Tag Archives | Science & Technology

NASA Plans To Grow Plants On The Moon

plants

The new balanced diet includes space fruits. The Independent reports:

NASA has announced plans to grow plants on the moon by 2015 in a project designed to further humanity’s chances of successfully colonising space. If successful, the Lunar Plant Growth Habitat team will make history by seeding life from Earth on another celestial body for the first time, paving the way for humans to set up more permanent habitation.

NASA plans to deliver the payload via the Moon Express lander, a commercial spacecraft enrolled in the Google Lunar X Prize. Seeds will include Arabidopsis, basil, and turnips,” said NASA officials in a press release.

Partial gravity and lunar radiation will need to be accounted for, although the plants will travel with their own water reservoir and enough air for five days of growth. Cameras and sensors will monitor the plants and send data back to Earth.

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Sony Files Patent For “SmartWig”

smartwigIf technology did not already make you feel insane enough, Engadget reports that Sony wants you to wear a wig that gives you GPS directions and vibrates when you receive an email:

Sony’s trying to patent what it calls a “SmartWig.” The application describes a standard wig that could “be made from horse hair, human hair, wool, feathers, yak hair or any kind of synthetic material,” with a circuit board hidden among those luscious locks.

That board can talk to a “second computing device” wirelessly — such as a phone or even a pair of smartglasses — and actuators embedded in the hairpiece could “provide tactile feedback to the user.” In other words, the wig could vibrate when you receive emails and the like. The wig-chip could also include GPS and an ultrasound transducer, with different regions buzzing to give navigation cues.

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An Atlas Of The Worlds Of Cyberspace

Maps of the physical world are obsolete. The vintage web page Atlas of Cyberspaces offers a strange and wonderful collection of nineties-era renderings of digital geographies – including physical infrastructure, virtual gaming realms, website and surfing structures, flows of communication, and more:

This is an atlas of maps and graphic representations of the geographies of the new electronic territories of the Internet, the World-Wide Web and other emerging Cyberspaces.

These maps of Cyberspaces – cybermaps – help us visualise and comprehend the new digital landscapes beyond our computer screen, in the wires of the global communications networks and vast online information resources.

Some of the maps you will see in the Atlas of Cyberspaces will appear familiar, using the cartographic conventions of real-world maps, however, many of the maps are much more abstract representations of electronic spaces, using new metrics and grids.

cyber

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How Consciousness Arises From Networks

manwith2brainsmovieVia Wired, neuroscientist Christof Koch argues that there are consciousnesses that exist outside of biological entities:

Consciousness arises within any sufficiently complex, information-processing system. All animals, from humans on down to earthworms, are conscious; even the internet could be.

My consciousness is an undeniable fact. I might be confused about the state of my consciousness, but I’m not confused about having it. Then, looking at the biology, all animals have complex physiology. There’s nothing exceptional about human brains. That consciousness extends to all these creatures, that it’s an imminent property of highly organized pieces of matter, such as brains.

It’s not that any physical system has consciousness. A black hole, a heap of sand, a bunch of isolated neurons in a dish, they’re not integrated. They have no consciousness. But complex systems do. And how much consciousness they have depends on how many connections they have and how they’re wired up.

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Genetic Analysis Suggests Ancient Humans Interbred Extensively Neanderthals, Denisovans And An “Unknown Population”

neanderthalNature hints that modern humans have a mysterious X factor ancestor:

Genome analysis suggests there was interbreeding between modern humans, Neanderthals, Denisovans and an unknown archaic population. Updated genome sequences from two extinct relatives of modern humans suggest that these ‘archaic’ groups bred with humans and with each other more extensively than was previously known.

The ancient genomes, one from a Neanderthal and one from a member of an archaic human group called the Denisovans, were presented on 18 November at a meeting on ancient DNA at the Royal Society in London. The results suggest that interbreeding went on between the members of several ancient human-like groups in Europe and Asia more than 30,000 years ago, including an as-yet-unknown human ancestor from Asia.

All modern humans whose ancestry originates outside of Africa owe about 2% of their genome to Neanderthals. Certain populations living in Oceania, such as Papua New Guineans and Australian Aboriginals, share about 4% of their DNA with Denisovans.

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The Stuxnet Computer Virus Has Infected The International Space Station

space_stationWell, we’ve even ruined outer space. io9 writes:

The problem with creating Stuxnet, the world’s most sophisticated malware worm, is that it could eventually go rogue. Which is precisely what has happened. The virus has spread to a Russian nuclear plant — and even the International Space Station.

Stuxnet is an incredibly powerful computer worm that was created by the United States and Israel to attack Iran’s nuclear facilities. It initially spreads through Microsoft Windows and targets Siemens industrial control systems. It’s considered the first malware that both spies and subverts industrial systems. It’s even got a programmable logic controller rootkit for the automation of electromechanical processes.

Let that last point sink in for just a second. This thing, with a little bit of coaxing, can actually control the operation of machines and computers it infects.

Apparently, the virus spread to the International Space Station on an infected USB stick that was transported by Russian cosmonauts.

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Motorola Patents Neck Tattoo That Acts As Device-Connected Microphone

tattooEver wish that everything you ever said could be recorded? Me neither. Discovery notes:

According to a patent application filed with the US Patent and Trademark Office, Motorola has a technology that tattoos a microphone onto a person’s throat. The microphone, which comes with a power supply, an antenna, a receiver and an optional display, would pair with mobile devices over Bluetooth.

Most likely, the “tattoo” would be an extremely thin electronic device that adheres to a person’s skin, as opposed to being woven into it.

Because the microphone is on the throat, it would pick up vibrations from the person’s voice box when she spoke. The close proximity of mic to sound would eliminate background noise that would typically interfere with a call or a voice command.

There’s more. Motorola’s throat tattoo will double as a lie detector. According to the patent: “…The electronic skin tattoo 200 can further include a galvanic skin response detector.”

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DARPA To Spend $70 Million Investigating Brain Implants

alzheimersThe ostensible purpose is to better treat mental illness, but I think we all know what the experimental research wing of the military’s real motives are. As reported by the Boston Globe:

The federal Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, known as DARPA, announced Thursday that it intended to spend more than $70 million over five years to jump to the next level of brain implants, either by improving deep brain stimulation or by developing new technology.

The new program, called Systems-Based Neurotechnology and Understanding for the Treatment of Neuropsychological Illnesses, is part of an Obama administration brain initiative that is intended to promote innovative basic neuroscience. Participants in the initiative include DARPA, the National Institutes of Health, and the National Science Foundation.

DARPA’s project is partly inspired by the needs of combat veterans who suffer from mental and physical conditions, and is the first to directly invest in researching human illness as part of the brain initiative.

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Romanian Scientists Invent Artificial Blood

bloodPresumably to be enjoyed along with your artificial sweetener and decaff coffee, from Transylvania comes synthetic substitute blood, Medical Daily reports:

Researchers from the Transylvanian city of Romania called Cluj-Napoca announced the first-ever artificial blood that could be used without fearing life-threatening side effects of prior models.

The new artificial blood relies not on hemoglobin, like typical artificial bloods, but hemerythrin — a protein extracted from sea worms that is then mixed with water and salts. Doctors can use the artificial blood to reduce infection rates during blood donation, and to supply lost stores in patients for several hours or even up to a day, researcher Dr. Radu Silaghi-Dumitrescu says.

The research team was confident the artificial blood could find its way to clinical trials on humans within the next year or two. Silaghi-Dumitrescu claims the breakthrough could lead to “instant blood” that would come in portable containers and turn into artificial blood just with the addition of water.

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Cybersyn, Salvador Allende’s Socialist Internet In 1970s Chile

Red_pepperRed Pepper on Cybersyn, an ingenious proto-internet largely unknown outside of a cult following:

The pioneering cybernetic planning work of the Chilean leader, his ministers and a British left-wing operations research scientist and management consultant named Stafford Beer was an ambitious, economy-wide experiment that has since been described as the ‘socialist internet’, an effort decades ahead of its time.

In 1970, Beer was hired to advise the government, and the scheme he plunged himself into was called Project Cybersyn, a ‘nervous system’ for the economy in which workers, community members and the government were to be connected together transmitting the resources they had on offer, their desires and needs via an interactive national communications network.

Although never completed, by the time General Augusto Pinochet overthrew the young administration in a US-backed coup, the advanced prototype of the system, which had been built in four months, involved a series of 500 telex machines distributed to firms connected to two government-operated mainframe computers and stretched the length of the narrow country and covered roughly between a quarter and half of the nationalised economy.

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