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Richard Branson plans deep-ocean submarine dives

April 6, 2011 4:52 am | by Noaki Schwartz, Associated Press | News | Comments

Over the next two years, billionaire adventurer Richard Branson will plumb the deepest depths of the world’s five oceans with a new 18-foot-long Virgin Oceanic submarine that was unveiled Tuesday in Newport Beach, Calif. He has partnered with Scripps Institution of Oceanography and several other research laboratories to add scientific clout to his plans.

Pumping up the polarization of protons for RHIC

April 6, 2011 4:50 am | News | Comments

The competition may have been slim, but the feat was great. With custom-built power supplies built from old inventory and 1960s quadrupole magnets pulled from storage, Brookhaven Lab's Alternating Gradient Synchrotron (AGS) can now provide researchers with five to eight percent more protons that are polarized—breaking its own world record set in 2009 for the highest polarization, energy, and intensity beams at BNL’s Relativistic Heavy Ion Collider (RHIC).

Digging through the discontinuity

March 30, 2011 9:23 am | by Paul Livingstone | Blogs | Comments

In the late 1950s and early 1960s, some of the last hurdles in human exploration of the globe were overthrown, notably the scaling of Mt. Everest and the plumbing of the depths of the Marianas Trench. They paved the way for planting a flag on the Moon. But one notable project went underfunded and eventually forgotten.

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Japan quake stirs unease about global supply chain

March 30, 2011 7:02 am | by Joe McDonald, AP Business Writer | News | Comments

A shortage of auto parts and other components after Japan's earthquake has stirred unease about two pillars of manufacturing: the country's role as a crucial link in the global supply chain and "just in time" production. The realization that these practices have made companies brittle in the face of natural disasters has some questioning current practices.

An observation first: Rare particles produced at the Large Hadron Collider

March 29, 2011 5:15 am | News | Comments

Shortly after experiments on the Large Hadron Collider at the CERN laboratory began yielding scientific data last fall, a group of scientists led by a Syracuse Univ. physicist became the first to observe the decays of a rare particle that was present right after the Big Bang. By studying this particle, scientists hope to solve the mystery of why the universe evolved with more matter than antimatter.

“Good-bye, blind spot” – man and machine always in view

March 21, 2011 8:19 am | News | Comments

Researchers in Germany are introducing a new prototype for intelligent safety monitoring in industrial workplaces that illuminates the entire production hall. The process involves building a 3-D model of the factory and using to eliminate any blind spots where accidents or collisions could occur.

Modeling accelerators at near lightspeed

March 18, 2011 5:12 am | News | Comments

"Tabletop" laser-plasma accelerators like BELLA promise high energies in short spaces. Modeling the acceleration of electrons by a laser beam moving through a plasma in 3D, however, has until now been an impractical challenge even for supercomputers. Borrowin a page from Albert Einstein's Theory of Special Relativity, Berkeley Lab researchers have perfected a way to accelerate calculations up to a million times faster.

NASA's humanoid robot unveiled on space station

March 17, 2011 5:38 am | News | Comments

Astronauts at the International Space Station unpacked Robonaut on Tuesday, more than two weeks after arriving at the space station. Prying open its “coffin”, the crew was surprised to find the robot was missing. They soon found the ‘bot in front of a work station, already attempting to gain system control, HAL 9000-style.

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Large Hadron Collider: The world's first time machine?

March 16, 2011 3:51 am | News | Comments

If the latest theory of Tom Weiler and Chui Man Ho is right, the Large Hadron Collider could be the first machine capable of causing matter to travel backwards in time.

Study: How do people respond to being touched by a robot?

March 9, 2011 5:53 am | News | Comments

For people, being touched can initiate many different reactions from comfort to discomfort, from intimacy to aggression. But how might people react if they were touched by a robot? In an initial study, researchers at the Georgia Institute of Technology found people generally had a positive response toward being touched by a robotic nurse, but that their perception of the robot’s intent made a significant difference.

Imaging system helps improve sandwich bun quality

March 9, 2011 3:39 am | News | Comments

The Georgia Tech Research Institute may possess the secret to baking perfect buns. Its researchers have developed a production-line system that automatically inspects the quality of sandwich buns exiting the oven and adjusts oven temperatures if it detects unacceptable buns.

Improving robot navigation systems

March 2, 2011 3:59 am | News | Comments

Researchers from the European Centre for Soft Computing and the UPM’s Facultad de Informática have developed an antonym-based technique for building maps for mobile robots. This technique can be applied to improve current robot navigation systems.

NIST and Willow Garage launch first robot 'perception challenge'

February 28, 2011 4:38 am | News | Comments

The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) is teaming up with Willow Garage, a Silicon Valley robotics research and design firm, to launch an international “perception challenge” to drive improvements in sensing and perception technologies for next-generation robots.

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Scientists build world’s first anti-laser

February 18, 2011 3:36 am | News | Comments

More than 50 years after the invention of the laser, scientists at Yale Univ. have built the world's first anti-laser, in which incoming beams of light interfere with one another in such a way as to perfectly cancel each other out. The discovery could pave the way for a number of novel technologies with applications in everything from optical computing to radiology.

New probe of proton spin structure

February 15, 2011 4:41 am | News | Comments

Scientists hoping to unravel the mystery of proton spin at the Relativistic Heavy Ion Collider (RHIC), a 2.4-mile-circumference particle accelerator at the Brookhaven National Laboratory, have a new tool at their disposal—the first to directly explore how quarks of different types, or “flavors,” contribute to the overall spin of the proton.

Virtual laboratory predicts train vibrations

February 9, 2011 6:54 am | News | Comments

A new analytical model developed by scientists in Spain creates a virtual train lab. Spain, which has constructed a number of new high-speed rail lines, wants more data on how vibrations caused by trains impact people living or working near them.

Cockroaches: Helping to fine-tune robots of the future

February 8, 2011 4:59 am | News | Comments

Ask anyone who has ever tried to squash a skittering cockroach—they're masters of quick and precise movement. Now Tel Aviv Univ. is using their maddening locomotive skills to improve robotic technology too.

Future surgeons may use robotic nurse

February 4, 2011 3:13 am | News | Comments

Surgeons of the future might use a system that recognizes hand gestures as commands to control a robotic scrub nurse or tell a computer to display medical images of the patient during an operation.

Helping to build the biggest-ever map of the universe

February 3, 2011 4:24 am | News | Comments

The National Optical Astronomy Observatory (NOAO), the National Science Foundation’s (NSF’s) research and development center for ground-based astronomy, has announced its conditional approval of the BigBOSS Collaboration’s proposal to use 500 nights of valuable observing time on the NOAO 4?meter Mayall Telescope on Kitt Peak, Arizona. The time would be used to build the biggest-ever map of the universe, for investigating the mysterious dark energy that permeates the universe.

Air laser may sniff bombs, environmental pollutants from a distance

January 31, 2011 3:25 am | News | Comments

Princeton Univ. engineers have developed a new laser sensing technology that may allow soldiers to detect hidden bombs from a distance and scientists to better measure airborne environmental pollutants and greenhouse gasses.

Want robust robots? Let them be babies first

January 20, 2011 9:09 am | News | Comments

Want to build a really tough robot? Forget about Terminator . Instead, watch a tadpole turn into a frog. Or at least that’s not too far off from what Univ. of Vermont roboticist Josh Bongard has discovered . In a first-of-its-kind experiment, Bongard created both simulated and actual robots that, like tadpoles becoming frogs, change their body forms while learning how to walk. And, over generations, his simulated robots also evolved, spending less time in “infant” tadpole-like forms and more time in “adult” four-legged forms.

Free electron laser hits milestone

January 20, 2011 4:45 am | News | Comments

Scientists at Los Alamos National Lab, N.M., have achieved a remarkable breakthrough with the Office of Naval Research's Free Electron Laser (FEL) program, demonstrating an injector capable of producing the electrons needed to generate megawatt-class laser beams for the Navy's next-generation weapon system.

Mechanical Amazonian fish could pave way for highly agile underwater robots

January 19, 2011 4:31 am | News | Comments

Researchers at Northwestern Univ. have created a robotic fish that can move from swimming forward and backward to swimming vertically almost instantaneously by using a sophisticated, ribbon-like fin.

Reactor paves the way for efficiently producing fuel from sunlight

January 19, 2011 3:57 am | News | Comments

Using a common metal most famously found in self-cleaning ovens, Sossina Haile hopes to change our energy future. The metal is cerium oxide—or ceria—and it is the centerpiece of a promising new technology developed by Haile and her colleagues that concentrates solar energy and uses it to efficiently convert carbon dioxide and water into fuels.

Toyota developing alternative electric motor

January 16, 2011 9:40 pm | by The Associated Press | News | Comments

The maker of the popular Prius hybrid car is developing a new type of electric motor to cut its dependence on rare earth metals and lower costs. The world’s No. 1 automaker hopes the new technology will free it from reliance on China, which produces 97% of the global output of rare earths.

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