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Sep 28

Reported by Catherine Crawley, NIMBioS, 23 September 2013.

Mongol horsemen. Intense warfare is the evolutionary driver of large complex societies, according to a new mathematical model whose findings accurately match those of the historical record in the ancient world.

The question of how human societies evolve from small groups to the huge, anonymous and complex societies of today has been answered mathematically, accurately matching the historical record on the emergence of complex states in the ancient world.

Intense warfare is the evolutionary driver of large complex societies, according to new research from a trans-disciplinary team at the University of Connecticut, the University of Exeter in England, and the National Institute for Mathematical and Biological Synthesis (NIMBioS). The study appears this week as an open-access article in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

The study’s cultural evolutionary model predicts where and when the largest-scale complex societies arose in human history. Continue reading »

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Sep 27

Reported by Sandrine Ceurstemont, New Scientist TV editor.

How do we know we live in three dimensions? In this One Minute Physics episode, animator Henry Reich explores the concept of multiple dimensions and shows one way to test that we live in a 3D world.

The video is part of a series of animations that explains a physics concept in just 1 minute. You can watch the last episode on the sound of hydrogen here.

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Sep 26

Reported by Tom Abate, in Stanford News, 26 September 2013.

Unprecedented feat points toward a new generation of energy-efficient electronics!

This wafer contains tiny computers using carbon nanotubes, a material that could lead to smaller, more energy-efficient processors (by Norbert von der Groeben).

A team of Stanford engineers has built a basic computer using carbon nanotubes, a semiconductor material that has the potential to launch a new generation of electronic devices that run faster, while using less energy, than those made from silicon chips.

This unprecedented feat culminates years of efforts by scientists around the world to harness this promising but quirky material.

The achievement is reported today in an article on the cover of the  journal Nature written by Max Shulaker and other doctoral students in electrical engineering. The research was led by Stanford professors Subhasish Mitra and H.-S. Philip Wong. Continue reading »

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Sep 25

Reported by Wiebe van der Veen, University of Twente, 20 September 2013.

Extreme engineering on the smallest scales.

A copper-phthalocyanine molecule bridges the 1.6 nanometre-wide gap between two gold nanowires. The copper atom of this molecule floats in the vacuum above this 'gap' between the wires

He isn’t just occupied crafting ultra-thin gold and iridium wires: Tijs Mocking, researcher at the University of Twente’s MESA+ Institute for Nanotechnology, manages to bridge the ‘gap’ between two gold nanowires, each just a few atoms high, with a single molecule. This bridge can serve to detect new physical effects or may act as a switch. Tijs Mocking obtained his PhD degree on 19 September.

Place a layer of gold only a few atoms high on a surface bed of germanium, apply heat to it, and wires will form of themselves. Gold-induced wires is what Mocking prefers to call them. Not ‘gold wires’, as the wires are not made solely out of gold atoms but also contain germanium. They are no more than a few atoms in height and are separated by no more than 1.6 nanometres (a nanometre is one millionth of a millimetre). Nanotechnologists bridge this small ‘gap’ with a copper-phthalocyanine molecule. A perfect fit. Continue reading »

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Sep 23

Reported by Allison P. Davis in Wired Science, September 2013.

rop styling: Laurie Raab | Justin Fantl

IBM’s AI-like computer systems aren’t limited to Watson, the Jeopardy-winning supercomputer that schooled Ken Jennings on national television. In fact, IBM researchers foresee a not-so-distant future when algorithms will be a replacement for inefficient customer service models, a diagnostic tool for doctors, and believe it or not, chefs.

Researcher Lav Varshney has already built an algorithm that creates recipes from parameters like cuisine type, dietary restrictions, and course. The system determines optimal mixtures based on three things: tens of thousands of recipes taken from sources like the Institute of Culinary Education or the Internet, a database of hedonic psychophysics (what humans like to eat), and food chemistry. Right now, the result is like a pre–Julia Child cookbook, providing chefs, who already know cooking basics, with suggestions for billions of ingredient combinations but no instructions. Continue reading »

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Sep 22

Reported by Tom Abate in Stanford News Report, 16 September 2013.

An interdisciplinary team has created a “microbial battery” driven by naturally occurring bacteria that have evolved to produce electricity as they digest organic material.

The tubular growth depicted here is a type of microbe that can produce electricity. Its wire-like tendrils are attached to a carbon filament. This image is taken with a scanning electron microscope. More than 100 of these 'exoelectrogenic microbes' could fit side by side in a human hair. Credit: Xing Xie, Stanford Engineering.

Engineers at Stanford have devised a new way to generate electricity from sewage, using naturally occurring “wired microbes” as mini power plants, producing electricity as they digest plant and animal waste.

In a paper published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, co-authors Yi Cui, a materials scientist, Craig Criddle, an environmental engineer, and Xing Xie, an interdisciplinary researcher, call their invention a microbial battery.

They hope it will be used in places such as sewage treatment plants, or to break down organic pollutants in the “dead zones” of lakes and coastal waters where fertilizer runoff and other organic waste can deplete oxygen levels and suffocate marine life. Continue reading »

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Sep 21

Back in business… Enjoy!

Theoretical physicists John Preskill and Spiros Michalakis describe how things are different in the Quantum World and how that can lead to powerful Quantum Computers.

Credit: Jorge Cham, creator of Piled Higher and Deeper, in partnership with the Institute for Quantum Information and Matter; John Preskill and Spiros Michalakis

Quantum Computers Animated has been posted to the NSF multimedia resource web page. Watch it or read Jorge Cham’s comments about the animation on Quantum Frontiers, the IQIM blog.

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