Posts

October 02, 2014

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1:53 AM | Goodbye
I started this blog for no reason other than thinking the title would be hilarious. A couple of years (and not all that many posts) later, I managed to do so much with it. I love it, but it's time to let it go. I'm now a full time science writer, and this blog, well, would basically be work.I'm not taking anything down, so feel free to wander around, read at your leisure, anything you like. I'm still around on email, Google+, Facebook, and so forth.So--thanks for listening for the past few […]
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12:45 AM | New effective cloaking device
Inspired perhaps by Harry Potter’s invisibility cloak, scientists have recently developed several ways—some simple and some involving new technologies—to hide objects from view. The latest effort, developed at the University of Rochester, not only overcomes some of the limitations of previous devices, but it uses inexpensive, readily available materials in a novel configuration. Subject:  Technology

October 01, 2014

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9:59 PM | How lifting weights can make memories stick
Just 20 minutes of exercise can enhance episodic memory, also known as long-term memory for previous events, by about 10 percent in healthy young adults, report researchers. The new study isn’t the first to find that exercise can improve memory. But the study, newly published in the journal Acta Psychologica, took a few new approaches. While many existing studies have demonstrated that months of aerobic exercises such as running can improve memory, the current study had […]
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9:50 PM | How a previous sexual partner can influence another male's offspring
Scientists have discovered a new form of non-genetic inheritance, showing for the first time that offspring can resemble a mother's previous sexual partner -- in flies at least. This confronting idea, known as telegony, dates back to ancient Greek times, but was discredited in the early 20th Century with the advent of genetics. To test it out, UNSW Australia scientists Dr Angela Crean, Professor Russell Bonduriansky and Dr Anna Kopps manipulated the size of male flies and studied […]
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9:43 PM | Spiders: Survival of the fittest group
Along rivers in Tennessee and Georgia, scientists have been studying brownish-orange spiders, called Anelosimus studiosus, that make cobwebby nests "anywhere from the size of a golf ball to the size of a Volkswagen Beetle," researcher Jonathan Pruitt says. The individual spiders are only the size of a pencil eraser, but they form organized groups that can catch prey ranging from fruit flies to small vertebrates. "We have found carcasses of rats and birds inside their colonies," Pruitt […]
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11:31 AM | Startup has a way to let your phone make crystal-clear calls
Cypher promises its voice isolating software will elevate call quality, whether you're a caller is in a noisy restaurant or a soldier on the battlefield. In the race to add more capabilities into a smartphone, often what gets neglected is the actual phone part. Subject:  Technology
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11:24 AM | 9 ways to prevent artificial intelligence from inheriting the earth
As Artificial Intelligence grows increasingly sophisticated, there's reason to consider an outcome that is well worth preparing for, even if not everyone agrees it's necessary. A rtificial Intelligence could be the first human invention that uses us. As part of our special report, set for publication tomorrow, on the impact artificial intelligence could have on the future job market, here's a closer look at possible solutions to some of the more "catastrophic" outcomes proposed last […]
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11:20 AM | Glaciers in the Grand Canyon of Mars?
For decades, planetary geologists have speculated that glaciers might once have crept through Valles Marineris, the 2000-mile-long chasm that constitutes the Grand Canyon of Mars. Using satellite images, researchers have identified features that might have been carved by past glaciers as they flowed through the canyons; however, these observations have remained highly controversial and contested. Subject:  Astronomy/Cosmology
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11:16 AM | Emergence: the remarkable simplicity of complexity
From the fractal patterns of snowflakes to cellular lifeforms, our universe is full of complex phenomena – but how does this complexity arise? “Emergence” describes the ability of individual components of a large system to work together to give rise to dramatic and diverse behaviour. Subject:  Biology & Aging

September 30, 2014

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11:16 PM | Mr Deity and The Help
Lucy talks with Mr. Deity about all the help he's been giving people in the wealthier countries of the world. Those of us here at Machines Like Us love Mr. Deity and its creator Brian Keith Dalton, and were sorry to learn that he has been having a rough time this year (as he explains at the end of the video below). That's why now, even more than ever, we help support Mr. Deity with our donations, and urge you to do the same!
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10:36 PM | Why it is the non-religious who can, and must, save the world
(This text is a transcript of my talk at the Cleveland Sunday Assembly held on September 28th, 2014.) Subject:  Atheism & Religion
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10:20 PM | Hybrid 'patch' could replace transplants
Because heart cells cannot multiply and cardiac muscles contain few stem cells, heart tissue is unable to repair itself after a heart attack. Now Tel Aviv University researchers are literally setting a new gold standard in cardiac tissue engineering. Subject:  Health & Medicine
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10:12 PM | Could this app create a free, secret web?
Facebook is doing it with drones, Google is doing it with balloons that occasionally crash into power lines. Bringing free Internet access to the unconnected millions in developing countries is complicated and expensive. What if there was an easier way? A startup called Open Garden thinks the answer is already in people’s pockets: their smartphones. Subject:  Technology
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3:27 PM | Entanglement made tangible
Quantum entanglement refers to the "pairing" of two subatomic particles in such a way that they form a whole quantum system. Interest in entanglement is increasing today, as it challenges the foundations of quantum mechanics itself, and is also key for achieving quantum information processing and communication. Subject:  Technology
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3:24 PM | Researchers identify which genes are active in muscles
If you want your doctor to know what goes wrong with your muscles because of age, disease or injury, it's a good idea to know what "normal" actually is. That's where a new research report published in the October 2014 issue of the FASEB Journal comes in. Subject:  Biology & Aging
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12:23 AM | Self-compassion key to positive body image and coping
Women who accept and tolerate their imperfections appear to have a more positive body image despite their body mass index (BMI) and are better able to handle personal disappointments and setbacks in their daily lives. Research out of the Faculty of Arts at the University of Waterloo found that this self-compassion might be an important means to increase positive body image and protect girls and young women against unhealthy weight-control practices and eating disorders. […]
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12:15 AM | Sleep twitches light up the brain
A University of Iowa study has found twitches made during sleep activate the brains of mammals differently than movements made while awake. Researchers say the findings show twitches during rapid eye movement (REM) sleep comprise a different class of movement and provide further evidence that sleep twitches activate circuits throughout the developing brain. In this way, twitches teach newborns about their limbs and what they can do with them. Subject:  Brain & […]
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12:12 AM | An apple a day could keep obesity away
Scientists at Washington State University have concluded that nondigestible compounds in apples – specifically, Granny Smith apples – may help prevent disorders associated with obesity. The study, thought to be the first to assess these compounds in apple cultivars grown in the Pacific Northwest, appears in October's print edition of the journal Food Chemistry. Subject:  Health & Medicine

September 29, 2014

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3:26 PM | The Immortalists
Two eccentric scientists struggle to create eternal youth with medical breakthroughs in a world they call "blind to the tragedy of old age." Bill Andrews is a lab biologist and famed long-distance runner racing against the ultimate clock. Aubrey de Grey is a genius theoretical biologist who conducts his research with a beer in hand. They differ in style and substance, but are united in their common crusade: cure aging or die trying. They publicly brawl with the titans of biology who […]
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3:17 PM | How to make a “perfect” solar absorber
New system aims to harness the full spectrum of available solar radiation. The key to creating a material that would be ideal for converting solar energy to heat is tuning the material’s spectrum of absorption just right: It should absorb virtually all wavelengths of light that reach Earth’s surface from the sun — but not much of the rest of the spectrum, since that would increase the energy that is reradiated by the material, and thus lost to the conversion […]
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3:11 PM | Sam Harris the mystic
I must admit to not being very familiar with Sam Harris’ work: to me he’s been primarily a member of the Four Horsemen of New Atheism: Dawkins, Dennett, Hitchens and that other one… However in the video here he expresses a couple of interesting views, one about the irreducible subjectivity of consciousness, the other about the illusory nature of the self. Subject:  Brain & Behavior
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2:49 PM | Ancient human origins revealed through African genome
What can DNA from the skeleton of a man who lived 2,330 years ago in the southernmost tip of Africa tell us about ourselves as humans? A great deal when his DNA profile is one of the 'earliest diverged' – oldest in genetic terms – found to-date in a region where modern humans are believed to have originated roughly 200,000 years ago. Subject:  Evolution
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2:43 PM | Signature of aging identified in the brain
How the brain ages is still largely an open question – in part because this organ is mostly insulated from direct contact with other systems in the body, including the blood and immune systems. Subject:  Brain & Behavior
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2:39 PM | Using the brain to forecast decisions
You're waiting at a bus stop, expecting the bus to arrive any time. You watch the road. Nothing yet. A little later you start to pace. More time passes. "Maybe there is some problem", you think. Finally, you give up and raise your arm and hail a taxi. Just as you pull away, you glimpse the bus gliding up. Did you have a choice to wait a bit longer? Or was giving up too soon the inevitable and predictable result of a chain of neural events? Subject:  Brain & […]
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2:29 PM | Droplets made to move on their own
Droplets are simple spheres of fluid, not normally considered capable of doing anything on their own. But now researchers have made droplets of alcohol move through water. In the future, such moving droplets may deliver medicines, etc. To be able to move on your own – to be self-moving – is a feature normally seen in living organisms. But also non-living entities can be self-moving, report researchers from University of Southern Denmark and Institute of Chemical […]

September 28, 2014

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5:54 PM | Biologists find an early sign of cancer
Years before they show any other signs of disease, pancreatic cancer patients have very high levels of certain amino acids in their bloodstream, according to a new study from MIT, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, and the Broad Institute. This finding, which suggests that muscle tissue is broken down in the disease’s earliest stages, could offer new insights into developing early diagnostics for pancreatic cancer, which kills about 40,000 Americans every year and is usually not […]
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5:40 PM | Human genome was shaped by an evolutionary arms race with itself
New findings by scientists at the University of California, Santa Cruz, suggest that an evolutionary arms race between rival elements within the genomes of primates drove the evolution of complex regulatory networks that orchestrate the activity of genes in every cell of our bodies. Subject:  Genetics
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5:36 PM | Scientists identify early sign of pancreatic cancer
Scientists at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and other institutions have discovered a sign of the early development of pancreatic cancer – an upsurge in certain amino acids that occurs before the disease is diagnosed and symptoms appear. The research is being published online today by the journal Nature Medicine. Subject:  Health & Medicine
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3:10 PM | How to mend a broken heart
Instead of brooding over a failed relationship, psychologist advises a couple of aspirin and distancing oneself from the event. Consider it a win for the stiff upper lip. Talking about a failed relationship doesn’t soothe the pain of heartbreak and can make some people feel even worse, a US psychologist claims. Instead of brooding over broken relationships, Walter Mischel recommends a couple of aspirin to take the edge off the pain and urges people to distance themselves from […]
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3:03 PM | A conversation between Richard Dawkins and Stephen Hawking
A unique discussion between evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins and theoretical physicist Stephen Hawking.
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