Bitcoins are a virtual currency whose oscillations have pulled geeks and speculators alike through stomach-churning highs and lows. But an increasing number of transactions—up to 70,000 each day over the past month—that have propelled bitcoins from the world of Internet oddities to the cusp of mainstream use, a remarkable breakthrough for a currency which made its online debut only four years ago.
In a development that could make the advanced form of secure communications known as quantum cryptography more practical, University of Michigan researchers have demonstrated a simpler, more efficient single-photon emitter that can be made using traditional semiconductor processing techniques.
The biggest thing in operating rooms these days is a million-dollar, multi-armed robot named da Vinci, used in nearly 400,000 surgeries in America last year. But now the high-tech helper is under scrutiny over reports of problems, including several deaths that may be linked with it, and the high cost of using the robotic system. Is it time to curb the robot enthusiasm?
Researchers in Switzerland have used X-ray tomography to screen lithium-ion battery electrodes and have reconstructed these microstructures in high resolution. The flow behavior of the lithium ions, they have found, can be described by what is known as tortuosity. To put it simply, the more twisted the path of the ions through the electrode, the more slowly the battery is charged or discharged.
Surgical robots could make some types of surgery safer and more effective, but proving that the software controlling these machines works as intended is problematic. Researchers at Carnegie Mellon University and Johns Hopkins University have demonstrated that methods for reliably detecting software bugs and ultimately verifying software safety can be applied successfully to this breed of robot.
For decades, scientists have used sophisticated instruments and computer models to predict the nature of droughts. The majority of these models have steadily predicted an increasingly frequent and severe global drought cycle. But a recent study from a team of researchers in the United State and Australia suggests that one of these widely used tools—the Palmer Drought Severity Index (PDSI)—may be incorrect.
Java is one of the most common programming languages in use today, which is partly why researchers at the University of California, San Diego, have developed an immersive, first-person player video game designed to teach students in elementary to high school how to use the language effectively, despite never having been exposed to programming previously.
When renowned explorer Richard E. Byrd returned from the first-ever flight to the North Pole in 1926, he sparked a controversy that remains today: Did he actually reach the pole? Studying supercomputer simulations of atmospheric conditions on the day of the flight and double-checking Byrd’s navigation techniques, a researcher at Ohio State University has determined that Byrd neared the Pole, but did not reach it.
The agency that oversees Internet domain names says it will open a satellite office in China, home of the world's largest Internet population. Monday's announcement comes as the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers holds its spring meeting in Beijing this week.
Siemon, a global network infrastructure specialist, has introduced the new LC BladePatch fiber optic duplex jumper, which offers high-density fiber patching with easy access. With its intuitive, ergonomic action, the LC BladePatch completely eliminates the need to access a latch during installation and removal, avoiding any disruption or damage to adjacent fiber connectors.
According to a new study by scientists funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF) and at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), clouds over the central Greenland Ice Sheet last July were "just right" for driving surface temperatures there above the melting point. The 2012 melt illustrates the often-overlooked role that clouds play in climate change. Current models don’t do enough, says researchers, to account for their effects.
Facebook Home, the new software that takes over the front screen of a smartphone, is a bit of a corporate home invasion. Facebook is essentially moving into Google's turf, taking advantage of software the search giant and competitor created. Launching April 12, Home will operate on phones running Google Inc.'s Android software and present Facebook status updates, messages, and other content without making the user fire up Facebook's app.
The NeuroBlate Thermal Therapy System is a new device that uses a minimally invasive, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)-guided laser system to coagulate, or heat and kill, brain tumors. The MRI basically "cooks" brain tumors in a controlled fashion to destroy them. The first-in-human study of the system finds that it appears to provide a new, safe and minimally invasive procedure for treating recurrent glioblastoma, a malignant type of brain tumor.
Gordon, the unique supercomputer launched last year by the San Diego Supercomputer Center at the University of California, San Diego, recently completed its most data-intensive task so far: rapidly processing raw data from almost one billion particle collisions as part of a project to help define the future research agenda for the Large Hadron Collider (LHC).
People who are hard of hearing can quickly drift into social isolation. Worse, they can also get into dangerous situations, for example when driving or crossing the road. For many of them, their hearing is so damaged that a standard hearing aid is no longer enough. A new device developed by researchers in Europe is intended to improve patients’ hearing and can be implanted during outpatient surgery.
A standard camera takes flat, 2D pictures. To get 3D information, such as the distance to a far-away object, scientists can bounce a laser beam off the object and measure how long it takes the light to travel back to a detector. The technique, called time-of-flight (ToF) has a relatively short range and struggles to image objects that do not reflect laser light well. A team of Scotland-based physicists has recently tackled these limitations.
Talk about storing data in the cloud. Scientists at the Joint Quantum Institute of NIST and the University of Maryland have taken this to a whole new level by demonstrating that they can store visual images within quite an ethereal memory device—a thin vapor of rubidium atoms. The effort may prove helpful in creating memory for quantum computers.
Researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy’s Ames Laboratory, Iowa State University, and the University of Crete in Greece have found a new way to switch magnetism that is at least 1000 times faster than currently used in magnetic memory technologies. Magnetic switching is used to encode information in hard drives, magnetic random access memory, and other computing devices.
In 2011, Lake Erie experienced a record-breaking algae bloom that began in the lake's Western region in mid-July and eventually covered an area of 230 square miles. At its peak in October, the bloom had expanded to more than 1,930 square miles, three times greater than any other bloom on record. According to recent research, the bloom was triggered by long-term agricultural practices coupled with extreme precipitation, followed by weak lake circulation and warm temperatures.
Jumping silicon atoms are the stars of an atomic scale ballet featured in a new Nature Communications study from the U.S. Department of Energy(DOE)'s Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL). The ORNL research team documented the atoms' unique behavior by first trapping groups of silicon atoms, known as clusters, in a single-atom-thick sheet of carbon called graphene.
Orlando-based photonics technology acceleration company Open Photonics Inc. and VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland have announced a partnership to accelerate the commercialization of VTT’s advanced Fabry-Perot visible and infrared spectroscopy and spectral imaging technologies.
Researchers in the U.K. have been working to program a group of 40 robots to carry out simple fetching and carrying tasks, by grouping around an object and working together to push it across a surface. Even after being scattered, the robots can group again and organize themselves by order of priority. The team says the ability to control robot swarms could prove hugely beneficial in a range of contexts, from military to medical.
The use of femtosecond light pulses—the fastest man-made event—with photon energies ranging from X-rays (as used for instance at the HZB femto-slicing facility) to terahertz spectral range has proved to be an indispensable tool in ultrafast spin and magnetization dynamics studies. Researchers have recently demonstrated a simple but powerful way of manipulating the spins at these unprecedented speeds.
Physicists in Germany have, for the first time, successfully transmitted secure quantum information through the atmosphere from an aircraft to a ground station. Given the accuracy of the laser- and mirror-based system, which 3 m over a distance of 20 km, the experiment represents an important step towards secure satellite-based global communication.
A team of researchers at the San Diego Supercomputer Center (SDSC) and the University of California, San Diego, has developed a highly scalable computer code that promises to dramatically cut both research times and energy costs in simulating seismic hazards throughout California and elsewhere. The accelerated makes heavier use of graphic processing units (GPUs) than CPUs.