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Genetic ‘intelligence networks’ discovered in the brain

Could lead to future genetic engineering of superintelligence?
December 22, 2015

Gene-expression heatmap ft

Scientists from Imperial College London have identified two clusters (“gene networks”) of genes that are linked to human intelligence. Called M1 and M3, these gene networks appear to influence cognitive function, which includes memory, attention, processing speed and reasoning.

Importantly, the scientists have discovered that these two networks are likely to be under the control of master regulator switches. The researcher want to identify those switches and… read more

AI ‘alarmists’ nominated for 2015 ‘Luddite Award’

December 21, 2015

An 1844 engraving from the Penny magazine, showing a post-1820s Jacquard loom (credit: public domain/Penny Magazine)

The Information Technology and Innovation Foundation (ITIF) today (Dec. 21) announced 10 nominees for its 2015 Luddite Award. The annual “honor” recognizes the year’s most egregious example of a government, organization, or individual stymieing the progress of technological innovation.

ITIF also opened an online poll and invited the public to help decide the “winner.” The result will be announced in late January.

The nominees include (in no specific order):… read more

Magnetic nanoparticles combat biofilms, a source of chronic bacterial infections

December 21, 2015

Staphylococcus aureus bacterial biofilm on an indwelling catheter. (credit: CDC)

A solution for biofilms* — a scourge of infections in hospitals and kitchens formed by bacteria that stick to each other on living tissue and medical instruments — has been developed by University of New South Wales researchers: Injecting iron oxide nanoparticles into the biofilms, and using an applied magnetic field to heat them, triggering them into dispersing.

“Chronic biofilm-based infections are often extremely resistant to antibiotics… read more

Deep-learning algorithm predicts photos’ memorability at ‘near-human’ levels

December 21, 2015

LaMem image

Researchers at MIT’s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL) have developed a deep-learning algorithm that can predict how memorable or forgettable an image is almost as accurately as humans, and they plan to turn it into an app that tweaks photos to make them more memorable.

For each photo, the “MemNet” algorithm also creates a “heat map” (a color-coded overlay) that identifies exactly which parts of the… read more

Pulsed laser light turns whole-brain activity on and off

Study may guide deep brain stimulation therapies used for traumatic brain injury and other neurological disorders
December 18, 2015

Optogenetic light delivery

By flashing high-frequency (40 to 100 pulses per second) optogenetic lasers at the brain’s thalamus, scientists were able to wake up sleeping rats and cause widespread brain activity. In contrast, flashing the laser at 10 pulses per second suppressed the activity of the brain’s sensory cortex and caused rats to enter a seizure-like state of unconsciousness.

“We hope to use this knowledge to develop better treatments for… read more

‘Robot locust’ can jump 11 feet high

Can traverse rocky terrain and assist in search and rescue and reconnaisance missions
December 18, 2015

Real vs. robot (credit: Tel Aviv University)

A locust-inspired miniature robot that can jump 3.35 meters (11 ft.), covering a distance of 1.37 meters (4.5 ft.) horizontally in one leap is designed to handle search-and-rescue and reconnaissance missions in rough terrain.

The new locust-inspired robot, dubbed “TAUB” (for “Tel Aviv University and Ort Braude College”), is 12.7 cm (5 in.) long and weighs weighs 23 grams (less than one ounce). It was developed by Tel Aviv… read more

Mystery material stuns scientists

It's a UV light, semiconductor, sensor, superconductor, ferromagnet, optoelectronic device. Just add water.
December 18, 2015

How does water on the surface of this material control UV light emission and conductivity? (credit: Mohammad A. Islam et al./Nano Letters)

In a remarkable chance landmark discovery, a team of researchers at four universities has discovered a mysterious material that emits ultraviolet light and has insulating, electrical conducting, semiconducting, superconducting, and ferromagnetic properties — all controlled by surface water.

It happened while the researchers were studying a sample of lanthanum aluminate film on a strontinum titanate crystal. The sample mysteriously began to glow, emitting intense levels of ultraviolet light from… read more

Nearby star hosts closest alien planet in the ‘habitable zone’

December 17, 2015

A simulation of the orbital configuration of the Wolf 1061 system. Wolf 1061 is an inactive red dwarf star, smaller and cooler than our sun, 14 light years away. The planetary habitable zone around the star is marked in green -- the colors grade from red (where a planet would be too hot), through green (where the surface of a planet could sustain liquid water), through to blue (where a planet would be too cold). (credit: Made using Universe Sandbox 2 software)

 

UNSW Australia astronomers have discovered the closest potentially habitable planet found outside our solar system so far, orbiting a star just 14 light years away.

The planet, more than four times the mass of the Earth, is one of three that the team detected around a red dwarf star called Wolf 1061.

“It is a particularly exciting find because all three planets… read more

A color laser printer with an amazing 127,000 dots per inch resolution

December 17, 2015

Researchers from DTU Nanotech and DTU Fotonik have succeeded in printing a microscopic Mona Lisa. She is 50 micrometres long or about 10,000 times smaller than the real Mona Lisa in the Louvre in Paris. (credit: Technical University of Denmark (DTU))

A new laser-printing technology allows for printing high-resolution data and color images at the unprecedented resolution of 127,000 dots per inch (DPI) and with a speed of 1 nanosecond per pixel — developed by researchers at Technical University of Denmark’s DTU Nanotech and DTU Fotonik.

At that extreme resolution, images can be printed on the microscale. This patented method uses special plasmonic metasurfaces coated with 20 nanometers of aluminum.… read more

When wearable electronics devices disappear into clothes

Powered by "microsupercapacitors" woven into fabrics
December 17, 2015

The Athos Upper Body Package includes an Athos Shirt and Core. The 14 built in sensors provide real-time insight into how hard your muscles are working and heart rate in real time. (credit: Athos)

Wearables will “disappear” in 2016, predicts New Enterprise Associates venture capital partner Rick Yang, cited in a Wednesday (Dec. 16) CNBC article — integrated “very directly into your everyday life, into your existing fashion sense to the extent that nobody knows you’re wearing a wearable,” he said.

For example, Athos makes smart workout clothes embedded with inconspicuous technology that tracks muscle groups, heart, and breathing rates,… read more

New nanomanufacturing technique for extremely high-resolution imaging, biological sensing

December 16, 2015

nanolens

Researchers have developed a method of constructing nanolenses that could focus incoming light into a spot much smaller than possible with conventional microscopy, making possible extremely high-resolution imaging or biological sensing.

They precisely aligned three spherical gold nanoparticles of graduated sizes in a string-of-pearls arrangement  to produce the focusing effect.

The first step employs the lithographic methods used in making printed circuits to create a chemical mask that… read more

Social-media news consumers at higher risk of ‘information bubbles’

How "friends" or people you “follow” limit your sphere of information by keeping you in a “collective social bubble”
December 16, 2015

social-media effects

Do you find your news and information from social media instead of search engines? If so, you are at risk of becoming trapped in a “collective social bubble.”

That’s according to Indiana University researchers in a study, “Measuring online social bubbles,” recently published in the new open-access online journal PeerJ Computer Science, based on an analysis of more… read more

Stanford researcher scans his own brain for a year and a half — the most studied in the world

Psychologist experiments on himself, documenting his neural, metabolic, and genetic changes over 18 months
December 16, 2015

fMRI scan

You’ve probably seen the “connectome” map of the major networks between different functional areas of the human brain. Cool graphic. But this is just an average.

It raises a lot of questions: How does this map relate to your brain? Do these connections persist over a period of months or more? Or do they vary with different conditions (happy or sad mood, etc.)? And what if you’re a schizophrenic, alcoholic,… read more

Importance of physical activity and aerobic exercise for healthy brain function

December 15, 2015

fitness vs. memory accuracy ft

Young adults who have greater aerobic fitness also have greater volume of their entorhinal cortex, an area of the brain responsible for memory, Boston University School of medicine (BUSM) researchers have found.

While aerobic fitness is not directly associated with performance on a recognition memory task, the participants with a larger entorhinal cortex also performed better on a recognition memory task.

The entorhinal cortex is a… read more

How much TV you watch as a young adult may affect midlife cognitive function

December 15, 2015

(credit: iStock)

Watching a lot of TV and having a low physical activity level as a young adult were associated with worse cognitive function 25 years later in midlife, according to an article published online by JAMA Psychiatry.

The researchers* examined associations between 25-year patterns of television viewing and physical activity and midlife cognition in a study of 3,247 adults (ages 18 to 30), using a questionnaire to assess television viewing and… read more

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