A Star Wars-style phone which allows users to see 3D hologram images of the person on the other end of the line has been pioneered by experts at Leia Display Systems, a Polish company named after the film’s heroine. To make a call, the person sits in front of a camera which has two lenses and a microphone. The two images formed by the lenses are streamed through to the person on the other end. A hologram machine then projects them onto a screen of water vapour. “At the moment, our holograms are made using machines that are more than six feet high but we are designing smaller versions. We hope to sell hologram telephone devices within the next five years,” Chief executive Marcin Panek said.
Tag Archives | Science & Technology
Early childhood-style learning abilities as a side effect? Via NPR:
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Takao Hensch, professor of molecular and cellular biology at Harvard, is studying a drug which might allow adults to learn perfect pitch. Hensch says the drug, valprioc acid, allows the brain to absorb new information as easily as it did before age 7.
“It’s a mood-stabilizing drug, but we found that it also restores the plasticity of the brain to a juvenile state,” Hensch says.
Hensch gave the drug to a group of young men who had no musical training as children. They were asked to perform tasks to train their ears, and at the end of a two-week period, tested on their ability to discriminate tone.
The results were that those who took the valproate scored much higher on pitch tests than those who underwent similar training but only took the placebo. In other words, Hensch gave people a pill and then taught them to have perfect pitch.
Trying to maintain your privacy? Consider just giving up. The Washington Post reports:
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In room-size metal boxes secure against electromagnetic leaks, the National Security Agency is racing to build a computer that could break nearly every kind of encryption used to protect banking, medical, business and government records around the world.
According to documents provided by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden, the effort to build “a cryptologically useful quantum computer” — a machine exponentially faster than classical computers — is part of a $79.7 million research program titled “Penetrating Hard Targets.” Much of the work is hosted under classified contracts at a laboratory in College Park, Md.
The development of a quantum computer has long been a goal of many in the scientific community. With such technology, all current forms of public key encryption would be broken, including those used on many secure Web sites as well as the type used to protect state secrets.
Are other species engaging in advanced behaviors related to Earth’s magnetic field to which we are oblivious? Will humanity’s pooping without regard to planet-level electromagnetic fluctuations eventually be our undoing? Motherboard writes:
A team of Czech and German researchers found that dogs actually align themselves with the Earth’s magnetic field when they poop.
The researchers measured the direction of the body axis of dogs during 1,893 defecations and 5,582 urinations over the course of two years, and found that dogs “prefer to excrete with the body being aligned along the North-south axis under calm magnetic field conditions.”
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It is still enigmatic why the dogs do align, whether they do it ‘consciously’ (i.e., whether the magnetic field is sensorial perceived (the dogs ‘see,’ ‘hear’ or ‘smell’ the direction) or whether its reception is controlled on the vegetative level (they ‘feel better/more comfortable or worse/less comfortable’ in a certain direction). Dogs not only prefer N-S direction, but at the same time they also avoid E-W direction.
Scientists at the South China Agricultural University announced last week that they had successfully engineered 10 piglets that could glow green under black light. By using a technique pioneered by the University of Hawaii at Manoa School of Medicine, the researchers were able to isolate a fluorescent protein in jellyfish DNA and inject it into pig embryos. Turkish researchers were able to raise fluorescent rabbits with the University of Hawaii's technique earlier this year.
Are the species of the ancient past lying in wait, encoded in plain sight? The Telegraph writes:
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Oxford biochemist Dr Alison Woollard said it would be theoretically possible to recreate ancient animals, through the DNA of birds. By identifying and altering certain genes found in the DNA of modern birds, she believes scientists may be able to “design” genomes of the prehistoric creatures.
“We know that birds are the direct descendants of dinosaurs, as proven by an unbroken line of fossils which tracks the evolution of the lineage from creatures such as the velociraptor or T-Rex through to the birds flying around today,” said Dr Woollard. “This evolution implies that buried deep within the DNA of today’s birds are switched-off genes that control dinosaur-like traits.”
The difficulty, claims Dr Woollard is finding and understanding the full length of a dinosaur’s genome in order to know which edits to make to a bird’s genome.
To some degree, are Americans correct in believing that scientific findings are swayed by ideology and agenda? Or do they simply long for a return to the Dark Ages? The Huffington Post reports:
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How much faith do Americans have in scientists and science journalists? In a new HuffPost/YouGov poll, only 36 percent of Americans reported having “a lot” of trust that information they get from scientists is accurate and reliable. Fifty-one percent said they trust that information only a little, and another 6 percent said they don’t trust it at all.
What’s more, many Americans worry that the results of scientific studies are sometimes tainted by political ideology — or by pressure from the studies’ corporate sponsors. A whopping 78 percent of Americans think that information reported in scientific studies is often (34 percent) or sometimes (44 percent) influenced by political ideology. Similarly, 82 percent said that they think that scientific findings are often (43 percent) or sometimes (39 percent) influenced by the companies or organizations sponsoring them.
Via ScienceDaily, how changing your mind changes your body:
A new study by researchers in Wisconsin, Spain, and France reports the first evidence of specific molecular changes in the body following a period of mindfulness meditation.
The study investigated the effects of a day of intensive mindfulness practice in a group of experienced meditators, compared to a group of untrained control subjects who engaged in quiet non-meditative activities. After eight hours of mindfulness practice, the meditators showed a range of genetic and molecular differences, including altered levels of gene-regulating machinery and reduced levels of pro-inflammatory genes, which in turn correlated with faster physical recovery from a stressful situation.
“Interestingly, the changes were observed in genes that are the current targets of anti-inflammatory and analgesic drugs,” says Perla Kaliman, first author of the article and a researcher at the Institute of Biomedical Research of Barcelona, Spain.
Basically, envision Alfred Hitchcock’s The Byrds but with Amazon delivery drones suddenly turning against you. Ars Technica reports:
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Serial hacker Samy Kamkar has released all the hardware and software specifications that hobbyists need to build an aerial drone that seeks out other drones in the air, hacks them, and turns them into a conscripted army of unmanned vehicles under the attacker’s control.
“How fun would it be to take over drones, carrying Amazon packages… or take over any other drones and make them my little zombie drones,” Kamkar asked rhetorically in a blog post.
Dubbed SkyJack, the contraption uses a radio-controlled Parrot AR.Drone quadcopter carrying a Raspberry Pi circuit board, a small battery, and two wireless transmitters. The devices seek out wireless signals of nearby Parrot drones, hijack the wireless connections used to control them, and commandeer the victims’ flight-control and camera systems.
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.