Posts

September 26, 2014

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1:10 PM | Further dramatic readings from bizarre studies, Friday night
We’ll be doing some more Improbable Dramatic Readings — brief public readings from bizarre — yet genuine — scientific studies, this Friday night, September 26, at Porter Square Books, in Cambridge, Massachusetts, starting at 7:00 pm. The studies — which we will treat as if they are dramatic literature written for actors to perform — […]
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1:08 PM | Rain, Cricket, Probability, Victory, and You
If you are fascinated by rain, cricket, probability and/or victory, give a glance to this study, which ties them all together: “Rain Rules for Limited Overs Cricket and Probabilities of Victory,” Ian Preston [pictured here] and Jonathan Thomas, The Statistician (Journal of the Royal Statistical Society: Series D), vol. 51, 2002, pp. 189-202. The authors, at […]

September 25, 2014

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8:59 PM | Potato-chip-sound-modifier Ig Nobel Prize winner profiled
Charles Spence, 2008 Ig Nobel nutrition Prize winner (for electronically modifying the sound of a potato chip to make the person chewing the chip believe it to be crisper and fresher than it really is) profiled in The Guardian: …How to make bug-eating acceptable to westerners is one of the many gustatory challenges that he and his […]
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7:22 PM | Cirque de Soleil Deploys Drones for Art
A short film incorporates UAV quadcopters dressed as colorful lamp shades. Continue reading →
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6:00 PM | 5 Cool DIY Tech Trends from World Maker Faire
The two-day event, nicknamed the Greatest Show (and Tell) on Earth, celebrates science, technology and the creative spirit.
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5:10 PM | DNews: Young Minds Dazzle at Google Science Fair
The winners of the 2014 Google Science Fair have just been announced, so Trace takes a look at some of the amazing ideas created by teenagers.
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2:54 PM | Determining Temperature Boundary of the A1→(A1+B2) Phase Transformation in the Copper-55 at% Palladium Alloy Subjected to Severe Plastic Deformation
The changes in phase state, electrical properties and microhardness of copper-55 at% palladium alloy samples with different initial states (as-quenched and deformed via severe plastic deformation (SPD)) were studied during isothermal annealing. Ordered B2-phase formation in the disordered (A1) matrix was found to occur at a significantly higher temperature than is indicated in the generally accepted phase diagram of the Cu-Pd system. Corresponding electrical resistivity is also lower than […]
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1:54 PM | Alcohol is not an Excuse.
Drunk people do terrible things. We’ve all experienced this. Whether because we’ve done something stupid and horrible while drunk, or because we’ve been harmed by a drunk person whom we know. And we know these people, or we are these people, and so we also know that they, or we, would never do such things […]
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1:00 PM | Robot Octopus Swims Faster Than Ever
A soft and supple silicone web has nearly doubled the speed of the roboctopus.
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12:37 PM | Alternating proximal gradient method for sparse nonnegative Tucker decomposition - implementation -
Alternating proximal gradient method for sparse nonnegative Tucker decomposition by Yangyang XuMulti-way data arises in many applications such as electroencephalography (EEG) classification, face recognition, text mining and hyperspectral data analysis. Tensor decomposition has been commonly used to find the hidden factors and elicit the intrinsic structures of the multi-way data. This paper considers sparse nonnegative Tucker decomposition (NTD), which is to decompose a given tensor into the […]
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12:02 PM | Comparative ‘iffiness’ of medical research articles
If one could know for sure how iffy things are for English-speaking doctors compared to how iffy things are for French-speaking doctors, one might reach the same conclusions as are reached in this study: “The ‘iffiness’ of medical research articles —A comparison of English if and French si,” Shirley Carter-Thomas [pictured here], in Language and […]
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10:44 AM | Bent IPhone 6+, the fault of the aluminum body? Maybe not…
There seems to be a lot of buzz around the IPhone 6+ getting bent (literally) in owner’s pockets (Bentgate!). Lewis from Unbox Therapy even followed up by performing a series […]
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6:01 AM | Ig Nobel and Improbable talks, in Rotterdam Friday
Coming mere days after the Nederlandse Ig Nobel Night (which happened September 20), there will be another Ig Nobel Event in The Netherlands. On Friday, September 26, 2014 at 9:45 pm the New Horizons Festival at the Erasmus University Medical Center in Rotterdam hosts our European Bureau Chief Kees Moeliker who will explain ‘How to win an Ig […]
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3:26 AM | Flame Photography Discerns Pecularity in Ramjet Ignition
Amid pictures of dazzling auroras and satellite passes, pictures of a flame may seem boring in comparison. However, a Chinese team’s recent photography of flames igniting in a high speed engine (Technical note, AIAA Journal of Propulsion and Power) captured … Continue reading →

September 24, 2014

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7:27 PM | Physics Buzz at the Ig (with sound and pix)
The American Physical Society’s Physics Buzz blog visited the 24th First Annual Ig Nobel Prize ceremony. The resulting podcast includes interviews with some of the winners. There are some nice accompanying photos, including these ones, reproduced here with Physics Buzz’s captions: Natasha Rosenberg, aka “The Human Spotlight” illuminates the way for an Ig Noble aficionado before […]
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7:14 PM | Debugging and the Scientific Method
  Laboratory work is getting fairly heated here at A&M. Equipment is becoming available for use, and as each new bouncing bundle of joy makes its way into the laboratory, it has to be fully characterized. Many times, sadly, the initial characterization is that the ‘new to us’ piece of equipment is just flat out [...]
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6:54 PM | Cassidy Williams: An Emerging Computer Scientist with a Desire to Inspire More Women in STEM
  The ‘Nifty Fifty (times 4)’, a program of Science Spark, presented by InfoComm International, are a group of 200 noted science and engineering professionals who will fan out across the Washington, D.C. area in the 2014-2015 school year to speak about their work and careers at various middle and high schools. Meet Nifty Fifty Speaker…
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5:23 PM | Your iPhone 6 Bends, But it's the Most Durable Yet
If you wanted a curve in your phone, you'd have bought a Samsung Galaxy Round or an LG G Flex. Continue reading →
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3:55 PM | Paper Airplane Flies 82 Miles
A volunteer civil air patrol group launched a record setting flight from high-altitude weather balloon. Continue reading →
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3:50 PM | New Smartphone Encryption Locks Out Snoops
With its new mobile operating system, Apple will not have access to customer passwords.
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3:17 PM | Outbreak Abroad
How do journalists in different nations report infectious disease outbreaks? "Outbreak. The word spawns chills and premonitions of hacking coughs, boils, oozing sores and death. Emerging viruses in the Middle East or East Asia, such as MERS and H7N9, are certainly frightening, but how does the coverage by outsider media compare to the sentiments of those reporting from ground zero of an epidemic? This story concept spawned from a conversation that I once had about […]
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2:32 PM | Do cats see these optical illusions? Study and video say yes.
Further insight, in this study, on what cats have in sight: “Cats and Illusory Motion,” Rasmus Bååth [pictured here], Takeharu Seno, Akiyoshi Kitaoka, Psychology, vol. 5, 2014, pp. 1131-1134. The authors, at Lund University, Sweden, Kyushu University, Japan, and Ritsumeikan University, Japan, report: “Many cat owners have probably looked into their cat’s eyes and wondered how the […]
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2:25 PM | DNews: Einstein's Time Dilation Created in a Lab
Thanks to German scientists, we no longer need spacecraft or theoretical papers in order to recreate the time dilation aspect of Einstein's special theory of relativity. They did it in a laboratory.
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1:54 PM | Ig Nobel winner Audoly on the physics of the lasso
Basile Audoly — who shared the 2006 Ig Nobel prize for physics with Sebastien Neukirch for insights into why, when you bend dry spaghetti, it often breaks into more than two pieces — has a new study about the physics of rodeo lassoing. The new paper is: “An introduction to the mechanics of the lasso,” Pierre-Thomas Brun, Neil […]
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10:36 AM | Researchers produce propane using E.coli bacteria
A team of scientists has transformed E.coli bacteria into a propane factory. In their Nature magazine article, researchers from the University of Turku (Finland) and Imperial College (United Kingdom)... -- Read more on ScientificAmerican.com
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10:09 AM | Stochastic Coordinate Coding (SCC) - implementation -
As examplified by this work, genomics is bound to have a profound effect on designing new algorithms.Stochastic Coordinate Coding and Its Application for Drosophila Gene Expression Pattern Annotation by Binbin Lin, Qingyang Li, Qian Sun, Ming-Jun Lai, Ian Davidson, Wei Fan, Jieping Ye \textit{Drosophila melanogaster} has been established as a model organism for investigating the fundamental principles of developmental gene interactions. The gene expression patterns of \textit{Drosophila […]

September 23, 2014

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6:44 PM | Human Hamster Wheel Turns Up Productivity
A 24-hour collaboration could be your next DIY project. Continue reading →
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5:01 PM | Frontiers in Bioengineering Conference: The Farthest Out in Front
Earlier this month, I attended the Frontiers in Bioengineering conference at the Beckman Institute (UIUC). It was an interesting event with diverse perspectives on the field of Bioengineering. The two-day event featured researchers from all over the world, but focused on the synergies between Engineering and Cell/Molecular Biology.One way to summarize the proceedings is to discuss the three most interesting (at least to me) technological advances. So here they are, in no particular order:1) […]
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5:00 PM | DNews: Meet the Fastest Wi-Fi Setup Anywhere
Scientists have found a way to use radio waves to match fiber optic data transmission speeds. Is 32 Gigiabits per second Wi-Fi in our future?
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1:48 PM | An Academic Memorial.
Yesterday I attended the memorial service of Mort Friedman, a Vice Dean and Professor at Columbia. He served that university for 56 years. He died suddenly a few months ago, but at advanced age. He was universally beloved, and prodigiously accomplished. A professor whose contributions, even measured against other long-time Ivy League professors, is impressive. […]
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