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The Lead

RFID tags on honey bees reveal hive dynamics

July 23, 2014 7:56 am | by Diana Yates, Life Sciences Editor Univ. of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign | News | Comments

Scientists attached radio-frequency identification (RFID) tags to hundreds of individual honey bees and tracked them for several weeks. The effort yielded two discoveries: Some foraging bees are much busier than others; and if those busy bees disappear, others will take their place.

Microsoft makes design central to its future

July 21, 2014 3:24 pm | by Ryan Nakashima - AP Business Writer - Associated Press | News | Comments

Before Ralf Groene helped devise the look and feel of Microsoft's Surface tablet, he designed...

Why airlines didn't avoid risky Ukraine airspace

July 18, 2014 3:22 am | by David Koenig - AP Airlines Writers - Associated Press | News | Comments

The possibility that the civilian jetliner downed over war-torn eastern Ukraine with nearly 300...

Microsoft cutting 18,000 jobs, signals new path

July 17, 2014 12:23 pm | by Ryan Nakashima - AP Business Writer - Associated Press | News | Comments

Microsoft announced the biggest layoffs in its history Thursday, saying it will cut 18,000 jobs...

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No-wait data centers

July 17, 2014 7:56 am | by Larry Hardesty, MIT News Office | News | Comments

Big Websites usually maintain their own “data centers,” banks of tens or even hundreds of thousands of servers, all passing data back and forth to field users’ requests. Like any big, decentralized network, data centers are prone to congestion: Packets of data arriving at the same router at the same time are put in a queue, and if the queues get too long, packets can be delayed.

Powerful molecular sensor boosts optical signal by 100 billion times

July 15, 2014 4:45 pm | by Mike Williams, Rice Univ. | News | Comments

Scientists at Rice Univ. have created a unique sensor that amplifies the optical signature of molecules by about 100 billion times. The new imaging method uses a form of Raman spectroscopy in combination with an intricate but mass reproducible optical amplifier. Newly published tests found the device could accurately identify the composition and structure of individual molecules containing fewer than 20 atoms.

Researchers demonstrate novel, tunable nanoantennas

July 14, 2014 1:39 pm | News | Comments

A research team in Illinois has built a new type of tunable nanoscale antenna that could facilitate optomechanical systems that actuate mechanical motion through plasmonic field enhancements. The team’s fabrication process shows for the first time an innovative way of fabricating plasmonic nanoantenna structures under a scanning electron microscope, which avoids complications from conventional lithography techniques.

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Study: Competitor keyword purchasing can backfire

July 14, 2014 1:06 pm | News | Comments

Firms buy specific keywords, including competitors’ brand names, on search engines such as Google or Bing to reach consumers searching for those words. Online advertisements employing such keywords are called search ads. This practice can backfire, however. A new study shows that any large difference in reputation between the two brand names is further magnified in the minds of consumers.

Better use of electronic health records makes clinical trials less expensive

July 11, 2014 12:40 pm | News | Comments

According to recent research in the U.K. , use of electronic health records to understand the best available treatment for patients, from a range of possible options, is more efficient and less costly for taxpayers than the existing clinical trial process.

Agile Aperture Antenna tested on aircraft to survey ground emitters

July 11, 2014 8:02 am | by John Toon, Georgia Institute of Technology | News | Comments

The Georgia Tech Research Institute’s software-defined, electronically reconfigurable Agile Aperture Antenna (A3) has now been tested on the land, sea and air. Dept. of Defense representatives were in attendance during a recent event where two of the low-power devices, which can change beam directions in a thousandth of a second, were demonstrated in an aircraft during flight tests held in Virginia during February 2014.

Study pushes limits of ultra-fast nanodevices

July 10, 2014 9:17 am | by Univ. of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign | News | Comments

A recent study by researchers at the Univ. of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign provides new insights on the physical mechanisms governing the interplay of spin and heat at the nanoscale, and addresses the fundamental limits of ultra-fast spintronic devices for data storage and information processing.

Own your own data

July 10, 2014 7:28 am | by Larry Hardesty, MIT News Office | News | Comments

Cell phone metadata has been in the news quite a bit lately, but the National Security Agency isn’t the only organization that collects information about people’s online behavior. Newly downloaded cell phone apps routinely ask to access your location information, your address book or other apps, and of course, Websites like Amazon or Netflix track your browsing history in the interest of making personalized recommendations.

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Virtual crowds produce real behavior insights

July 8, 2014 7:55 pm | Videos | Comments

A Brown Univ. group has developed a wireless virtual reality system to study a phenomenon that scientists don’t yet understand: How pedestrians interact with each other and how those individual behaviors, in turn, generate patterns of crowd movement. The system, which uses motion capture technology can immerse up to four people in a carefully controlled, realistic virtual crowd.

TransWall: KAIST’s two-sided, transparent touchscreen

July 8, 2014 1:01 pm | Videos | Comments

Researchers in Korea have been working to perfect their two-sided, touchable, transparent display technology called TransWall. Featuring an incorporated surface transducer, TransWall provides audio and vibrotactile feedback to users, enabling people to see, hear, or even touch other people through the wall while enjoying gaming and interpersonal communication.

MIT finger device reads to the blind in real time

July 8, 2014 10:30 am | by Rodrique Ngowi, Associated Press | News | Comments

Scientists at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology are developing an audio reading device to be worn on the index finger of people whose vision is impaired, giving them affordable and immediate access to printed words. The so-called FingerReader, a prototype produced by a 3-D printer, fits like a ring on the user's finger, and is equipped with a small camera that scans text.

Blind lead the way in brave new world of tactile technology

July 2, 2014 9:46 am | by Yasmin Anwar, UC Berkeley | News | Comments

New research at UC Berkeley has found that people are better and faster at navigating tactile technology when using both hands and several fingers. Moreover, blind people in the study outmaneuvered their sighted counterparts, perhaps because they’ve developed superior cognitive strategies for finding their way around. These insights are useful as more media companies are implementing tactile interfaces.

Terahertz tech gets a major push

June 25, 2014 7:45 am | by Mike Williams, Rice Univ. | News | Comments

Rice Univ. scientists have received a grant to develop terahertz-based technology that could enable a dramatic advance in wireless communications and other disciplines. The $1 million grant by the W.M. Keck Foundation will let them tackle some of the knotty problems barring them from using the largely untapped terahertz region of the electromagnetic spectrum. Rice will supplement the grant with a $1.5 million commitment.

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Researchers unveil experimental 36-core chip

June 23, 2014 7:38 am | by Larry Hardesty, MIT News Office | News | Comments

The more cores a computer chip has, the bigger the problem of communication between cores becomes. For years, Li-Shiuan Peh, a professor of electrical engineering and computer science at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, has argued that the massively multicore chips of the future will need to resemble little Internets, where each core has an associated router, and data travels between cores in packets of fixed size.

Making smartphones smarter

June 19, 2014 10:29 am | by Lyndsay Meyer, The Optical Society | News | Comments

Your smartphone’s display glass could soon be more than just a pretty face, thanks to new technology developed by researchers from Corning Inc. The team has created the first laser-written light-guiding systems that are efficient enough to be developed for commercial use.

Synthetic aperture sonar to help Navy hunt sea mines

June 19, 2014 8:37 am | by Brett Israel, Georgia Institute of Technology | News | Comments

Since World War II, sea mines have damaged or sunk four times more U.S. Navy ships than all other means of attack combined. New sonar research being performed could improve the Navy’s ability to find sea mines deep under water. The underlying technology, known as synthetic aperture sonar, uses advanced computing and signal processing power to create fine-resolution images of the seafloor based on reflected sound waves.

Breakthrough provides picture of underground water

June 18, 2014 10:52 am | by Rob Jordan, Stanford Woods Institute for the Evironment | News | Comments

Superman isn't the only one who can see through solid surfaces. In a development that could revolutionize the management of precious groundwater around the world, Stanford Univ. researchers have pioneered the use of satellites to accurately measure levels of water stored hundreds of feet below ground.

NIST technique could make sub-wavelength images at radio frequencies

June 17, 2014 11:14 am | by Laura Ost, NIST | News | Comments

Imaging and mapping of electric fields at radio frequencies (RF) currently requires the use of metallic structures such as dipoles, probes and reference antennas. To make such measurements efficiently, the size of these structures needs to be on the order of the wavelength of the RF fields to be mapped. This poses practical limitations on the smallest features that can be measured.

Strange physics turns off laser

June 17, 2014 10:59 am | News | Comments

Inspired by anomalies that arise in certain mathematical equations, researchers have demonstrated a laser system that paradoxically turns off when more power is added rather than becoming continuously brighter. The finding could lead to new ways to manipulate the interaction of electronics and light, an important tool in modern communications networks and high-speed information processing.

Smartphone adapted to measure person’s gait, reduce falls

June 17, 2014 8:01 am | by Emil Venere, Purdue Univ. | News | Comments

Researchers have shown how to modify a smartphone so that it can be used to measure a person's walking gait to prevent falls in people with compromised balance, such as the elderly or those with Parkinson's disease. The innovation, being commercialized as SmartGait, is designed as a tool to aid health care officials in assessing a person's risk of falling and identifying ways to avoid injury.

Altera, Lime Microsystems team up to advance wireless networks

June 16, 2014 12:08 pm | News | Comments

Altera Corp. of California and Lime Microsystems, a radio frequency transceiver developer in the U.K. have entered into a Strategic Cooperation Agreement focused on jointly developing and promoting programmable solutions for a diverse range of broadband wireless markets. The agreement will result in the development of optimized field programmable radio frequency (FPRF) transceivers and other digital RF solutions.

New effort to revolutionize time-keeping for cyber-physical systems

June 16, 2014 10:44 am | News | Comments

The National Science Foundation has announced a five-year, $4 million award to tackle the challenge of synchronizing time in cyber-physical systems, which are systems that integrate sensing, computation, control and networking into physical objects and infrastructure. The grant brings together expertise from five universities to improve the way computers maintain knowledge of time and synchronize it with other networked devices.

Computers replace humans reading weather reports

June 16, 2014 9:02 am | by Rachel D’Oro, Associated Press | News | Comments

Two outpost offices of the National Weather Service in Alaska are finally ending what has been a bygone practice for most of the nation for almost two decades: using real human voices in radio forecast broadcasts. Local weather forecasts are a big deal to many people in Alaska because, more than in some other parts of the United States, the forecasts can be a matter of life and death.

Wireless companies put up more "stealth" towers

June 13, 2014 12:15 pm | by Barbara Rodriguez - Associated Press - Associated Press | News | Comments

One might be hidden in a cross on a church lawn. Others are disguised as a cactus in the desert, a silo in farm country or a palm tree reaching into a sunny sky. Whatever the deception, the goal is the same: concealing the tall, slender cellphone towers that most Americans need but few want to see erected in their neighborhoods.

Cold War-style spy games return to melting Arctic

June 13, 2014 8:13 am | by Karl Ritter, Associated Press | News | Comments

In early March, a mysterious ship the size of a large passenger ferry left Romania and plotted a course toward Scandinavia. About a month later, at the fenced-in headquarters of Norway's military intelligence service, the country's spychief disclosed its identity. It was a $250 million spy ship, tentatively named Marjata, that will be equipped with sensors and other technology to snoop on Russia's activities in the Arctic beginning in 2016.

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