• Goodbye Silicon! Your Next Computer Chip Could Be Made of Gallium Oxide
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    Goodbye Silicon! Your Next Computer Chip Could Be Made of Gallium Oxide

    Sending astronauts to space used to take a computer the size of a washing machine. Now? That same computational might can be packed into something as small as an iPad! But as we aim for smaller devices, we’re hitting a threshold…our current materials and techniques may not allow us to continue to progress at this pace. Because of this we’re being pushed in new and exciting directions, like innovating the very stuff computers are made of: goodbye silicon, hello gallium oxide. Traditionally, computer chips have been made out of silicon–hence the name ‘silicon valley’. A computer chip transistor needs to be conductive, because it needs to be able to pass…

  • Did Google Just Achieve ‘Quantum Supremacy’?
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    Did Google Just Achieve ‘Quantum Supremacy’?

    Quantum computers are on the horizon, and they’ve been stuck there for quite some time. All the theoretical advantages they promise over classical computers, like speeding up drug development, helping to manufacture room temperature superconductors, and cracking encryption remain just that: theoretical. However, a leaked paper from Google claims that for the first time a quantum computer used its unique quantum properties to absolutely dominate a classical computer in a specific task, demonstrating what’s known as “quantum supremacy.” The paper was posted in September of 2019 on NASA’s website, since NASA and Google are collaborating on the project. Almost as suddenly as it appeared, it was taken down again. But…

  • Are Those Your Lips or Feet? How Your Brain Rewires Itself After Amputation
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    Are Those Your Lips or Feet? How Your Brain Rewires Itself After Amputation

    Even though it looks like a random, bumpy mess, your brain is incredibly organized. Your brain has its own version of google maps for navigating the world around it — but just how flexible are these maps to changes? Every sound you can hear or touch you can feel is because neurons in a specific part of your brain are firing. Our brains are organized “topographically”so that we can keep track of where things are happening, … that means we can tell the difference between a touch on the arm or a touch on the face. By observing people’s brains in different imaging machines, neuroscientists have largely mapped out touch,…

  • How Did Science Get Neanderthals So Wrong?
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    How Did Science Get Neanderthals So Wrong?

    Let’s be real, guys, Neanderthals get a bad rap. We think of them as primitive and less developed than us humans with our smooth brow bones and tall posture. But the field of hominid development has been telling us for some time now that this is probably pretty far from the truth. And new research tells us that Neanderthals could have been…just as sophisticated as humans! Why have we been wrong for so long? A lot of our prejudices about neanderthals come from our somewhat mistaken interpretation of the fossil record. When the first neanderthal skeleton was recorded by scientists in the mid 1800s, the conclusion they came to was…

  • Neuromorphic Computing Is a Big Deal for A.I., But What Is It?
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    Neuromorphic Computing Is a Big Deal for A.I., But What Is It?

    We often talk about how traditional computing is reaching its limit–there’s a threshold we can’t move past without making some seriously big changes to the way we structure computers. One of those exciting ways is by making physical computers a little more like human brains. We introduced this concept in more detail here, but a quick recap: this kind of computing is called neuromorphic computing, which means designing and engineering computer chips that use the same physics of computation used by our own nervous system. This is different from an artificial neural network , which is a program run on a normal computer that mimics the logic of how a…

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    We’re Using Stem Cells to Reverse Baldness and It’s Actually Working

    Some very hairy mice are bringing us another step closer to un-LOCKing a way to regenerate a full head of hair. Did somebody say a pun?! About 50% of men and 25% of women experience at least partial hair loss by the age of 50, whether due to age, medical treatments, or disease. Current options for those looking to reverse this loss include things like medications that may slow hair loss and transplants from hair follicles elsewhere on the body. But neither have the often desired effect of restoring a thick and full volume of hair. Researchers have been optimizing techniques for culturing “hair follicle germs” in a dish for…

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    China’s Crazy Plan to Launch an Artificial Moon

    Guess what? China has announced plans to launch an “artificial moon” into our skies by 2020. And, as crazy as that sounds, it’s not actually the first time something like this has been attempted. But first. China’s new plan. As reported in China Daily, China plans to launch an “illumination satellite” into orbit above the city of Chengdu. Well actually, four illumination satellites. The first as a proof of concept in 2020 and the next three as the real deal in 2022. There aren’t a ton of details about the satellites themselves yet, like how big they are or what they will be made of, but we DO know they’ll…

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    Your Skin Cells Could Make a Baby, Will This Be the End of Infertility?

    We all know where babies come from. An egg is fertilized by sperm and the resulting zygote needs to be implanted in a uterus so it can grow and divide. The key here is the union of the gametes: sperm and egg. This means same-sex partners, or partners who are unable to provide gametes themselves, need to rely on donors. But what if that wasn’t the case? What if we could just generate gametes from the partners? Soon, we might be able to. The method is called in-vitro gametogenesis. It involves converting adult cells into lab-made eggs and sperm cells that can combine to create a zygote. This could pave…

  • We’ve Just Invented the World’s Fastest Camera
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    We’ve Just Invented the World’s Fastest Camera

    Our scientific world is both expanding and getting more precise every day. We’re pushing the boundaries of what we’d ever thought possible…but that means the way we measure that science has to keep getting more precise too. Are we ever going to hit the limit of what we can see…and therefore what we can discover? Well, new research has now given us the world’s fastest camera–so that’s a step in the right direction. Hashtag ‘no filter’. To give you the whole picture, back in the 1920’s a pioneering electrical engineer named Harold Edgerton made history when he was able to capture images of things that happened on the microsecond scale–that’s…

  • What Is the Shape of the Universe?
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    What Is the Shape of the Universe?

    It’s the kind of question that sort of breaks your brain when you even start to figure out how to think about it: what shape is the universe? No one can be sure; until we can step outside of the universe and walk around it somehow — we can’t actually do that ever — the best we can do is take what we know to model the likeliest scenario. The idea of the shape of the universe comes down to the key insight from General Relativity that says mass warps space, and that objects moving through space have their paths curved. Here’s a simple way to think about it: imagine…