Posts

September 08, 2014

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1:46 AM | Robot servants are going to make your life easy. Then they'll ruin it.
Jibo, the “world’s first family robot,” hit the media hype machine like a bomb. From a Katie Couric profile to coverage in just about every outlet, folks couldn’t get enough of this little robot with a big personality poised to bring us a step closer to the world depicted in “The Jetsons” where average families have maids like Rosie. In the blink of an eye, pre-orders climbed passed $1.8 million and blew away the initial fundraising goal of $100k. […]
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1:26 AM | Banked blood grows stiffer with age
It may look like fresh blood and flow like fresh blood, but the longer blood is stored, the less it can carry oxygen into the tiny microcapillaries of the body, says a new study from University of Illinois researchers. Using advanced optical techniques, the researchers measured the stiffness of the membrane surrounding red blood cells over time. They found that, even though the cells retain their shape and hemoglobin content, the membranes get stiffer, which steadily decreases the […]

September 07, 2014

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5:39 PM | 61 percent fall in female genital warts due to free HPV vaccine
GPs in Australia are managing 61 per cent less cases of genital warts among young women since the introduction of the national human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccination program, a new study from the University of Sydney reveals. The study, which reviewed more than a million patient encounters between 2000 and 2012, showed a significant year-on-year reduction in the management rate of genital warts in women aged 15-27 years since the vaccination program started. The findings are published […]
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5:35 PM | What is a quantum computer, and why is Google building one?
You may have seen headlines that Google is working on a quantum computer chip with researchers from the University of California Santa Barbara. But there are some questions you might have before we get into the specifics of the initiative. What is a quantum computer? What can it do? Further, what is Google planning to do with a quantum computer once it’s built one? Subject:  Computer Science
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3:37 PM | Parallel universes and the many-worlds theory
Are you unique? In your perception of the world, the answer is simple: you are different from every other person on this planet. But the answer could be more complicated. There might be another “you” with the same hair, eyes, nose, and ears in another alternate reality. That person, however, may also have a completely different personality shaped by varying outcomes to the same experiences. In fact, those outcomes can be so distinct that you might not even be alive in […]
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3:23 PM | Manual control
Oblong Industries brings gesture-control technology from Hollywood to corporate conference rooms. When you imagine the future of gesture-control interfaces, you might think of the popular science-fiction films “Minority Report” (2002) or “Iron Man” (2008). In those films, the protagonists use their hands or wireless gloves to seamlessly scroll through and manipulate visual data on a wall-sized, panoramic screen. Subject:  Technology […]
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3:15 PM | Ordinary materials, fantastic opportunities
For Michael Demkowicz, some of the greatest scientific mysteries and major engineering opportunities lie in everyday materials. “Structural materials are sometimes seen as low-tech,” he says. “Who thinks about steel, who thinks about aluminum, who thinks about concrete? But those are probably some of the materials we understand the least.” Subject:  Technology
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3:02 PM | Metaconsciousness
Sci provided some interesting links in his comment on the previous post, one a lecture by Raymond Tallis. Tallis offers some comfort to theists who have difficulty explaining how or why an eternal creator God should be making one-off interventions in the time-bound secular world he had created. Tallis grants that’s a bad problem, but suggests atheists face an analogous one in working out how the eternal laws of physics relate to the local and particular world we actually live in. […]

September 06, 2014

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5:45 PM | Extinctions during human era worse than thought
The gravity of the world’s current extinction rate becomes clearer upon knowing what it was before people came along. A new estimate finds that species die off as much as 1,000 times more frequently nowadays than they used to. That’s 10 times worse than the old estimate of 100 times. Subject:  Biology & Aging
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5:36 PM | Why is stress more devastating for some than others?
Some people take stress in stride; others are done in by it. New research at Rockefeller University has identified the molecular mechanisms of this so-called stress gap in mice with very similar genetic backgrounds — a finding that could lead researchers to better understand the development of psychiatric disorders such as anxiety and depression. Subject:  Brain & Behavior
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5:20 PM | Human efforts could be rendered redundant
Robots will be running the City of London within 10 years, rendering investment bankers and analysts 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-only" […]
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4:58 PM | Office plants make employees happier
An office enriched with plants makes staff happier and boosts productivity by 15 per cent, a University of Queensland researcher has found. The study is the first of its kind to assess the long-term impacts of plants in an office environment. Co-authored by Professor Alex Haslam from UQ’s School of Psychology, the study found that adding plants to an office also improved employee satisfaction and quality of life. Professor Haslam said a green office helps employees to be more […]
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4:46 PM | Ovarian cancer oncogene found in 'junk DNA'
Over the years researchers have made tremendous strides in the understanding and treatment of cancer by searching genomes for links between genetic alterations and disease. Subject:  Genetics
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3:32 PM | How to live passionately—no matter your age
Author Isabel Allende is 71. Yes, she has a few wrinkles—but she has incredible perspective too. In this candid talk, meant for viewers of all ages, she talks about her fears as she gets older and shares how she plans to keep on living passionately.
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3:06 PM | Ancient peach stones offer clues to fruit's origins
Anyone who enjoys biting into a sweet, fleshy peach can now give thanks to the people who first began domesticating this fruit: Chinese farmers who lived 7,500 years ago. Subject:  Biology & Aging
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2:40 AM | ‘Atheist Church’ comes to Cleveland
The Sunday Assembly movement began in the UK and is sponsoring ‘atheist churches’ around the world for the growing number of nonbelievers to get together regularly for fellowship and to work for good causes around the motto “Live Better, Help Often, and Wonder More." Subject:  Atheism & Religion

September 05, 2014

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5:57 PM | How to thrive through close relationships
Close and caring relationships are undeniably linked to health and well-being for all ages. Previous research has shown that individuals with supportive and rewarding relationships have better physical and mental health and lower mortality rates. However, exactly how meaningful relationships affect health has remained less clear. Subject:  Brain & Behavior
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3:14 PM | Breakthrough experiment achieves direct brain-to-brain communication in human subjects
In a first-of-its-kind study, an international team of neuroscientists and robotics engineers have demonstrated the viability of direct brain-to-brain communication in humans. Recently published in PLOS ONE the highly novel findings describe the successful transmission of information via the internet between the intact scalps of two human subjects – located 5,000 miles apart. Subject:  Brain & Behavior
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3:03 PM | Brain mechanism underlying the recognition of hand gestures develops even when blind
Does a distinctive mechanism work in the brain of congenitally blind individuals when understanding and learning others' gestures? Or does the same mechanism as with sighted individuals work? Japanese researchers figured out that activated brain regions of congenitally blind individuals and activated brain regions of sighted individuals share common regions when recognizing human hand gestures. They indicated that a region of the neural network that recognizes others' hand gestures […]
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2:57 PM | Soil to release more greenhouse gases as temperatures rise
A new study published in the international journal Nature Opens in a new window reveals changing global temperatures could effect the activity of subterranean microbes triggering soils to release more greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. Subject:  Earth Science
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1:11 AM | More than words: saying ‘thank you’ does make a difference
Most of us were taught that saying “thank you” is simply the polite thing to do. But recent research in social psychology suggests that saying “thank you” goes beyond good manners – it also serves to build and maintain social relationships. This premise has its base in the find-remind-and-bind theory of gratitude, proposed by US psychologist Sara Algoe, from the University of North Carolina. According to this theory, gratitude prompts: Subject:  […]
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12:44 AM | Net neutrality under threat
The telecommunication companies are pushing hard against net neutrality so that Internet Service Providers (ISPs) can charge different rates to companies for use of their networks. This would result in large companies that are willing to pay being able to provide faster response times than smaller, poorer companies, eventually squeezing the latter out of business. President Obama appointed the head of the lobbying body of the cable companies to head the FCC, which strongly hinted […]

September 04, 2014

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8:14 PM | Rare stem cells may restore infertility
Rare stem cells in testis that produce a biomarker protein called PAX7 help give rise to new sperm cells — and may hold a key to restoring fertility, research by scientists at UT Southwestern Medical Center suggests. Subject:  Biology & Aging
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6:53 PM | Could Common Core be the antidote for Creationist teachers?
Bill Nye (The Science Guy!) discusses two lines of logic for Common Core opponents. The first is that standardization might stymie the passion of teachers and take the fun out of learning, an idea that Nye admits deserves some consideration. The second (and inappropriate) reason is that fringe anti-scientists like Creationists would be forced to stop pushing their distorted agenda.
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6:49 PM | Breakthrough study identifies genetic link between the circadian clock and seasonal timing
Researchers from the University of Leicester have for the first time provided experimental evidence for a genetic link between two major timing mechanisms, the circadian clock and the seasonal timer. Subject:  Genetics
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6:02 PM | How perceived control over setbacks promotes persistence
What makes people decide whether to persist or to give up on their goals in the face of setbacks? Subject:  Brain & Behavior
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5:53 PM | Which is better: 2-D or 3-D movies?
The increased visual realism of 3-D films is believed to offer viewers a more vivid and lifelike experience—more thrilling and intense than 2-D because it more closely approximates real life. However, psychology researchers at the University of Utah, among those who use film clips routinely in the lab to study patients' emotional conditions, have found that there is no significant difference between the two formats. The results were published recently in PLOS ONE. […]
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4:40 PM | How movies trick your brain into empathizing with characters
There’s a scene near the end of Black Swan, where Nina finally loses her grip on reality. Nina, played by Natalie Portman, is the protagonist of this 2010 psychological thriller, a ballerina stressed to the breaking point by competing with another dancer for a starring role. She begins to hallucinate black feathers poking through her skin, a sign she’s becoming the part she’s meant to play. Subject:  Brain & Behavior
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4:25 PM | Cinematic cuts exploit how your brain edits what you see
In his classic book on film editing, In the Blink of an Eye, Walter Murch writes about the violence of the cut. In an instant, everything you see onscreen is erased and replaced with something else. Often the scene jumps to another place or time. “Nothing in our day-to-day experience seems to prepare us for such a thing,” Murch writes. And yet, in movies this happens all the time, and we accept it without giving it a second thought. Subject:  […]
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4:04 PM | T. rex times 7: New dinosaur species is discovered in Argentina
Scientists have discovered and described a new supermassive dinosaur species with the most complete skeleton ever found of its type. At 85 feet long and weighing about 65 tons in life, Dreadnoughtus schrani is the largest land animal for which a body mass can be accurately calculated. Subject:  Animal Research
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