With the release of the Galaxy Nexus imminent, Google have pleasantly surprised everyone by giving the go-ahead to release the Ice Cream Sandwich source code, after much speculation as to whether the search (and mobile OS) giant would hold onto it for a little longer. This means the new OS could be available on other devices much sooner than anticpated.
At this year's International Robot Exhibition, Masahiko Yamaguchi demonstrated a smallish robot - maybe a foot high or so - that is able to ride a fixed-gear bike, like a 2011 version of the opening scene from The Muppet Movie (and there's a Muppet movie coming out this year, too! Sorry sorry. Back to robots.) What's especially impressive is that the robot is capable of biking just like a human - it moves and brakes solely through the strength of its own body.
Artificial blood may become a common reality, thanks to the first successful transfusion of lab-grown blood into a human. Luc Douay, of Pierre and Marie Curie University, Paris, extracted hematopoietic stem cells from a volunteer's bone marrow, and encouraged these cells to grow into red blood cells with a cocktail of growth factors. Douay's team labeled these cultured cells for tracing, and injected 10 billion of them (equalling 2 millilitres of blood) back into the marrow donor's body.
It's now been almost a week since the launch of Russia's Phobos-Grunt spacecraft, and still mission handlers have received no communication from the interplanetary probe which has been stuck in Earth orbit since launching last Tuesday. The head of the Russian space agency Roscosmos says that the mission is not yet lost, but the window is definitely closing. In the early days of December that window will close completely, and if it does the spacecraft - which includes China's first Mars satellite - will likely burn up in Earth's atmosphere in January.
The newest TOP500 List - the ranking of the world's most powerful supercomputers - dropped today, and one significant thing is clear: graphics processing units are increasingly augmenting the power of the world's most sophisticated supercomputers, allowing relatively cheap ways to help these behemoths of calculation carry out their work in new ways.
A team at the University of Texas has created a fat-burning drug that doesn't so much burn fat as it seeks and destroys it. Instead of suppressing appetite or increasing metabolism, this drug systematically destroys the blood supply to fat tissue - and in a recent study, obese rhesus monkeys lost 11 per cent of their body weight when treated with the drug.
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.