Posts

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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5:29 PM | 'Data smashing' could unshackle automated discovery
A little known secret in data mining is that simply feeding raw data into a data analysis algorithm is unlikely to produce meaningful results, say the authors of a new Cornell University study. Subject:  Computer Science
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4:35 PM | Discovery of new subatomic particle sheds light on fundamental force of nature
The discovery of a new particle will "transform our understanding" of the fundamental force of nature that binds the nuclei of atoms, researchers argue. Led by scientists from the University of Warwick, the discovery of the new particle will help provide greater understanding of the strong interaction, the fundamental force of nature found within the protons of an atom's nucleus. Named Ds3*(2860)ˉ, the particle, a new type of meson, was discovered by analysing data collected with […]
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4:06 PM | Getting rich with science
An angry man by the name of Jared stopped by the blog the other day and left this beauty of a comment on my old A/C article: Subject:  Brain & Behavior
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3:04 PM | How scientists really feel about climate change
Science communicator Joe Duggan has created a website hosting letters from climate scientists. In his introduction, Joe says: Climate change is a complex and intimidating threat. You can't see it when you look out your bedroom window. It's impacts are often not immediately noticeable, nor are the benefits of acting against it. Subject:  Earth Science
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2:53 PM | Researchers discover cancer-fighting berry
Scientists have been surprised by the rapid cancer-fighting properties of a berry found only in Far North Queensland. An eight-year study led by Dr Glen Boyle, from the QIMR Berghofer medical research institute in Brisbane, found a compound in the berry could kill head and neck tumours as well as melanomas. An experimental drug derived from the berry, EBC-46, has so far been used on 300 animals, including cats, dogs and horses. Dr Boyle said in 75 per cent of cases, the tumour […]

October 08, 2014

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5:52 PM | Bigger brains aren't always better
It's one of those ideas that seems to make perfect sense: the bigger the brain, the more intelligent the creature. While it is generally true, exceptions are becoming increasingly common. Yet the belief persists even among scientists. Most biologists, for example, assume that rats, with larger brains, are smarter than mice. Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory (CSHL) scientists now challenge this belief. They compared mice and rats and found very similar levels of intelligence, a result that […]
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4:47 PM | Autism as a disorder of prediction
Researchers suggest autism stems from a reduced ability to make predictions, leading to anxiety. Autism is characterized by many different symptoms: difficulty interacting with others, repetitive behaviors, and hypersensitivity to sound and other stimuli. MIT neuroscientists have put forth a new hypothesis that accounts for these behaviors and may provide a neurological foundation for many of the disparate features of the disorder. Subject:  Brain & Behavior […]
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4:09 PM | New clues for the early detection of colorectal cancer
Researchers at the University of Luxembourg have identified potential new ways to test for the first signs of one of the most deadly types of cancer: colorectal cancer. They have found new “biomarkers”: molecules whose increased presence or absence in tissue suggests the development of tumorous cells. These indicators could help detect colorectal cancer at an early stage, predict its severity or even offer new treatments. Subject:  Health & […]
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3:51 PM | Teenage girls are exposed to more stressors that increase depression risk
Adolescence is often a turbulent time, and it is marked by substantially increased rates of depressive symptoms, especially among girls. New research indicates that this gender difference may be the result of girls' greater exposure to stressful interpersonal events, making them more likely to ruminate, and contributing to their risk of depression. The findings are published in Clinical Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science. Subject:  […]
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3:47 PM | Smallest world record has 'endless possibilities' for bio-nanotechnology
Scientists from the University of Leeds have taken a crucial step forward in bio-nanotechnology, a field that uses biology to develop new tools for science, technology and medicine. The new study, published in print today in the journal Nano Letters, demonstrates how stable 'lipid membranes' – the thin 'skin' that surrounds all biological cells – can be applied to synthetic surfaces. Subject:  Technology
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3:34 PM | Why thinking you're ugly is bad for you
About 10,000 people a month Google the phrase, “Am I ugly?” Meaghan Ramsey of the Dove Self-Esteem Project has a feeling that many of them are young girls. In a deeply unsettling talk, she walks us through the surprising impacts of low body and image confidence—from lower grade point averages to greater risk-taking with drugs and alcohol. And then shares the keys things all of us can to disrupt this reality.
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3:27 PM | Kindergartners can gauge when adults are overconfident
From the words for colours to how to tie a shoelace, kids have lots to learn — and for the most part, they depend on others to teach it to them. But whether deliberately or inadvertently, other people sometimes misinform. So at what age can kids tell trustworthy teachers from confident tricksters? A new study published in PLOS ONE by psychology researchers from Concordia University and the University of British Columbia shows that by the age of five, children become wary of […]
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3:23 PM | Gay and bisexual youth can thrive with positive family relationships
Gay and bisexual youth who are supported by their family and feel comfortable talking to them about their lifestyle are less likely to become involved in high-risk sexual behaviors, according to a recent Rutgers study. Subject:  Health & Medicine
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