SCIENCE IN THE NEWS WEEKLY
A Step Toward Thought-Controlled Machines
In last week's issue of Nature, researchers reported a dramatic advance in brain-machine interface. Two monkeys with tiny sensors implanted in their brains were able to control a mechanical arm with their thoughts. It suggests that brain-controlled prosthetics, if not yet practical, are at least technically feasible.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration is planning to begin sending drone airplanes into hurricanes this season as part of a program to monitor the atmosphere. The data sent back should help forecasters predict the intensity of the storms.
Robot submarines turned up several artifacts on the sea floor off the coast of Rhode Island last week, including objects associated with the wreck of the HMS Cerberus, which was scuttled by its British captain during the American Revolution. The robots were designed to hunt for underwater mines.
At a science summit in New York, leading American scientists criticized the decline in federal support for science and lamented the nation's diminished role as a leader in research and technology. It was the opening event for the first World Science Festival.
And, finally, it was also announced last week at the science festival that seven men are the first winners of new science prizes established by philanthropist, businessman and physicist Fred Kavli. The Kavli Prizes are worth $1 million in the fields of astrophysics, nanoscience and neuroscience. They will be awarded every other year.
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VIDEO: The Promise and Peril of Drones
The automation of tasks at work and at home is just around the corner, including driving cars, piloting planes, delivering packages, and transporting weapons. Unmanned aerial vehicles are rapidly evolving to meet both society’s and the military’s needs in automation and better efficiency.
During her time as one of the first female fighter pilots in the US Navy, Dr. Missy Cummings observed that computers could take off and land a plane more precisely than humans. Because of this breakthrough and her fascination with this growing technology, she began human–drone interaction research.
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