research

Peacocks’ special feather structure creates trippy, hypnotizing ‘dance’

Peacocks’ special feather structure creates trippy, hypnotizing ‘dance’

Peacocks, perhaps nature's most trippy bird, shake their tail feathers when it's time to attract a new mate. Why? Shaking those feathers -- called "train-rattling" -- causes an illusion where the eye-like circles on the feathers become more prominent, seemingly floating outward and hanging in the air. Those circles exist to lure in peahens, but have fascinated more than a few humans, too. Now a new study has taken a closer look at this 'train-rattling' dance and uncovered a few equally fascinating secrets about how it works.

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Microsoft just bought 10m synthetic DNA molecules for data storage

Microsoft just bought 10m synthetic DNA molecules for data storage

In the future, when you need to store more than what your 100 terabyte storage drive can handle, you wouldn't be looking to the cloud for answers, you'll be looking inside yourself. Sort of. This almost zen-like idea isn't just science fiction anymore. It is very well the future of computing. Or at least Microsoft believes so, to the point that it just purchases 10 million long oligonucleotides, a.k.a. DNA molecules, from San Francisco startup Twist Bioscience. These DNA molecules will be used in Microsoft's own research into making synthetic DNA a viable commercial data storage solution.

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Waze vulnerability lets hackers monitor your travels

Waze vulnerability lets hackers monitor your travels

A security vulnerability with Waze allows anyone to monitor a user’s travels, according to newly revealed research by University of California, Santa Barbara researchers. Using this vulnerability, researchers were able to create so-called “ghost drivers” and monitor real drivers using them — a big invasion of privacy, and one that could potentially be used by law enforcement, hackers, and anyone else snooping where they’re not welcome.

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DARPA taps 8 organizations to develop futuristic armored cars

DARPA taps 8 organizations to develop futuristic armored cars

DARPA has announced that it awarded contracts to eight organizations under its Ground X-Vehicle Technology (GXV-T) program. The program seeks to produce ground-based armored vehicles that are able to withstand modern weapons but that reverse the trend of increased weight and other issues that affect mobility and speed. The contracts are going to Carnegie Mellon University, Southwest Research Institute, SRI International, and more.

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Cheap LEDs could fix HoloLens’ biggest problem

Cheap LEDs could fix HoloLens’ biggest problem

HoloLens' biggest hurdle could be fixed with cheap LEDs rather than expensive transparent displays, one research team suggests, tricking the eye and cutting VR nausea at the same time. The augmented reality headset has been widely lauded since Microsoft made the surprise announcement in early 2015, but those who have been able to try it have generally had one key criticism: the field of view is just too small.

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Your password could soon be a sound from your skull

Your password could soon be a sound from your skull

Fingerprint scanners are becoming the norm for unlocking our mobile devices these days, while iris and facial recognition are also being explored, but the next big solution in biometric authentication might be something that can only come from inside your head. Literally. A group of university researchers in Germany have come up with a system that uses a unique sound that comes from within a user's skull.

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China to develop floating nuclear plants to power island projects

China to develop floating nuclear plants to power island projects

China is looking into building a floating nuclear power platform that could be sent into the South China Sea to help power construction projects on islands. According to the China Shipbuilding Industry Corporation’s Director Liu Zhengguo, China is planning to construct however many are needed to meet market demands, which he said is “pretty strong.” Past reports indicated China planned to develop 20 of the floating nuclear stations.

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Brazil targets zika virus with smelly, mosquito-killing billboards

Brazil targets zika virus with smelly, mosquito-killing billboards

Brazil, epicenter of the growing zika virus outbreak, is now home to a pair of billboards that smell like sweaty humans and exist merely to lure mosquitoes to their death. The billboard — the kind that is placed on a city sidewalk — emits a mixture of carbon dioxide and lactic acid aromas to mimic the scent of human sweat, attracting mosquitos from as far away as 2.5km. It is called, appropriately enough, the Mosquito Killer Board, and it was created by ad agencies NBS and Posterscope. Even better, blueprints for the board have been released for free.

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Study suggests monkeys crossed the ocean 21 million years ago

Study suggests monkeys crossed the ocean 21 million years ago

The discovery of seven small fossilized teeth led to a surprising revelation: 21 million or so years ago, Panamacebus transitus monkeys crossed 100 miles or more of ocean to travel from South America to North America, doing so at a time when the two weren’t connected together by land. The fossilized teeth were found during excavations at the Panama Canal, and pose bigger questions than they answer.

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Meet Jia Jia, China’s realistic talking robot

Meet Jia Jia, China’s realistic talking robot

Researchers from the University of Science and Technology of China on Friday revealed a realistic robot they've been working on for the past three years. Called, Jia Jia, the robot is said to be capable of human-like facial expressions, along with talking and interacting with people nearby. While its creators describe it as looking similar to a "real woman," at least it's a step up from that nightmarish home-made Scarlett Johansson robot.

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This ultra-thin electronic skin puts a digital display on your body

This ultra-thin electronic skin puts a digital display on your body

Smartwatches and fitness device may be the wearables of today, but in the not-too-distant future we be using super-thin skin-like membranes that can put a digital display right on the surface of our bodies. University of Tokyo researchers are bringing us closer to such a future, as they've been developing a new type of electronic skin, or e-skin, that is nearly as flexible and stretchy as the real stuff, but has the benefit of putting polymer light emitting diodes (PLEDs) on your hand or anywhere it's applied.

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‘FlexCase’ project puts e-ink secondary display inside phone case

‘FlexCase’ project puts e-ink secondary display inside phone case

Microsoft Research and the University of Applied Sciences Upper Austria have teamed up to create “FlexCase,” a prototype smartphone case that features a secondary e-ink display for extended touch-based activities. The display isn’t just for displaying data, though — sensors coupled with flexible panels allow the user to control the main display using various taps, bends, and twists.

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