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Science

Universal Age Estimator software can be used to serve up unsolicited advertising to partic...

Estimating another person's age comes naturally to most people. Some find it more challenging than others, but it's an ability we usually don't give much thought to. For computers, however, it's not all that easy. There have been many attempts at age estimation software, but the one offered recently by a group of researchers from Singapore seems unique. It relies on widely available and inherently diverse web resources, and can therefore be used across all ethnicities.  Read More

NASA's Kepler mission has detected the most Earth-like planet yet - Kepler 22b (Image: Art...

The ongoing search for Earth-like worlds has taken another promising step. On December 5, NASA announced the discovery of the planet most likely so far to sustain life outside of the Solar System. The exoplanet, given the undramatic name of Kepler 22b, was found by NASA's Kepler spacecraft as part of its mission to seek out Earth-type planets in our galaxy. Though Kepler 22b is not the first such planet to be detected in recent years, it is the first one orbiting a star similar to our Sun and at a distance where it is capable of possessing liquid water, which most scientists regard as essential for life to exist. Though this is a significant milestone, the question remains, how good a candidate for a second Earth is Kepler 22b? Could there be life there or is it a planetary blind alley?  Read More

Scientists have created one of the smallest electronic circuits ever, and it has led to a ...

A team of scientists from Montreal’s McGill University have successfully formed a circuit between two wires which were separated by a gap of only 15 nanometers – that’s about the width of 150 atoms. It is reportedly “the first time that anyone has studied how the wires in an electronic circuit interact with one another when packed so tightly together.” Along with being one of the smallest electronic circuits ever created, it has also led to a discovery that may have big implications for the world of computing.  Read More

A cross-section of engineered cartilage tissue, which initially incorporated fast-degradin...

Injuries involving torn or degraded joint cartilage can be very debilitating, especially since that cartilage is incapable of healing itself, past a certain point. It's not surprising, therefore, that numerous scientists have been working on ways of either growing replacement cartilage outside of the body, or helping the body to regrow it internally. Just a few of the efforts have included things like stem cell-seeded bandages, bioactive gel, tissue scaffolds, and nanoscale stem cell-carrying balls. Now, researchers from Cleveland's Case Western Reserve University have announced something else that shows promise - sheets of mesenchymal (bone and cartilage-forming) stem cells, permeated with tiny beads filled with the growth factor beta-1.  Read More

A team of researchers at Carnegie Mellon University have developed a computer image sortin...

Alexei Efros and his team of cunning robotics researchers at Carnegie Mellon University have developed an image matching algorithm with which computers can identify similar images regardless of medium. Like humans, the system can match sketches and paintings with photographs of similar subjects, and so perform tasks that have traditionally posed problems to machines, such as pairing a simple sketch of a car with a photograph of the same.  Read More

Golden orb web spiders, such as the red-legged golden orb-web spider (pictured), could hel...

Ants. What a pest. Once you get them in your house it can be a real mission to get rid of them. But it seems the Golden orb web spider has developed a way to keep its home clear of the little buggers. The secret uncovered by researchers from the National University of Singapore (NUS) and the University of Melbourne relates to a chemical compound the spider adds to its web that appears to repel ants. So not only are spider webs providing inspiration for better adhesives and stronger materials, they may also provide the basis for new, environmentally friendly, ant-repelling pesticides.  Read More

Researchers in North America are developing a novel way to study the 'evolutionary arms ra...

A duck pond may seem like the ideal place to spend a peaceful spring afternoon, but during mating season it can look like the scene of a gang attack. Though ducks as a species are famously monogamous, unattached drakes can be extremely aggressive. They attack any female in sight in a mating frenzy that often ends in the injury or death of the victim. This has resulted in the ducks developing ways to prevent unwanted matings and the drakes ways to overcome their defenses. Researchers in North America are developing a novel way to study this "evolutionary arms race" that uses high-speed cameras, force transducers and model duck oviducts made of glass.  Read More

Senseg's technology would allow you to feel textures on a tablet's screen

What if you could feel what's on your television screen? Tech company Senseg is working on a way for you to someday be able to do just that, and recently demonstrated a prototype tablet that is already able to make that magic happen.  Read More

A Harvard computer scientist has created a digital 'face transplant' system, that could be...

If you've seen the film The Social Network, then you might have wondered about the identical Winklevoss twins - were a real-life pair of twins cast for the roles, or was it a bit of Hollywood magic? Well, it was magic. Although two different actors' bodies were used, their faces both belonged to actor Armie Hammer. After the movie was shot, the body double's face was digitally replaced with Armie's. While such computer-enabled face-swapping trickery has so far been available only to feature film-makers with deep pockets, that could be about to change, thanks to research being conducted at Harvard University.  Read More

Virtual photons bounce off a 'mirror' that vibrates at almost the speed of light. The roun...

A perfect vacuum is impossible to achieve, at least in theory. As anyone with any interest in quantum physics would know, the vacuum is full of various particles that fluctuate in and out of existence. These "virtual" particles have been the focus of scientist, Christopher Wilson. Working with his team at Sweden's Chalmers University of Technology, Wilson has succeeded in producing real photons from these virtual photons. Which, in layman's terms, means that they have created measurable light ... from nothing.  Read More

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