Archive for January, 2011
Jan 31 2011
The steady march of industrial automation continues to envelop the world. Many of us have a quaint early 20th century vision of agriculture, but the truth is that the farmer of the 21st century is a machine. Case in point: lettuce. With new hydroponic techniques, companies are able to grow lettuce in large indoor fields where crops are sorted, planted, and grown automatically. Robots are instrumental to all steps of the process. Don’t believe me? Check out the video below. It shows the day to day automation for a hydroponic farm in Belgium. Those bots seem to have a pretty green thumb.
Jan 31 2011
Numerous nanomaterials are currently at the focus of public attention. In particular silver nanoparticles are being investigated in detail, both by scientists as well as by the regulatory authorities. The assumption behind this interest is that they are dealing with a completely new substance. However, Empa researchers Bernd Nowack and Harald Krug, together with Murray Heights of the company HeiQ have shown in a paper recently published in the journal Environmental Science & Technology that nanosilver is by no means the discovery of the 21st century. Silver particles with diameters of seven to nine nm were mentioned as early as 1889. They were used in medications or as biocides to prevent the growth of bacteria on surfaces, for example in antibacterial water filters or in algaecides for swimming pools.
The nanoparticles were known as "colloidal silver" in those days, but what was meant was the same then as now – extremely small particles of silver. The only new aspect is the use today of the prefix "nano". "However," according to Bernd Nowack, "nano does not mean something new, and nor does it mean something that is harmful." When "colloidal silver" became available on the market in large quantities in the 1920s it was the topic of numerous studies and subject to appropriate regulation by the authorities. Even in those days the significance of the discovery of nanoparticles and how they worked was realized. "That is not to say that the possible side-effects of nanoparticles on humans and the environment should be played down or ignored," adds Nowack. It is important to characterize in exact detail the material properties of nanosilver and not just to believe unquestioningly the doubts and reservations surrounding the product.
Jan 31 2011
Smaller and more energy-efficient electronic chips could be made using molybdenite. In an article appearing online January 30 in the journal Nature Nanotechnology, EPFL’s Laboratory of Nanoscale Electronics and Structures (LANES) publishes a study showing that this material has distinct advantages over traditional silicon or graphene for use in electronics applications.
A discovery made at EPFL could play an important role in electronics, allowing us to make transistors that are smaller and more energy efficient. Research carried out in the Laboratory of Nanoscale Electronics and Structures (LANES) has revealed that molybdenite, or MoS2, is a very effective semiconductor. This mineral, which is abundant in nature, is often used as an element in steel alloys or as an additive in lubricants. But it had not yet been extensively studied for use in electronics.
The scientists who define the world’s weights and measures pride themselves on their fastidiousness — so a proposal this week to smooth diverging measurements of the kilogram, the SI unit of mass, is bound to cause waves.
During a conference at the Royal Society in London on 24–25 January, Richard Davis, the former head of the mass division at the International Bureau of Weights and Measures (BIPM) in Sèvres, France, suggested a workaround that would allow a long-planned redefinition of the kilogram to move forward. According to his plan, the results of two types of experiments that don’t quite agree would be averaged, and the mean would be used to set the new standard.
Jan 31 2011
he Morpho butterfly’s highly evolved wings are so unique that scientists at Simon Fraser University (SFU) have teamed up with NanoTech Security to reproduce their iridescent blue coloring for a new anti-counterfeiting technology.
Nanotech Security’s new anti-counterfeiting product, N.O.t.E.S., will replace holograms used on banknotes and to authenticate items such as legal documents, visas, passports and retail merchandise.
A clever pairing of nanotechnology and entomology — the study of insects — used nanoscale microscopic holes that interact with light to reproduce the butterfly’s shimmering signature wherever a counterfeit-proof watermark is desired: in bank notes, legal documents, merchandise, concert tickets, stock certificates, visas, passports, and pharmaceutical products, to name a few of the possible uses.
Jan 31 2011
Educators in Oklahoma would be forced to openly question in their classes the legitimacy of the scientific theory of evolution should a new bill become state law.
“It’s a simple fact that the presentation of some issues in science classes can lead to controversy, which can discourage teachers from engaging students in an open discussion of the issues,” state Rep. Sally Kern, a Republican, said in defense of the bill she filed recently.
The legislation (HB 1551) titled the “Scientific Education and Academic Freedom Act” singled out “biological evolution, the chemical origins of life, global warming, and human cloning” as topics that are controversial and thus questionable.
Jan 31 2011
Don’t be surprised if one day your high school kid asks you how humans came into being. Wondering why? Well, majority of the U.S. high school teachers fail to effectively teach evolutionary biology, states a new surv
It sounds like an Astroturf campaign for the upcoming computers-gone-bad movie "Terminator: Salvation," but in fact New Scientist magazine is being completely serious when it asks if the Internet itself could soon become "self-aware." The article explains:
In engineering terms, it is easy to see qualitative similarities between the human brain and the Internet’s complex network of nodes, as they both hold, process, recall, and transmit information.
Fortunately for anyone worrying about how to best serve our new robot overlords, the article points out that even if this does come to pass, it won’t, "necessarily have the same kind of consciousness as humans," because consciousness can be described as, "a system of mechanisms for making information processing more efficient by adding a level of control over which of the brain’s processes get the most resources."
Jan 30 2011
Yes, it’s finally happened. The digital book has overtaken the paper book on Amazon.com. And this time that isn’t only true about hardcover books. Now we’re talking paperbacks…
Click here to read the entire report.
Click here to learn more about the Amazon Kindle.
Jan 28 2011
The book mentioned below is one of the inaugural TEDBooks.
Homo Evolutis is also of one of the very first Amazon Kindle Singles.
The full title is Homo Evolutis: A Short Tour of Our New Species.
Click here to learn about Kindle Singles – a new type of Kindle publication which can be read on most devices not just Kindles.
Jan 28 2011
Netflix on Thursday released its list of highest-performing ISPs in terms of streaming video performance. The company posted a chart (below) that mapped out Netflix’s streaming performance on U.S. ISPs between October 1 and November 15…
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Click here for more information about Internet service providers.
Computer scientist and futurist thinker J. Storrs Hall has been one of the leading lights of nanotech for some time now…
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Click here for more information on the future of nanotechnology.
Jan 23 2011
During the interview Andrew shares his truly infectious passion about synthetic biology and the unique opportunities that lie ahead…
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Click here for more information on synthetic biology.
Jan 21 2011
The victory of the Watson Supercomputer over two Jeopardy! champions is one small step for IBM, one giant leap for computerkind…
Click here to read Ray’s full report.
Click here for more information from and about Ray Kurzweil.