Posts

February 15, 2015

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4:20 PM | Babies can identify complex social situations and react accordingly
Scientists suggest 13-month-olds use their understanding about others’ perspectives and social evaluation skills to make sense of social interactions. In the social world, people constantly gather information through visual cues that are used to evaluate others and interact. A new study from researchers at the University of Missouri determined that babies can make sense of complex social situations, and that they expect people to behave appropriately. Subject:  […]
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3:56 PM | Social networking and your online afterlife
On Feb. 12, Facebook rolled out a new feature called Legacy Contact, which gives people a platform for remembering and celebrating the lives of loved ones when they die. The basis for this product came from the doctoral work of Jed Brubaker, a Ph.D. candidate in informatics at UC Irvine. Indeed, the Menlo Park, Calif., social media giant even retained Brubaker as an academic consultant in the creation, testing and release of Legacy Contact. Subject:  Technology […]
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3:35 PM | The Stoppard Problem
It was exciting to hear that Tom Stoppard’s new play was going to be called The Hard Problem, although until it opened recently details were scarce. In the event the reviews have not been very good. Subject:  Brain & Behavior
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3:19 PM | Social networking helps you shed the pounds
If you want to lose pounds using an online weight management program, don't be a wallflower. A new Northwestern University study shows that online dieters with high social embeddedness -- who logged in regularly, recorded their weigh-ins and 'friended' other members -- lost more than 8 percent of their body weight in six months. The less users interacted in the community, the less weight they lost, the study found. Subject:  Health & Medicine
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3:15 PM | Stem cells restore 'chemobrain'
Human neural stem cell treatments are showing promise for reversing learning and memory deficits after chemotherapy, according to UC Irvine researchers. In preclinical studies using rodents, they found that stem cells transplanted one week after the completion of a series of chemotherapy sessions restored a range of cognitive functions, as measured one month later using a comprehensive platform of behavioral testing. In contrast, rats not treated with stem cells showed significant […]
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3:11 PM | In-flight entertainment gets virtual
On your next international flight, you may want to forget the screen on the back seat and lose your tablet device. In an in-flight entertainment first, Australian carrier Qantas will soon be making Samsung's virtual reality headsets, called Gear VR, available to premium passengers on some long-distance flights. A three-month trial run begins in mid-March, when Qantas is expected to make the headsets available to first-class passengers on some of the airline's A380 flights between […]
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2:56 AM | New formula predicts innovation
By the time she was six years old, Nadya Bliss had already figured out her professional calling. She knew that one day she would be a mathematician. "I'm a geek at heart," confesses Bliss, now the assistant vice president for research strategy in Arizona State University's Office of Knowledge Enterprise Development. "But I've never wanted to be the kind of mathematician who just sits in the corner and does things on her own." Subject:  Technology
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2:52 AM | Ground-breaking lung cancer breath test in clinical trial
University of Leicester and Leicester’s Hospitals to evaluate revolutionary device which detects lung cancer in early stages. A clinical trial led by University of Leicester respiratory experts into a potentially ground-breaking ‘breath test’ to detect lung cancer is set to get underway at the Glenfield Hospital in Leicester. Subject:  Health & Medicine
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2:48 AM | The future of electronics -- now in 2-D
The future of electronics could lie in a material from its past, as researchers from The Ohio State University work to turn germanium--the material of 1940s transistors--into a potential replacement for silicon. At the American Association for the Advancement of Science meeting, assistant professor of chemistry Joshua Goldberger reported progress in developing a form of germanium called germanane. Subject:  Computer Science

February 14, 2015

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7:25 PM | Robo-Journalist Wins The Pulitzer
Okay, so that hasn’t happened yet, but the folks over at Narrative Science, a company that has created software that performs “automated narrative generation,” confidently predicts that its computer program will win the coveted prize by 2016. Let’s back up … Continue reading →
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5:14 PM | Artificial proteins could bring the next biological revolution – starting with MRI
Scientists and engineers have looked to nature for their inspiration for centuries. The field of biomimetics uses ideas from nature to solve complex human challenges. Subject:  Biology & Aging
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4:49 PM | Key to blocking influenza virus may lie in a cell’s own machinery
Viruses are masters of outsourcing, entrusting their fundamental function – reproduction – to the host cells they infect. But it turns out this highly economical approach also creates vulnerability. Researchers at Rockefeller University and their collaborators have found an unexpected way the immune system exploits the flu virus’ dependence on its host’s machinery to create new viruses capable of spreading infection. This discovery suggests a new approach to […]
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4:35 PM | Is it cruel to kick a robot dog?
Spot is a four-legged robot designed for indoor and outdoor operation. It is electrically powered and hydraulically actuated. Spot has a sensor head that helps it navigate and negotiate rough terrain. Spot weighs about 160 lbs.
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4:22 PM | Winter weather depriving city dwellers of vitamin D
UB researcher identifies supplements, fish and irradiated mushrooms as rich sources. Residents of snowy, northern U.S. cities are at risk of vitamin D deficiency and worse, may not even know it. During Buffalo’s winter months, nearly 50 percent of people have insufficient amounts of vitamin D and 25 percent may be considered deficient, says nutrition researcher Peter Horvath of the University at Buffalo School of Public Health and Health Professions. Subject:  […]
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4:09 PM | A New Way to View Titan: 'Despeckle' It
During 10 years of discovery, NASA's Cassini spacecraft has pulled back the smoggy veil that obscures the surface of Titan, Saturn's largest moon. Cassini's radar instrument has mapped almost half of the giant moon's surface; revealed vast, desert-like expanses of sand dunes; and plumbed the depths of expansive hydrocarbon seas. What could make that scientific bounty even more amazing? Well, what if the radar images could look even better? Subject:  […]
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4:02 PM | Apple is rumored to be building an electric car
Apple Inc. has revolutionized music and phones. Now it is aiming at a much bigger target: automobiles. The Cupertino, Calif., company has several hundred employees working secretly toward creating an Apple-branded electric vehicle, according to people familiar with the matter. The project, code-named “Titan,” initially is working on the design of a vehicle that resembles a minivan, one of the people said. An Apple spokesman declined to comment. Subject:  […]
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1:37 AM | Submarine to explore Titan's oceans
What would a submarine to explore the liquid methane seas of Saturn's Moon Titan look like? This video shows one submarine concept that would explore both the shoreline and the depths of this strange world that has methane rain, rivers and seas! The design was developed for the NASA Innovative Advanced Concepts (NIAC) Program, by NASA Glenn's COMPASS Team, and technologists and scientists from the Applied Physics Lab and submarine designers from the Applied Research Lab.
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1:32 AM | Dogs can read emotions from human faces
Dogs can tell the difference between happy and angry human faces, according to a new study in the Cell Press journal Current Biology on February 12. The discovery represents the first solid evidence that an animal other than humans can discriminate between emotional expressions in another species, the researchers say. Subject:  Animal Research

February 13, 2015

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9:48 PM | The intrinsic value of self-knowledge
April 2, I'll be a critic at a Pacific APA author-meets-critics session on Quassim Cassam's book Self-Knowledge for Humans. (Come!) In the last chapter of the book, Cassam argues that self-knowledge is not intrinsically valuable. It's only, he says, derivatively or instrumentally valuable -- valuable to the extent it helps deliver something else, like happiness. Subject:  Brain & Behavior
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9:35 PM | Correlations of quantum particles help in distinguishing physical processes
Communication security and metrology could be enhanced through a study of the role of quantum correlations in the distinguishability of physical processes, by researchers at the Universities of Strathclyde and Waterloo. The study involved analysing the impact of quantum steering - the way a measurement performed on a particle can affect another distant particle. The study authors devised a method for both precisely quantifying steering’s impact and relating it to the task of […]
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6:52 PM | I, wormbot: the next step in artificial intelligence
If a robot can be made to think like a worm, how will we define living and non-living beings? Simulating human traits remains the principal bugbear of artificial intelligence developers. But an increasing number of them believe they can design sophisticated and intelligent machines by going back to first principles – that is, by replicating the neural circuitry of simple organisms. Timothy Busbice is one such developer, who is keen to fuse the knowledge of the neural circuitry […]
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4:54 PM | If you could clone yourself, would you still have sex?
Imagine how easy life would be if you could produce offspring without a mate. Sexual reproduction is the most common mating system in the animal kingdom. But in many species, females do not require males to produce offspring –- they can reproduce asexually. Subject:  Biology & Aging
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4:31 PM | New Alzheimer therapy offers promising results
Scientists at Karolinska Institutet have evaluated a new Alzheimer’s therapy in which the patients receive an implant that stimulates the growth of a certain type of nerve cell. The results, which are published in the journal Alzheimer's & Dementia, suggest that the introduction of a nerve growth factor can prevent neuronal degradation in Alzheimer’s patients. Subject:  Brain & Behavior
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3:27 PM | What does successful aging mean?
Scholars have long debated what successful aging is, how to measure it, and how to promote it. But the latest issue of The Gerontologist lays the groundwork for building consensus on the topic -- while pointing out that the answer may differ among academics and the general public, as well as across populations and demographic groups. Subject:  Biology & Aging
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3:12 PM | Interstellar technology throws light on spinning black holes
The team responsible for the Oscar-nominated visual effects at the centre of Christopher Nolan's epic, Interstellar, have turned science fiction into science fact by providing new insights into the powerful effects of black holes. In a paper published today, 13 February, in IOP Publishing's journal Classical and Quantum Gravity, the team describe the innovative computer code that was used to generate the movie's iconic images of the wormhole, black hole and various celestial objects, […]
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2:25 AM | Switching superconductivity by light
A research team led by Prof. Hiroshi M. Yamamoto of the Institute for Molecular Science, National Institutes of Natural Sciences has developed a novel superconducting transistor which can be switched reversibly between ON and OFF by light-irradiation. This achievement is a milestone for future high-speed switching devices or highly-sensitive optical sensors. Subject:  Technology
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2:20 AM | Warming pushes Western US toward driest period in 1,000 years
During the second half of the 21st century, the U.S. Southwest and Great Plains will face persistent drought worse than anything seen in times ancient or modern, with the drying conditions "driven primarily" by human-induced global warming, a new study predicts. Subject:  Earth Science
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12:10 AM | Alternative chemistries of life on other planets
Ideas about directing evolution of life forms on Earth and finding life on other planets are rapidly morphing from science-fiction fantasy into mainstream science, says David Lynn, a chemist at Emory University. "These areas of science are rapidly coming of age because of our increasing knowledge and advancing technology. It's an exciting time. We're on the threshold of answering fundamental questions including: What is life? Are there forms of life that we haven't even yet imagined? […]

February 12, 2015

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9:06 PM | Two among earliest mammals discovered
The fossils of two interrelated ancestral mammals, newly discovered in China, suggest that the wide-ranging ecological diversity of modern mammals had a precedent more than 160 million years ago. Subject:  Animal Research
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8:54 PM | First glimpse of a chemical bond being born
Scientists have used an X-ray laser at the Department of Energy's SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory to get the first glimpse of the transition state where two atoms begin to form a weak bond on the way to becoming a molecule. This fundamental advance, reported Feb. 12 in Science Express and long thought impossible, will have a profound impact on the understanding of how chemical reactions take place and on efforts to design reactions that generate energy, create new products and […]
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