Saturday, October 2, 2010

Giddy-Up: Half A Century Of Cyborgs

From Discover Magazine:

To celebrate the 50th Anniversary of the word “cyborg,” Tim Maly of Quiet Babylon is running a 50-post tumblr of quotations and articles about, well, cyborgs. The first post gives us the space-oriented (and rather wordy) origin of the term:

For the exogenously extended organizational complex functioning as an integrated homeostatic system unconsciously, we propose the term “cyborg”.

- Manfred E. Clynes and Nathan S. Kline Cyborgs and Space (ASTRONAUTICS, Issue 13 September, 1960)

Read more ....

The Robotic Otter: Underwater Robot That Swims With Flippers And Can Be Controlled With A Tablet Computer

The AQUA robot uses flippers to move and now will no longer need to be tethered

From The Daily Mail:

Scientists have developed a remote-controlled robot that can receive and carry out commands while underwater.

AQUA is small and nimble, with flippers rather than propellers, and is designed for intricate data collection from shipwrecks and reefs.

The robot, designed by a team of universities from Canada, can be controlled wirelessly using a waterproof tablet computer.

Read more ....

Best Of The Ig Nobel Prizes 2010

From New Scientist:

Are the Ig Nobels losing their edge? The venue for this year's ceremony honouring science that "makes you laugh, then makes you think" was Harvard's Sanders Theater – a splendidly sober Victorian building that's housed many dignified graduations and historic lectures. The capacity audience was permitted to throw paper airplanes only during two designated intervals, rather than whenever the fancy took them. And the first cash prizes in the awards' 20-year history raised the ugly suspicion that the Ig Nobels will become yet another awards ceremony that's all about money.

Read more ....

Finding E.T. May Become Harder If Aliens Go Digital


Scientists may have an extra challenge when it comes to detecting alien civilizations: a time limit.

A new study suggests that intelligent aliens, if their technological progression is similar to that of humanity's, are likely to have moved away from noisy radio transmissions to harder-to-hear digital signals within a 100-year time frame. That offers Earth just a narrow window in which to pick up any signals from extraterrestrial civilizations.

Read more ....

First Beer Brewed For Drinking in Space Will Undergo Testing in Low-Gravity Pub

Sending Beer Into Space Original images by epicbeer and nashpreds99 on Flickr

From Popular Science:

With the announcement that Boeing plans to take tourists into space in five years, it was really only a matter of time before somebody started thinking about refreshments. Because where would space tourism be without space beer? Luckily, Astronauts4Hire, a non-profit space research corporation, has the situation in hand. They are about to test an Australian beer that's brewed and bottled especially for consumption in microgravity.

Read more ....

Jaguar's C-X75 Concept: A 205MPH Electric Supercar

Jaguar C-X75 Jalopnik

From Popular Science:

Happy 75th birthday to British automaker Jaguar! As a birthday present, they've actually given us something new to drool over: A 780 hp mostly-electric supercar capable of hitting 250 mph with a whopping 500-mile range, all wrapped in a body inspired by the 1966 XJ13, the car the chief designer calls "possibly the most beautiful Jaguar ever made."

Read more ....

Splitting The Check As Easy As 'Bumping' Phones

Paypal app lets you transfer money with a cell phone 'bump'.

From The ABC News:

PayPal's New App Lets Customers Transfer Money by Touching iPhones Together.

It's the one major drawback of a group dinner out: The check arrives, and everyone struggles to pay in a chaotic clash of cards, cash and IOUs.

But the newest version of an iPhone app from PayPal attempts to take the pain out of splitting the bill.

Read more ....

Friday, October 1, 2010

Dinosaurs Were Taller Than Thought

From Live Science:

As if dinosaurs weren't already giant to begin with, new research indicates they were even taller than was thought.

Although researchers had a good idea how tall dinosaurs stood based on their skeletons, it turns out that parts of their bodies that didn't fossilize might have boosted their height by at least 10 percent.

Read more ....

The Edge Of The Solar System Is A Weird And Erratic Place

From Discover Magazine:

The edge of the solar system is not some static line on a map. The boundary between the heliosphere in which we live and the vastness of interstellar space beyond is in flux, stretching and shifting more rapidly than astronomers ever knew, according to David McComas.

Read more ....

Ancient Streetview: Now Google Can Take You To The Historic Pavements Of Pompeii And Stonehenge

Internet users can look at Pompeii's ancient streets from the comfort of their own homes

From The Daily Mail:

They are some of the most spectacular and unique places on the planet.

Now Google has taken tourism to the next level by allowing people from around the world to see monuments like Stonehenge, the streets of Pompeii and the remote landscapes of Antarctica from the comfort of their own living room.

But instead of the usual Google Streetview cars which have become a familiar sight on British streets, the new snaps were taken using a special Google tricycle.

Read more ....

Social Sensitivity Trumps IQ In Group Intelligence

Greater than the sum of its parts (Image: WestEnd61/Rex Features)

From New Scientist:

If you're a headhunter looking for someone to work in a group, you might want to stop chasing down the most intelligent candidates. Group intelligence depends less on how smart individuals are and more on their social sensitivity, ability to take turns speaking, and the number of women in the group.

So says Anita Woolley from Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and colleagues, having measured group intelligence and the influences that individuals have on it.

Read more ....

Darpa's Self-Aiming "One Shot" Sniper Rifle Scheduled For Next Year

Snipers An Army sniper team in Afghanistan. Wikimedia Commons/U.S. Army

From Popular Science:

A sniper crouches near an open window and zooms in on his target, who sits a half-mile away. He peers through a scope and holds his breath, preparing to squeeze the trigger. But it’s windy outside, and he can't afford a miss. What to do?

A new DARPA-funded electro-optical system will calculate the ballistics for him, telling him where to aim and ensuring a perfect shot, no matter the weather conditions.

Read more ....

My Comment: One shot, one kill .... regardless of the weather. Now we are talking about the ultimate sniper weapon .... and one that (unfortunately) will end up being used against us.

At The Paris Auto Show, Supercars And Stylish Concepts

Kia Pop Concept Jon Alain Guzik

From Popular Science:

In 1898 the world's first auto show was held in Paris at the Tuilleries Gardens. Only a few vehicles were on display, and people were so skeptical of this new mode of transportation -- Le Car -- that exhibitors had to drive their automobiles from Versailles to Paris to prove their validity.

Read more ....
Photo: The latest launch, to test key technologies and gather data, is China's second lunar mission

From The BBC:

A Chinese rocket carrying a probe destined for the Moon has blasted into space.

A Long March 3C rocket with the Chang'e-2 probe took off from Xichang launch centre at about 1100 GMT.

The rocket will shoot the craft into the trans-lunar orbit, after which the satellite is expected to reach the Moon in about five days.

Chang'e-2 will be used to test key technologies and collect data for future landings.

Read more ....

The Flintstones Turns 50: The Five Dumbest Moments

From The Christian Science Monitor:

The Flintstones is a classic. Fifty years after the show first aired, Fred, Wilma, and the gang are still popular enough to gain a seat atop Google's homepage. But their place in the cartoon pantheon doesn't mean that they're infallible. The Flintstones did some pretty stupid things in their day. Here are five of the dumbest. Click through to read them all.

- Chris Gaylord

Read more ....

Faces Of Facebook: Who's Who In 'The Social Network'?

From ABC News:

Hollywood Film About Mark Zuckerberg and Friends Opens Nationally Today.

Mark Zuckerberg may the biggest face attached to Facebook, but he's not the only one. "The Social Network," the controversial story about the world's most powerful social network, has a colorful cast of characters -- on screen and off.

Read more ....

It's The End Of The World: 8 Potential Armageddons

From FOX News:

Oil plumes threaten to choke the oceans and methane gas explosions shoot sky high -- and those are hardly the biggest threats facing the Earth. From cosmic rays to asteroid impacts to the threat of general destruction, our planet may be less safe than you think.

Here are the top eight risks to life as we know it, detailed by scientists and science fiction writers -- and whether it's even possible to save ourselves.

Read more

Surprise: Solar System "Force Field" Shrinks Fast

Shown in a Hubble Space Telescope image, the "astrosphere" around the star L.L. Orionis approximates the heliosphere around our solar system. Image courtesy ESA/NASA

From The National Geographic:

NASA craft reveals unexpected unpredictability of our protective bubble.

It's cold, dusty, and bereft of planets, but the outskirts of our solar system are anything but dull, according to increasing evidence from NASA's Interstellar Boundary Explorer (IBEX) craft.

As charged particles flow out from the sun, they eventually bump up against interstellar medium—the relatively empty areas between stars. These interactions "inflate" a protective bubble that shields Earth and the entire solar system from potentially harmful cosmic rays (solar system pictures).

Read more ....

NASA's Future Looks Bleak Amid Policy Shift

From The L.A. Times:

The demise of the Constellation moon rocket means 7,000 job losses in a year. Funding for a heavy-lift rocket for asteroid missions will be comparably less than that for the moon rocket.

Reporting from Washington — A new law passed by Congress this week finally gives NASA some badly needed direction, but the future of the space agency remains bleak — at least in the near term.

Read more ....

Reports From The Hive, Where The Swarm Concurs

The author, on Appledore Island, watching a swarm launch into flight from the vertical board that he uses as a swarm mount. The two feeder bottles on the mount provide sugar syrup to keep the swarm well fed. From the book “Honeybee Democracy” by Thomas D. Seeley

From The New York Times:

What can we learn from the bees? Honeybees practice a kind of consensus democracy similar to what happens at a New England town meeting, says Thomas D. Seeley, author of “Honeybee Democracy.” A group comes to a decision through a consideration of options and a process of elimination.

Read more ....

Ray Kurzweil’s Blio E-Book Launch Met With Confusion, Controversy

From Gadget Lab:

This week, K-NFB, an e-reading company founded by Ray Kurzweil and the National Federation for the Blind, launched its much-anticipated Blio reading app and e-book store. Blio was immediately and widely panned by publishers, developers and readers.

“Many of the failures are fundamentally at odds with the one thing that Kurzweil was touting above all else: accessibility,” wrote Laura Dawson, a digital reading industry consultant, formerly of K-NFB initially promised to make e-books more accessible to blind readers; yet Windows, currently its only enhanced books platform, has known text-to-speech conversion issues.

Read more ....

Scribd Facebook Instant Personalization Is A Privacy Nightmare

From Epicenter:

Online document sharing site Scribd hooked up with Facebook to create “instant personalization” so Scribd users can get reading recommendations based on their Facebook likes and what their friends are sharing. Sounds interesting, right?

But the document sharing and embedding service has created a privacy nightmare that involves drafting users who are already logged into Facebook without offering a clear opt out process either on the site or through e-mail.

Read more ....

How To Cyber Attack A Nuclear Plant

Photo: Going nuclear: The Stuxnet computer worm may have designed to infiltrate an Iranian nuclear facility in Natanz, 180 miles south of Tehran. Credit: Getty Images

A Way To Attack Nuclear Plants -- Technology Review

Industrial computer systems are typically far less secure than they should be, experts say.

For the last few months, a sophisticated computer worm has wriggled its way between some of the most critical control systems in the world.

The timing of the worm's release, combined with several clues buried in its code, has led some experts to speculate that the worm, dubbed Stuxnet, was originally designed to sabotage an Iranian nuclear facility, possibly the enrichment plant in Natanz, roughly 180 miles south of Tehran. This week, officials in Iran confirmed that Stuxnet had been found on systems inside the plant, although they denied that it had caused any harm.

Read more

The Supernova's Secrets Cracked At Last?

Hank Childs / Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory

From Time Magazine:

Most stars end their lives in a whimper — our own sun will almost certainly be one of them — but the most massive stars go out with an impressive bang. When that happens, creating what's known as a Type II supernova, the associated blast of energy is so brilliant that it can briefly outshine an entire galaxy, give birth to ultra-dense neutron stars or black holes, and forge atoms so heavy that even the Big Bang wasn't powerful enough to create them. If supernovas didn't exist, neither would gold, silver, platinum or uranium. The last time a supernova went off close enough to earth to be visible without a telescope, back in 1987, it made the cover of TIME.

Read more ....

Budget Deal Propels NASA On New Path

From Wall Street Journal:

House's Passage of $58 Billion Compromise Bill Funds Commercial Space Travel, More Robotic Deep-Space Missions.

In unusual bipartisan fashion, the House on Wednesday approved a three-year $58-billion compromise bill intended to revive NASA's manned-exploration programs while funding plans for pioneering private rockets able to blast astronauts into orbit.

Capping nearly a year of intense industry turmoil, agency uncertainty and congressional debate, the vote reflected last-minute decisions by House leaders from both parties to embrace a previously-passed Senate blueprint for NASA, though it doesn't completely satisfy any of the rival interest groups or regional factions maneuvering to shape the agency's future.

Read more ....

Google Launches Latin Translation Tool

Google has added Latin to its list of languages on Google Translate

From The Telegraph:

Google Translate, a service that can instantly translate entire web pages or chunks of text in to another language, has added Latin to its list.

Google Translate supports more than 50 languages, including minority languages such as Welsh and Haitian Creole, and the addition of Latin is sure to please scholars and traditionalists.

In a blog post, written entirely in Latin, Jakob Uszkoreit, a senior engineer at Google, said that Latin was far from a “dead language”.

Read more ....

Heard For The First Time In 2,000 years: Scientists Post Readings Of Ancient Babylonian Poems Online

A clay tablet known as the Jursa tablet that proves the existence of a Babylonian official in the Bible

From The Daily Mail:

The ancient language of Babylonian can be heard for the first time in almost 2,000 years after Cambridge University scholars posted readings and poems online.

Babylonian, one of the chief languages of Ancient Mesopotamia, dates back as far as the second millennium BC but died out around 2,000 years ago.

However, Cambridge historians have resurrected the ancient tongue by discovering how the language was pronounced and spoken.

Read more ....

Rivers Threatened Around The World

From New Scientist:

The water supplying 80 per cent of the world's population is exposed to "high levels of threat". That's the conclusion of a study that surveys the status of rivers throughout the world, and looks at their effects on both humans and the ecosystem at large.

Writing in this week's Nature (vol 467, p 555), Charles Vorosmarty of the City College of New York and colleagues pull together a swathe of data on factors affecting water security, from dams that reduce river flow to the pollution and destruction of wetlands.

Read more

Thursday, September 30, 2010

'Giant' Step Toward Explaining Differences In Height Among People

Scientists have identified hundreds of genetic variants that together account for about 10 percent of the inherited variation of height among people. (Credit: iStockphoto/Stefanie Timmermann)

From Science Daily:

ScienceDaily (Sep. 29, 2010) — An international collaboration of more than 200 institutions, led by researchers at Children's Hospital Boston, the Broad Institute, and a half-dozen other institutions in Europe and North America, has identified hundreds of genetic variants that together account for about 10 percent of the inherited variation of height among people.

Read more ....

Are UFOs Disarming Nuclear Weapons, And If So Why?

Did UFOs Disarm Nuclear Weapons? And If So, Why? -- Live Science

At an unusual press conference recently held in Washington, D.C., a UFO author and a half-dozen or so former U.S. military airmen asserted that "The U.S. Air Force is lying about the national security implications of unidentified aerial objects at nuclear bases and we can prove it." They claim that since 1948, extraterrestrials in spaceships have not only been visiting Earth but hovering over British and American nuclear missile sites and temporarily deactivating the weapons.

Read more ....

My Comment: I am skeptical .... but these guys are former senior U.S. military airmen, and they should be listened to. Unfortunately .... they have no visible proof.

Lost Language Unearthed In Letter

Photo: A letter discovered in northern Peru in 2008 showing a column of numbers written in Spanish and translated into a language that scholars say is now extinct, is seen in this undated photo released by archaeologists September 22, 2010. (HANDOUT)

From CNews:

LIMA - Archaeologists say scrawl on the back of a letter recovered from a 17th century dig site reveals a previously unknown language spoken by indigenous peoples in northern Peru.

A team of international archaeologists found the letter under a pile of adobe bricks in a collapsed church complex near Trujillo, 347 miles (560 km) north of Lima. The complex had been inhabited by Dominican friars for two centuries.

Read more ....

Glacier Found To Be Deeply Cracked

While drilling holes in Alaska’s Bench Glacier, scientists discovered dozens of massive cracks that extend from the ground far up into the ice. The movement of water through these cracks could affect glacier movement and melting. Joel Harper

From Science News:

Pressure and stress can lead to a crack-up, or several, if you are a glacier. Researchers have discovered a system of deep cracks extending from the ground up into the overlying ice of southern Alaska’s Bench Glacier. The crevasses are described in the Sept. 30 Nature.

Read more ....

Stonehenge Boy 'Was From The Med'

The boy was buried with around 90 amber beads

From The BBC:

Chemical tests on teeth from an ancient burial near Stonehenge indicate that the person in the grave grew up around the Mediterranean Sea.

The bones belong to a teenager who died 3,550 years ago and was buried with a distinctive amber necklace.

The conclusions come from analysis of different forms of the elements oxygen and strontium in his tooth enamel.

Analysis on a previous skeleton found near Stonehenge showed that that person was also a migrant to the area.

Read more ....

Google Celebrates Birthday With Cake

Google turned 12 today. And the media giant celebrated with a pixelated birthday cake.

From Christian Science Monitor:

Twelve years ago, Larry Page and Sergey Brin registered the domain for, a site which they hoped would revolutionize the very way information is organized on the Web. It's fair to say they succeeded. And today, Google, a multi-billion dollar company based in Mountain View, Calif., is celebrating its 12th birthday with a big, digitized birthday cake logo, courtesy of the American painter Wayne Thiebaud.

Read more ....

Revealed: The Secret World Of The Panda

Giant Pandas eating bamboo in Sichuan Province, China Photo: ALAMY

From The Telegraph:

New research has revealed that, contrary to popular beliefs, pandas are surprisingly well-equipped for survival.

The giant panda is one of the best-known symbols in the world, used to sell everything from electronic goods to fizzy drinks, chocolate to biscuits, liquorice to cigarettes – not to mention global conservation. Yet thanks to its shy and retiring nature, it has long been one of the planet’s most mysterious creatures. Why, for example, do pandas eat bamboo? Why do they appear to have such difficulty breeding? And how on earth has such a seemingly maladjusted species managed to survive for so long?

Read more ....

Does ET Live On Goldilocks Planet?

From The Daily Mail:

An astronomer picked up a mysterious pulse of light coming from the direction of the newly discovered Earth-like planet almost two years ago, it has emerged.

Dr Ragbir Bhathal, a scientist at the University of Western Sydney, picked up the odd signal in December 2008, long before it was announced that the star Gliese 581 has habitable planets in orbit around it.

Read more ....

We, Robot: What Real-Life Machines Can And Can’t Do

Photo: A lot of us teach ourselves how to reason, how to think, how to analyze new information....This has been very difficult for robots to be able to do.

From Science News:

As director of the Maryland Robotics Center, Satyandra Gupta oversees 25 faculty members working on all things robotic: snake-inspired robots, robotic swarms, minirobots for medicine and robots for exploring extreme environments on land, under the sea and in outer space. In September the Center hosted its first Robotics Day; afterward, Gupta talked robots with Science News writer Rachel Ehrenberg.

How do robots influence our lives today?

There are certain scenarios, such as manufacturing — making cars, making airplanes — where people are replacing human labor with robotic devices and the rationale is usually that it is less expensive, quality is consistent, that kind of thing. Then there are certain applications where very few humans can do the task because the skills required are so high…. Surgery would be an example. Let’s imagine that there’s a very hard-to-perform surgery that very few humans can do. Now if a robot can be trained or even teleoperated by these surgeons, then you would be able to get that performance from that robot.

Read more ....

Fossil Secrets Of The Da Vinci Codex

Da Vinci realised people were wrong about the origin of Italy's fossils
(Image: Ted Spiegel/Corbis)

From New Scientist:

Did Leonardo decipher traces of ancient life centuries before Darwin?

It was to be Leonardo da Vinci's most impressive work yet. In 1483, the Duke of Milan, Ludovico Sforza, commissioned the up-and-coming artist to create a huge bronze statue of a horse, standing over 7 metres tall. Da Vinci spent the next 10 years perfecting a full-size clay model. Sadly, it was never cast in bronze. Tonnes of the metal were needed, and Sforza ended up using the earmarked supplies to make weapons for use against invading French troops. When the French army took Milan in 1499, its archers used da Vinci's clay horse for target practice.

Read more

Paper-Thin Screens With A Twist

From The Wall Street Journal:

Lots of researchers have been trying to come up with a way to make flexible displays that work like computer screens but with a literal twist—they can be bent, rolled and folded like a sheet of paper.

The Taiwan-based Industrial Technology Research Institute, or ITRI, won the top prize in this year's Innovation Awards contest for a manufacturing technique that promises to clear the way for commercial development of high-quality displays on flexible materials.

Read more ....

Making Music On A Microscopic Scale

Image of the chip containing six mass-spring systems (i.e. six tones). (Credit: Image courtesy of University of Twente)

From Science Daily:

ScienceDaily (Sep. 29, 2010) — Strings a fraction of the thickness of a human hair, with microscopic weights to pluck them: Researchers and students from the MESA+ Institute for Nanotechnology of the University of Twente in The Netherlands have succeeded in constructing the first musical instrument with dimensions measured in mere micrometres -- a 'micronium' -- that produces audible tones. A composition has been specially written for the instrument.

Read more ....

Sloppy Records Cast Galileo's Trial In New Light

An 1857 painting titled "Galileo facing the Roman Inquisition" shows the astronomer standing trial before the Roman Catholic Church inquisitors. Credit: Cristiano Banti (1824–1904)

From Live Science:

When it comes to bad record-keepers, no one expects the Roman Inquisition — but that's exactly what one historian discovered while trying to resolve a centuries-old controversy over the trials of Galileo.

The Roman Catholic Church's second trial of the famed Italian astronomer has come to symbolize a pivotal culture clash between science and religion. But a broad examination of 50 years’ worth of records suggests the Roman Inquisition viewed the case more as an ordinary legal dispute than a world-changing philosophical conflict.

Read more ....

Did Australian Aborigines Reach America First?

The skull of Luzia, possibly the oldest skeleton in the Americas, who has facial features distinctive of Australian Aborigines. Credit: Marco Fernandes/COSMOS

From Cosmos:

SYDNEY: Cranial features distinctive to Australian Aborigines are present in hundreds of skulls that have been uncovered in Central and South America, some dating back to over 11,000 years ago.

Evolutionary biologist Walter Neves of the University of São Paulo, whose findings are reported in a cover story in the latest issue of Cosmos magazine, has examined these skeletons and recovered others, and argues that there is now a mass of evidence indicating that at least two different populations colonised the Americas.

Read more ....

Stonehenge An Ancient Tourist Destination?

Photo: Revellers watch the sunrise at Stonehenge on the day of the summer solstice in Wiltshire in southern England. New research suggests that people may have come from all over to visit the mysterious stone monoliths. (REUTERS FILES/Stephen Hird)


Stonehenge wasn't just a gathering place for locals. New research suggests that people may have come from all over Europe and the Mediterranean to visit the mysterious stone monoliths.

British scientists analyzed the teeth of people buried near Stonehenge and found that some of them had travelled great distances to arrive in southern England.

Read more ....

Distant World Could Support Life

ANOTHER WORLDGliese 581 (upper left in this artist’s depiction) has six confirmed planets, including one (foreground) that orbits the star at a distance hospitable to life. Lynette Cook

From Science News:

Scientists have spotted an Earth doppelgänger that may have the right specs to harbor life, in the Libra constellation just 20 light-years distant.

Although details about conditions on the planet’s surface remain a mystery, the find suggests that many more potentially habitable planets are likely to be found. The discovery is reported online September 29 at and will be described in an upcoming Astrophysical Journal.

Read more ....

Water Map Shows Billions At Risk Of 'Water Insecurity'

From The BBC:

About 80% of the world's population lives in areas where the fresh water supply is not secure, according to a new global analysis.

Researchers compiled a composite index of "water threats" that includes issues such as scarcity and pollution.

The most severe threat category encompasses 3.4 billion people.

Writing in the journal Nature, they say that in western countries, conserving water for people through reservoirs and dams works for people, but not nature.

They urge developing countries not to follow the same path.

Read more ....

Kno Tablet Touted As Next-Gen Textbook

The Kno tablet computer. Kno

From Christian Science Monitor:

Kno, a start-up electronics firm based in Santa Clara, Calif., will soon introduce a single-screen tablet computer intended for use by students across the country. The Kno – yes, it's both the name of the device and its maker – is expected to ship with a 14.1-inch screen and video functionality. (For comparison, the iPad sports a 9.7-inch screen.) The tablet computer will be controlled via a touchscreen and a plastic stylus.

Read more ....

12 Events That Will Change Everything, Made Interactive

From Scientific American:

In addition to reacting to news as it breaks, we work to anticipate what will happen. Here we contemplate 12 possibilities and rate their likelihood of happening by 2050

The best science transforms our conception of the universe and our place in it and helps us to understand and cope with changes beyond our control. Relativity, natural selection, germ theory, heliocentrism and other explanations of natural phenomena have remade our intellectual and cultural landscapes. The same holds true for inventions as diverse as the Internet, formal logic, agriculture and the wheel.

Read more ....

My Comment: The web interactive page for each of the 12 events is here.

Darpa Is Looking At Young Minds For New Ideas

FIRST Robotics Competition Taking a cue from the FIRST Robotics Competition, DARPA is offering prize-based challenges to inspire high school students to design new robots. FIRST

Seeking New Defense Robots, Darpa Gives Fabrication Technology To High Schoolers -- Popular Science

Taking a page from advertising strategy, DARPA is hoping to get ‘em while they’re young. The military’s mad-science wing wants various organizations to put manufacturing equipment in 1,000 high schools around the world, part of a new program called “MENTOR” — Manufacturing Experimentation and Outreach. The partnership will include new prize-based challenges to inspire a new generation of defense manufacturers.

Read more ....

Report: Facebook, Skype Planning Deep Integration

This screenshot uses real pictures with fake names and numbers to illustrate a Skype-Facebook integration.

From CNET:

You didn't think Facebook would integrate with Google Voice, did you?

Actually, according to sources close to the situation, Facebook and Skype are poised to announce a significant and wide-ranging partnership that will include integration of SMS, voice chat, and Facebook Connect.

The move by the pair--which have tested small contact importer integrations before--is a natural one for the social-networking giant, which is aiming to be the central communications and messaging platform for its users, across a range of media.

Read more ....

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Better Surgery With New Surgical Robot With Force Feedback

Surgical robot Sofie. (Credit: Bart van Overbeeke)

From Science Daily:

ScienceDaily (Sep. 28, 2010) — Robotic surgery makes it possible to perform highly complicated and precise operations. Surgical robots have limitations, too. For one, the surgeon does not 'feel' the force of his incision or of his pull on the suture, and robots are also big and clumsy to use. Therefore TU/e researcher Linda van den Bedem developed a much more compact surgical robot, which uses 'force feedback' to allow the surgeon to feel what he or she is doing.

Read more ....

Kelp Waits To Take Its Place In America's Stomachs

Alaria, a type of brown kelp, dries on a raft. The Maine company Ocean Approved will cut this seaweed up to sell for salads. Credit: Ocean Approved, LLC.

From Live Science:

The leaves resemble brown lasagna noodles when they wash ashore on coasts around the world. Like many other seaweeds, sugar kelp has all sorts of uses. The leaves of Saccharina latissima provide a sweetener, mannitol, as well as thickening and gelling agents that are added to food, textiles and cosmetics.

But some believe its most important potential is largely untapped: as an addition to the American diet.

Read more ....

'The Flintstones' Rocks On At 50

The series chronicled popular culture and spotlighted icons of the day -- not of 10,000 B.C. but of the 1960s. Flickr

From Discovery News:

Fifty years ago, Fred, Wilma, Barney and Betty debuted before American television audiences.

A half century ago, Fred and Wilma Flintstone and neighbors Barney and Betty Rubble put the mythical town of Bedrock on the map when "The Flintstones" cartoon aired on television for the first time.

The show, which parodied suburban life, was the longest running U.S. animated sitcom to be aired during peak viewing hours on television until another cartoon family, the Simpsons, claimed the record in 1997.

Read more ....

Religion And Health: Is There A Link?

From ABC News:

Just Changing Churches May Be Harmful to Your Health, Study Claims.

Many scientific studies in recent years have sought to prove a link between religion and health, and they usually ended up contending that faith may be very good medicine. But new research attempts to look at the opposite side of that coin: What happens when a person loses faith, or even switches from one religious group to another?

Read more ....

Decision Needed On European Space Truck Upgrade

ARV would have a conical re-entry capsule and a more capable service module

From The BBC:

European countries will soon be asked if they wish to press on with design work to upgrade the ATV space truck.

The robotic craft takes supplies to the International Space station (ISS), but could be enhanced to return cargo to Earth and even carry a human crew.

Further feasibility work will cost some 150m euros, and nations are likely to decide by the end of the year whether to continue or shelve the project.

Much may depend on how they view future plans for human space exploration.

Read more ....

Glonass To Provide Global GPS Coverage This Year - Top Official

Russia's navigation system Glonass. © RIA Novosti. Maksim Bogodvid

From RIA Novosti:

Russia's top space official confirmed on Monday Russia's navigation system Glonass will cover 100% of the Earth's surface by the end of the year.

"This year, I think, we will provide 100% coverage of the globe with the Glonass navigation system," the head of the federal space agency Roscosmos, Anatoly Perminov, said.

"We will have 24 [operational] satellites in orbit and 3-4 spacecraft in the required orbital reserve," he added.

Read more ....