September 01, 2014

10:14 PM | Are action movies making us fat?
An increasing amount of research shows an association between TV viewing and higher food consumption and a more sedentary lifestyle. Now, a new Cornell University study points out that not all TV is alike. Some TV programs might lead people to eat twice as much as other programs. Subject:  Health & Medicine
8:30 PM | Location of body fat can increase hypertension risk
People with fat around their abdominal area are at greater risk of developing hypertension when compared to those with similar body mass index but fat concentrations elsewhere on the body, according to a study published today in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology. Subject:  Health & Medicine
8:17 PM | Nature’s tiny engineers
Coral organisms use minuscule appendages to control their environment, stirring up water eddies to bring nutrients. Subject:  Biology & Aging
8:04 PM | What are the mysterious 'assemblages' in our cells?
About 50 years ago, electron microscopy revealed the presence of tiny blob-like structures that form inside cells, move around and disappear. But scientists still don't know what they do — even though these shifting cloud-like collections of proteins are believed to be crucial to the life of a cell, and therefore could offer a new approach to disease treatment. Subject:  Biology & Aging
7:50 PM | Bankers beware: City ‘will soon be run by robots’
Robots will be running the City within 10 years, rendering investment bankers, analysts and even quants redundant, it has been claimed. Artificial intelligence is about to outpace human ability, according to Dave Coplin, a senior Microsoft executive. Computers will not only be able to undertake complex mathematical equations but draw logical, nuanced conclusions, reducing the need for human interference, he said. This will render certain professions redundant, while other “human […]
7:48 PM | Marijuana compound may offer treatment for Alzheimer’s disease
Extremely low levels of the compound in marijuana known as delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, may slow or halt the progression of Alzheimer’s disease, a recent study from neuroscientists at the University of South Florida shows. Findings from the experiments, using a cellular model of Alzheimer’s disease, were reported online in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease. Subject:  Brain & Behavior
3:35 PM | Training your brain to prefer healthy foods
It may be possible to train the brain to prefer healthy low-calorie foods over unhealthy higher-calorie foods, according to new research by scientists at the Jean Mayer USDA Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging (USDA HNRCA) at Tufts University and at Massachusetts General Hospital. Published online today in the journal Nutrition & Diabetes, a brain scan study in adult men and women suggests that it is possible to reverse the addictive power of unhealthy food while also […]
3:28 PM | Former Siri makers designing an AI that does everything
Some Apple iPhone users are aware that Siri, the smartphone's digital assistant, can make appointments and check the weather, but it cannot book a flight or make reservations at your favorite restaurant. Chances are now that a new version of Siri could actually book a flight to Panama and do much more. Subject:  Artificial Intelligence
3:10 AM | Let’s hear it for citizen scientists!
Citizen science is booming in Australia, revealing previously unknown features of the continent and saving governments a ton of money. “There’s a nationwide trend towards scientific reporting by skilled amateur observers, especially among young Australians,” says Professor Hugh Possingham, Director of the ARC Centre of Excellence for Environmental Decisions (CEED). “For the first time we are starting to build up a truly extensive picture of the state of the […]
3:04 AM | A new way to diagnose malaria
Using magnetic fields, technique can detect parasite’s waste products in infected blood cells. Over the past several decades, malaria diagnosis has changed very little. After taking a blood sample from a patient, a technician smears the blood across a glass slide, stains it with a special dye, and looks under a microscope for the Plasmodium parasite, which causes the disease. This approach gives an accurate count of how many parasites are in the blood — an important […]
2:53 AM | Memory in silent neurons
When we learn, we associate a sensory experience either with other stimuli or with a certain type of behaviour. The neurons in the cerebral cortex that transmit the information modify the synaptic connections that they have with the other neurons. Subject:  Brain & Behavior

August 31, 2014

4:12 PM | If atoms are real, we're free
The Platopus makes a good point about compatibilism (the view that some worthwhile kind of free will is compatible with the standard deterministic account of the world given by physics). Subject:  Brain & Behavior
3:22 PM | Energy drinks cause heart problems
Energy drinks can cause heart problems according to research presented at ESC Congress 2014 today by Professor Milou-Daniel Drici from France. Professor Drici said: "So-called 'energy drinks' are popular in dance clubs and during physical exercise, with people sometimes consuming a number of drinks one after the other. This situation can lead to a number of adverse conditions including angina, cardiac arrhythmia (irregular heartbeat) and even sudden death." Subject:  […]
3:15 PM | NASA announces design for new deep space exploration system
NASA is ready to move forward with the development of the Space Launch System—an advanced heavy-lift launch vehicle that will provide an entirely new national capability for human exploration beyond Earth's orbit. The Space Launch System will give the nation a safe, affordable and sustainable means of reaching beyond our current limits and opening up new discoveries from the unique vantage point of space. Subject:  Technology
3:04 PM | Vaccine reported to completely block HIV infection in monkeys
A novel and relatively simple vaccine that can be administered orally has managed to completely block rectal infection with SIV, the monkey equivalent of HIV, in rhesus macaques and produced rapid re-suppression of viral load in monkeys who were previously infected with SIV. Subject:  Health & Medicine

August 30, 2014

3:53 PM | Heat protecting back shell tiles installed on NASA’s Orion EFT-1 spacecraft
Fabrication of the pathfinding version of NASA’s Orion crew capsule slated for its inaugural unmanned test flight in December is entering its final stages at the Kennedy Space Center (KSC) launch site in Florida. Engineers and technicians have completed the installation of Orion’s back shell panels which will protect the spacecraft and future astronauts from the searing heat of reentry and scorching temperatures exceeding 3,150 degrees Fahrenheit. Subject:  […]
3:34 PM | Researchers locate brain area responsible for exercise motivation
Scientists at Seattle Children’s Research Institute have discovered an area of the brain that could control a person’s motivation to exercise and participate in other rewarding activities – potentially leading to improved treatments for depression. Subject:  Brain & Behavior
3:25 PM | Fish out of water
Around 400 million years ago, fish left the water and started to evolve into land-loving creatures. But how did the transition happen? A new and unusual experiment could shed some light on the kinds of changes that enabled fins to become limbs. Researchers took a fish species known to be able to walk on its fins from time to time, and raised it on land. Watch the fish promenade in this Nature video.

August 19, 2014

9:09 AM | On Detecting Messaging Abuse in Short Text Messages using Linguistic and Behavioral patterns
The use of short text messages in social media and instant messaging has become a popular communication channel during the last years. This rising popularity has caused an increment in messaging threats such as spam, phishing or malware as well as other threats. The processing of these short text message threats could pose additional challenges such as the presence of lexical variants, SMS-like contractions or advanced obfuscations which can degrade the performance of traditional filtering […]

August 12, 2014

11:24 AM | cognitive scientists are in demand
unnamed former student (john mcdonnell) solves big problems using behavioral data and math.

August 08, 2014

3:43 PM | New Job! And Other Changes
Now that I have an official start date, I can announce it properly: starting next Monday, I'll be a Science Writer for the National Renewable Energy Laboratory!(And yes, this does mean I moved across seven states--I'm still unpacking.)I'm so excited about this, everyone! I've done science professionally for a long time, and written about it on the side, but for a while I've been wanting to shift the proportions around a bit. Now I'll have a chance to do just that. This blog has been a big part […]
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