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Updated: 2 hours 35 min ago

AI Software Goes Up Against Fourth Graders on Science Tests

Wed, 09/09/2015 - 00:00

Making AI software take real school exams might accelerate progress toward machines with common sense.

During which season of the year would a rabbit’s fur be thickest? A computer program called Aristo can tell you because it read about bears growing thicker pelts during winter in a fourth grade study guide, and knows rabbits are mammals, too. It’s studying for New York State’s standard science exams.

Peter Thiel Backs Biotech “Unicorn” Fighting Cancer Stem Cells

Tue, 09/08/2015 - 00:00

Are stem cells at the root of common cancers? A startup named Stemcentrx thinks so.

In 2002, Scott Dylla, a skinny postdoc with a Minnesota accent answered a Craigslist ad for a room for rent in Palo Alto. Although he couldn’t afford to move in with Brian Slingerland, then an up-and-coming technology banker at Credit Suisse, the two got to talking.

Meltdown-Proof Nuclear Reactors Get a Safety Check in Europe

Fri, 09/04/2015 - 00:00

Researchers say they could build a prototype of a molten salt reactor, a safer, cleaner nuclear power option, in 10 years.

For years nuclear scientists have talked about a revival of molten salt reactors, which are powered by a liquid fuel rather than solid fuel rods, that will help spark the long-awaited “nuclear renaissance.” Recent developments indicate that this alternative nuclear power technology is finally making gradual progress toward commercialization.

3-D Printing Breaks the Glass Barrier

Thu, 09/03/2015 - 00:00

Researchers have cracked the challenge of printing glass through a nozzle.

The palette of materials that can be used as 3-D printing “ink” is quickly growing in diversity, but one ubiquitous material has, until now, been absent: transparent glass.

Your Smartphone Can Tell If You’re Bored

Wed, 09/02/2015 - 00:00

A group of researchers looked at how people used their phones to figure out when they were bored, then suggested they go read a BuzzFeed article.

Add “boredom detector” to the seemingly endless list of things your smartphone can do. A group of researchers say they’ve developed an algorithm that can suss this out by looking at your mobile activity, considering factors like the time since you last had a call or text, the time of day, and how intensely you’re using the phone.

Transplant Surgeons Revive Hearts After Death

Tue, 09/01/2015 - 00:00

A technology to keep organs alive outside the body is saving lives. And provoking ethical debates.

Transplant surgeons have started using a device that allows them to “reanimate” hearts from people who have recently died, and use the organs to save others. 

How Artificial Intelligence Can Fight Air Pollution in China

Mon, 08/31/2015 - 00:00

IBM researchers are developing a system that can predict how bad pollution will be across the city of Beijing 72 hours in advance.

IBM is testing a new way to alleviate Beijing’s choking air pollution with the help of artificial intelligence. The Chinese capital, like many other cities across the country, is surrounded by factories, many fueled by coal, that emit harmful particulates. But pollution levels can vary depending on factors such as industrial activity, traffic congestion, and weather conditions.

The Looming Problem That Could Kill Bitcoin

Fri, 08/28/2015 - 10:10

The man who took over stewardship of Bitcoin from its mysterious inventor says the currency is in serious trouble.

The way things are going, the digital currency Bitcoin will start to malfunction early next year. Transactions will become increasingly delayed, and the system of money now worth $3.3 billion will begin to die as its flakiness drives people away. So says Gavin Andresen, who in 2010 was designated chief caretaker of the code that powers Bitcoin by its shadowy creator. Andresen held the role of “core maintainer” during most of Bitcoin’s improbable rise; he stepped down last year but still remains heavily involved with the currency (see “The Man Who Really Built Bitcoin”).

Two Companies Close In on a Concussion Blood Test

Thu, 08/27/2015 - 00:00

A pair of companies say they’ve identified proteins that could lead to a blood test to quickly diagnose concussions.

A blood test that could quickly detect a brain injury and measure the damage it has done could help doctors provide better care for the millions of people suffering from such injuries, potentially improving their chances of avoiding long-term disabilities.

New Boss on Construction Sites Is a Drone

Wed, 08/26/2015 - 00:00

Drones are being used to capture video footage that shows construction progress at the Sacramento Kings’ new stadium in California.

For some construction workers, any thoughts of slacking off could soon seem rather quaint. The drones will almost certainly notice.

Tool Makes It Easier to Evade Online Censors

Tue, 08/25/2015 - 00:00

New software makes Web traffic that’s banned in places like China or Iran appear as ordinary Internet use.

After the huge chemical explosion in Tianjin, China, this month, two cleanup efforts began. Amongst the wreckage, first responders rescued people and doused fires. On the Web, China’s censors began deleting content suggesting the government could have done more to prevent or contain the disaster. Hundreds of websites and social media accounts have now been shut down.

Inside Illumina’s Plans to Lure Consumers with an App Store for Genomes

Wed, 08/19/2015 - 13:20

An app store that holds your DNA, then sells it to you little by little.

The CEO of the world’s leading DNA sequencing company says he knows how to finally get consumers interested in their genomes: by creating an enormous app store for genetic information. 

Synthetic Life Seeks Work

Wed, 08/19/2015 - 00:00

A startup company says it is expanding the language of DNA to create new tools for drug discovery.

In the May 15, 2014, edition of the journal Nature, Floyd Romesberg’s chemistry lab at San Diego’s Scripps Research Institute published a paper titled “A Semi-Synthetic Organism with an Expanded Genetic Alphabet.” Romesberg and his colleagues had created a bacterium incorporating chemical building blocks that, as far as anybody knows, have never been part of any earthly life form.

2015 Entrepreneurs | Innovators Under 35

Tue, 08/18/2015 - 00:05

They see technologies as sparks of opportunity.

2015 Visionaries | Innovators Under 35

Tue, 08/18/2015 - 00:05

These people are showing how technologies will give us new ways of doing things.

2015 Humanitarians | Innovators Under 35

Tue, 08/18/2015 - 00:05

Using technology to tackle problems caused by poverty, war, or disability.

2015 Inventors | Innovators Under 35

Tue, 08/18/2015 - 00:05

Creating technologies that make it possible to reimagine how things are done.

2015 Pioneers | Innovators Under 35

Tue, 08/18/2015 - 00:05

Extending our scientific knowledge and paving the way for future technologies.

Innovators Under 35 | 2015

Tue, 08/18/2015 - 00:01

Our 15th annual celebration of people who are driving the next generation of technological breakthroughs.

Paying for Solar Power

Mon, 08/17/2015 - 00:00

SolarCity’s massive new manufacturing plant in Buffalo, New York, reflects a booming demand for solar power. Is it sustainable?

The rail cars that once carried iron ore around Republic Steel’s sprawling plant at the edge of downtown Buffalo, New York, were plowed under when the steel company abandoned the location in 1984. They were recently discovered when excavation began for the so-called gigafactory to be operated by SolarCity, the country’s leading supplier of solar panels. Now the rusted cars and a scattering of other relics from the days of Republic Steel greet visitors to the construction site, a reminder of the city’s past manufacturing might and a testament to the dream that North America’s largest solar-panel manufacturing facility can help revive it.