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Science

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

The Lightning Foundry's 1:12 scale prototype in action

Calling all Tesla fans! Electrical engineer Greg Leyh and his team at the Lightning on Demand organization (LOD) in California are raising the funds necessary to build the world's largest twin Tesla coils (ten stories high, about 120 ft/37 m) that will be capable of generating electric arcs more than 200 feet (60 m) long. Dubbed the "Lightning Foundry," the project currently consists of a working 1:12 scale prototype. When complete, a towering pair of coils will fill a football field-sized area with massive electric bolts that researchers hope will reveal some of the mysteries of this beautiful but deadly force.  Read More

Norwegian scientists are developing a capsule that they say will be able to transmit live ...

Although we may not yet have reached the stage where manned submarines can be shrunken down and placed inside the body, à la the movie Fantastic Voyage, current technology does allow us to do something almost as impressive – it is now possible to obtain images of the inside of the intestinal tract, by getting patients to swallow a camera-equipped capsule. Japanese company RF System Lab reported success using its Norika 3 RF Endoscopic Robot Capsule to transmit live video from inside test subjects back in 2004, while just last year Olympus announced the creation of a similar device. Now, Norwegian researchers are stating that they are in the process of developing the “next generation” of camera pill.  Read More

The graphene foam is macroscopic in total size (left), yet has nanoscopic internal structu...

For some time now, scientists have known that certain nanostructures are very sensitive to the presence of various chemicals and gases, making them good candidates for use in explosives-detecting devices. Unfortunately, because they're so small, mounting a single nanostructure within such a device would be an extremely fiddly and costly process. They would also be quite fragile, plus it would be difficult to clean the detected gas from them, so they could be reused. Recently, however, scientists from New York's Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute have figured out a solution to those problems. They have created a postage stamp-sized piece of foam made from one continuous piece of graphene, that is easy to manipulate, flexible, rugged, simple to neutralize after each use ... and is ten times more sensitive than traditional polymer sensors.  Read More

An image of the new computer chip, that mimics the activity of neurons in the brain (Photo...

The human brain contains approximately 100 billion neurons, and each one of those communicates with many others by releasing neurotransmitters. Those neurotransmitters cross a gap – properly known as a synapse – between the sending (presynaptic) and receiving (postsynaptic) neurons. Ion channels on the membranes of the postsynaptic neurons open or close in response to the arrival of the neurotransmitters, changing the neurons’ electrical potential. Should that potential change to a sufficient degree, the neuron will produce an electrical impulse known as an action potential. It’s a very complex process ... and scientists from MIT have now recreated it on a silicon computer chip.  Read More

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