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Jul 8, 2016

Flipping Crystals Improves Solar-Cell Performance

Posted by in categories: computing, solar power, sustainability

New method for solar cells.

New solar cells could lead to improved light-emitting diodes, lasers and sensors.

Mercouri Kanatzidis Mercouri G. Kanatzidis.

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Jul 8, 2016

Hanergy claims solar cars need 5 hours of sun for 50 miles of range

Posted by in categories: solar power, sustainability, transportation

Glad that I hadn’t plan to buy one of these cars.

A Chinese company is hoping to bring the solar-powered car to market, showing off four new “zero-charge” EVs that get all their range from the sun.

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Jul 8, 2016

Your cat probably understands basic physics

Posted by in category: physics

Cats are definitely smarter than dogs if this is true. Guess I should change my cat’s name from Dusty to Einstein or maybe Julius.

New research suggests that your cat might actually have a handle on some very basic physics, and can use it to help them hunt down hidden prey.

If the thought of your cat being better than you at physics — as well as being allowed to sleep all day — is getting you down, don’t worry, because we’re talking very simple cause-and-effect concepts here, and they only work when paired with cats’ extraordinary hearing and eyesight.

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Jul 8, 2016

Illegal gold mining causing mercury contamination in indigenous groups

Posted by in category: futurism

Serious and bad.

Research finds high, unsafe levels of mercury contamination in Brazil’s Yanomami and Ye’kuana peoples, almost certainly due to illegal gold mining on indigenous lands in the Amazon.

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Jul 8, 2016

Era of conventional wars over: Russia scientist

Posted by in categories: military, robotics/AI, space

Definitely could be tied to and explain some of IARPA’s investment in predictive systems “Robots to determine outcome of future wars: Russian army’s tech chief”

Robots will replace conventional soldiers on the battlefield in the future, says the Russian military’s tech chief.

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Jul 8, 2016

In-Ear EEG Makes Unobtrusive Brain-Hacking Gadgets a Real Possibility

Posted by in category: neuroscience

DARPA has been doing some interesting things in BMI already. Nice to see others onboard as well.

Earbud-like doodads can pick up brainwaves with surprising fidelity.

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Jul 8, 2016

The mind isn’t locked in the brain but extends far beyond it

Posted by in categories: neuroscience, robotics/AI

There is a lot of truth to this article especially as you look at how the mind responds/ reacts to situations, ideas, etc. has also other factors involved such as how a person overall immune system is responding, chemical balance of a person’s system, etc. So, this reconfirms that thinking and being human goes far beyond a replica of a brain in a system.

Where is your mind? Where does your thinking occur? Where are your beliefs? René Descartes thought that the mind was an immaterial soul, housed in the pineal gland near the centre of the brain. Nowadays, by contrast, we tend to identify the mind with the brain. We know that mental processes depend on brain processes, and that different brain regions are responsible for different functions. However, we still agree with Descartes on one thing: we still think of the mind as (in a phrase coined by the philosopher of mind Andy Clark) brainbound, locked away in the head, communicating with the body and wider world but separate from them. And this might be quite wrong. I’m not suggesting that the mind is non-physical or doubting that the brain is central to it; but it could be that (as Clark and others argue) the mind extends beyond the brain.

To begin with, there is a strong case for thinking that many mental processes are essentially embodied. The brainbound view pictures the brain as a powerful executive, planning every aspect of behaviour and sending detailed instructions to the muscles. But, as work in robotics has illustrated, there are more efficient ways of doing things, which nature almost certainly employs. The more biologically realistic robots perform basic patterns of movement naturally, in virtue of their passive dynamics, without the use of motors and controllers. Intelligent, powered control is then achieved by continuously monitoring and tweaking these bodily processes, sharing the control task between brain and body.

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Jul 8, 2016

This innovation could change space travel forever

Posted by in categories: particle physics, space travel

While there are several forms of ion propulsion, the version Brophy used on Dawn involves two grids, each about a foot wide and spaced half a millimeter apart. An electrical system powered by a solar array on the spacecraft passes a current through both grids, and the resulting voltage differential between the two is what accelerates the xenon particles as they pass through the grids. Each accelerating particle only provides a tiny amount of thrust — roughly equivalent to the pressure of a piece of paper lying in your hand — but in the airless and frictionless environment of space, a steady stream of that tiny thrust can build up to monumental speeds of about 24,000 miles-per-hour.

What Brophy and his coworkers aimed to do was build a grid and propulsion system that could pull this off, and demonstrate that the setup was durable enough to survive the whole mission. So before both Deep Space 1 and Dawn, they ran versions of the ion system here on Earth continuously for years to demonstrate their lifespan.

Finally, the Dawn mission became possible when Ceres and Vesta reached a once-every-17-years alignment, allowing the mission to visit them both. “That was really a great boon for space exploration to do the two largest asteroids in the asteroid belt with one mission,” Russell explains.

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Jul 8, 2016

Inside Microsoft’s plan to outsmart Google

Posted by in categories: augmented reality, habitats, internet, mobile phones, robotics/AI

Satya Nadella bounded into the conference room, eager to talk about intelligence. I was at Microsoft’s headquarters in Redmond, WA, and the company’s CEO was touting the company’s progress in building more intelligent apps and services. Each morning, he told me, he puts on a HoloLens, which enables him to look at a virtual, interactive calendar projected on a wall of his house. Nadella appeared giddy as he described it. The system was intelligent, productive, and futuristic: everything he hopes Microsoft will be under his leadership.

No matter where we work in the future, Nadella says, Microsoft will have a place in it. The company’s “conversation as a platform” offering, which it unveiled in March, represents a bet that chat-based interfaces will overtake apps as our primary way of using the internet: for finding information, for shopping, and for accessing a range of services. And apps will become smarter thanks to “cognitive APIs,” made available by Microsoft, that let them understand faces, emotions, and other information contained in photos and videos.

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Jul 7, 2016

Fantastic voyage to the nanoverse one step closer

Posted by in categories: biotech/medical, engineering, nanotechnology, particle physics, robotics/AI

Robots so small they can enter the bloodstream and perform surgeries are one step closer, a research team from Monash University has discovered.

Led by Dr Zhe Liu, the Monash Engineering team has focused on graphene oxide — which is a single atom thick — as an effective shape memory material.

Graphene has captured world scientific and industrial interest for its miracle properties, with potential applications across energy, medicine, and even biomedical nano-robots.

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