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PEW PEW! U.S. Navy Fires Lasers at Sea

Good news, everyone! The future is finally here, and we'll soon leave bullets behind for a much sexier laser alternative, filled with "PEW PEW" and plenty of cat-shaped guns. The U.S. Navy successfully fired a high-energy laser at another boat, continuing its research into using lasers to blind or disable smaller vessels. The BBC has video but no sound, so you'll have to improvise the "BEYOO!...

Richard Branson to Penetrate Ocean's Depths With 'Virgin Oceanic' Mission

After unveiling his 'Necker Nymph' submersible last year, Richard Branson is taking his underwater adventures to the next level, with 'Virgin Oceanic' -- an initiative to explore the deepest parts of the world's oceans. Over the next two years, Branson hopes to penetrate the deepest points of the world's five oceans with a fleet of high-tech toys, including a one-manned submarine and a...

Urdu Translation Software Understands Nuance

A computer scientist at the University of Buffalo has developed a new program capable of taking automated translation beyond the literal. Rohini Srihari began working on her software in the hopes of improving computerized translations of Urdu -- a linguistic blend of Hindi and Persian that is widely spoken in Pakistan, and by many Muslims in India. Urdu is a particularly difficult language...

Laser Implants May One Day Restore Hearing to the Deaf

Scientists at the University of Utah led by researcher Richard Rabbitt, have found a way to stimulate inner ear cells with infrared laser light. Using low-powered optical signals, the researchers triggered the inner ear hair cells of an oyster toadfish to send signals to its brain, raising the possibility of using the technology to restore hearing to the deaf. Rabbitt believes the cells...

Electric Wands May Snuff Out Fires, But More 'Star Wars' Than 'Harry Potter'

Aguamenti! Firefighters, it appears, may be invoking wand-like magic in order to put out the flames. (Sadly, 'Harry Potter' incantations won't be needed.) Ludovico Cademartiri, a Harvard University physicist, will be unveiling an electrical solution to extinguishing the fires of the future. Employing large electric fields to disrupt a fire may help to eliminate blazes more quickly, and will...

U.S. Military to Roll Out Palm-Sized Bullet Detectors

A high-tech form of miniaturized radar capable of detecting incoming fire will be added to some soldiers' arsenals starting later this month. The Army just announced plans to ship 13,000 of the card-deck-sized Individual Gunshot Detectors to troops in Afghanistan. Four sensors detect soundwaves emitted by distant gunfire, while a monitor transmits information on its origins to the soldier....

Math is Hard: TSA Botched Radiation Levels on Body Scanners

The TSA says it will be re-testing hundreds of airport body scanners after its last round of tests found radiation levels 10 times higher than expected -- a number the agency chalked up to a calculation error. "We understand it as a calculation error," TSA spokesman Sarah Horowitz told Wired, before explaining how difficult it can be to remember to divide by the number of units tested. The...

New Endoscopic Camera Is Disposable, Remarkably Tiny

Researchers in Germany have developed a new endoscopic camera that's cheap enough to be thrown away after each use, and small enough to see eye-to-eye with a grain of rice. Designed at Germany's Fraunhofer Institute for Reliability and Microintegration, the prototype's camera is just one cubic millimeter in size, and features a resolution of 62,500 pixels. But researchers say it's still...

Researchers Develop Technique to Identify Anonymous E-Mail Authors

IP addresses may help identify the source of anonymous and malicious e-mails, but they can only tell authorities where the message originated, without providing many details on the individual who authored them. Using some pretty innovative analytics, researchers at Concordia University have just come up with a new technique that could help investigators determine the precise identity of these...

Hell Yeah, Liquid Nitrogen! Eco-Friendly Swedes Will Shatter Your Frozen Corpse 'Terminator'-Style

Um, amazing? Promessa is a Swedish company that will freeze your dead body to -18 degrees Celsius, dip it in liquid nitrogen, and then shatter it with sound waves. The resulting "organic powder" is then "introduced into a vacuum chamber where the water is evaporated away," before being sealed in a coffin made from biodegradable cornstarch. So call your power of attorney, hightail it to the...

Study: The Most Effective Virtual Teachers Tailor to Your Feedback Style

Here's a shocker: when dealing with a virtual instructor, people prefer an avatar that looks and acts like them. A collaborative study between George Washington University and North Carolina State found that participants reacted more positively to virtual instructors who were the same gender and ethnicity as themselves. Oddly, they found that these factors alone did not improve responses. Gender...

$200 Scanner Detects Cancer Cells, Diagnoses With iPhone App

Researchers at Harvard University and MIT have developed a handheld scanner that can detect potential cancer cells and diagnose them with an iPhone app -- all in about an hour. According to Physorg, the scanner uses antibodies and magnetic particles to identify suspicious lumps. But rather than biopsy the entire mass, the scanner, which costs just $200 to create, extracts cells from all over...

Google Goes Medieval With Trebuchet Competition

Science and wanton destruction go together like peas and carrots. Just ask the Myth Busters. The guys and gals at Google got together with The Citadel, a military college in South Carolina, to organize the "Storm The Citadel Trebuchet Competition." The event puts engineering, math and science knowledge to work building medieval weapons of mass destruction. Nineteen teams, 13 of them culled from...

Study: Cell Phones Can Speed Up Brain Activity, Long-Term Effects Remain Unclear

A new study from the National Institutes of Health suggests that using cell phones can change the way our brains behave, though it remains unclear whether these changes can be harmful. The study, published yesterday in the Journal of the American Medical Association, found that just 50 minutes of cell phone use can noticeably speed up brain activity in the region closest to the phone's antenna....

Robotic Snake Slithers in for Surgery Through a Hole in Your Chest

Having a snake burrow its way through your chest doesn't sound like a terribly enjoyable experience, but that's exactly what the Cardio Arm is designed to do to patients undergoing heart surgery. Created by researchers at Carnegie Mellon University, the Cardio Arm is a snake-like robot capable of entering a patient's chest through a three-quarter inch incision in the solar plexus. The snake and...