Science & Technology



Mystery solved: Tiny skeleton belonged to a human girl with a combination of rare genetic defects

In the 14 years since it was found in an abandoned mining town in Chile's Atacama Desert, the bizarre 6-inch skeleton has inspired fervid speculation, including theories of unearthly origins.

It had 10 pairs of ribs -- two fewer than the normal human complement -- and an elongated skull with a pronounced point. Despite its diminutive size, the ...Read more

The Great Pacific Garbage Patch counts 1.8 trillion pieces of trash, mostly plastic

The Great Pacific Garbage Patch is getting greater. Twice the size of Texas, the floating mass is up to 16 times larger than previously thought -- carrying about 79,000 metric tons of plastic -- according to scientists who performed an aerial survey.

The discovery, published in the journal Scientific Reports, reveals that this plastic blight in...Read more

Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey: Bitcoin may become world's single currency in 10 years

Twitter and Square CEO Jack Dorsey believes the dollar, euro and yen may soon be ditched in favor of a single digital currency around the globe -- and that may be bitcoin.

In an interview with the British newspaper The Times of London, Dorsey shared his belief that the world may adopt a single global currency "probably over 10 years, but it ...Read more

Scientists build a robotic fish to spy on ocean life

It looks like a fish. It swims like a fish. But it isn't a fish.

It's SoFi, the robotic fish.

Developed by researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, SoFi is a soft-bodied robot that glides silently through the water with a smooth, undulating motion designed to mimic the movements of real fish.

It is the first robotic fish to ...Read more

Helpware: CorelDRAW for Home and Student: An inexpensive version of its big brother

Even if you're an experienced amateur, don't be put off by the "Home and Student" version of CorelDRAW Graphics Suite. Its power is subtle, but there's no mistaking that if you want to create text projects, retouch photos or other images and create drawings, this version of CorelDRAW is an inexpensive gateway to the outer limits of your ...Read more

Jennifer Van Grove: The smartphone trap (or why it's time to put your phone down)

Are we raising digital monsters? Absolutely. And everyone from parents to Facebook and society as a whole is to blame.

So instead of playing the blame game, I think the most constructive way forward is to take every opportunity we -- not just parents -- have to put the phone down. In the bedroom. While driving. During meals and conversations. ...Read more

Tech Q&A: Browser slows due to mysterious memory use

Q: For the last couple of weeks, my Windows 10 PC has typed very slowly in Microsoft Word, Gmail, Google Docs and Google Sheets. There is sometimes a lag of 30 to 40 seconds before what I'm typing "catches up" and appears on the screen. I mostly use Google's Chrome browser.

I've attached the Windows Task Manager list of "processes" running on ...Read more

New UCSD flu discovery could block illness entirely

Scientists led by a UC San Diego chemist reported progress recently in researching a universal flu drug, effective regardless of the strain.

Seth Cohen, a UCSD professor and co-founder of San Diego's Forge Therapeutics, said the drug inhibits a critical viral enzyme by jamming molecular machinery common to all strains. It could reduce the flu's...Read more

Facebook needed third-party apps to grow. Now it's left with a privacy crisis

Facebook had only 20 million users when it opened up its budding platform to outside app developers in 2007, giving them much-needed access to the social network's growing web of friends and family.

The developers built online games, quizzes and dating apps that gave people even more reasons to join Facebook.

It proved a turning point for the ...Read more

Oceans on ancient Mars may have got an assist from volcanoes

The oceans that once covered Mars may have formed somewhere around 3.7 billion years ago, even earlier than previously thought, according to scientists at the University of California, Berkeley.

The findings, published in the journal Nature, highlight a potential link between the birth of Martian oceans and the rise and fall of its volcanic ...Read more

How listening to random sound can unlock a trapped mind

LOS ANGELES – David Tobin took to the stage at a recent technology conference in downtown Los Angeles, asked the 500 attendees to close their eyes, and turned up the sound so they could sample his wares: a textured, layered soundscape that he calls an "audiojack."

A thousand eyes clamped shut as they collectively heard a ball thudding into a ...Read more

Scientists fly across the country to see how germs spread on airplanes

If you're the type of traveler who worries about catching the flu or another dreaded disease from a fellow airline passenger, a new study should put your mind at ease.

If a plane takes off with one infected flier, it is likely to land on the other side of the country with only 1.7 infected fliers, researchers found.

What you really need to ...Read more

National Academies examines safety and quality of abortion care in US

Legal abortions in the United States are so safe and effective that the vast majority of them can be performed in office-based settings, according to a new consensus report from the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine. But not all women have timely access to them, due largely to restrictive state policies.

The roughly 200-...Read more

UCSD professor devises way to recycle lithium-ion batteries

SAN DIEGO -- The promise of a global electric vehicle transformation has a looming problem.

The cathodes in the lithium-ion batteries typically used in electric vehicles, or EVs, are made of metal oxides that contain cobalt, a metal found in finite supplies and concentrated in one of the globe's more precarious countries.

But an assistant ...Read more

GPS guidance can be fooled, so researchers are scrambling to find backup technologies

Five years ago, a team of researchers from the University of Texas at Austin boarded an $80-million yacht with the intent of trying to fool the vessel's navigation system and stealthily push it off course.

Once the yacht was off the coast of Italy, the team -- with the knowledge and permission of the vessel's owner, a wealthy individual who ...Read more

Salk scientists adapt powerful gene-editing system to correct dementia in lab

The revolutionary CRISPR/Cas9 gene editing system made it possible to rapidly and precisely alter DNA, the essential molecule of life. But DNA doesn't work by itself, it relies on the messenger molecule RNA to carry out its instructions.

Salk Institute scientists reported recently that they've invented a new version of the technology that works...Read more

Peter Thiel-founded floating-island plan sunk by the government of paradise?

It seems the "Next New World" may not be coming to Tahiti after all -- the government of French Polynesia has thrown a wrench into plans for a libertarian utopia on floating islands there -- as proposed by a group founded by Peter Thiel and a former Google engineer.

The "Floating Island Project" by the Seasteading Institute -- which started up ...Read more

Evolve or die: Why our ancestors learned to be social more than 320,000 years ago

New discoveries in eastern Africa suggest that human behaviors like symbolic thought and the creation of extended social networks were established at least 320,000 years ago -- tens of thousands of years earlier than previously thought.

The work, published as a trio of papers Thursday in Science, sheds new light on the often murky story of when...Read more

By vibrating the muscles, engineers produce a better prosthetic hand

Consider for a moment the welter of unconscious judgments and adjustments you make every time your hand reaches for an object -- say, a tall drink of water. Eyes, muscles, brain and digits coordinate with exquisite speed and subtlety to ensure the cup is reached, grasped around the middle, held gently but firmly, and drawn -- upright and at a ...Read more

Indian tech firm to hire 1,000 at planned $21 million Hartford hub

HARTFORD, Conn. -- Infosys, an Indian information technology and consulting firm, will establish a $20.6 million technology and innovation center in Hartford staffed by 1,000 employees in the next four years, Gov. Dannel P. Malloy announced Wednesday.

In one of the largest economic development projects in the governor's seven years in office, ...Read more