Posts

November 04, 2014

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7:06 PM | New challenge for direct imaging of exo-Earths
By using the full power of the Very Large Telescope Interferometer an international team of astronomers has discovered exozodiacal light close to the habitable zones around nine nearby stars. This light is starlight reflected from dust created as the result of collisions between asteroids, and the evaporation of comets. The presence of such large amounts of dust in the inner regions around some stars may pose an obstacle to the direct imaging of Earth-like planets in the future. […]
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6:40 PM | Study shows tectonic plates not rigid, deform horizontally in cooling process
The puzzle pieces of tectonic plates that make up the outer layer of the earth are not rigid and don't fit together as nicely as we were taught in high school. A study published in the journal Geology by Corné Kreemer, an associate professor at the University of Nevada, Reno, and his colleague Richard Gordon of Rice University, quantifies deformation of the Pacific plate and challenges the central approximation of the plate tectonic paradigm that plates are rigid. […]
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5:40 PM | Artificial pancreas to undergo clinical trial
An artificial pancreas, the ultimate cure for type 1 diabetes, will be tested in clinical trials as a result of a $1 million National Institutes of Health Grant awarded to Dr. B. Wayne Bequette of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute to fund research concerning his closed-loop artificial pancreas developed along with colleagues at Stanford University, the University of Colorado, and the University of Virginia. Frequent insulin injections and blood samples may be a thing of the past for […]
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5:36 PM | Could a robot do your job?
By 2017, about 225,000 more maids, home health care workers, food service workers, retail salespeople and custodians are likely to be needed, making them among the fastest-growing jobs. But with wages around $10 per hour, it's hard to find good candidates. It might get even harder. These aforementioned jobs will account for nearly 1 million of the 2.4 million new, low-skill jobs expected to be added in the U.S. by 2017, according to a USA TODAY analysis of jobs data from Economic […]
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4:56 PM | Building a space base, part 2: How much money would it take?
How much would it cost to establish a space base close to Earth, say on the Moon or an asteroid? To find out, Universe Today spoke with Philip Metzger, a senior research physicist at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center, who has explored this subject extensively on his website and in published papers. Subject:  Technology
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4:23 PM | Dark matter may be massive
The physics community has spent three decades searching for and finding no evidence that dark matter is made of tiny exotic particles. Case Western Reserve University theoretical physicists suggest researchers consider looking for candidates more in the ordinary realm and, well, more massive. Dark matter is unseen matter, that, combined with normal matter, could create the gravity that, among other things, prevents spinning galaxies from flying apart. Physicists calculate that dark […]
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3:52 PM | It's alive! Ames engineers harvest and print parts for new breed of aircraft
It's more an engineer's dream than nightmare - to rapidly prototype and redesign aircraft using 3-D printed parts. That's just what a team of student interns and engineers at NASA's Ames Research Center in Moffett Field, California, got to do: custom-build aircraft by repurposing surplus Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs). Subject:  Technology
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3:14 AM | New Tech Aims to Improve Communication Between Dogs and Humans
North Carolina State University researchers have developed a suite of technologies that can be used to enhance communication between dogs and humans, which has applications in everything from search and rescue to service dogs to training our pets. Subject:  Animal Research
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3:05 AM | Here’s a brainwave – magnetic pulses could treat autism
Around 1 in 68 children has an autism spectrum disorder (ASD), according to the US Centres for Disease Control – an extraordinarily high number. Although the prevalence rise is probably due mainly to changes in how we diagnose and classify ASD – autism was once considered a rare condition affecting only one among thousands – it has become a huge public-health challenge. Subject:  Brain & Behavior
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2:49 AM | Scientists discover why anesthetics cause prolonged memory loss
Researchers at the University of Toronto's Faculty of Medicine have shown why anesthetics can cause long-term memory loss, a discovery that can have serious implications for post-operative patients. Until now, scientists haven't understood why about a third of patients who undergo anesthesia and surgery experience some kind of cognitive impairment—such as memory loss—at hospital discharge. One-tenth of patients still suffer cognitive impairments three months later. […]
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2:20 AM | Migraine linked to defective 'insulation' around nerve fibers
A new study shows cellular-level changes in nerve structure and function that may contribute to the development of migraine headaches, reports the November issue of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery, the official medical journal of the American Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS). Subject:  Brain & Behavior
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2:15 AM | Apple's Jony Ive on the lessons he learned from Steve Jobs
Speaking with Graydon Carter at Vanity Fair's New Establishment Summit, Ive detailed his creative process and work ethic.
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2:02 AM | People's gut bacteria lacks diversity, compared with apes
The microbes living in people's guts are much less diverse than those in humans' closest relatives, the African apes, an apparently long evolutionary trend that appears to be speeding up in more modern societies, with possible implications for human health, according to a new study. Subject:  Animal Research

November 03, 2014

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10:44 PM | String field theory could be the foundation of quantum mechanics
Two USC researchers have proposed a link between string field theory and quantum mechanics that could open the door to using string field theory — or a broader version of it, called M-theory — as the basis of all physics. “This could solve the mystery of where quantum mechanics comes from,” said Itzhak Bars, USC Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences professor and lead author of the paper. Bars collaborated with Dmitry Rychkov, his Ph.D. student at USC. […]
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8:50 PM | The journey to the other side of absolute zero
Absolute zero is the temperature (-273.15C) at which all motion in matter stops and is thought to be unreachable. But recent experiments using ultracold atoms have measured temperatures that are, in fact, negative in absolute temperature scale. Subject:  Technology
Editor's Pick
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8:31 PM | Inhaled Ebola vaccine may offer long-term protection from virus
A potentially breathable, respiratory vaccine in development has been shown to provide long-term protection for non-human primates against the deadly Ebola virus, as reported this week in the online edition of the journal Molecular Pharmaceutics. Subject:  Health & Medicine
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3:42 PM | Inscrutable robots
Petros Gelepithis has A Novel View of Consciousness in the International Journal of Machine Consciousness (alas, I can’t find a freely accessible version). Computers, as such, can’t be conscious, he thinks, but robots can; however, proper robot consciousness will necessarily be very unlike human consciousness in a way that implies some barriers to understanding. Subject:  Robotics
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2:39 AM | Study reveals startling decline in European birds
Bird populations across Europe have experienced sharp declines over the past 30 years, with the majority of losses from the most common species, say the University of Exeter, the RSPB and the Pan-European Common Bird Monitoring Scheme (PECBMS) in a new study. However numbers of some less common birds have risen. Subject:  Animal Research
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2:29 AM | Planet-forming lifeline discovered in a binary star system
A research group led by Anne Dutrey from the Laboratory of Astrophysics of Bordeaux, France and CNRS used the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA) to observe the distribution of dust and gas in a multiple-star system called GG Tau-A [1]. This object is only a few million years old and lies about 450 light-years from Earth in the constellation of Taurus (The Bull). Subject:  Astronomy/Cosmology
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2:21 AM | Perceptronium
Earlier this year Tononi’s Integrated Information Theory (IIT) gained a prestigious supporter in Max Tegmark, professor of Physics at MIT. The boost for the theory came not just from Tegmark’s prestige, however; there was also a suggestion that the IIT dovetailed neatly with some deep problems of physics, providing a neat possible solution and the kind of bridge between neuroscience, physics and consciousness that we could hardly have dared to hope for. Subject:  […]

November 02, 2014

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7:11 PM | Are you ready for some Rapture?
Andrew Brown, writing in the Guardian, says that dissatisfaction with pope Francis’s moves to make the Catholic Church less overtly hostile to gays and divorced people while not actually changing doctrine has caused consternation among traditionalists because what’s the fun in viewing some practice as sinful if you cannot shun the sinners and also condemn them to a lifetime of torment in hell? Subject:  Atheism & Religion
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5:08 PM | Commentary: Our machine masters
Some days I think nobody knows me as well as Pandora. I create a new music channel around some band or song and Pandora feeds me a series of songs I like just as well. In fact, it often feeds me songs I’d already downloaded onto my phone from iTunes. Either my musical taste is extremely conventional or Pandora is really good at knowing what I like. In the current issue of Wired, the technology writer Kevin Kelly says that we had all better get used to this level of predictive […]
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3:32 PM | Sam Harris: Can Psychedelics Help You Expand Your Mind?
Sam Harris discusses the virtues of psychedelics such as LSD and MDMA. While he does not condone the use of these drugs without caveat, he does acknowledge their profound consciousness-altering properties. Harris is the author of Waking Up: A Guide to Spirituality Without Religion.
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2:05 AM | How to read a mind
Abstract: Auditory perception and auditory imagery have been shown to activate overlapping brain regions. We hypothesized that these phenomena also share a common underlying neural representation. To assess this, we used electrocorticography intracranial recordings from epileptic patients performing an out loud or a silent reading task. In these tasks, short stories scrolled across a video screen in two conditions: subjects read the same stories both aloud (overt) and silently […]

November 01, 2014

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6:06 PM | Artificial intelligence: machine v man
Computers will soon become more intelligent than us. Some of the best brains in Silicon Valley are now trying to work out what happens next. The scene in the cramped office in Berkeley on a recent Saturday feels like a typical start-up carried along by the tech boom, with engineers working through the weekend in a race against time. The long whiteboard down one wall has been scrawled over in different-coloured pens. A large jar of candy and a glass-doored fridge full of soda sit […]
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5:34 PM | Cell division, minus the cells
The process of cell division is central to life. The last stage, when two daughter cells split from each other, has fascinated scientists since the dawn of cell biology in the Victorian era. For just as long, it has been notoriously difficult to study this final step, when the dividing cell creates a furrow before cleaving in two. Subject:  Biology & Aging
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5:29 PM | Scientists replicate the tide with two buckets, aquarium tubing, and a pump
Rachel MacTavish is growing salt marsh plants in microcosms that replicate the tide. She assembled them in an outdoor greenhouse at the Sapelo Island National Estuarine Research Reserve in Georgia, USA, with buckets from a hardware store, aquarium tubing, and pumps. Her tidal simulation units could be an important tool for preserving and restoring environmentally important wetlands, because they enable researchers to investigate tidal marsh plant growth in a controlled setting. […]
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5:24 PM | Larry Page: AI will take jobs, but living will be cheaper
Wouldn’t the world be a happier place if 90 per cent of the people with jobs put their feet up instead and left the robots to do the work? Why didn’t the last house you bought cost only 5 per cent of what you paid for it? And is there any reason why you or your children shouldn’t one day enjoy limitless cheap power from nuclear fusion and a greatly extended lifespan? Subject:  Artificial Intelligence
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2:56 PM | High milk diet 'may not cut risk of bone fractures'
Drinking lots of milk may not lower the risk of fracturing bones, a study in the British Medical Journal suggests. The research, conducted in Sweden, showed women who drank more than three glasses a day were actually more likely to break bones than those who had less. The researchers cautioned that their work only suggested a trend and should not be interpreted as proof that high milk consumption caused fractures. Factors such as alcohol and weight were likely to play a role, they […]
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1:01 AM | Update: One survivor, one fatality in Virgin Galactic’s SpaceShipTwo flight accident
Officials from Virgin Galactic and Scaled Composites have confirmed one of the pilots was killed and another was injured in a major anomaly during a test flight of SpaceShipTwo today (Friday, October 31). Subject:  Technology
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