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Microsoft develops 3D touchscreen with tactile feedback

Details of a touchscreen showing 3D images that can be felt and manipulated have been published by Microsoft’s research unit. The project combines an LCD flat panel screen with force sensors and a robotic arm that moves it back and forwards. By controlling how much resistance there is to a user’s fingertip the firm says … Continue reading

Soft Exosuit

Lightweight suit to increase the wearer’s strength and endurance For decades engineers have built exoskeletons that use rigid links in parallel with the biological anatomy to increase the wearer’s strength and endurance, and to protect them from injury and physical stress. In recent years, a number of systems have been developed that show strong commercial … Continue reading

Data Mining, Without Big Brother

How can we trust but verify? IN the wake of revelations about the National Security Agency’s surveillance programs, President Obama has acknowledged the imperative to balance privacy and security. But so far, his administration’s defense of the programs has failed to assure the public that this balance has been achieved — or that basic privacy … Continue reading

The Historical Collapse of Southern California Fisheries and the Rocky Future of Seafood

Recently, the New York Times Green Blog described how two major Southern California fisheries (kelp and barred sand bass) had collapsed “right under the noses of management agencies.” The management and oversight of these fish stocks had not changed since 1959. This news is perhaps not surprising as there are more examples of marine species … Continue reading

Rate of Temperature Change Along World’s Coastlines has Itself Changed Dramatically Over the Past Three Decades

Locally, changes in coastal ocean temperatures may be much more extreme than global averages imply. New research published in the June 18 edition of Public Library of Science (PLoS ONE) entitled “Decadal Changes in the World’s Coastal Latitudinal Temperature Gradients,” is highlighting some of the distinct regional implications associated with global climate-change. By looking at … Continue reading

Will “Persistent Surveillance” Turn U.S. into a Panopticon?

Disturbing revelations about the breadth of spying by the U.S. government on its citizens and allies continue to emerge. In a recent post, I suggested that U.S. security officials never abandoned the concept of “Total Information Awareness,” a program for intensive digital spying proposed and ostensibly withdrawn by the Pentagon shortly after 9/11. Another Pentagon … Continue reading

The Future Of Memory Is Half Mind, Half Machine

When everything we do is recorded and remembered by our technology, what role does memory have? Keeping us human. You’ve already forgotten almost everything that’s ever happened to you. Even immediately after you finish this, you won’t remember everything you read. A sentence might pop into your mind in a few days, remixed with something … Continue reading

Does China Have Enough Water to Burn Coal?

China’s demand for coal continues to rise, but the parched country faces challenging finding enough water to cool its coal-fired power plants By many measures, this northern Chinese city is an ideal candidate for being China’s Wyoming. It has more brown coal reserves than any other Chinese region, and it is only 600 kilometers away … Continue reading

Teaching a Computer to Play ‘Concentration’ Advances Security, Understanding of the Human Mind

Computer science researchers have programmed a computer to play the game Concentration (also known as Memory). The work could help improve computer security – and improve our understanding of how the human mind works. The researchers developed a program to get the software system called ACT-R, a computer simulation that attempts to replicate human thought … Continue reading

Visualizing Our Enormous Wealth Inequality, And What You Can Do About It

Rising income inequality is getting more difficult to ignore. Inequality.is, a fun interactive website, walks you through the problem (and helps give you ideas about the solution). The riches of the wealthiest have been growing fast–much faster than for the rest of us. Between 1983 and 2010, the top 5% saw their pile expand 74.2%, … Continue reading