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Updated: 4 hours 51 min ago

Equipped with new sensors, Morpheus preps to tackle landing on its own

Thu, 04/24/2014 - 15:27
A test flight later this week will challenge a set of sensors to map out a 65-yard square of boulder-sized hazards and pick out a safe place to land. Mounted to an uncrewed prototype lander called Morpheus that flies autonomously several hundred feet above the ground, the sensor system will have 10 seconds to do its work: six seconds really, as it will take four seconds to map the area before choosing a landing site. The sensor system is a 400-pound set of computers and three instruments called ALHAT, short for Autonomous Landing and Hazard Avoidance Technology.

Your T-shirt's ringing: Printable tiny flexible cell phones for clothes?

Thu, 04/24/2014 - 14:28
A new version of 'spaser' technology being investigated could mean that mobile phones become so small, efficient, and flexible they could be printed on clothing. A spaser is effectively a nanoscale laser or nanolaser. It emits a beam of light through the vibration of free electrons, rather than the space-consuming electromagnetic wave emission process of a traditional laser.

Take notes by hand for better long-term comprehension

Thu, 04/24/2014 - 14:28
Dust off those Bic ballpoints and college-ruled notebooks: research shows that taking notes by hand is better than taking notes on a laptop for remembering conceptual information over the long term. "Our new findings suggest that even when laptops are used as intended -- and not for buying things on Amazon during class -- they may still be harming academic performance," says a psychological scientist involved in the study.

Critical vulnerabilities in TLS implementation for Java

Thu, 04/24/2014 - 14:23
In January and April 2014, Oracle has released critical Java software security updates. They resolve vulnerabilities that affected the "Java Secure Socket Extension" (JSSE), a software library implementing the "Transport Layer Security" protocol (TLS). TLS is used to encrypt sensitive information transferred between browsers and web servers, such as passwords and credit card data, for example.

It's a bubble, but not as we know it

Thu, 04/24/2014 - 02:16
Multi-sensory technology that creates soap bubbles, which can have images projected onto them or when the bubbles are burst release a scent, is being unveiled at an international conference. The research could be used in areas such as gaming or education and encourage a new way of thinking about multi-sensory technologies.

Innovation improves drowsy driver detection

Wed, 04/23/2014 - 21:09
A new way to detect when drivers are about to nod off behind the wheel has been developed. "Video-based systems that use cameras to detect when a car is drifting out of its lane are cumbersome and expensive. They don't work well on snow-covered or curvy roads, in darkness or when lane markers are faded or missing. Our invention provides an inexpensive and user-friendly technology that overcomes these limitations and can help catch fatigue earlier, well before accidents are likely to happen," said a developer of the device.

Cyber buddy is better than 'no buddy'

Wed, 04/23/2014 - 19:10
A researcher is looking to give exercise enthusiasts the extra nudge they need during a workout, and her latest research shows that a cyber buddy can help. The study is the first to indicate that although a human partner is still a better motivator during exercise, a software-generated partner also can be effective.

Superconducting qubit array points the way to quantum computers

Wed, 04/23/2014 - 19:10
A fully functional quantum computer is one of the holy grails of physics. Physicists have moved one step closer to making a quantum computer a reality by demonstrating a new level of reliability in a five-qubit array. Quantum computing is anything but simple. It relies on aspects of quantum mechanics such as superposition. This notion holds that any physical object, such as an atom or electron -- what quantum computers use to store information -- can exist in all of its theoretical states simultaneously. This could take parallel computing to new heights.

Mapping the road to quantum gravity

Wed, 04/23/2014 - 19:09
The road uniting quantum field theory and general relativity -- the two great theories of modern physics -- has been impassable for 80 years. Could a tool from condensed matter physics finally help map the way?

Airport security-style technology could help doctors decide on stroke treatment

Wed, 04/23/2014 - 15:15
A new computer program could help doctors predict which patients might suffer potentially fatal side-effects from a key stroke treatment. The program assesses brain scans using pattern recognition software similar to that used in airport security and passport control. Currently, stroke affects over 15 million people each year worldwide. Ischemic strokes are the most common and these occur when small clots interrupt the blood supply to the brain.

Male-biased tweeting: Gender differences in the use of Twitter

Wed, 04/23/2014 - 14:27
Today women take an active part in public life. Without a doubt, they also converse with other women. In fact, they even talk to each other about other things besides men. As banal as it sounds, this is far from being the norm in Hollywood movies. The same goes for Twitter, as a new study shows.

Bioinformatics profiling identifies a new mammalian clock gene

Tue, 04/22/2014 - 18:20
Over 15 mammalian clock proteins have been identified, but researchers surmise there are more. Could big data approaches help find them? To accelerate clock-gene discovery, investigators used a computer-assisted approach to identify and rank candidate clock components, which they liken to online Netflix-like profiling of movie suggestions for customers. This approach found a new core clock gene, which the team named CHRONO.

Checking up on crude oil in the ground: Nanoreporters tell 'sour' oil from 'sweet'

Tue, 04/22/2014 - 17:46
Scientists have created a nanoscale detector that checks for and reports on the presence and concentration of hydrogen sulfide in crude oil and natural gas while they're still in the ground.

Impact of Facebook unfriending analyzed by researchers

Tue, 04/22/2014 - 17:09
Two studies are shedding new light on the most common type of 'friend' to be unfriended on Facebook and their emotional responses to it. The studies show that the most likely person to be unfriended is a high school acquaintance. Both studies were based on a survey of 1,077 people conducted on Twitter.

Applying math to biology: Software identifies disease-causing mutations in undiagnosed illnesses

Tue, 04/22/2014 - 16:12
A computational tool has successfully identified diseases with unknown gene mutations in three separate cases. Sequencing the genomes of individuals or small families often produces false predictions of mutations that cause diseases. But this study shows that a new unique approach allows it to identify disease-causing genes more precisely than other computational tools.

Online retailers have clear advantage by not collecting sales tax

Tue, 04/22/2014 - 16:09
Two independent studies use two very different approaches to reach the same conclusion: some online retailers really do have an advantage over traditional brick-and-mortar stores. The studies find evidence from investors, analysts and consumers themselves that suggest online stores have a competitive edge when they don't have to collect sales tax from shoppers.

Traditional Malaysian musical instrument modernized: 'Rebana Ubi' computer speaker

Tue, 04/22/2014 - 16:08
Researchers are modernizing the 'Rebana Ubi', a traditional Malaysian musical instrument by infusing it with a modern computer aided technology.

Speed-reading apps may impair reading comprehension by limiting ability to backtrack

Tue, 04/22/2014 - 15:34
To address the fact that many of us are on the go and pressed for time, app developers have devised speed-reading software that eliminates the time we supposedly waste by moving our eyes as we read. But don't throw away your books, papers, and e-readers just yet -- research suggests that the eye movements we make during reading actually play a critical role in our ability to understand what we've just read.

People pay more attention to upper half of field of vision, study shows

Tue, 04/22/2014 - 15:33
People pay more attention to the upper half of their field of vision, a study shows, a finding that could have ramifications for traffic signs to software interface design. "It doesn't mean people don't pay attention to the lower field of vision, but they were demonstrably better at paying attention to the upper field," the lead researcher says.

iPad users explore data with their fingers: Kinetica converts tabular data into touch-friendly format

Tue, 04/22/2014 - 14:01
Spreadsheets may have been the original killer app for personal computers, but data tables don't play to the strengths of multi-touch devices such as tablets. So researchers have developed a visualization approach that allows people to explore complex data with their fingers. Called Kinetica, the proof-of-concept system for the Apple iPad converts tabular data, such as Excel spreadsheets, into colored spheres that respond to touch.