Technology’s holy grail is the development of a “perfect” Quantum Computer. Traditional computers recognize information as bits: binary information representing “On” or “Off” states. A quantum computer uses qubits: operating in superposition, a qubit exists in all states simultaneously — not just “On” or “Off,” but every possible state in-between. It would theoretically be able to instantly access every piece of information at the same time, meaning that a 250 qubit computer would contain more data than there are particles in the universe. IBM thinks it’s closer than ever to realizing this dream and if you want to know more, click ‘read more’.


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TechForum is a Microsoft-sponsored shindig where the company can get together, party, and then show off its latest and greatest research projects. First up we’ve got a transparent interactive 3D display which builds on technology from Cambridge University’s HoloDesk project. Next is Holoflector, a “magic mirror” that overlays LCD projections onto your reflection. Both of these two projects rely heavily upon Kinect as more projects find the potential in the little sensor. Finally there’s Illumishare, a pair of overhead projectors / cameras that share a desktop space with a colleague when you need to look at the same thing.


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Reflections and glare on your electronic devices is irritating and causes eye strain. Nippon Electric Glass Co Ltd has developed a film for glass that virtually eliminates glare. The film is placed on the front and back of the glass to reduce reflections from light sources. Usually, glass will allow 92% of light pass through it and reflect 8% back to the viewer. The Invisible Glass film allows 99.5% of light pass through it and reflects only .5% back at the viewer.

If you hate math, just look at the image above. The glass on the left is untreated and the glass on the right that you can’t see, that’s been treated with the Invisible Glass film. That should convince you that you want this glass on your next electronic device. There’s no word on when this glass wizardry will make it to market though.


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What happens when you douse a superconducting urinal cake with liquid nitrogen? We haven’t given it too much thought, to be honest, though we’re guessing it would look a lot like the “levitating” disc pictured above. Developed by researchers at Tel-Aviv University, this device is actually a superconductor hovering over a “supercooled” magnet. While locked within the magnetic field, it can rotate around a vertical axis, turn upside down or do laps around a track — all thanks to a phenomenon that Tel-Aviv’s physicists call “quantum trapping.” This is an incredible discovery that can potentially change our world substantially. Frictionless transport comes into our minds right away…
Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments.


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A new paper to be published in the upcoming issue of Marketing Science shows that removing DRM from music leads to a decrease in piracy. Or phrased differently, DRM appears to be an incentive for people to pirate music instead of buying it. The researchers from Rice and Duke University used analytical modelling to come to this seemingly common sense conclusion. DRM only hurts legitimate customers. The phrase above has been written a few dozen times, and it’s now supported by an academic report. Researchers from Rice and Duke University looked into the effect of digital restrictions on music piracy. In their paper “Music Downloads and the Flip Side of Digital Rights Management Protection” they conclude that DRM doesn’t prevent piracy at all. Quite the opposite.


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A NASA-funded peep into the farthest reaches of the cosmos has uncovered this “feeding black hole” 12 billion light years away. APM 08279+5255, as this compacted mass of inescapable doom is affectionately known, has been gorging on water vapor and spewing out energy. How much H2O exactly? It’s only the “largest and farthest reservoir of water ever detected in the universe,” and it weighs in at 140 trillion times the amount in our oceans. Located via the cooperation of two teams of astronomers and their star-gazing equipment — the Z-Space instrument at California Institute of Technology’s Submillimeter Observatory in Hawaii and the Plateau de Bure Interferometer in the French Alps — this aqueous discovery proves the wet stuff is more universally omnipresent than we once thought.


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The amazing technology of 3D printing just found a fantastic way to appeal to our sweet teeth. Researchers at the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) have employed their 3D printers to design custom printed chocolates. Funded by the Research Council UK Cross-Research Council Programme – Digital Economy (that sure if a mouthful), the experiments are taking place at the University of Exeter. The goal of the effort is to revolutionize the online retail business, where customers can upload designs of their own creation and order chocolates in any shape they wish!


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Scientists have shown off a “cloaking device” that makes objects invisible – to sound waves. Such acoustic cloaking was proposed theoretically in 2008 but has only this year been put into practice.

Described in Physical Review Letters, the approach borrows many ideas from attempts to “cloak” objects from light. It uses simple plastic sheets with arrays of holes, and could be put to use in making ships invisible to sonar or in acoustic design of concert halls.


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In the rankings of the world’s most powerful supercomputers, a Japanese machine has earned the top spot with a performance that essentially laps the competition. The computer, known as “K Computer,” is three times faster than a Chinese rival (Tianhe-1A) that previously held the top position, said Jack Dongarra, a professor of electrical engineering and computer science at the University of Tennessee at Knoxville who keeps the official rankings of computer performance.


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Antimatter particles are elusive little critters that tend to disappear moments after being spotted. Unless, it turns out, you trap them in a “magnetic bottle” and turn the temperature right down to almost absolute zero. CERN scientists have now used this technique to hold 300 antihydrogen particles for up to 1,000 seconds, relaxing them into their ground (stationary) state to make them easier to study. This opens the way for further research later in the year, when captured particles will be prodded with lasers and microwaves to see if they obey the same laws of physics that govern everything else in our universe. After all this effort, we’re quietly hoping they don’t.


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A material which changes its strength, virtually at the touch of a button. This transformation can be achieved in a matter of seconds through changes in the electron structure of a material; thus hard and brittle matter, for example, can become soft and malleable. What makes this development revolutionary, is that the transformation can be controlled by electric signals. This world-first has its origins in Hamburg. Jörg Weißmüller, a materials scientist at both the Technical University of Hamburg and the Helmholtz Center Geesthacht, has carried out research on this groundbreaking development, working in cooperation with colleagues from the Institute for Metal Research in Shenyang, China.


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We knew that well-trained bees were capable of sniffing out dynamite and other explosives, but researchers at MIT have now come up with a slightly less militant way to use our winged friends as bomb detectors. A team of chemical engineers at the school recently developed a new, ultra-sensitive sensor that’s sharp enough to detect even one molecule of TNT. Their special ingredient? Bee venom. Turns out, a bee’s poison contains protein fragments called bombolitins, that react to explosive compounds. To create the detector, researchers applied these bombolitins to naturally fluorescent carbon nanotubes. Whenever an explosive molecule binds with the protein fragments, the interaction will alter the wavelength of the carbon cylinder’s fluorescent light. The shift is too small for the naked eye to pick up on, but can be detected using specially designed microscopes. If it’s ever developed for commercial use, the sensor could provide a more acute alternative to the spectrometry-based detectors used at most airport security checkpoints. At the moment, however, the technology isn’t quite ready to be deployed on a widespread basis, so feel free to keep on living in fear.


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You’ve seen one quadrocopter juggle a ball autonomously while gliding through the air, but how’s about a pair of them working cooperatively? Yeah, we’ve got your attention now.
This video is made at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich (ETHZ), by Raffaello D’Andrea, a Control of Distributed, Autonomous Systems lab professor. It is shot inside the Flying Machine Arena, a facility that provides a control environment for motion control research. The two quadcopters are based on the ‘Hummingbird’ quadrotor made by Ascending Technologies with new controls and custom made electronics fabricated by the institute. A vital component is a state of the art Vicon motion capture system that provides the localization data to the robots and makes extremely precise and dynamic control possible.


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It’s happened to all of us. You’re in the middle of an intense conversation, and your cell phone cuts out. Even today, in the era of 4G and smartphones, it’s still difficult to completely avoid the most basic failure of a cell phone – a dropped call. Enterprising researchers at the University of Illinois have devised an antenna that uses a revolutionary 100 µm micro-nozzle silver nanoink printing process to print an antenna on a 3D substrate to try to remedy that problem [press release].


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Microsoft Research had its TechForum event yesterday where it showcased some of it’s latest projects to the press. Windows Phone 7 happily took the center stage this year in several demonstrations. In the first video after the break you will see Microsoft Chief Research and Technology Officer, Craig Mundie, demonstrated a new UI controlled by an HTC HD7. This may or may not be what we can expect to see in the upcoming Windows 8 but it definitely shows us where Microsoft is heading with regards to UI and NUIs.


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