Maybe you’ve dreamt of being that man or woman who is so important as to compose speeches and letters simply by barking out declamations whilst an attentive assistant jots down your brilliant every word. Robot developer Franck Calzada has brought us one step closer. He’s created an assistant scribe for the common man in his new program in which a NAO robot can write any word.
At the moment, however, you’re going to need a lot of time – and patience – if you enlist NAO’s services. To say it’s deliberate in its writing is quite the understatement.
Calzada has himself spent a lot of time with NAO, teaching it to play games like catch, Hangman and the Statue Game. Now, with his ability to write any word it hears, NAO can actually get some work done. This isn’t the first time we’ve seen Nao write. And while it will definitely be some time before it begins replacing office workers, its penmanship has certainly improved. (via NAO Robot Has Learned To Write | Singularity Hub)
Understanding how the brain works to produce behaviour is one of biology’s greatest challenges, and the sheer complexity and number of cells in vertebrate brains makes it difficult to get a close look. While most studies rely on painstakingly reconstructing 3D images from thin sections, a new technique allowing much thicker samples, even whole brains, to be observed in detail has recently been developed. Named CLARITY, the method uses a detergent to dissolve the cells’ fatty membranes, effectively making brain tissue transparent under the microscope. Researchers can then see deep inside the brain, identify particular cell types and track their connections. In the video, CLARITY has been used to image a mouse hippocampus, and different cell types have been labelled with fluorescent proteins. The technique has also been applied to human samples, opening up new possibilities for exploring both neural networks in healthy brains and the causes of neuronal diseases.
Quantum computers could more easily become a reality if they incorporated the silicon semiconductor processing used by the modern electronics industry. Physicists in Australia have recently taken a new step toward that vision by reading and writing the nuclear spin state of a single phosphorus atom implanted in silicon.
In a breakthrough reported in the 18 April edition of the journal Nature, physicists have finally achieved an idea first proposed in 1998 by Bruce Kane, a physicist at the University of Maryland, in College Park. Such success could lead to quantum computers based on the same silicon-processing technology used for computer chips.
“What we are trying to do is demonstrate that there is a viable way to take the same physical platform and fabrication technology used to make any computer and mobile phone in the world, and twist it into a technology for quantum information processing,” says Andrea Morello, a quantum physicist at the University of New South Wales, in Australia.
Scientists envision quantum computers as the ideal devices for cracking modern encryption codes, searching through huge databases, and understanding the biological interactions of molecules and drugs. Quantum computing’s potential comes from harnessing the laws of quantum physics that allow the spin state of an electron or an atom’s nucleus to achieve “superposition”—existing in more than one state at a time. A classical computer bit can exist either as a 1 or a 0, but a quantum bit, or qubit, is capable of existing in multiple states at the same time.
With other quantum computing approaches, researchers have tried trapping and isolating atoms by using electromagnetic fields or superconductor materials. By comparison, Kane suggested harnessing the nuclear spin of phosphorus atoms embedded in a silicon crystal as a qubit.
Silicon-based quantum computing also offers long coherence times for electron and nuclear spins, Kane says. That means the electron spin states and nuclear spin states acting as qubits could hold on to their information for long periods of time, something that other quantum computing schemes have struggled with.
Biometric Evidence that Sexual Selection Has Shaped the Hominin Face [PLOSone]
Abstract: We consider sex differences in human facial morphology in the context of developmental change. We show that at puberty, the height of the upper face, between the lip and the brow, develops differently in males and females, and that these differences are not explicable in terms of sex differences in body size. We find the same dimorphism in the faces of human ancestors. We propose that the relative shortening in men and lengthening in women of the anterior upper face at puberty is the mechanistic consequence of extreme maxillary rotation during ontogeny. A link between this developmental model and sexual dimorphism is made for the first time, and provides a new set of morphological criteria to sex human crania. This finding has important implications for the role of sexual selection in the evolution of anthropoid faces and for theories of human facial attractiveness.