Quantum dots are nanocrystals made out of a semicondutor material that is small enough to take advantage of the laws of quantum mechanics. At the center of a very new and rapidly evolving field of research, they offer promise for applications in highly efficient solar cells, transistors and lasers, among other things.
Pepper the robot is touted as the world’s first with the ability to read emotions. Pepper doesn’t look much like its name. Standing under four-feet tall with a tablet computer mounted to its chest, it has human-like hands and a mermaid-like lower torso — though its toddler-like voice seems incongruous with this state-of-the-art facade. Despite the high-pitched voice, Pepper is able to converse about everything from the weather, to more sophisticated topics like the latest fluctuations in the stock markets. Yet the great differentiator is the fact Pepper is fully interactive, making eye contact when meeting people. In addition, Pepper is “the first robot to read human emotions,” said Softbank’s CEO Masayoshi Son.
In the future, virtual reality won’t require strapping a bulky contraption to your head. Instead, imagine stepping into an empty room and then suddenly seeing life-size, 3-D images of people and furniture. Or looking down at a smartwatch and seeing virtual objects float and bounce above the wrist, like the holographic Princess Leia beamed by R2-D2 in the movie “Star Wars.” A key to this future may lay in Carlsbad, Calif., where startup Ostendo Technologies Inc. has spent the past nine years quietly working on miniature projectors designed to emit crisp videos and glasses-free 3-D images for smartphones and giant screens.
Some 200 websites have joined the #ResetTheNet campaign, urging internet users, developers and content providers to use “NSA-resistant” software and tools to protect the global net against intrusive government surveillance. The sites, which vary from individual pages to internet giants like Reddit, Imgur and Boing Boing, various rights groups, including Amnesty International and Greenpeace will place an internet “splash screen” on Thursday in support of the campaign.
Home-helper robots are a few years off, military robots are imminent, and self-driving cars are already here. We’re about to see the first generation of robots working alongside humans in the real world, where they will be faced with moral conflicts. Before long, a self-driving car will find itself in the same scenario often posed in ethics classrooms as the “trolley” hypothetical — is it better to do nothing and let five people die, or do something and kill one?
“A sizable coalition of technology companies has today taken a stand in favor of net neutrality in the form of a letter to the Federal Communications Commission. The group, led by giants including Amazon, eBay, Facebook, Google, Microsoft, Netflix, Twitter, and Yahoo, challenges a proposal the FCC is considering that threatens net neutrality.” Read more from The Verge here: http://www.theverge.com/2014/5/7/5692…
Imperial College London physicists have discovered how to create matter from light – a feat thought impossible when the idea was first theorized 80 years ago. Three physicists worked out a relatively simple way to physically prove a theory first devised by scientists Breit and Wheeler in 1934. Breit and Wheeler suggested that it should be possible to turn light into matter by smashing together only two particles of light (photons), to create an electron and a positron – the simplest method of turning light into matter ever predicted. The calculation was found to be theoretically sound but Breit and Wheeler said that they never expected anybody to physically demonstrate their prediction. It has never been observed in the laboratory and past experiments to test it have required the addition of massive high-energy particles. The new research, published in Nature Photonics, shows for the first time how Breit and Wheeler’s theory could be proven in practice.
Researchers at Harvard’s Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering have introduced a new bioplastic isolated from shrimp shells. It’s made from chitosan, a form of chitin — the second-most abundant organic material on Earth. This environmentally safe alternative to plastic could also be used to make trash bags, packaging, and diapers.
The sun has thrown us a fractal surprise. An unexpected pattern has been glimpsed in the solar wind, the turbulent plasma of charged particles that streams from the sun. It offers clues for handling plasmas that roil inside nuclear fusion reactors on Earth.
An unusual virtual reality device allows people to experience stepping into the skin of another person. Body swapping experiments are being conducted by a group of artists at the Be Another lab in Barcelona.
Seventy-five years ago, Hungarian-American physicist Leo Szilard wrote a letter to United States President Franklin Roosevelt expressing concern that German scientists would soon unlock the secrets to developing the first atomic bomb. Concerned that his relative anonymity would cause the warning to go unheeded, Szilard persuaded his friend and colleague Albert Einstein to sign the letter. The Einstein-Szilard letter resulted in the establishment of the Manhattan Project, and the United States’ subsequent creation of the world’s first nuclear weapon. But that wasn’t the only letter penned by the pair. Szilard and Einstein actually drafted four missives to the president…
Online authentication technology is sprouting up in state government agencies around the country, led by a White House vision of a new, central form of identification, what some are calling “a driver’s license for the Internet.”
A robotic space plane is speeding in low Earth orbit at this very moment. Some say it’s a weapon; others, a data-gathering mission. There’s one fact most agree on as the plane hits 500 days in space: Its real purpose is a mystery. The Boeing-built X-37B Orbital Space Vehicle, constructed in California, is one-fourth the size of the Endeavour Space Shuttle. The Air Force craft, purely a test vehicle that will never reach production, in part aims to explore reusable space-vehicle technologies. That means the robotic vehicle can land, but no one will say when. What could it be?