Posts

October 17, 2014

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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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4:03 PM | Sperm wars
Why do male animals need millions of sperms every day in order to reproduce? And why are there two sexes anyway? Subject:  Biology & Aging
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3:59 PM | How the brain leads us to believe we have sharp vision
We assume that we can see the world around us in sharp detail. In fact, our eyes can only process a fraction of our surroundings precisely. In a series of experiments, psychologists at Bielefeld University have been investigating how the brain fools us into believing that we see in sharp detail. The results have been published in the scientific magazine Journal of Experimental Psychology: General. Its central finding is that our nervous system uses past visual experiences to predict […]
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2:16 PM | The exercise cost of soda and juice
When people think about sugar calories in terms of physical activity, they choose well. What if nutrition labels told people exactly what calories meant, in practical terms? A bottle of Coke could dole out specific exercise requirements. The calories herein, it might say, are the equivalent of a 50-minute jog. The decision to drink the Coke then becomes, would you rather spend the evening on a treadmill, or just not drink the soda? Subject:  Health & Medicine […]

October 16, 2014

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9:53 PM | The philosophy of genocide
I have recently hosted one of my regular dinner & philosophy discussions in Manhattan [1], and this time we chose the topic of genocide. More specifically, we pored over an as yet unpublished paper by NYU philosopher Paul Boghossian on “The concept of genocide” [2]. Subject:  Brain & Behavior
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6:26 PM | 3D Printed IRON MAN Child Prosthetic Hand
How can we help a child that faces everyday challenges with a disability? One way is to give them the most awesome prosthetic hand, and raise their self esteem to Super Hero Levels. The vision was to create a hand so that a child can have something that solves a mechanical challenge, is affordable, and mostly Looks Awesome! Design goals: 1) It had to look awesome 2) It had to perform awesome 3) Hide all the strings and mechanics, so nothing distracts from the magic.
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6:14 PM | First demonstration of artificial intelligence on a quantum computer
A Chinese team of physicists have trained a quantum computer to recognise handwritten characters; the first demonstration of “quantum artificial intelligence." Physicists have long claimed that quantum computers have the potential to dramatically outperform the most powerful conventional processors. The secret sauce at work here is the strange quantum phenomenon of superposition, where a quantum object can exist in two states at the same time. Subject:  […]
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5:45 PM | NASA study finds 1934 had worst drought of last thousand years
A new study using a reconstruction of North American drought history over the last 1,000 years found that the drought of 1934 was the driest and most widespread of the last millennium. Using a tree-ring-based drought record from the years 1000 to 2005 and modern records, scientists from NASA and Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory found the 1934 drought was 30 percent more severe than the runner-up drought (in 1580) and extended across 71.6 percent of western North America. For […]
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2:48 PM | A simple and versatile way to build 3-dimensional materials of the future
Researchers in Japan have developed a novel yet simple technique, called "diffusion driven layer-by-layer assembly," to construct graphene into porous three-dimensional (3D) structures for applications in devices such as batteries and supercapacitors. Their study was recently published in the journal Nature Communications. Subject:  Technology
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2:41 PM | Sudden unexpected death in epilepsy?
Sudden unexpected death in epilepsy (SUDEP) is concerning and many—even those with seizure disorders—may not be aware of this condition. New research published in Epilepsia, a journal published by Wiley on behalf of the International League Against Epilepsy (ILAE), reports that 76% of caregivers are more likely to have heard of SUDEP compared with 65% of patients with epilepsy. Subject:  Brain & Behavior
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2:15 PM | Adenosine can melt 'love handles'
The number of overweight persons is greatly increasing worldwide - and as a result is the risk of suffering a heart attack, stroke, diabetes or Alzheimer's disease. For this reason, many people dream of an efficient method for losing weight. An international team of researchers led by Professor Alexander Pfeifer from the University Hospital Bonn, have now come one step closer to this goal. Subject:  Health & Medicine
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2:09 PM | Protons are forever?
The proton has never been observed to decay into other particles. So it is possible that it is an absolutely stable particle and will never decay. However, there are some grand unified theories that argue that the proton does decay and physicists have been carrying out experiments to detect them decaying. The catch is that these theories predict an extremely long lifetime for the proton, greater than 1031years! How does one do such an experiment? Subject:  […]

October 15, 2014

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10:36 PM | Lockheed Martin announces nuclear fusion energy breakthrough
Lockheed Martin Corp said on Wednesday it had made a technological breakthrough in developing a power source based on nuclear fusion, and the first reactors, small enough to fit on the back of a truck, could be ready for use in a decade. Tom McGuire, who heads the project, said he and a small team had been working on fusion energy at Lockheed's secretive Skunk Works for about four years, but were now going public to find potential partners in industry and government for their work. […]
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6:36 PM | Change your walking style, change your mood
Our mood can affect how we walk — slump-shouldered if we're sad, bouncing along if we're happy. Now researchers have shown it works the other way too — making people imitate a happy or sad way of walking actually affects their mood. Subjects who were prompted to walk in a more depressed style, with less arm movement and their shoulders rolled forward, experienced worse moods than those who were induced to walk in a happier style, according to the study published in the […]
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6:32 PM | Weather history time machine
During the 1930s, North America endured the Dust Bowl, a prolonged era of dryness that withered crops and dramatically altered where the population settled. Land-based precipitation records from the years leading up to the Dust Bowl are consistent with the telltale drying-out period associated with a persistent dry weather pattern, but they can't explain why the drought was so pronounced and long-lasting. Subject:  Earth Science
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6:27 PM | Blinded by science
Do you believe in science? Your faith in science may actually make you more likely to trust information that appears scientific but really doesn't tell you much. Subject:  Technology
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5:13 PM | How AI research is bringing game characters to life
In an era of crowd-sourced machine intelligence, games may be about to do what authors have been trying to do for centuries. The ambition to create “real”, believable characters has been a cornerstone of literature since the 19th century. The Russian philosopher Mikhail Bakhtin praised Fyodor Dostoyevsky for his ability to give each of his protagonists their own sets of beliefs, “as if the character were not an object of authorial discourse, but rather a fully valid, […]
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5:08 PM | There’s no such thing as reptiles any more – and here’s why
You have likely been to a zoo at some point and visited their reptile house. A building where the climate control dial is stuck on the “wet sauna” setting, and filled with maniacal children competing to be the first to press their ice cream covered face and hands on every available piece of clean glass. Subject:  Animal Research
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4:51 PM | Bullies in the workplace
The stories are shocking and heartbreaking, but they are often disjointed and hard to follow. In severe cases, the narratives are even more chaotic. This is reality for victims of workplace bullying and a major reason why they stay silent, said Stacy Tye-Williams, an assistant professor of communications studies and English at Iowa State University. Subject:  Brain & Behavior
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3:16 PM | In some men, an increase in PSA after prostate cancer surgery may not lead to metastasis in their lifetime
Some prostate cancer patients whose prostate-specific antigen (PSA) levels increase after a radical prostatectomy may die of causes unrelated to prostate cancer before they are diagnosed with a prostate cancer metastasis, and therefore treating them for recurrence may not be beneficial, according to a study published in Clinical Cancer Research, a journal of the American Association for Cancer Research. Subject:  Health & Medicine
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2:11 AM | Landing on a comet: The trailer
In less than a month, on November 12, 2014, the 100-kg Philae lander will separate from ESA’s Rosetta spacecraft and descend several kilometers down to the dark, dusty and frozen surface of Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko, its three spindly legs and rocket-powered harpoon all that will keep it from crashing or bouncing hopelessly back out into space. It will be the culmination of a decade-long voyage across the inner Solar System, a testament to human ingenuity and inventiveness […]
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2:04 AM | Programming computers in everyday language
Computer scientists from KIT work on software that translates commands formulated in natural language into programming language and automatically adapts the order of execution. Subject:  Computer Science
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12:47 AM | Earth's magnetic field could flip within a human lifetime
Imagine the world waking up one morning to discover that all compasses pointed south instead of north. It's not as bizarre as it sounds. Earth's magnetic field has flipped – though not overnight – many times throughout the planet's history. Its dipole magnetic field, like that of a bar magnet, remains about the same intensity for thousands to millions of years, but for incompletely known reasons it occasionally weakens and, presumably over a few thousand years, reverses […]
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12:42 AM | Researchers develops ultra-fast charging batteries that last 20 years
Scientists at Nanyang Technology University (NTU) have developed ultra-fast charging batteries that can be recharged up to 70 per cent in only two minutes. The new generation batteries also have a long lifespan of over 20 years, more than 10 times compared to existing lithium-ion batteries. This breakthrough has a wide-ranging impact on all industries, especially for electric vehicles, where consumers are put off by the long recharge times and its limited battery life. […]

October 14, 2014

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7:47 PM | The neuroscience of holding it
Wherever you are right now: squeeze your glutes. Feel that? You just also contracted your pelvic floor too, whether you wanted to or not. Subject:  Biology & Aging
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6:12 PM | The exClone Project
exClone is a human-like dialogue system that encaptures a person’s expertise via digital cloning. Once the digital cloning is complete, an exClone is born and it has an independent, autonomous, and self-conscious life. It can learn from social conversations to improve its knowledge. It can also keep reading new material to get better following the directions and personality traits of its creator.
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6:02 PM | Unique catalysts for hydrogen fuel cells synthesized in ordinary kitchen microwave oven
Swedish and Chinese researchers show how a unique nano-alloy composed of palladium nano-islands embedded in tungsten nanoparticles creates a new type of catalysts for highly efficient oxygen reduction, the most important reaction in hydrogen fuel cells. Their results are published in the scientific journal Nature Communications. Subject:  Technology
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4:42 PM | Google Now scores higher than Siri and Cortana on massive knowledge quiz
Apple’s famous artificial intelligence agent is eating humble pie today. Ask Siri “Who is smarter, Siri or Google Now?” and Siri obligingly links to an article about a recent 3,086-question challenge that ranked Google Now as the top scorer. Subject:  Artificial Intelligence
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4:03 PM | Mars One (and done?)
MIT team independently assesses the technical feasibility of the proposed Mars One mission. In 2012, the “Mars One” project, led by a Dutch nonprofit, announced plans to establish the first human colony on the Red Planet by 2025. The mission would initially send four astronauts on a one-way trip to Mars, where they would spend the rest of their lives building the first permanent human settlement. Subject:  Astronomy/Cosmology
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3:51 PM | New device detects several types of cancer
Scientists have devised a way to detect microRNAs to screen for many cancers with one test in an affordable, accurate and non-invasive way.
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