficient won’t do it. A major push on electric vehicles won’t do it. The only things likely to work are a massive switch over to natural-gas vehicles (which would, in turn, make it much harder to hit the greenhouse-gas goals) or a combination of efficiency, electric vehicles, and advanced biofuels.


What the NAS is doing here is estimating the impact of each technology “if it is pursued vigorously.” And it found that each technology, on its own, has some promising upsides and some limitations. Better efficiency, for instance: The report found that there’s enormous potential to make conventional gasoline vehicles more efficient, from engine and drivetrain improvements to lighter vehicles. Over the past few  years, automakers have started adopting many of these tactics, such as gasoline direct injection. The NAS report estimates that conventional cars could realistically average 74 miles per gallon in 2050 and hybrids 94 mpg.

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Scientists have managed to grow brand new teeth complete with roots using cells from human adult gum tissue

Scientists have managed to grow brand new teeth complete with roots using cells from human adult gum tissue | Amazing Science |
Researchers mix cells from human adult gum tissue with tooth-inducing cells from mouse embryos to grow new hybrid teeth complete with roots.


Cells taken from adult human gums can be combined with cells from the molars of fetal mice to form teeth with viable roots, according to research published this week in the Journal of Dental Research. The method remains a long way from clinical use, but the findings represent a step toward the goal of growing bioengineered replacements for lost teeth.


Teeth develop when embryonic epithelial cells in the mouth combine with mesenchymal cells derived from the neural crest. Previous studies have shown that these cells can be combined in the lab to formal normal teeth, but the challenge was to find non-embryonic source of the cells that could be used in the clinic.


To test one such source, a team lead by King’s College London stem cell biologist Paul Sharpe extracted epithelial cells from the gums of adult humans, cultured them in the lab, and mixed them with mesenchymal tooth cells derived from embryonic mice. After a week, the researchers transplanted this mixture into the protective tissue around the kidneys of living mice, where some of the cells developed into hybrid human/mouse teeth containing dentine and enamel, and with growing roots.


The research showed that the epithelial cells from adult human gum tissue responded to tooth-inducing signals from the embryonic mouse tooth mesenchyme, making the gum cells a realistic source for clinical use, said Sharpe in a press release. He added that “the next major challenge is to identify a way to culture adult human mesenchymal cells to be tooth-inducing, as at the moment we can only make embryonic mesenchymal cells do this.”

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CAVE2 - Using 3-D Worlds To Visualize Big Data On Room-Sized Screen

CAVE2 - Using 3-D Worlds To Visualize Big Data On Room-Sized Screen | Amazing Science |

Take a walk through a human brain? Fly over the surface of Mars? Computer scientists at the University of Illinois at Chicago are pushing science fiction closer to reality with a wraparound virtual world where a researcher wearing 3-D glasses can do all that and more.


In the system, known as CAVE2, an 8-foot-high screen encircles the viewer 320 degrees. A panorama of images springs from 72 stereoscopic liquid crystal display panels, conveying a dizzying sense of being able to touch what's not really there.


As far back as 1950, sci-fi author Ray Bradbury imagined a children's nursery that could make bedtime stories disturbingly real. "Star Trek" fans might remember the holodeck as the virtual playground where the fictional Enterprise crew relaxed in fantasy worlds.


The Illinois computer scientists have more serious matters in mind when they hand visitors 3-D glasses and a controller called a "wand." Scientists in many fields today share a common challenge: How to truly understand overwhelming amounts of data. Jason Leigh, co-inventor of the CAVE2 virtual reality system, believes this technology answers that challenge.


"In the next five years, we anticipate using the CAVE to look at really large-scale data to help scientists make sense of that information. CAVEs are essentially fantastic lenses for bringing data into focus," Leigh said.


The CAVE2 virtual world could change the way doctors are trained and improve patient care, Leigh said. Pharmaceutical researchers could use it to model the way new drugs bind to proteins in the human body. Car designers could virtually "drive" their vehicle designs.


Imagine turning massive amounts of data – the forces behind a hurricane, for example – into a simulation that a weather researcher could enlarge and explore from the inside. Architects could walk through their skyscrapers before they are built. Surgeons could rehearse a procedure using data from an individual patient.


But the size and expense of room-based virtual reality systems may prove insurmountable barriers to widespread use, said Henry Fuchs, a computer science professor at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, who is familiar with the CAVE technology but wasn't involved in its development.

While he calls the CAVE2 "a national treasure," Fuchs predicts a smaller technology such as Google's Internet-connected eyeglasses will do more to revolutionize medicine than the CAVE. Still, he says large displays are the best way today for people to interact and collaborate.

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Defense system uses sun to vaporize asteroids as far away as the distance of the sun

Defense system uses sun to vaporize asteroids as far away as the distance of the sun | Amazing Science |

As an asteroid roughly half as large as a football field readies for a fly-by of Earth on Friday, February 15, 2013, two scientists are unveiling a system that could—in one hour—eliminate a threat of this size.

The same system could destroy asteroids 10 times larger than the one known as2012 DA14 in about a year, with evaporation starting at a distance as far away as the Sun.


Philip M. Lubin, a physicist and professor at the University of California, Santa Barbara, and Gary B. Hughes, a researcher and professor from California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo, conceived DE-STAR, or Directed Energy Solar Targeting of Asteroids an exploRation, as a realistic means of mitigating potential threats posed to the Earth by asteroids and comets.


“We have to come to grips with discussing these issues in a logical and rational way,” says Lubin, who began work on DE-STAR a year ago. “We need to be proactive rather than reactive in dealing with threats.


“Duck and cover is not an option. We can actually do something about it and it’s credible to do something. So let’s begin along this path. Let’s start small and work our way up. There is no need to break the bank to start.”

Described as a “directed energy orbital defense system,” DE-STAR is designed to harness some of the power of the sun and convert it into a massive phased array of laser beams that can destroy, or evaporate, asteroids posing a potential threat to Earth.


It is equally capable of changing an asteroid’s orbit—deflecting it away from Earth, or into the Sun—and may also prove to be a valuable tool for assessing an asteroid’s composition, enabling lucrative, rare-element mining. And it’s entirely based on current essential technology.

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The Job Market of 2045: What will we do when Machines do all the Work?

The Job Market of 2045: What will we do when Machines do all the Work? | Amazing Science |

Automation has displaced a lot of workers in the last 50 years, and it’s set to displace a lot more of them—taxicab and truck drivers, once vehicles drive themselves; much of what remains of manufacturing and assembly work and maybe even a lot of construction labor; fewer lawyers and doctors, once Watson-like software is perfected; teaching, except for the few people making the videos that everyone else learns from. Will we even need waitresses, or just people to bring out the food that we’ve ordered ourselves, once iPads replace menus?


The endgame here is the so-called singularity—the point at which technological development, spurred by Moore’s Law and another generation or two of software and robotics development, is so sophisticated that humans have become irrelevant.


An article in The Atlantic Monthly, back in October, by Rice University professor Moshe Vardi, tackled the question of whether that future is inevitable, and if so, what will it be like. He wrote: “[Artificial intelligence’s] inexorable progress over the past 50 years suggests that Herbert Simon was right when he wrote in 1956, ‘Machines will be capable...of doing any work a man can do.’”


Vardi continued, “I do not expect this to happen in the very near future, but I do believe that by 2045, machines will be able to do if not any work that humans can do, then a very significant fraction of the work that humans can do.” 

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Commercial Moon Flights Coming Soon?

Commercial Moon Flights Coming Soon? | Amazing Science |

How much would you like to see humanity travel back to the moon? Or for that matter, how much would you like to stand amongst the craters of Lacus Somnorium yourself and look up to see your home planet above you, a shining blue marble in the darkness? Since Apollo 17 left the Moon in 1972, no humans have traveled further than a few hundred kilometers from Earth’s surface, but an ambitious space travel company has plans to put humans back on the moon — and they’ll take anyone who can afford the asking price.


The Golden Spike Company, formally announced in December last year, are aiming to provide a means to do exactly that. Riding the wave of enthusiasm for private space flight, they intend to provide reliable transport to the surface of the moon. However, with the cost of the tickets currently expected to be the princely sum of $1.5 billion for a two person mission, their customers are more likely to be governments than wealthy tourists.


Named after the ceremonial “last spike” driven into the first continental railroad to be built in the US, Golden Spike’s intention is, quoting from their website, to “transform human space exploration by putting in place affordably priced lunar orbital and surface expeditions to the only natural satellite of the Earth — the moon,” in much the same way the railroad enabled people to travel across North America in the 19th century. The expected cost of a two person lunar mission for $1.5 billion, while clearly astronomical for private travelers, is an attractive price for government space programs across the world.

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Researchers Move Closer to Low-Cost, Implantable Electronics

Researchers Move Closer to Low-Cost, Implantable Electronics | Amazing Science |

New technology under development at The Ohio State University is paving the way for low-cost electronic devices that work in direct contact with living tissue inside the body.


The first planned use of the technology is a sensor that will detect the very early stages of organ transplant rejection.


Paul Berger, professor of electrical and computer engineering andphysics at Ohio State, explained that one barrier to the development of implantable sensors is that most existing electronics are based on silicon, and electrolytes in the body interfere with the electrical signals in silicon circuits. Other, more exotic semiconductors might work in the body, but they are more expensive and harder to manufacture.


“Silicon is relatively cheap… it’s non-toxic,” Berger said. “The challenge is to bridge the gap between the affordable, silicon-based electronics we already know how to build, and the electrochemical systems of the human body.”


In tests, silicon circuits that had been coated with the technology continued to function, even after 24 hours of immersion in a solution that mimicked typical body chemistry.


The project began when Berger talked to researchers in Ohio State’s Department of Biomedical Engineering, who wanted to build an insertable sensor to detect the presence of proteins that mark the first signs of organ rejection in the body. They were struggling to make a working protein sensor from gallium nitride.


“We already have sensors that would do a great job at detecting these proteins, but they’re made out of silicon. So I wondered if we could come up with a coating that would protect silicon and allow it to function while it directly touched blood, bodily fluids or living tissue,” Berger said.

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Graphene Paint to Power our Homes?

Graphene Paint to Power our Homes? | Amazing Science |
Scientists from the University of Manchester have discovered a material which combines graphene, a one-atom thick layer of graphite, with the transition metal dichalcogenides.


Something straight out of a science fiction film is fastly becoming an exciting reality as scientists from the University of Manchester have discovered a material which combines graphene, a one-atom thick layer of graphite, with the transition metal dichalcogenides. The material is thin and flexible, and it can absorb sunlight to produce electricity at the same rates of existing solar panels. This could be potentially used to coat the outside of buildings to generate power required to run appliances inside.

The material is composed of transition metal dichalcogenides layers sandwiched between the two outer layers of graphene. The graphene acts as an extremely efficient conductive layer, and the TMDC acts as a very sensitive light absorber.


Researchers have found that the 'light absorption characteristic' of the material can be increased when the graphene layer is sprinkled with gold particles. The material has a quantum efficiency of 30%.


Researchers believe that entire buildings could be powered by coating their exposed surfaces with the panels. Further, the energy produced by the panels could be used to alter the transparency and reflectivity of windows and fixtures.


This type of graphene material could be used to form on the outside of the buildings to generate power required to run the appliances inside. It is flexible and easy to use.


Not only can graphene paint be used to power objects, the material will also be able to chaneg color.


Researchers also believe that the graphene base substance has the ability to create a new generation of hand-held devices such as smartphones that can be powered using sunlight. These devices can be made ultra-thin, transparent and flexible.


Research suggests that there can be a high level of optimism regarding the development of graphene in the near future.


They hope that the material can be used for a wide range of industrial and day-to-day applications, providing potential technological breakthroughs in the areas, right from electronics to telecommunications and energy generation.

Marco Bertolini's curator insight, June 7, 2013 11:41 AM

Une peinture qui révolutionne la production d'énergie : une couche large d'un atome.  Appliquée sur la façade de votre habitation, elle change la chaleur solaire en énergie électrique.  La fin des panneaux solaires ?

Nacho Vega's curator insight, June 9, 2013 4:39 PM

New material = Good news!

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Russian scientists find frozen blood in mammoth carcass, boosting their chances of cloning

Russian scientists find frozen blood in mammoth carcass, boosting their chances of cloning | Amazing Science |

Russian scientists claimed Wednesday they have discovered blood in the carcass of a woolly mammoth, adding that the rare find could boost their chances of cloning the prehistoric animal. An expedition led by Russian scientists earlier this month uncovered the well-preserved carcass of a female mammoth on a remote island in the Arctic Ocean.


Semyon Grigoryev, the head of the expedition, said the animal died at the age of around 60 some 10,000 to 15,000 years ago, and that it was the first time that an old female had been found.


But what was more surprising was that the carcass was so well preserved that it still had blood and muscle tissue. "When we broke the ice beneath her stomach, the blood flowed out from there, it was very dark," Grigoryev, who is a scientist at the Yakutsk-based Northeastern Federal University, told AFP.


"This is the most astonishing case in my entire life. How was it possible for it to remain in liquid form? And the muscle tissue is also red, the colour of fresh meat," he added. Grigoryev said that the lower part of the carcass was very well preserved as it ended up in a pool of water that later froze over. The upper part of the body including the back and the head are believed to have been eaten by predators, he added.


"The forelegs and the stomach are well preserved, while the hind part has become a skeleton." The discovery, Grigoryev said, gives new hope to researchers in their quest to bring the woolly mammoth back to life.


"This find gives us a really good chance of finding live cells which can help us implement this project to clone a mammoth," he said. "Previous mammoths just have not had such well-preserved tissue."

Ahmed Atef's comment, May 31, 2013 5:47 AM
i can do this cloning ;)
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DNA printing of living things: Synthesize DNA 10,000 cheaper than currently possible

Problem: Synthetic biology has the potential to create new organisms that could do an infinite number of things. But the cost of synthesizing DNA is currently prohibitively expensive. 

Solution: Austen has developed a new technique to synthesize DNA 10,000 times cheaper than existing technology. 

Technology: One of the big challenges with DNA synthesis is error correction during fabrication, fabricating the correct sequence of A, T, G and Cs. Austen solves this problem by fabricating billions of strands at once, quickly (and cheaply) optically sequencing them and then selecting the correct DNA sequences using a fast moving laser.

Ahmed Atef's comment, May 22, 2013 1:40 PM
they will
Miro Svetlik's comment, May 23, 2013 3:00 AM
Hello Ahmed, I certainly believe you and I am really curious how it will change our society.
Ahmed Atef's comment, August 15, 2013 8:51 AM
Hello Miro for now you can decode any genome for just two days assembling any genome is the only limitation because the price if you can make dna printer like this that mean during one year your backyard will be filled bye home designed organisms
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Emerging Technologies: Touchable Holography

Recently, mid-air displays are attracting a lot of attention in the fields of digital signage and home TV, and many types of holographic displays have been proposed and developed. Although we can "see" holograhpic images as if they are really floating in front of us, we cannot "touch" them, because they are nothing but light. This project adds tactile feedback to the hovering image in 3D free space. Tactile sensation requires contact with objects, but including a stimulator in the work space dilutes the appearance of holographic images. The Airborne Ultrasound Tactile Display solves this problem by producing tactile sensation on a user's hand without any direct contact and without diluting the quality of the holographic projection.
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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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Breakthrough in quantum communications and computing using a teleporter and a paradoxical cat

Breakthrough in quantum communications and computing using a teleporter and a paradoxical cat | Amazing Science |

The breakthrough is the first-ever transfer, or teleportation, of a particular complex set of quantum information from one point to another, opening the way for high-speed, high-fidelity transmission of large volumes of information, such as quantum encryption keys, via quantum communications networks. The research was published in the April edition of the journal Science. Teleportation – the transfer of quantum information from one location to another using normal, "classical" communications - is one of the fundamental quantum communication techniques. The cat in the equation was not a living, breathing feline but rather "wave packets" of light representing the famous "thought experiment" known as Schrodinger’s Cat. Schrodinger’s Cat was a paradox proposed by early 20th century physicist Erwin Schrodinger to describe the situation in which normal, "classical" objects can exist in a quantum "superposition" - having two states at once.


Professor Elanor Huntington, in the School of Engineering and Information Technology at UNSW's Canberra campus at the Australian Defence Force Academy (ADFA), was part of a team led by University of Tokyo researchers. She said the team’s achievement was another step towards building a super-powerful quantum computer and transmitting quantum information. "One of the limitations of high-speed quantum communication at present is that some detail is lost during the teleportation process. It’s the Star Trek equivalent of beaming the crew down to a planet and having their organs disappear or materialise in the wrong place. We’re talking about information but the principle is the same – it allows us to guarantee the integrity of transmission. "Just about any quantum technology relies on quantum teleportation. The value of this discovery is that it allows us, for the first time, to quickly and reliably move quantum information around. This information can be carried by light, and it’s a powerful way to represent and process information. Previous attempts to transmit were either very slow or the information might be changed. This process means we will be able to move blocks of quantum information around within a computer or across a network, just as we do now with existing computer technologies. "If we can do this, we can do just about any form of communication needed for any quantum technology." The experiments were conducted on a machine known as "the teleporter" in the laboratory of Professor Akira Furusawa in the Department of Applied Physics in the University of Tokyo. Professor Huntington, who leads a research program for the Centre for Quantum Computation and Communication, developed the high-speed communication part of the teleporter at UNSW’s Canberra campus with PhD student James Webb.

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De-Extinction: Can Cloning Bring Extinct Species Back to Life?

De-Extinction: Can Cloning Bring Extinct Species Back to Life? | Amazing Science |

At some point in the next decade, if advances in biotechnology continue on their current path, clones of extinct species such as the passenger pigeon, Tasmanian tiger and wooly mammoth could once again live among us. But cloning lost species—or “de-extinction” as some scientists call it—presents us with myriad ethical, legal and regulatory questions that must be answered, such as which (if any) species should be brought back and whether or not such creatures could be allowed to return to the wild. Such questions are set to be addressed at the TEDx DeExtinction conference, a day-long event in Washington, D.C., organized by Stewart Brand’s Revive & Restore project. Brand previewed the topics for discussion last week at the TED2013 conference in Long Beach, Calif.


Scientists are actively working on methods and procedures for bringing extinct species back to life, says Ryan Phelan, executive director of Revive & Restore and co-organizer of the TEDx event. “The technology is moving fast. What Stewart and I are trying to do with this meeting is for the first time to allow the public to start thinking about this. We’re going to hear from people who take it quite seriously. De-extinction is going to happen, and the questions are how does it get applied, when does it get used, what are the criteria which are going to be set?”


Cloning extinct species has been tried before—with moderate success. An extinct Pyrenean ibex, or bucardo, (Capra pyrenaica pyrenaica) was born to a surrogate mother goat in 2009, nine years after the last member of its species was killed by a falling tree. The cloned animal lived for just seven minutes. Revive & Restore itself has launched a project to try to resurrect the passenger pigeon, which went extinct in 1914.



Peter Phillips's curator insight, March 15, 2013 4:28 PM

The release of the Monash University team's progress emplanting DNA from an extinct gastric brooder frog is an example of this... and also of how competetive research is... they decided to publish in a newspaper... traditionally a shortcut to fame when many people are about to discover the same thing. Good luck to all however, who work to maintain and reinstate the diversity of life on our planet, and congratulations for the dogged detective work!

Eduardo Carriazo's curator insight, May 15, 2014 9:14 AM

I chose this article because it has good information and if I was someone studying this I would use this source. I also choose this article because it changed my mind about de - extinction. If you can do it, you should do it.

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Can we make objects that 'make themselves'?

Can we make objects that 'make themselves'? | Amazing Science |
A 4D printing process is demoed at TED which could herald an age of self-assembled objects say experts.


Many are only just getting their heads around the idea of 3D printing but scientists at MIT are already working on an upgrade: 4D printing. At the TED conference in Los Angeles, architect and computer scientist Skylar Tibbits showed how the process allows objects to self-assemble. It could be used to install objects in hard-to-reach places such as underground water pipes, he suggested. It might also herald an age of self-assembling furniture, said experts.


TED fellow Mr Tibbits, from the MIT's (Massachusetts Institute of Technology) self-assembly lab, explained what the extra dimension involved. "We're proposing that the fourth dimension is time and that over time static objects will transform and adapt."


The process uses a specialised 3D printer made by Stratasys that can create multi-layered materials. It combines a strand of standard plastic with a layer made from a "smart" material that can absorb water. The water acts as an energy source for the material to expand once it is printed.


"The rigid material becomes a structure and the other layer is the force that can start bending and twisting it," said Mr Tibbits. "Essentially the printing is nothing new, it is about what happens after," he added. Such a process could in future be used to build furniture, bikes, cars and even buildings, he thinks.


For the time being he is seeking a manufacturing partner to explore the innovation. "We are looking for applications and products that wouldn't be possible without these materials," he added. "Imagine water pipes that can expand to cope with different capacities or flows and save digging up the street."

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Skylon Spaceplane: The Spacecraft of Tomorrow

Skylon Spaceplane: The Spacecraft of Tomorrow | Amazing Science |

In a world where private space industry is poised to take over, the world's first single stage to orbit spacecraft may be the privately developed Skylon spaceplane. However, rockets are also a huge financial drain on any spaceflight, being only partially reusable. Wouldn’t it be nice if it were cheaper and more economical to get to orbit? Cue the Skylon spaceplane, currently scheduled to commence test flights in 2019.


Over 30 years in the making, Skylon is a vehicle being developed by British company Reaction Engines Limited, and is being built as the world’s first fully reusable spaceplane (a spacecraft that takes off and lands horizontally like a conventional aircraft). In fact, each Skylon spaceplane is intended to be reusable over 200 times — quite a drastic improvement over any space vehicle in active use today.


The most notable benefit of this would be a dramatic reduction in the cost of transporting items to orbit. With current launch vehicles, it costs over $23,000 per kilogram to lift cargo into orbit. This is to cover both the cost of a huge amount of fuel, and the price of the launch vehicle itself. A reusable vehicle like Skylon would slash this price down to just over $1,000 per kilogram. Much more manageable!


Creating fully reusable launch systems has been an ambition of the aerospace industry for well over half a century now. Despite plentiful research and development work and a menagerie of design concepts, no such vehicle has yet been created. The closest humanity has come so far was the Space Shuttle, where the orbiter craft and the two solid rocket engines were able to be reused — albeit only after a few months of refitting work. The ultimate aim has always been a Single Stage To Orbit (SSTO) vehicle, capable of launching directly into space from ground level, without needing to discard any rocket boosters on the way.


To date, tests for Skylon’s air breathing SABRE rocket engines have proved rather successful; based on a unique design which constantly cools incoming air, SABRE engines have effectively double the efficiency of existing jet engines. 


Specifically developed by Reaction Engines Limited, these engines would give Skylon a top speed of over 30,000 km/h, enabling a suborbital journey from London to Sydney, Australia in approximately 4 hours. As well as being capable of reaching mach 5 for surface to surface transport, these engines allow Skylon to leave the atmosphere and enter orbit; the initial goal is to provide a cargo transport system to carry goods up to space stations by 2022, with intentions to later modify the vehicle to carry passengers.

While funding has yet to be secured to complete the program, the British and European Space Agencies have given a green light to the Skylon project, announcing their confidence in the vehicle and stating that there are no impediments to further development of the project. Reaction Engines are hoping to have a working prototype flying by 2016, and aim to construct a fleet of them within the next decade.


With each vehicle approximately 82 meters in length and costing slightly under $1.1 billion each, if Reaction Engines are successful then they may well revolutionize orbital transport in the near future. While it may still be too early to say anything for certain, I think we can afford ourselves a certain amount of optimism for Skylon. Things are looking very promising.

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A real-life ‘holodeck’ in 10 years? Less far-fetched than many people think

A real-life ‘holodeck’ in 10 years? Less far-fetched than many people think | Amazing Science |

Tim Huckaby can’t sit still. During his hour-long presentation on the future of user interfaces at the recent 2013 Consumer Electronics Show (CES), he leapt from demo to demo, his enthusiasm contagious, and his constant movement making it difficult for anyone in the audience with a camera to capture him in stasis.


Huckaby has good reason to be excited. The way this software expert sees it, we’re on the verge of a science-fiction-like future where doctors manipulate molecules in three-dimensional (3-D) space, augmented music players tune into your thoughts, and retailers deliver coupons in real time based on the focus of your gaze across store shelves.


Huckaby is founder and chairman of California-based InterKnowlogy, as well as the current chief executive officer of Actus Interactive Software. Both companies focus on user interface (UI) development, and Huckaby’s belief in the coming rapid evolution of the UI field is based on decades of work in emerging technology.


During his recent talk in Las Vegas, Huckaby was tasked with predicting what the interfaces we use to interact with computers and communications technologies will look like in five years. He didn’t stick to that time frame, but instead offered multiple examples of where UIs are headed, and how the evolution will unfold.


His predictions for what’s possible within the next 10 years are mind-blowing: a functioning “holodeck” (ala the sci-fi classic Star Trek) into which holographic images are displayed; a legitimate neural-based interface offering a direct pathway between the brain and external devices; and virtual objects that extend into practically every facet of life and that behave much as they would in the natural world.

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SHAMAN: How to store today's data and ensure that it will always be accessible

SHAMAN: How to store today's data and ensure that it will always be accessible | Amazing Science |
This project will develop and test a next generation digital preservation framework including tools for analysing, ingesting, managing, accessing and reusing information objects and data.

The SHAMAN Integrated Project aims at developing a new framework for long-term digital preservation (more than one century) by exploring the potential of recent developments in the areas of GRID computing, federated digital library architectures, multivalent emulation and semantic representation and annotation.


The researchers' vision is: "For the longer term, SHAMAN will develop radically new approaches to Digital Preservation, such as those inspired by human capacity to deal with information and knowledge, providing a sound basis and instruments for unleashing the potential of advanced ICT to automatically act on high volumes and dynamic and volatile digital content, guaranteeing its preservation, keeping track of its evolving semantics and usage context and safeguarding its integrity, authenticity and long term accessibility over time."


The project plans to deliver a set of integrated tools supporting the various aspects of the preservation process: analysis/characterisation, ingestion, management, access and reuse. Work includes trials and validation of the tools in three application domains dealing with different types of objects: scientific publishing and government archives, industrial design and engineering (e.g. CAD), and e-science resources.


SHAMAN's dissemination and exploitation plans aim at actively fostering outreach and take-up of results and will be tailored according to the specific needs of the scientific / academic world and of industry users. SHAMAN's work will be coordinated with other digital preservation projects and initiatives at national and international level.

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