Posts

November 11, 2014

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5:00 PM | Archaeologists discover remains of Ice-Age infants in Alaska
The bones and teeth of two--possibly related--Ice-Age infants, who were buried more than 11,000 years ago in central Alaska, constitute the youngest human remains ever found in the North American Arctic, according to a new paper published by National Science Foundation-funded researchers. Ben A. Potter of the University of Alaska Fairbanks led the archaeological team that made the discovery in late 2013 at an excavation of the Upward Sun River site. The researchers worked closely with […]
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4:56 PM | Tail discovered on long-known asteroid
A two-person team of Carnegie's Scott Sheppard and Chadwick Trujillo of the Gemini Observatory has discovered a new active asteroid, called 62412, in the Solar System's main asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter. It is the first comet-like object seen in the Hygiea family of asteroids. Sheppard will present his team's findings at the American Astronomical Society's Division of Planetary Sciences meeting and participate on Tuesday, November 11, in a press conference organized by the […]
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4:08 PM | Molecular breakthrough could halt the spread of prostate cancer
Scientists believe a new treatment, shown to be effective in mice, could halt the growth of tumours in patients with prostate cancer. Pioneering research, by academics at the Universities of Bristol, Nottingham and the University of the West of England (UWE Bristol), shows that a specific compound can inhibit the activity of a molecule which is key to how tumours form new blood vessels. The vessels are essential for the cancer cells to survive and multiply. Subject:  […]
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3:59 PM | Study shows marijuana's long-term effects on the brain
The effects of chronic marijuana use on the brain may depend on age of first use and duration of use, according to researchers at the Center for BrainHealth at The University of Texas at Dallas. Subject:  Brain & Behavior
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3:32 PM | My reaction to David Chalmers's The Conscious Mind, 18 years later
The Chronicle of Higher Education asked me what book written in the last 30 years changed my mind. Instead of trying to be clever, I went with my somewhat boring best guess at the truth: David Chalmers's The Conscious Mind. Subject:  Brain & Behavior
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3:26 PM | Brian Dalton "Mr. Deity" interview
We discuss skepticism with Brian Dalton, the man behind and in front of Mr. Deity. http://mrdeity.com/
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1:31 AM | Study shows clear new evidence for mind-body connection
For the first time, researchers have shown that practising mindfulness meditation or being involved in a support group has a positive physical impact at the cellular level in breast cancer survivors. Subject:  Brain & Behavior
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1:19 AM | Stem cell transplant reverses Parkinson's disease in rats
Parkinson's disease is an incurable movement disorder that affects millions of people around the world, but current treatment options can cause severe side effects and lose effectiveness over time. In a study published by Cell Press November 6th in Cell Stem Cell, researchers showed that transplantation of neurons derived from human embryonic stem cells (hESCs) can restore motor function in a rat model of Parkinson's disease, paving the way for the use of cell replacement therapy in […]

November 10, 2014

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8:05 PM | Toward a better understanding of DNA replication
Researchers have discovered the surprising manner in which an enigmatic protein known as SUUR acts to control gene copy number during DNA replication. It's a finding that could shed new light on the formation of fragile genomic regions associated with chromosomal abnormalities. Subject:  Genetics
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8:01 PM | A step toward tiny robots
In a step toward robots smaller than a grain of sand, University of Michigan researchers have shown how chains of self-assembling particles could serve as electrically activated muscles in the tiny machines. So-called microbots would be handy in many areas, particularly medicine and manufacturing. But several challenges lie between current technologies and science fiction possibilities. Two of the big ones are building the 'bots and making them mobile. Subject:  […]
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7:04 PM | Intellectual catastrophe
Scott has a nice discussion of our post-intentional future (or really our non-intentional present, if you like) here on Scientia Salon. He quotes Fodor saying that the loss of ‘common-sense intentional psychology’ would be the greatest intellectual catastrophe ever: hard to disagree, yet that seems to be just what faces us if we fully embrace materialism about the brain and its consequences. Subject:  Brain & Behavior
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6:56 PM | Anxiety can damage brain
People with mild cognitive impairment (MCI) are at increased risk of converting to Alzheimer's disease within a few years, but a new study warns the risk increases significantly if they suffer from anxiety. The findings were reported on Oct. 29 online by The American Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry, ahead of print publication, scheduled for May 2015. Subject:  Brain & Behavior
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4:16 PM | There is no religion, there are only religions
The Establishment Clause of the First Amendment of the US Constitution tersely says that “Congress shall make no laws respecting an establishment of religion”. Over time, this short phrase has had to be fleshed out and this has resulted in a messy stew of decisions resulting in great confusion. Subject:  Atheism & Religion
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4:07 PM | Life in Earth's primordial sea was starved for sulfate
Earth's ancient oceans held much lower concentrations of sulfate -- a key biological nutrient -- than previously recognized, according to research published this week in Science. The findings paint a new portrait of our planet's early biosphere and primitive marine life. Organisms require sulfur as a nutrient, and it plays a central role in regulating atmospheric chemistry and global climate. Subject:  Biology & Aging
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3:53 PM | Explainer: the pitch drop experiment
Something strange is happening within the world-famous pitch drop experiment with the latest drop forming much faster than the last couple of drops. There have been nine drops so far and all attention is now on trying to observe the tenth, expected sometime in the 2020s. Subject:  Technology
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3:22 PM | How human cells become immortal
Every day, some of your cells stop dividing, and that’s a good thing. Cells that proliferate indefinitely are immortal, an essential early step in the development of most malignant tumors. Despite its importance in cancer, the process of cell immortalization is poorly understood. That’s because scientists have lacked a good way to study immortalization in human cells as it occurs during cancer progression. Subject:  Biology & Aging
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3:22 AM | E. O. Wilson's bold vision for saving the world
When we see how badly we're destabilizing the world, Wilson says, we'll turn to reason. Edward O. Wilson has been called the heir of Darwin. His relationship to National Geographic stretches back to 1939, when, as a ten-year-old boy, he read about insects in the magazine and made up his mind to be an entomologist. Last year, at the age of 84, he was awarded the National Geographic Society's highest award, the Hubbard Medal. Subject:  Biology & Aging […]
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2:28 AM | So, you think you can clap to the beat?
Bobbing your head, tapping your heel, or clapping along with the music is a natural response for most people, but what about those who can't keep a beat? Researchers at McGill University and the University of Montreal, have discovered that beat-deafness, though very rare, is a problem not simply of how people feel a pulse or move their bodies, but instead, how people synchronize with sounds they hear. Subject:  Brain & Behavior

November 09, 2014

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5:34 PM | On Interstellar and ‘real physics’
Poor old Richard Branson. SpaceShipTwo has only just stopped smouldering after struggling to get more than 20km from the Earth and there’s the Nolan brothers getting Matthew McConaughey and Anne Hathaway not only to Saturn but to another galaxy in the “most realistic” science fiction movie ever made! And to add insult to injury they’ll probably make a profit. Subject:  Astronomy/Cosmology
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5:23 PM | US plans to answer the lure of Europa
To planetary scientists Jupiter’s icy moon Europa is a Siren, calling out to them across the solar system. With its youthful surface, abundance of water and the tantalising evidence of a moon-wide ocean – it is one of the best chances for us to find life within our solar system. Subject:  Astronomy/Cosmology
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4:15 PM | Testing gravity in the world's biggest vacuum chamber
Brian Cox visits NASA’s Space Power Facility in Ohio to see what happens when a bowling ball and a feather are dropped together under the conditions of outer space.
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4:10 PM | Can parents really make their kids smarter?
Reading bedtime stories, engaging in conversation and eating nightly dinners together are all positive ways in which parents interact with their children, but according to new research, none of these actions have any detectable influence on children's intelligence later in life. Subject:  Brain & Behavior

November 08, 2014

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10:05 PM | Is space tourism safe?
Several companies are developing spacecraft designed to take ordinary citizens, not astronauts, on short trips into space. "Space tourism" and short periods of weightlessness appear to be safe for most individuals according to a series of articles on space biomedicine published in New Space. Subject:  Technology
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9:10 PM | Does Watson know the answer to IBM’s woes?
As cheap cloud computing services erode IBM’s traditional hardware business with alarming speed, the company finds itself facing an uncertain future. If only there were some clever machine it could turn to for advice. Subject:  Computer Science
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7:15 PM | A/C came standard on armored dinosaur models
Sweating, panting, moving to the shade, or taking a dip are all time-honored methods used by animals to cool down. The implicit goal of these adaptations is always to keep the brain from overheating. Now a new study shows that armor-plated dinosaurs (ankylosaurs) had the capacity to modify the temperature of the air they breathed in an exceptional way: by using their long, winding nasal passages as heat transfer devices. Subject:  Animal Research
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7:06 PM | Snake robot could help future rescue missions
University of Waikato Master of Engineering (ME) student Pinwei Jin has designed and built a remote control robotic snake, which he hopes will be used in the future for rescue operations. “Earthquakes and other natural disasters happen frequently in New Zealand and when it comes to the big ones, many lives could be saved if search and rescue operations were conducted more effectively and efficiently,” says Pinwei. Different from existing rescue robots Subject:  […]
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5:58 PM | High-fat diet postpones brain aging
New Danish-led research suggests that signs of brain aging can be postponed in mice if placed on a high-fat diet. In the long term, this opens the possibility of treatment of children suffering from premature aging and patients with Alzheimer's and Parkinson's disease. The research project is headed by the Center for Healthy Aging, University of Copenhagen and the National Institute of Health. Subject:  Biology & Aging
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5:37 PM | Why do some people sense ghosts?
Ghosts exist only in the mind, and scientists know just where to find them, an EPFL study suggests. Patients suffering from neurological or psychiatric conditions have often reported feeling a strange "presence". Now, EPFL researchers in Switzerland have succeeded in recreating this so-called ghost illusion in the laboratory. Subject:  Brain & Behavior
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5:05 PM | Review: In “Interstellar,” Christopher Nolan shows he has the right stuff
Science fiction aficionados, take heed. The highly-anticipated movie Interstellar is sharp and gripping. Subject:  Astronomy/Cosmology

November 07, 2014

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9:02 PM | How to check if your universe should exist
If modern physics is to be believed, we shouldn’t be here. The meager dose of energy infusing empty space, which at higher levels would rip the cosmos apart, is a trillion trillion trillion trillion trillion trillion trillion trillion trillion trillion times tinier than theory predicts. And the minuscule mass of the Higgs boson, whose relative smallness allows big structures such as galaxies and humans to form, falls roughly 100 quadrillion times short of expectations. Dialing […]
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