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Jun 8, 2016

The Elderly May One Day Swap Their Motorized Scooters for Robotic Suits

Posted by in categories: biotech/medical, cyborgs, robotics/AI, wearables

Robotic exoskeletons, long a staple of sci-fi novels, comic books, and movies, are now part of the real world—and they’ve mostly followed the sci-fi model. That is, exoskeletons are wearable robots. All metal, all the time. But metal suits are heavy and power hungry, and the human body isn’t metal. If you actually plan to use an exoskeleton for an extended period of time, this can be a bit of a design flaw.

That’s where a new exosuit developed by SRI International is looking to flip the script. Instead of working to build exoskeletons—which are rigid like their namesake—SRI is using soft robotics to make lightweight, wearable “exomuscles” and “exotendons.”

Instead of a human-shaped heavy metal frame, SRI’s exosuit is soft, pliable, and intelligent. The suit learns and adapts to its wearer’s movements to give them a boost when needed. It’s quick to put on and relatively energy efficient.

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Jun 8, 2016

China Plans Oceanic ‘Space Station’ in South China Sea

Posted by in categories: economics, military, space

(Bloomberg) — China is speeding up efforts to design and build a manned deep-sea platform to help it hunt for minerals in the South China Sea, one that may also serve a military purpose in the disputed waters.

Such an oceanic “space station” would be located as much as 3,000 meters (9,800 feet) below the surface, according to a recent Science Ministry presentation viewed by Bloomberg. The project was mentioned in China’s current five-year economic plan released in March and ranked number two on a list of the top 100 science and technology priorities.

Authorities recently examined the implementation of the project and decided to accelerate the process, according to the presentation.

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Jun 8, 2016

US intelligence unit to advance management of virtual desktop security, systems

Posted by in categories: computing, security

Getting a handle on cloud-based virtual operations is no easy task. Next month researchers from the Intelligence Advance Research Projects Activity (IARPA) will introduce a new program that looks to address that management concern by developing better technology to manage and secure Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI) environments.

+More on Network World: Intelligence agency wants computer scientists to develop brain-like computers +

IARPA, the radical research arm of the of the Office of the Director of National Intelligence will introduce the Virtuous User Environment (VirtUE) which it says aims to “creatively define and develop user environments that are more dynamic, secure, auditable, transferrable, and efficient than the current offerings provided by traditional physical workstations and commercial VDI; develop innovative, dynamic analytics and infrastructures that can leverage these newly developed user environments to both automatically detect and deter security threats that IC user environments will be subject to in the new cloud infrastructure.”

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Jun 8, 2016

Insight: Wormholes can fix black holes

Posted by in category: cosmology

According to Einstein’s theory of general relativity (GR), black holes are ferocious beasts able to swallow and destroy everything within their reach. Their strong gravitational pull deforms the space-time causal structure in such a way that nothing can get out of them once their event horizon is crossed. The fate of those incautious observers curious enough to cross this border is to suffer a painful spaghettification process due to the strong tidal forces before being destroyed at the center of the black hole.

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Jun 8, 2016

E.O. Wilson Chases The ‘Great Riddle’ Of Human Existence

Posted by in categories: cosmology, neuroscience

For those who missed my 2014 review of E.O. Wilson’s book, “The Meaning of Human Existence.”

With a title as audacious as “The Meaning of Human Existence,” even a casual reader couldn’t be faulted for expecting a veritable Rosetta Stone to the cosmos and life as we know it. But in his latest book, Edward O. Wilson offers no philosophically-satisfying answers to this age-old “existence” question. And maybe that’s his point.

After all, the ability to ponder our own existence is at once a blessing and a curse. Neither sharks nor swallows seem to worry about too much more than their next meal. Yet in fifteen chapters, Wilson — a renowned biologist, naturalist, author and Harvard University professor emeritus, strips humanity of its soul.

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Jun 8, 2016

The Wrestler

Posted by in category: biotech/medical

I have fond memories of both of my grandfathers as a boy growing up in the American Southwest. My mother’s father was a master gardener, able to grow plants in an arid environment that should have thrived only in tropical rainforests. Botanists from the Department of Biology at the local university surveyed his garden, and promptly asked him to help with problems they were experiencing in their greenhouses. There were large fruit trees scattered throughout his backyard perfect for climbing and eating apples, peaches, or cherries fresh off the branch. The foliage of these trees was dense, making it possible to hide and pounce down on unsuspecting younger brothers or cousins wandering too near the danger zone. Not saying I ever did such a thing, just saying it was possible. You know?

Every Friday night we ate dinner at my mother’s parents’ house. I poignantly remember an after dinner ritual. My grandfather would retire to his recliner, toothpick in his mouth, and instruct one of his grandchildren to turn on the bulky multicomponent console color television with built in radio, turntable, and speakers. It was time to watch Friday night boxing. There was no remote control, we kids were the channel changers and volume knob manipulators. My grandfather was usually not an emotional man, but he would become quite animated and occasionally agitated watching the fight, particularly if there was a boxer he favored in the match. The grandchildren enjoyed watching him more than we did the pugilists on the flickering television screen.

My father’s father, on the other hand, was a wrestling fan. By wrestling, I mean the wrestling seen on Saturday afternoon television featuring men in tight shorts, outlandish costumes, some wearing hoods or masks over their heads, entering the ring wearing colorful capes to either wild applause or catcalls and hisses, bouncing off the ropes to clothesline their onrushing opponent, and jumping from the turnbuckles to land on their hapless opponent laid out on the mat below. Even to a boy it was obvious bad theater and fraud, but I enjoyed watching my grandfather yelling at the television, berating the bad guys and the referees during these spectacles. He knew the name of every hero and villain, and he would hurl epitaphs at the masked men in tight wrestling suites while openly cheering for those he admired. He particularly loved the chaos of tag team matches, guaranteed to degenerate into a free-for-all with all the combatants in the ring, throwing chairs, and occasionally even body slamming the referee to the canvas. I still remember some of the names and can mentally visualize the antics; Gene Kiniski, The Sheik, Ray Mendoza, Dory Funk Jr., Terry Funk, Mad Dog Vachon, Hard Boiled Haggarty, Raul Reyes, Killer Kowalski, and Johnny Valentine. As I grew older I mistakenly pointed out these matches were all rehearsed and the outcomes were scripted; this wasn’t real sport. He fixed me with a glare, informed me I was getting, “a little too big for my britches”, and asked me if I thought 250 lb. men climbing to the top of the ropes to hurl themselves on their foe below, or the prostrate , seemingly stunned wrestler on the mat absorbing the flying blow delivered from above should be considered as anything less than athletic.

Good point. I wouldn’t want to do it.

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Jun 8, 2016

Future humans: Immortal, jobless and genius

Posted by in categories: augmented reality, biotech/medical, computing, cyborgs, drones, internet, life extension, mobile phones, virtual reality

What will we do when money has no meaning? And if everyone gets life extension what will today’s mega rich think and/or do about it?

May you live in interesting times – A curse, origin unknown

One of the ‘curses’ usually attributed to ancient China, but frequently thrown around in today’s society is ‘May you live in interesting times’, suggesting that living in turbulent times, no matter the cause, is somehow a bad thing.

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Jun 8, 2016

Google moves closer to a universal quantum computer

Posted by in categories: computing, quantum physics

Combining the best of analog and digital approaches could yield a full-scale multipurpose quantum computer.

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Jun 8, 2016

Physicists hint at a mysterious new ‘particle X’ messing with our Universe

Posted by in category: particle physics

For months, physicists have been quietly freaking out over tantalising evidence of a brand new particle lying outside the standard model of physics. First seen as a ’blip’ in Large Hadron Collider data, the hunt is now on to confirm its existence, which experts say would be “bigger than the [discovery of the] Higgs boson”.

And physicists have just made the case that another new particle could be waiting to be discovered, by showing that the existence of a mysterious new particle, which they’re calling ‘particle X’, could explain a significant conundrum in physics: where the heck all the missing lithium in the Universe went to.

If you haven’t heard about the case of the missing cosmic lithium, don’t worry, we weren’t across it either. But it turns out that scientists have calculated all the lithium that should have formed in the early Universe, and it’s about three times more lithium than we observe today.

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Jun 8, 2016

Pairing nanodiamonds with other nanomaterials could enable huge advances in nanotechnology

Posted by in categories: 3D printing, business, computing, nanotechnology, quantum physics

Very promising. I imagine 3D Printers being able to create synthesize diamonds will be a very profitable business to get in to because of the stabilizing benefits that the nanodiamonds bring to Quantum Computing and nanotechnology in general.

Nanomaterials have the potential to improve many next-generation technologies. They promise to speed up computer chips, increase the resolution of medical imaging devices and make electronics more energy efficient. But imbuing nanomaterials with the right properties can be time consuming and costly. A new, quick and inexpensive method for constructing diamond-based hybrid nanomaterials could soon launch the field forward.

University of Maryland researchers developed a method to build diamond-based hybrid nanoparticles in large quantities from the ground up, thereby circumventing many of the problems with current methods. The technique is described in the June 8, 2016 issue of the journal Nature Communications (“Nanostructures for Coupling Nitrogen-Vacancy Centers to Metal Nanoparticles and Semiconductor Quantum Dots”).

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