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Nov 17, 2015

Experimental Dementia Drug May Have Anti-Aging Effects

Posted by in categories: biotech/medical, life extension, neuroscience

Researchers at the Salk Institute working on an experimental Alzheimer’s drug have discovered it may have a host of anti-aging effects too.

Building on previous work

Research had already been conducted on the drug candidate, J147, with the aim of targeting Alzheimer’s. The results showed the drug could help prevent and even regenerate; reversing memory loss and a form of inherited Alzheimer’s disease in mice subjects. While this form comprises only 1% of Alzheimer’s cases, the biggest risk factor for the remainder is old age. If you could target brain aging itself, risk factors would be significantly reduced.

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Nov 17, 2015

‘The Next Big Thing: From 3D Printing to Mining the Moon’ — interview with Futurist Christopher Barnatt

Posted by in categories: 3D printing, space

Futurist Christopher Barnatt is the author of two 3D printing books, and is well known in the 3D printing community. His latest book — “The Next Big Thing: From 3D Printing to Mining the Moon” — covers far more than additive manufacturing. But as “3D Printing” is in the sub-title, we thought we’d ask him what it is all about.

3Ders: “The Next Big Thing” is a very broad title, so can you tell us what the book covers?

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Nov 17, 2015

‘Future Visions’ anthology brings together science fiction – and science fact

Posted by in category: futurism

Visit the post for more.

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Nov 17, 2015

Researchers find new way to force stem cells to become bone cells

Posted by in category: biotech/medical

Imagine you have a bone fracture or a hip replacement, and you need bone to form, but you heal slowly – a common fact of life for older people. Instead of forming bone, you could form fat. Researchers at the University of North Carolina School of Medicine may have found a way to tip the scale in favor of bone formation. They used cytochalasin D, a naturally occurring substance found in mold, as a proxy to alter gene expression in the nuclei of mesenchymal stem cells to force them to become osteoblasts (bone cells).

By treating – which can become fat or bone cells — with cytochalasin D– the result was clear: the stem cells became bone cells. Further, injecting a small amount of cytochalasin D into the bone marrow space of mice caused bone to form. This research, published in the journal Stem Cells, details how the scientists altered the stem cells and triggered .

“And the bone forms quickly,” said Janet Rubin, MD, senior author of the paper and professor of medicine at the UNC School of Medicine. “The data and images are so clear; you don’t have to be a bone biologist to see what cytochalasin D does in one week in a mouse.”

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Nov 17, 2015

Can Artificial Intelligence Be Taught?

Posted by in categories: bioengineering, evolution, machine learning, robotics/AI, science

In spite of the popular perception of the state of artificial intelligence, technology has yet to create a robot with the same instincts and adaptability as a human. While humans are born with some natural instincts that have evolved over millions of years, Neuroscientist and Artificial Intelligence Expert Dr. Danko Nikolic believes these same tendencies can be instilled in a robot.

“Our biological children are born with a set of knowledge. They know where to learn, they know where to pay attention. Robots simply can not do that,” Nikolic said. “The problem is you can not program it. There’s a trick we can use called AI Kindergarten. Then we can basically interact with this robot kind of like we do with children in kindergarten, but then make robots learn one level lower, at the level of something called machine genome.”

Programming that machine genome would require all of the innate human knowledge that’s evolved over thousands of years, Nikolic said. Lacking that ability, he said researchers are starting from scratch. While this form of artificial intelligence is still in its embryonic state, it does have some evolutionary advantages that humans didn’t have.

“By using AI Kindergarten, we don’t have to repeat the evolution exactly the way evolution has done it,” Nikolic said. “This experiment has been done already and the knowledge is already stored in our genes, so we can accelerate tremendously. We can skip millions of failed experiments where evolution has failed already.”

Continue reading “Can Artificial Intelligence Be Taught?” »

Nov 17, 2015

Are there More Stars in the Universe than Grains of Sand on Earth?

Posted by in categories: neuroscience, physics, space

It may hurt your brain to think about it, but it appears that the answer is possibly to be yes, or at least the numbers are almost in the same ballpark.

Astrophysicists in fact set out to answer this question about a decade ago. It’s a complicated problem to solve, but it’s somewhat easier if you throw in a couple of qualifiers — that we are talking about stars in the observable universe; and grains of sand on the whole planet, not just the seashores.

The researchers started by calculating the luminosity density of a section of the cosmos — this is a calculation of how much light is in that space. They then utilized this calculation to guess the number of stars needed to make that amount of light. This was quite a mathematical challenge!

Continue reading “Are there More Stars in the Universe than Grains of Sand on Earth?” »

Nov 17, 2015

We’re Fast Approaching a World Where Nothing Is Scarce—Even Diamonds

Posted by in category: futurism

What’s more scarce than perfect diamonds, right?


This week, a new company called Diamond Foundry announced that it is able to “grow” hundreds of perfect, “real” diamonds (up to nine carats) in just two weeks in a lab.

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Nov 16, 2015

These wheels can take you in any direction without turning

Posted by in categories: robotics/AI, transportation

Ugh, this is just typical. You think you know the way the world works: wind blows, fire burns, wheels spin and – wait, what’s this thing doing?

What? You mean, it can actually move in any direction without so much as turning on an axis? That’s blowing my mind. I’m no gear head, but I’m sort of attached to having a steering wheel in my car, you know? Now you’re saying that self-driving cars will take those away, and now there won’t even be wheels to turn in the direction you want to go in?

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Nov 16, 2015

An Italian company built a 40-foot tall 3D printer to help solve the global housing crisis

Posted by in categories: 3D printing, habitats

They want to use the printer to build homes for those in need.

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Nov 16, 2015

A network of artificial neurons learns to use human language

Posted by in categories: computing, neuroscience

A computer simulation of a cognitive model entirely made up of artificial neurons learns to communicate through dialog starting from a state of tabula rasa —

A group of researchers from the University of Sassari (Italy) and the University of Plymouth (UK) has developed a cognitive model, made up of two million interconnected artificial neurons, able to learn to communicate using human language starting from a state of ‘tabula rasa’, only through communication with a human interlocutor. The model is called ANNABELL (Artificial Neural Network with Adaptive Behavior Exploited for Language Learning) and it is described in an article published in PLOS ONE. This research sheds light on the neural processes that underlie the development of language.

How does our brain develop the ability to perform complex cognitive functions, such as those needed for language and reasoning? This is a question that certainly we are all asking ourselves, to which the researchers are not yet able to give a complete answer. We know that in the human brain there are about one hundred billion neurons that communicate by means of electrical signals. We learned a lot about the mechanisms of production and transmission of electrical signals among neurons. There are also experimental techniques, such as functional magnetic resonance imaging, which allow us to understand which parts of the brain are most active when we are involved in different cognitive activities. But a detailed knowledge of how a single neuron works and what are the functions of the various parts of the brain is not enough to give an answer to the initial question.

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