Posts

October 13, 2014

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8:27 PM | Chemical derived from broccoli sprouts shows promise in treating autism
A small study led by investigators at MassGeneral Hospital for Children (MGHfC) and Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine has found evidence that daily treatment with sulforaphane – a molecule found in foods such as broccoli, cauliflower and cabbage – may improve some symptoms of autism spectrum disorders. Subject:  Brain & Behavior
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4:20 PM | How binge drinking alters your genes
Scientists say binge drinking causes epigenetic changes in histone structures in the liver. “Epigenetic alterations are changes in genes that are not caused by changes in the DNA sequence or genetic code,” says Shivendra Shukla, a professor at the University of Missouri School of Medicine. Subject:  Genetics
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4:08 PM | A different gap
We’re often told that when facing philosophical problems, we should try to ‘carve them at the joints’. The biggest joint on offer in the case of consciousness has seemed to be the ‘explanatory gap’ between the physical activity of neurons and the subjective experience of consciousness. Now, in the latest JCS, Reggia, Monner, and Sylvester suggest that there is another gap, and one where our attention should rightly be focussed. Subject:  […]
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3:46 PM | Oral capsule as effective as invasive procedures for delivery of fecal transplant
A noninvasive method of delivering a promising therapy for persistent Clostridium difficile (C. difficile) infection appears to be as effective as treatment via colonoscopy or through a nasogastric tube. Subject:  Health & Medicine
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3:37 PM | Greek Bronze Age may have ended 100 years earlier than thought
Conventional estimates for the collapse of the Aegean civilization may be incorrect by up to a century, according to new radiocarbon analyses. Historical chronologies traditionally place the end of the Greek Bronze Age at around 1025 B.C., but research suggests a date 70 to 100 years earlier. Subject:  Anthropology
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1:23 AM | Quantum computing poised for new silicon revolution
A dramatic increase in the amount of time data can be stored on a single atom means silicon could once again play a vital role in the development of super-fast computers. The silicon chip revolutionised most aspects of everyday life since it was invented in the 1950s. It’s changed the way that we communicate with each other, and how we operate almost all everyday items, from cars to airplanes, fridges to televisions and our smart-phones and tablets. Subject:  […]

October 12, 2014

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10:56 PM | Rough Mandelbrot Sets
I’ve been reading up on Zdzisław Pawlak’s Rough Set Theory recently and wanted to play with them. They are used to address vagueness in data so fractals seem like a good subject. Super Quick Intro to Rough Sets: A rough set is a … Continue reading →
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5:50 PM | Texas health care worker tests positive for Ebola
A Dallas health care worker who provided care for the Ebola patient hospitalized there has tested positive for the virus in a preliminary test, Texas health officers said on Sunday, becoming the second person on U.S. soil to contract the deadly disease ravaging parts of Africa. The worker, based at the Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital where Liberian national Thomas Eric Duncan eventually succumbed to the disease, reported a low grade fever Friday night and was isolated and referred […]
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3:58 PM | A giant step forward in the treatment of diabetes
Harvard stem cell researchers today announced that they have made a giant leap forward in the quest to find a truly effective treatment for type 1 diabetes, a condition that affects an estimated three million Americans at a cost of about $15 billion annually: With human embryonic stem cells as a starting point, the scientists are for the first time able to produce, in the kind of massive quantities needed for cell transplantation and pharmaceutical purposes, human insulin-producing […]
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3:38 PM | 'Good' fat that fights diabetes discovered
Scientists at the Salk Institute and Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center (BIDMC) in Boston have discovered a new class of molecules—produced in human and mouse fat—that protects against diabetes. Subject:  Health & Medicine
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3:22 PM | All the Cell’s a Stage
Brian Strahl, PhD, and his band of biochemists at the UNC School of Medicine, unravel the complicated mysteries of the epigenetic code to find a culprit in cancer development. Subject:  Biology & Aging
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3:17 PM | A case for including bioethics class in the high school curriculum
Over the course of scientific history, many research experiments have been conducted, and amazing discoveries have been made that have improved countless lives. However, not all of the work has been ethical, and in fact, some of it has been cruel. In such cases, the ends do not justify the means. Because science depends on public dollars to fund research, public trust is essential. Subject:  Brain & Behavior
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3:11 PM | An official guide for demon hunters: helpful advice from philosophers and witch-hunters
Halloween is coming up, reminding us to confront the lurking evils around us, and to dispatch them to the sulfuric pits from whence they came. Up your game this year with real advice from history’s best demon hunters. These saints have been taking out the trash for millennia, and it’s time you had some of their mojo. Anthony of the Desert Subject:  Brain & Behavior

October 11, 2014

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6:25 PM | Hungry black hole found to eat faster than thought possible
As­tro­no­mers say they have found a black hole con­sum­ing a near­by star 10 times faster than pre­vi­ously thought pos­si­ble. It’s swal­low­ing a weight equiv­a­lent to 100 bil­lion bil­lion hot dogs a min­ute, they claim. A black hole is an ob­ject so compact that its gra­vity is over­whelm­ing, and pulls in an­y­thing that gets too near, in­clud­ing light. Al­though that […]
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3:17 PM | Dissolvable silicon circuits and sensors
Transient electronics that dissolve in water usher in next generation of devices, from green technologies to medical implants. Electronic devices that dissolve completely in water, leaving behind only harmless end products, are part of a rapidly emerging class of technology pioneered by researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Subject:  Technology
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3:04 PM | What to do about the dwindling stock of antibiotics
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has said that at least 2 million Americans are sickened by antibiotic resistant infections each year and survive. (Twenty-three thousand die.) These experiences leave deep impressions not just on the patients but on their family and friends. Subject:  Health & Medicine
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2:23 PM | Scientists capture images of elusive protein HIV uses to infect cells
New research has illuminated the movement and complete structure of the spikes on HIV that the virus uses to bind to the cells it infects. HIV is adept at eluding immune system responses because the protein it uses to infect cells is constantly changing. Now a team of researchers including scientists from Yale have stripped the cloak from this master of disguise, providing a high resolution image of this surface spike protein and monitoring how it constantly changes its shape, […]
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2:07 PM | Glenn Greenwald: Why privacy matters
Glenn Greenwald was one of the first reporters to see — and write about — the Edward Snowden files, with their revelations about the United States' extensive surveillance of private citizens. In this searing talk, Greenwald makes the case for why you need to care about privacy, even if you’re “not doing anything you need to hide."

October 10, 2014

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4:12 PM | Dark matter and the Milky Way: more little than large
While invisible, dark matter completely dominates our Milky Way. But recent measurements of just how much dark matter there is have revealed a bit of a mystery. In a paper published today in the Astrophysical Journal, we show that the galaxy is a whole lot skinnier than previously thought. Subject:  Astronomy/Cosmology
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4:06 PM | Plant scientist discovers basis of evolution in violins
What could the natural diversity and beauty of plant leaves have in common with one of mankind’s greatest creative inventions, the violin? Much more than you might imagine. Subject:  Evolution
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2:36 PM | No, seriously, how contagious is Ebola?
Holy moly! There's a case of Ebola in the U.S.! That first reaction was understandable. There's no question the disease is scary. The World Health Organization now estimates that the virus has killed about 70 percent of people infected in West Africa. The Ebola case in Dallas is the first one diagnosed outside Africa, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Tuesday. And the health care system in Texas didn't quarantine the man right away. He was sick with Ebola — and […]
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2:31 PM | Nuclear catastrophe: how much risk are you willing to accept?
Investigative journalist Eric Schlosser describes the terrifyingly close calls we've had with nuclear weapons and the incredibly high odds that such a disaster will occur. (It's 100%). Schlosser is the author of Command and Control: Nuclear Weapons, the Damascus Accident, and the Illusion of Safety.
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1:12 AM | Social media tools that can save you time
MIT social media strategist Stephanie Hatch Leishman highlights applications and resources that can streamline your workflow: Feedly, Flickr, Hootsuite, and IFTTT. If you handle social media for your department, staying on top of multiple tasks on several channels may be running you ragged. Well, take a deep breath. There are free tools that can help you manage these tasks more effectively. Subject:  Technology

October 09, 2014

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11:01 PM | Migrating animals' pee affects ocean chemistry
The largest migration on the planet is the movement of small animals from the surface of the open ocean, where they feed on plants under cover of darkness, to the sunless depths where they hide from predators during the day. Subject:  Animal Research
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9:27 PM | Manipulating memory with light
Just look into the light: not quite, but researchers at the UC Davis Center for Neuroscience and Department of Psychology have used light to erase specific memories in mice, and proved a basic theory of how different parts of the brain work together to retrieve episodic memories. Optogenetics, pioneered by Karl Diesseroth at Stanford University, is a new technique for manipulating and studying nerve cells using light. The techniques of optogenetics are rapidly becoming the standard […]
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6:25 PM | 40,000 year old rock art found in Indonesia
Rock art dated to a minimum age of almost 40,000 years has been discovered in the Maros region of southern Sulawesi, Indonesia. This is an incredible result, just published in Nature, because one of the biggest challenges in rock art research is dating. Consequently, every time we get dates for rock art, wherever from and no matter how old or young, it is important. But when we get really old dates outside Europe it is both highly significant and very exciting. Subject:  […]
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6:13 PM | New technology controls brain cells with radio waves
A proposal to develop a new way to remotely control brain cells from Sarah Stanley, a research associate in Rockefeller University’s Laboratory of Molecular Genetics, headed by Jeffrey M. Friedman, is among the first to receive funding from U.S. President Barack Obama’s BRAIN initiative. The project will make use of a technique called radiogenetics that combines the use of radio waves or magnetic fields with nanoparticles to turn neurons on or off. Subject:  […]
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6:03 PM | Researchers make mind-controlled prosthetics that feel sensations
Life-like artificial limbs are on the way. Two independent teams of researchers have developed prosthetic devices that behave and feel sensation just like real arms and hands. One device, implanted into the remaining bone, gives amputees a full range of movement using electrical impulses from the brain. The other invention restores the sense of touch. Subject:  Robotics
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5:58 PM | Quantum robotics will create creative artificial intelligence agents
Quantum computing will open up a new field of robotics able to learn and carry out complex creative tasks, according to researchers. Scientists from the Complutense University of Madrid (UCM) and the University of Innsbruck in Austria claim in a paper published in the journal Physical Review, that the principles of quantum mechanics can be applied to create "intelligent learning agents" relevant for applications involving complex task environments. Subject:  […]
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5:42 PM | Quantized qualia
You’ve heard of splitting the atom; W. Alex Escobar wants to split the quale. His recent paper (short article here) proposes that in order to understand subjective experience we may need to break it down into millions of tiny units of experience. Subject:  Brain & Behavior
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