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May 21, 2018

The Why Factor

Posted by in categories: life extension, transhumanism

I’m excited to announce my interview on the BBC World Service is airing around the world today multiple times to millions of people. My 4-min section on #transhumanism starts at 10:50.

Why do people chase immortality? We those who believe science is close to beating death.

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May 21, 2018

How NASA Will Unlock the Secrets of Quantum Mechanics Aboard the ISS

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

An Antares rocket launched from Virginia before sunrise this morning and is on its way to the International Space Station. Its 7,400 pounds of cargo include an experiment that will chill atoms to just about absolute zero—colder than the vacuum of space itself.

The Cold Atom Laboratory (CAL) is set to create Bose-Einstein condensates on board the ISS. But what’s a Bose-Einstein condensate? And why make it in space?

“Essentially, it’s going to allow us to do different kinds of things than we’d be able to do on Earth,” Gretchen Campbell, co-director of the University of Maryland’s Joint Quantum Institute, told Gizmodo.

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May 21, 2018

Microsoft buys Semantic Machines to make AI sound more human

Posted by in categories: business, robotics/AI

Microsoft has purchased startup company Semantic Machines in an effort to make artificial intelligence bots sound more human. The Berkeley, California-based business focuses on contextual understanding of conversation.

Previously, the firm has worked with Apple on speech recognition technology for Siri. Semanitc Machines is lead by professor Dan Klein of UC Berkeley and professor Percy Liang of Standford University in addition to Apple’s former chief speech scientist Larry Gillick.

Microsoft has been working on speech recognition and natural language processing for nearly two decades now. As Cortana has gained a more prominent role in recent years, Redmond is aiming to improve the accuracy and fluency of its assistant.

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May 21, 2018

Graphene ‘stimulation’ could selectively kill off cancer cells

Posted by in categories: biotech/medical, computing, mobile phones

A chance lab discovery is opening up the possibility for wide-scale improvements in drug screening, application of selective painkillers, and selectively nuking cancer cells. The mystery material? Graphene, a semi-metal that’s composed of a single layer of carbon atoms. It’s already being used to make flexible OLED displays and reduce the energy costs of desalination, but its potential benefits for the medical field look promising too.

It began with a theory — scientists at the University of California knew graphene could convert light into electricity, and wondered whether that electricity had the capacity to stimulate human cells. Graphene is extremely sensitive to light (1,000 times more than traditional digital cameras and smartphones) and after experimenting with different light intensities, Alex Savchenko and his team discovered that cells could indeed be stimulated via optical graphene stimulation.

“I was looking at the microscope’s computer screen and I’m turning the knob for light intensity and I see the cells start beating faster,” he said. “I showed that to our grad students and they were yelling and jumping and asking if they could turn the knob. We had never seen this possibility of controlling cell contraction.”

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May 21, 2018

Blood from umbilical cord may help fix your brain after a stroke

Posted by in categories: biotech/medical, neuroscience

Ten people have received infusions of umbilical cord blood days after having a stroke, and they seem to have recovered better than would normally be expected.

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May 21, 2018

A German Team Is Now Trying to Make the ‘Impossible’ EmDrive Engine

Posted by in categories: quantum physics, space travel

German physicists launched the SpaceDrive project to explore possible sources of error in EmDrive experiments. Their first experiment identified a possible source of false positives in past successful EmDrive tests.

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May 21, 2018

Newly discovered copper and graphite combo could lead to more efficient lithium-ion batteries

Posted by in categories: energy, materials

A first-of-its-kind copper and graphite combination discovered in basic energy research at the U.S. Department of Energy’s Ames Laboratory could have implications for improving the energy efficiency of lithium-ion batteries, which include these components.

“We’re pretty excited by this, because we didn’t expect it,” said Pat Thiel, an Ames Laboratory scientist and Distinguished Professor of Chemistry and Materials Science and Engineering at Iowa State University. “Copper doesn’t seem to interact strongly or favorably with graphitic materials at all, so this was a big surprise. It really challenges us to understand the reasons and mechanisms involved.”

The scientists bombarded graphite in an ultra-high vacuum environment with ions to create surface defects. Copper was then deposited on the ion-bombarded graphite while holding it at elevated temperature, at 600–800 K. The synthetic route created multilayer copper islands that are completely covered by graphene layer(s).

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May 21, 2018

Advanced biofuels can be produced extremely efficiently

Posted by in categories: energy, finance, sustainability, transportation

A chance to switch to renewable sources for heating, electricity and fuel, while also providing new opportunities for several industries to produce large numbers of renewable products. This is the verdict of researchers from Chalmers University of Technology, Sweden, who now, after 10 years of energy research into gasification of biomass, see an array of new technological achievements.

“The potential is huge! Using only the already existing Swedish energy plants, we could produce renewable fuels equivalent to 10 percent of the world’s , if such a conversion were fully implemented,” says Henrik Thunman, Professor of Energy Technology at Chalmers.

How to implement a switch from fossil-fuels to renewables is a tricky issue for many industries. For heavy industries, such as oil refineries, or the paper and pulp industry, it is especially urgent to start moving, because investment cycles are so long. At the same time, it is important to get the investment right because you may be forced to replace boilers or facilities in advance, which means major financial costs. Thanks to long-term strategic efforts, researchers at Sweden´s Chalmers University of Technology have now paved the way for radical changes, which could be applied to new installations, as well as be implemented at thousands of existing plants around the globe.

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May 21, 2018

Loss of marine habitats is threatening the global fishing industry – new research

Posted by in categories: food, habitats, security, sustainability

Seafood consumption is both a love and a necessity for hundreds of millions of people worldwide. And its supply is a key part of maintaining food security for the whole planet. But during a time of rapid population growth and increasing demand, stocks of wild fish and invertebrates (such as mussels and prawns) are declining.

The problem is that policies and plans designed to make sure there are enough fish and invertebrates almost exclusively target fishing activity. But we also need to protect the critical habitats that are essential for the sustainability of these stocks and fisheries.

Most species that are fished require more than a single to live and thrive. Atlantic cod (Gadus morhua), for example, spends its adult life shoaling in deep water where it lives, feeds and spawns. But juveniles require more stable habitat such as . So, if we want to manage fish and invertebrate stocks for sustainability reasons, it is essential to protect the supporting habitats of targeted species.

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May 21, 2018

Inside the training camp where Google shares its A.I. secrets with companies Alphabet invested in

Posted by in category: robotics/AI

The chairs were filled not with Gerard’s fellow Google employees but, instead, more than 100 engineers from about a dozen big privately held companies that Google’s Alphabet had invested in.

As it battles to stand out in late-stage investing, Alphabet’s CapitalG is throwing a new machine learning marathon for its portfolio companies.

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