A Brain Cell is the Same as the Universe A Brain Cell is the Same as the Universe by Cliff Pickover, Reality Carnival Physicists discover that the structure of a brain cell is the same as the entire universe. Image Source Return to Reality Carnival. If you like stories like this, Reality Carnival has many more. How Rare Black Dahlias Get Their Color Of the 20,000 varieties of dahlia flowers, only 10 to 20 kinds are black in color. Now researchers say they've solved the molecular mystery of how these rare flowers get their dark hues. Flower color in dahlias is determined by a mixture of plant metabolites called flavonoids. Scientists already know that red dahlias' tones come from high concentrations of anthocyanins, flavonoids that are responsible for the color of blueberries, blue corn, blackberries and other fruits and vegetables. White dahlias, meanwhile, are short on anthocyanins but contain large amounts of flavones, flavonoids that are colorless themselves but can alter the shade of a flower by interacting with pigments like anthocyanin. Researchers from the Vienna University of Technology in Austria analyzed the pigments, enzyme activity and gene expression in samples of black dahlias to study their deep burgundy hues. The research is detailed online Nov. 23 in BioMed Central's journal BMC Plant Biology.
(65) Facebook IBM Research creates new foundation to program SyNAPSE chips (Credit: IBM Research) Scientists from IBM unveiled on Aug. 8 a breakthrough software ecosystem designed for programming silicon chips that have an architecture inspired by the function, low power, and compact volume of the brain. The technology could enable a new generation of intelligent sensor networks that mimic the brain’s abilities for perception, action, and cognition. Dramatically different from traditional software, IBM’s new programming model breaks the mold of sequential operation underlying today’s von Neumann architectures and computers. It is instead tailored for a new class of distributed, highly interconnected, asynchronous, parallel, large-scale cognitive computing architectures. “Architectures and programs are closely intertwined and a new architecture necessitates a new programming paradigm,” said Dr. “We are working to create a FORTRAN [a pioneering computer language] for synaptic computing chips. Paving the Path to SyNAPSE Take the human eyes, for example.
Pluto Atmosphere Larger Than Thought, Study Shows A new simulation of Pluto's upper atmosphere shows that it extends so far from the planet that stray molecules may be deposited on its largest moon, Charon. The new model predicts that Pluto's atmosphere can extend as far as 6,456 miles (10,390 kilometers) into space, or about 4.5 times the diameter of Pluto. That's more than halfway to Charon. "That is amazing, from my perspective," said Justin Erwin, the lead author of the paper and a Ph.D. student at the University of Virginia. Researchers combined two previously known models of Pluto's atmosphere to better estimate the escape rate of molecules into space. Their refinement made a big difference. "Our [calculated escape rate] is a little bit smaller, but the small change in the escape rate causes a large change in the structure of the atmosphere," Erwin added. Fire and ice Pluto's tenuous atmosphere is mainly composed of methane, nitrogen and poisonous carbon monoxide that likely comes from ice on the dwarf planet's surface.
Last Week At Science-Based Medicine Here is a recap of the stories that appeared last week at Science-Based Medicine, a multi-author skeptical blog that separates the science from the woo in medicine. NIH funds training in behavioral intervention to slow progression of cancer by improving the immune system (James Coyne) The NIH is funding training in psychoneuroimmunological interventions for cancer, questionable treatments based on flawed studies. This highlights the pseudoscience and heavy-handed politics in this field. There is no credible evidence that any psychosocial intervention reduces risk of cancer recurrence or improves survival. Andrew Weil/AAFP Article Rejected by Slate (Harriet Hall) Slate magazine asked Dr. CAM and Creationism: Separated at Birth? Trackback(0)
Google scientist Jeff Dean on how neural networks are improving everything Google does Simon Dawson Google's goal: A more powerful search that full understands answers to commands like, "Book me a ticket to Washington DC." Jon Xavier, Web Producer, Silicon Valley Business Journal If you've ever been mystified by how Google knows what you're looking for before you even finish typing your query into the search box, or had voice search on Android recognize exactly what you said even though you're in a noisy subway, chances are you have Jeff Dean and the Systems Infrastructure Group to thank for it. As a Google Research Fellow, Dean has been working on ways to use machine learning and deep neural networks to solve some of the toughest problems Google has, such as natural language processing, speech recognition, and computer vision. Q: What does your group do at Google? A: We in our group are trying to do several things. |View All
3D-Printing a Low-Cost Satellite Seeking a low-cost way to launch their experiments into space, a team of scientists has designed a space-ready, 3-D printed CubeSat. CubeSats are standardized, tiny satellites, often only 10 centimeters (3.9 inches) on each side and weighing less than 1.33 kilograms (just under 3 lbs). They are so small that they have room for only a few sensors, and burn up in the Earth's atmosphere after just a few months. Kits cost under $10,000, which is considered cheap for the space industry. But Jacopo Piattoni of the University of Bologna and his team aim to drive the satellites' price down even further, while making the devices easier to customize. In 3D printing, a computer-directed nozzle "prints" a three-dimensional object in plastic. Using 3-D printers, researchers can automate the CubeSat production process. [NASA Turns to 3D Printing for Self-Building Spacecraft] With one successful satellite constructed, the team can now use the 3-D printer to crank out another copy each night.
The Skeptics Society & Skeptic magazine An Introduction to Neural Networks Prof. Leslie Smith Centre for Cognitive and Computational Neuroscience Department of Computing and Mathematics University of Stirling. firstname.lastname@example.org last major update: 25 October 1996: minor update 22 April 1998 and 12 Sept 2001: links updated (they were out of date) 12 Sept 2001; fix to math font (thanks Sietse Brouwer) 2 April 2003 This document is a roughly HTML-ised version of a talk given at the NSYN meeting in Edinburgh, Scotland, on 28 February 1996, then updated a few times in response to comments received. Please email me comments, but remember that this was originally just the slides from an introductory talk! Why would anyone want a `new' sort of computer? What is a neural network? Some algorithms and architectures. Where have they been applied? What new applications are likely? Some useful sources of information. Some comments added Sept 2001 NEW: questions and answers arising from this tutorial Why would anyone want a `new' sort of computer? Good at Not so good at Fast arithmetic
Balloon Test Shows Space Tourism on the Horizon | Zero 2 Infinity Bloon Not all space tourism is rocket science. A newly successful test of a balloon could allow paying human customers to enjoy stunning Earth views and the weightless astronaut experience by 2014. The test balloon carried a humanoid robot up to an altitude of almost 20 miles (32 kilometers) on Nov. 12 — just a few miles shy of where skydiver Felix Baumgartner leaped from during his "space dive" in October. Startup Zero 2 Infinity wants to eventually offer hours of flight time for space tourists to do whatever they want in a near-space environment. "Some people will want to tweet," said Jose Mariano Lopez-Urdiales, founder and CEO of Zero 2 Infinity. "Some will want to put down a carpet and pray to mecca. The Spanish company already has waitlist customers who paid an early deposit of almost $13,000 (10,000 euros) as the first installment out of a total ticket price of $143,000 (110,000 euros). Flight testing took place at an Air Force base near Virgen del Camino in Spain. Robot test pilots
topical index: critical thinking From Abracadabra to Zombies | View All critical thinking The goal of critical thinking is to arrive at the most reasonable beliefs and take the most reasonable actions. We have evolved, however, not to seek the truth, but to survive and reproduce. Critical thinking is an unnatural act. By nature, we're driven to confirm and defend our current beliefs, even to the point of irrationality. The items below are listed in alphabetical order. 1) several essays I've written on the difficulty of changing minds: Belief Armor, Evaluating Personal Experience, Why Do People Believe in the Palpably Untrue? 2) the following entries: confirmation bias, cognitive dissonance, communal reinforcement, motivated reasoning, backfire effect, memory, and perception deception.