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David Szondy

The US Navy is deploying its first laser weapon on the USS Ponce in a few months. The technology also has obvious potential for ground vehicles – a fact that hasn't escaped the US Marine Corps. The Office of Naval Research has awarded contracts to develop a similar laser weapon that can be installed in light-tactical vehicles instead of ships as part of its Ground-Based Air Defense Directed Energy On-the-Move (GBAD) program.  Read More

Rod photoreceptors (in green) within a 'mini retina' derived from human iPS cells in the l...

The eye is often compared to a camera, but although its basic design is as simple as an old-fashioned box Brownie, its detailed structure is more complex than the most advanced electronics. This means that, unlike simpler organs, studies of retinal disease rely heavily on animal studies, and treating such illnesses is extremely difficult. One ray of hope in the field comes from researchers at Johns Hopkins, who have constructed a functioning segment of a human retina out of stem cells that is able to respond to light.  Read More

The IXS Enterprise design that takes into account current physics (Image: Courtesy of Mark...

Artist Mark Rademaker has unveiled a set of concept images imagining what a spaceship capable of traveling to other stars in a matter of months would really look like. Although it may look like something from the next science fiction epic and is unlikely to lift off anytime soon, his IXS Enterprise design is actually based on some hard science.  Read More

The Tucson Fuel Cell is available in the US for a US$499/month lease

The hydrogen economy sounds great, and has ever since it was first proposed in the 1970s. The tricky bit is how to get there, because without the necessary infrastructure, a fuel cell car that runs on hydrogen is little more than a conversation piece. As Hyundai delivers its first Tucson Fuel Cell CUV to its new lessee, Timothy Bush, the South Korean carmaker unveiled its plan to jump-start the hydrogen car economy by giving the fuel away to its customers.  Read More

BP has been authorized to fly a Puma AE UAV similar to this one, used by the US Marine Cor...

The US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has waived the usual restrictions on unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) and is allowing the BP oil company and UAS manufacturer AeroVironment to use an AeroVironment Puma AE for aerial surveys in Alaska. According to the FAA, this is the first time permission has been given for a commercial drone to fly over land in the United States.  Read More

Pepper is a personal robot that can gauge human emotions for more natural human/robot inte...

One thing that allows human beings to live together is their ability to read one another’s emotions before the frying pans start to fly. If personal robots are to join the household, they’ll have to learn how to deal with emotions as well. Pepper is a semi-humanoid robot designed to do just that, with the ability to gauge human emotions and alter its behavior accordingly as a way to better fit into family life.  Read More

The new Mini 5-door has two proper rear doors, thanks to an extension of the wheelbase

The Mini Cooper got a bit less mini as BMW rolled out its first 5-door version of the premium compact. Having launched its new Mini line last year, BMW is following up with four petrol and diesel-powered variants that boast not only an extra pair of doors, but also a longer wheelbase, more interior room, and a redesigned central instrument cluster for better at-a-glance feedback.  Read More

The Eugene Goostman chatbot, which simulates a 13-year old boy, has passed the Turing Test

It might be time to start being nicer to your laptop, because researchers at the University of Reading are claiming that a supercomputer program has passed the Turing Test for the first time in history. On Saturday, at the Turing Test 2014 organized by the University of Reading’s School of Systems Engineering, the chatbot Eugene Goostman reportedly convinced the judges 33 percent of the time that it was a human being and not a computer.  Read More

Artist's concept of OPALS in operation (Image: NASA)

While the International Space Station may be mankind’s outpost for the conquest of space, it still leaves a lot to be desired when it comes to a decent YouTube connection. That’s because, for all its sophistication, the station’s communications system is still based on 1960s radio technology and has all the bandwidth of a soda straw. That changed this week as NASA took a step into the video age with the test of its Optical Payload for Lasercomm Science (OPALS) demonstrator, which saw a laser used to beam a video to Earth in seconds instead of the usual minutes.  Read More

MSW 115_B showing call alert

Imagine owning an upmarket, 25-jewel, Swiss-movement mechanical watch. Now imagine one that that can display text messages, notify you of incoming calls and let you remotely control your smartphone or tablet. That may seem a bit farfetched, but Kairos Watches aims to combine a luxury mechanical watch with the functionality of a smartwatch in one seamless device.  Read More

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