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Updated: 6 min 23 sec ago

Building shape inspires new material discovery

Tue, 03/24/2015 - 14:14
Physicists inspired by the radical shape of a Canberra building have created a new type of material which enables scientists to put a perfect bend in light. The creation of a so-called topological insulator could transform the telecommunications industry's drive to build an improved computer chip using light.

Artificial hand able to respond sensitively thanks to muscles made from smart metal wires

Tue, 03/24/2015 - 12:47
Engineers have taken a leaf out of nature's book by equipping an artificial hand with muscles made from shape-memory wire. The new technology enables the fabrication of flexible and lightweight robot hands for industrial applications and novel prosthetic devices. The muscle fibers are composed of bundles of ultrafine nickel-titanium alloy wires that are able to tense and flex. The material itself has sensory properties allowing the artificial hand to perform extremely precise movements.

Supercomputers give universities a competitive edge

Mon, 03/23/2015 - 22:29
Researchers have long believed that supercomputers give universities a competitive edge in scientific research, but now they have some hard data showing it's true. Scientists have found that universities with locally available supercomputers were more efficient in producing research in critical fields than universities that lacked supercomputers.

Computer programming: System automatically finds common type of programming bug

Mon, 03/23/2015 - 22:25
Integer overflows are one of the most common bugs in computer programs -- not only causing programs to crash but, even worse, potentially offering points of attack for malicious hackers. Computer scientists have devised a battery of techniques to identify them, but all have drawbacks.

Snake robots learn to turn by following the lead of real sidewinders

Mon, 03/23/2015 - 20:22
Researchers who develop snake-like robots have picked up a few tricks from real sidewinder rattlesnakes on how to make rapid and even sharp turns with their undulating, modular device. Working with colleagues at the Georgia Institute of Technology and Zoo Atlanta, they have analyzed the motions of sidewinders and tested their observations on CMU's snake robots.

Quantum correlation can imply causation

Mon, 03/23/2015 - 19:06
Contrary to the statistician's slogan, in the quantum world, certain kinds of correlations do imply causation. New research shows that in quantum mechanics, certain kinds of observations will let you distinguish whether there is a common cause or a cause-effect relation between two variables. The same is not true in classical physics.

Mathematicians solve 60-year old-problem

Mon, 03/23/2015 - 19:06
A 60-year old maths problem first put forward by Nobel laureate Enrico Fermi has finally been solved. In 1955, a team of physicists, computer scientists and mathematicians led by Fermi used a computer for the first time to try and solve a numerical experiment. The outcome of the experiment wasn't what they were expecting, and the complexity of the problem underpinned the then new field of non-linear physics and paved the way for six decades of new thinking. Chaos theory, popularly referred to as the butterfly effect, is just one of the theories developed to try and solve the 'Fermi-Pasta-Ulam' problem.

Implementing decision aids affects care decisions in urology

Mon, 03/23/2015 - 17:28
After clinicians implemented video-based decision aids for men with two common prostate conditions, rates of elective surgery for benign prostatic hyperplasia and rates of active treatment for localized prostate cancer declined over six months, a study reports. But the total cost of health care for those patients did not fall significantly.

Knowledge of location sharing by apps prompts privacy action

Mon, 03/23/2015 - 17:28
Many smartphone users know that free apps sometimes share private information with third parties, but few, if any, are aware of how frequently this occurs. An experiment shows that when people learn exactly how many times these apps share that information they rapidly act to limit further sharing.

Method to simplify pictures makes chemistry calculations a snap

Mon, 03/23/2015 - 17:22
A method smartphones use to simplify images when storage space is limited could help answer tough chemistry problems. Researchers now apply this technique, called compressed, or compressive sensing, to quickly and efficiently address central questions, like predicting how molecules vibrate. As these predictions get better and faster, researchers could get closer to the ideal of a 'virtual laboratory,' which could address many issues without ever lifting a pipet.

Simple tasks help protect your credit

Mon, 03/23/2015 - 17:08
With mega data breaches coming from entities such as retail stores, insurance providers and restaurant chains, someone could more easily gain access to personal financial information that consumers have legitimately shared with companies. A family resource management specialist explains steps consumers can take to be proactive and protect their financial well-being.

A graphene solution for microwave interference

Mon, 03/23/2015 - 11:58
Microwave communication is ubiquitous in the modern world, with electromagnetic waves in the tens of gigahertz range providing efficient transmission with wide bandwidth for data links between Earth-orbiting satellites and ground stations. Such ultra-high frequency wireless communication is now so common, with a resultant crowding of the spectral bands allocated to different communications channels, that interference and electromagnetic compatibility (EMC) are serious concerns.

Utilization of smartwatches in situations requiring alerts

Mon, 03/23/2015 - 11:57
Scientists have developed various kinds of software for smartwatches that utilize speech recognition in social communication and show smart traffic data on the watch display. Now, you no longer need to take a peek around a bend in the rails to see whether the train is approaching yet; you can simply have a quick look at your watch. You can also inform others of a hold-up in traffic simply by dictating a speech message on your watch that is then forwarded as text to the smart devices of other people nearby.

Genetics of altruism: Is blood really thicker than water?

Mon, 03/23/2015 - 11:52
The outcome of a duel between mathematical models supports the reigning theory of the genetics of altruism. Called inclusive fitness, it says altruism is competitive if it benefits relatives carrying the same gene as the selfless individual.

Levee detonations reduced 2011 flood risk on Mississippi River, study finds

Fri, 03/20/2015 - 19:56
A controversial decision in 2011 to blow up Mississippi River levees reduced the risk of flooding in a city upstream, lowering the height of the rain-swollen river just before it reached its peak, according to a newly published computer modeling analysis.

New approach uses 'twisted light' to increase efficiency of quantum cryptography systems

Fri, 03/20/2015 - 17:31
Researchers have developed a way to transfer 2.05 bits per photon by using 'twisted light.' This remarkable achievement is possible because the researchers used the orbital angular momentum of the photons to encode information, rather than the more commonly used polarization of light. The new approach doubles the 1 bit per photon that is possible with current systems that rely on light polarization and could help increase the efficiency of quantum cryptography systems.

Welding system of the future is self-learning

Fri, 03/20/2015 - 13:13
Scientists are developing an entirely new kind of welding system, one which solves quality and productivity problems related to automated and mechanized welding. The system is self-adjusting, flexible and adaptable, such that it can be integrated as part of different robotic systems and different manufacturers' power supplies.

Superfast computers a step closer as a silicon chip's quantum capabilities are improved

Fri, 03/20/2015 - 13:13
Research has demonstrated laser control of quantum states in an ordinary silicon wafer and observation of these states via a conventional electrical measurement. 

An 'octopus' robot with eight limbs developed to clear rubble in Fukushima, Japan

Thu, 03/19/2015 - 23:31
Researchers in Japan have jointly developed a robot with four arms and four crawlers which can perform multiple tasks simultaneously to help clean up the rubble left after the 2011 quake-tsunami disasters in Minamisoma, Fukushima.

Intelligent computers solving the trust equation in difficult negotiations

Thu, 03/19/2015 - 23:31
Socially intelligent computers can turn difficult online negotiations into win?win situations through tactical information disclosure.