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How the brain detects the emotions of others

May 13, 2008

Monash University (Australia) researchers have found that people who are good at interpreting facial expressions have more active mirror neuron systems.

To determine that, volunteers were tested on their ability to recognize faces and judge emotions in pictures, and on the “motor potential” in their thumb muscles: how much the thumb was influenced to move just by watching another thumb moving.

Volunteers who were better at judging people’s… read more

Fat Pipe Dream

July 16, 2003

A new gigabit Ethernet network provides Internet access to Japanese homes at 12 megabits per second — eight times faster than what Americans are used to — for about $21 a month.

The “Yahoo! BB” brand service includes voice-over-IP (less than 3 cents a minute for a call from Tokyo to New York), which could eventually put Japan’s NTT telephone company out of business.

A video-on-demand service that… read more

Scientists decode memory-forming brain cell conversations

December 16, 2009

The conversations neurons have as they form and recall memories in real time have been decoded by Medical College of Georgia scientists. The finding could help pinpoint at what stage memory formation is flawed and whether drugs are improving it.

They inserted 128 electrodes in the hippocampus of mice to record the conversations of 200 to 300 neurons as mice learned to associate a certain tone with a mild… read more

‘Fly-by-wireless’ plane takes to the air

May 18, 2006

A plane with no wires or mechanical connections between its engine, navigation system and onboard computers — only a Bluetooth wireless network — has been built and flown by engineers in Portugal.

Crystal (eye) ball: Study says visual system equipped with ‘future seeing powers’

May 16, 2008

The visual system has evolved to compensate for neural delays, allowing it to generate perceptions of what will occur one-tenth of a second into the future, so that when an observer actually perceives something, it is the present rather than what happened one-tenth of a second ago.

Using his hypothesis, called “perceiving-the-present,” Assistant Professor of Cognitive Science at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute Mark Changizi was able to systematically organize and… read more

Turing Test Dead End

July 22, 2003

“The failure of computers, with all their power, to do much more than ELIZA [a simulated psychologist] is pathetic,” says curmudgeon PC Mag. columnist John Dvorak.

“With computer programs such as Deep Blue able to analyze millions of chess moves in order to make informed decisions, you’d think developers could somehow apply similar technology…”

The sinister powers of crowdsourcing

December 23, 2009

Crowdsourcing’s power to compartmentalize and abstract away the true meaning of tasks could potentially entice people into participating in a covert project that they otherwise wouldn’t support, using a tool such as Amazon’s Mechanical Turk, says Harvard University law professor Jonathan Zittrain.

Physics, with wormholes by you

May 11, 2011
Portal 2

Portal 2, a new game from the Valve Corporation, makes physics fun.

You are a woman trapped in the distant future in an abandoned robot factory buried miles beneath the Midwestern plains. The only other characters you encounter are two deranged artificial intelligences vying for control of the complex.

You must escape to the surface. And this requires navigating a series of meticulously designed… read more

Organizing molecular machines on a substrate

June 2, 2006

Researchers have come up with a technique for arranging molecular machines on a solid surface, which would be important, for example, for the construction of artificial muscles based on the collective action of many molecular machines.

Blood test for lung cancer may be possible

May 21, 2008

University of Pennsylvania researchers have found measurable genetic changes in the white blood cells of people with early-stage lung cancer. The finding could lead to a blood test for lung cancer.

They examined genes expressed by the blood cells of patients with and without lung cancer, and found an array of 15 genes that detected the presence of cancer, with an accuracy of 87 percent. This suggests that lung… read more

I Think, Therefore I Communicate

July 30, 2003

Researchers are working on brain-computer interfaces to create a direct link between computers and the electrical signals in the brain of “locked in” individuals so they can operate devices like wheelchairs or use simple word processing programs to express their wishes.

Volunteers equipped with a virtual-reality headset have been able to switch lights on and off, bring a mock car to a stop and turn on a television set… read more

Researchers Demonstrate Nanoscale X-Ray Imaging of Bacterial Cells

December 30, 2009

An ultra-high-resolution imaging technique using “lensless” X-ray diffraction, developed by European researchers, is a step closer to fulfilling its promise as a window on nanometer-scale structures in biological samples.

Digging into our consciousness

May 16, 2011

The root of consciousness is in the brain stem, which is the “hinge point between the body and brain,” rather than the cerebral cortex, as is commonly assumed, says neuroscientist Dr. Antonio Damasio in an interview with the LA Times on his latest book, Self Comes to Mind.

Consciousness is “this ability that we have to look out on the world and grasp it,” and animals have a basic… read more

Problems That Lie Ahead

June 12, 2006

We’re approaching a critical period in the history of humankind. The choices we make — or don’t make — over the next five to fifteen years could have consequences that will be felt for centuries to come.

Stamp out common virus to beat brain cancer

May 27, 2008

Duke University Medical Center treated brain tumors known as glioblastomas by taking white blood cells from 21 patients, exposing them to parts of the cytomegalovirus (often found in these cancers), and injecting the cells back into the patients. Their preliminary results suggest that this technique is safe and effective.

“Because the immune system kills both the virus and the cell it resides in, we are hoping that… read more

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