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Updated: 3 min 43 sec ago

My Life, Logged

Tue, 06/10/2014 - 00:00

If a device could capture every moment in life for your easy recall later, would you want it to? There are plenty of things I’d rather forget.

I always knew I was short, but it wasn’t until recently that I realized exactly how short.

Why the EPA Regulations Go Easy on Coal States

Mon, 06/09/2014 - 00:00

Huge differences in renewable energy and natural gas potential influenced the EPA’s proposed carbon regulations.

Last week the EPA released a plan to significantly reduce U.S. carbon dioxide emissions over the next 15 years (see “EPA to Take Biggest Step Ever to Fight Climate Change” and “EPA Issues Proposed Carbon Emissions Rules”). It turns out that some of the states faced with making the biggest changes to meet that goal aren’t the ones that rely heavily on the biggest source of emissions—coal power.

Imposing Security

Thu, 06/05/2014 - 00:00

Computer programmers won’t stop making dangerous errors on their own. It’s time they adopted an idea that makes the physical world safer.

Microsoft’s “3-D Audio” Gives Virtual Objects a Voice

Wed, 06/04/2014 - 10:57

Headphones that make sounds seem to come from specific points in space could be the perfect counterpoint to virtual reality goggles.

Just as a new generation of virtual reality goggles for video games are about to hit the market, researchers at Microsoft have come up with what could be the perfect accompaniment—a way for ordinary headphones to create a realistic illusion of sound coming from specific locations in space.

The Robots Running This Way

Tue, 06/03/2014 - 00:00

Some of the machines acquired recently by Google represent a giant leap forward for robot-kind.

EPA Issues Proposed Carbon Emissions Rules

Mon, 06/02/2014 - 17:36

The EPA’s emissions targets will accelerate the use of natural gas in states that have resisted alternatives to coal.

The Obama administration took its most forceful step yet on climate change with an EPA proposal to curb greenhouse gases from existing power plants. The most likely impact from the rules, if they survive legal challenges, will be an accelerated shift to natural gas and more energy efficiency measures in coal-heavy states.

Lazy Humans Shaped Google’s New Autonomous Car

Fri, 05/30/2014 - 14:50

Google came up with a new approach to its self-driving car project because humans trusted its previous prototypes too much.

The fact that Google’s bubble-like self-driving car, unveiled this week, lacks a steering wheel might be seen as evidence the company’s software is close to mastering the challenges of piloting a vehicle. But the car’s design is just as much a consequence of what Google’s existing fleet of automated Lexus SUVs revealed about human laziness.

Military Funds Brain-Computer Interfaces to Control Feelings

Thu, 05/29/2014 - 13:06

A $70 million program will try to develop brain implants able to regulate emotions in the mentally ill.

Researcher Jose Carmena has worked for years training macaque monkeys to move computer cursors and robotic limbs with their minds. He does so by implanting electrodes into their brains to monitor neural activity. Now, as part of a sweeping $70 million program funded by the U.S. military, Carmena has a new goal: to use brain implants to read, and then control, the emotions of mentally ill people.

Google’s Experimental Smartphone Captures a Future Mapped in 3-D

Thu, 05/29/2014 - 00:00

Early testers are building a range of prototypes from drones to immersive video games using Google’s 3-D mapping smartphone.

Four months after Google unveiled Project Tango—a prototype Android smartphone with cameras and sensors that capture the phone’s environment in 3-D—developers are using the device to make cheap drones for surveying zones, more immersive video games, and even a system for finding a better-fitting suit.

10-4, Good Computer: Automated System Lets Trucks Convoy as One

Wed, 05/28/2014 - 14:12

A recent demonstration involving two trucks tethered by computer control shows how automation and vehicle-to-vehicle communication are creeping onto the roads.

A pair of trucks convoying 10 meters apart on Interstate 80 just outside Reno, Nevada, might seem like an unusual sight—not to mention unsafe. But the two trucks doing this a couple of weeks ago were actually demonstrating a system that could make trucking safer and much more efficient.