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Apr 21, 2024

Rethinking Brain Design: Human Neurons Challenge Old Assumptions With Unique Wiring

Posted by in category: robotics/AI

New research led by Charité – Universitätsmedizin Berlin and published in Science reveals that the wiring of nerve cells in the human neocortex differs significantly from that in mice. The study discovered that human neurons predominantly transmit signals in a unidirectional manner, whereas mouse neurons typically send signals in looping patterns. This structural difference may enhance the human brain’s ability to process information more efficiently and effectively. The findings hold potential implications for advancing artificial neural network technologies.

The neocortex, a critical structure for human intelligence, is less than five millimeters thick. There, in the outermost layer of the brain, 20 billion neurons process countless sensory perceptions, plan actions, and form the basis of our consciousness. How do these neurons process all this complex information? That largely depends on how they are “wired” to each other.

Apr 21, 2024

A Groundbreaking New Principle — Korean Researchers Uncover Revolutionary Phenomenon in Liquid Crystals

Posted by in categories: innovation, robotics/AI

A research group from the Ulsan National Institute of Science and Technology (UNIST), led by Professor Jonwoo Jeong of the Department of Physics, has recently discovered a groundbreaking principle of motion at the microscopic scale. Their findings reveal that objects can achieve directed movement simply by periodically changing their sizes within a liquid crystal medium. This innovative discovery holds significant potential for numerous fields of research and could lead to the development of miniature robots in the future.

In their research, the team observed that air bubbles within the liquid crystal could move in one direction by altering their sizes periodically, contrary to the symmetrical growth or contraction typically seen in air bubbles in other mediums. By introducing air bubbles, comparable in size to a human hair, into the liquid crystal and manipulating the pressure, the researchers were able to demonstrate this extraordinary phenomenon.

Apr 21, 2024

Crucial Connection Completed: Laying the Foundation for the Quantum Internet

Posted by in categories: computing, finance, internet, quantum physics

Researchers have produced, stored, and retrieved quantum information for the first time, a critical step in quantum networking.

The ability to share quantum information is crucial for developing quantum networks for distributed computing and secure communication. Quantum computing will be useful for solving some important types of problems, such as optimizing financial risk, decrypting data, designing molecules, and studying the properties of materials.

“Interfacing two key devices together is a crucial step forward in allowing quantum networking, and we are really excited to be the first team to have been able to demonstrate this.” —

Apr 21, 2024

How Stellar Magnetism Is Reshaping Our View of Distant Worlds

Posted by in category: space

From the brightness variations of its host star, an exoplanet ’s size and other properties can be determined. In order to avoid mistakes, the star’s magnetic field is decisive.

700 light years away from Earth in the constellation Virgo, the planet WASP-39b orbits the star WASP-39. The gas giant, which takes little more than four days to complete one orbit, is one of the best-studied exoplanets.

Shortly after its commissioning in July 2022, NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope turned its high-precision gaze on the distant planet. The data revealed evidence of large quantities of water vapor, of methane and even, for the first time, of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere of WASP-39b. A minor sensation!

Apr 21, 2024

A Pathway to Making Molecular Oxygen That Doesn’t Involve Life

Posted by in category: alien life

Researchers have quantified a pathway for the formation of molecular oxygen from the interaction of carbon dioxide with electrons, key information for searches of life on other worlds.

So far, life is only known to exist on Earth. But that hasn’t stopped scientists from searching for signs of living creatures on other planets. Those searches intensified with the deployment of the JWST observatory, which astronomers are using to characterize the atmospheres of far-off worlds in the hope of finding the signals of molecules that signify the presence of life (see News Feature: The Skinny on Detecting Life with the JWST). But for that to work, scientists need to know all the possible sources of atmospheric molecules. Now Lucas Sigaud of the Fluminense Federal University, Brazil, and his colleagues have uncovered a pathway for forming an oxygen molecule (O2]. The detailed measurements of the pathway provide key inputs for models used in planetary-life searches.

Apr 21, 2024

See how atmospheric water generators can help water security

Posted by in categories: climatology, sustainability

Atmospheric water generators can save millions of lives due to new drought conditions even bringing water from air in the desert climates.

  • Water scarcity continues to be a pervasive global challenge, cutting across developed and emerging markets, climates and socio-political dynamics.
  • Atmospheric water generation (AWG) technology is a promising emergency solution that can immediately generate drinkable water using moisture in the air.
  • Distribution of atmospheric water generation technology to communities in need can serve as an effective stopgap measure for municipalities facing immediate clean water shortages.

The statistics underpinning water scarcity are dire and noteworthy – approximately 770 million people lack access to clean water. That is one in ten people on the planet. The average woman in rural Africa walks 6 kilometres (about 3.7 miles) daily to haul 40 pounds of water.

Continue reading “See how atmospheric water generators can help water security” »

Apr 21, 2024

New Vaccine Could Protect Against Any Strain of a Virus With One Shot

Posted by in category: biotech/medical

Scientists seem to be close to creating a “one-and-done” vaccine that can protect against any strain of a virus with just one shot.

In a press release from the University of California — Riverside, one of the researchers behind the new RNA vaccine, Rong Hai, explained why he and his colleagues are so excited about their experimental — and allegedly universal — shot.

“What I want to emphasize about this vaccine strategy is that it is broad,” said Hai, a virologist and coauthor of a new paper on the vaccine candidate in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. “It is broadly applicable to any number of viruses, broadly effective against any variant of a virus, and safe for a broad spectrum of people.”

Apr 21, 2024

Artificial intelligence can predict political beliefs from expressionless faces

Posted by in categories: privacy, robotics/AI

Scientists have demonstrated that facial recognition technology can predict a person’s political orientation with a surprising level of accuracy.

Researchers have demonstrated that facial recognition technology can predict political orientation from neutral expressions with notable accuracy, posing significant privacy concerns. This finding suggests our faces may reveal more personal information than previously understood.

Apr 21, 2024

Links to my published science fiction and poetry

Posted by in categories: alien life, futurism

Many of these are freely available to read online!

Apr 20, 2024

Forms of life, forms of mind

Posted by in category: biotech/medical

We lost a really great human today – philosopher Daniel C. Dennett.

Dan was a kind, honest, generous guy. He had a brilliant mind – insightful, critical, with an encyclopedic knowledge of pithy analogies and clinical examples (“intuition pumps” he called them), as well as who came up with them. And despite all of his experience and accomplishments, he always had a kind of childish excitement about new ideas, and new experiments. What he liked best was new insights, wild ideas, honest argument. I first heard the concept of “steel-manning” from him (opposite of “straw man” – putting forth the strongest, best version of an argument you want to critique). He was not interested in cheap wins or rhetorical bullying – he wanted to get to the best version of every story about nature and about ourselves.

I first came into contact with Dan through his books. As a teenager, Brainstorms, Elbow Room, and The Intentional Stance were a fantastic introduction to the most interesting questions, and ways of thinking about them. My dad and I would hit the bookstores every Saturday and there was no way a Dennett book would escape us if a new one came out. We had lots of great times discussing the topics in his books. I eventually was able to ask Dan to sign a few of them for dad, as birthday presents.

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