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Amateur astronomers wanting to observe celestial bodies soon won’t be limited to just their own personal telescopes, or visits to the local public observatory. Starting next year, the first in a worldwide network of robotic telescopes will be going online, which users from any location on the planet will be able to operate for free via the internet. Known as Gloria (GLObal Robotic telescopes Intelligent Array for e-Science), the three-year European project will ultimately include 17 telescopes on four continents, run by 13 partner groups from Russia, Chile, Ireland, the United Kingdom, Italy, the Czech Republic, Poland and Spain. Not only will users be able to control the telescopes from their computers, but they will also have access to the astronomical databases of Gloria and other organizations.  Read More

A microformulator, designed to allow ABE to perform experiments without human intervention...

While some people may have been impressed (or intimidated) by the recent development of a system that automatically raises and analyzes cell cultures, it turns out that another facet of the biological research process may also be going to the machines. An interdisciplinary team of researchers recently demonstrated a computer system that is able to take in raw scientific data from a biological system, and output mathematical equations describing how that system operates - it is reportedly one of the most complex scientific modeling problems that a computer has solved entirely from scratch. While the system is known affectionately as "ABE," it is also being referred to as a robotic biologist.  Read More

Scientists have created a tiny artificial muscle, that could be used in motors to propel n...

We've been hearing a lot lately about the possibility of treating medical conditions using nanobots - tiny robots that would be injected into a patient's bloodstream, where they would proceed to travel to their targets, not unlike the microscopic submarine in the movie Fantastic Voyage ... except nanobots wouldn't be crewed by tiny shrunken-down humans. One challenge that still needs to be met, however, is figuring out a way of propelling the devices. Well, we may now be closer to a solution. Yesterday, development of a new type of nanoscale artificial muscle was announced, which works like the muscles in an elephant's trunk. These could conceivably be used in nanobots, to whip them along using a rotating flagellum - a tiny sperm-like tail, in other words.  Read More

New computer modeling technology suggests that Tyrannosaurus rex was even larger than prev...

Tyrannosaurus rex, that coolest of all the dinosaurs, may have been even bigger and scarier than originally thought. That’s the conclusion that was recently reached by a team of scientists, who used computer modeling technology to estimate the average body mass of the carnivorous dinosaurs. After digitally “fleshing out” existing T. rex skeletons, the researchers now believe that the reptiles grew twice as fast, and reached adult weights up to 30 percent higher than previously assumed.  Read More

Cornell researchers have demonstrated a working temporal cloak that creates a gap in the f...

Last year researchers at Imperial College London proposed that along with being used to cloak physical objects metamaterials could also be used to cloak a singular event in time. A year later, researchers from Cornell University have demonstrated a working "temporal cloak" that is able to conceal a burst of light as if it had never occurred.  Read More

The 'Questionable Observer Detector' is a computer system that is able to identify people ...

Chances are, you’ve seen at least one or two TV shows in which the police examine news footage shot at several different crime scenes, and recognize the same person’s face showing up repeatedly in the crowds of onlookers ... the ol’ “criminal returning to the scenes of their crimes” scenario. Realistically, it’s pretty hard to believe that one person could look through all that footage, and remember all those faces. It turns out that a computer could do it, however, as scientists at Indiana’s University of Notre Dame have illustrated with their “Questionable Observer Detector," or QuOD.  Read More

A new form of superhard carbon discovered by scientists could have advantages over diamond...

Carbon is the fourth-most-abundant element in the universe and comes in a wide variety of forms, called allotropes, including graphite, graphene, and the hardest natural material known to man, diamonds. Now scientists have discovered a new form of carbon that is capable of withstanding extreme pressure stresses previously only observed in diamond. Unlike crystalline forms of carbon such as diamonds, whose hardness is highly dependent upon the direction in which the crystal is formed, the new form of carbon is amorphous meaning it could be equally strong in all directions.  Read More

A new system uses lasers to polish hard surfaces, and it can do so in as little as one ten...

When it comes to laborious, monotonous tasks that are typically performed by hand, the polishing of hard materials has got to rank right near the top. Although a really lustrous shine may still require the human touch, scientists have now developed a process for getting a “good enough” shine, using lasers. Instead of removing a fine layer of the material’s surface, which is what traditional buffers and polishes do, the lasers melt it.  Read More

The virtual arm controlled by a monkey selects an object based on its virtual texture

In a development that could have huge implications for quadriplegics, paraplegics and those with prosthetic limbs, researchers from Duke University and the Ecole Polytechnic Federale de Lausanne (EPFL) have developed technology that has allowed monkeys to control a virtual arm and touch and feel virtual objects using only their brain activity. The researchers say it is the first-ever demonstration of a two-way interaction between a primate brain and a virtual body and could lead to robotic exoskeletons that not only that allows paralyzed patients to walk again, but to also feel the ground beneath them.  Read More

Fraunhofer has developed a system that automatically cultivates and observes cell cultures...

Laboratory technicians, in many different fields of research, spend a lot of time preparing and analyzing cell cultures. The process involves putting cells in a petri dish, adding nutrients, checking on cell growth, and then transferring cells to a separate container once sufficient colonies have been established. In an effort to streamline the laboratory workload, however, German research group Fraunhofer has now created an automated system that performs all of those tasks with no human intervention.  Read More

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