Posts

October 21, 2014

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8:20 PM | how troubled marriage, depression history promote obesity
The double-whammy of marital hostility and a history of depression can increase the risk for obesity in adults by altering how the body processes high-fat foods, according to new research. Subject:  Health & Medicine
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5:46 PM | Kung fu stegosaur
Stegosaurs might be portrayed as lumbering plant eaters, but they were lethal fighters when necessary, according to paleontologists who have uncovered new evidence of a casualty of stegosaurian combat. The evidence is a fatal stab wound in the pubis bone of a predatory allosaur. The wound – in the conical shape of a stegosaur tail spike – would have required great dexterity to inflict and shows clear signs of having cut short the allosaur's life. Subject:  […]
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5:39 PM | Ask Watson or Siri: Artificial intelligence is as elusive as ever
In 1966, some MIT researchers reckoned that they could develop computer vision as a summer project, perhaps even get a few smart undergrads to complete the task. The world has been working on the problem ever since. Computer vision is where computers recognize objects like people do. That's a tree. He's Carlos. And so on. It's one of a number of tasks we consider essential for generalized artificial intelligence, in which machines can act and reason as humans do. Subject:  […]
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4:23 PM | See-through sensors open new window into the brain
Developing invisible implantable medical sensor arrays, a team of University of Wisconsin-Madison engineers has overcome a major technological hurdle in researchers' efforts to understand the brain. The team described its technology, which has applications in fields ranging from neuroscience to cardiac care and even contact lenses, in the Oct. 20 issue of the online journal Nature Communications. Subject:  Brain & Behavior
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4:17 PM | What’s next for the smartphone in a rapidly changing market?
It should be no surprise to anyone that many smartphones may have been designed to last about 24 months – the length of a typical contract with a network service provider. After all, it is a fast-moving, high-turnover market and planned obsolescence is how it is kept moving. Being high turnover means new models with new features can be brought to market and readily consumed by users conditioned to want the latest and greatest. Subject:  Technology […]
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3:29 PM | How 1,000-year lifespans could remake the economy
If you're reading this, it's possible you'll live for a few hundred years. Maybe even thousands. Even better: you could live those years at your peak physical state. At first glance, that's an absurd statement, going against the experience of all human history. However, Oxford University's Aubrey de Grey, a leading theoretician of aging, believes there is a 50 percent chance that someone alive today will live for 1,000 years. Subject:  Biology & Aging […]
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3:19 PM | Drones chasing drones
Here's a filmed session of drones chasing other drones through the woods--similar to what was done in Star Wars: Return of the Jedi.

October 20, 2014

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5:07 PM | Should sentient machines have human rights?
Bina48 is a robotic head that looks and speaks like a person—it moves its lips and runs conversational software. Although the robot isn’t alive, it’s hard to say there is no life at all in Bina48. In conversation, it sometimes says surprising things. Google’s director of engineering, Ray Kurzweil, says it’s “wonderfully suggestive” of a time when computers really will think and feel. Subject:  Artificial Intelligence […]
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3:45 PM | Brain activity provides evidence for internal 'calorie counter'
As you glance over a menu or peruse the shelves in a supermarket, you may be thinking about how each food will taste and whether it's nutritious, or you may be trying to decide what you're in the mood for. A new neuroimaging study suggests that while you're thinking all these things, an internal calorie counter of sorts is also evaluating each food based on its caloric density. The findings are published in Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological […]
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2:36 PM | Facial recognition is possible even if part of the face is covered
The need to accurately identify people is important for security (and for not embarrassing yourself by hugging strangers). It was cited as the main reason for excluding and restricting the movements of individuals wearing religious head and face coverings in public spaces. Subject:  Brain & Behavior
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2:21 PM | Scientists create possible precursor to life
How did life originate? And can scientists create life? These questions not only occupy the minds of scientists interested in the origin of life, but also researchers working with technology of the future. If we can create artificial living systems, we may not only understand the origin of life - we can also revolutionize the future of technology. Subject:  Biology & Aging
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2:19 PM | Physicists build reversible laser tractor beam
Laser physicists have built a tractor beam that can repel and attract objects, using a hollow laser beam that is bright around the edges and dark in its centre. It is the first long-distance optical tractor beam and moved particles one fifth of a millimetre in diameter a distance of up to 20 centimetres, around 100 times further than previous experiments. Subject:  Technology
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4:06 AM | What lies beneath the surface of Mimas?
Using instruments aboard the Cassini spacecraft to measure the wobbles of Mimas, the closest of Saturn's regular moons, a Cornell University astronomer publishing in Science, Oct. 17, has inferred that this small moon's icy surface cloaks either a rugby ball-shaped rocky core or a sloshing sub-surface ocean. Subject:  Astronomy/Cosmology
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4:01 AM | Symbolic versus literal interpretations of biblical stories
When I was an undergraduate in Sri Lanka, I was also president of the Student Christian Movement, a national body of Christian students on all the university campuses. We used to organize annual residential conferences lasting for about five days and they were great fun. We had mostly secular activities with some talks on social issues as well as outdoor activities and games. It was more like a summer camp with lectures than a serious conference. Subject:  Atheism […]

October 19, 2014

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5:05 PM | Have scientists finally detected dark matter?
Space scientists at the University of Leicester have detected a curious signal in the X-ray sky – one that provides a tantalising insight into the nature of mysterious Dark Matter. The Leicester team has found what appears to be a signature of 'axions', predicted 'Dark Matter' particle candidates – something that has been a puzzle to science for years. Subject:  Astronomy/Cosmology
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4:19 PM | What is the mysterious Magic Leap?
It may have more than a half-billion dollars in the bank and the backing of tech titans like Google, as well as the investors with some of Silicon Valley's deepest pockets. You've probably never heard of Magic Leap, a startup so secretive they're not even telling the public who is on their team. But they're promising to change the world -- or at least how we experience it. Subject:  Computer Science
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4:06 PM | Are we really conscious?
Yes, I feel pretty sure that anyone reading this is indeed conscious. However, the NYT recently ran a short piece from Michael S. A. Graziano which apparently questioned it. Subject:  Brain & Behavior
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3:53 PM | Cleft palate mutation identified
Scientists studying birth defects in humans and purebred dogs have identified an association between cleft lip and cleft palate – conditions that occur when the lip and mouth fail to form properly during pregnancy – and a mutation in the ADAMTS20 gene. Their findings were presented today at the American Society of Human Genetics (ASHG) 2014 Annual Meeting in San Diego. Subject:  Genetics

October 18, 2014

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10:59 PM | The Virtual Interview: Edward Snowden
The New Yorker Festival presents Edward Snowden in conversation with Jane Mayer.
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10:47 PM | iPhones for eye health
Smartphone technology is a widely available resource which may also be a portable and effective tool for imaging the inside of the eye, according to results of a study released today at AAO 2014, the 118th annual meeting of the American Academy of Ophthalmology. Researchers from the Ross Eye Institute at the University at Buffalo-SUNY are successfully using an iPhone® application as an inexpensive, portable and effective tool for imaging the inside of the eye, including in […]
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10:40 PM | Birth season affects your mood in later life
New research shows that the season you are born has a significant impact on your risk of developing mood disorders. People born at certain times of year may have a greater chance of developing certain types of affective temperaments, which in turn can lead to mood disorders (affective disorders). This work is being presented at the European College of CNP Congress in Berlin. Subject:  Brain & Behavior
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9:07 PM | Red is the color of love for monkeys, too
Recent studies showed that the color red tends increase our attraction toward others, feelings of jealousy, and even reaction times. Now, new research shows that female monkeys also respond to the color red, suggesting that biology, rather than our culture, may play the fundamental role in our “red” reactions. Subject:  Animal Research
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3:38 PM | Journey to the center of the Earth
A UCSB geochemist uses helium and lead isotopes to gain insight into the makeup of the planet’s deep interior. A UC Santa Barbara geochemist studying Samoan volcanoes has found evidence of the planet’s early formation still trapped inside the Earth. Known as hotspots, volcanic island chains such as Samoa can ancient primordial signatures from the early solar system that have somehow survived billions of years. Subject:  Earth Science
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3:34 PM | Could reading glasses soon be a thing of the past?
A thin ring inserted into the eye could soon offer a reading glasses-free remedy for presbyopia, the blurriness in near vision experienced by many people over the age of 40, according to a study released today at AAO 2014, the 118th annual meeting of the American Academy of Ophthalmology. A corneal inlay device currently undergoing clinical review in the United States improved near vision well enough for 80 percent of the participating patients to read a newspaper without disturbing […]

October 17, 2014

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6:54 PM | Are coma patients truly brain-dead?
This study uncovers hidden signatures of brain networks that could support consciousness in patients who are unresponsive and seemingly vegetative, but who demonstrate signs of covert awareness. University of Cambridge researchers Dr Srivas Chennu, Dr Tristan Bekinschtein and their collaborators employ the science of networks to characterise the brain networks that support human consciousness and how they are affected in pathological states of low awareness, like the vegetative […]
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6:47 PM | Hint of dark matter found?
Space sci­en­tists have measured a cu­ri­ous sig­nal that they say might come from the mys­te­ri­ous “dark mat­ter,” an in­vis­i­ble sub­stance de­tected so far only through its gra­vity. The re­search­ers at the Uni­vers­ity of Leices­ter in the U.K. re­ported what seems to be a sig­na­ture of par­t­i­cles thought to pos­sibly make up dark mat­ter, called […]
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4:46 PM | Cadavers still make the best anatomy teachers
Despite the growing popularity of using computer simulation to help teach college anatomy, students learn much better through the traditional use of human cadavers, according to new research that has implications for health care. Cary Roseth, associate professor of educational psychology at Michigan State University, said the study suggests cadaver-based instruction should continue in undergraduate human anatomy, a gateway course to medical school, nursing and other health and medical […]
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4:34 PM | Getting to know super-Earths
"If you have a coin and flip it just once, what does that tell you about the odds of heads versus tails?" asks Heather Knutson, assistant professor of planetary science at Caltech. "It tells you almost nothing. It's the same with planetary systems," she says. Subject:  Astronomy/Cosmology
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4:21 PM | New documentary on Snowden released
Award-winning documentarian Laura Poitras has just released her new film Citizenfour about Edward Snowden. Subject:  Technology
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4:12 PM | High-speed evolution in the lab
DNA analysis has become increasingly efficient and cost-effective since the human genome was first fully sequenced in the year 2001. Sequencing a complete genome, however, still costs around US$1,000. Sequencing the genetic code of hundreds of individuals would therefore be very expensive and time-consuming. In particular for non-human studies, researchers very quickly hit the limit of financial feasibility. Sequencing Groups Instead of Individuals Subject:  […]
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