Monthly Archives: May 2010

Sony unveils paper-thin OLED screen that rolls up while still playing video

from PopSci: ⇦ Video at source

The 80-microns-thick (that’s 80 millionths of a meter, or about as thick as a human hair) full-color display can be rolled up and unfurled repeatedly without degrading picture quality.

It was made possible by a breakthrough in OLED tech, in which Sony researchers created organic thin-film transistors with 8 times the performance of conventional OTFTs.

Researchers analyze performance of first updatable holographic 3D display

from PHYSORG:

In 2008, researchers from the University of Arizona created a holographic 3D display that could write and erase images, making it the first updatable (or rewritable) holographic 3D display ever demonstrated.

Now, in a follow-up study, the researchers have reported the results of their analysis on the performance of the display, including how the polymer enables display enhancements and what more needs to be done before such displays can be widely used.

A feasibility analysis of neural interfaces and controllers

from h+ Magazine:

As human neural networks and electronic digital networks converge there is some debate over how to best move data from neural to digital formats.

Since the human brain is equipped with high-resolution sensory organs, there are many obvious routes for digital-to-neural input, but organic systems lack sufficient neural outputs for porting thoughts, memories, and dreams directly to digital memory.

First human ‘infected with computer virus’

from BBC:

A British scientist says he is the first man in the world to become infected with a computer virus. Dr Mark Gasson from the University of Reading contaminated a computer chip which was then inserted into his hand.

Dr Gasson admits that the test is a proof of principle but he thinks it has important implications for a future where medical devices such as pacemakers and cochlear implants become more sophisticated, and risk being contaminated by other human implants.

Gesture-based computing on the cheap

from MIT News:

With a single piece of inexpensive hardware — a multicolored glove — MIT researchers are making Minority Report-style interfaces more accessible.

“This actually gets the 3-D configuration of your hand and your fingers,” Wang says. “We get how your fingers are flexing.”

Virtual reality used to transfer men’s minds into a woman’s body

from Guardian.co.uk:

Scientists have transferred men’s minds into a virtual woman’s body in an experiment that could enlighten the prejudiced and shed light on how humans distinguish themselves from others.

In a study at Barcelona University, men donned a virtual reality (VR) headset that allowed them to see and hear the world as a female character. When they looked down they could even see their new body and clothes.

The “body-swapping” effect was so convincing that the men’s sense of self was transferred into the virtual woman, causing them to react reflexively to events in the virtual world in which they were immersed.

Men who took part in the experiment reported feeling as though they occupied the woman’s body and even gasped and flinched when she was slapped by another character in the virtual world.

DNA nanomachines could be produced inexpensively in almost limitless quantities

from EurekAlert:

DURHAM, N.C. – In a single day, a solitary grad student at a lab bench can produce more simple logic circuits than the world’s entire output of silicon chips in a month.

So says a Duke University engineer, who believes that the next generation of these logic circuits at the heart of computers will be produced inexpensively in almost limitless quantities. The secret is that instead of silicon chips serving as the platform for electric circuits, computer engineers will take advantage of the unique properties of DNA, that double-helix carrier of all life’s information.

“Like neurons in the brain”: A molecular computer that evolves

from h+ Magazine: (Previously covered here)

The press release from Michigan Tech asserts that it is “the first time a brain-like ‘evolutionary circuit’ has been realized.”

His new molecular computer uses an organic molecular layer and can evolve to solve complex problems, similar to neurons. Like the human brain — and unlike any existing computer — the tiny molecular computer heals itself if there is a defect.

Anirban Bandyopadhyay, from the Japanese National Institute for Materials Science, explains: “No existing man-made computer has this property, but our brain does. If a neuron dies, another neuron takes over its function.”

Toward a hydrogen economy: Clues from nature

from h+ Magazine: ⇦ Much more at source

Artificial photosynthesis may soon be a reality – splitting water into hydrogen and oxygen. You only have to look as far as your garden to observe one of the most common chemical reactions in nature at work pulling apart water molecules (H2O) and splitting them into carbohydrates and oxygen (O2).

Nature provides the template for this process using the energy from sunlight to fuel the reaction.  Here’s a video showing the basic process:

Robots accidentally kill us all – THE STUDY

from BBC News:

A future in which robots help around the home could prove harmful to humans, suggests a study.

German researchers studied what happens in accidents involving robots using sharp tools alongside humans.

They used a robot arm holding a variety of bladed tools programmed to strike test substances that mimic soft tissue.

In some cases, the researchers found, the robots managed to accidentally inflict wounds that would prove “lethal”.

New project aims for fusion ignition

MIT-led Ignitor reactor could be the world’s first to reach major milestone, perhaps paving the way for eventual power production.

from MIT News:

Russia and Italy have entered into an agreement to build a new fusion reactor outside Moscow that could become the first such reactor to achieve ignition, the point where a fusion reaction becomes self-sustaining instead of requiring a constant input of energy.

The design for the reactor, called Ignitor, originated with MIT physics professor Bruno Coppi, who will be the project’s principal investigator.

Siftables are changing the shape of computing

from Singularity Hub: ⇦ More videos at source

What if computers were more like a child’s wooden blocks?

Siftables are a new approach to computing developed by David Merrill and Jeevan Kalanthi. Each small square electronic tile has a small screen, motion sensors, and RF signals. The siftables interact with each other, letting you use orientation, proximity, and movement to control their performance.

Computerized agents for smart electricity

from University of Southampton via alphagalileo.org:

Computer scientists at the University of Southampton have developed a system of computerised agents which can manage energy use and storage in homes.

Having already developed agents that can trade on the stock market and manage crisis communications, a team of researchers, led by Dr Alex Rogers and Professor Nick Jennings at the University of Southampton’s School of Electronics and Computer Science, have now developed an agent-based micro-storage management technique that allows homes to adapt their energy use to match market conditions.

The ultimate aim of this system is to optimise individual electricity usage and storage, in order to improve efficiency of the electricity grid and to reduce emissions.

A single molecule computes thousands of times faster than your PC

from PopSci:

A demo of a quantum calculation carried out by Japanese researchers has yielded some pretty mind-blowing results: a single molecule can perform a complex calculation thousands of times faster than a conventional computer.

A proof-of-principle test run of a discrete Fourier transform — a common calculation using spectral analysis and data compression, among other things — performed with a single iodine molecule transpired very well, putting all the molecules in your PC to shame.

The substance found in pencils will speed up our computers one thousand fold

from h+ Magazine:

Graphene. If you’ve never heard about it, don’t worry, a lot of people haven’t, because it’s really only been “discovered” relatively recently, and most of the truly interesting news about it has been in the last year.

“We’re talking about that smartphone in your pocket having a thousand times the computing power of your desktop PC, but using no more power.”

Chemical cocktail keeps resurrected heart alive for 10 days outside of body

from PopSci:

Staying alive on the organ transplant waiting list could get a bit easier with organs that last longer outside the body.

That’s the hope of Harvard startup Hibergenica, which looks to commercialize a liquid solution that preserves the metabolism of hearts and livers for about 10 days, Technology Review reports.

Not only that, but Thatte’s team also managed to actually restart a pig’s heart in the lab by building an artificial circulatory system to support it. The Somah solution then helped keep it in a sort of stasis for 10 days.

“We’re the first laboratory in the world to restart the heart 24 hours after death,” Thatte told PopSci.

Self-powered flexible touchscreens

from MIT’s Technology Review:

Researchers at Samsung and Sungkyunkwan University in Korea have come up with a way to capture power when a touch screen flexes under a user’s touch.

The researchers have integrated flexible, transparent electrodes with an energy-scavenging material to make a film that could provide supplementary power for portable electronics. The film can be printed over large areas using roll-to-roll processes, but are at least five years from the market.

Complex software systems heal themselves

from ITC Results:

Researchers from Israel and six EU countries have carried out pioneering work on self-healing software capable of automatically and autonomously detecting, identifying and fixing errors in the copious lines of code that make up complex systems.

The results of their research are already being used internally by several companies and could feed into commercial products in the near future.

Europe’s plan to simulate the entire planet

from MIT’s Technology Review:

The ‘Living Earth Simulator’ will mine economic, environmental and health data to create a model of the entire planet in real time.

Helbing’s idea is to create a kind of Manahattan project to study, understand and tackle these techno-socio-economic-environmental issues. His plan is to gather data about the planet in unheard of detail, use it to simulate the behaviour of entire economies and then to predict and prevent crises from emerging.

This model will be capable not only modelling the planet in real time but of simulating the future, rather in the manner of weather forecasters.

Wheelchairs that listen

from Boston.com:

Seeking greater independence, patients help MIT researchers design a voice-driven device

“They can know more about the environment — weather, scheduled events, menus — and exploit that knowledge to make more meaningful choices about how they wish to spend their time,’’ said Teller, a member of MIT’s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory.

The prototype, under development since 2005, can cruise the halls of MIT’s computer science lab, often without a passenger. When one of the students working on the device tells it to “Go to the kitchen,’’ a computer-generated voice responds: “Do you want to go to the kitchen?’’