Posts

January 12, 2015

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7:15 PM | The 10 worst things about listicles
10. Listicles destroy the narrative imagination and subtract the sublimity from your gaze. 9. The numerosities of nature never equal the numerosity of human fingers. 8. The spherical universe becomes pretzel sticks upon a brief conveyor. 7. In every listicle, opinion subverts fact, riding upon it as upon a sad pony. (Since you momentarily accept everything you hear, you already know this.) 6. The human mind naturally aspires to unifying harmonies that the listicle instead squirts into […]
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7:05 PM | Vision system for household robots
New algorithm could enable household robots to better identify objects in cluttered environments. For household robots ever to be practical, they’ll need to be able to recognize the objects they’re supposed to manipulate. But while object recognition is one of the most widely studied topics in artificial intelligence, even the best object detectors still fail much of the time. Subject:  Robotics
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7:01 PM | New findings reveal genetic brain disorders converge at the synapse
Picower Institute researchers show that different causes of autism and intellectual disability respond to the same treatment. Subject:  Brain & Behavior
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5:02 PM | VR brain training game can detect mild cognitive impairment
A recent study demonstrated the potential of a virtual reality cognitive training game as a screening tool for patients with mild cognitive impairment (MCI) among a sample of older adults. MCI is a condition that often predates Alzheimer's disease (AD) and is characterized by memory loss and inability to execute complex activities such as financial planning. Subject:  Brain & Behavior
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3:43 PM | New method of accelerating drug discovery research
Chemists have made a significant advancement to directly functionalize C-H bonds in natural products by selectively installing new carbon-carbon bonds into highly complex alkaloids and nitrogen-containing drug molecules. C-H functionalization is a much more streamlined process than traditional organic chemistry, holding the potential to greatly reduce the time and number of steps needed to create derivatives of natural products. Subject:  Health & Medicine […]
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3:33 PM | Did viruses help us evolve to be smarter?
A new study indicates that inherited viruses that are millions of years old play an important role in building up the complex networks that characterize the human brain. Researchers have long been aware that endogenous retroviruses constitute around five percent of our DNA. For many years, it was unclear if they had a role - the colloquial term junk DNA was attached to them because they might have been a side-effect of our evolutionary journey. Subject:  Brain […]
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3:00 AM | iPhone separation linked to physiological anxiety, poor cognitive performance
Cell phone use has become a common part of life as mobile devices have become one of the most popular ways to communicate. Even so, very little research exists on the impact of cell phone usage and specifically what happens when people are separated from their phones. Now, research from the University of Missouri has found that cell phone separation can have serious psychological and physiological effects on iPhone users, including poor performance on cognitive tests. […]

January 11, 2015

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5:55 PM | Restoring vision to the blind
Scientists have long known that species such as amphibians and fish can regenerate retinal cells — so why can’t mammals? The third report from the Albert and Mary Lasker Foundation and the International Retinal Research Foundation’s 10-year collaboration, recently published in Translational Vision Science & Technology (TVST), addresses this and other questions. Subject:  Health & Medicine
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5:14 PM | First patient discharged with total artificial heart
It took a few days for 24-year-old Stan Larkin to get used to the sound of his new heartbeat, but now he barely even notices it. The pumping sounds similar to a horse's quick gallop across a cold, hard trail, and can be heard from several feet away. He gets questions about it on a regular basis, and each time he calmly answers. "It's called a Freedom driver. My heart was too weak to pump blood through my body so I got a Total Artificial Heart and the driver pumps the blood," he […]
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4:35 PM | Can solar activity affects fertility?
Gine Roll Skjaervoe at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology's (NTNU) Department of Biology has studied church records from the period 1750-1900 and looked at life history variables: how old were women when they had their first child, and their last? How many years passed between the birth of each child, and how many of these children survived? How many of these children were in turn married and had children? All told, she studied information from more than 9,000 people […]
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4:15 PM | Playing catch can help seniors prevent falls
The simple training exercise of catching a weighted medicine ball can improve balance and may help prevent falls in the elderly, according to research at the University of Illinois at Chicago. Their results are reported in studies available online to subscribers in advance of print in two journals: Electromyography and Kinesiology, and Experimental Brain Research. Subject:  Health & Medicine
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4:07 PM | Countering a new class of coffee shop hackers
If you’re sitting in a coffee shop, tapping away on your laptop, feeling safe from hackers because you didn’t connect to the shop’s Wi-Fi, think again. The bad guys may be able to see what you’re doing just by analyzing the low-power electronic signals your laptop emits even when it’s not connected to the Internet. And smartphones may be even more vulnerable to such spying. Subject:  Computer Science
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4:02 PM | Toward quantum chips
A team of researchers has built an array of light detectors sensitive enough to register the arrival of individual light particles, or photons, and mounted them on a silicon optical chip. Such arrays are crucial components of devices that use photons to perform quantum computations. Subject:  Technology
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3:59 PM | Daniel Dennett: Stop Telling People They Don't Have Free Will
Philosopher Daniel Dennett takes issue with neuroscientists who say that neuroscience shows that humans don't have free will. In this video, Dennett demonstrates an intuition pump (or thought experiment) featuring a "nefarious neurosurgeon" who lies to a patient with obsessive compulsive disorder. Dennett argues that telling people that free will is an illusion makes them less concerned about the negative implications of their actions.

January 10, 2015

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7:47 PM | Science says: eat with your kids
As a family therapist, I often have the impulse to tell families to go home and have dinner together rather than spending an hour with me. And 20 years of research in North America, Europe and Australia back up my enthusiasm for family dinners. It turns out that sitting down for a nightly meal is great for the brain, the body and the spirit. And that nightly dinner doesn’t have to be a gourmet meal that took three hours to cook, nor does it need to be made with organic arugula […]
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7:21 PM | Ritual circumcision linked to increased risk of autism
Research published by the Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine suggests that circumcised boys are more likely than intact boys to develop autism spectrum disorder (ASD) before the age of 10. Risk is particularly high for infantile autism before the age of five. Subject:  Health & Medicine
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5:08 PM | Alex Garland's 'Ex Machina': is true artificial intelligence sci-fi or sci-fact?
"Tough crowd …. There were some real heavyweights there, a lot of people a lot smarter than me. I was pretty terrified." So says Alex Garland, when I meet him the morning after the screening of his directorial debut, Ex Machina, to an audience of scientists. The reason for their presence? The high-concept thriller deals with that most topical of scientific topics, artificial intelligence, via the tale of a beautiful machine, Ava, believed by its creator to be the first truly […]
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4:18 PM | Colliding black holes could warp space-time itself
If the two black holes meet, they could release as much energy as 100 million supernova explosions as they shatter their galaxy, a new study finds. A team of prominent researchers has discovered what appears to be the start of two massive black holes at the centers of their own galaxies beginning to collide. Subject:  Astronomy/Cosmology
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2:29 AM | Trapped in his body for 12 years, a man breaks free
What would you do if you were locked in your body, your brain intact but with no way to communicate? How do you survive emotionally when you are invisible to everyone you know and love? It was the late '80s, and young Martin Pistorius, growing up in South Africa, was mostly thinking about electronics. Resistors and transistors and you name it. But at age 12, his life took an unexpected turn. He came down with a strange illness. The doctors weren't sure what it was, but their best […]
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1:39 AM | Computer program conquers Texas Hold'em poker
All your poker chips may soon belong to the computers. A new algorithm has taken the first big step in figuring out poker, the globally popular card game played by more than 150 million people, by solving a two-player version known as heads-up limit Texas hold’em. Subject:  Artificial Intelligence
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1:30 AM | Monkeys can learn to see themselves in the mirror
Unlike humans and great apes, rhesus monkeys don't realize when they look in a mirror that it is their own face looking back at them. But, according to a report in the Cell Press journal Current Biology on January 8, that doesn't mean they can't learn. What's more, once rhesus monkeys in the study developed mirror self-recognition, they continued to use mirrors spontaneously to explore parts of their bodies they normally don't see. The discovery in monkeys sheds light on the neural […]
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1:21 AM | Researchers create inexpensive asphalt that absorbs carbon dioxide
The best material to keep carbon dioxide from natural gas wells from fouling the atmosphere may be a derivative of asphalt, according to Rice University scientists. The Rice laboratory of chemist James Tour followed up on last year's discovery of a "green" carbon capture material for wellhead sequestration with the news that an even better compound could be made cheaply in a few steps from asphalt, the black, petroleum-based substance primarily used to build roads. Subject:  […]
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1:15 AM | Study links lifespan to solar activity
Talk about a rough start in life. Be­ing born when the sun is stormy might cut around five years off of it, if a new study of Nor­we­gians is any guide. The study re­ports that his­tor­ic­ally, peo­ple born when there was low so­lar ac­ti­vity lived long­er on av­er­age than those born in times of high­er so­lar ac­ti­vity, which comes in 11-year cy­cles. The re­search­ers be­hind the study say the […]
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1:08 AM | Playing catch can improve balance, prevent falls in seniors
The simple training exercise of catching a weighted medicine ball can improve balance and may help prevent falls in the elderly, according to research at the University of Illinois at Chicago. Their results are reported in studies available online to subscribers in advance of print in two journals: Electromyography and Kinesiology, and Experimental Brain Research. Subject:  Health & Medicine

January 09, 2015

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11:13 PM | Optimistic people have healthier hearts, study finds
People who have upbeat outlooks on life have significantly better cardiovascular health, suggests a new study that examined associations between optimism and heart health in more than 5,100 adults. Subject:  Health & Medicine
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9:20 PM | Infamous study of humanity's 'dark side' may actually show how to keep it at bay
In 1961, with memories of Holocaust atrocities and the prosecution of Nazi officials at Nuremburg still fresh, psychologist Stanley Milgram undertook a series of now infamous experiments on obedience and reprehensible behavior. About two-thirds of Milgram's nearly 800 study subjects, pressed by an authoritative experimenter, were willing to administer increasingly powerful electric shocks to an unseen stranger despite cries of agony and pleas to stop. Subject:  […]
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3:46 AM | Extraordinary gene transfer between cells observed
A team led by Professor Mike Berridge from the Malaghan Institute has become the first in the world to demonstrate mitochondrial DNA movement between cells in an animal tumour. Their paper was published today in the leading biological journal Cell Metabolism. Subject:  Biology & Aging
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12:25 AM | The menace posed by not vaccinating children
Tara Culp-Ressler had an article about how those who are opposed to vaccinating their own children against measles are threatening the lives of other children. Subject:  Health & Medicine

January 08, 2015

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9:19 PM | Facial motion activates a dedicated network within the brain
A face is more than a static collection of features. A shift in gaze, a tightening of the lips, a tilt of the head, these movements convey important clues to someone’s state of mind. Scientists know that two particularly social and visual creatures, humans and rhesus macaque monkeys, have a network of small areas within their brains that become active when shown still images of faces. But it hasn’t been clear if the same areas are responsible for processing changing […]
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9:11 PM | Newly discovered antibiotic kills pathogens without resistance
For years, pathogens' resistance to antibiotics has put them one step ahead of researchers, which is causing a public health crisis, according to University Distinguished Professor Kim Lewis. But in new research, Lewis and his colleagues present a newly discovered antibiotic that eliminates pathogens without encountering any detectable resistance--a finding that challenges long-held scientific beliefs and holds great promise for treating chronic infections like tuberculosis and those […]
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