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Privacy by the Numbers: A New Approach to Safeguarding Data

A mathematical technique called “differential privacy” gives researchers access to vast repositories of personal data while meeting a high standard for privacy protection In 1997, when Massachusetts began making health records of state employees available to medical researchers, the government removed patients’ names, addresses, and Social Security numbers. William Weld, then the governor, assured the … Continue reading

A Display That Makes Interactive 3-D Seem Mind-Bogglingly Real

The Z Space display could be revolutionary for designers and animators, but might also inspire innovation in computer gaming and augmented reality. Imagine being able to reach out and grab some of the 3-D objects you saw in the movie Avatar with your own hands. I recently tried a computer display that offers this sort … Continue reading

An ICU Monitor That Fits On Your Wrist

A new medical device wants to make patient vitals more portable and networked, but designing devices for the medical field is nothing like the consumer electronics sector. Anyone who’s been unfortunate enough to spend time in an ICU knows: It’s a horribly confining experience. Even for patients who are physically capable of walking around, they’re … Continue reading

The Key to Science (and Life) Is Being Wrong

A good scientist must be willing to be wrong.   In 1964, the occasionally enigmatic but always energetic physicist, Dr. Richard Feynman gave a lecture at Cornell University to a packed hall of eager, young scholars. Feynman’s demeanor was crisp and purposeful that day, a style reinforced by his sharp appearance. The professor’s hair was … Continue reading

Citizen Scientists Combine to Identify Effective Cancer Treatments

When Zooniverse, a citizen science site that hosts collaborative research projects, first looked to the skies in 2007 it was attempting to streamline the way we categorize galaxies by asking ordinary people to lend a hand. Just 14 months after launch they had 60 million classifications by hundreds of thousands of participants. The academic world … Continue reading


Social media has had a huge impact on protest movements around the world Crowdvoice, a site developed by Mideast Youth, is a platform that lets people curate social media content from across the web, creating a single place to go for updates on breaking protest news. The site arranges content on a scrolling page similar … Continue reading

Dreams of ‘Open’ Everything

Software is not merely about automating every aspect of our lives anymore. Some of its makers want to change the way we all interact, spreading their supposed egalitarian excellence. Whether this is liberation into a new and better mode of being (and yes, the people thinking about this take it to that scale) or the … Continue reading

Is Growth Over?

What do we know about the prospects for long-run prosperity? The great bulk of the economic commentary you read in the papers is focused on the short run: the effects of the “fiscal cliff” on U.S. recovery, the stresses on the euro, Japan’s latest attempt to break out of deflation. This focus is understandable, since … Continue reading

NASA's NEXT ion thruster clocks up continuous operation world record

<h5><a href="; rel="attachment wp-att-66453"><img class="aligncenter size-full wp-image-66453" alt="next-thruster-8" src="; width="530" height="297" /></a></h5> <h5>The seven-kilowatt thruster is intended to propel future NASA deep space probes on Learn more …

Smart Textbooks Tell Teachers if Students Have Done Their Homework

Now, technology is recommending that students return to their textbooks or their professors will find out. First, technology made students’ lives easier by enabling them to read wikis instead of their textbooks. Now, technology is recommending that students return to their textbooks or their professors will find out. CourseSmart, a digital course material publisher and … Continue reading