Climate researchers in the U.K. have made the world's temperature records available via Google Earth. The new format allows users to scroll around the world, zoom in on 6,000 weather stations, and view monthly, seasonal and annual temperature data more easily than ever before. Users can drill down to see some 20,000 graphs—some of which show temperature records dating back to 1850.
Databanks containing information and biological materials from individuals are a crucial resource for research, but they are currently accessible only to researchers. In a recent paper published in Science, experts say that donors should have unrestricted access to data derived from their own material and that advanced technology means allowing such access is today a question of will rather than feasibility.
Expectations are high for RoboEarth, a new European-funded system to speed the development of human-serving robots. Scientists from five major European technical universities have gathered in the Netherlands this week for its launch and to demonstrate possible applications. The first: the deceptively simple task of delivering a glass of milk to a patient in a mock-up hospital room.
Computer scientists at Trinity College Dublin and IBM Dublin have made a significant advance that will allow companies to reduce associated greenhouse gas emissions, drive down costs and minimize network delays depending on their wishes. The scientists have dubbed their new system “Stratus”. Using mathematical algorithms, Stratus effectively balances the load between different computer servers located across the globe.
According to a report from The New York Times, the National Security Agency has implanted software in nearly 100,000 computers around the world that allows the U.S. to conduct surveillance on those machines. The technology, which is not used in the U.S., relies on radio waves that can be transmitted from tiny circuit boards and USB cards inserted covertly into the computers.
Researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology have found a way to allow people in one place to interact with 3-D versions of people or objects in a different location. MIT's Tangible Media Group calls the technology inFORM, and it could one day be used by architects, urban planners, or even doctors who need to look at computed tomography scans.
A fundamental concept in graph theory is connectivity, which describes how many lines or nodes would have to be removed from a given graph to disconnect it. Progress has been made in “edge connectivity”, or the connections between nodes or vertices. But “vertex connectivity”, which looks at the nodes themselves, is less understood. It has been reexamined recently and the findings could help coax as much bandwidth as possible from networks.
A German magazine lifted the lid on the operations of the National Security Agency's hacking unit Sunday, reporting that American spies intercept computer deliveries, exploit hardware vulnerabilities, and even hijack Microsoft's internal reporting system to spy on their targets.
Counselors helping people use the federal government's online health exchange are giving mixed reviews to the updated site, with some zipping through the application process while others are facing the same old sputters and even crashes. The Obama administration had promised a vastly improved shopping experience on healthcare.gov by the end of November, and this is the first week for users to test the updated site.
The Chinese government has declared victory in cleaning up what it considers rumors, negativity and unruliness from online discourse, while critics say the moves have suppressed criticism of the government and ruling Communist Party. Beijing launched the campaign this summer, arresting dozens of people for spreading rumors and creating new penalties for people who post libelous information.
Einstein@Home creates a global supercomputer by connecting more than 350,000 participants that contribute to a variety of scientific projects, particularly astronomy, by conducting distributed analysis routines with their home computers. This resource has already found several pulsars hidden in radio telescope data. Now, “citizen scientists” have helped researchers discover four new gamma-ray pulsars.
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.
A federal judge on Thursday tossed out a class-action lawsuit brought by authors against Google Inc., clearing the way for the Internet giant to create the world's largest digital library. Google already has scanned more than 20 million books for the project. The Authors Guild, which brought the suit, was seeking $750 for each copyrighted book that was copied.
Google has become less likely to comply with government demands for its users' online communications and other activities as authorities in the U.S. and other countries become more aggressive about mining the Internet for personal data. Legal requests from governments for people’s data have risen 21% from the last half of last year.
Iris scans, fingerprint scans, facial and voice recognition are tools that improve security while making our lives easier, says Stephen Elliott, director of international biometric research at Purdue Univ. His basement lab is a place where emerging biometric technologies are tested for weaknesses before they can go mainstream.
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.
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.
Google says it is investing 450 million euros to expand a data center in southern Finland as part of Europe-wide development plans totaling hundreds of millions of euros. The investment comes on top of the 350 million euros Google Inc. has spent converting an old paper mill, which started operations as a data center in 2011.
In the hugely popular game Minecraft, players can freely build and create their own world by mining and stacking different types of bricks in a sandbox-like environment. Because of its customizable dynamic, the game has also become a background platform for many user-generated modifications, or "mods". Researchers and the developers of Minecraft have built a new Google-funded mod that introduces quantum mechanics into the game's landscape.
Over the past three years, 300,000 gamers have helped scientists with genomic research by playing Phylo, an online puzzle game. Now, the McGill Univ. researchers who developed the game are making this crowd of players available to scientists around the globe. The idea is to put human talent to work to improve on what is already being done by computers in the field of comparative genomics.
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.
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.
Tracking blood flow in the laboratory is an important tool for studying ailments and is usually measured in the clinic using professional imaging equipment and techniques like laser speckle contrast imaging. Now, developers have built a new biological imaging system 50 times less expensive than standard equipment, and suitable for imaging applications outside of the laboratory.
North Carolina State Univ. researchers have developed a way for search engines to provide users with more accurate, personalized search results. The challenge in the past has been how to scale this approach up so that it doesn’t consume massive computer resources. Now the researchers have devised a technique for implementing personalized searches that is more than 100 times more efficient than previous approaches.
Computers will someday soon automatically provide short video digests of a day in your life, your family vacation or an eight-hour police patrol, say computer scientists at the Univ. of Texas at Austin. The researchers are working to develop tools to help make sense of the vast quantities of video that are going to be produced by wearable camera technology such as Google Glass and Looxcie.