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Do autistic brains create more information at rest or do they have weaker connectivity — or both?

February 4, 2014

Information gain in the brain's resting state. (A) Schematic black-box representation of cortical dynamics in the resting state. (B) The information gain is significantly increased by 42% in autistic relative to non-autistic children. (Credit: José L. Pérez Velázquez1,2 and Roberto F. Galán3*

New research from Case Western Reserve University and University of Toronto neuroscientists finds that the brains of autistic children generate more information at rest — a 42% increase on average.

The study offers a scientific explanation for the most typical characteristic of autism — withdrawal into one’s own inner world. The excess production of information may explain a child’s detachment from their environment.

Published in Frontiersread more

‘Electronic tongue’ identifies brands of beer with 81.9% accuracy

February 4, 2014


Spanish researchers have managed to distinguish between different varieties of beer using an “electronic tongue,” with an accuracy of 81.9%.

Scientists at the Autonomous University of Barcelona used an array of 21 sensors formed from ion-selective electrodes, including some with response to cations (ammonium, sodium), others with response to anions (nitrate, chloride, etc.), and electrodes with generic (unspecified) responses.

The authors recorded the multidimensional response generated by the… read more

Bodily maps of emotions

February 4, 2014

bodily maps featured

Researchers at Aalto University in Finland have compiled maps of emotional feelings associated with culturally universal bodily sensations, which could be at the core of emotional experience.

The researchers found that the most common emotions trigger strong bodily sensations, and the bodily maps of these sensations were topographically different for different emotions. The sensation patterns were, however, consistent across different West European and East Asian cultures, highlighting that emotions… read more

Antibiotic ‘smart bomb’ can target specific strains of bacteria

February 4, 2014

CRISPR figures-mBio

North Carolina State University researchers have developed an antibiotic “smart bomb” that can identify specific strains of bacteria and sever their DNA, eliminating the infection. The technique offers a potential approach to treat infections by multi-drug-resistant bacteria.

“Conventional antibiotic treatments kill both ‘good’ and ‘bad’ bacteria, leading to unintended consequences, such as opportunistic infections,” says Dr. Chase Beisel, an assistant professor of chemical and biomolecular engineering at… read more

Storage system dramatically speeds access to ‘big data’

February 3, 2014


MIT researchers have developed a storage system for big-data analytics that can dramatically reduce the time it takes to access information by using a network of flash storage devices.

Currently, information tends to be stored on multiple hard disks on a number of machines across an Ethernet network.

With the new flash-based storage system, data in a large dataset can typically be randomly accessed in microseconds. That’s about… read more

Training your brain using MEG neurofeedback

February 3, 2014

Electra Neuromag (credit: Elekta, Inc.)

Magnetoencephalography (MEG) can be used as a potential therapeutic tool to control and train specific targeted brain regions, a study from the Montreal Neurological Institute and Hospital (The Neuro), McGill University and the McGill University Health Centre has demonstrated.

MEG has important clinical applications for numerous neurological and neuropsychiatric conditions, the researchers say.

MEG is a non-invasive imaging technology that measures magnetic fields generated… read more

‘Rogue’ asteroids may be the norm

February 3, 2014


A new map of asteroids developed by researchers from MIT and the Paris Observatory charts the size, composition, and location of more than 100,000 asteroids throughout the solar system, and shows that rogue asteroids are more common than previously thought.

Particularly in the solar system’s main asteroid belt — between Mars and Jupiter — the researchers found a compositionally diverse mix of asteroids.

The new asteroid… read more

Quantum engineers make a major step towards a scalable quantum computer

Quantum interference on a chip
February 3, 2014

(Credit: Nature)

Scientists and engineers from an international collaboration led by Mark Thompson from the University of Bristol have, for the first time, generated and manipulated single photons on a silicon chip — a major step forward in the race to build a quantum computer, achieved by shrinking down key components and integrating them onto a silicon microchip, according to the researchers.

Previous attempts have required external… read more

Quantum espionage

February 3, 2014

(Credit: iStockphoto)

Will a future NSA quantum computer really be capable of cracking nearly every kind of encryption, as reported in The Washington Post (based on documents provided by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden)?

Not likely, say some experts. “Even if a quantum code cracker can be built, it might be defeated by encryption algorithms already in the works — or by another technology, called quantum key distribution,… read more

Chemical imaging brings cancer tissue analysis into the digital age

Eliminates delay of weeks for interpretation by histology specialists
January 31, 2014

A section of bowel tissue as an optical image (A) and using mass spectrometry imaging to identify tissue types (B and C) (credit: Imperial College London)

Imperial College London researchers have developed a new method for analyzing biological samples based on their chemical makeup that could transform the way medical scientists examine diseased tissue.

When tests are carried out on a patient’s tissue today, such as looking for cancer, the test has to be interpreted by a histology specialist, which can take weeks to get a full result.

Scientists have proposed using… read more

First weather map of a brown dwarf

"One step closer to the goal of understanding weather patterns in other solar systems."
January 31, 2014


ESO‘s Very Large Telescope has been used to create the first ever map of the weather on the surface of the brown dwarf* nearest to Earth.

An international team has made a chart of the dark and light features on WISE J104915.57-531906.1B (“Luhman 16B”) — one of two recently discovered brown dwarfs forming a pair only six light-years from the Sun.

Ian Crossfield (Max… read more

First one-way acoustic circulator lets you hear without being heard

May lead to advances in noise control and improved compact components for acoustic imaging and sensing
January 31, 2014

A one-way circulator for sound. The arrows represent acoustic signals flowing through the device (diameter: ~20 centimeters), which circulates sound in a nonreciprocal fashion: signals can flow from left to top, from top to right, and from right to left, but not in the opposite directions. This creates one-way communication channels for sound, allowing listeners to hear but not be heard in return. (Credit: Erik Zumalt, Cockrell School of Engineering, UT Austin)

A team of researchers at The University of Texas at Austin’s Cockrell School of Engineering has built the first-ever one-way circulator for sound.

The team’s experiments successfully prove that the fundamental symmetry with which acoustic waves travel through air between two points in space (“if you can hear, you can also be heard”) can be broken by a compact and simple device.

“Imagine being able to listen… read more

Natural plant compound prevents Alzheimer’s disease in mice

January 30, 2014

Fisetin reduces (right) astrocytic reactivity in the brains of Alzheimer’s disease mice. Scale bar: 10 microns. (Credit: Antonio Currais et al./Aging Cell)

A daily dose of fisetin, an  antioxidant chemical that’s found in fruits and vegetables from strawberries to cucumbers, appears to stop memory loss that accompanies Alzheimer’s disease in mice, scientists at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies have discovered.

In experiments on mice that normally develop Alzheimer’s symptoms less than a year after birth, a daily dose of the compound prevented the progressive memory and… read more

Stress turns ordinary cells pluripotent [RESEARCHER MISCONDUCT FOUND]

Implications for regenerative medicine, aging, cancer
January 30, 2014


UPDATE: April 4, 2014 — A committee organized by the RIKEN Center for Developmental Biology has concluded that RIKEN’s Haruko Obokata, Ph.D., the lead researcher of this study, is guilty of scientific misconduct, according to a news article in Genetic Engineering & Biotechnology News


Breakthrough findings by Haruko Obokata and colleagues at the RIKEN Center for Developmental Biology (CDB) look to upset the fundamental… read more

Physicists create synthetic magnetic monopoles

May lead to entirely new materials, such as superconductors
January 30, 2014


Nearly 85 years after pioneering theoretical physicist Paul Dirac predicted the possibility of their existence, scientists have created, identified and photographed synthetic magnetic monopoles.

The groundbreaking accomplishment, described by a paper in Nature, paves the way for the detection of the particles in nature, which would be a revolutionary development comparable to the discovery of the electron, according to the scientists.

“The creation of a synthetic magnetic monopole… read more

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