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A midday nap markedly boosts the brain’s learning capacity

February 22, 2010

A midday 90-minute stage 2 non-REM sleep (takes place between deep sleep and the dream state known as Rapid Eye Movement or REM) period refreshes the mind and can make you smarter, UC Berkeley researchers have found.

The findings reinforce their hypothesis that sleep is needed to clear the brain’s short-term memory storage and make room for new information.

Switching off Aging in Stem Cells

September 7, 2006

A single molecular switch plays a central role in inducing stem cells in the brain, pancreas, and blood to lose function as they age, Howard Hughes Medical Institute researchers have found.

Genetically engineered mice deficient in the p16INK4a gene show considerably reduced aging-related decline in stem cell function and tissue regeneration.

Source: Howard Hughes Medical Institute news release

AI beats human poker champions

July 9, 2008

An artificial intelligence program called Polaris 2.0 defeated human champions in the second Man-Machine Poker Competition, in Las Vegas, July 3-6.

Deveoped at the University of Alberta, Polaris 2 had learning built into its programming, thereby countering the learning ability of the humans by switching strategies whenever they did.

Coronal mass ejection headed toward Earth

August 3, 2010


Early Sunday morning, the Sun’s surface erupted and blasted tons of plasma (ionized atoms) into interplanetary space directly toward us. When this coronal mass ejection arrives early in the day on August 4th, it could create a spectacular light show, the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics has reported.

When a coronal mass ejection reaches Earth, it interacts with our planet’s magnetic field, potentially creating a geomagnetic storm. Solar particles stream down… read more

US develops lethal new viruses

October 30, 2003

A scientist funded by the US government has deliberately created an extremely deadly form of mousepox, a relative of the smallpox virus, through genetic engineering.

The new virus kills all mice even if they have been given antiviral drugs as well as vaccinated. The research brings closer the prospect of pox viruses that cause only mild infections in humans being turned into diseases lethal even to people who have… read more

Mind-controlled prosthetics without brain surgery

March 3, 2010

University of Maryland researchers have created a mathematical model that relates hand movements to EEG signals (which measure electrical activity of the brain), suggesting that EEG might also be used to control a prosthetic arm.

EEG is less invasive and less expensive than implanted electrodes, which have previously been used to control robotic arms and computer cursors by thought alone.

Brain stimulation creates shadow person

September 21, 2006

Swiss scientists say they’ve found electrical stimulation of the brain can create the sensation of a “shadow person” mimicking one’s bodily movements.

Exercise Amps Up Alzheimer’s Brain?

July 15, 2008

A University of Kansas School of Medicine study links cardiorespiratory fitness to less brain shrinkage in people with early Alzheimer’s disease.

Delivering a knockout

August 12, 2010

For the first time, scientists have succeeded in genetically engineering a rat by specifically removing a single gene,  reported online August 11 in Nature. The process is known to geneticists as “knocking out” a gene; in this case, the gene encodes a powerful anticancer protein known as p53.

Rats lacking the gene p53, which are likely to be used to study cancer and its treatment, will be available to researchers through… read more

The End of the Oil Industry

November 7, 2003

Advances in technology are allowing the developed world to diversify supplies of energy and reduce their demand for petroleum, thus loosening the grip of oil and the countries that produce it.

The scientific brain

March 11, 2010

Predictable vs. Unpredictable Images

The brain’s main job, like that of a scientist, is to generate hypotheses about what is going on in the outside world, a Max Planck Institute for Brain Research study suggests.

More info: Max Planck Institute for Brain Research

Software Being Developed to Monitor Opinions of U.S.

October 5, 2006

A consortium of major universities is developing natural language processing software that would let the government monitor negative opinions of the United States or its leaders in newspapers and other publications overseas.

The researchers have complied a database of hundreds of articles that it is being used to train a computer to recognize, rank and interpret statements.

Super-Resolution X-ray Microscopy unveils the buried secrets of the nanoworld

July 21, 2008

A novel super-resolution X-ray microscope developed by Paul Scherrer Institut and EPFL researchers combines the high penetration power of x-rays with high spatial resolution with raster scanning, making it possible to non-destructively view the detailed interior composition of sub-hundred-nanometer semiconductor devices or biological samples without requiring a vacuum.

Mining Mood Swings on the Real-Time Web

August 24, 2010

This widget shows current sentiment toward competing Web browsers (Viralheat)

Social-media analytics startup Viralheat is now offering free, real-time access to the data it is collecting on attitudes toward particular topics or products. One of the first customers for this new service — called Social Trends — is ESPN, which plans to use Social Trends to show live popularity rankings for different NFL teams.

Viralheat uses natural-language processing and machine learning to sift through Twitter, Facebookread more

The Way We Nest Now

November 18, 2003

“Smart helpmeets” are on their way: our homes, our offices, our cars and our clothes. They are meant to be aware, not dumb; proactive, not inert.

“Desks and doors, televisions and telephones, cars and trains, eyeglasses and shoes and even the shirts on our backs — all are changing from static, inanimate objects into adaptive, reactive systems,” wrote Alex Pentland, a pioneer in smart environments at the M.I.T. Media… read more

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