Rice University Blindsight Study

The Human Eye

LiveScience.com has a summary of a study published this week in the online edition of Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences that provides additional evidence of the phenomenon known as blindsight, residual visual sensitivity experienced in the brain even when one is blind or otherwise unable to see. While the results of the study seem to conclusively support the existence of the phenomenon, they also exacerbate the fact that there is still relatively little known about the mechanisms of human consciousness, or in this case, unconsciousness.

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How to Survive a Robot Uprising

How To Survive a Robot Uprising Book Cover How To Survive a Robot Uprising
Daniel H. Wilson
Bloomsbury USA
November 1, 2005


There’s a discussion on Slashdot today regarding this article by the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette about a new book by first-time author and full time roboticist, Daniel H. Wilson, entitled “How to Survive a Robot Uprising: Tips on Defending Yourself Against the Coming Rebellion.” Clearly meant to be humorous, the 178-page book by Wilson, who just this year earned a Ph.D. in robotics from Carnegie Mellon, has made him an outcast of sorts from his fellow researchers. While other roboticists may be wary, Hollywood seems to get his tongue-in-cheek approach to the impending robot rebellion as Paramount has already purchased the movie rights and hired Ben Garant and Thomas Lennon, the brains behind one of my favorite shows, “Reno 911!,” to write the screenplay.

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Linux Kernel 2.6.14 Released

Tux the Linux Penguin Mascot

After some delays forced by last minute bug reports, kernel 2.6.14 has been released. Linus Torvalds said in September when he first froze the code for 2.6.14 that there were changes “all over the place,” and that is definitely the case. LinuxDevices.com has a good summary, and the announcement from Linus himself is available at Linux Weekly News.

Of course, if you need the source and patches you can find them at The Linux Kernel Archives.

Extra Brain Cells Jump Start Weight Loss

Big Mac

According to Nature.com, researchers have discovered that an injection of a drug used to promote the growth of new brain cells also has the effect of causing weight loss, as much as 15%, in laboratory mice. Scientists are hoping that they can harness this side-effect, which lasts for at least several weeks, to fight obesity in humans.

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Nanotech Pioneer Richard Smalley Dies

Richard SmalleyNobel prize winner Richard Smalley, co-discoverer of fullerene and one of the most prominent and well-respected nanotechnology researchers in the world, passed away today after a six year battle with cancer. He was 62 years old.

Dr. Smalley shared the 1996 Nobel Prize in Chemistry for the discovery of buckminsterfullerene with Robert Curl, another Rice University chemist, and British chemist Sir Harold Kroto. Named in honor of Richard Buckminster Fuller, fullerene is a molecule made up entirely of atoms of carbon that can be in the shape of a sphere, ellipsoid, or tube. The spherical molecules are often called buckyballs while the tubes are known as buckytubes. This discovery jump started the the field of nanotechnology and still remains one of the most influential discoveries in the discipline.

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UC Riverside’s Nano-Walker

UC Riverside 9,10-dithioanthracene Walker

Credit: L. Bartels

Only last week we learned about a nanoscale car developed by researchers at Rice University. Today BoingBoing points us to this news release from the University of California at Riverside about a molecule that scientists there have developed that can move in a straight line in a manner that mimics human walking. The research team, led by Ludwig Bartels, believe this discovery will help clear a significant hurdle towards the development of molecular memory that could be 1000 times more compact than that found in current storage devices.

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Korea’s Intelligent Service Robot Project

Roboking, LG Electronics' cleaning robot

Gizmodo’s got a brief summary today of an article in the Korea Herald that outlines the government of South Korea’s desire to have commercially available intelligent robots by next year. The “intelligent service robot” project as it is being called by the Ministry of Information and Communication states that intelligent robots for entertainment, education, home security and household chores will be available in 2007 at a price of less than 1 million won (approx $950 USD).

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Clay Nanotubes

CNET News.com published an article today about NaturalNano, a New York nanotech company that has taken the unique approach of using clay as a carrier in it’s nanotube applications. Halloysite is a naturally occurring clay mineral made up of primarily aluminum, silicon, oxygen, and hydrogen. Historically used for making porcelain, bone and fine china, researchers in the 50’s discovered it’s particles were tube shaped which is why NaturalNano is focusing on it as a relatively cheap yet effective alternative to synthetic, carbon nanotubes.

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Remote-Controlled Humans

Remote Controlled Human

AP Photo/Itsuo Inouye

AP Reporter Yuri Kageyama has written a summary published at LiveScience.com of the day she was “remote-controlled” while visiting a research center in Japan. Nippon Telegraph & Telephone Corp., a Japanese telephone company, has created a headset that delivers a low voltage electric current that can be controlled remotely and affects the balance and movement of the wearer. NTT is developing this technology to use in video games and amusement park rides, although Ms. Kageyama sees less benign applications for the system.

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Mac Mini Robot

Mac Mini Robot

source: kulturtechnik.twoday.net

Engadget.com has a brief post today about this Mac mini robot. The developer’s site, kulturtechnik.twoday.net, is in German, but the translated page does yield some details about the project including the fact that the robot’s vision is provided by, fittingly enough, an iSight mounted on the mini’s case and that it’s AI is based on the MicroPsi agent architecture. The battery power seems to be the most recent addition to the robot and the current focus of tweaking. All in all, this is definitely a project worth following.