Links for 9th September 2009

Fresh from the clogged tubes of teh intarwubs…

  1. Electrical circuit runs entirely off power in trees

    "A study last year from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology found that plants generate a voltage of up to 200 millivolts when one electrode is placed in a plant and the other in the surrounding soil. Those researchers are working with a company, Voltree, that holds patents for circuits to exploit this new power source.

    The UW team sought to further academic research in the field of tree power by building circuits to run off that energy. They successfully ran a custom circuit solely off tree power." So, ultraefficient tech could run in a rainforest without batteries. Hmmm…

    Tagged with: sciencetechnologytreepowerenergy

  2. Robot to be controlled by human brain cells

    "To make the system a better model of human disease, a culture of human neurons will be connected to the robot once the current work with rat cells is completed. This will be the first instance of human cells being used to control a robot.

    One aim is to investigate any differences in the behaviour of robots controlled by rat and human neurons. "We'll be trying to find out if the learning aspects and memory appear to be similar," says Warwick.

    Warwick and colleagues can proceed as soon as they are ready, as they won't need specific ethical approval to use a human neuron cell line. That's because the cultures are available to buy and "the ethical side of sourcing is done by the company from whom they are purchased", Whalley says."

    Tagged with: roboticsneurosciencebrainsimulationresearch

  3. Cyborg Exoskeletons May Soon Become as Common as Bicycles

    "HAL comes in three sizes — small, medium and large and weighs in at 23kg (50.7 lbs). A single leg version rents for 150,000 yen ($1,570) a month, while a two-leg unit goes for 220,000 yen ($2,300) a month. Cyberdyne has yet to announce when HAL will go on sale to the public or what the price tag will be." That's really not that much money in real terms, is it?

    Tagged with: technologyexoskeletonjapancyborgdisabilitiesaugmentationtranshumanism

  4. Human Iterations

    "[Transhumanism is] not an ideology — and insofar as it may drift in that direction it should be abolished. Insofar as it matters though, it is an idealism. Shorter still, an ideal: that of motion. We are not afraid of change. We are change. When we reach out beyond the present context we don't do so in ignorance of it. Just dismissal of its value unto itself. A hundred million years is short term. You put on your shoes every morning, but you don't live for the act of knotting shoelaces. In a matter of decades we have compounded more than a billion years of evolution. Things are only getting faster. And that's still just the short term.

    Transhumanism is not an ideology, transhumanism is a space to have discussions about our struggles in the present day without having to defend the very notion of change.

    Transhumanism is a safe space for those who recognize that the future exists." William Gillis.

    Tagged with: William-Gillistranshumanismfuturismideologyidealismphilosophychange

  5. Why Bill Wyman is wrong about guitar games

    "Ultimately, what Wyman's comments reek of is the familiar generational fear of technology and of profligate and irresponsible youngsters ruining the arts. Veteran musicians were saying the same thing about sampling in the Eighties; they envisaged a future in which traditional instruments rotted as tech savvy teens turned wholesale to keyboards and computer screens. Predictably this audio apocalypse never happened. Tactile music making is a primal creative instinct, it is coded into the DNA of modern man; earlier this year scientists from Tübingen university discovered three flutes in the Hohle Fels cavern in Germany that date back over 35,000 years. Flutes are still around. And when Harmonix finally gets round to writing Flute Hero, they won't disappear." Old gods nearly dead… but not nearly enough.

    Tagged with: musicgamesgenerationaltechnology

  6. abandonedplaces: Abandoned aviation technics â„-2

    Pictures of old Soviet air-hardware rotting on a concourse somewhere. Lovely shots, fascinating subject.

    Tagged with: RussiaSovietaircraftdecaytechnologyabandonedphotography

  7. Astronauts could reach Mars in 2020s, panel says

    "… the committee warned that without more money, NASA would be stuck in low-Earth orbit until at least the 2030s. "The Committee finds that no plan compatible with the Fiscal Year 2010 budget profile permits human exploration to continue in any meaningful way," the summary report says. Carrying out the Flexible Path programme or landing astronauts on the moon before the 2030s would require an extra $3 billion per year beyond the $18.7 billion planned for the agency, the report says." I'd love to think they'll get it, but I can't believe they will.

    Tagged with: spaceNASAbudgetMoonMarsmannedmissionsprojection

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