Meet Robonaut 2


NASA and General Motors have teamed up to build this new humanoid robot. Robonaut 2 will be stronger, faster, and more dexterous than the first Robonaut—allowing it to work side by side with humans on Earth and in space (and in some cases, do risky things for them).


Become a Fan of Evolution

If you’re on Facebook, join the fan group that’s trying to gather together 1 million people who accept evolution before June —”regardless of religious belief or lack thereof.”
The group was started in response to a creationist group that is trying to find a million people who don’t believe in evolution.


Next-Generation Neuro-Inspired Computers

In what reads like science fiction, a team of French scientists has developed a transistor that can mimic the main functions of a synapse. The transistor, based on a chemical compound called pentacene and gold nanoparticles, and known as NOMFET (Nanoparticle Organic Memory Field-Effect Transistor), successfully mimics the way in which messages are transmitted from one neuron to another across a synapse.
A transistor, the basic building block of an electronic circuit, can be used as a simple switch; it can transmit, or not transmit, a signal. Researchers say the gold nanoparticles, which are fixed in the channel of the transistor and coated with pentacene, have a “memory effect” that allows them to mimic the way a synapse works during the transmission of action potentials between two neurons–a basic function of the nervous system.
Because of this property, the electronic component is able to evolve as a function of the system in which it is placed. The researchers believe that neuro-inspired computers produced using this technology will be capable of functions comparable to those of the human brain.


What If You Ask Wolfram Alpha “Does God Exist?”

Clive Thompson tried it, and here’s what happened:

does_god_exist

As he points out:

Interestingly, this is not a stock answer that the engine kicks out whenever it cannot parse a question. (Actually, the stock answer seems to be “Wolfram|Alpha isn’t sure how to compute an answer from your input”—which is what you get when you ask, for example, “Why is Nickelback so awful?”) No, the God question was clearly anticipated by the Wolfram people, who inserted this nice little easter egg. (No pun intended. No epistemological allegory intended?)

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