On-chip system that detects signals at sub-terahertz wavelengths could help steer driverless cars through fog and dust.
The idea of creating a physical object from a digital file is fascinating. It conjures memories of the replicators in Star Trek that can create everything from clothes to starship components to different foods. Today’s 3D printing is making impressive strides in that direction, to the great interest of many manufacturers. It is now possible to print the components for sophisticated electronic devices with fairly simple equipment, for instance – as my research team has just shown by producing what we believe to be the first 3D-printed microphone.
When the UK government cancelled its plans to electrify train lines across Wales, the Midlands and the north of England, and cut back on the Great Western rail network electrification, it brought a premature end to a rail investment program once touted as the biggest the country had seen since the Victorian era. But now reports suggest that the government and train manufacturers are hoping there may be an alternative way to turn British railways electric: hydrogen.
IBM recently unveiled what it claimed was the world’s first commercial quantum computer. While the announcement of the Q System One wasn’t scientifically groundbreaking, the fact that IBM sees this as a commercial product that organisations (if not individuals) will want to use is an important breakthrough.
It’s tempting to give up on data security altogether, with all the billions of pieces of personal data – Social Security numbers, credit cards, home addresses, phone numbers, passwords and much more – breached and stolen in recent years. But that’s not realistic – nor is the idea of going offline entirely. In any case, huge data-collection corporations vacuum up data about almost every American without their knowledge.
The human brain has amazing capabilities making it in many ways more powerful than the world’s most advanced computers. So it’s not surprising that engineers have long been trying to copy it. Today, artificial neural networks inspired by the structure of the brain are used to tackle some of the most difficult problems in artificial intelligence (AI). But this approach typically involves building software so information is processed in a similar way to the brain, rather than creating hardware that mimics neurons.
Despite fears that guns made with 3D printers will let criminals and terrorists easily make untraceable, undetectable plastic weapons at home, my own experience with 3D manufacturing quality control suggests that, at least for now, 3D-printed firearms may pose as much, or maybe even more, of a threat to the people who try to make and use them.
Everyone’s trying to get ready for roads that will be filled with more and more self-driving cars. But just as the first cars were imagined to be like horse-drawn carriages without the horses, it’s easy to fall into the trap of thinking that a future with self-driving cars won’t be that different — except that we won’t have to drive.
The Large Hadron Collider (LHC) is getting a big boost to its performance. Unfortunately, for fans of ground-breaking physics, the whole thing has to be shut down for two years while the work is done. But once it’s back up and running, its enhanced capabilities will make it even more powerful.
Each time there’s a headline about driverless trucking technology, another piece is taken out of the old equation. First, an Uber/Otto truck’s safety driver went hands-off once the truck reached the highway (and said truck successfully delivered its valuable cargo of 50,000 beers). Then, Starsky Robotics announced its trucks would start making autonomous deliveries without a human in the vehicle at all.