February 2006 archive

Feb 27 2006

Priming the Brain for Memory Formation

A recent study carried out by researchers from the University College London in the United Kingdom has concluded that the brain is more successful at storing memories when it has been “primed” in advance to consider the meaning of what is to be stored. Neuroscientists already knew that neural activity during and immediately after an …

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Feb 24 2006

Synchronized Neurons Focus Attention

According to a study published recently in Nature, neurons firing synchronously help to focus the brain’s attention on certain tasks and lead to quicker response times. When neurons fire independently their electrical output is nothing but noise, and no coherent signal is discernible in the static. When even a few neurons fire synchronously, their individual …

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Feb 23 2006

NASA’s Evolutionary ST5 Antenna

ST5 Satellite Antenna

BoingBoing.com is reporting that NASA will make history next month when it launches three Space Technology (ST5) satellites into orbit on board a Pegasus XL rocket. It is not the launch itself that is noteworthy, but rather a relatively small, but very important component of the satellites: their antennas. Not much bigger than a quarter …

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Feb 22 2006

The Trouble with the Turing Test

Alan Turing, the father of modern computer science, was a British mathematician, logician, and cryptographer. In 1950 he published a 28-page paper in the British quarterly Mind called “Computing Machinery and Intelligence.” The paper is better known by most as “Can Machines Think?”, the title it was given when in 1956 it was republished in …

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Feb 17 2006

Tough Decision? Sleep on it.

Girl sleeping.

According to NewScientist.com, a recent study has concluded that the conscious mind is fine for making simple decisions, but for complex, important choices you are best off to “sleep on it” and let your unconscious mind mull it over and make the decision for you. Over thinking a critical decision with many factors often yields …

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Feb 15 2006

Stanley’s Successor to Drive from SF to LA

Stanley the Stanford University Volkswagen

Fresh off their 1st place finish at Darpa’s Grand Challenge 2005 and not content to rest on their laurels, the robotics experts from Stanford University have announced their next goal is to develop an autonomous vehicle capable of driving from San Francisco City Hall to downtown Los Angeles, at highway speeds no less! Gizmodo.com has …

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Feb 14 2006

Video of Ugobe’s Pleo at DEMO

Ugobe Pleo demo

A little over a week ago at the DEMO 2006 conference Ugobe announced their first designer life form, Pleo, a robot modeled after a one week old Camarasaurus. Pleo is the first offering from the new California-based robotics company co-founded by Furby designer Caleb Chung. In the weeks prior to the announcement, several tech blogs …

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Feb 13 2006

Backwards Instant Replay Helps Rats Learn

Rat

Neuroscientists from the Picower Institute for Learning and Memory at MIT have discovered that after completing a task, a rat’s brain will mentally replay recent events, but in reverse order. They believe this process plays a key role in learning and memory and may explain why taking frequent breaks when studying is more effective for …

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Feb 10 2006

Robotis RX, South Korea’s Running Robot

Robotis RX

The Korea Times is reporting that on Thursday South Korean robot manufacturer Robotis unveiled the RX, a robot capable of running at almost 0.5 mph. Developed in conjunction with Samsung Electronics and Korea’s Ministry of Information and Communication, the RX stands 2 feet tall. Like the Robotis’s Bioloid kit, the RX is made up of modular …

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Feb 08 2006

That Movement’s All in Your Brain

Lifting an arm, picking up your foot, wiggling your fingers – most of us can do these things without giving them a second thought. Once your brain has set the movement in motion how do you know (without looking) that the appendage responded appropriately? It turns out that you can’t really tell. NewScientist.com is reporting …

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