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When does your baby become conscious?

April 19, 2013

smart_kid

New research shows that babies display glimmers of consciousness and memory as early as 5 months old, Science Now reports.

Studies on adults show a particular pattern of brain activity: When your senses detect something, such as a moving object, the vision center of your brain activates, even if the object goes by too fast for you to notice. But if the object remains in your visual… read more

NSA collects millions of e-mail address books globally

October 15, 2013

NSA documents

The National Security Agency is harvesting hundreds of millions of contact lists from personal e-mail and instant messaging accounts around the world, many of them belonging to Americans, according to senior intelligence officials and top-secret documents provided by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden, The Washington Post reports.

  • The collection program, which has not been disclosed before, intercepts e-mail address books

read more

Coffee drinkers have lower risk of death: NIH study

May 18, 2012

A_small_cup_of_coffee

Older adults who drank coffee — caffeinated or decaffeinated — had a lower risk of death overall than others who did not drink coffee, according a study by researchers from the National Cancer Institute (NCI), part of the National Institutes of Health, and AARP.

Coffee drinkers were less likely to die from heart disease, respiratory disease, stroke, injuries and accidents, diabetes, and infections, although the association was… read more

How to erase fear from your brain

September 24, 2012

Amygdala activity predicts return of fear and correlates with recall of fear. (A) In the 6 hours group (top), activity in the amygdala (where fear memories are stored) predicted return of fear 2 days later.  In the 10 min group (bottom), an area in the right temporal claustrum extending into the amygdala was also related to SCR (x, y, z = 33, 2, –23; Z = 2.49; P = 0.006; 324 mm3). Because fear did not return in the 10 min group, the correlation may reflect individual brain-behavior relations unrelated to fear and the experimental manipulation. (B) In the 6 hours group (top), recall of fear during extinction covaried with the strength of amygdala activity bilaterally (x, y, z = 24, –1, –20; Z = 2.35; P = 0.009; 378 mm3; x, y, z = –15, 4, –17; Z=2.27; P = 0.012; 189mm3). No covariation existed in the 10min group (bottom).(Credit: T. Agren, J. Engman, A. Frick, J. Bjorkstrand, E.-M. Larsson, T. Furmark, M. Fredrikson/Science)

Newly formed emotional memories can be erased from the human brain, Uppsala University researchers have shown.

When a person learns something, a lasting long-term memory is created with the aid of a process of consolidation, which is based on the formation of proteins. When we remember something, the memory becomes unstable for a while and is then restabilized by another consolidation process.

In other words,… read more

Information wants to be free, but the world isn’t ready

January 24, 2013

“Every few years, one of my friends from the early days of digital enthusiasm turns up on the media’s radar as a ‘defector,’” R.U. Sirius, former editor-in-chief of Mondo 2000, writes on The Verge. …

The latest chapter of this saga, “What Turned Jaron Lanier Against the Web,” … portrays Jaron Lanier (You Are Not A Gadget) as being like a… read more

Your memory can be altered by interfering information

A six-hour window
June 6, 2013

(Credit: iStockphoto)

You can manipulate an existing memory simply by suggesting new or different information, Iowa State University researchers have shown.

The key is timing and recall of that memory, said Jason Chan, an assistant professor of psychology at Iowa State.

“If you reactivate a memory by retrieving it, that memory becomes susceptible to changes again. And if at that time, you give people new contradictory… read more

We’re underestimating the risk of human extinction

March 7, 2012

h-bomb

Unthinkable as it may be, humanity, every last person, could someday be wiped from the face of the Earth. We have learned to worry about asteroids and supervolcanoes, but the more-likely scenario, according to Nick Bostrom, a professor of philosophy at Oxford, is that we humans will destroy ourselves.

Most worrying to Bostrom is the subset of existential risks that arise from human technology, a subset that he expects… read more

Making old muscles young again

September 27, 2012

Muscular tissue (credit: Polarlys/Wikimedia Commons)

Researchers at King’s College London, Harvard University and Massachusetts General Hospital have identified a key factor responsible for declining muscle repair during aging, and discovered how to halt the process in mice with a common drug.

The finding provides clues as to how muscles lose mass with age, which can result in weakness that affects mobility and may cause falls.

The study looked at stem… read more

New one-dimensional form of carbon may be the strongest material ever

Carbyne nanorods may have uses in electronics and for energy storage
October 11, 2013

Rice University researchers have determined from first-principle calculations that carbyne would be the strongest material yet discovered. The carbon-atom chains would be difficult to make but would be twice as strong as two-dimensional graphene sheets. (Credit: Vasilii Artyukhov/Rice University)

Rice U. theorists calculate atom-thick carbyne chains may be the strongest material ever, if and when anyone can make it in bulk.

Carbyne is a chain of carbon atoms held together by either double or alternating single and triple atomic bonds. That makes it a true one-dimensional material, unlike atom-thin sheets of graphene, which have a top and a bottom, or hollow nanotubes, which … read more

NASA mulls plan to drag asteroid into moon’s orbit

January 3, 2013

asteroid

NASA is mulling over a plan to build a robotic spacecraft to grab a small asteroid and place it in high lunar orbit, according to researchers with the Keck Institute for Space Studies in California.

The mission would cost about $2.6 billion and could be completed by the 2020s, New Scientist reports.

The Obama administration has said it also wants to send astronauts to a near-Earth asteroid. One… read more

Meshnet activists rebuilding the Internet from scratch

August 12, 2013

(Credit: Foobaz/Wikimedia Commons)

Fed up with government spying, some people have decided to take matters into their own hands, and are building a user-owned Internet from scratch, using meshnets, New Scientist reports.

These wireless networks are intended to permit secure communication without surveillance or any centralized organization, and ultimately, if their designers get their way, they will span the country.

Each node in the mesh, consisting of a radio transceiver… read more

The NSA is building the country’s biggest spy center (watch what you say)

March 19, 2012

iStock_hackerSmall

The Utah Data Center, being built for the National Security Agency, is intended to intercept, decipher, analyze, and store vast swaths of the world’s communications. The heavily fortified $2 billion center should be operational in September 2013.

It has established warrantless listening posts throughout the nation to collect and sift through billions of email messages and phone calls, whether they originate within the country or overseas in a program codenamed… read more

Growing human organs inside pigs in Japan

January 6, 2014

(Credit: iStock)

Meiji University professor Hiroshi Nagashima is creating chimeric pigs, which carry genetic material from two different species, BBC News reports. It starts off by making what Nagashima calls “a-pancreatic” embryos. Inside the white pig embryo, the gene that carries the instructions for developing the animal’s pancreas has been “switched off.”

The Japanese team then introduces stem cells from a black pig into the embryo. What they have… read more

Amazon hopes to deliver packages via drones within 5 years

December 1, 2013

(Credit: Amazon)

Amazon hopes to use autonomous octocopter drones to deliver small packages to customers within 30 minutes, Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos announced Sunday in a 60 Minutes interview with Charlie Rose.

Amazon says putting the new Amazon Prime Air service into commercial use “will take some number of years as we advance the technology and wait for the… read more

Giant black hole could upset galaxy evolution models

November 30, 2012

Image of the disk galaxy (lenticular galaxy) NGC 1277, taken with the Hubble Space Telescope. This small, flattened galaxy contains one of the biggest central super-massive black holes ever found in its center. With the mass of 17 billion Suns, the black hole weighs in at an extraordinary 14% of the total galaxy mass. (Credit: NASA / ESA / Andrew C. Fabian / Remco C. E. van den Bosch (MPIA))

A group of astronomers led by Remco van den Bosch from the Max Planck Institute for Astronomy (MPIA) have discovered a black hole that could shake the foundations of current models of galaxy evolution.

At 17 billion times the mass of the Sun, its mass is much greater than current models predict — in particular in relation to the mass of its host galaxy. This… read more

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