Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Oceanology: Robot 'Gliders' Swim The Undersea World

Engage the wave drive (Image: Liquid Robotics)

From New Scientist:

THE way we study oceans could be transformed by a high-tech "surfboard" that generates its own power from sunlight and water waves. The device is capable of navigating at sea for months at a time and recently completed a 4000-kilometre trip from Hawaii to San Diego, California.

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Tuesday, March 30, 2010

With Processor Speeds Stagnating, Researchers Look Beyond Silicon Toward Computing's Future

Flexible Silicon More flexible circuits can help silicon stay relevant in the future of computing Science/University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

From Popular Mechanics:

After a breathless race through the '80s and '90s, desktop computer clock speeds have spent the last decade languishing around the 3 gigahertz mark. That stagnation in processing speeds has prompted scientists to debate whether it's time to move beyond semiconductors -- and what better place to debate than in the journal Science? Ars Technica gives a top-down overview of several future paths laid out in the journal's latest issue by researchers such as Thomas Theis and Paul Solomon of IBM.

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Friday, March 26, 2010

Autonomous Submarinebot Heads Down on Deepest-Ever Undersea Search For Undiscovered Life

Autosub6000 via The Register

From The Popular Science:

While some scientists resort to undersea drilling to find undiscovered forms of life, a new group of researchers has decided that piloting a robotic submarine into a submerged volcano was the way to go. By exploring the deepest, hottest, undersea volcano ever probed, the researchers hope to find clues to both the beginnings of life on Earth, and the possible forms of life on other planets.

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Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Opportunity Mars Rover Gets Artificial Intelligence Upgrade, Decides For Itself What to Explore Next

Opportunity Target Selection Opportunity scans the Martian terrain for rocks meeting specific criteria – shape, size, coloration – set by scientists on the ground. When it finds what it's looking for, it sets a course for the point of interest. NASA/JPL-Caltech

From Popular Science:

NASA's Opportunity Rover, now in its seventh year of roaming the Martian surface, just got a little smarter. Like parents giving their growing child a little more autonomy, engineers updated Opportunity with artificial intelligence software this past winter that allows the rover to make its own decisions about where to stop and which rocks to analyze during its travels. Now the first images of Opportunity picking and choosing where to investigate have been released.

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Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Team's Quantum Object Is Biggest By Factor Of Billions

Image: The "quantum resonator" can be seen with the naked eye

From The BBC:

Researchers have created a "quantum state" in the largest object yet.

Such states, in which an object is effectively in two places at once, have until now only been accomplished with single particles, atoms and molecules.

In this experiment, published in the journal Nature, scientists produced a quantum state in an object billions of times larger than previous tests.

The team says the result could have significant implications in quantum computing.

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Monday, March 15, 2010

Startups Focus On AI At South By Southwest

From Technology Review:

A new crop of startups aims to bring artificial intelligence to the masses.

South by Southwest (SXSW) Interactive has a reputation as being the place for social Web startups to hit the headlines. Twitter found one of its first big audiences at the event in 2007, and attendees are among the most eager adoptees of new social Web tools.

To harness this cutting-edge mood, last year the event's organizers launched the Microsoft BizSpark Accelerator, a competition showcasing 32 Web-focused startups. This year's competition starts today.

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Sunday, March 14, 2010

Electronics 'Missing Link' Brings Neural Computing Closer

Coming soon to a CPU near you (Image: Patrick Landmann/SPL)

From New Scientist:

WHEN the "missing link of electronics" was finally built in 2008, it was the vindication of a 30-year-old prediction. Now it seems the so-called memristor can behave uncannily like the junctions between neurons in the brain.

A memristor is a device that, like a resistor, opposes the passage of current. But memristors also have a memory. The resistance of a memristor at any moment depends on the last voltage it experienced, so its behaviour can be used to recall past voltages.

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Thursday, March 11, 2010

Quantum Computing Thrives On Chaos

From Wired/Science News:

Embracing chaos just might help physicists build a quantum brain. A new study shows that disorder can enhance the coupling between light and matter in quantum systems, a find that could eventually lead to fast, easy-to-build quantum computers.

Quantum computers promise superfast calculations that precisely simulate the natural world, but physicists have struggled to design the brains of such machines. Some researchers have focused on designing precisely engineered materials that can trap light to harness its quantum properties. To work, scientists have thought, the crystalline structure of these materials must be flawlessly ordered — a nearly impossible task.

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Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Safety Issues Loom As Humanoid Invasion Approaches

From New Scientist:

Pressure-sensing skins, smarter limbs and even bemused facial expressions. All these features will be needed to make future humanoid robots safe enough to hang out with humans in our homes, a symposium on humanoid robotics at the Institute of Engineering and Technology in London heard this week.

"We want robots to operate in our human world but they need to be safe," says Chris Melhuish of the Bristol Robotics Laboratory in the UK. "It's no good if they fall over on a 2-year-old or poke someone in the eye."

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Monday, March 8, 2010

Could This Be The Robot Servant Who Will Serve You Breakfast In Bed?

From The Daily Mail:

Ever dreamed of having a robot servant who would do all the boring chores around the house? Well mechanised domestic staff have come one step closer, thanks to an android being developed in Japan.

Researchers at Tokyo University's JSK Robotics Laboratory, have created a humanoid called Kojiro, who is learning how to mimic how we walk.

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Friday, March 5, 2010

Light-Speed Computing One Step Closer

Until now, infrared germanium lasers required expensive cryogenic cooling systems to operate (Source: iStockphoto)

From ABC News (Australia):

A new infrared laser made from germanium that operates at room temperature could lead to powerful computer chips that operate at the speed of light, say US scientists.

The research, by scientists from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, published in a forthcoming issue of Optics Letters

"Using a germanium laser as a light source, you could communicate at very high data rates at very low power," says Dr Jurgen Michel, who developed the new germanium laser.

"Eventually you could have the computing power of today's supercomputers inside a laptop."

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Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Artificial Intelligence Brings Musicians Back From The Dead, Allowing All-Stars Of All Time To Jam

Rachmaninoff, Back at the Piano Where He Belongs Zenph

From Popular Science:

Want to know what a jam session between Jack White and Stevie Ray Vaughan might have sounded like, or how Billie Holliday would interpret the latest dreck from Avril Lavigne? Advances in artificial intelligence are resurrecting musical legends of the past, tapping into old recordings to establish a musician's style and personality, then applying those attributes to newer recordings of old songs, or even to songs the musician never played before.

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Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Japan's New Hovering Hummingbird Bot Has Four Wings, Weighs Under 3 Grams

Chiba University's Latest Hummingbird 'Bot Chiba University

From Popular Science:

Biomimicry isn't new, nor are robotic hummingbirds, but the latest 'bot to come out of Chiba University in Japan makes even the DARPA-inspired Nano Air Vehicle -- which is very cool, needless to say -- look like last year's robotics.

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