Posts

January 16, 2015

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3:24 PM | Google halts consumer sales of Glass, plans redesign
Google (GOOG) will stop selling its Internet-connected eyewear to consumers until the company can develop a more polished and affordable version that's less likely to be viewed as a freakish device. The sales moratorium on the nearly 2-year-old Explorer edition of Google Glass goes into effect Monday. The decision coincides with Glass' spin-off from the secretive Google X lab where it was invented. Subject:  Technology
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2:27 AM | New exoplanet-hunting telescopes on paranal
The Next-Generation Transit Survey (NGTS) has achieved first light at ESO’s Paranal Observatory in northern Chile. This project will search for transiting exoplanets — planets that pass in front of their parent star and hence produce a slight dimming of the star’s light that can be detected by sensitive instruments. The telescopes will focus on discovering Neptune-sized and smaller planets, with diameters between two and eight times that of Earth. Subject:  […]
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1:36 AM | Tropical forests absorbing far more carbon dioxide than believed
A new NASA-led study shows that tropical forests may be absorbing far more carbon dioxide than many scientists thought, in response to rising atmospheric levels of the greenhouse gas. The study estimates that tropical forests absorb 1.4 billion metric tons of carbon dioxide out of a total global absorption of 2.5 billion -- more than is absorbed by forests in Canada, Siberia and other northern regions, called boreal forests. Subject:  Biology & Aging […]
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1:18 AM | Artificial Intelligence should benefit society, not create threats
Some of the biggest players in Artificial Intelligence (AI) have joined together calling for any research to focus on the benefits we can reap from AI “while avoiding potential pitfalls”. Research into AI continues to seek out new ways to develop technologies that can take on tasks currently performed by humans, but it’s not without criticisms and concerns. Subject:  Artificial Intelligence

January 15, 2015

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11:01 PM | Do opioid drugs relieve chronic pain?
A National Institutes of Health white paper that was released today finds little to no evidence for the effectiveness of opioid drugs in the treatment of long-term chronic pain, despite the explosive recent growth in the use of the drugs. The paper, which constitutes the final report of a seven-member panel convened by the NIH last September, finds that many of the studies used to justify the prescription of these drugs were either poorly conducted or of an insufficient duration. […]
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10:50 PM | Humanity has exceeded 4 of 9 'planetary boundaries
An international team of researchers says climate change, the loss of biosphere integrity, land-system change, and altered biogeochemical cycles like phosphorus and nitrogen runoff have all passed beyond levels that put humanity in a "safe operating space." Subject:  Earth Science
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10:48 PM | Rice-sized laser tunnels through quantum dots
Princeton University researchers have built a rice grain-sized laser powered by single electrons tunneling through artificial atoms known as quantum dots. The tiny microwave laser, or "maser," is a demonstration of the fundamental interactions between light and moving electrons. The researchers built the device -- which uses about one-billionth the electric current needed to power a hair dryer -- while exploring how to use quantum dots, which are bits of semiconductor material that […]
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9:29 PM | Lower stress enhances feelings of empathy for others
How is it that people can sometimes show such empathy when other times our ability to feel compassion seems to be in such short supply? A study published in the Cell Press journal Current Biology on January 15 shows that stress is a major factor. Subject:  Brain & Behavior
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9:12 PM | Researchers enlarge brain samples for easier imaging
Beginning with the invention of the first microscope in the late 1500s, scientists have been trying to peer into preserved cells and tissues with ever-greater magnification. The latest generation of so-called "super-resolution" microscopes can see inside cells with resolution better than 250 nanometers. Subject:  Technology
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6:52 PM | 3-D displays without 3-D glasses
Public screenings have become an important part of major sports events. In the future, we will be able to enjoy them in 3-D, thanks to a new invention from Austrian scientists. A sophisticated laser system sends laser beams into different directions. Therefore, different pictures are visible from different angles. The angular resolution is so fine that the left eye is presented a different picture than the right one, creating a 3-D effect. Subject:  Technology […]
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6:46 PM | Liquids and glasses relax, but not like you thought
A new insight into the fundamental mechanics of the movement of molecules recently published by researchers at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) offers a surprising view of what happens when you pour a liquid out of a cup. More important, it provides a theoretical foundation for a molecular-level process that must be controlled to ensure the stability of important protein-based drugs at room temperature. Subject:  Technology
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5:06 PM | Elon Musk & Thomas Dietterich on AI safety
Elon Musk and AAAI President Thomas Dietterich comment on Elon's decision to fund artificial intelligence safety research.
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5:01 PM | New species discovered beneath ocean crust
Two miles below the surface of the ocean, researchers have discovered new microbes that “breathe” sulfate. The microbes, which have yet to be classified and named, exist in massive undersea aquifers — networks of channels in porous rock beneath the ocean where water continually churns. About one-third of the Earth’s biomass is thought to exist in this largely uncharted environment. Subject:  Biology & Aging
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4:53 PM | Improved interface for a quantum internet
Quantum computers are no longer just a theoretical concept. In recent years, researchers have assembled and successfully tested the building blocks for a future quantum computer in the laboratory. More than a dozen candidate technologies are currently being studied; of these, ion traps are arguably the most advanced. Subject:  Technology
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3:22 AM | Language translation is about to become easier than ever
Google’s new updates to its translation app is the latest in efforts to make sci-fi translators a reality. Whether it’s the “universal translator” of Star Trek fame or the weird but effective Babel fish from Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, devices (and animals) for overcoming the language barrier have long been loved in science fiction. Today, the reality might be closer than ever. Subject:  Computer Science
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3:14 AM | Sweet potato leaves are a good source of vitamins
Sweetpotato is known to be a good source of ascorbic acid (vitamin C) and certain B vitamins that are considered essential to human health. Besides the commonly consumed root of the plant, certain tissues in sweetpotato are also edible and high in nutritional value. Subject:  Health & Medicine
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2:56 AM | Simple trick boosts child fruit & vegetable consumption by 54 percent
Because of a federal rule, kids throw away millions of dollars of fruits and vegetables every single day at school. But a new study shows a simple, no-cost trick that should leave federal policy makers saying, “Why didn’t I think of that?” When recess takes place before kids sit down to eat – instead of after - fruit and vegetable consumption increases by 54%. Subject:  Health & Medicine

January 14, 2015

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2:44 PM | Toward using graphene in electronic applications
Few materials have received as much attention from the scientific world or have raised so many hopes with a view to their potential deployment in new applications as graphene has. Subject:  Technology
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2:08 PM | Monitoring control centers with sound
When the alarm light starts blinking in the control room of a factory, the problem has already occurred. Computer scientists at the Cluster of Excellence Cognitive Interactive Technology (CITEC) at Bielefeld University and the University of Vienna have developed a method that allows control room staff to monitor several processes at the same time, which enables them to take preventative action. The trick: processes are coded with sounds. Workers hear, for example, whether there is […]
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3:14 AM | Is a blood test for brain injury feasible?
Complications involving the brain's unique waste removal system, which has only recently been brought to light, may thwart efforts to identify biomarkers that detect traumatic brain injury (TBI). That is because proteins that are triggered by brain damage are prevented from reaching the blood system in levels necessary for a precise diagnosis. Subject:  Brain & Behavior

January 13, 2015

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8:43 PM | European dinosaurs died quickly after asteroid impact
Dinosaurs flourished in Europe right up until the asteroid impact that wiped them out 66 million years ago, a new study shows. The theory that an asteroid rapidly killed off the dinosaurs is widely recognized, but until recently dinosaur fossils from the latest Cretaceous--the final stanza of dinosaur evolution--were known almost exclusively from North America. This has raised questions about whether the sudden decline of dinosaurs in the American and Canadian west was merely a local […]
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8:36 PM | Are brands making people less religious?
People may joke about a spiritual-like devotion to Starbucks, Apple or BMW, but recent research shows brands may truly be impacting religious commitment. Specifically, Professor Gavan Fitzsimons' work finds people may be using brands as a means of self-expression in the way they once used religion. Subject:  Atheism & Religion
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8:30 PM | First contracting human muscle grown in laboratory
In a laboratory first, Duke researchers have grown human skeletal muscle that contracts and responds just like native tissue to external stimuli such as electrical pulses, biochemical signals and pharmaceuticals. The lab-grown tissue should soon allow researchers to test new drugs and study diseases in functioning human muscle outside of the human body. Subject:  Health & Medicine
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7:30 PM | Bilingualism changes children's beliefs
Concordia University study shows that kids exposed to 2 languages have different expectations than those who are monolingual. Most young children are essentialists: They believe that human and animal characteristics are innate. That kind of reasoning can lead them to think that traits like native language and clothing preference are intrinsic rather than acquired. Subject:  Brain & Behavior
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5:29 PM | Faster-than-light lasers could "illuminate" the universe
It’s a cornerstone of modern physics that nothing in the Universe is faster than the speed of light (c). However, Einstein’s theory of special relativity does allow for instances where certain influences appear to travel faster than light without violating causality. These are what is known as “photonic booms,” a concept similar to a sonic boom, where spots of light are made to move faster than c. Subject:  Astronomy/Cosmology
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3:53 PM | How do cells interact?
A new device allows scientists to glimpse communication between immune cells. The immune system is a complex network of many different cells working together to defend against invaders. Successfully fighting off an infection depends on the interactions between these cells. Subject:  Biology & Aging

January 12, 2015

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9:31 PM | The tools needed to seek out new worlds out there in space
More than 1,000 exoplanets have now been discovered by the Kepler Space Telescope, announced NASA this month, and the figure continues to climb. Three of the newly confirmed Kepler planets are thought to lie in the habitable zones of their host stars and are only slightly larger than the Earth. Subject:  Astronomy/Cosmology
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9:15 PM | Computers using digital footprints are better judges of personality than friends and family
Researchers have found that, based on enough Facebook Likes, computers can judge your personality traits better than your friends, family and even your partner. Using a new algorithm, researchers have calculated the average number of Likes artificial intelligence (AI) needs to draw personality inferences about you as accurately as your partner or parents. Subject:  Computer Science
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8:55 PM | Scientists identify key substance that protects against pre-term birth
Researchers at UT Southwestern Medical Center have identified hyaluronon (HA) as a critical substance made by the body that protects against premature births caused by infection. Pre-term birth from infection is the leading cause of infant mortality in many countries according to the World Health Organization. The findings of the study, recently published in the Journal of Clinical Investigation, are the first to identify the specific role that HA plays in the reproductive tract. […]
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7:21 PM | Revealing the inner workings of a molecular motor
In research published in the Journal of Cell Biology, scientists from the RIKEN Brain Science Institute in Japan have made important steps toward understanding how dynein--a "molecular motor"--walks along tube-like structures in the cell to move cellular cargo from the outer structures toward the cell body of neurons. The action of this molecule is important for a number of cell functions including axonal transport and chromosome segregation, and its dysfunction is known to lead to a […]
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