May 21, 2015

Glowing paper could pave the way for bendy devices

posted by Christy Wilding

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With the release of Apple Watch and Google Glass, personal electronics are breaking out from our pockets. But even these newest iterations are rigid; despite years of buzz about foldable electronics, you still can’t read a book on your Kindle then fold it up like a newspaper. Now a team of Chinese researchers has developed a glowing, flexible paper designed to bring foldable electronics closer to reality.

via Popular Science

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May 21, 2015

MIT’s humanoid robot goes to robo boot camp

posted by Christy Wilding

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AS RUSS TEDRAKE flings up the garage door to the dusty MIT lab, light whooshes in, revealing a 360-pound humanoid robot hanging from a rope. The hulky human form sways as the Cambridge breeze blows into the room.

The deactivated dangling thing looks like a metal rag doll, vulnerable and grotesque. But this is Atlas, one of the most sophisticated robots in the world. “The control system for a fighter jet is way simpler than this,” says Tedrake, leader of the Atlas team at MIT’s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory.

via Wired

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Images courtesy of Harry Gould Harvey IV

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May 21, 2015

Oculus Rift hack transfers your facial expressions onto your virtual avatar

posted by Christy Wilding

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When Facebook bought Oculus VR back in March of 2014, many wondered exactly what the social network was going to do with it—let's face it, many of us are still wondering. But there are some interesting bits of tech starting to emerge from the now Facebook-owned Oculus that hint at what the future might hold for the Rift outside gaming. One such piece of tech—a "facial performance" tracking system—adds a vital element of social interaction to VR usage: facial expressions.

via Ars Technica

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Images courtesy of Hao Li

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May 21, 2015

L'Oreal is 3D printing its own human skin to test cosmetics

posted by Larra Morris

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The L'Oreal Group hasn't tested its products on animals worldwide since 2013, instead relying on a predictive model that utilizes a "Reconstructed Human Epidermis" -- basically bits of skin grown in a lab -- to ensure that its products are safe. Now the French cosmetics giant is teaming up with 3D bioprinting company Organovo to create the real thing...or at least as real as human skin that comes out of an ink jet nozzle can be.
via Engadget

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Image: Organovo

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May 21, 2015

Watch geologists use molten lava to grill up some steaks

posted by Larra Morris

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Molten lava reaches temperatures of at least 1300 degrees Fahrenheit, which makes it a solid heat source if you need to grill up some steaks in seconds. Recently, students and geologists from Syracuse did just that as part of their Lava Project, and the resulting video is incredibly intense. In under six minutes, the heavily-protected team cooks up a party's worth of t-bones, hot dogs, and salmon steaks—including searing one hunk of steak directly on the lava itself, for students who prefer their meat "well done."
via Mental Floss

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May 20, 2015

Researchers discover a 'partial workaround' for blindness

posted by Larra Morris

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When your eyes' photoreceptors (the so-called rods and cones) fail due to either illness or injury, so too does your vision. And until very recently, few options to correct the condition existed -- typically in the form of a bulky and intrusive wearable. But now, a long-researchedgene therapy is finally ready for human trials and could pave the way for at least partial restoration of a patient's sense of sight.

The technique, which was developed by a team led by Zhuo-Hua Pan of Wayne State University in Detroit, is part of a growing scientific field known as optogenetics. It doesn't target the dead photoreceptors themselves -- in fact, it bypasses them entirely -- instead focusing on the ganglion cells behind them. Ganglion cells carry electrical signals from the rods and cones to the optic nerve, which then shuttles the information to the brain.
via Engadget

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Image: Tim Flach/Getty

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May 20, 2015

Horses whinny in two different frequencies to convey emotion

posted by Larra Morris

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When it comes to the complexity of their vocal range, horses have more in common with singing birds than other mammals. 

Domestic horses are social animals that prefer to live in herds, and they disseminate information over long distances by whinnying, which research suggests can convey information about the caller’s identity, sex, and body size. Whinnying also allows horses to communicate the nature and strength of their emotional states using two different frequencies, according to a new study in the journal Scientific Reports
via Mental Floss

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