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Amazon.com sees delivery drones as the future

December 2, 2013 1:44 pm | by Scott Mayerowitz, AP Business Writer | News | Comments

Online retailer Amazon.com aiming to deliver packages quicker than pizza. Its so-called Prime Air unmanned aircraft project, now underway in Amazon’s research and development labs, could get goods to customers in 30 minutes or less. But the company admits it will take years to advance the needed technology and for the needed federal Aviation Administration rules and regulations to be created.

3-D images, with only one photon per pixel

December 2, 2013 7:49 am | by Larry Hardesty, MIT News Office | News | Comments

Lidar rangefinders gauge depth by emitting short bursts of laser light and measuring the time it takes for reflected photons to arrive back and be detected. In Science, researchers from Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Research Laboratory of Electronics describe a new lidar-like system that can gauge depth when only a single photon is detected from each location.

Peering through the intergalactic dust

November 26, 2013 10:47 am | News | Comments

Where do you go to look at the stars? Away from city lights, certainly. But if you're serious about peering far out into space, to the observable edges of our universe, at submillimeter wavelengths, you have to do a little better than that. You have to go farther and higher, up to where the atmosphere is thin. And if you want to look at the stars for more than a few nights a year, you also need some place that is very, very dry.

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How losing information can benefit quantum computing

November 26, 2013 8:34 am | News | Comments

Suggesting that quantum computers might benefit from losing some data, physicists at NIST have entangled—linked the quantum properties of—two ions by leaking judiciously chosen information to the environment. The NIST experiments used two beryllium ions as quantum bits (qubits) to store quantum information and two partner magnesium ions, which were cooled with three ultraviolet laser beams to release heat.

Flashes of brilliance

November 25, 2013 11:17 am | News | Comments

Spontaneous bursts of light from a solid block illuminate the unusual way interacting quantum particles behave when they are driven far from equilibrium. The discovery by Rice Univ. scientists of a way to trigger these flashes may lead to new telecommunications equipment and other devices that transmit signals at picosecond speeds.

Dim traffic sensors dull how “smart” freeways are

November 25, 2013 8:46 am | by Justin Pritchard, Associated Press | News | Comments

Buried under thousands of miles of pavement in California are 27,000 traffic sensors that are supposed to help troubleshoot both daily commutes and long-term maintenance needs on some of the nation's most heavily used and congested roadways. About 9,000 of them do not work, despite their critical role in an "intelligent transportation" system designed to do things like detect the congestion that quickly builds after an accident.

Web inventor: Surveillance threatens democracy

November 22, 2013 8:24 am | News | Comments

The scientist credited with inventing the World Wide Web, Tim Berners-Lee, says a growing tide of surveillance is threatening democracy's future. Lee, a former R&D Magazine Scientist of the Year said Friday that as more people use the Internet and social media to "expose wrongdoing," some governments are feeling threatened.

Scientists create perfect solution to iron out kinks in surfaces

November 20, 2013 8:50 pm | News | Comments

A new technique that allows curved surfaces to appear flat to electromagnetic waves has been developed by scientists in England. The discovery could hail a step-change in how antennas are tailored to each platform, which could be useful to a number of industries that rely on high performance antennas for reliable and efficient wireless communications.

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Columbia engineers make world's smallest FM radio transmitter

November 18, 2013 9:29 am | News | Comments

A team of scientists have demonstrated new application of graphene using positive feedback. Using graphene’s electrical conduction, Columbia Univ. engineers have created a nano-mechanical system that can create FM signals. It is, in effect, the world's smallest FM radio transmitter.

South Africa cemeteries to microchip tombstones

November 15, 2013 11:13 am | by Carley Petesch, Associated Press | News | Comments

Amid a rash of tombstone thefts from cemeteries in Johannesburg, a company will be offering relatives of the deceased a high-tech solution: microchips that can be inserted into the memorial that will sound an alarm and send a text message to their cell phones if it is disturbed.

Thin, active invisibility cloak demonstrated for first time

November 13, 2013 7:44 am | News | Comments

Invisibility cloaking is no longer the stuff of science fiction: Two researchers at the Univ. of Toronto have demonstrated an effective invisibility cloak that is thin, scalable and adaptive to different objects. The team designed and tested a new approach to cloaking—by surrounding an object with small antennas that collectively radiate an electromagnetic field. The radiated field cancels out any waves scattering off the cloaked object.

Bacteria may allow animals to send quick, voluminous messages

November 11, 2013 3:41 pm | News | Comments

Twitter clips human thoughts to a mere 140 characters. Animals’ scent posts may be equally as short, relatively speaking, yet they convey an encyclopedia of information about the animals that left them. Recent research show that the detailed scent posts of hyenas are, in part, products of symbiotic bacteria, microbes that have a mutually beneficial relationship with their hosts.

Inkblots improve security of online passwords

November 8, 2013 7:00 am | News | Comments

Carnegie Mellon University computer scientists have developed a new password system that incorporates inkblots to provide an extra measure of protection when, as so often occurs, lists of passwords get stolen from websites. This new type of password, dubbed a GOTCHA, would be suitable for protecting high-value accounts, such as bank accounts, medical records and other sensitive information.

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New atomic clock design uses cold atoms to boost precision

November 6, 2013 11:21 am | News | Comments

Physicists at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) have demonstrated a compact atomic clock design that relies on cold rubidium atoms instead of the usual hot atoms, a switch that promises improved precision and stability.

Self-correcting crystal may unleash next generation of advanced communications

November 6, 2013 11:17 am | News | Comments

Researchers from the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) have joined with an international team to engineer and measure a potentially important new class of nanostructured materials for microwave and advanced communication devices.

A single-atom light switch

November 5, 2013 4:34 pm | News | Comments

In a demonstration at the Vienna Univ. of Technology in Austria, scientists have shown that light can be switched between two fiber optic cables with just a single rubidium atom. The breakthrough relies on light capture devices called “bottle resonators”. The switch could enable quantum phenomena to be used for information and communication technology.

Driver monitoring systems extend beyond luxury nameplates

November 5, 2013 4:01 pm | News | Comments

A new market study forecasts that the global market for driver monitoring systems will reach 64.8 million units by the end of 2020 with the majority of shipments being accounted for in vehicles sold in the Asia-Pacific region. A major 2013 is that these systems are migrating from the luxury brands like Volvo and Mercedes-Benz to more mass market models.

Historic demonstration proves laser communication possible

October 28, 2013 3:12 pm | News | Comments

In the early morning hours of Oct. 18, NASA’s Lunar Laser Communication Demonstration made history, transmitting data from lunar orbit to Earth at a rate of 622Mbps. That download rate is more than six times faster than previous state-of-the-art radio systems flown to the moon.

Patent shows Samsung's rival to Google Glass

October 25, 2013 11:24 am | by Youkyung Lee, AP Technology Writer | News | Comments

A patent filing shows Samsung Electronics Co. is working on a device it calls sports glasses in a possible response to Google's Internet-connected eyewear. A design patent filing at the Korean Intellectual Property Office shows a Samsung design for smartphone-connected glasses that can display information from the handset.

SRC launches synthetic biology research effort at six universities

October 24, 2013 9:04 am | News | Comments

Semiconductor Research Corporation (SRC) has launched a new research program on hybrid bio-semiconductor systems that they hope will provide insights and opportunities for future information and communication technologies. The Semiconductor Synthetic Biology (SSB) program will initially fund research at six universities.

"Killer apps" that could keep you healthy

October 22, 2013 12:38 pm | News | Comments

For those wanting to keep their distance from health threats like E. coli-contaminated lettuce or the flu, there are two upcoming apps for that. Pacific Northwest National Laboratory hosted a competition last summer where graduate students used Android development tools and web-based analytics to design mobile apps that could help fight the threats of food-related illnesses and the flu.

EU lawmakers approve tough new data protection laws

October 22, 2013 8:28 am | by Juergen Baetz, Associated Press | News | Comments

European Union lawmakers on Monday adopted sweeping new data protection rules to strengthen online privacy, and sought to outlaw most data transfers to other countries' authorities to prevent spying. The draft regulation was beefed up after Edward Snowden's leaks about allegedly widespread U.S. online snooping, and the legislation is poised to have significant implications for U.S. Internet companies.

Automatic speaker tracking in audio recordings

October 21, 2013 8:23 am | by Larry Hardesty, MIT News Office | News | Comments

A central topic in spoken-language-systems research is what’s called speaker diarization, or computationally determining how many speakers feature in a recording and which of them speaks when. Speaker diarization would be an essential function of any program that automatically annotated audio or video recordings.

Giga-year storage medium could outlive human race

October 17, 2013 2:14 pm | News | Comments

Although the amount of data that can be stored has increased immensely during the past few decades, it is still difficult to actually store data for a long period of time. A researcher has recently demonstrated a way to store data for extremely long periods, even millions of years, using an etched wafer made of tungsten encapsulated by silicon nitride. The material is resistant to both time and elevated temperatures.

Scientists achieve Internet access through lightbulbs

October 17, 2013 9:01 am | News | Comments

Successful experiments by Chinese scientists have indicated the possibility of the country's netizens getting online through signals sent by lightbulbs (LiFi), instead of WiFi. In a recent experiment at Shanghai's Fudan Univ., four computers under a 1-W LED lightbulb connected to the Internet under the principle that light can be used as a carrier instead of traditional radio frequencies, as in WiFi.

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