research

DARPA wants ‘shape-shifting’ vaccines that evolve with viruses

DARPA wants ‘shape-shifting’ vaccines that evolve with viruses

Vaccines are great, but they’re no match for most viruses in play at any given time. This is due largely in part to the ever-changing nature of viruses and the expense and difficulty in developing new vaccines to target them. DARPA wants that reality to change, citing the numerous concerning viruses, past and present, that affect humanity. Under the “INTERCEPT” program, DARPA seeks “shape-shifting” vaccines that adapt to kill off viruses as they evolve.

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Alphabet unveils new bipedal robot that’s all legs

Alphabet unveils new bipedal robot that’s all legs

While the Google-parent company Alphabet is planning to sell its military-related robotics firm Boston Dynamics, that doesn't mean they don't have other robot projects in development. SCHAFT, which operates under Alphabet's X division (formerly known as Google X), has just unveiled a new bipedal creation in Japan at the New Economic Summit. The name is still unknown, but the bot is capable of climbing stairs, walking across uneven terrain, and even self-balancing.

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Pluto’s ‘ice spider’ is NASA’s most striking find this month

Pluto’s ‘ice spider’ is NASA’s most striking find this month

We’re not even halfway through April yet, and NASA’s already tantalizing us with some fascinating discoveries this month. The most recent one involves an “ice spider” on Pluto, a large part of the planet’s landscape featuring “an unusual geological feature” the space agency describes as looking like a big ol’ spider. A color image of the region was snapped by NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft last summer, and the photo has just recently been made public.

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US Navy’s autonomous warship will soon trawl the seas

US Navy’s autonomous warship will soon trawl the seas

The U.S. Navy has a 132ft unarmed “self-driving” warship, and it has named it Sea Hunter. Much like Google’s car, Sea Hunter is able to operate on its own, cruising the oceans in hunt of unwelcome submarines. Unlike manned warships, though, Sea Hunter won’t require any human operators on board, and as such will cost only a sliver of current manned ships. DARPA recently showed off the then-unnamed warship on video.

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Brightest X-ray laser gets stronger with an upgrade

Brightest X-ray laser gets stronger with an upgrade

One of the most powerful x-ray lasers in all the world is getting a serious upgrade that will boost its power even further. Construction on the laser upgrade began a few days ago at the Department of Energy's SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory. The construction project will see the addition of a second X-ray laser beam that is an average of 10,000 times brighter than the first laser and 8,000 times faster.

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Autonomous trucks drive 2,000km across Europe in platooning challenge

Autonomous trucks drive 2,000km across Europe in platooning challenge

We all know that autonomous cars will make our roads safer and reduce traffic we have to deal with. The autonomous future also includes autonomous big rigs and trucks that will haul cargo across the country. Trucks from 12 different makers recently completed a week's trek across Europe and most of the time the trucks were driving autonomously.

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Supermassive black hole found sitting in the middle of cosmic nowhere

Supermassive black hole found sitting in the middle of cosmic nowhere

Scientists have discovered one of the largest black holes that has ever been found. Interestingly, the supermassive black hole sits in what scientists consider a cosmic backwater. Finding such a massive black hole in such an out of the way place is akin to finding a gigantic skyscraper in a tiny town in the middle of nowhere. The gigantic black hole contains 17 billion times the mass of our sun.

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Study finds robotic Paro seal is therapeutic for dementia patients

Study finds robotic Paro seal is therapeutic for dementia patients

A study conducted by Front Porch Center for Innovation and Wellbeing has found that therapeutic robots — in this case, Paro the robotic seal — can help calm and comfort elderly individuals afflicted with dementia. The study observed 920 instances where Paro provided some type of therapeutic effect for dementia patients, “improving the behavioral and psychological symptoms of dementia and reducing the usage of psychotropic medications,” said Paro designer Dr. Takanori Shibata.

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Single DNA molecule used to create smallest diode in all the land

Single DNA molecule used to create smallest diode in all the land

Researchers have created the world's smallest diode and they did it using a single molecule of DNA. The creation was devised by researchers from the University of Georgia and Ben-Gurion University in Israel. The creation has shown for the first time that nanoscale electronic components can be made using a single DNA molecule. The breakthrough is seen as an advance that could aid in the search for replacement in silicon chips.

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Reverse photosynthesis breaks down plants for clean biofuels

Reverse photosynthesis breaks down plants for clean biofuels

Researchers have discovered what is being called a major milestone in the world of biofuels: reverse photosynthesis, a process that uses the sun’s rays to break down plants rather than build them up. Such a discovery has two major benefits over current methods used to break down plant biomass — the process itself is faster, and because the sun is being used, the process produces far less pollution, potentially providing a solution to one of the petrochemical industry’s biggest problems.

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Blue Origin reusable rocket completes third launch and landing

Blue Origin reusable rocket completes third launch and landing

Jeff Bezos and his private spaceflight agency Blue Origin are now three-for-three in successfully launching and landing their reusable rocket into space. Their New Shepard rocket — the same one that was launched and landed in November and again in January — repeated the feat once again on Saturday morning, lifting off at 11:18 AM Eastern. Bezos tweeted updates as the event took place, noting that the landing was "perfect."

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NASA sending fungi into space to study drug development

NASA sending fungi into space to study drug development

A team of researchers from NASA and the University of Southern California will be the first in the world send fungi into space with the goal of developing medical drugs. The fungi, which are known to produce molecules called secondary metabolites, will hitch a ride to the International Space Station aboard a SpaceX rocket scheduled to launch on April 8th. Secondary metabolites can be used to create beneficial medicine for humans, such as the antibiotic penicillin.

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