Physicists at the University of Sussex have found a way of using everyday technology found in kitchen microwaves and mobile telephones to bring quantum physics closer to helping solve enormous scientific problems that the most powerful of today’s supercomputers cannot even begin to embark upon.... Read more »
Weidt, S., Randall, J., Webster, S., Standing, E., Rodriguez, A., Webb, A., Lekitsch, B., & Hensinger, W. (2015) Ground-State Cooling of a Trapped Ion Using Long-Wavelength Radiation. Physical Review Letters, 115(1). DOI: 10.1103/PhysRevLett.115.013002
With the advent of video games, a frequently asked question has been whether we get as engrossed in them emotionally as we do when we see a scary movie. The answer is yes and many game players enjoy the fear caused by the zombies, disfigured humans and darkness they often encounter, the researchers found.... Read more »
Lynch, T., & Martins, N. (2015) Nothing to Fear? An Analysis of College Students' Fear Experiences With Video Games. Journal of Broadcasting , 59(2), 298-317. DOI: 10.1080/08838151.2015.1029128
Living cells can make a vast range of products for us, but they don’t always do it in the most straightforward or efficient way. Shota Atsumi, a chemistry professor at UC Davis, aims to address that through “synthetic biology:” designing and building new biochemical pathways within living cells, based on existing pathways from other living things.... Read more »
Tashiro, Y., Desai, S., & Atsumi, S. (2015) Two-dimensional isobutyl acetate production pathways to improve carbon yield. Nature Communications, 7488. DOI: 10.1038/ncomms8488
Comment sections on websites continue to be an environment for trolls to spew racist opinions. The impact of these hateful words shouldn’t have an impact on how one views the news or others, but that may not be the case. A recent study found exposure to prejudiced online comments can increase people’s own prejudice, and increase the likelihood that they leave prejudiced comments themselves.... Read more »
Hsueh, M., Yogeeswaran, K., & Malinen, S. (2015) Leave Your Comment Below: Can Biased Online Comments Influence Our Own Prejudicial Attitudes and Behaviors?. Human Communication Research. DOI: 10.1111/hcre.12059
If it were up to Internet-savvy Americans, more of them would be emailing or sending Facebook messages to their doctors to chat about their health. That’s the result of a national survey led by Joy Lee of Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health in the US.... Read more »
Lee, J., Choudhry, N., Wu, A., Matlin, O., Brennan, T., & Shrank, W. (2015) Patient Use of Email, Facebook, and Physician Websites to Communicate with Physicians: A National Online Survey of Retail Pharmacy Users. Journal of General Internal Medicine. DOI: 10.1007/s11606-015-3374-7
Moving closer to the possibility of “materials that compute” and wearing your computer on your sleeve, researchers at the University of Pittsburgh Swanson School of Engineering have designed a responsive hybrid material that is fueled by an oscillatory chemical reaction and can perform computations based on changes in the environment or movement, and potentially even respond to human vital signs. The material system is sufficiently small and flexible that it could ultimately be integrated in........ Read more »
Yashin, V., Levitan, S., & Balazs, A. (2015) Achieving synchronization with active hybrid materials: Coupling self-oscillating gels and piezoelectric films. Scientific Reports, 11577. DOI: 10.1038/srep11577
There's good news for scientists who study animals that are too small to carry a GPS monitor, or that spit ID tags back out through their arms. A setup using an off-the-shelf camera can precisely capture an animal's path in three dimensions—without anyone touching the animal.
Emmanuel de Margerie, who studies animal behavior at the University of Rennes 1 in France, says there are several reasons to seek new animal-tracking technologies. To put a GPS or other kind of tag on an animal, yo........ Read more »
de Margerie E, Simonneau M, Caudal JP, Houdelier C, & Lumineau S. (2015) 3D tracking of animals in the field, using rotational stereo videography. The Journal of experimental biology. PMID: 26056245
2014Jessica is depressed again. After six straight weeks of overtime, her boss blandly praised her teamwork at the product launch party. And the following week she was passed over for a promotion in favor of Jason, her junior co-worker. "It's always that way, I'll never get ahead..." She arrives at her therapist's office late, looking stressed, disheveled, and dejected. The same old feelings of worthlessness and despair prompted her to resume her medication and CBT routine."You deserve to be rec........ Read more »
Liu, X., Ramirez, S., Redondo, R., & Tonegawa, S. (2014) Identification and Manipulation of Memory Engram Cells. Cold Spring Harbor Symposia on Quantitative Biology, 59-65. DOI: 10.1101/sqb.2014.79.024901
Ramirez, S., Liu, X., MacDonald, C., Moffa, A., Zhou, J., Redondo, R., & Tonegawa, S. (2015) Activating positive memory engrams suppresses depression-like behaviour. Nature, 522(7556), 335-339. DOI: 10.1038/nature14514
Maybe you’ve heard of the others. ABrowse. BBrowse. CBrowse. [you get the idea] GBrowse has been widely adopted. JBrowse is picking up steam. Into the orderly arrangement we now throw ZBrowse: a new way to look at genome-wide association study data. Sharing and chatter about ZBrowse for viewing GWAS was abundant when the paper was […]... Read more »
Racine Jeffrey S. (2011) RStudio: A Platform-Independent IDE for R and Sweave. Journal of Applied Econometrics, 27(1), 167-172. DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/jae.1278
Cornell University engineers have created a functional, synthetic immune organ that produces antibodies and can be controlled in the lab, completely separate from a living organism. The engineered organ has implications for everything from rapid production of immune therapies to new frontiers in cancer or infectious disease research.... Read more »
Purwada, A., Jaiswal, M., Ahn, H., Nojima, T., Kitamura, D., Gaharwar, A., Cerchietti, L., & Singh, A. (2015) Ex vivo Engineered Immune Organoids for Controlled Germinal Center Reactions. Biomaterials. DOI: 10.1016/j.biomaterials.2015.06.002
Last year I blogged about the creepy phenomenon of cyranoids. A cyranoid is a person who speaks the words of another person. With the help of a hidden earpiece, a 'source' whispers words into the ear of a 'shadower' , who repeats them. In research published last year, British psychologists Kevin Corti and Alex Gillespie showed that cyranoids are hard to spot: if you were speaking to one, you probably wouldn't know it, even if the source was an adult and the shadower a child, or vice versa.
... Read more »
Corti, K., & Gillespie, A. (2015) A truly human interface: interacting face-to-face with someone whose words are determined by a computer program. Frontiers in Psychology. DOI: 10.3389/fpsyg.2015.00634
While fusion might still be a far off dream, a new discovery may help bring that dream closer to reality. Scientists have discovered a phenomenon that helps them to improve fusion plasmas, a finding that could quicken the development of large scale fusion energy. The scientists found that when they injected tiny grains of lithium into a plasma undergoing a particular kind of turbulence then, under the right conditions, the temperature and pressure rose dramatically.... Read more »
This question came up in journal club a little while ago. The hypothesis that neurons in the brain are attempting to maximize their information about the world is a powerful one. Although usually attributed to Horace Barlow, the idea arose almost … Continue reading →... Read more »
MacKay, D., & McCulloch, W. (1952) The limiting information capacity of a neuronal link. The Bulletin of Mathematical Biophysics, 14(2), 127-135. DOI: 10.1007/BF02477711
von Neumann. (1956) Probabilistic logics and the synthesis of reliable organisms from unreliable components. Automata Studies. info:/
Humans beware. Our would-be cybernetic overlords made a leap towards hyper-intelligence in the last few months as artificial neural networks can now be trained on specialized chips which use memristors, an electrical component that can remember the flow of electricity through it to help manage the amount of current required in a circuit. Using these specialized chips, robots, supercomputers, and sensors could solve complex real world problems faster, easier, and with far less energy. [...] ...... Read more »
Prezioso, M., Merrikh-Bayat, F., Hoskins, B., Adam, G., Likharev, K., & Strukov, D. (2015) Training and operation of an integrated neuromorphic network based on metal-oxide memristors. Nature, 521(7550), 61-64. DOI: 10.1038/nature14441
Google searches could unveil patterns in Black mortality rates across the US, according to a new study. Researchers found that those areas with greater levels of racism, as indexed by the proportion of Google searches containing the “n-word,” had higher mortality rates among Blacks. The study is the first to examine an Internet query-based measure of racism in relation to mortality risk.... Read more »
Chae, D., Clouston, S., Hatzenbuehler, M., Kramer, M., Cooper, H., Wilson, S., Stephens-Davidowitz, S., Gold, R., & Link, B. (2015) Association between an Internet-Based Measure of Area Racism and Black Mortality. PLOS ONE, 10(4). DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0122963
Light is an extremely useful tool for quantum communication, but it has one major disadvantage: it usually travels at the speed of light and cannot be kept in place. A team of scientists at the Vienna University of Technology has now demonstrated that this problem can be solved – not only in strange, unusual quantum systems, but in the glass fiber networks we are already using today.... Read more »
Sayrin, C., Clausen, C., Albrecht, B., Schneeweiss, P., & Rauschenbeutel, A. (2015) Storage of fiber-guided light in a nanofiber-trapped ensemble of cold atoms. Optica, 2(4), 353. DOI: 10.1364/OPTICA.2.000353
We are expanding, well more accurately the universe is expanding. However researchers have found certain types of supernovae, or exploding stars, are more diverse than previously thought. The results have implications for big cosmological questions, such as how fast the universe has been expanding since the Big Bang. Most importantly, the findings hint at the possibility that the acceleration of the expansion of the universe might not be quite as fast as textbooks say.... Read more »
Milne, P., Foley, R., Brown, P., & Narayan, G. (2015) THE CHANGING FRACTIONS OF TYPE IA SUPERNOVA NUV–OPTICAL SUBCLASSES WITH REDSHIFT. The Astrophysical Journal, 803(1), 20. DOI: 10.1088/0004-637X/803/1/20
Star Trek deflectors absorbed or deflected energy beams, but would they work against bullets or asteroids? Scientists are on working on armors and plasma systems that can stop projectiles. In some cases we use explosions to stop explosions. In others, tanks are turned into electrical pulse generators that zap incoming rockets. But the most amazing is the wall of exploding plasma that will be the first true defensive energy shield.... Read more »
Yoo, Y., Zheng, H., Kim, Y., Rhee, J., Kang, J., Kim, K., Cheong, H., Kim, Y., & Lee, Y. (2014) Flexible and elastic metamaterial absorber for low frequency, based on small-size unit cell. Applied Physics Letters, 105(4), 41902. DOI: 10.1063/1.4885095
Grześkiewicz, B., Sierakowski, A., Marczewski, J., Pałka, N., & Wolarz, E. (2014) Polarization-insensitive metamaterial absorber of selective response in terahertz frequency range. Journal of Optics, 16(10), 105104. DOI: 10.1088/2040-8978/16/10/105104
Deflector shields allowed Star Trek and other sci-fi franchises to have long space battles. Without them, one good strike and everyone was dead – that wouldn’t lend itself to sequels.
We don’t need shields for space battles yet, but we do need them to get to Mars. Cosmic radiation will kill or injure every astronaut unless we can deflect the radiation away from the spacecraft. We’re just about to build real deflectors, and our teachers are the magnetic fields we find ........ Read more »
Bamford, R., Kellett, B., Bradford, J., Todd, T., Benton, M., Stafford-Allen, R., Alves, E., Silva, L., Collingwood, C., Crawford, I.... (2014) An exploration of the effectiveness of artificial mini-magnetospheres as a potential solar storm shelter for long term human space missions. Acta Astronautica, 105(2), 385-394. DOI: 10.1016/j.actaastro.2014.10.012
Bamford, R., Gibson, K., Thornton, A., Bradford, J., Bingham, R., Gargate, L., Silva, L., Fonseca, R., Hapgood, M., Norberg, C.... (2008) The interaction of a flowing plasma with a dipole magnetic field: measurements and modelling of a diamagnetic cavity relevant to spacecraft protection. Plasma Physics and Controlled Fusion, 50(12), 124025. DOI: 10.1088/0741-3335/50/12/124025
Walsh, B., Foster, J., Erickson, P., & Sibeck, D. (2014) Simultaneous Ground- and Space-Based Observations of the Plasmaspheric Plume and Reconnection. Science, 343(6175), 1122-1125. DOI: 10.1126/science.1247212
Star Trek wouldn’t have been possible without the universal translator. Who would want to watch a show where characters don’t understand each other – of course, that doesn’t stop people from watching political debates. The technology of a universal translator is easy, we have camera phones that will show you a foreign sign in your own language. It’s the software to decipher a previously unencountered language that’s proving tough to overcome. Are there any uni........ Read more »
Sproat, R. (2014) A statistical comparison of written language and nonlinguistic symbol systems. Language, 90(2), 457-481. DOI: 10.1353/lan.2014.0031
Dunn, M., Greenhill, S., Levinson, S., & Gray, R. (2011) Evolved structure of language shows lineage-specific trends in word-order universals. Nature, 473(7345), 79-82. DOI: 10.1038/nature09923
Rao, R., Yadav, N., Vahia, M., Joglekar, H., Adhikari, R., & Mahadevan, I. (2009) Entropic Evidence for Linguistic Structure in the Indus Script. Science, 324(5931), 1165-1165. DOI: 10.1126/science.1170391
Snyder, Benjamin, Regina Barzilay and Kevin Knight. (2010) A Statistical Model for Lost Language Decipherment. Proceedings of the 48th Annual Meeting of the Association for Computational Linguistics, ACL 2010. info:/
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