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Mind Reading: Reconstruction of shown images by reading out the activity of the visual area of the brain

Mind Reading: Reconstruction of shown images by reading out the activity of the visual area of the brain | Amazing Science | Scoop.it

The human visual system consists of a hierarchically organized, highly interconnected network of several dozen distinct areas. Each area can be viewed as a computational module that represents different aspects of the visual scene. Some areas process the simple structural features of a scene, such as the edge orientation, local motion and texture. Others process complex semantic features, such as faces, animals and places. Recently, researches have been focussing on discovering the way each of these areas are representing the visual world, and on how these multiple representations are modulated by attention, learning and memory. Because the human visual system is exquisitely adapted to process natural images and movies we focus most of our effort on natural stimuli.

 

One way to think about visual processing is in terms of neural coding. Each visual area encodes certain information about a visual scene, and that information must be decoded by downstream areas. Both encoding and decoding processes can, in theory, be described by an appropriate computational model of the stimulus-response mapping function of each area. Therefore, our descriptions of visual function are posed in terms of quantitative computational encoding models. However, once an accurate encoding model has been developed, it is fairly straightforward to convert it into a decoding model that can be used to read out brain activity, in order to classify, identify or reconstruct mental events. In the popular press this is often called “brain reading”.

 

Here are some picture and video examples of it.

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Transhuman Week: exploring the frontiers of human enhancement

Transhuman Week: exploring the frontiers of human enhancement | Amazing Science | Scoop.it

Wired.co.uk seeks to navigate the thorny ethical, medical and social issues associated with using technology to enhance the human body and mind through a series of features, galleries and guest posts.

 

http://www.wired.co.uk/topics/transhuman-week


Via Szabolcs Kósa, Yvan Marechal
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Merging biological tissues and electronics: Implantable therapeutic devices

Merging biological tissues and electronics: Implantable therapeutic devices | Amazing Science | Scoop.it
To control the three-dimensional shape of engineered tissue, researchers grow cells on tiny, sponge-like scaffolds. These devices can be implanted into patients or used in the lab to study tissue responses to potential drugs.

 

A team of researchers from MIT, Harvard University and Boston Children’s Hospital has now added a new element to tissue scaffolds: electronic sensors. These sensors, made of silicon nanowires, could be used to monitor electrical activity in the tissue surrounding the scaffold, control drug release or screen drug candidates for their effects on the beating of heart tissue.

 

Until now, the only cellular platforms that incorporated electronic sensors consisted of flat layers of cells grown on planar metal electrodes or transistors. Those two-dimensional systems do not accurately replicate natural tissue, so the research team set out to design a 3-D scaffold that could monitor electrical activity, allowing them to see how cells inside the structure would respond to specific drugs. The researchers built their new scaffold out of epoxy, a nontoxic material that can take on a porous, 3-D structure. Silicon nanowires embedded in the scaffold carry electrical signals to and from cells grown within the structure.

 

The team chose silicon nanowires for electronic sensors because they are small, stable, can be safely implanted into living tissue and are more electrically sensitive than metal electrodes. The nanowires, which range in diameter from 30 to 80 nanometers (about 1,000 times smaller than a human hair), can detect less than one-thousandth of a watt, which is the level of electricity that might be seen in a cell.

 

The team also grew blood vessels with embedded electronic sensors and showed that they could be used to measure pH changes within and outside the vessels. Such implantable devices could allow doctors to monitor inflammation or other biochemical events in patients who receive the implants. Ultimately, the researchers would like to engineer tissues that can not only sense an electrical or chemical event, but also respond to it appropriately — for example, by releasing a drug.

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Acoustic cell-sorting chip may lead to cell phone-sized medical labs

Acoustic cell-sorting chip may lead to cell phone-sized medical labs | Amazing Science | Scoop.it

A technique that uses acoustic waves to sort cells on a chip may create miniature medical analytic devices that could make Star Trek's tricorder seem a bit bulky in comparison, according to a team of researchers. The device uses two beams of acoustic -- or sound -- waves to act as acoustic tweezers and sort a continuous flow of cells on a dime-sized chip, said Tony Jun Huang, associate professor of engineering science and mechanics, Penn State. By changing the frequency of the acoustic waves, researchers can easily alter the paths of the cells. Most current cell-sorting devices allow the cells to be sorted into only two channels in one step, according to Huang. He said that another drawback of current cell-sorting devices is that cells must be encapsulated into droplets, which complicates further analysis.

 

The researchers first tested the device by sorting a stream of fluorescent polystyrene beads into three channels. Prior to turning on the transducer, the particles flowed across the chip unimpeded. Once the transducer produced the acoustic waves, the particles were separated into the channels. Following this experiment, the researchers sorted human white blood cells that were affected by leukemia. The leukemia cells were first focused into the main channel and then separated into five channels. The device is not limited to five channels, according to Huang. "We can do more," Huang said. "We could do 10 channels if we want, we just used five because we thought it was impressive enough to show that the concept worked."

 

http://tinyurl.com/bzdlon5

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Researchers collaborate on inexpensive DNA sequencing method

Researchers collaborate on inexpensive DNA sequencing method | Amazing Science | Scoop.it

Rapid, accurate genetic sequencing soon may be within reach of every doctor's office if recent research from the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) and Columbia University's School of Engineering and Applied Science can be commercialized effectively. The team has demonstrated a potentially low-cost, reliable way to obtain the complete DNA sequences of any individual using a sort of molecular ticker-tape reader, potentially enabling easy detection of disease markers in a patient's DNA ("PEG-labeled nucleotides and nanopore detection for single molecule DNA sequencing by synthesis").

 

Genia Technologies is collaborating with scientists at Columbia University and Harvard University to develop a commercial single-molecule sequencer. The company has licensed a nanopore sequencing-by-synthesis technology developed by researchers at Columbia and the National Institute of Standards and Technology, which it plans to integrate with its nanopore chip platform, and is using polymerase fusion proteins developed at Harvard.

Genia plans to ship its first nanopore sequencing device to beta customers by the end of next year, and to bring a commercial product to market in 2014.


While sequencing the genome of an animal species for the first time is so common that it hardly makes news anymore, it is less well known that sequencing any single individual's DNA is an expensive affair, costing many thousands of dollars using today's technology. An individual's genome carries markers that can provide advance warning of the risk of disease, but you need a fast, reliable and economical way of sequencing each patient's genes to take full advantage of them. Equally important is the need to continually sequence an individual's DNA over his or her lifetime, because the genetic code can be modified by many factors.

 

Nanopores and their interaction with polymer molecules have been a longtime research focus of NIST scientist John Kasianowicz. His group collaborated with a team led by Jingyue Ju, director of Columbia's Center for Genome Technology and Biomolecular Engineering, which came up with the idea for tagging DNA building blocks for single molecule sequencing by nanopore detection. The ability to discriminate between the polymer tags was demonstrated by Kasianowicz, his NIST colleague Joseph Robertson, and others. Columbia University has applied for patents for the commercialization of the technology.


Kasianowicz estimates that the technique could identify a DNA building block with extremely high accuracy at an error rate of less than one in 500 million, and the necessary equipment would be within the reach of any medical provider. "The heart of the sequencer would be an operational amplifier that would cost much less than $1,000 for a one-time purchase," he says, "and the cost of materials and software should be trivial."

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How Self-Sustaining Space Habitats Could Save Humanity from Extinction

How Self-Sustaining Space Habitats Could Save Humanity from Extinction | Amazing Science | Scoop.it

This planet can't protect us forever. Sooner or later, there'll be a catastrophe that renders this world uninhabitable for humans. And when that day comes, we'll need to know already how to live in space.

 

Physicist Stephen Hawking suggests that our ongoing efforts to colonize space could ultimately save humanity from extinction. As it stands, Earth is our only biosphere — all our eggs are currently in one basket. If something were to happen to either our planet or our civilization, it would be vital to know that we could sustain a colony somewhere else.

 

And the threats are real. The possibility of an asteroid impact, nuclear war, a nanotechnological disaster, or severe environmental degradation make the need for off-planet habitation extremely urgent. And given our ambitious future prospects, including the potential for ongoing population growth, we may very well have no choice but to leave the cradle.

 

Back in 2000, NASA completed a $200 million study called the "Roadmap to Settlement" in which they described the potential for a moon-based colony in which habitats could be constructed several feet beneath the lunar surface (or covered within an existing crater) to protect colonists from high-energy cosmic radiation. They also outlined the construction of an onsite nuclear power plant, solar panel arrays, and a number of methods for extracting carbon, silicon, aluminium and other materials from the surface. As NASA's roadmap suggests, a colony on the Moon could help us prepare for a mission to Mars. It would probably be wise to set up, test, and train a self-sustaining colony a little closer to home before we take that massive leap to Mars.

 

And indeed, Mars holds considerably more potential than the Moon. It features a solar day of 24 hours and 39 minutes, and a surface area 28.4% less than Earth's. The Red Planet also has an axial tilt of 25 degrees (compared to the Earth's 29%) resulting in similar seasonal shifts (though they're twice as long given that Mars's year is 1.88 Earth years). And most importantly, Mars has an existing atmosphere, significant mineral diversity (such as ore and nickel-iron), and water. Actually, it has a lot of water. Recent analysis shows that Mars could have as much water underground as Earth.

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Far thinking: Our civilization needs is a billion-year plan...

Far thinking: Our civilization needs is a billion-year plan... | Amazing Science | Scoop.it

Lt Col Garretson — one of the USAF’s most farsighted and original thinkers — has been at the forefront of USAF strategy on the long-term future in projects such as Blue Horizons (on KurzweilAI — see video), Energy Horizons, Space Solar Power, the AF Futures Game, the USAF Strategic Environmental Assessment, and the USAF RPA Flight Plan. Now in this exclusive to KurzweilAI, he pushes the boundary of long-term thinking about humanity’s survival out to the edge … and beyond.

 

It isn’t enough just to plan for two or 20, or even the fabled Chinese 100 year periods. We need to be thinking and planning on the order of billions of years. Our civilization needs inter-generational plans and goals that span as far out as we can forecast significant events.

For instance, the most significant near-term external problem we can forecast is that we have only about one billion years before the Earth becomes uninhabitable. Somewhere around that time, our Sun will have expanded and start boiling away our oceans. Truly, as the great space visionary Konstantin Tsiolkovsky foresaw, “Unless mankind leaves the Earth, it will surely die there.”

 

It is a nasty reality that sometimes the solutions to significant problems take time, and last-minute crash programs can fail. It would be a darn shame to end life’s two billion year run (and humanity’s eight million year run) prematurely because of a lack of planning. Moving everyone and everything we value off Earth is likely to take some time. The same is likely to be true for any of the alternatives: uploading most of us to exist “in-silico,” putting a sunshade between Earth and the Sun, moving the Earth, or attempting to control the Sun.

 

The obvious solution available to us today to cope with Earth’s eventual non-inhabitability is to build O’Neill style space colonies from material in the Asteroid belt, which is estimated to have a carrying capacity of 10–100 trillion people (1,000 to 10,000 times our current population on Earth). Of course, to be able to exercise that option, we would need a space policy that recognized survival as the fundamental reason for the space program, with articulated goals of space development and space settlement explicitly stated, and a space program pushing the technology and logistical capabilities to be able to attain those goals.

 

Energy availability is a key constraint to human progress and mobility. Spacefaring and space settlement capabilities would need to be developed before some other crisis (such as peak oil) caused a new and likely irrecoverable dark ages, which would reduce the energy capital available to develop the pre-cursor technologies. Nature has provided humanity a bounty of easy energy in the form of fossil fuels, a sort of ”baby fat” for the Earth to grow to adolescence. Use it well to reach new energy sources and we transcend; use it poorly (use it up) and we collapse.

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9 Techs that Could Transform the World

9 Techs that Could Transform the World | Amazing Science | Scoop.it

We live in an era of accelerating change. Technology is changing and innovating faster than most of us can keep up. And at the same time, it's easy to get so caught up in shiny visions of the future, and not notice the astounding things that are happening in science and technology today.

 


Via Dr. Susan Bainbridge
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The advent of the global brain

The advent of the global brain | Amazing Science | Scoop.it

Get ready for the global brain. That was the grand finale of a presentation on the next generation of the Internet I heard last week from Yuri Milner. G-8 leaders had a preview of Milner’s predictions a few months earlier, when he was among the technology savants invited to brief the world’s most powerful politicians in Deauville, France.

 

Milner is the technology guru most of us have never heard of. He was an early outside investor in Facebook, sinking $200 million in the company in 2009 for a 1.96 percent stake, a decision that was widely derided as crazy at the time. He was also early to spot the potential of Zynga, the gaming company, and of Groupon, the daily deals site.

 

His investing savvy propelled Milner this year onto the Forbes Rich List, with an estimated net worth of $1 billion. One reason his is not yet a household name is that he does his tech spotting from Moscow, not a city most of us look to for innovative economic ideas.

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The Golden Record: A message from Humanity into Space by NASA

The Golden Record: A message from Humanity into Space by NASA | Amazing Science | Scoop.it

The Golden Record: Tucked aboard each Voyager spacecraft was a 12-inch, gold-plated, copper phonograph disc "containing sounds and images selected to portray the diversity of life and culture on Earth," according to NASA. 

 

The contents of the record were selected for NASA by a committee chaired by Carl Sagan of Cornell University, et. al. Dr. Sagan and his associates assembled 115 images and a variety of natural sounds, such as those made by surf, wind and thunder, birds, whales, and other animals. To this they added musical selections from different cultures and eras, and spoken greetings from Earth-people in fifty-five languages, and printed messages from President Carter and U.N. Secretary General Waldheim. Each record is encased in a protective aluminum jacket, together with a cartridge and a needle. Instructions, in symbolic language, explain the origin of the spacecraft and indicate how the record is to be played. The 115 images are encoded in analog form. The remainder of the record is in audio, designed to be played at 16-2/3 revolutions per minute. It contains the spoken greetings, beginning with Akkadian, which was spoken in Sumer about six thousand years ago, and ending with Wu, a modern Chinese dialect. Following the section on the sounds of Earth, there is an eclectic 90-minute selection of music, including both Eastern and Western classics and a variety of ethnic music. Once the Voyager spacecraft leave the solar system (by 1990, both will be beyond the orbit of Pluto), they will find themselves in empty space. It will be forty thousand years before they make a close approach to any other planetary system. As Carl Sagan has noted, "The spacecraft will be encountered and the record played only if there are advanced spacefaring civilizations in interstellar space. But the launching of this bottle into the cosmic ocean says something very hopeful about life on this planet."

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Dr. Stefan Gruenwald's comment, December 20, 2012 9:00 PM
Scenes from Earth are included:
Dr. Stefan Gruenwald's comment, December 20, 2012 9:00 PM
http://voyager.jpl.nasa.gov/spacecraft/scenes.html
Thomas Giron's curator insight, November 9, 2014 6:37 PM

I find this to be extremely amazing. The first time music was ever launched into space. It is possible one day, perhaps, aliens may find it and listen to it. Perhaps we will make another record to be launched into space with the music of today.

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Vinod Khosla: Technology Will Replace 80 Percent of Medical Doctors

Vinod Khosla: Technology Will Replace 80 Percent of Medical Doctors | Amazing Science | Scoop.it

Khosla assured the audience that being part of the health care system was a burden and disadvantage. To disrupt health care, entrepreneurs do not need to be part of the system or status quo. He cited the example of CEO Jack Dorsey of Square (a wireless payment system allowing anyone to accept credit cards rather than setup a more costly corporate account with Visa / MasterCard) who reflected in a Wired magazine article that the ability to disrupt the electronic payment system which had stymied others for years was because of the 250 employees at Square, only 5 ever worked in that industry.


Khosla believed that patients would be better off getting diagnosed by a machine than by doctors. Creating such a system was a simple problem to solve. Google’s development of a driverless smart car was “two orders of magnitude more complex” than providing the right diagnosis. A good machine learning system not only would be cheaper, more accurate and objective, but also effectively replace 80 percent of doctors simply by being better than the average doctor. To do so, the level of machine expertise would need to be in the 80th percentile of doctors’ expertise.

 

Health and medical care is an incredible intersection of technology, science, emotions, and human imperfections in both providing care and comfort. As conference speaker Dr. Aenor Sawyer, an orthopedic surgeon from UCSF noted, we need to figure out how to have our different cultures of doctors, gamers, designers, and technologists interact. Fixing health care is more than simply “we know the problem and we know the solution”. She reflected that the level of dedication, perseverance, and a willingness to make impact among the different groups demonstrates more similarities than differences.

 

Perhaps Kholsa’s call to action was simply an entrepreneurial mindset, but simply ignoring those who have chosen a field to improve and safe lives and who meet humanity everyday on the front-lines is problematic and dangerous. There are some things that may never be codified or driven into algorthims. Call it a doctor’s experience, intuition, and therapeutic touch and listening. If start-ups can clear the obstacles and restore the timeless doctor-patient relationship and human connection, then perhaps the future of health care is bright after all.

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Asti Toro's comment, September 10, 2012 10:52 AM
my husband already said it 10 years ago, your article is confirming it.. thank you to have a confirmation from an expert..
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Cloned Horses Given Okay For Olympics – A New Era Of Designer Animals Coming?

Cloned Horses Given Okay For Olympics – A New Era Of Designer Animals Coming? | Amazing Science | Scoop.it

Cloned horses are galloping their way toward the Olympic Games. The organization that presides over international equestrian events has reversed its position on prohibiting cloned horses from participating in competitions. The Fédération Equestre Internationale in Lausanne, Switzerland, announced their decision in June following a meeting in which up-to-date information on cloning was presented to the federation. Federation members then held a debate, after which it was decided that, for equestrian, cloned horses do not have a clear competitive advantage over non-cloned horses. Because the ruling is so recent, cloned horses do not number amongst the competition at the London Games. But we’re sure to see them at future Olympic Games. The ruling also raises a broader question: how will cloning impact animals in other sports as well?

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National Magazine Award Finalist on SINGULARITY - Collection of Special Reports

National Magazine Award Finalist on SINGULARITY - Collection of Special Reports | Amazing Science | Scoop.it
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Ambitious quest to build an artificial organism that merges electronic parts with living cells

Ambitious quest to build an artificial organism that merges electronic parts with living cells | Amazing Science | Scoop.it

It has become routine for engineers to draw inspiration from the animal kingdom when designing mobile robots. There are now machines that run like cheetahs, fly like hummingbirds, and swim like zebrafish. So it’s not surprising that when a team of British and American scientists joined forces to build a robot that wriggles through water, they decided to use the sea lamprey, a primitive eel-like fish, as a model.

 

But this lamprey-inspired bot won’t merely be another animal-mimicking machine. Instead, it will be a “biohybrid”, a simulated sea lamprey that integrates electronic components with living animal cells. The project team hopes to create a tiny swimming machine, just a millimetre in length, that can respond to environmental cues – navigating using ambient light and following the trail of a chemical compound through the water, for instance. The micro-robot, dubbed “Cyberplasm,” could then perform hazardous underwater tasks, such as looking for submerged mines, and explore worlds inaccessible to humans.

 

“The idea is to build a part biological, part machine robot,” says Daniel Frankel, a chemical engineer at Newcastle University and one of the lead scientists for the project. “We’re going to do that using genetic engineering – we’re changing the way the cells work so they can be read by electronics.” This ambitious project, which began in 2009 aims to build a swimming robot with cells that have been genetically engineered to act like eyes, cells that detect chemicals, and muscles that contract, says Frankel. “All of these components will eventually work together like an artificial organism.”

 

Frankel’s job is to design the light- and chemical-sensitive cells that will act as Cyberplasm’s “eyes” and “nose”. To engineer the eye sensors, Frankel started with a supply of Chinese hamster ovary cells, which are commonly used in biological and medical research. Then they modified these cells by inserting a gene that makes plants responsive to light. They linked this plant DNA with another gene – common in mammalian cells –which produces nitric oxide, a gas that acts as an important signaling molecule in the body. These genetic manipulations produced hamster cells that are light-responsive; whenever light hits the cells, they respond by producing a hit of nitric oxide.

 

Frankel is now using the same approach to build the robot’s chemical sensors, working with Christopher Voigt, a biological engineer at MIT, to engineer hamster cells that give off nitric oxide in the presence of certain chemical compounds.

The release of nitric oxide will allow the modified mammalian cells to communicate with Cyberplasm’s electronic “brain”. When the researchers assemble the final robot, they’ll implant a nitric-oxide-sensitive electrode near the genetically engineered cells. And whenever the electrode detects a nitric oxide plume, it will send a signal to a microprocessor, which will then coordinate the robot’s movement.

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Engineering Projects For A Better Future: Space-Based Solar Power Designs

Engineering Projects For A Better Future: Space-Based Solar Power Designs | Amazing Science | Scoop.it
Space-based solar power has been hailed as the holy grail of alternative energy and the solution to the world's energy crisis - read on for the six most promising projects.

Via Amanda Stoel
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Cryonics - Take a Peek into the Frozen World of the Immortality Faithful

Cryonics - Take a Peek into the Frozen World of the Immortality Faithful | Amazing Science | Scoop.it
Life after death, for most people, is a faithful belief in a spiritual hereafter, a transfer to a higher, non-bodily consciousness. For cryonics enthusiasts, however, a “second life” – or more accurately, a resuscitated life with a little help from freezer storage – here on Earth is the goal.

 

The Prospect of Immortality is a six-year study by UK photographer Murray Ballard, who has traveled the world pulling back the curtain on the amateurs, optimists, businesses and apparatuses of cryonics. “It’s not a large industry,” says Ballard, who visited the Alcor Life Extension Foundation in Phoenix, Arizona; the Cryonics Institute in Detroit, Michigan; KrioRus in Moscow, Russia; and Suspended Animation Inc in Boytan Beach, Florida; among others.

 

Cryonics is the preservation of deceased humans in liquid nitrogen at temperatures just shy of its boiling point of −196°C/77 Kelvin. Cryopreservation of humans is not reversible with current science, but cryonicists hypothesize that people who are considered dead by current medical definitions may someday be recovered by using advanced future technologies.

 

Stats are hard to come by, but it is estimated there are about 2,000 people signed up for cryonics and approximately 250 people currently cryopreserved. Over 100 pets have also been placed in vats of liquid nitrogen with the hopes of a future recovery.

 

Ballard’s project began in 2006 after he read a news article, “Freezer Failure Ends Couple’s Hopes of Life After Death,” about a French couple who had been kept in industrial freezers beneath their chateau in the Loire valley. He phoned up a small group of UK cryonicists and attended their meetings and training sessions. Later, funding from an arts organization paid for two trips to the U.S.

 

A chance meeting with one of the founders of KrioRus, a Russian cryonics organization, at a UK conference set up a memorable week-long trip to Moscow, St. Petersburg, and Vorenzh. There he photographed the two resting places of the first Russian cryonics neuro-patient.

 

“I photographed her grave in a cemetery just outside St. Petersburg and the cryostat containing her head at the facility in Moscow.”

 

Heads take up less storage space than whole bodies. They’re cheaper to store.

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'Star Trek' nuclear fusion impulse engine is now in the works

'Star Trek' nuclear fusion impulse engine is now in the works | Amazing Science | Scoop.it
It's not quite warp drive, but researchers are hot on the trail of building nuclear fusion impulse engines, complete with real-life dilithium crystals.

 

There's a hierarchy of "Star Trek" inventions we would like to see become reality. We already have voice-controlled computers and communicators in the form of smartphones. A working Holodeck is under development. Now, how about we get some impulse engines for our starships?

 

The University of Alabama in Huntsville's Aerophysics Research Center, NASA, Boeing, and Oak Ridge National Laboratory are collaborating on a project to produce nuclear fusion impulse rocket engines. It's no warp drive, but it would get us around the galaxy a lot quicker than current technologies. The scientists are hoping to make impulse drive a reality by 2030. It would be capable of taking a spacecraft from Earth to Mars in as little as six weeks.

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How artificial intelligence is changing our lives

How artificial intelligence is changing our lives | Amazing Science | Scoop.it

In a sense, AI has become almost mundanely ubiquitous, from the intelligent sensors that set the aperture and shutter speed in digital cameras, to the heat and humidity probes in dryers, to the automatic parking feature in cars. And more applications are tumbling out of labs and laptops by the hour.


“It’s an exciting world,” says Colin Angle, chairman and cofounder of iRobot, which has brought a number of smart products, including the Roomba vacuum cleaner, to consumers in the past decade.


What may be most surprising about AI today, in fact, is how little amazement it creates. Perhaps science-fiction stories with humanlike androids, from the charming Data (“Star Trek“) to the obsequious C-3PO (“Star Wars”) to the sinister Terminator, have raised unrealistic expectations. Or maybe human nature just doesn’t stay amazed for long.


“Today’s mind-popping, eye-popping technology in 18 months will be as blasé and old as a 1980 pair of double-knit trousers,” says Paul Saffo, a futurist and managing director of foresight at Discern Analytics in San Francisco. “Our expectations are a moving target.”

 

The ability to create machine intelligence that mimics human thinking would be a tremendous scientific accomplishment, enabling humans to understand their own thought processes better. But even experts in the field won’t promise when, or even if, this will happen.

 

Entrepreneurs like iRobot’s Mr. Angle aren’t fussing over whether today’s clever gadgets represent “true” AI, or worrying about when, or if, their robots will ever be self-aware. Starting with Roomba, which marks its 10th birthday this month, his company has produced a stream of practical robots that do “dull, dirty, or dangerous” jobs in the home or on the battlefield. These range from smart machines that clean floors and gutters to the thousands of PackBots and other robot models used by the US military for reconnaissance and bomb disposal.


While robots in particular seem to fascinate humans, especially if they are designed to look like us, they represent only one visible form of AI. Two other developments are poised to fundamentally change the way we use the technology: voice recognition and self-driving cars.

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oliviersc's comment, October 3, 2012 11:19 AM
Un petit tour par mes Cercles privés à Google+ Thanks for this article !
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A smartphone in your glasses - another pair of "intelligent" AI glasses emerges as competitor to Google

EPFL scientists are developing a prototype of a pair of “augmented” glasses. You’ll be able to read messages, look at your agenda, and receive a variety of information directly on the lenses.

 

No need to turn to your smartphone to check the time, look at your agenda or the weather forecast, read a text message or map a route in an unfamiliar city. All this information, and much more, will soon be displayed on the lenses of “augmented” glasses via a mini-projector placed on the frames - and on the condition that you’re also wearing a specially designed pair of contact lenses.

 

EPFL scientists in the Laboratory of Photonic Devices are currently working on a prototype that’s similar to the project announced this spring by Google. The applications envisioned for this eagerly awaited invention run the gamut – games, GPS, teaching enhancement, support for the deaf and hard of hearing, and myriad other kinds of augmented reality.

 

The Laboratory is working closely with EPFL start-up company Lemoptix, which specializes in miniaturized projection systems, to develop a high definition micro-projector that will blend discreetly into the right arm of the glasses. From this projector, images and information will be sent to the specially treated glasses lens via holography. This is a process in which the light scattered off of an object is recorded and then later reconstructed in 3D in the absence of the object. In the case of augmented glasses, the hologram will be projected on the lenses in such a way that the image is reflected in the direction of the eye, while the lenses still appear transparent. The user thus can still see through the glasses.

 

Before this invention can be commercialized, however, all these technologies must be refined, tested, and put together. It will likely be between two and five years before we’ll be able to put on a pair of these glasses.

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Hitachi: Data that lives forever is now possible! A few hundred million years of storage time!

Hitachi: Data that lives forever is now possible! A few hundred million years of storage time! | Amazing Science | Scoop.it
As Bob Dylan and the Rolling Stones prove, good music lasts a long time; now Japanese hi-tech giant Hitachi says it can last even longer—a few hundred million years at least.

 

The company on Monday unveiled a method of storing digital information on slivers of quartz glass that can endure extreme temperatures and hostile conditions without degrading, almost forever. And for anyone who updated their LP collection onto CD, only to find they then needed to get it all on MP3, a technology that never needs to change might sound appealing. "The volume of data being created every day is exploding, but in terms of keeping it for later generations, we haven't necessarily improved since the days we inscribed things on stones," Hitachi researcher Kazuyoshi Torii said. "The possibility of losing information may actually have increased," he said, noting the life of digital media currently available—CDs and hard drives—is limited to a few decades or a century at most.

 

Hitachi's new technology stores data in binary form by creating dots inside a thin sheet of quartz glass, which can be read with an ordinary optical microscope. Provided a computer with the know-how to understand that binary is available—simple enough to programme, no matter how advanced computers become—the data will always be readable, Torii said. The prototype storage device is two centimetres (0.8 inches) square and just two millimetres (0.08 inches) thick and made from quartz glass, a highly stable and resilient material, used to make beakers and other instruments for laboratory use. The chip, which is resistant to many chemicals and unaffected by radio waves, can be exposed directly to high temperature flames and heated to 1,000 degrees Celsius (1,832 Fahrenheit) for at least two hours without being damaged. It is also waterproof, meaning it could survive natural calamities, such as fires and tsunami.

 

The material currently has four layers of dots, which can hold 40 megabytes per square inch, approximately the density on a music CD, researchers said, adding they believe adding more layers should not be a problem. Hitachi have not decided when to put the chip to practical use but researchers said they could start with storage services for government agencies, museums and religious organisations.

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Interactive 3D protein structures on a virtual reality wall

Interactive 3D protein structures on a virtual reality wall | Amazing Science | Scoop.it

How do you get to know a protein? How about from the inside out? If you ask chemistry professor James Hinton, "It’s really important that scientists as well as students are able to touch, feel, see … embrace–if you like, these proteins structures”. For decades, with funding from the National Science Foundation (NSF), Hinton has used nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) to look at protein structure and function. But he wanted to find a way to educate and engage students about his discoveries.

 

The picture above shows an example of the interactive visualization of proteins from the Protein Data Bank (PDB), using PDB browser software on the C-Wall (virtual reality wall) at the California Institute for Telecommunications and Information Technology (Calit2) at the University of California, San Diego. The work was performed by Jürgen P. Schulze, project scientist, in collaboration with Jeff Milton, Philip Weber and Professor Philip Bourne of the University of California, San Diego. The software supports collaborative viewing of proteins at multiple sites on the Internet

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Sandys VR's curator insight, March 27, 2013 6:12 PM

Heard about this before, very cool use of VR!

Luis Carlos Peña Gordillo's curator insight, November 4, 2013 1:45 AM

Realidad virtual en visualización química.

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Researchers develop technique to remotely control cockroaches

Researchers develop technique to remotely control cockroaches | Amazing Science | Scoop.it
Researchers from North Carolina State University have developed a technique that uses an electronic interface to remotely control, or steer, cockroaches.

 

The new technique developed by Bozkurt's team works by embedding a low-cost, light-weight, commercially-available chip with a wireless receiver and transmitter onto each roach (they used Madagascar hissing cockroaches). Weighing 0.7 grams, the cockroach backpack also contains a microcontroller that monitors the interface between the implanted electrodes and the tissue to avoid potential neural damage. The microcontroller is wired to the roach's antennae and cerci. The cerci are sensory organs on the roach's abdomen, which are normally used to detect movement in the air that could indicate a predator is approaching – causing the roach to scurry away. But the researchers use the wires attached to the cerci to spur the roach into motion. The roach thinks something is sneaking up behind it and moves forward. The wires attached to the antennae serve as electronic reins, injecting small charges into the roach's neural tissue. The charges trick the roach into thinking that the antennae are in contact with a physical barrier, which effectively steers them in the opposite direction.

 

 

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Future of 3D - from a model of the heart to a talking human head – to be viewed from any angle

A new projector allows floating 3D objects – from a model of the heart to a talking human head – to be viewed from any angle.

 

The RayModeler prototype, developed by Sony, is on display for the first time in the UK at an exhibit at the British Library, London, called Growing Knowledge. The device creates 3D images that viewers can see from all angles without stereoscopic glasses. Sensors that recognise gestures allow it to be spun around when you wave your hand in the desired direction.

 

The system can recreate both static and moving objects. A static object can be captured on a turntable with a single camera, whereas many cameras are needed to capture motion. The shots are transformed into 360 images to be displayed by an LED light source in the system.

 

The library is featuring the display because it could be a powerful tool for researchers. "It has clear applications in anatomy and physiology," says Aleks Krotoski, researcher-in-residence at the British Library. "If you have an MRI scan you could look at it closely in 3D and manipulate it."

 

http://tinyurl.com/cg76hfa

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Donate organs? No, grow them from scratch

Donate organs? No, grow them from scratch | Amazing Science | Scoop.it
Columbia researcher Nina Tandon believes that the era of engineered tissues -- think ultimately of a replacement kidney grown in the lab -- is just beginning.

 

Medical science, boosted by manufacturing and information technology, is on the cusp of being able to grow human tissue.
So believes Nina Tandon, a senior fellow at Columbia University's Lab for Stem Cells and Tissue Engineering, who for her Ph.D. thesis grew cardiac cells that beat like tiny hearts.


A third age of medicine is beginning, she said in a speech here at the TEDx Berlin conference held in conjunction with IFA consumer-electronics show. The first age, most of human history, had only a primitive understanding of the body. The second age ran from the first dialysis machines in 1924 to today's organ replacement procedures dependent on human donors and limited by the fact that many tissues are rejected by the body they're being transplanted into. The third age builds replacement materials through tissue engineering.


"We've gone to growing pieces of the body that are living -- from scratch," Tandon said. Though she's careful to give credit where it's due: humans provide a framework and the correct environment, but "the real tissue engineers are the cells."


Her work so far has focused coaxing cells into activity with electrical impulses inside what she calls a bioreactor. Some of her work is shown in a video of a pulsating cube of lab-grown rat heart tissue. It's about 5mm on a side, a scale that makes her ambition -- growing a patch of heart tissue that could be applied after a heart attack -- seem more achievable.

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It’s Time To Build A Space Elevator, Says LiftPort Group In Successful Kickstarter Campaign

It’s Time To Build A Space Elevator, Says LiftPort Group In Successful Kickstarter Campaign | Amazing Science | Scoop.it

Building a tower into the Heavens is a prospect that is likely as old as human civilization itself, and for the last 50 years or so, scientists have proposed that the best way to realize the idea is to construct a space elevator. NASA scientists put together plans for such a tower in 2000, but those efforts have been toppled by funding cuts. Now, a once abandoned group of companies aiming to build the first space elevator has reformed and recommitted to the dream with a campaign on Kickstarter. The LiftPort Group launched the project in mid August with a $8,000 goal and had raised over $40,000 just past the halfway point.


For all the excitement about undertaking such an endeavor, the group’s Kickstarter pitch speculates that a functional Earth Space Elevator is “a long way off. Perhaps 20-25 years.

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