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Apr 23, 2019

Researchers create artificial mother-of-pearl using bacteria

Posted by in categories: energy, materials

The strongest synthetic materials are often those that intentionally mimic nature.

One natural substance scientists have looked to in creating is , also known as mother-of-pearl. An exceptionally tough, stiff material produced by some mollusks and serving as their inner shell layer, it also comprises the outer layer of pearls, giving them their lustrous shine.

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Apr 23, 2019

Elon Musk: Brain-Computer Interface Update “Coming Soon”

Posted by in categories: education, Elon Musk, life extension, robotics/AI

AI Overlords

Musk has repeatedly warned of evil AI overlords in the past, saying that AI could become “an immortal dictator from which we could never escape” in a 2018 documentary called “Do You Trust This Computer?”

Most of what Neuralink is working on, including any plans for a brain computer interface, are still tightly under wraps. In one tantalizing clue, Bloomberg recently reported on a still unpublished academic paper by five authors who have been employed by or associated with Neuralink — though it’s unclear whether Musk’s tweet referred to their work.

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Apr 23, 2019

Canadian researchers warn of ‘cascading impacts’ as bumblebee species decline

Posted by in categories: existential risks, food

A team of researchers at York University has warned that the American bumblebee is facing imminent extinction from Canada, and this could lead to “cascading impacts” throughout the country.

The imminent extinction classification is considered the highest and most at-risk classification before extinction.

About 42 of the more than 850 species of bees in Canada are bumblebees — important pollinators needed to grow crops, including apples, tomatoes, blueberries and legumes, as well as trees, shrubs and wildflowers.

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Apr 23, 2019

Britain breaks coal-free power record over Easter weekend

Posted by in category: energy

UK sees longest continuous period without generating electricity from coal as temperatures soar.

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Apr 23, 2019

Atomic beams shoot straighter via cascading silicon peashooters

Posted by in categories: particle physics, quantum physics, space travel

To a non-physicist, an “atomic beam collimator” may sound like a phaser firing mystical particles. That might not be the worst metaphor to introduce a technology that researchers have now miniaturized, making it more likely to someday land in handheld devices.

Today, atomic collimators are mostly found in physics labs, where they shoot out atoms in a beam that produces exotic quantum phenomena and which has properties that may be useful in precision technologies. By shrinking collimators from the size of a small appliance to fit on a fingertip, researchers at the Georgia Institute of Technology want to make the technology available to engineers advancing devices like or accelerometers, a component found in smartphones.

“A typical device you might make out of this is a next-generation gyroscope for a precision navigation system that is independent of GPS and can be used when you’re out of satellite range in a remote region or traveling in space,” said Chandra Raman, an associate professor in Georgia Tech’s School of Physics and a co-principal investigator on the study.

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Apr 23, 2019

Scientists create first billion-atom biomolecular simulation

Posted by in categories: biotech/medical, genetics

Researchers at Los Alamos National Laboratory have created the largest simulation to date of an entire gene of DNA, a feat that required one billion atoms to model and will help researchers to better understand and develop cures for diseases like cancer.

“It is important to understand DNA at this level of detail because we want to understand precisely how turn on and off,” said Karissa Sanbonmatsu, a structural biologist at Los Alamos. “Knowing how this happens could unlock the secrets to how many diseases occur.”

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Apr 23, 2019

The ‘world’s first malaria vaccine’ is being rolled out in Malawi

Posted by in categories: biotech/medical, health

A malaria vaccine which is being called the first to give partial protection against the disease, is being rolled out in Malawi. It works by training the immune system to attack the malaria parasite which is spread by mosquito bites. In a few weeks it will be rolled out in Kenya and then Ghana. BBC Newsday’s Lawrence Pollard spoke to Dr David Schellenberg who has been working on the development of the vaccine with the World Health Organisation in Geneva.

(Photo: Malawians going through a medical checkup by a paramedic Credit: MAURICIO FERRETTI/AFP/Getty Images)

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Apr 23, 2019

Light-based computer hardware that can compete with silicon

Posted by in categories: business, computing, quantum physics

A team of researchers at NTT Corporation has developed a way to use light-based computer hardware that allows it to to compete with silicon. In their paper published in the journal Nature Photonics, the group describes their research, the devices they created and how well they worked.

Computer scientists have known for some time that the era of increasing speed by modifying silicon-based computer parts is coming to an end. To that end, many have turned to quantum computing as the way to speed up computers—but to date, such efforts have not led to useful machines and there is no guarantee they ever will. Because of that, others in the are looking for other options, such as using to move data around inside of computers instead of electrons. Currently, light is generally only used to carry data long distances. In this new effort, the researchers report that they have developed computing devices based partially on light that performed as well as electron-based hardware.

The idea of using only light as a data medium in is still a long way off—instead, engineers are focusing on using light in areas where it seems feasible and electrons everywhere else. Because of that computer devices must be able to convert between the two mediums, a problem that until now has prevented such devices from being built. Prior efforts have required too much power to be feasible and the conversion process has been too slow. To get around both problems, the researchers developed a new kind of photonic crystal that was able to diffuse light in a way that allowed it to follow a designated path on demand and to also be absorbed when needed to be used for generating current. The crystal was also able to work in reverse.

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Apr 23, 2019

Synthetic molecule shows promise as multiple sclerosis treatment

Posted by in categories: biotech/medical, neuroscience

In multiple sclerosis, the body’s immune system attacks and damages myelin, which is the insulating layer on nerves in the spinal cord, brain and optic nerve. This causes the nerves to short-circuit and cease functioning properly. In “a potential game-changer,” scientists have now demonstrated that a synthetic molecule can restore compromised myelin.

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Apr 23, 2019

Falsifiability and physics

Posted by in category: physics

Can a theory that isn’t completely testable still be useful to physics?

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