Posts

January 30, 2015

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2:32 PM | I, Snowbot
In science fiction, robots perform all kinds of tasks. Sometimes they dictate the fate of humanity, such as in Isaac Asimov’s “Reason,” in which Q-T, a robot with impressive and frustrating existential curiosity, keeps an energy beam steady during an … Continue reading →
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1:49 AM | Scientists use stem cells to grow new hair
In a new study from Sanford-Burnham Medical Research Institute (Sanford-Burnham), researchers have used human pluripotent stem cells to generate new hair. The study represents the first step toward the development of a cell-based treatment for people with hair loss. In the United States alone, more than 40 million men and 21 million women are affected by hair loss. The research was published online in PLOS One yesterday. Subject:  Health & Medicine […]
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1:44 AM | Binge TV watching linked to feelings of loneliness and depression
It seems harmless: getting settled in for a night of marathon session for a favorite TV show, like House of Cards. But why do we binge-watch TV, and can it really be harmless? A recent study by researchers at the University of Texas at Austin found that the more lonely and depressed you are, the more likely you are to binge-watch. Subject:  Brain & Behavior
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1:37 AM | Decoding sugar addiction
Separate neural circuits control sugar cravings and healthy eating, researchers find. Together, obesity and Type 2 diabetes rank among our nation’s greatest health problem, and they largely result from what many call an “addiction” to sugar. But solving this problem is more complicated than solving drug addiction, because it requires reducing the drive to eat unhealthy foods without affecting the desire to eat healthy foods when hungry. Subject:  […]
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1:14 AM | Oral therapy could treat peanut allergies
Researchers from Murdoch Childrens Research Institute have successfully trialled a treatment for peanut allergies that could potentially provide a long term cure for allergy sufferers. Over 60 peanut allergic children in the study were either given a dose of a probiotic, Lactobacillus rhamnosus, together with peanut protein in increasing amounts, or a placebo over 18 months to assess whether children would become tolerant to peanut. Subject:  Health & Medicine […]
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1:07 AM | Generating Möbius strips of light
A collaboration between researchers from Canada, Europe, and the United States has experimentally produced Möbius strips from the polarization of light, confirming a theoretical prediction that it is possible for light’s electromagnetic field to assume this peculiar shape. Subject:  Technology
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1:03 AM | Green tea ingredient may target protein to kill oral cancer cells
A compound found in green tea may trigger a cycle that kills oral cancer cells while leaving healthy cells alone, according to Penn State food scientists. The research could lead to treatments for oral cancer, as well as other types of cancer. Subject:  Health & Medicine
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12:52 AM | Tesla P85D Insane Mode Launch Reactions Compilation
The new 691-horsepower all-wheel-drive Tesla P85D moves from 0 to 60 mph in 3.2 seconds, making it the fastest accelerating sedan in the world.

January 29, 2015

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9:35 PM | Picking up on the smell of evolution
For most of us, switching to a vegetarian diet might be a matter of a New Year's resolution and a fair amount of willpower, but for an entire species, it's a much more involved process -- one that evolutionary biologists have struggled to understand for a long time. Subject:  Evolution
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9:32 PM | Complex environments push 'brain' evolution
Little animations trying to master a computer game are teaching neuroscience researchers how the brain evolves when faced with difficult tasks. Neuroscientists at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and Michigan State University have programmed animated critters that they call "animats." The critters have a rudimentary neural system made of eight nodes: two sensors, two motors, and four internal computers that coordinate sensation, movement and memory. Subject:  […]
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6:21 PM | Book review: Free Will, the Basics
Sometimes it’s good, or even necessary, to go back to the basics. This is true of all complex and/or confusing issues, and free will certainly qualifies. Scientia Salon has published a number of essays on free will before [1], and this special “free will week” has begun with a vigorous, neurobiologically based defense of compatibilism and will end (in a couple of days) with a provocative, high-tech, apology for libertarianism! Subject:  Brain […]
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6:03 PM | Elon Musk and the SpaceX Odyssey: the path from Falcon 9 to Mars Colonization Transporter
In Kubrick’s and Clark’s 2001: Space Odyssey, there was no question of “Boots or Bots”[ref]. The monolith had been left for humanity as a mileage and direction marker on Route 66 to the stars. So we went to Jupiter and Dave Bowman overcame a sentient machine, shut it down cold and went forth to discover the greatest story yet to be told. Subject:  Astronomy/Cosmology
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5:24 PM | Quantum computer as detector shows space isn’t squeezed
Ever since Einstein proposed his special theory of relativity in 1905, physics and cosmology have been based on the assumption that space looks the same in all directions—that it’s not squeezed in one direction relative to another. A new experiment by Univ. of California, Berkeley (UC Berkeley) physicists used partially entangled atoms—identical to the qubits in a quantum computer—to demonstrate more precisely than ever before that this is true, to one part in […]
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5:21 PM | Ancient skull proves modern humans colonized Eurasia 60-70,000 years ago
While it is widely accepted that the origins of modern humans date back some 200,000 years to Africa, there has been furious debate as to which model of early Homo sapiens migration most plausibly led to the population of the planet -- and the eventual extinction of Neanderthals. Subject:  Anthropology
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5:16 PM | Bill Gates also worries about artificial intelligence threat
Aside from founding Microsoft, Bill Gates is known as an all-around smart guy who has put his money where his mouth is when it comes to saving the world. It would seem that this makes his opinions worth considering when he tells us that he, like fellow brainiac Stephen Hawking and Tesla Motors founder / Iron Man inspiration Elon Musk, fears that artificial intelligence could pose a threat to humanity. Subject:  Artificial Intelligence
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5:04 PM | Study reveals active sex lives of the over 70s
Older people are continuing to enjoy active sex lives well into their seventies and eighties, according to new research from The University of Manchester and NatCen Social Research. More than half (54%) of men and almost a third (31%) of women over the age of 70 reported they were still sexually active, with a third of these men and women having frequent sex - meaning at least twice a month - according to data from the latest wave of the English Longitudinal Study of Ageing (ELSA). […]
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4:58 PM | Can synaesthesia be learned?
Can synaesthesia have cognitive benefits and can it be taught? Those are the questions asked by Jack Dutton in an article published in the February issue of The Psychologist. Synaesthesia was first reported in 1812, but only recognised as a neurological condition in the 1990s. There are over 60 known types of synaesthesia, a condition in which stimulation of one sense, such as taste, leads to automatic, involuntary experience in a second sense. Subject:  Brain […]
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4:53 PM | The tell-tale signs of a galactic merger
The NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope has captured this striking view of spiral galaxy NGC 7714. This galaxy has drifted too close to another nearby galaxy and the dramatic interaction has twisted its spiral arms out of shape, dragged streams of material out into space, and triggered bright bursts of star formation. NGC 7714 is a spiral galaxy at 100 million light-years from Earth — a relatively close neighbour in cosmic terms. Subject:  Astronomy/Cosmology […]
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7:14 AM | Ancient exoplanet discovery boosts chances of finding alien life
One of the crucial variables in calculating the likelihood that alien life exists elsewhere in our galaxy is the number of stars that possess planetary systems, and the proportion of those planets that might be suitable for life. So the discovery of no less than five sub-Earth-sized exoplanets orbiting an ancient star, Kepler-444, which is not too distant from our own solar system, has significant ramifications for the possibility we might one day run into ET. Subject:  […]
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6:54 AM | Many religious people view science favorably, but reject certain scientific theories
A new study finds that many U.S. adults—roughly one in five—are deeply religious, know a lot about science, and support many practical uses of science and technology in everyday life, but reject scientific explanations of creation and evolution. Subject:  Atheism & Religion

January 28, 2015

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5:58 PM | Stanford to host 100-year-long Artificial Intelligence study
“I wonder when it will be that when you call a phone number for help that you will be notified, by regulatory law, that you are talking to a machine,” said Eric Horvitz Ph.D. ’91, M.D. ’94. His is just one of the many questions that will be addressed in the new 100-year-long study on artificial intelligence (AI) that Stanford will host beginning this year. Subject:  Artificial Intelligence
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5:30 PM | Beer compound could help fend off Alzheimer’s
The health-promoting perks of wine have attracted the spotlight recently, leaving beer in the shadows. But scientists are discovering new ways in which the latter could be a more healthful beverage than once thought. They’re now reporting in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry that a compound from hops could protect brain cells from damage—and potentially slow the development of disorders such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases. […]
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5:24 PM | Use sound to slow down, speed up, and block light
How do you make an optical fiber transmit light only one way? Subject:  Technology
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5:16 PM | The many ways in which we can all die
There seems to be a subset of the population that easily succumbs to the idea that some major disaster is going to befall us at any time. The fear of an apocalyptic event that wipes out large chunks of humanity seems to act like oxygen for such people, and as a result we are regaled with the possibility of one imminent catastrophe after another, with diseases (Ebola, swine flu, bird flu), meteors or asteroids hitting the Earth, weather (a big snowfall in winter), and so on. […]
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5:10 PM | Game theory explains social interactions of cancer cells
A tumor consists of a heterogeneous population of individual cells that compete for space and nutrients against each other. However, cancer cells also cooperate in their struggle for survival by sharing molecules, such as growth factors. Cells that do not produce growth factors themselves have a proliferation advantage because they can use the factors produced by neighboring cells without the cost of producing them. What maintains this cooperation between tumor cells remains an open […]
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5:06 PM | The 2 faces of Mars
The two hemispheres of Mars are more different from any other planet in our solar system. Non-volcanic, flat lowlands characterise the northern hemisphere, while highlands punctuated by countless volcanoes extend across the southern hemisphere. Subject:  Astronomy/Cosmology
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5:01 PM | iPhone sales trample expectations as profit sets global record
Apple Inc quarterly results smashed Wall Street expectations with record sales of big-screen iPhones in the holiday shopping season and a 70 percent rise in China sales, powering the company to the largest profit in corporate history. The company sold 74.5 million iPhones in its fiscal first quarter ended Dec. 27, while many analysts had expected fewer than 70 million. Revenue rose to $74.6 billion from $57.6 billion a year earlier. Subject:  Technology […]
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5:40 AM | Cell mechanism discovered that may cause pancreatic cancer
Researchers at Huntsman Cancer Institute (HCI) at the University of Utah have found that defects in how cells are squeezed out of overcrowded tissue to die, a process called extrusion, may be a mechanism by which pancreatic cancer begins. From these findings, they may have identified an effective way to reverse the defective extrusion's effects without destroying normal tissues nearby. The results were published in the latest edition of the journal eLife. Subject:  […]

January 27, 2015

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9:16 PM | Consciousness speed-dating
Why can’t we solve the problem of consciousness? That is the question asked by a recent Guardian piece. Subject:  Brain & Behavior
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9:02 PM | Spacecraft captures best-ever view of dwarf planet Ceres
NASA's Dawn spacecraft has returned the sharpest images ever seen of the dwarf planet Ceres. The images were taken 147,000 miles (237,000 kilometers) from Ceres on Jan. 25, and represent a new milestone for a spacecraft that soon will become the first human-made probe to visit a dwarf planet. "We know so little about our vast solar system, but thanks to economical missions like Dawn, those mysteries are being solved," said Jim Green, Planetary Science Division Director at NASA […]
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