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Oct 1, 2015

RoboCab: Driverless Taxi Experiment to Start in Japan

Posted by in categories: robotics/AI, transportation

Japan’s cabinet office, Kanagawa prefecture and Robot Taxi Inc. on Thursday said they will start experimenting with unmanned taxi service beginning in 2016. The service will be offered for approximately 50 people in Kanagawa prefecture, just south of Tokyo, with the auto-driving car carrying them from their homes to local grocery stores.

According to the project organizers, the cabs will drive a distance of about three kilometers (two miles), and part of the course will be on major avenues in the city. Crew members will be aboard the car during the experiment in case there is a need to avoid accidents.

Robot Taxi Inc., a joint venture between mobile Internet company DeNA Co. and vehicle technology developer ZMP Inc., is aiming to commercialize its driverless transportation service by 2020. The company says it will seek to offer unmanned cabs to users including travelers from overseas and locals in areas where buses and trains are not available.

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Oct 1, 2015

Did Google’s quantum computer just get the biggest processor upgrade in history?

Posted by in categories: computing, quantum physics

If all the claims are true, this highly specialized processor is unimaginably fast at certain specific operations.

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Oct 1, 2015

“Artificial Blood Vessels” Are Becoming A Reality

Posted by in category: biotech/medical

Scientists have created artificial blood vessels that can grow on their own.

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Oct 1, 2015

New Maps of Ceres Highlight Mysterious Bright Spots, Giant Mountain

Posted by in category: space

New maps of Ceres show the dwarf planet’s mysterious bright spots and huge, pyramid-shaped mountain in a new light.

The new maps of Ceres come courtesy of NASA’s Dawn spacecraft, which has been orbiting the heavily cratered dwarf planet since March. The maps highlight the compositional and elevation differences across Ceres, the largest object in the main asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter.

For example, one new topographic map focuses on an odd mountain dubbed “the Pyramid,” which rises about 4 miles (6.4 kilometers) into space from Ceres’ surface. And another map zeroes in on the 56-mile-wide (90 km) Occator crater, whose floor features the most luminescent of the dwarf planet’s enigmatic bright spots. [Ceres’ Mysterious Bright Spots Coming Into Focus (Video)].

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Oct 1, 2015

Stephen Hawking says nomadic aliens might crush us

Posted by in categories: alien life, physics

Such advanced aliens would perhaps become nomads, looking to conquer and colonize whatever planets they can reach,” Hawking told El Pais. “To my mathematical brain, the numbers alone make thinking about aliens perfectly rational. The real challenge is to work out what aliens might actually be like.”

It’s funny how math can make you paranoid. Even if it’s entirely reasonable paranoia. The discovery of water on Mars is, for the non-mathematical at least, the first indication that something out there might be alive or might once have been alive.”


Technically Incorrect: The famed physicist says that simple math makes him believe there are aliens out there.

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Sep 30, 2015

Thanks to a new breakthrough, we’re now one step closer to 3D printing replacement organs

Posted by in categories: 3D printing, biotech/medical

http://voc.tv/1cRrjAQ

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Sep 30, 2015

To Make Robot Hands More Like Ours, MIT Built These Softer, Smarter Fingers

Posted by in categories: computing, electronics, robotics/AI

It’s easy to forget how amazing the dexterity and anatomy of our own hands are–until you learn how difficult they are to replicate for machines. MIT has made big strides in robotic hands this year, and now it’s published a new one.

This week at the International Conference on Intelligent Robots and Systems, Bianca Homberg, Daniela Rus (the director of MIT’s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory) and their colleagues are showing off the latest advance in robotic digits: Modular fingers made of silicone and embedded with sensors, dexterous enough to pick up everything from soft toys to single pieces of paper without needing to be programmed to understand what it’s gripping.

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Sep 30, 2015

Pushing computers towards petahertz, with femtosecond lasers and weird dielectrics

Posted by in categories: computing, electronics, materials, quantum physics

New findings published by quantum scientists in Germany could pave the way towards computer chips that use light instead of electricity to control their internal logic. Where today’s silicon-based electrical computer chips are capable of speeds in the gigahertz range, the German light-based chips would be some 1,000,000 times faster, operating in the petahertz range.

Rather than focusing on an exciting new semiconductor, or some metamaterial that manipulates light in weird and wonderful ways, this research instead revolves around dielectrics. In the field of electronics, materials generally fall into one of three categories: charge carriers (conductors), semiconductors, and dielectrics (insulators). As the name suggests, a semiconductor only conduct electricity some of the time (when it receives a large enough jolt of energy to get its electrons moving). In a dielectric, the electrons are basically immobile, meaning electricity can’t flow across them. Apply too much energy, and you destroy the dielectric. As a general rule, there’s no switching: A dielectric either insulates, or it breaks.

Basically, the Max Planck Institute and Ludwig Maximilian University in Germany have found that dielectrics, using very short bursts of laser light, can be turned into incredibly fast switches. The researchers took a small triangle of silica glass (a strong insulator), and then coated two sides with gold, leaving a small (50nm) gap in between (see below). By shining a femtosecond infrared laser at the gap, the glass started conducting and electricity flowed across the gap. When the laser is turned off, the glass becomes an insulator again.

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Sep 30, 2015

Can Our DNA Electromagnetically ‘Teleport’ Itself? One Researcher Thinks So

Posted by in categories: biotech/medical, chemistry

A Nobel prize winning scientist who shared the 2008 prize for medicine for his role in establishing the link between HIV and AIDS has stirred up a good deal of both interest and skepticism with his latest experimental results, which more or less show that DNA can teleport itself to distant cells via electromagnetic signals. If his results prove correct, they would shake up the foundations upon which modern chemistry rests. But plenty of Montagnier’s peers are far from convinced.

The full details of Montagnier’s experiments are not yet known, as his paper has not yet been accepted for publication. But he and his research partners have made a summary of his findings available. Essentially, they took two test tubes – one containing a fragment of DNA about 100 bases long, another containing pure water – and isolated them in a chamber that muted the earth’s natural electromagnetic field to keep it from muddying the results. The test tubes were housed within a copper coil emanating a weak electromagnetic field.

Several hours later, the contents of both test tubes were put through polymerase chain reactions to identify any remnants of DNA – a process that subjected the contents to enzymes that would make copies of any DNA fragments they found. According to Montagnier, the DNA was recovered from both tubes even though the second should have only contained water.

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Sep 30, 2015

Self-driving cars could reduce accidents

Posted by in categories: health, robotics/AI, transportation

We all know that self-driving cars are cute and tend to be safer — at least according to Google’s self-released reports to date — but this new report has the self-driving revolution holding massive potential as one of the greatest things to happen to public health in the 21st century.

As The Atlantic reports, automated cars could save up to 300,000 lives per decade in the United States. Their reporting is based on this research paper by consulting firm McKinsey & Co., which is filled with fascinating ways that self-driving cars will help us accident-prone humans by midcentury.

From the McKinsey report (bold added by us to highlight the mind-blowing data):

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