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Jun 25, 2016

New analog compiler could help enable simulation of whole organs and even organisms

Posted by in categories: biotech/medical, computing, mathematics

A transistor, conceived of in digital terms, has two states: on and off, which can represent the 1s and 0s of binary arithmetic.

But in terms, the transistor has an infinite number of states, which could, in principle, represent an infinite range of mathematical values. Digital computing, for all its advantages, leaves most of transistors’ informational capacity on the table.

In recent years, analog computers have proven to be much more efficient at simulating biological systems than digital computers. But existing analog computers have to be programmed by hand, a complex process that would be prohibitively time consuming for large-scale simulations.

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Jun 25, 2016

Fully-autonomous drone launcher never needs a pilot

Posted by in categories: drones, energy, food, robotics/AI, surveillance

Having UAVs conduct routine aerial surveillance is already having a transformative effect on farming and and energy production but they can only operate when there’s a human at the controls. That’s about to change thanks to an autonomous drone system that not only flies but also maintains itself. Tel Aviv-based UAV Airobotics has debuted a completely automated patrol drone system of the same name that is capable of operating with virtually no human intervention.

The system is composed of three parts: the drone itself, the “Airbase” robotic base station and the command software. It uses an “Optimus” UAV that can carry a 1-kilogram payload for up to 30 minutes. When the UAV finishes its patrol, it will land atop the base station whereupon a robotic arm will automatically swap out its battery and payload. All of this is controlled by the integrated software which enables users to pre-program flight paths as well as view real-time video and data feeds. The Airobotic system will likely find use in the mining and oil and gas industries as an aerial mapping platform, though it could easily be applied to any repetitive delivery or flyover task.

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Jun 25, 2016

All the rooms in this futuristic ‘drone hotel’ can fly away

Posted by in categories: drones, transportation

The rooms double as detachable flying pods.

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Jun 25, 2016

Brain-like computers may now be realistic

Posted by in categories: 3D printing, biotech/medical, computing, nanotechnology, robotics/AI, transportation

Power consumption is one of the biggest reasons why you haven’t seen a brain-like computer beyond the lab: the artificial synapses you’d need tend to draw much more power than the real thing. Thankfully, realistic energy use is no longer an unattainable dream. Researchers have built nanowire synapses that consume just 1.23 femtojoules of power — for reference, a real neuron uses 10 femtojoules. They achieve that extremely low demand by using a wrap of two organic materials to release and trap ions, much like real nerve fibers.

There’s a lot of work to be done before this is practical. The scientists want to shrink their nanowires down from 200 nanometers thick to a few dozen, and they’d need new 3D printing techniques to create structures that more closely imitate real brains. Nonetheless, the concept of computers with brain-level complexity is that much more realistic — the team tells Scientific American that it could see applications in everything from smarter robots and self-driving cars through to advanced medical diagnosis.

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Jun 25, 2016

Mill’s Blackbird

Posted by in category: transportation

The Mill’s Blackbird can be morphed to look like any vehicle.

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Jun 24, 2016

IBM to deliver 200-petaflop supercomputer

Posted by in category: supercomputing

More supercomputer news this week: The US is responding to China’s new Sunway TiahuLight system that was announced Monday, and fast. First, the Department of Energy’s (DOE) Oak Ridge National Laboratory is expected to take delivery of a new IBM system, named Summit, in early 2018 that will now be capable of 200 peak petaflops, Computerworld reports. That would make it almost twice as fast as TaihuLight if the claim proves true. (We had originally reported in 2014 that both Summit and Sierra would achieve roughly 150 petaflops.)

TaihuLight (pictured below) now sits at number one on the twice-yearly TOP500 list of the fastest supercomputers in the world, with a Linpack benchmark score of 93 petaflops and a claimed peak of 124.5 petaflops. The latest TOP500 announcement Monday caused a bit of a stir. Not only is TaihuLight roughly three times faster than China’s Tianhe-2, the prior champion, but it also uses no US-sourced parts at all for the first time, as it’s powered by Sunway 260-core SW26010 processors that are roughly on par with Intel Xeon Phi, as well as custom proprietary interconnect.

sunway-taihulight

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Jun 24, 2016

Replacing Humans With AI? IBM’s Watson Edits An Entire Magazine On Its Own

Posted by in categories: computing, robotics/AI

IBM and marketing company The Drum just announced that the AI Watson was able to edit an entire magazine on its own. This showcases the computing potential that AI has in an increasing number of fields.

IBM and a marketing company called The Drum just announced that the AI system known as Watson was able to edit an entire magazine on its own. Yep, an AI magazine editor.

According to a statement released via The Drum, the magazine edited by Watson contains different features that shows Watson’s capabilities. It has different analytical functions, as well as skills necessary to assist modern-day marketers. Also, Watson has been programmed to have the capacity to answer a series of questions about David Olgivy, the “advertising legend,” and was able to give some predictions for the winners of this year’s Cannes Lions awards.

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Jun 24, 2016

Unexpected discovery reveals secret of how cancer spreads in the body

Posted by in category: biotech/medical

Artist’s concept of primary tumor (credit: Barts Cancer Institute/QMUL)

Metastasis (spread of cancer) is one of the biggest challenges in cancer treatment. It is often not the original tumor that kills, but secondary growths. But a key question in cancer research has been how vulnerable cancer cells are able to survive once they break away from a tumor to spread around the body.

“Metastasis is currently incurable and remains one of the key targets of cancer research,” said lead researcher Stéphanie Kermorgant, PhD, from Barts Cancer Institut at Queen Mary University of London (QMUL). “Our research advances the knowledge of how two key molecules communicate and work together to help cancer cells survive during metastasis. We’re hoping that this might lead to the discovery of new drugs to block the spread of cancer within the body.”

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Jun 24, 2016

Brain markers of numeric, verbal, and spatial reasoning abilities found

Posted by in categories: chemistry, health, neuroscience

A new study found that higher concentrations of NAA (N-acetyl aspartate) in two areas of the brain were associated with better performance on verbal and spatial tests. NAA is a byproduct of glucose metabolism and an indicator of brain health. (credit: Julie McMahon and Erick Paul)

A new study helps explain how brain structure and chemistry relate to “fluid intelligence” — the ability to adapt to new situations and solve problems one has never encountered before.

The study, reported in an open-access paper in the journal NeuroImage, observed two facets of fluid intelligence*:

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Jun 24, 2016

The Nuclear Spear: Casaba Howitzer

Posted by in category: military

When a nuclear technology has been kept classified since the 60s, you know that it is worth looking into. The Casaba Howitzer is one configuration for a nuclear shaped charge, that can concentrate the power of an atom bomb into a narrow cone.

In this post, we’ll look at its potential configurations, its advantages and limits, and how it can be applied to both propulsion and warfare.

Origins

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