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The dark side of animation

June 12, 2009

Custom animation in PowerPoint lectures negatively impacts student learning, University of North Carolina researchers have found.

Animated slides meant to present information incrementally actually require greater concentration, which makes it harder to remember content as well as reducing overall exposure time to the “complete” slide, the researchers found.

The dark side of working nights

April 13, 2012


Working the graveyard shift can increase the risk of developing diabetes via two separate mechanisms, according to a Harvard Medical School study,

The double whammy of sleep deprivation and a sleep/wake schedule that’s out of sync with the body’s internal biological clock reduces the amount of insulin secreted by the pancreas as well as the insulin sensitivity of various organs and tissues, the study found.


A… read more

The Darwinian Interlude

February 3, 2005

The Darwinian era is over — cultural evolution has replaced biological evolution as the driving force of change, says Freeman Dyson, professor emeritus of physics at the Institute for Advanced Study.

“Cultures spread by horizontal transfer of ideas more than by genetic inheritance. Cultural evolution is running a thousand times faster than Darwinian evolution, taking us into a new era of cultural interdependence that we call globalization.

“And… read more

The Data-Driven Life

May 3, 2010

“Almost imperceptibly, numbers are infiltrating the last redoubts of the personal,” observes writer Gary Wolf.

“Sleep, exercise, sex, food, mood, location, alertness, productivity, even spiritual well-being are being tracked and measured, shared and displayed.

“First, electronic sensors got smaller and better. Second, people started carrying powerful computing devices, typically disguised as mobile phones. Third, social media made it seem normal to share everything. And fourth, we began to… read more

The Deadly Art of Viral Cinema

August 3, 2005

Harvard biophysicist Xiaowei Zhuang uses lasers, a microscope, and pair of hi-res digicams to capture viral infection in action.

These movies are crucial to scientists searching for opportunities to block viruses in transit. Equally important, researchers may learn from Zhuang’s films how to mimic viruses, which could help them engineer drugs that penetrate cells and treat genetic disorders from within.

The Death of E-Mail

November 19, 2007

Email is increasingly for old people, as kids turn to instant-messaging, mobile text-messaging, blogging, micro-blogging, Twitter tweet, and Facebook status updates to overcome e-mail’s shortcomings.

The digital Dark Age

September 26, 2005

A major challenge faces the “digital” generation: how can masses of machine-generated, machine-read material be stored in a form that is safe, secure from degradation.

Computer experts worldwide believe that, far from a panacea that provides increasingly efficient answers to problems of recording, storing and retrieving information, technology is deeply flawed.

They fear that rather than ushering mankind into a techno-utopia of paperless offices and clean, eco-friendly, endlessly… read more

The Digital Utility

March 3, 2008

In a new book, The Big Switch: Rewiring the World, from Edison to Google, Nicholas Carr argues that we’re moving from the era of the personal computer to an age of utility computing–by which he means the expansion of grid computing, the distribution of computing and storage over the Internet, until it accounts for the bulk of what the human race does digitally.

The dilemma of being a cyborg

February 1, 2012

“We’re all cyborgs now,” the anthropologist Amber Case said in a TED talk in 2010.

Our devices allow us to compress time and space in a way that we’re able to mentally transport ourselves between planes of existence with the touch of a button. (Or, rather, a digital rendering of a button.)

This is the dilemma of being a cyborg: it’s that we’re collectively engaged in a mass… read more

The Disappearing Computer

December 4, 2002

“We are in the early years of a truly digital decade, in which the intelligence of the PC is finding its way into all kinds of devices, transforming them from passive appliances into far more significant and indispensable tools for everyday life,” says Bill Gates.

“Computers are becoming smaller, more powerful, less power-hungry and far less expensive, making it easier to build computing power and connectivity into everyday devices.… read more

The Display That Watches You

June 5, 2009

Researchers at Fraunhofer Institute for Photonic Microsystems (IPMS) have developed a screen technology that could help make wearable displays more compact and simpler to use. By interlacing photodetector cells with display pixels, the researchers have built a system that can display a moving image while also detecting movement directly in front of it.

The dizzying data rate conundrum

June 8, 2009

Physicists can’t agree about strategies for storing the petabytes of data per year to be generated by the the Large Hadron Collider at CERN, and in what format.

The LHC is emblematic of a broader problem in science.

The problem is also emblmematic of a broader problem on the Internet, as video and audio firehouses generate similar concerns. – Ed

The DNA so dangerous it does not exist

January 4, 2007

Boise State University researchers are searching for “primes”: DNA sequences and chains of amino acids so dangerous to life that they do not exist.

They have identified more than 60,000 primes of 15 nucleotides in length and 746 protein “peptoprime” strings of five amino acids that have never been reported in any species, and that represent the largest possible set of lethal sequences.

The next step is to… read more

The Doctor Kiosk

February 25, 2009
(Massachusetts General Hospital)

A computerized kiosk under development at Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) can take a patient’s medical history, weight, pulse, blood pressure, and other vital signs, and even perform simple blood tests for glucose and cholesterol.

Physicians hope that the device will one day bring relief to the overburdened healthcare system, and allow doctors to intervene earlier in chronic disease.

The Doctor Will Freeze You Now

May 5, 2004

BioTime has developed a process that cools living bodies down to the brink of freezing — a state in which the brain takes hours, not minutes, to wither.

Given the need to preserve donor organs for as long as possible, brain-dead accident victims may lead the way in whole-body cryobiological research. The day may not be far off when we freeze these cadavers for transport, then thaw them and… read more

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