• 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…

  • 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…

  • 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…

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    The James Webb Space Telescope Is Delayed (Again)! What Is Happening?

    The James Webb Space Telescope being developed by NASA is set to be one the most exciting space observatories ever developed!, with totally novel technologies and instruments that will give us new insights into our universe. But unfortunately, its completion and launch has been delayed. Again. What’s goin’ on? The initial completion window for the James Webb Space Telescope, or JWST, was supposed to be between 2007 and 2011. There were some pretty severe budget and schedule issues, resulting in a 2011 overhaul of the project that set a new completion date for October of 2018. That turned out to be a little too optimistic, so they pushed it back…

  • Could a Particle Accelerator Destroy Earth?
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    Could a Particle Accelerator Destroy Earth?

    Advancing particle physics demands we build bigger and badder particle accelerators, but every time the conversation about the next ultra-mega-super collider comes up some stick in the mud announces that it could kill us and the whole universe… But will it? You probably fall into one or two camps on this subject. Either you’re like me and you think that smashing some protons into each other head on at near light speed is just going to create some pretty pictures and obliterated protons, or you think it’ll create some pretty pictures and obliterate the Earth. But the quantum world is weird and unintuitive, so let’s all put our assumptions aside…