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Nov 5, 2016

NASA’s New Warning System Has Spotted an Incoming Asteroid

Posted by in category: space

NASA’s new space-monitoring system has detected a large asteroid hurtling towards Earth, which is scheduled to pass us safely in the next few hours.

The asteroid, which was first spotted last week, is estimated to clear us with a comfortable distance of around 498,000 km (310,000 miles) — around 1.3 times further away than our Moon. But thanks to NASA’s new software, we had days rather than hours to assess and prepare for the risk.

The rock, officially named 2016 UR36, was first detected on October 25 by a telescope in Hawaii.

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Nov 5, 2016

Closer look reveals tubule structure of endoplasmic reticulum

Posted by in categories: biotech/medical, health

(—A team of researchers from the U.S. and the U.K. has used high-resolution imaging techniques to get a closer look at the endoplasmic reticulum (ET), a cellular organelle, and in so doing, has found that its structure is not made of tiny sheets of materials, as was thought, but is instead composed of tubule structures. In their paper published in the journal Science, the team describes their research and their theories on why the organelles have such a dynamic structure. Mark Terasaki with the University of Connecticut Health Center offers a Perspective piece providing a short history of such research and outlining the work done by the team in the same journal issue.

Organelles are the structures that reside inside living cells—the ET lies within the cytoplasm of and is part of many cellular processes such as protein synthesis, calcium storage, mitochondrial division and lipid synthesis and transfer—because of its tiny size and dynamic nature, it has been difficult to obtain imagery to accurately reveal its structure. In this new effort, the researchers have used a variety of techniques, some cutting edge, to capture the most detailed look at ET to date, thereby overturning some ideas regarding its structure and how it functions.

To capture the images, the team used single-molecule super-resolution techniques along with new ways to illuminate their subject. One, grazing incidence structured illumination microscopy (where light is applied at a perpendicular angle to the target), captured imagery on live cells and provided a major increase in resolution via better lighting and a faster means for capturing images than other techniques, improving resolution in moving objects. Such techniques allowed for capturing sharp images of tubules with diameters as small as 50 nm—each a part of a matrix comprising a network that allows for dynamically responding to the needs of the cell. In the images, the tubules look rather like a large complex of interconnected water pipes.

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Nov 5, 2016

Making energy-harvesting computers reliable

Posted by in categories: computing, solar power, sustainability

A revolutionary and emerging class of energy-harvesting computer systems require neither a battery nor a power outlet to operate, instead operating by harvesting energy from their environment. While radio waves, solar energy, heat, and vibrations have the ability to power devices, harvested energy sources are weak leading to an “intermittent execution”, with periodic power failures and unreliable behavior.

Brandon Lucia, an assistant professor of electrical and computer engineering at Carnegie Mellon University, and his Ph.D. student Alexei Colin created the first designed to build reliable software for intermittent, energy-harvesting computers. Colin will present the work at the 2016 SPLASH conference in Amsterdam, Netherlands, on November 3rd.

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Nov 5, 2016

There’s big money to be made in asteroid mining

Posted by in categories: asteroid/comet impacts, economics, existential risks

If humans were ever able to get their hands on just one asteroid, it would be a game-changer.

That’s because the value of many asteroids are measured in the quintillions of dollars, which makes the market for Earth’s annual production of raw metals – about $660 billion per year – look paltry in comparison.

The reality is that the Earth’s crust is saddled with uneconomic materials, while certain types of asteroids are almost pure metal. X-type asteroids, for example, are thought to be the remnants of large asteroids that were pulverized in collisions in which their dense, metallic cores got separated from the mantle.

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Nov 4, 2016

Elon Musk: Robots will take your jobs, government will have to pay your wage

Posted by in categories: economics, Elon Musk, employment, government, robotics/AI, space travel, sustainability

The Tesla and SpaceX CEO says that a universal basic income will allow more time for leisure.

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Nov 4, 2016

SU Global Summit

Posted by in category: futurism

Is the definitive gathering for those who understand the critical importance of exponential technologies, the impact they’ll have on the future of humanity, and the disruption these technologies will cause across all industries.

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Nov 4, 2016

Get Ready for the Supermoon of a Lifetime

Posted by in category: space

Entire lifetimes have come and gone without the moon looking quite as large as it will this month. On November 14th, skygazers will witness the closest full moon, or “supermoon,” of 2016. But more excitingly, it’ll be the closest full moon since 1948—and we won’t get another one like it until 2034.

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Nov 4, 2016

Scientists will try to directly image Sagittarius A*, the black hole at the center of the Milky Way

Posted by in category: cosmology

How do you directly image a supermassive black hole at the center of a galaxy? Using a telescope with the effective size of the Earth.

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Nov 4, 2016

One of the world’s most popular computer games will soon be open to many sophisticated AI players

Posted by in categories: entertainment, robotics/AI

Artificial intelligence will require key advances in order to play a video game filled with planning, guesswork, and bluffing.

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Nov 4, 2016

New bionic eye implant connects directly to brain, allowing blind woman to see shapes & colors

Posted by in categories: biotech/medical, computing, cyborgs, neuroscience, transhumanism

Scientists may have made a significant breakthrough in restoring human sight, as a woman who had been blind for seven years has regained the ability to see shapes and colours with a bionic eye implant.

The 30-year-old woman had a wireless visual stimulator chip inserted into her brain by University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) surgeons in the first human test of the product. As a result, she could see colored flashes, lines, and spots when signals were sent to her brain from a computer.

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