Posts

March 25, 2015

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4:19 PM | Perceived open-mindedness explains religion-based dating
Across a number of faiths and cultures, people tend to date and marry others who share their religious beliefs. Now, University of Otago psychology research suggests this phenomenon—known as ‘religious homogamy’—is partially a result of inferences about religious people’s personalities. Subject:  Atheism & Religion

March 24, 2015

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11:54 PM | How to grow a human lung
Scientists from the University of Michigan have grown the first 3D mini lungs from stem cells. The study, published in eLife, compliments other developments in the field such as growing mainly 2D structures and building lung tissue from the scaffold of donated organs. The advantage of growing 3D structures is that their organisation bears greater similarity to the human lung. The scientists succeeded in growing structures resembling both the large proximal airways and the small distal […]
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11:48 PM | After learning new words, brain sees them as pictures
When we look at a known word, our brain sees it like a picture, not a group of letters needing to be processed. That's the finding from a Georgetown University Medical Center (GUMC) study published in the Journal of Neuroscience, which shows the brain learns words quickly by tuning neurons to respond to a complete word, not parts of it. Subject:  Brain & Behavior
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10:52 PM | Artificial hand responds to sensitively
Engineers at Saarland University have taken a leaf out of nature's book by equipping an artificial hand with muscles made from shape-memory wire. Subject:  Robotics
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8:19 PM | Big solution to big data in astronomy
It’s almost a rite of passage in physics and astronomy. Scientists spend years scrounging up money to build a fantastic new instrument. Then, when the long-awaited device finally approaches completion, the panic begins: How will they handle the torrent of data? Subject:  Astronomy/Cosmology
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8:13 PM | Good bone, bad bone
For people taking glucocorticoids such as prednisone, the increased risk of bone fracture is a well-documented side effect. Used to treat a variety of medical conditions, including autoimmune diseases and allergies, glucocorticoids are known to cause rapid deterioration in bone strength. Subject:  Health & Medicine
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5:11 PM | Ovarian cancer breakthrough
Queen's University cancer researcher Madhuri Koti has discovered a biomarker that will help lead to better predictions of the success of chemotherapy in ovarian cancer patients. This discovery could lead to better treatment options in the fight against ovarian cancer. Biomarkers are an indicator of a biological state or condition. Subject:  Health & Medicine
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2:50 PM | Quantum experiment verifies Einstein's 'spooky action at a distance'
An experiment devised in Griffith University's Centre for Quantum Dynamics has for the first time demonstrated Albert Einstein's original conception of "spooky action at a distance" using a single particle. In a paper published in the journal Nature Communications, CQD Director Professor Howard Wiseman and his experimental collaborators at the University of Tokyo report their use of homodyne measurements to show what Einstein did not believe to be real, namely the non-local collapse […]
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2:38 PM | A pill to make you more compassionate?
What if there were a pill that made you more compassionate and more likely to give spare change to someone less fortunate? UC Berkeley scientists have taken a big step in that direction. A new study by UC Berkeley and UC San Francisco researchers finds that giving a drug that changes the neurochemical balance in the prefrontal cortex of the brain causes a greater willingness to engage in prosocial behaviors, such as ensuring that resources are divided more equally. Subject:  […]

March 23, 2015

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11:49 PM | New viruses discovered in ocean depths
The intraterrestrials, they might be called. Strange creatures live in the deep sea, but few are odder than the viruses that inhabit deep ocean methane seeps and prey on single-celled microorganisms called archaea. The least understood of life's three primary domains, archaea thrive in the most extreme environments on the planet: near hot ocean rift vents, in acid mine drainage, in the saltiest of evaporation ponds and in petroleum deposits deep underground. Virus in the deep blue sea […]
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11:40 PM | The nature of the past hypothesis
David Wallace revisits the role of a “low-entropy” past hypothesis in statistical mechanics. He argues that contrary to an apparently-widespread view, (i) the asymmetry in boundary conditions required for statistical mechanics to be derived is not well understood as an entropy constraint; (ii) it is misleading to see the high level of uniformity of the early Universe as a “low-entropy source” for present thermodynamical non-equilibrium.
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11:31 PM | Artificial intelligence systems more apt to fail than destroy
The most realistic risks about the dangers of artificial intelligence are basic mistakes, breakdowns and cyber attacks, an expert in the field says—more so than machines that become super powerful, run amok and try to destroy the human race. Subject:  Artificial Intelligence
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11:29 PM | Our solar system may have once harbored super-earths
Long before Mercury, Venus, Earth, and Mars formed, it seems that the inner solar system may have harbored a number of super-Earths--planets larger than Earth but smaller than Neptune. If so, those planets are long gone--broken up and fallen into the sun billions of years ago largely due to a great inward-and-then-outward journey that Jupiter made early in the solar system's history. Subject:  Astronomy/Cosmology
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11:25 PM | Archeologists discover Maya 'melting pot'
Archaeologists working in Guatemala have unearthed new information about the Maya civilization's transition from a mobile, hunter-gatherer lifestyle to a sedentary way of life. Led by University of Arizona archaeologists Takeshi Inomata and Daniela Triadan, the team's excavations of the ancient Maya lowlands site of Ceibal suggest that as the society transitioned from a heavy reliance on foraging to farming, mobile communities and settled groups co-existed and may have come together […]
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7:55 PM | Quantum correlation can imply causation
Contrary to the statistician's slogan, in the quantum world, certain kinds of correlations do imply causation. Research from the Institute for Quantum Computing (IQC) at the University of Waterloo and the Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics shows that in quantum mechanics, certain kinds of observations will let you distinguish whether there is a common cause or a cause-effect relation between two variables. The same is not true in classical physics. Subject:  […]
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4:29 PM | Chemical fingerprints of ancient supernovae found
A Carnegie-based search of nearby galaxies for their oldest stars has uncovered two stars in the Sculptor dwarf galaxy that were born shortly after the galaxy formed, approximately 13 billion years ago. The unusual chemical content of the stars may have originated in a single supernova explosion from the first generation of Sculptor stars. The team, which includes Carnegie's Josh Simon, Ian Thompson, and Stephen Shectman, will publish their work in The Astrophysical Journal. […]
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4:25 PM | Association between migraine headaches and carpal tunnel syndrome
Patients with carpal tunnel syndrome are more than twice as likely to have migraine headaches, reports a study in Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery--Global Open®, the official open-access medical journal of the American Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS). Subject:  Health & Medicine
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4:18 PM | World's largest asteroid impacts discovered
A 400 kilometre-wide impact zone from a huge meteorite that broke in two moments before it slammed into the Earth has been found in Central Australia. The crater from the impact millions of years ago has long disappeared. But a team of geophysicists has found the twin scars of the impacts – the largest impact zone ever found on Earth – hidden deep in the earth’s crust. Subject:  Earth Science
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3:45 PM | Boeing patents 'Star Wars'-style force fields
Aircraft and military manufacturer Boeing has been granted a patent on a system that is designed to prevent explosion shockwaves from harming a target. A new patent granted to aircraft, defense and security company Boeing is taking its cues from science fiction. Just like the glowing energy shields seen protecting troops, machines and even spacecraft in Star Wars and Star Trek, the design -- named "Method and system for shockwave attenuation via electromagnetic arc" -- uses energy to […]
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4:00 AM | A simple model for growing a brain
Today I had a chance to read a paper by Song, Kennedy, and Wang about their model for explaining how brains are wired up at a high level (explaining how areas are connected, not the detailed wiring of neural circuits). It's very simple, but manages to capture some complicated aspects of brain structure. The goal of the model is to offer some explanation for area-to-area connection patterns across species (humans, monkeys, mice). For example, the human connection matrix looks like this (from […]
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2:41 AM | Encryption today: how safe is it really?
When checking your email over a secure connection, or making a purchase from an online retailer, have you ever wondered how your private information or credit card data is kept secure? Our information is kept away from prying eyes thanks to cryptographic algorithms, which scramble the message so no-one else can read it but its intended recipient. But what are these algorithms, how did they come to be widely used, and how secure really are they? Subject:  […]
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2:23 AM | Regaining normal sexual functioning is “rare” after prostate operations
Regaining normal erectile function is rare after the most common prostate operation, radical prostatectomy. This is the main result of a new study which is presented at the European Association of Urology Congress in Madrid. Subject:  Health & Medicine
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1:43 AM | Unlocking a car with your brain
Professor Roger Bowley unlocks his car from various distances, using waves from his key, brain and a big bottle of water. Thanks to Mark Sherman.

March 22, 2015

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4:10 PM | Vitamin D may keep low-grade prostate cancer from becoming aggressive
Taking vitamin D supplements could slow or even reverse the progression of less aggressive, or low-grade, prostate tumors without the need for surgery or radiation, a scientist will report today. His team will describe the approach in one of nearly 11,000 presentations at the 249th National Meeting & Exposition of the American Chemical Society (ACS), the world's largest scientific society. The meeting is being held here through Thursday. Subject:  Health & […]
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2:53 PM | New processing technology converts packing peanuts to battery components
Researchers have shown how to convert waste packing peanuts into high-performance carbon electrodes for rechargeable lithium-ion batteries that outperform conventional graphite electrodes, representing an environmentally friendly approach to reuse the waste. Subject:  Technology
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4:23 AM | How does anesthesia work?
Anesthetics have been used in surgical procedures for more than 150 years, but the mechanisms by which inhaled anesthesia actually work are poorly understood. Now, researchers at Johns Hopkins Medicine have discovered that anesthetics bind to and interfere with certain proteins in excitatory neurons, which are necessary for these neurons to transmit signals involved in anesthesia and the perception of pain. Subject:  Brain & Behavior
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4:02 AM | Mind diet may protect against Alzheimer's disease
A new diet, appropriately known by the acronym MIND, could significantly lower a person’s risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease, even if the diet is not meticulously followed, according to a paper published online for subscribers in March in the journal Alzheimer’s & Dementia: The Journal of the Alzheimer’s Association. Subject:  Brain & Behavior

March 21, 2015

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3:32 PM | Letting go of the (genetic) apron strings
A new study from Princeton University sheds light on the handing over of genetic control from mother to offspring early in development. Learning how organisms manage this transition could help researchers understand larger questions about how embryos regulate cell division and differentiation into new types of cells. The study, published in the March 12 issue of the journal Cell, provides new insight into the mechanism for this genetic hand-off, which happens within hours of […]
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3:04 PM | A book what I wrote
It had to happen eventually. Subject:  Brain & Behavior

March 20, 2015

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10:31 PM | Cockroaches have personalities
The humble cockroach can display surprisingly complex personality traits, according to research conducted in Belgium. Matthew Stock reports.
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