Saturday, October 31, 2009

Fastest Supercomputer in the World Models Dark Matter, HIV Family Tree Simultaneously

Los Alamos' Road Runner Super Computer Meep meep. courtesy of the Department of Energy

From Popular Science:

Petaflop power in action.

In November of last year, scientists at Los Alamos National Laboratory switched on Roadrunner, the world's fastest computer. IBM and the Department of Energy built the machine to model nuclear explosions, but two new studies, both released today, are proof that the computer's massive power has been at least as devoted to peaceful science as to simulating thermonuclear weapons.

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Friday, October 30, 2009

Industrial Robot Hones Virtual Autopsies

Getting under the skin, virtually (Image: University of Bern)

From New Scientist:

THE small industrial robot that dominates the room is in many ways much like any other. A robotic arm smoothly wields grippers and probes - always accurate and never tired. But rather than working on cars or computers, this robot is processing human corpses.

A team of forensic pathologists at the University of Bern in Switzerland reckon it could make autopsies more accurate and also less distressing for families.

Read more ....

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Quantum Computers Could Tackle Enormous Linear Equations

From Science News:

Trillions of variables may prove no match for envisioned systems.

A new algorithm may give quantum computers a new, practical job: quickly solving monster linear equations. Such problems are at the heart of complex processes such as image and video processing, genetic analyses and even Internet traffic control. The new work, published October 7 in Physical Review Letters, may dramatically expand the range of potential uses for quantum computers.

The new quantum algorithm is “head-smackingly good,” says computer scientist Daniel Spielman of Yale University. “It is both very powerful, and very natural. I read the abstract and said, ‘Why didn’t I think of that?’”

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Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Hydrogen Muscle Silences The Domestic Robot

Kwang Kim's hydrogen muscle (Image: Kwang Kim)

From The New Scientist:

IF ROBOTS are ever going to be welcome in the home they will need to become a lot quieter. Building them with artificial muscles that run on hydrogen, instead of noisy compressed-air pumps or electric motors, could be the answer.

Kwang Kim, a materials engineer at the University of Nevada in Reno, came up with the idea after realising that hydrogen can be supplied silently by metal hydride compounds.

Read more ....

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Quantcast Quantum Computers Could Tackle Enormous Equations

From U.S. News And World Report:

Trillions of variables may prove no match for envisioned systems.

A new algorithm may give quantum computers a new, practical job: quickly solving monster linear equations. Such problems are at the heart of complex processes such as image and video processing, genetic analyses and even Internet traffic control. The new work, published October 7 in Physical Review Letters, may dramatically expand the range of potential uses for quantum computers.

Read more ....

Monday, October 26, 2009

Video: Army’s Robot-Man Walks Like the Real Thing

From The Danger Room:

The makers of the eerily lifelike robotic mule have a new creation: a machine that walks around like a real human being. Boston Dynamics is building the “Petman” prototype for the U.S. Army, to test out protective clothing.

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Sunday, October 25, 2009

Crystals Hold Super Computer Key

From The BBC:

Tiny crystals could hold the key to creating computers with massive storage capacity, scientists believe.

The crystals could be used as storage devices for desktop computers capable of holding 100-times more data than current systems.

Scientists at the University of Edinburgh have been using low-energy lasers to make salt crystals in gel.

The development could allow users to store a terabyte of data in a space the size of a sugar cube within a decade.

This would be enough to hold the equivalent of 250,000 photographs or a million books.

Read more ....

Saturday, October 24, 2009

New Software Could Smooth Supercomputing Speed Bumps

ONE SIZE DOESN'T FIT ALL: Researchers are increasingly turning to computers powered by a combination of graphics processing units (GPUs) and central processing units (CPUs), but they're looking for a better way to write software for these systems. © FOTOIE, VIA ISTOCKPHOTO.COM

From Scientific American:

Researchers turn to the Open Computing Language as a way to get graphics and general-purpose computer processors on the same page for more powerful number crunching

Supercomputers have long been an indispensable, albeit expensive, tool for researchers who need to make sense of vast amounts of data. One way that researchers have begun to make high-speed computing more powerful and also more affordable is to build systems that split up workloads among fast, highly parallel graphics processing units (GPUs) and general-purpose central processing units (CPUs).

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Friday, October 23, 2009

Cheetah, Gecko And Spiders Inspire Robotic Designs

From Gadget Lab:

A cheetah can run faster than any other animal. A gecko’s feet can stick to almost any surface without using liquids or surface tension. And some roaches scurry at nearly 50 times their body length in one second, which, scaled up to human levels, can be around 200 miles an hour.

The wonders of the animal kingdom are not just for fans of National Geographic. Robotic designer Sangbae Kim, a professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, is trying to understand how he can take some of the mechanisms animals use and replicate them in robots.

Read more ....

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Fundamental Quantum Limit on Computing Speed of Any Information Processing System

The Next Big Future:

Physicists Lev Levitin and Tommaso Toffoli at Boston University in Massachusetts, have calculated a quantum speed limit on computing.

In a paper published in the journal Physical Review Letters, Levitin and Toffoli present an equation for the minimum sliver of time it takes for an elementary quantum operation to occur. This establishes the speed limit for all possible computers. Using their equation, Levitin and Toffoli calculated that, for every unit of energy, a perfect quantum computer spits out ten quadrillion more operations each second than today's fastest processors.
(A quadrillion is 10^15 or 1000 trillions)

Read more ....

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Powerful Ideas: Navy Plans Robotic Barnacle Buster

The US Office of Naval Research recently conducted tests with a developmental ship hull grooming robot, called the Robotic Hull Bio-inspired Underwater Grooming (HULL BUG) tool. The HULL BUG is similar in concept to a autonomous robotic home vacuum cleaner or lawn mower and incorporates the use of a biofilm detector that utilizes modified fluorometer technology to enable the robot to detect the difference between the clean and unclean surfaces on the hull of a ship. Credit: U.S. Navy

From Live Science:

To help save energy on warships, the navy might one day deploy underwater robots that help vessels conserve fuel by scrubbing their hulls clean to make them cut through the water better.

As harmless as barnacles on hulls might seem to landlubbers, these crustaceans generate "increased drag as these ships move from port to port across the world's oceans," explained Office of Naval Research program officer Steve McElvany.

Read more ....

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Researchers Probe Computer 'Commonsense Knowledge'

Few can challenge a simple pocket calculator at arithmetic. But even the most sophisticated computer cannot match the reasoning of a youngster. (Credit: iStockphoto)

From Science Daily:

Science Daily (Oct. 11, 2009) — Challenge a simple pocket calculator at arithmetic and you may be left in the dust. But even the most sophisticated computer cannot match the reasoning of a youngster who looks outside, sees a fresh snowfall, and knows how to bundle up for the frosty outdoors.

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Monday, October 19, 2009

"Spider Pill" Camera Bots Could Crawl Your Colon

Spider Bot Cam Spider bot, spider bot, doing whatever a spider ought BBC

From Popular Science:

A tiny camera will be swallowed by patients and inspect their intestines.

People who dislike having medical cameras snake through their body on the ends of long tubing now have a fun alternative. A new remote-controlled spider bot can scuttle around inside the colon or intestine and perform a medical inspection instead.

Read more ....

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Robots That Eat Bugs and Plants For Power

Crunch'n'Munch EATR will grab plants with its robotic arm, chop them with a mini chainsaw, and burn them in its onboard steam combustion engine to make power. Francis Govers III

From Popular Science:

Controversial robots devour biomass to gain energy independence.

No matter how intelligent a robot might be, it’s nice knowing you can pull its plug to halt the anti-human insurrection. Whoops, not anymore. A new cohort of ’bots that make energy by gobbling organic matter could be the beginning of truly autonomous machines.

Read more ....

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Rogue Satellites To Be Cleared From Earth's Orbit By German Robots

From The Guardian:

German-built robots are to be sent into Earth's orbit to repair 'dead satellites' or push them into outer space.

Robots that rescue failing satellites and push "dead" ones into outer space should be ready in four years, it has emerged. Experts described the development by German scientists as a crucial step in preventing a disaster in the Earth's crowded orbit.

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Friday, October 16, 2009

Training To Climb An Everest Of Digital Data

From CNET:

MOUNTAIN VIEW, Calif.--It is a rare criticism of elite American university students that they do not think big enough. But that is exactly the complaint from some of the largest technology companies and the federal government.

At the heart of this criticism is data. Researchers and workers in fields as diverse as bio-technology, astronomy and computer science will soon find themselves overwhelmed with information. Better telescopes and genome sequencers are as much to blame for this data glut as are faster computers and bigger hard drives.

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Thursday, October 15, 2009

Computers Faster Only For 75 More Years

From Live Science:

WASHINGTON (ISNS) -- With the speed of computers so regularly seeing dramatic increases in their processing speed, it seems that it shouldn't be too long before the machines become infinitely fast -- except they can't. A pair of physicists has shown that computers have a speed limit as unbreakable as the speed of light. If processors continue to accelerate as they have in the past, we'll hit the wall of faster processing in less than a century.

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Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Household Robots Do Not Protect Users' Security And Privacy, Researchers Say

From Science Daily:

Science Daily (Oct. 9, 2009) — People are increasingly using household robots for chores, communication, entertainment and companionship. But safety and privacy risks of information-gathering objects that move around our homes are not yet adequately addressed, according to a new University of Washington study.

It's not a question of evil robots, but of robots that can be misused.

"A lot of attention has been paid to robots becoming more intelligent and turning evil," said co-author Tadayoshi Kohno, a UW assistant professor of computer science and engineering. "But there is a much greater and more near-term risk, and that's bad people who can use robots to do bad things."

Read more ....

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

In The Future, All Our Pop Idols Will Be Machines

From Popular Science:

Performing live at CEATEC, everyone's favorite catwalk model bot has been loaded with Vocaloid software (Rin), enabling her to croon sweet pop songs.

Read more ....

Monday, October 12, 2009

Military Robots To Get A Virtual Touch

Photo: The Packbot Explorer

From Technology Review:

A modified game controller will give military bomb-disposal experts remote touch.

iRobot, the company that makes military robots as well as the Roomba vacuuming bot, announced last Friday that it will receive funding for several endeavors from the Robotics Technology Consortium (RTC).

One project will see the company develop controllers that give remote robot operators sensory feedback. The US military currently uses iRobot's wheeled PackBot in Iraq and Afghanistan for tasks such as bomb disposal, detecting hazardous materials and carrying equipment.

Read more ....

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Why Minds Are Not Like Computers

From The New Atlantis:

People who believe that the mind can be replicated on a computer tend to explain the mind in terms of a computer. When theorizing about the mind, especially to outsiders but also to one another, defenders of artificial intelligence (AI) often rely on computational concepts. They regularly describe the mind and brain as the “software and hardware” of thinking, the mind as a “pattern” and the brain as a “substrate,” senses as “inputs” and behaviors as “outputs,” neurons as “processing units” and synapses as “circuitry,” to give just a few common examples.

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Saturday, October 10, 2009

Israeli Navy To Deploy Robot Craft

Photo: The Protector.

From Space Daily:

The Israeli navy will shortly begin deploying unmanned craft along the Mediterranean coast, particularly off the Hamas-held Gaza Strip in the south and Lebanon in the north where Hezbollah guerrillas operate.

These highly maneuverable unmanned surface vehicles, operated by remote control from land stations, can carry out a wide range of missions, such as patrolling coastal waters to counter gun-running and infiltration with less prospect of being detected than the much larger manned vessels.

Read more

Friday, October 9, 2009

The Faces of Singularity: Are You Ready For The Human-Robot Merge?

Singularity Summit Crowd David Orban/Flickr

From Popular Science:

We asked an assortment of the Singularity Summit's brilliant minds how they're looking forward to a life merged with artificial intelligence

The Singularity Summit drew a wide range of people from around the globe. There were technology companies hoping to spread brand recognition, quasi-spiritual sojourners looking for a new clue to the secret of immortality, and serious academics interested in cutting edge in artificial intelligence.

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Thursday, October 8, 2009

The Power Loader Is Real

From Popular Science:

Still no word about the xenomorphs, though.

For everyone out there who's been fighting aliens with a flamethrower, but now needs something with a little more kick, you're in luck. Panasonic has taken a break from hawking TVs and camcorder to build the power loader from Aliens.

Read more ....

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Robot Fish Could Prevent Crashes

From The BBC:

Robots that mimic the behaviour of fish have been developed by Japanese car firm Nissan, who believe the technique can be used in crash avoidance systems.

The tiny robots, called Eporo, can move in a fleet without bumping into their travelling companions.

It is the second time the firm has looked to the animal kingdom for inspiration for its designs.

Read more ....

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Video: The Robot That Can Turn Into A Car

From The Daily Mail:

A Japanese inventor has designed a robot that can change from robot to vehicle in seconds - and can even offer 'piggy-backs' on its shoulders.

Looking a bit like Optimus Prime, the lead character of the Transformers films, the robot is even prepared to battle, especially when it takes exception to sharing the stage with a smaller robot.

The three-foot high creation took part in the Robo-One competition, which aims to drive the creation of humanoid-shaped robots.

Read more ....

Monday, October 5, 2009

Disarmingly Cute: 8 Military Robots That Spy, Fly, And Do Yoga

From Discover Magazine:

A new generation of military robots are coming soon to a battlefield near you. These new battle bots are more WALL*E than ED-209—cute, small, and innocent-looking, rather than giant and murderous.

But while they may appear adorable, the latest generation of robotic warriors can do a lot more than box up trash. Here are a few examples of these cute but deadly robots in action—leaping walls, flipping trucks and…doing yoga?

Read more ....

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Campaign Asks For International Treaty To Limit War Robots

Robots are synonymous with modern warfare, but what are the ethical implications? (Image: Ethan Miller/Getty)

From New Scientist:

A robotics expert, a physicist, a bioethicist and a philosopher have founded the International Committee for Robot Arms Control (ICRAC) to campaign for limits on robotic military hardware.

Roboticist Noel Sharkey at the University of Sheffield, UK, and his colleagues set up ICRAC after a two-day meeting in Sheffield earlier this month. Sharkey has spoken before of ethical concerns about military systems that make their own decisions.

Read more ....

Saturday, October 3, 2009

A Simpler, Gentler Robotic Grip

Image: Soft touch: This four-fingered robotic hand contains sensors that help it pick up a variety of objects. Credit: Leif Jentoft

From Technology Review:

A new artificial hand shows promise for home robots and prosthetics.

Industrial robots have been helping in the factories for a while, but most robots need a complex hand and powerful software to grasp ordinary objects without damaging them.

Researchers from Harvard and Yale Universities have developed a simple, soft robotic hand that can grab a range of objects delicately, and which automatically adjusts its fingers to get a good grip. The new hand could also potentially be useful as a prosthetic arm.

Read more ....

Friday, October 2, 2009

Discovery Brings New Type Of Fast Computers Closer To Reality

Alex High and Aaron Hammack adjust the optics in their UCSD lab. (Credit: Image courtesy of University of California - San Diego)

From Science Daily:

ScienceDaily (Sep. 28, 2009) — Physicists at UC San Diego have successfully created speedy integrated circuits with particles called “excitons” that operate at commercially cold temperatures, bringing the possibility of a new type of extremely fast computer based on excitons closer to reality.

Their discovery, detailed this week in the advance online issue of the journal Nature Photonics, follows the team’s demonstration last summer of an integrated circuit—an assembly of transistors that is the building block for all electronic devices—capable of working at 1.5 degrees Kelvin above absolute zero. That temperature, equivalent to minus 457 degrees Fahrenheit, is not only less than the average temperature of deep space, but achievable only in special research laboratories.

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Thursday, October 1, 2009

The Challenge Of Making Real 'Surrogate' Skin

Image from Tech Digest

From Live Science:

The new movie "Surrogates," starring Bruce Willis, depicts a world in which people live through "surries", highly realistic humanoid robots. But without realistic skin, robots will never have that humanlike personal touch, and will not have the degree of social acceptance that robots would need to have to share the world with the rest of us.

A recent paper details research into this area. In "Towards Humanlike Social Touch for Sociable Robotics," John Cabibihan and his fellow scientists detailed the reasons for testing and developing realistic skin for social robots.

Read more ....