Some 600 kilometres above the Earth, Nasa satellites are watching you. They're not actually interested inyou or anything you do, of course -- they're just making measurements of environmental variables like temperature or cloud cover. While most people equate space agencies like Nasa or the ESA with the exploration of extraterrestrial destinations, a critical part of their mission is to study our own planet from the unique orbital point of view. The advantages are obvious: rapid coverage of large areas using the same instrument and continuous data collection. But there are challenges, too.
<img title="Adam" src="/images_blogs/wiredscience/images/2009/04/02/adam.jpg" border="0" alt="Adam" width="660" height="601" /> For the first time, a robotic system has made a novel scientific discovery with virtually no human intellectual input. Scientists designed “Adam” to carry out the entire scientific process on its own: formulating hypotheses, designing and running experiments, analyzing data, and deciding which experiments to run next. “It’s a major advance,” says David Waltz of the Center for Computational Learning Systems at Columbia University. “Science is being done here in a way that incorporates artificial intelligence.
If machines are capable of doing almost any work humans can do, what will humans do? The question of what happens when machines get to be as intelligent as and even more intelligent than people seems to occupy many science-fiction writers. The Terminator movie trilogy, for example, featured Skynet, a self-aware artificial intelligence that served as the trilogy's main villain, battling humanity through its Terminator cyborgs. Among technologists, it is mostly "Singularitarians" who think about the day when machine will surpass humans in intelligence.
By Alice Smellie PUBLISHED: 21:00 GMT, 6 October 2012 | UPDATED: 10:49 GMT, 7 October 2012 It is an extraordinary sight. From the waist up, 27-year-old Sophie Morgan is every inch the pretty blonde girl-next-door. But from the waist down, with her legs encased in £90,000 of motorised carbon-fibre, she is RoboCop.
But the scientists also say the new material could also allow a new generation of super-thin hand-held devices like mobile phones that can be powered by sunlight. Professor Kostya Novoselov, one of the Nobel Laureates who discovered graphene, a type of carbon that forms sheets just one atom thick, said: “We have been trying to go beyond graphene by combining it with other one atom thick materials. “What we have been doing is putting different layers of these materials one on top of the other and what you get is a new type of material with a unique set of properties.
Singapore now has its first commercial vertical farm, which means more local options for vegetables. The technique uses aluminium towers that are as tall as nine metres, and vegetables are grown in troughs at multiple levels. The technique utilises space better -- an advantage for land-scarce Singapore. Sky Greens farm first started working on the prototype in 2009, and has opened a 3.65-hectare farm in Lim Chu Kang. It produces three types of vegetables which are currently available only at FairPrice Finest supermarkets. They cost 10 to 20 cents more than vegetables from other sources.
A new report funded by WWF-UK and Greenpeace takes a look at the future of the UK economy through 2030 under two scenarios, more offshore wind power or more natural gas and little growth in wind power. Wind power comes out ahead, by a nose, Renewable Energy World reports. Assuming that there is steady growth in offshore wind power through 2030, the report finds that UK GDP is 0.8% higher than in the scenario where there is no new offshore wind power after 2020 and significantly more natural gas is used than now for electricity generation. That comes out to an increase in GDP of £20 billion ($32 billion) by 2030. The offshore wind power growth scenario also shows that the nation would save £8 billion ($13 billion) each year on natural gas imports through 2030. The wind power scenario also results in a two-thirds lower carbon emissions, compared to the natural gas scenario.
The British economy would be £20bn-a-year better off by 2030 if it favoured offshore wind over gas-fired generation as the driver of an essential overhaul of the country’s energy infrastructure over the next two decades to replace aging power plants and keep the lights on, according to Cambridge Econometrics, the think tank. Paul Ekins, professor of resources and environmental policy at University College London (UCL) said: “Much of the debate around the choice between gas-fired and offshore wind electricity generation in the years post-2020 assumes wind is more expensive. This study represents powerful evidence to the contrary.” The report calculates that, as well as increasing Britain’s gross domestic product by 0.8 per cent by 2030, carbon emissions from the UK’s power sector would be two-thirds lower under the wind-based scenario, bringing country’s overall carbon footprint down by 13 per cent.
Two London-based designers have come up with a simple and sustainable solution to lighting remote areas -- a cheap lamp powered by gravity and sand. The GravityLight aims to reduce reliance on kerosene in the developing world in areas without electricity by offering a money-saving alternative. The target cost is less than $5 (around £3). "We wanted to make a device that could provide power for light, as and when it was required, with no limit to the run time in any given night, at a price that will be affordable," designer Jim Reeves told Co.Design . "It's the affordable part that has been the challenge." GravityLight is charged by attaching a bag filled with around 9kg of material -- sand, earth or rocks would all work -- to the device, which gradually descends, generating around 30 minutes-worth of light.
Asphalt roads and car parks would be torn up and replaced with glass solar cell panels capable of generating enough power to support local communities, under the scheme. A US firm is currently working on a prototype panel that could be embedded into existing roads, having won a $100,000 grant from the US Department of Transportation. The panels would also be covered with a mosaic of small lights, which could be illuminated to provide road markings and warning messages to drivers. They could also be embedded with heaters to keep the road clear by melting snow and ice.
SHAREConference / CC BY-SA 2.0 Whenever we talk about pushing for 100% renewables , naysayers start arguing that we can never run our current economy without energy intensive fossil fuels. But they forget one simple thing: We don't have to. In a world where you can address a conference from your own bedroom, or order your groceries or even publish a book without ever getting dressed, the old way of doing things just seems, well, increasingly old.
It's that time of the year again when techno pundits are once again breathlessly telling us all about the technology and innovation trends that will be big in 2013. That's great, but many of those predictions will be hopelessly wrong by the end of March. That's why it's so fascinating that Ray Kurzweil, one of the leading thinkers when it comes to the future of technology, has had such a strong track record in making predictions about technology for nearly two decades. In fact, of the 147 predictions that Kurzweil has made since the 1990's, fully 115 of them have turned out to be correct, and another 12 have turned out to be "essentially correct" (off by a year or two), giving his predictions a stunning 86% accuracy rate. So how does he do it? The fact is, Ray has a system and this system is called the Law of Accelerating Returns.
Bio Luke Muehlhauser Luke Muehlhauser has published dozens of articles on self-help, decision-making, and artificial intelligence, including peer-reviewed research on AI safety. He is currently the Executive Director of the Singularity Institute.
Sun, 08 Nov 2009 00:46:19 “ Priced and Unpriced Online Markets ” by Harvard Business School professor Benjamin Edelman. Discusses tradeoffs in market such as email, IP addresses, search and dial-up Internet. “Reminiscent of the old adage about losing money on every unit but making it up in volume, online markets challenge norms about who should pay, when, and why.” I found this typically academic: dated, dry and pretty unilluminating.
Desktop 3D printing has largely been the domain of extrusion-based machines like MakerBot's Replicator and homebrew RepRap designs. While this process's print size, speed and quality have improved over time, it still lags behind the capabilities of pricier, professional stereolithography devices, where UV light cures incredibly thin layers of resin to create objects on par with manufactured goods. Developing this type of printer at a consumer price point has thus far been an elusive goal, but a today trio of MIT grads with impressive backers announced a new machine, called the Form 1, that can potentially bring professional-grade 3D prints to the home workshop. Formlabs , the group's company, comprises David Cranor, an electrical engineer with a passion for digital media; Maxim Lobovsky, an engineer and former project lead on the Fab@Home project; and Natan Linder, who previously co-founded an R&D centre for Samsung in Israel.