When you control a budget that exceeds a trillion dollars, you don't have to wait until the start of December to start writing your holiday present wish list. The Department of Defense (DoD) has just released an early version of its small business programs for 2012, with every branch clamoring for futuristic technology that ranges from transforming robots to nanotech medicine to sensors that can figure out political beliefs through language analysis.
If you've suspected for some time now that Tony Grieg has been replaced by an iPod filled with generic cricket commentary, you might be excited to learn that Switzerland's Ecole Polytechnique Federale de Lausanne has been working on an even more advanced commentary system. This one is equipped with artificial intelligence so it can actually see what's happening on the field and provide commentary.
Researchers from University of Lausanne and EPFL University in Switzerland have developed genetically altered mice that have far greater physical endurance than regular mice. These "mighty mice" are able to run almost 50 percent further and for 20 minutes longer, while looking no different than their unaltered cousins, save for slightly larger muscles.
As telephone landlines become obsolete, so do the hardwired security systems that rely on them. Mobile modems and Wi-Fi receivers are now so affordable that manufacturers can install them in security devices for a nominal cost. Meanwhile, the proliferation of smartphones means that more people have the ability to receive texts, emails and live video from a home monitor.
As long as you aren't related, marrying someone who looks similar to you is advantageous, says Philippe Rushton, a psychologist at the University of Western Ontario. We use physical likeness as a way to assess underlying genetic likeness, which can cause us to be subconsciously attracted to reflections of ourselves. In evolutionary biology, the phenomenon is called "assortative mating," or "self seeking like." By mating with people who are genetically similar, you ensure that "your own segment of the gene pool is safely maintained and transmitted to future generations."
What constitutes consciousness--not in the philosophical sense, but clinically speaking--has been a matter of great debate in scientific circles lately, particularly as new technological applications allow neuroscientists to peek deeper into the brains of those thought to be in vegetative states. Now, a cheap and portable EEG device has been developed that has detected signs of consciousness in three people previously thought to be in vegetative states.
In an international cyber sting that is being called the biggest cyber criminal takedown in history, the FBI has arrested six Estonians accused of running a botnet that controlled more than 4 million computers in 100 countries (keep in mind there are only about 200 countries in the world). But as nefarious and far-reaching as that sounds, the scheme itself brings the story to something of an anti-climax. The botnet was simply diverting browsers to sites that served up advertising and then collecting referral fees.
This is kind of a Friday video, in that it is silly and involves (read: consists entirely of) moments that could be soundtracked with a loud cartoony "BONK!", but this week has been a little bit long already and it feels like maybe by watching this video we can usher Friday in a little faster. So! This is a video of astronauts falling down, on the moon. Enjoy!
The ability to make cells do our bidding would be a major advance in everything from drug production to biofuels, but it's difficult to hack into nature and make cells obey. A team of Swiss researchers have one way to do it: Create cyborg cells connected to, and controlled by, a computer.
Have you, like us, been missing the rumble and hiss of a good old-fashioned NASA launch? Since the space shuttle retired this summer, there have been a few space payload deliveries, sure - but it's just not the same when it's not a human launch system we're talking about. There was always something special about that guttural roar and plume of white steam streaming from the launchpad. Well here you go: NASA just released this video of their new rocket stage, designed to carry the agency's next generation spacecraft into deep space.
The thing about growing working organs in the lab is that the whole enterprise is completely mind-blowing. Yet we just keep doing it, and so we keep blowing minds. The latest: a team of researchers at Japan's RIKEN Center - the same group who earlier this year engineered a mouse retina that is the most complex tissue ever engineered - have now derived a working pituitary gland from mouse stem cells.
Staring at distant, faint objects to study the origins of the universe requires several layers of engineering skill and design trickery. The people at NASA are no strangers to this, having invented all sorts of new materials to improve telescopes and other observational tools. A new design may be one of their best examples yet: A blacker-than-black nanomaterial that absorbs pretty much all of the light that hits it.