Posts

March 28, 2015

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5:04 PM | Computational model simulates bacterial behavior
University of Notre Dame applied mathematician Mark Alber and environmental biotechnologist Robert Nerenberg have developed a new computational model that effectively simulates the mechanical behavior of biofilms. Their model may lead to new strategies for studying a range of issues from blood clots to waste treatment systems. Subject:  Synthetic Life
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3:55 PM | When attention is a deficit
Sometimes being too focused on a task is not a good thing. During tasks that require our attention, we might become so engrossed in what we are doing that we fail to notice there is a better way to get the job done. For example, let's say you are coming out of a New York City subway one late afternoon and you want to find out which way is west. You might begin to scan street signs and then suddenly realize that you could just look for the setting sun. Subject:  […]
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3:49 PM | The real culprit in Alzheimer's disease determined
By examining more than 3,600 postmortem brains, researchers at Mayo Clinic’s campuses in Jacksonville, Florida, and Rochester, Minnesota, have found that the progression of dysfunctional tau protein drives the cognitive decline and memory loss seen in Alzheimer’s disease. Amyloid, the other toxic protein that characterizes Alzheimer’s, builds up as dementia progresses, but is not the primary culprit, they say. Subject:  Brain & Behavior […]
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3:39 PM | Breakthrough diabetes research to be commercialized
Australian research that has produced a line of insulin producing cells that could eliminate the need for injections for Type 1 diabetics will be commercialised by US company Nuvilex and its subsidiaries Nuvilex Australia and Nuvilex Europe. The clinical-stage biotechnology company has obtained exclusive worldwide rights to use human insulin producing cells, termed "Melligen" cells, developed by UTS's Professor Ann Simpson and her colleagues. In Type 1 or juvenile-onset diabetes the […]
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3:27 PM | Sufficient sleep is important for healthy sexual desire
In a study of 171 women, those who obtained more sleep on a given night experienced greater sexual desire the next day. Reflecting sleep's impact on sexual desire, each additional hour of sleep increased the likelihood of sexual activity with a partner by 14%. Sleep was also important for genital arousal, such that women who slept longer on average experienced fewer problems with vaginal arousal than women who obtained less sleep. Subject:  Health & Medicine […]

March 27, 2015

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9:08 PM | Stacked Ball Drop
What happens when you drop a perfectly balanced stack of balls? And how is the result like a supernova? The classic momentum transfer demonstration, at the next level.
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8:09 PM | Humans have always come in different shapes and sizes
Tübingen researchers show that even our earliest ancestors varied in build. Subject:  Anthropology
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8:04 PM | Still more evidence for groundwater on Mars
Monica Pondrelli and colleagues investigated the Equatorial Layered Deposits (ELDs) of Arabia Terra in Firsoff crater area, Mars, to understand their formation and potential habitability. On the plateau, ELDs consist of rare mounds, flat-lying deposits, and cross-bedded dune fields. Pondrelli and colleagues interpret the mounds as smaller spring deposits, the flat-lying deposits as playa, and the cross-bedded dune fields as aeolian. They write that groundwater fluctuations appear to be […]
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6:01 PM | Study shows brains not as complex as first thought
Scientists say our brains may not be as complicated as we once thought – and they’re using sea slugs to prove it. Led by graduate student Angela Bruno, researchers at The University of Manchester and Rosalind Franklin University of Medicine and Science in Chicago mapped how neurons fired in the brain of the large sea slug Aplysia while it moved. Subject:  Brain & Behavior
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5:53 PM | Disrupted biological clock linked to Alzheimer’s disease
New research has identified some of the processes by which molecules associated with neurological diseases can disrupt the biological clock, interfere with sleep and activity patterns and set the stage for a spiral of health concerns that can include a decreased lifespan and Alzheimer’s disease. The research was published in Neurobiology of Disease by scientists from Oregon State Univ. and the Oregon Health & Science Univ., in work supported by the National Institutes of […]
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3:58 PM | Lettuce color determines the speed of its antioxidant effect
Lettuce, one of the indispensable vegetables in the Mediterranean diet, is a food that greatly benefits health, mainly because it is rich in antioxidants. But not all lettuce varieties have the same antioxidant effect. Subject:  Health & Medicine
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3:50 PM | We don't notice much of what we see
Could you draw the ubiquitous Apple computer logo from memory? Probably not, as it turns out. Subject:  Brain & Behavior
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3:46 PM | Evolutionary novelties in vision
A new study from SciLifeLab at Uppsala University published in PLOS ONE shows that genes crucial for vision were multiplied in the early stages of vertebrate evolution and acquired distinct functions leading to the sophisticated mechanisms of vertebrate eyes. Subject:  Evolution
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2:26 PM | First glimpse inside a macroscopic quantum state
In a recent study published in Physical Review Letters and highlighted by the magazine Science News, the research group led by ICREA Prof at ICFO Morgan Mitchell has detected, for the first time, entanglement among individual photon pairs in a beam of squeezed light. Subject:  Technology
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2:22 PM | New cooking method halves the calories of rice
Scientists have developed a new, simple way to cook rice that could cut the number of calories absorbed by the body by more than half, potentially reducing obesity rates, which is especially important in countries where the food is a staple. The presentation will take place here at the 249th National Meeting & Exposition of the American Chemical Society (ACS), the world's largest scientific society. The meeting features nearly 11,000 reports on new advances in science and other […]

March 26, 2015

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9:06 PM | How did the chicken cross the sea?
It may sound like the makings of a joke, but answering the question of how chickens crossed the sea may soon provide more than just a punch line. Michigan State University researcher Eben Gering has collaborated with a team in a study of the mysterious ancestry of the feral chicken population that has overrun the Hawaiian Island of Kauai. Their results, published in the current issue of Molecular Ecology, may aid efforts to curtail the damage of invasive species in the future, and […]
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9:02 PM | Hubble explores the dark side of cosmic collisions
Astronomers using observations from the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope and NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory have studied how dark matter in clusters of galaxies behaves when the clusters collide. The results, published in the journal Science on 27 March 2015, show that dark matter interacts with itself even less than previously thought, and narrows down the options for what this mysterious substance might be. Subject:  Astronomy/Cosmology
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8:55 PM | Analysis sees many promising pathways for solar photovoltaic power
New study identifies the promise and challenges facing large-scale deployment of solar photovoltaics. In a broad new assessment of the status and prospects of solar photovoltaic technology, MIT researchers say that it is “one of the few renewable, low-carbon resources with both the scalability and the technological maturity to meet ever-growing global demand for electricity.” Subject:  Technology
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5:24 PM | We are still too far from thinking machines
A while back I felt like I have been put to sleep for a decade or so and I have missed out on innovations in AI (artificial intelligence) -- innovations that long-time AI enthusiasts like me have always been dreaming of. Subject:  Artificial Intelligence
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5:15 PM | Thousands of atoms entangled with a single photon
Physicists from MIT and the University of Belgrade have developed a new technique that can successfully entangle 3,000 atoms using only a single photon. The results, published today in the journal Nature, represent the largest number of particles that have ever been mutually entangled experimentally. The researchers say the technique provides a realistic method to generate large ensembles of entangled atoms, which are key components for realizing more-precise atomic clocks. […]
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4:53 PM | Ancient Martian lake system records two water-related events
Researchers from Brown Univ. have completed a new analysis of an ancient Martian lake system in Jezero Crater, near the planet’s equator. The study finds that the onslaught of water that filled the crater was one of at least two separate periods of water activity in the region surrounding Jezero. Subject:  Astronomy/Cosmology
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4:46 PM | Testing of software adds to urgency in race for driverless cars
In the race to build a self-driving car, German automakers are hitting a road block in their efforts to test vehicles so complex they need more than 10 times the amount of software found in a fighter jet. German laws currently place limits on testing on public roads. Automakers fear this is allowing U.S. competitor Google to pull ahead in developing software, specifically programs that will give cars the correct reflexes in real-life traffic situations. Subject:  […]
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3:19 PM | Intelligent robots must uphold human rights
The common fear is that intelligent machines will turn against humans. But who will save the robots from each other, and from us, asks Hutan Ashrafian. There is a strong possibility that in the not-too-distant future, artificial intelligences (AIs), perhaps in the form of robots, will become capable of sentient thought. Whatever form it takes, this dawning of machine consciousness is likely to have a substantial impact on human society. Subject:  Artificial […]
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3:11 PM | How lifeforms know to be the right size
Shakespeare said "to be or not to be" is the question, and now scientists are asking how life forms grow to be the correct size with proportional body parts. Subject:  Biology & Aging
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3:06 PM | Ebola vaccine announced
A cytomegalovirus (CMV)-based vaccine provides long-lasting protective immunity against Ebola virus, and has potential for development as a disseminating vaccine strategy to prevent ebolavirus infection of wild African ape populations. A new study shows the durability of a novel 'disseminating' cytomegalovirus (CMV)-based Ebola virus (Zaire ebolavirus; EBOV) vaccine strategy that may eventually have the potential to reduce ebolavirus infection in wild African ape species. […]
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1:10 AM | The singular universe and the reality of time
I have devoted a serious amount of time to reading the new book by Roberto Mangabeira Unger and Lee Smolin, The Singular Universe and the Reality of Time: A Proposal In Natural Philosophy [1]. Indeed, this review actually pertains to the first part of the book, written by Unger, the philosopher in the pair. Eventually I will come back to it with a second review, focusing on the part written by Smolin, the physicist. Subject:  Astronomy/Cosmology
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12:57 AM | Cosmological Constant & The End of the Universe
Dr Tony Padilla on some recent work he has been doing regarding the end of the universe. See the papers (not the faint-hearted) here and here.
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12:39 AM | The state of vaccine confidence
A decade on from the Northern Nigeria polio vaccination boycott and its global costs to the polio eradication initiative, a new report examines global issues affecting vaccine confidence and hesitation since the new millennium. Subject:  Health & Medicine

March 25, 2015

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7:57 PM | Are romantic relationships part of evolution?
A Saint Louis University research review article suggests people are hardwired to fall out of love and move onto new romantic relationships. "Our review of the literature suggests we have a mechanism in our brains designed by natural selection to pull us through a very tumultuous time in our lives," said Brian Boutwell, Ph.D., associate professor of criminology and criminal justice and associate professor of epidemiology at Saint Louis University. "It suggests people will recover; the […]
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6:11 PM | Education may not improve our life chances of happiness
Getting a good education may not improve your life chances of happiness, according to new mental health research from the University of Warwick. In a new study published in the British Journal of Psychiatry, researchers from Warwick Medical School examined socioeconomic factors related to high mental wellbeing, such as level of education and personal finances. Low educational attainment is strongly associated with mental illness but the research team wanted to find out if higher […]
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