Where Do You Draw the Line Between the Sky and Space?

On his 108-minute flight in 1961, the Soviet cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin, the first human being in space, reached a peak altitude of 327 kilometres (203 miles), after blasting off the planet atop a mighty Vostok rocket. After launch shook his tiny capsule violently, Gagarin experienced the feeling of weightlessness, and… » 8/12/14 3:45pm 8/12/14 3:45pm

Sexbot Slaves: How Sexbots Could Affect Actual Human Relationships

There is only one true sexbot that you can go out and buy today. Her name is Roxxxy, and she is a 'robot companion' intended to look human, or something very close. She's 5'7" and slender. She's got a wide range of hair and eye colors. And depending on the model you choose, she can 'hear' you, 'talk' to you, and… » 6/06/14 2:40pm 6/06/14 2:40pm

Why Life Before Anesthesia Made Doctors More Caring

In 1812, the English novelist Frances Burney described her mounting terror as she prepared to undergo a mastectomy without any anesthetic. Having two hours to wait until the dreaded event (her 'execution', as she put it), she wandered into the room where the operation was going to take place and 'recoiled'. In an… » 5/15/14 2:20pm 5/15/14 2:20pm

How Biotech Could Make Life in Prison a Living Hell

At the University of Oxford, a team of scholars led by the philosopher Rebecca Roache has begun thinking about the ways futuristic technologies might transform punishment. In January, I spoke with Roache and her colleagues Anders Sandberg and Hannah Maslen about emotional enhancement, 'supercrimes', and the ethics of… » 3/17/14 11:00am 3/17/14 11:00am

What Four Months on Mars Taught Me About Boredom

The scene: I'm in my closet-sized cabin, inside a white dome built to house a crew of six for four months as part of an isolation experiment. As a crew, we are working and living as 'explorers' stationed on the surface of 'Mars'. Our colony is lifelike and NASA-funded, but it is situated in a place quite a bit closer… » 2/26/14 3:00pm 2/26/14 3:00pm

The Benefits of Living in a Total Surveillance State

Suppose you’re walking home one night, alone, and you decide to take a shortcut through a dark alley. You make it halfway through, when suddenly you hear some drunks stumbling behind you. Some of them are shouting curses. They look large and powerful, and there are several of them. Nonetheless, you feel safe, because… » 9/30/13 3:20pm 9/30/13 3:20pm

Distant Ruins: How Scientists Hunt Space for Dead Alien Civilizations

‘Look on my works, ye Mighty, and despair!’ says Ozymandias’s ruined statue in the desert of Shelley’s imagination. Shelley’s sonnet is often interpreted as a sober warning that human works are fleeting, but when I read it as a young boy it kindled a sense of adventure; it suggested a wonderfully mysterious past… » 9/11/13 1:00pm 9/11/13 1:00pm

Parallel Worlds: How Human History Turns on the Tilt of the Multiverse

Andy Murray’s unexpectedly strong start against Roger Federer in the Wimbledon 2012 final put the Daily Telegraph columnist Matthew Norman in a science-fiction mood. Contrasting Murray with the doubles champion Jonny Marray — who still rents a flat and drives a Ford Fiesta, despite holding a Grand Slam title — the … » 9/06/13 2:00pm 9/06/13 2:00pm

Where Consciousness Comes From

Scientific talks can get a little dry, so I try to mix it up. I take out my giant hairy orangutan puppet, do some ventriloquism and quickly become entangled in an argument. I’ll be explaining my theory about how the brain — a biological machine — generates consciousness. Kevin, the orangutan, starts heckling me.… » 8/22/13 3:01pm 8/22/13 3:01pm

Can Life Evolve from Wires and Plastic?

In a laboratory tucked away in a corner of the Cornell University campus, Hod Lipson’s robots are evolving. He has already produced a self-aware robot that is able to gather information about itself as it learns to walk. Like a Toy Story character, it sits in a cubby surrounded by other former laboratory stars. » 6/12/13 10:19am 6/12/13 10:19am

Wrap-Around Screen Phone Concept Don't Need No Bezels

This concept from Mac Funamizu » 10/18/08 5:15pm 10/18/08 5:15pm is designed to show how truly badass a phone with an OLED-wrap display could look. The most important advance? No more bezels or borders of any kind. A concept like this makes even the iPhone look cluttered, with that primitive silver border. It's a great little design, inspired by the …

OSXBMC Called "Plex" (And Looking Hotter Than Ever)

An independent Mac fork of XBMC (formerly Xbox Media Center)-a lauded cross-platform solution for streaming media-has just gotten a neat new name: "Plex." (That's short for "cineplex.") But we know how it is. You use Front Row and think it's great. Before you go back into your Apple shell, check out this Aeon skin for… » 7/07/08 2:59pm 7/07/08 2:59pm

Nokia Successfully Tests 100Mbps Wireless Data Network

Today Nokia said that in technical trials, the target of 100Mbps download speed and 50Mbps upload speed for its next-gen cellular data network "can be met," and promised initial deployment by 2010. Americans probably won't see it until later, since the 3GPP LTE (don't ask) initiative has more momentum across the… » 11/07/07 11:53am 11/07/07 11:53am