Posts

December 04, 2014

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10:45 PM | New optical technique extracts audio from video
Those formerly silent walls can "talk" now: Researchers have demonstrated a simple optical technique by which audio information can be extracted from high-speed video recordings. The method uses an image-matching process based on vibration from sound waves, and is reported in an article appearing in the November issue of the journal Optical Engineering, published by SPIE, the international society for optics and photonics. Subject:  Technology
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10:35 PM | Finding infant earths and potential life just got easier
Among the billions and billions of stars in the sky, where should astronomers look for infant Earths where life might develop? New research from Cornell University's Institute for Pale Blue Dots shows where - and when - infant Earths are most likely to be found. The paper by research associate Ramses M. Ramirez and director Lisa Kaltenegger, "The Habitable Zones of Pre-Main-Sequence Stars" will be published in the Jan. 1, 2015, issue of Astrophysical Journal Letters. […]
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10:30 PM | Orion flight test reset for tomorrow
The first flight test of Orion, NASA’s next-generation spacecraft capable of sending astronauts on future missions to an asteroid and the journey to Mars, now is scheduled to launch Friday, Dec. 5 at 7:05 a.m. EST, atop a United Launch Alliance Delta IV Heavy from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida. NASA Television coverage will begin at 6 a.m. There is a two-hour, 39-minute window for the launch. Subject:  Technology
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6:21 PM | Marks on an ancient shell lead to a re-think of human history
Zig-zag markings have been discovered on a shell found at Trinil in Java that dates back to between 430,000 and 540,000 years ago, from the site where the original specimens of Homo erectus were found. The sensational find, published in Nature today, moves credible arguments for modern human behaviour back in time and suggests it was practised by an even older species of human ancestor. It also shifts the focus firmly outside Africa and Europe. Subject:  […]
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6:09 PM | Could We Actually Live On Mars?
What would it take to survive on Mars?
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6:06 PM | ‘Mirage Earth’ exoplanets may have burned away chances for life
Planets orbiting close to low-mass stars — easily the most common stars in the universe — are prime targets in the search for extraterrestrial life. Subject:  Astronomy/Cosmology
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5:17 PM | Paul Allen gives $5.7M to ‘cutting-edge’ artificial intelligence researchers
The Paul G. Allen Family Foundation today awarded $5.7 million to five researchers in the artificial intelligence field as part of the most recent Allen Distinguished Investigator (ADI) Program grant. The researchers, who are working on machine reading, diagram interpretation and reasoning, and spatial and temporal reasoning, hail from four universities around the globe — three of them work at the University of Washington. Subject:  Artificial Intelligence […]
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9:14 AM | Superconductivity without cooling
An infrared laser pulse briefly modifies the structure of a high-temperature superconductor and thus removes its electrical resistance even at room temperature. Superconductivity is a remarkable phenomenon: superconductors can transport electric current without any resistance and thus without any losses whatsoever. It is already in use in some niche areas, for example as magnets for nuclear spin tomography or particle accelerators. However, the materials must be cooled to very low […]
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9:02 AM | Dirt provides new insight into Roman burials
The first scientific evidence of frankincense being used in Roman burial rites in Britain has been uncovered by a team of archaeological scientists led by the University of Bradford. The findings - published today in the Journal of Archaeological Science - prove that, even while the Roman Empire was in decline, these precious substances were being transported to its furthest northern outpost. Subject:  Anthropology
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5:48 AM | Computationally modeling human emotion
Emotion's role in human behavior is an old debate that has become increasingly relevant to the computational sciences. Subject:  Artificial Intelligence
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5:43 AM | The corrupting power of cancer
When we think of antioxidants, we think of good, protective things, like blueberries, red wine, and dark chocolate (God, I love antioxidants). But cancer, that nefarious creature, finds a way to corrupt even the most benign cellular functions, bending them to its will in its selfish pursuit of proliferation. Subject:  Health & Medicine
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5:39 AM | "I think there's about a 99.8% chance that you exist" said the skeptic
Alone in my office, it can seem reasonable to me to have only about a 99% to 99.9% credence that the world is more or less how I think it is, while reserving the remaining 0.1% to 1% credence for the possibility that some radically skeptical scenario obtains (such as that this is a dream or that I'm in a short-term sim). Subject:  Brain & Behavior
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4:47 AM | Meteorite may contain proof of life on Mars
Mars is currently home to a small army robotic rovers, satellites and orbiters, all of which are busy at work trying to unravel the deeper mysteries of Earth’s neighbor. These include whether or not the planet ever had liquid water on its surface, what the atmosphere once looked like, and – most importantly of all – if it ever supported life. Subject:  Astronomy/Cosmology
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2:50 AM | How red wine prevents cancer
Alcohol use is a major risk factor for head and neck cancer. But an article published in the November issue of the journal Advances in Experimental Medicine and Biology shows that the chemical resveratrol found in grape skins and in red wine may prevent cancer as well. Subject:  Health & Medicine
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2:41 AM | HIV is mutating into a less deadly form
The rapid evolution of HIV, which has allowed the virus to develop resistance to patients' natural immunity, is at the same time slowing the virus's ability to cause AIDS. The Oxford University-led study also indicates that people infected by HIV are likely to progress to AIDS more slowly – in other words the virus becomes less 'virulent' – because of widespread access to antiretroviral therapy (ART). Subject:  Health & Medicine

December 03, 2014

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7:34 PM | Japan successfully launches Hayabusa 2 asteroid sample return mission
Japan successfully launched their Hayabusa-2 sample return mission to asteroid 1999 JU3, and JAXA reports the spacecraft is on course and in excellent shape, with its solar panels deployed. The H-IIA F26 rocket carrying the craft blasted off from the Tanegashima Space Center in southwest Japan at 1:22:04 p.m. local time on Dec 3, 2014 (04:22 UTC) , and about two hours later, the spacecraft separated from the rocket and entered its initial planned trajectory. Subject:  […]
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4:21 PM | How safe is space travel?
Analysis of data from the MATROSHKA experiment, the first comprehensive measurements of long-term exposure of astronauts to cosmic radiation, has now been completed. This experiment, carried out on board and outside of the International Space Station, showed that the cosmos may be less hostile to space travellers than expected. Subject:  Technology
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1:01 AM | Major synthetic life breakthrough as scientists make the first artificial enzymes
A breakthrough in synthetic biology has opened the door to a new way of treating incurable illnesses such as cancer and Ebola, and could shed light on the origins of life or even the possibility of extraterrestrial life on other planets. For the first time, researchers have made synthetic enzymes – the vital ingredients needed for life – from artificial genetic material that does not exist outside the laboratory. The milestone could soon lead to new ways of developing […]
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12:56 AM | Mediterranean diet linked to longer life
The Mediterranean diet has been consistently linked with health benefits, including reduced mortality and reduced risk of chronic diseases, such as heart disease. It is characterised by a high intake of vegetables, fruits, nuts, legumes (such as peas, beans and lentils), and (mainly unrefined) grains; a high intake of olive oil but a low intake of saturated fats; a moderately high intake of fish, a low intake of dairy products, meat and poultry; and regular but moderate intake of […]
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12:50 AM | CO2 warming effects felt just a decade after being emitted
It takes just 10 years for a single emission of carbon dioxide (CO2) to have its maximum warming effects on the Earth. This is according to researchers at the Carnegie Institute for Science who have dispelled a common misconception that the main warming effects from a CO2 emission will not be felt for several decades. Subject:  Earth Science
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12:46 AM | The human eye can see 'invisible' infrared light
Any science textbook will tell you we can't see infrared light. Like X-rays and radio waves, infrared light waves are outside the visual spectrum. But an international team of researchers co-led by scientists at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis has found that under certain conditions, the retina can sense infrared light after all. Subject:  Biology & Aging

December 02, 2014

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10:06 PM | See it, touch it, feel it
Technology has changed rapidly over the last few years with touch feedback, known as haptics, being used in entertainment, rehabilitation and even surgical training. New research, using ultrasound, has developed an invisible 3D haptic shape that can be seen and felt. The research paper, published in the current issue of ACM Transactions on Graphics and which will be presented at this week's SIGGRAPH Asia 2014 conference [3-6 December], demonstrates how a method has been created to […]
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9:56 PM | Understanding the brain's 'suffocation alarm'
Panic disorder is a severe form of anxiety in which the affected individual feels an abrupt onset of fear, often accompanied by profound physical symptoms of discomfort. Scientists have known from studying twins that genes contribute to the risk of panic disorder, but very little is known about which specific genes are involved. Subject:  Brain & Behavior
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9:41 PM | Stephen Hawking warns artificial intelligence could end mankind
Prof Stephen Hawking, one of Britain's pre-eminent scientists, has said that efforts to create thinking machines pose a threat to our very existence. He told the BBC:"The development of full artificial intelligence could spell the end of the human race." His warning came in response to a question about a revamp of the technology he uses to communicate, which involves a basic form of AI. But others are less gloomy about AI's prospects. READ MORE Subject:  […]
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8:14 PM | Why does the universe exist at all?
Robert Adler has a nice article with the title Why is there something rather than nothing?, explaining what our best theories say about why the universe exists at all and why it has the properties it does, such as being so flat and uniform. Subject:  Astronomy/Cosmology
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5:07 PM | Artificial intelligence will cause “structural collapse” of law firms by 2030
Robots and artificial intelligence (AI) will dominate legal practice within 15 years, perhaps leading to the “structural collapse” of law firms, a report predicting the shape of the legal market has envisaged. Civilisation 2030: The near future for law firms, by Jomati Consultants, foresees a world in which population growth is actually slowing, with “peak humanity” occurring as early as 2055, and ageing populations bringing a growth in demand for legal work on […]
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4:55 PM | Controlling E. coli bacteria adhesion
A research team from Kiel University (CAU) and Goethe University Frankfurt has jointly created a synthetic surface on which the adhesion of E. coli bacteria can be controlled. Subject:  Biology & Aging
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2:23 AM | Our 200,000-year-old ancestors: Neanderthal bones in northern France
We often make new discoveries about our ancient ancestors and how they may have behaved, and we sometimes find the evidence right in their bones. For instance, researchers recently described how the jaw and teeth of a Neanderthal might suggest that they created their own toothpicks out of sticks or small blades of grass to remove food from their teeth and relieve the pain from gum disease. Subject:  Anthropology
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2:02 AM | For life to form on a planet it needs to orbit the right kind of star
In the search for life-sustaining planets we must first choose the right host star. There are many factors that would make a star system too hostile for life to even get started, let alone survive for any period long enough to evolve. So what sort of star provides the perfect conditions for a habitable planet elsewhere in the universe? Not too young Subject:  Astronomy/Cosmology
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1:47 AM | Early Qualia
The problem of qualia is in itself a very old one, but it is expressed in new terms. My impression is that the actual word ‘qualia’ only began to be widely used (as a hot new concept) in the 1970s. Subject:  Brain & Behavior
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