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How a choice of social learning networks can make us smarter

November 15, 2013

Experiment 1 - GIMP

The secret to why some cultures thrive and others disappear may lie in our social networks* and our ability to imitate, rather than our individual smarts, according to a new University of British Columbia study.

The study, published in the Proceedings of the Royal Academy: Biological Sciences (open access)shows that when people can observe and learn from a wider range of teachers, groups can better maintain technical skills… read more

Does your brain see things you don’t?

Doctoral student shakes up 100 years of untested psychological theory
November 15, 2013

Sanguinetti showed study participants images of what appeared to be an abstract black object. Sometimes, however, there were real-world objects hidden at the borders of the black silhouette. In this image, the outlines of two seahorses can be seen in the white spaces surrounding the black object. (Image courtesy of Jay Sanguinetti)

A new study indicates that our brains perceive objects in everyday life that we may not be consciously aware of.

The finding by University of Arizona doctoral student Jay Sanguinetti challenges currently accepted models, in place for a century, about how the brain processes visual information.

Sanguinetti showed study participants a series of black silhouettes, some of which contained meaningful, real-world objects hidden in the… read more

IBM to take Watson to the cloud, opens to app developers

November 14, 2013

A hypothetical Watson medical app (credit: IBM)

IBM announced today that it will make its IBM Watson technology available to developers in the cloud so they can build apps using Watson.

IBM will be launching the IBM Watson Developers Cloud, a cloud-hosted marketplace for resources including a developer toolkit, educational materials, and access to Watson’s application programming interface (API).

Resources for developers

App providers can use their own company’s data, or access the IBM Watson Contentread more

A simplified graphical approach to machine learning

November 14, 2013

graph_theory

An algorithm that extends an artificial-intelligence technique to new tasks could aid in analysis of flight delays and social networks.

Much artificial-intelligence research is concerned with finding statistical correlations between variables: What combinations of visible features indicate the presence of a particular object in a digital image? What speech sounds correspond with instances of what words? What medical, genetic, and environmental factors are correlated with what diseases?

As… read more

‘Something very big is coming: our most important technology project yet,’ hints Stephen Wolfram

November 14, 2013

something-big-coming

In a blog post Wednesday, Stephen Wolfram said that “recently something amazing has happened” that is “profoundly important in the technological world, and beyond.”

He said he and his team have figured out how to take all the things they have been working on in the context of Wolfram|Alpha, Mathematica, CDF and so on — computational knowledge, symbolic programming,… read more

First images and spectra of individual carbon nanotubes in a general environment

November 14, 2013

nanotube

A technique for imaging individual carbon nanotubes and for characterizing their electronic and optical properties has been developed by researchers at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) and the University of California (UC) Berkeley.

The physical structure and electronic properties of each individual species of single-walled carbon nanotubes are governed by chirality, meaning their structure has a distinct left/right orientation or “handedness.”

So achieving chirality-controlled growth… read more

Controlling devices with a beam of light

Could make possible light-activated microrobotic and biomedical devices --- batteries not required
November 14, 2013

Arch-shaped samples were created using a azobenzene-functionalized polymer that deform when irradiated with light (blue). The design of the device triggers an elastic instability when it reaches a certain configuration when irradiated and “snaps” to deliver a large power at millisecond time-scales of actuation. (Credit: M. Ravi Shankar et al./University of Pittsburgh)

University of Pittsburgh and Air Force Research Laboratory researchers are investigating polymers that “snap” when triggered by light, thereby converting light energy into mechanical work and potentially eliminating the need for traditional machine components such as switches and power sources.

“Learning from ideas observed in the natural world, we created mechanical designs that generate ultrafast actuation when triggered with light,” M. Ravi Shankar, lead author of the… read more

IBM to announce low-cost, more-powerful cloud-based Watson

November 14, 2013

IBM Watson computer

On Thursday, IBM will announce that Watson will be available to companies, academics and individual software developers as a cloud product that is “more than twice as powerful via the Internet … and at a small fraction of the previous cost,” The New York Times revealed Wednesday.

In October,  IBM announced that “organizations gaining competitive advantage through high cloud adoption are reporting almost double the revenue… read more

Enhanced carbon nanotubes detect molecules at trace amounts

November 13, 2013

A jungle of coated nanotubes.

Scientists have come up with yet another innovative use of nanotubes: to detect molecules at extremely low concentrations, making it possible to detect trace amounts of toxic biological warfare agents, explosives, and drugs.

The joint research team at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL) and the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (ETH) in Zurich is using three innovative techniques to achieve this:

1. Surface-enhanced Ramanread more

Signal found to enhance survival of new brain cells

Implications for treating neurodegenerative disease, mental illness
November 13, 2013

An illustration of parvalbumin-expressing interneurons delivering lifesaving chemical messengers to newborn neurons via tentacle-like synapses.<br />
Credit: Mingxi Max Song and Gerald Sun

A specialized type of brain cell, parvalbumin-expressing interneuron,  suppresses stem cell activity by  instructing nearby stem cells not to divide, by releasing a chemical signal called GABA. Paradoxically, in the process, it actually encourages the survival of the stem cells’ progeny, Johns Hopkins researchers report.

Understanding how these brain cells “decide” whether to live or die and how to behave is of special interest because changes in… read more

Brain-machine interface allows precise control of coma and general anesthesia or sedation

November 13, 2013

The BMI system records the EEG, segments the EEG into a binary time-series by filtering and thresholding, estimates the BSP or equivalently the effect-site concentration level based on the binary-time series, and then uses this estimate as feedback to control the drug infusion rate.

Researchers have developed a brain-machine interface (BMI) that monitors a patient’s brain activity and adjusts the anesthetic infusion rate to precisely control the level of brain activation in a medically induced coma or for general anesthesia, according to a study published online Oct. 31 in the journal PLoS Computational Biology (open access).

The team includes lead author Maryam Shanechi, a visiting professor and an incoming assistant professor in… read more

Motorola Mobility/Google files patent application for electronic ‘throat tattoo’

November 13, 2013

131112095149-google-neck-tattoo-story-top

Motorola Mobility, owned by Google, has filed a patent application (US20130297301), published last week, for a system “that comprises an electronic skin tattoo* capable of being applied to a throat region of a body.”

The patent application reads:
The electronic skin tattoo can include an embedded microphone; a transceiver for enabling wireless communication with the MCD (mobile communication device); and a power supply configured to receive energizing… read more

Remote virtual surgery via Google Glass and telepresence

November 12, 2013

Remote doctor-advisor

A University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) surgical team has performed one of the first surgeries using a telepresence augmented reality technology from VIPAAR in conjunction with Google Glass.

The combination of the two technologies could be an important step toward the development of useful, practical telemedicine.

VIPAAR (Virtual Interactive Presence in Augmented Reality) is commercializing a UAB-developed technology that provides real-time,… read more

Researchers regrow hair, cartilage, bone, soft tissues

November 12, 2013

Hair club for mice: mouse on right has been

Young animals are known to repair their tissues effortlessly, but can this capacity be recaptured in adults? A new study from researchers at the Stem Cell Program at Boston Children’s Hospital suggests that it can.

By reactivating a dormant gene called Lin28a, which is active in embryonic stem cells, researchers were able to regrow hair and repair cartilage, bone, skin and other soft tissues in a mouse… read more

Researchers grow human muscle cells in a dish

November 12, 2013

Muscle cells grown in mice from transplanted human iPSC-derived cells

Skeletal muscle has proved to be very difficult to grow in patients with muscular dystrophy and other disorders that degrade and weaken muscle. But researchers at Boston Children’s Hospital‘s Stem Cell Program now report boosting muscle mass and reversing disease in a mouse model of Duchenne muscular dystrophy, using a “cocktail” of three compounds identified through a new rapid culture system.

Adding the same compounds to stem… read more

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