With its thick, hazy atmosphere and surface rivers, mountains, lakes and dunes, Titan, Saturn’s largest moon, is one of the most Earth-like places in the solar system. As the Cassini-Huygens spacecraft examines Titan over many years, its discoveries bring new mysteries. One of those involves the seemingly wind-created sand dunes spotted by Cassini near the moon’s equator, and the contrary winds just above.
Most recent advances in artificial intelligence are the result of machine learning, in which computers are turned loose on huge data sets to look for patterns. To make machine-learning applications easier to build, computer scientists have begun developing so-called probabilistic programming languages, which let researchers mix and match machine-learning techniques that have worked well in other contexts.
If you're designing a new computer, you want it to solve problems as fast as possible. Just how fast is possible is an open question when it comes to quantum computers, but physicists at NIST have narrowed the theoretical limits for where that "speed limit" is. The research implies that quantum processors will work more slowly than some research has suggested.
A Univ. of New South Wales-led research team has encoded quantum information in silicon using simple electrical pulses for the first time, bringing the construction of affordable large-scale quantum computers one step closer to reality. The team has successfully realized a new control method for future quantum computers.
Univ. of Michigan scientists and students will build components of a giant camera that will map 30 million galaxies' worth of the universe in three dimensions. The camera is officially known as the Dark Energy Spectroscopic Instrument, abbreviated DESI, and it's designed to help answer one of the most puzzling scientific questions of our time: Why is the expansion of the universe accelerating?
MIT is creating a new institute that will bring together researchers working in the mathematical, behavioral, and empirical sciences to capitalize on their shared interest in tackling complex societal problems.
Researchers at Chalmers Univ. of Technology have discovered that large area graphene is able to preserve electron spin over an extended period, and communicate it over greater distances than had previously been known. This has opened the door for the development of spintronics, with an aim to manufacturing faster and more energy-efficient memory and processors in computers.
A vest that allows the profoundly deaf to “feel” and understand speech is under development by engineering students and their mentors at Rice Univ. and Baylor College of Medicine. Under the direction of neuroscientist David Eagleman, Rice students are refining a vest with dozens of embedded actuators that vibrate in specific patterns to represent words. The vest responds to input from a phone app that isolates speech from ambient sound.
Now that most consumers download and stream their movies and music, more and more CDs and DVDs will end up in landfills or be recycled. But soon these discarded discs could take on a different role: curbing the release of greenhouse gases. In ACS Sustainable Chemistry & Engineering, scientists report a way to turn the discs into a material that can capture carbon dioxide, a key greenhouse gas, and other compounds
As we approach the miniaturization limits of conventional electronics, alternatives to silicon-based transistors are being hotly pursued. Inspired by the way living organisms have evolved in nature to perform complex tasks with remarkable ease, a group of researchers from Durham Univ. and the Univ. of São Paulo-USP are exploring similar "evolutionary" methods to create information processing devices.
To design the next generation of optical devices, ranging from efficient solar panels to LEDs to optical transistors, engineers will need a 3-D image depicting how light interacts with these objects on the nanoscale. Unfortunately, the physics of light has thrown up a roadblock in traditional imaging techniques: The smaller the object, the lower the image's resolution in 3-D.
New research shows how inkjet-printing technology can be used to mass-produce electronic circuits made of liquid-metal alloys for "soft robots" and flexible electronics. Elastic technologies could make possible a new class of pliable robots and stretchable garments that people might wear to interact with computers or for therapeutic purposes.
The exceptional properties of tiny molecular cylinders known as carbon nanotubes have tantalized researchers for years because of the possibility they could serve as a successors to silicon in laying the logic for smaller, faster and cheaper electronic devices.
Researchers are always searching for improved technologies, but the most efficient computer possible already exists. It can learn and adapt without needing to be programmed or updated. It has nearly limitless memory, is difficult to crash, and works at extremely fast speeds. It’s not a Mac or a PC; it’s the human brain. And scientists around the world want to mimic its abilities.
Scientists at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory have published the world’s largest set of data on the complete elastic properties of inorganic compounds, increasing by an order of magnitude the number of compounds for which such data exists.
Rice Univ. researchers are developing a highly accurate, touch-free system that uses a video camera to monitor patients’ vital signs just by looking at their faces. The technique isn’t new, but engineering researchers in Rice’s Scalable Health Initiative are making it work under conditions that have so far stumped earlier systems.
Massachusetts Institute of Technology researchers have developed a new, ultrasensitive magnetic-field detector that is 1,000 times more energy-efficient than its predecessors. It could lead to miniaturized, battery-powered devices for medical and materials imaging, contraband detection and even geological exploration.
Can old data provide new insights about lightning and the physics of severe weather? A scientist at The Univ. of Alabama in Huntsville (UAH) thinks it can. Supported by a grant from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, UAH's Dr. Philip Bitzer will spend the next two years studying 17 years of data from NASA's Lightning Imaging Sensor, and breaking lightning flashes into their smallest pieces.
There are few times in life when one should aim for suboptimal performance, but new research at Rice Univ. suggests scientists who study metabolism and its role in evolution should look for signs of just that. A study published in BMC Systems Biology details a computational method called corsoFBA.
Engineers have combined innovative optical technology with nanocomposite thin films to create a new type of sensor that is inexpensive, fast, highly sensitive and able to detect and analyze a wide range of gases. The technology might find applications in everything from environmental monitoring to airport security or testing blood alcohol levels.
Imagine you need to have an almost exact copy of an object. Now imagine that you can just pull your smartphone out of your pocket, take a snapshot with its integrated 3-D imager, send it to your 3-D printer and, within minutes, you have reproduced a replica accurate to within microns of the original object. This feat may soon be possible because of a new, tiny high-resolution 3-D imager developed at Caltech.
Giving new meaning to the term “sonic boom,” Univ. of Illinois chemists have used sound to trigger microscopic explosions. Using an “ultrasonic hammer,” the researchers triggered tiny but intensely hot explosions in volatile materials, giving insight into how explosives work and how to control them.
Since Apple shook up the music world with iTunes a little more than a decade ago, online music has exploded and become the central way many people enjoy and discover music. Internet services such as Pandora and Spotify have millions of users.
In its five short years of life, Pinterest has become `the' place where brides-to-be create wish boards of wedding china photos and do-it-yourself home renovators bookmark shiny turquoise tiles for bathrooms. It's where people share ideas and ingenuity and get creatively inspired. And it's fueled a new way of searching for items that's even stolen traffic from tech giant Google.
Drivers trying to get to work or home in a hurry know traffic congestion wastes a lot of time, but it also wastes a lot of fuel. In 2011, congestion caused people in U.S. urban areas to travel an extra 5.5 billion hours and purchase an extra 2.9 billion gallons of fuel costing $121 billion. But despite the tangle of vehicles at busy intersections and interstate ramps, most of the country’s highways are open road.