Posts

March 12, 2015

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4:51 PM | Researchers create chameleon-like artificial “skin”
Borrowing a trick from nature, engineers from the Univ. of California at Berkeley have created an incredibly thin, chameleon-like material that can be made to change color—on demand—by simply applying a minute amount of force. This new material-of-many-colors offers intriguing possibilities for an entirely new class of display technologies, color-shifting camouflage, and sensors that can detect otherwise imperceptible defects in buildings, bridges and aircraft. […]
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2:29 AM | Fossil skull sheds new light on transition from water to land
The first 3D reconstruction of the skull of a 360 million-year-old near-ancestor of land vertebrates has been created by scientists from the Universities of Bristol and Cambridge. The 3D skull, which differs from earlier 2D reconstructions, suggests such creatures, which lived their lives primarily in shallow water environments, were more like modern crocodiles than previously thought. Subject:  Animal Research
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2:20 AM | When humans came to dominate planet Earth
The human-dominated geological epoch known as the Anthropocene probably began around the year 1610, with an unusual drop in atmospheric carbon dioxide and the irreversible exchange of species between the New and Old Worlds, according to new research published today in Nature. Subject:  Anthropology
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1:52 AM | A better artificial heart
Scientists at the Texas Heart Institute are working to create a permanent replacement for the human heart. The blades of the BiVACOR device rotate an average of 2,000 times per minute, pushing blood throughout the body without creating a pulse. The human heart beats 60 to 100 times a minute, more than 86,000 times a day, 35 million times a year. A single beat pushes about 6 tablespoons of blood through the body. Subject:  Health & Medicine

March 11, 2015

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10:25 PM | To live longer spend less time alone
New study finds isolation a risk factor for all ages, incomes. Ask people what it takes to live a long life, and they’ll say things like exercise, take Omega-3s, and see your doctor regularly. Now research from Brigham Young University shows that loneliness and social isolation are just as much a threat to longevity as obesity. “The effect of this is comparable to obesity, something that public health takes very seriously,” said Julianne Holt-Lunstad, the lead study […]
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5:12 PM | How environment controls size of life on Earth
Until now scientists have believed that the variations in traits such as our height, skin colour, tendency to gain weight or not, intelligence, tendency to develop certain diseases, etc., all of them traits that exist along a continuum, were a result of both genetic and environmental factors. But they didn't know how exactly these things worked together. Subject:  Animal Research
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5:05 PM | First attempt to contact Hibernating Philae lander will be March 12
Where is the Philae lander and will it wake up again? Those are the questions the team at the DLR Lander Control Center will be trying to answer starting this week. Thursday, March 12 provides the first possibility to receive a signal from Rosetta’s lander, sitting somewhere on Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko. Subject:  Astronomy/Cosmology
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4:58 PM | Can the cerebral cortex be repaired?
A team led by Afsaneh Gaillard (Inserm Unit 1084, Experimental and Clinical Neurosciences Laboratory, University of Poitiers), in collaboration with the Institute of Interdisciplinary Research in Human and Molecular Biology (IRIBHM) in Brussels, has just taken an important step in the area of cell therapy: repairing the cerebral cortex of the adult mouse using a graft of cortical neurons derived from embryonic stem cells. These results have just been published in Neuron. […]
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3:53 PM | Fractal patterns may uncover new line of attack on cancer
Studying the intricate fractal patterns on the surface of cells could give researchers a new insight into the physical nature of cancer, and provide new ways of preventing the disease from developing. This is according to scientists in the US who have, for the first time, shown how physical fractal patterns emerge on the surface of human cancer cells at a specific point of progression towards cancer. Subject:  Biology & Aging
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3:39 PM | Technology and fashion converge in the Apple Watch
Apple’s ability to mesh technology with beautiful design will be put to the test when it finally releases the much-anticipated Apple Watch. The tech giant is taking a super-advanced piece of technology and packaging it as a fashion statement. Although the iPhone-compatible wearable watch is still more than a month from its official release date, the hype is building among Apple enthusiasts and fashionistas alike as they anticipate the first product Apple has designed to be […]
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3:21 PM | Researchers develop 'visual Turing test'
Researchers from Brown and Johns Hopkins universities have come up with a new way to evaluate how well computers can divine information from images. The team describes its new system as a "visual Turing test," after the legendary computer scientist Alan Turing's test of the extent to which computers display human-like intelligence. Subject:  Artificial Intelligence

March 10, 2015

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6:42 PM | “I am so mad at God for making me do bad things!”
One of the benefits of religion, if you want to think of it that way, is that it enables one to shift responsibility to god if things go wrong. Subject:  Atheism & Religion
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6:37 PM | New technique for creating artificial DNA
A new technique for creating artificial DNA that is faster, more accurate and more flexible than existing methods has been developed by scientists at Imperial College London. The new system - called BASIC - is a major advance for the field of synthetic biology, which designs and builds organisms able to make useful products such as medicines, energy, food, materials and chemicals. Subject:  Synthetic Life
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5:16 PM | To stop the machines taking over we need to think about fuzzy logic
Amid all the dire warnings that machines run by artificial intelligence (AI) will one day take over from humans we need to think more about how we program them in the first place. Subject:  Artificial Intelligence
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3:52 PM | High levels of vitamin D is suspected of increasing mortality rates
The level of vitamin D in our blood should neither be too high nor to low. Scientists from the University of Copenhagen are the first in the world to show that there is a connection between high levels of vitamin D and cardiovascular deaths. Subject:  Health & Medicine
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3:47 PM | Autism genes linked to higher intelligence
Genes linked with a greater risk of developing autism may also be associated with higher intelligence, a study suggests. Researchers have found new evidence linking genetic factors associated with autism to better cognitive ability in people who do not have the condition. Autism is a developmental disability that can cause significant language and speech difficulties. Developmental disorder The relationship between autism and intelligence is not clear, researchers say. […]
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3:22 PM | Optical fibers light the way for brain-like computing
Computers that function like the human brain could soon become a reality thanks to new research using optical fibres made of speciality glass. The research, published in Advanced Optical Materials, has the potential to allow faster and smarter optical computers capable of learning and evolving. Subject:  Computer Science
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3:19 PM | Being 'laid off' leads to a decade of distrust
People who lose their jobs are less willing to trust others for up to a decade after being laid-off, according to new research from The University of Manchester. Subject:  Brain & Behavior
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3:13 PM | Same forces as today caused climate changes 1.4 billion years ago
Natural forces have always caused the climate on Earth to fluctuate. Now researchers have found geological evidence that some of the same forces as today were at play 1.4 billion years ago. Fluctuating climate is a hallmark of Earth, and the present greenhouse effect is by far the only force affecting today's climate. On a larger scale the Earth's climate is also strongly affected by how the Earth orbits around the sun; this is called orbital forcing of climate change. These changes […]
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1:26 AM | Hard not new
The Hard Problem may indeed be hard, but it ain’t new. Twenty years ago, however, an instant myth was born: a myth about a dramatic resurgence of interest in the topic of consciousness in philosophy, in the mid-1990s, after long neglect. Subject:  Brain & Behavior

March 09, 2015

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9:25 PM | Solar fuels one step closer
Caltech scientists, inspired by a chemical process found in leaves, have developed an electrically conductive film that could help pave the way for devices capable of harnessing sunlight to split water into hydrogen fuel. When applied to semiconducting materials such as silicon, the nickel oxide film prevents rust buildup and facilitates an important chemical process in the solar-driven production of fuels such as methane or hydrogen. Subject:  Technology […]
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7:43 PM | Structural secrets of nature's molecular motor revealed
A team led by scientists at The Scripps Research Institute (TSRI) has determined the basic structural organization of a molecular motor that hauls cargoes and performs other critical functions within cells. Biologists have long wanted to know how this molecular motor--called the "dynein-dynactin complex"--works. But the complex's large size, myriad subunits and high flexibility have until now restricted structural studies to small pieces of the whole. Subject:  […]
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4:23 PM | Solar plane journey's first leg ends
A record-breaking attempt to fly around the world in a solar-powered plane has completed its first leg. The aircraft - called Solar Impulse-2 - took off from Abu Dhabi, heading east to Muscat in Oman. With businessman and pilot Andre Borschbeg at the controls, the aircraft touched down in Oman at 16:14 GMT after a 12-hour flight. Over the next five months, it will skip from continent to continent, crossing both the Pacific and Atlantic oceans. The single-seater vehicle took off at […]
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4:12 PM | The secret of wrinkling, folding, and creasing
New research provides a general formula for understanding how layered materials form different surface patterns. The process of wrinkle formation is familiar to anyone who has ever sat in a bathtub a little too long. But exactly why layered materials sometimes form one kind of wrinkly pattern or another — or even other variations, such as creases, folds, or delaminated buckles — has now been explained at a fundamental level by researchers at MIT. Subject:  […]
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4:05 PM | Quantum mechanic frequency filter for atomic clocks
Atomic clocks are the most accurate clocks in the world. In an atomic clock, electrons jumping from one orbit to another decides the clock's frequency. To get the electrons to jump, researchers shine light on the atoms using stabilised laser light. However, the laser light has to have a very precise frequency to trigger very precise electron jumps. It is however challenging to get the laser light frequency ultra precise -- there will always be a little 'noise'. Subject:  […]
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3:46 PM | Richard Dawkins demostrates his faith in the Cannonball experiment
The series explored our "growing knowledge of how life grows up in the universe" - from the child growing up amidst the wonder and complexity of life, to the evolution of mankind and humanity's increasing understanding of the world and how it works through the devlopment of modern science. Prof Dawkins talks about the challenges of presenting in front of an audience of children and recalls the good will shown towards him once people heard he was involved in the prestigious Lectures. […]
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3:40 PM | Millions of modern men found to be descendants of 11 Asian dynastic leaders
Geneticists from the University of Leicester have discovered that millions of modern Asian men are descended from 11 powerful dynastic leaders who lived up to 4,000 years ago - including Mongolian warlord Genghis Khan. The study, which is funded by the Wellcome Trust and published in the journal European Journal of Human Genetics, examined the male-specific Y chromosome, which is passed from father to son, in more than 5,000 Asian men belonging to 127 populations. Subject:  […]
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3:30 PM | Is belief in life after death more important than belief in god?
I have long felt that the appeal of religion lies more with the promise of life after death, the idea that people will live on forever, than on having a belief in god. The idea that we will never be forgotten and that our lives matter and that one day we will be reunited with those we love is a much more appealing prospect than hanging out with a god whom one does not know. The appeal of a belief in god seems more like a fear-driven negative one, whose purpose is to stave off the […]
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3:21 PM | What's your genetic destiny?
Would you want to know if you or your children had risk of hereditary cancer, a genetic risk for cardiovascular disease or carried the gene associated with developing Alzheimer's disease - even if they were risks that wouldn't be relevant for possibly decades or didn't have a cure? Subject:  Genetics
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3:14 PM | Where do we get our sense of self?
Although some children emerge from cold and neglectful family environments as adults with high self-esteem, a new University at Buffalo study suggests these people may still be at a relative disadvantage in life, with a foggier sense of who they are. On the other hand, adults with low self-esteem who grew up in the same type of negative environment actually have relatively high self-clarity, according to the study’s findings. Subject:  Brain & Behavior […]
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