Superorganism - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

A superorganism is an organism consisting of many organisms. [...] The technical definition of a superorganism is "a collection of agents which can act in concert to produce phenomena governed by the collective,"[1] phenomena being any activity "the hive wants" such as ants collecting food or bees choosing a new nest site.

Robots Mimic Ant Colony Behavior | TechNewsDaily.com

Robot swarms can mimic how ant colonies navigate complex mazes relatively mindlessly, researchers have found ― knowledge that could help to improve designs for manmade transportation networks.

Scientists are fascinated by ant colonies because they can form collectives called "superorganisms" that function as single organisms do. Investigation into how ants behave has revealed more about how such group behavior arises, and some researchers are using that knowledge to help build smarter robot swarms, said Simon Garnier, a scientist who studies animal behavior at the New Jersey Institute of Technology.


A Biological Transistor

Biological transistor enables computing within living cells | Engineering

A team of Stanford University bioengineers has taken computing beyond mechanics and electronics into the living realm of biology. They have developed a biological transistor made from genetic material — DNA and RNA. The team calls its invention the “transcriptor.”

Scientists create transistor-like biological device | Science | The Guardian

The biological device behaves like a transistor, one of the tiny switches that are etched on to microchips in the billions to perform computer calculations.

The researchers demonstrated the device inside E coli bacteria, one of the most common bugs used in genetic engineering. The work marks one of the latest advances in the growing field of synthetic biology, which recasts biology as a toolset for engineers.

Beyond The 'Uncanny Valley'

Activision R&D Real-time Character Demo - YouTube

This animated character is being rendered in real-time on current video card hardware, using standard bone animation. ...

Is It Real? With New Technology Has Activision Crossed The 'Uncanny Valley?' : The Two-Way : NPR

Mashable asks the pertinent, philosophical question: Does this next-generation animation cross the so-called "uncanny valley?"

The term was coined in 1970 by the Japanese roboticist Masahiro Mori. He said humans can relate to robots — think R2-D2 — but once they get too humanlike, but not close enough — think the animated Angelina Jolie in Beowulf — they feel disgust. That disgust — that "uncanny valley" — subsides at the other side: when the robot is indistinguishable from reality.

So, have we crossed that valley with this animation?

Jorge Jimenez – Next Generation Life

We believe this technology brings current generation characters, into next generation life. At 180 fps in a Geforce GTX 680.
The team behind this technology consists on Javier Von Der Pahlen (Director of R&D), Etienne Danvoye (Technical Director), Bernardo Antoniazzi (Techical Art Director), Zbyněk Kysela (Modeler and Texture Artist), Mike Eheler (Programming & Support) and me (Real-Time Graphics R&D).
You have a teaser of the slides here:


Mini-Supernova Discovered

New Type of Star Explosion Discovered | Type Iax Supernovas | Space.com

Astronomers have discovered a new kind of supernova, a star explosion so weak that scientists dubbed it a miniature stellar blast.

Supernovas represent the deaths of stars, which collapse in powerful explosions. They generally are classified into two main types; the new class, called Type Iax, "is essentially a mini-supernova," said lead researcher Ryan Foley, an astronomer at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics. "It's the runt of the supernova litter."

This artist's conception shows the suspected progenitor of a new kind of mini supernova called Type Iax. Material from a hot, blue helium star at right is funneling toward a carbon/oxygen white dwarf star at left, which is embedded in an accretion disk. In many cases the white dwarf survives the subsequent explosion. Image released March 26, 2013. CREDIT: Christine Pulliam (CfA)


Heart repair without surgery

Heart repair breakthroughs replace surgeon's knife - Yahoo! News

Heart care is in the midst of a transformation. Many problems that once required sawing through the breastbone and opening up the chest for open heart surgery now can be treated with a nip, twist or patch through a tube.


All rely on catheters — hollow tubes that let doctors burn away and reshape heart tissue or correct defects through small holes in blood vessels.

"This is the replacement for the surgeon's knife. Instead of opening the chest, we're able to put catheters in through the leg, sometimes through the arm," said Dr. Spencer King of St. Joseph's Heart and Vascular Institute in Atlanta. He is former president of the American College of Cardiology. Its conference earlier this month featured research on these novel devices.


Lab-Made Body Parts

Science Fiction Comes Alive as Researchers Grow Organs in Lab - WSJ.com

Building a complex human organ in the lab is no longer a dream of science fiction. At London's Royal Free Hospital, a team of 30 scientists is manufacturing a variety of body parts, including windpipes, noses and ears. WSJ's Gautam Naik reports.  Photo: Gareth Phillips


The problem had been cracked by Dr. Taylor. She said that when human stem cells were put into a heart scaffold in 2010, they seemed to know just where to go. "They organized themselves in a way I didn't believe," said Dr. Taylor, who now works at the Texas Heart Institute but makes regular visits to Madrid to help with the experiments. "It's amazing that the [scaffold] can be as instructional as it is. Maybe we don't need to micromanage every aspect of this."
A person's heart grows in the womb where its cells receive the right mixtures of oxygen and nutrients and chemicals to grow into a working organ. To duplicate that process in a laboratory, scientists uses a device called a bioreactor, which has various tubes ferrying materials to the heart and whisking away waste products. The lab's bioreactor—a cylindrical device nearly a foot in diameter—is being designed by Harvard Bioscience Inc., HBIO +3.61% a maker of medical devices in Holliston, Mass. The machine will be ready for experiments in April, according to Dr. Aviles.

Dr. Aviles said he hopes to have a working, lab-made version ready in five or six years, but the regulatory and safety hurdles for putting such an organ in a patient will be high. The most realistic scenario, he said, is that "in about 10 years" his lab will be transplanting heart parts.

He and his team already have grown early-stage valves and patches that could be used some day to repair tissue damaged by heart attack.


IBM's liquid-based transistors point to human brain-like chips

IBM's Newest Invention Mimics the Human Brain on an Atomic Level - Adam Clark Estes - The Atlantic Wire

IBM scientists described a new kind of circuit in a paper published in Science on Thursday. There is no chip involve, per se. It's being described accurately as a "post-silicon transistor" and potentially paves the way for the most powerful and efficient computers the world has ever seen. This is possible largely because it mimics the behavior of another hyper-efficient computational marvel: the human brain.

IBM creates liquid-based transistors that can process data like the human brain | VentureBeat

The new technology is based on materials called “correlated electron oxides,” which can be combined with an ionic liquid, or a mixture where half of the molecules carry a positive charge and half are negative. When you apply a tiny ionic voltage to the liquid, the charged particles move to opposite sides of the surface of the oxide material. The charge leaves the oxide and goes into the liquid, changing its conductive state from an insulator to a metal, or from something that does not conduct electricity to something that does.

And it maintains its electrical state until another charge is applied. That part of the research is new and is particularly encouraging. IBM believes it can create non-volatile memory, or chips that save data whether electricity is on or off. It can also make logic chips that would use less power than today’s silicon-based semiconductor chips, which are the brains of everything electronic.

IBM News room - 2013-03-01 Made in IBM Labs: Scientists Discover New Atomic Technique to Charge Memory Chips - United States

The I.B.M. researchers hope that their approach could be used to build more brain-like computers.

The advantage of the new method is that it is both nonvolatile — it requires only a small amount of electricity to change the materials from one state to another, and they then remain in that state — and is potentially reversible, meaning that it could be used to build a device like a transistor.

The researchers noted that while the switching speed of the new materials might never match the raw speed of today’s transistors, their biological-like qualities might make them appropriate for building a new generation of sensors or memories.


Abu Dhabi's Shams 1: World's largest concentrated solar power plant

Massive Solar Power Plant Opens In Abu Dhabi | Popular Science

The 100-megawatt plant, called Shams 1, is a first step in a plan to make seven percent of Abu Dhabi's energy resources renewable, Sultan Ahmed Al Jaber, head of the Abu Dhabi Future Energy Company, said during a news conference. Abu Dhabi is part of the United Arab Emirates, which are famed for their oil wealth. The emirates rank 13th in the world for per capita GDP, a standing driven mostly by their oil exports.

The new plant includes a huge field of parabolic mirrors located in the desert about 74 miles (120 kilometers) south of Abu Dhabi. Shams 1 will serve 20,000 homes and cost an estimated $600 million to build, the BBC reported. Similar Shams 2 and Shams 3 plants are in the works, Clean Technica reported.

Worlds Largest Solar Plant Goes Online | Solar Energy | LiveScience

The Shams 1 plant is just one of several ambitious solar projects in the Middle East: Noor-1, a 100-megawatt solar photovoltaic facility planned for the UAE, is expected to begin development later this year, the National reports.

And Saudi Arabia plans to generate 100 percent of its energy needs from renewable sources by 2032, according to SustainableBusiness.com, while Qatar's renewable energy target is 1.8 gigawatts by 2014.

Shams 1 Corporate Video

Source: www.masdar.ae


Earthquake Gold

Do Earthquakes Deposit Gold? New Study Shows That Fault Lines May Be Linked To The Precious Metal

Water in faults vaporizes during an earthquake, depositing gold, according to a model published in the March 17 issue of the journal Nature Geoscience. The model provides a quantitative mechanism for the link between gold and quartz seen in many of the world's gold deposits, said Dion Weatherley, a geophysicist at the University of Queensland in Australia and lead author of the study.

Gold Forms During Earthquakes | Earth | LiveScience

When an earthquake strikes, it moves along a rupture in the ground — a fracture called a fault. Big faults can have many small fractures along their length, connected by jogs that appear as rectangular voids. Water often lubricates faults, filling in fractures and jogs.

About 6 miles (10 kilometers) below the surface, under incredible temperatures and pressures, the water carries high concentrations of carbon dioxide, silica and economically attractive elements like gold.


Brainless Robots Swarming Behaviour

Study: brainless robots swarm just like animals (Wired UK)

Swarming patterns and herding behaviours have been observed throughout the animal kingdom. Scientists and mathematicians have pondered the cause of complex relationships and group dynamics at work that allow schools of fish, such as herring, and flocks of birds, such as starlings, to move together in apparent unity -- and now, in an interesting twist to the discussion, a team of engineers from Harvard University has observed apparent collective behaviour in brainless robots.