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Wearable translation device promises a science-fiction future, almost

By on September 28, 2016 at 8:00 PM.

Wearable translation device promises a science-fiction future, almost

A company called Waverly Labs is working on a wearable translation device that has captured people’s imaginations, generated plenty of buzz, andraised over $3 million on Indiegogo.

Its promise? That two people wearing earpieces made by the company could speak in different languages, and with the earpieces working in conjunction with a smartphone app, each person could hear a translation in their preferred language in their ear. For example, one person could speak Spanish, and the other would hear it as English in his ear, and vice versa.

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Scientists name new species of flatworm after President Obama

By on September 9, 2016 at 9:00 PM.

Scientists name new species of flatworm after President Obama

A flatworm that infects freshwater turtles in Malaysia has been given a presidential name: Baracktrema obamai.

The newly-discovered worm, or blood fluke, inhabits the lungs of turtles that live in three Malaysian states, according a study describing the new species that waspublished in the Journal of Parasitology in August. (Flukes are part of the flatworms phylum, in terms of taxonomy.)

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Scientists help solve 37-year-old anthrax mystery

By on September 7, 2016 at 8:30 PM.

Scientists help solve 37-year-old anthrax mystery

Some 37 years after the deadliest known release of anthrax spores in history in the Soviet city of Sverdlovsk, American scientists have sequenced the genome of anthrax DNA from the bodies of two people who died in the 1979 accident.

The study by scientists at Northern Arizona University and the Translational Genomics Research Institute (TGen) used deep DNA sequencing methods to recreate the genome of the anthrax spores that infected 77 people living near the Soviet anthrax production facility, 66 of whom died when a tiny amount of anthrax spores — between a few milligrams and a gram, or one-thirtieth of an ounce — escaped from a military facility known as Military Compound 19.

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Grobo: Growing Weed at Home

This cabinet wants to make growing ‘special plants’ at home easy

By on August 10, 2016 at 10:00 PM.

This cabinet wants to make growing ‘special plants’ at home easy

Gardening at home can be tricky. If you’re growing things indoors, there’s all sorts of pitfalls to consider: lighting, nutrients, space, the cops busting down your door. The last one is kinda hard to deal with, but a new product wants to try and take care of everything else for you.

Grobo is a large cabinet that’s meant to handle every aspect of growing virtually any kind of plant. The founders of the Canadian startup describe it as “Keurig for plants,” only this uses seeds instead of coffee pods. Also, the results take months not minutes.

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Nanbots Build Carbon-Fiber Hammock

These creepy wall-climbing robots can build entire structures from carbon fiber

By on August 3, 2016 at 8:00 PM.

These creepy wall-climbing robots can build entire structures from carbon fiber

I’ll just say it: a wall-climbing “spiderbot” that spins incredibly strong webs from carbon fiber strands is not the kind of thing I want to be fighting when the robots rise up. But death-by-robotic-web aside, these wall-climbing swarm construction robots mark a breakthrough in robotic construction and bots working together.

The proper name for the spiderbots is the “Mobile Robotic Fabrication System for Filament Structures,” and it’s designed by the Institute for Computational Design at the University of Stuttgart. As Dezeen explains, the system relies on multiple Roomba-esque robots, which climb up walls, passing around a spool of carbon fiber to weave an intricate structure.

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Tiny ‘stingray’ robot swims on light-activated rat cells

By on July 20, 2016 at 7:30 PM.

Tiny ‘stingray’ robot swims on light-activated rat cells

Harvard researchers have created a penny–sized stingray robot that can swim using genetically-modified rat heart cells activated by LED light.

It’s the latest in a new line of robotics that combines silicone with living cells. Prior to the stingray, the team, led by Kit Parker, professor of bioengineering and applied physics at Harvard University, built a robot jellyfish out of similar material back in 2012. When the robot’s heart cells were electrically stimulated, the jellyfish swam around… aimlessly. There was no way to steer it.

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Mars 2020: NASA

NASA’s new Mars rover doesn’t look finished

By on July 15, 2016 at 8:00 PM.

NASA’s new Mars rover doesn’t look finished

This is the final design for NASA’s newest Mars rover, which should be romping around the surface of our red neighbor. It’s packed full of technology, with bigger wheels to get around, and better cameras to look at things.

But in my highly uneducated, non-rocket-scientist opinion, it also looks like the engineers got 90% of the way there and said fuck it.

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Most Powerful Processor

A 1,000-core processor is such wonderful overkill

By on June 21, 2016 at 11:00 PM.

A 1,000-core processor is such wonderful overkill

I don’t need a 1,000-core processor. You don’t need a 1,000-core processor. The NSA doesn’t need a 1,000-core processor. But that doesn’t stop me from wanting one.

My pointless dream is one step closer to reality thanks to the work of researchers at UC Davis, who have created a chip called “KiloCore,” a processor with 1,000 independent cores capable of computing 1.78 trillion instructions per second. Damn.

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Metalens Could Make Smartphone Cameras

Ultra-thin flat lenses could make smartphone cameras better than DSLRs

By on June 6, 2016 at 2:45 PM.

Ultra-thin flat lenses could make smartphone cameras better than DSLRs

For all the sophisticated technology humans have invented to capture images, the lenses we use on cameras still rely on 19th-century technology. All that could be about to change with the invention of a “metalens,” a completely flat, absurdly thin kind of lens that outperforms the best optics available today.

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Cellphone Cancer Link

Your cellphone is not giving you cancer

By on May 27, 2016 at 12:06 PM.

Your cellphone is not giving you cancer

A government-funded study was released this morning which somewhat shows a link between cellphones and cancer. The results are catnip to the paleo-vegan anti-vaxxer crowd, who see the $25 million study as vindication for an irrational fear of technology.

But while the results are certainly interesting, they absolutely do not show that your cellphone is going to give you a brain tumor.

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Flexible Battery Solar Panel

Researchers have created flexible batteries that never need to be recharged

By on May 19, 2016 at 8:49 AM.

Researchers have created flexible batteries that never need to be recharged

One of my biggest gripes with today’s smartwatches is charging — specifically, that I have to plug in my wristputer every night, or it becomes a useless and expensive hunk of metal. But if this flexible solar-powered battery becomes a reality, we could finally have wearables that live up to the hype.

A team from the University of Illinois, Northwest University, South Korea and China developed the battery, which they say is capable of changing its shape to fit in various devices. The various components of the battery and solar cells are integrated into a silicone shell and connected by flexible copper-polymer joints. The result is a charging and storage solution that can stretch and bend by 30 percent without losing its ability to generate solar charge.

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