No matter how intelligent a robot might be, it’s nice knowing you can pull its plug to halt the anti-human insurrection. Whoops, not anymore. A new cohort of ’bots that make energy by gobbling organic matter could be the beginning of truly autonomous machines.
Transforming surgical scalpels into imaging tools could provide instant feedback on suspicious tumors or tissues. European researchers plan for the new imaging tools to enter clinical trials next month.
The concept combines an elecroscalpel with a mass spectrometer to profile the molecular structures of whatever the scalpel happens to cut. It carries out its molecular analysis by using "surgical smoke," or gaseous ions produced as a waste product of the electroscalpels, which requires removal anyway during surgery.
I can't seem to manage to keep my iPod in my bag for a day without creating an awful tangle of headphones, but my body's cells can work with two meters of stringy DNA into a tiny nucleus without making a knot. The secret is a structure called a fractal globule, according to a research paper to be published tomorrow in the journal Science.
Rounding out the 2009 science Nobel Prizes are Venkatraman Ramakrishnan, Thomas A. Steitz, and Ada E. Yonath, who will receive the prize in chemistry for their work on an atomic-scale map of the ribosome.
Ribosomes are the cellular organelle responsible for assembling amino acids into proteins. If DNA is the blueprint, ribosomes are the construction workers. Ribosomes themselves are composed of a combination of RNA and specialized proteins.
While Robert Frost famously said that he prefers the world to end in fire, physicists have long predicted the universe will end with an icy sputter known as "heat death." Heat death occurs when the universe finally uses up all its energy, with all motion stopping and all the atoms in creation grinding to a halt. And, based on new calculations from a team of Australian physicists, it looks like heat death is far closer than previously thought.
Nuclear power has long provided steady energy sources for everything from homes to deep space probes. Now researchers have begun developing a tiny nuclear battery the size of a penny that could provide power in a smaller, lighter, and more efficient package.
This strangely glowing, somewhat translucent shot captures the anther of a thale cress, an organism whose genome was fully sequenced in 2000. According to photographer and research scientist Dr. Heiti Paves, the photo has no scientific significance—it just happened to be the most artistic in his pile of thousands. Still, the thale cress is known to be a model organism in plant biology.
Courtesy Nikon Small World Photo Micrography Competition: Photographed by Dr. Heiti Paves
Nikon's annual Small World Competition began in 1974 to showcase the best microscope-aided photography. The competition attracts a fascinating variety of subjects, photographed using a range of microscopy techniques. Many of the images are scientifically important, but all are aesthetically stunning. This year's 137 winners have been announced, and we've got them all here for you.
Norfolk Southern is the latest company to push a piece of heavy industrial machinery into green territory with their 100% electric NS 999 locomotive. The zero-emissions train makes use of 1,080 12-volt batteries that allows it to run for 24 hours on a single charge--all while carrying the same load as a conventional locomotive.
While I undoubtedly learned a lot at the Singularity Summit, the conference's greatest benefit was the questions it didn't answer. Unresolved issues regarding the Singularity have provided a lot of philosophical grist for my admittedly limited intellectual mill, and working through those problems has been as exciting as any talk I saw at the Summit.
To wrap up our coverage of the Singularity Summit, I'm going to count down my ten most vexing unanswered questions about Kurzweil's theoretical baby, the eventual merge of human and artificial intellifnece, and I am interested to hear any opinions, questions or (hopefully) answers you all have about any or all of these still unexplained facets of our future.
Two pinpoints of light represent black holes in the center of this combined X-ray/optical image
Colliding black holes may prove more interesting to scientists than the immovable object versus the unstoppable force. New data from NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory has combined with optical images from Hubble to show off a merging black hole pair in all its glory.