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  1. How Good Are Nike’s New VaporMax Sneakers? via
  2. Migratory birds bumped off schedule as climate change shifts spring: mindblowingscience: New research shows climate change is altering the delicate seasonal clock that North American migratory songbirds rely on to successfully mate and raise healthy offspring, setting in motion a domino effect that could threaten the survival of many familiar backyard bird species. A growing shift in the onset of spring has left nine of 48 species of songbirds studied unable to reach their northern breeding grounds at the calendar marks critical for producing the next generation of fledglings, according to a paper published today in Scientific Reports. That’s because in many regions, warming temperatures are triggering plants to begin their growth earlier or later than normal, skewing biological cycles that have long been in sync. The result, researchers say, could be a future much like the one Rachel Carson hinted at more than 50 years ago. “It’s like ‘Silent Spring,’ but with a more elusive culprit,” said Stephen Mayor, a postdoctoral researcher with the Florida Museum of Natural History at the University of Florida and first author of the study. “We’re seeing spring-like conditions well before birds arrive. The growing mismatch means fewer birds are likely to survive, reproduce and return the following year. These are birds people are used to seeing and hearing in their backyards. They’re part of the American landscape, part of our psyche. To imagine a future where they’re much less common would be a real loss.” Continue Reading. via
  3. Nano fiber feels forces and hears sounds made by cells: mindblowingscience: Engineers at the University of California San Diego have developed a miniature device that’s sensitive enough to feel the forces generated by swimming bacteria and hear the beating of heart muscle cells. The device is a nano-sized optical fiber that’s about 100 times thinner than a human hair. It can detect forces down to 160 femtonewtons—about ten trillion times smaller than a newton—when placed in a solution containing live Helicobacter pylori bacteria, which are swimming bacteria found in the gut. In cultures of beating heart muscle cells from mice, the nano fiber can detect sounds down to -30 decibels—a level that’s one thousand times below the limit of the human ear. “This work could open up new doors to track small interactions and changes that couldn’t be tracked before,” said nanoengineering professor Donald Sirbuly at the UC San Diego Jacobs School of Engineering, who led the study. Some applications, he envisions, include detecting the presence and activity of a single bacterium; monitoring bonds forming and breaking; sensing changes in a cell’s mechanical behavior that might signal it becoming cancerous or being attacked by a virus; or a mini stethoscope to monitor cellular acoustics in vivo. The work is published in Nature Photonics on May 15. Continue Reading. via
  4. currentsinbiology: Alberta museum unveils world’s best-preserved armoured dinosaur It has been compared to a dinosaur mummy, a lifelike sculpture and even a dragon from Game of Thrones. Now, 110 million years after it died, the 18ft-long nodosaur – hailed as the best-preserved armoured dinosaur in the world – has been unveiled at a Canadian museum. “Normally when we find dinosaur fossils we just have a skeleton, the bones. And we have to use our imaginations to reconstruct what they look like,” said Caleb Brown, a postdoctoral researcher at Alberta’s Royal Tyrrell Museum of Palaeontology. “In this case, we’re very lucky in that it’s not just the bones; we have all of the armour, the osteoderm is preserved, we also have all the skin preserved and it is in three dimensions.” via
  5. benigno-numine: him3-ros: southernsideofme: The polar bear in Copenhagen Zoo gets a cow head about once a week. Me: Awwwwwww, they’re playing together! Me: Huh. I hope he doesn’t eat that poor cow. Me: … That’s exactly my thought process while looking at this via
  6. neurosciencestuff: Over millions of years retroviruses have been incorporated into our human DNA, where they today make up almost 10 per cent of the total genome. A research group at Lund University in Sweden has now discovered a mechanism through which these retroviruses may have an impact on gene expression. This means that they may have played a significant role in the development of the human brain as well as in various neurological diseases. Retroviruses are a special group of viruses including some which are dangerous, such as HIV, while others are believed to be harmless. The viruses studied by Johan Jakobsson and his colleagues in Lund are called endogenous retroviruses (ERV) as they have existed in the human genome for millions of years. They can be found in a part of DNA that was previously considered unimportant, so called junk-DNA – a notion that researchers have now started to reconsider. “The genes that control the production of various proteins in the body represent a smaller proportion of our DNA than endogenous retroviruses. They account for approximately 2 per cent, while retroviruses account for 8–10 per cent of the total genome. If it turns out that they are able to influence the production of proteins, this will provide us with a huge new source of information about the human brain”, says Johan Jakobsson. And this is precisely what the researchers discovered. They have determined that several thousands of the retroviruses that have established themselves in our genome may serve as “docking platforms” for a protein called TRIM28. This protein has the ability to “switch off” not only viruses but also the standard genes adjacent to them in the DNA helix, allowing the presence of ERV to affect gene expression. This switching-off mechanism may behave differently in different people, since retroviruses are a type of genetic material that may end up in different places in the genome. This makes it a possible tool for evolution, and even a possible underlying cause of neurological diseases. In fact, there are studies that indicate a deviating regulation of ERV in several neurological diseases such as ALS, schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. Two years ago, Johan Jakobsson’s team showed that ERV had a regulatory role in neurons specifically. However, this study was conducted on mice, whereas the new study – published in the journal Cell Reports – was made using human cells. The differences between mice and humans are particularly important in this context. Many of the retroviruses that have been built into the human DNA do not exist in species other than humans and our closest relatives – gorillas and chimpanzees. They seem to have incorporated themselves into the genome some 35–45 million years ago, when the evolutionary lineage of primates was divided between the Old and New World. “Much of what we know about the overall development of the brain comes from the fruit fly, zebrafish and mouse. However, if endogenous retroviruses affect brain function, and we have our own set of these ERV, the mechanisms they affect may have contributed to the development of the human brain”, says Johan Jakobsson. via
  7. neurosciencestuff: (Image caption: We can examine every transistor in a classical microprocessor using the same techniques we use to understand the brain. For example, we can analyze the transistors based upon their activity during various games (left) or which transistors are necessary for a given game to function. Even with all the data and sophisticated analysis, our understanding of the inner-workings of the processor falls short of what we would hope. Credit: Eric Jonas, CC-BY) Classic Video Game System Used to Improve Understanding of the Brain The complexity of neural networks makes them difficult to analyze, but manmade computing systems should be simpler to understand. In a study published in PLOS Computational Biology, researchers applied widely used neuroscience approaches to analyze the classic games console Atari 2600 – which runs the videogame “Donkey Kong” – and found that such approaches do not meaningfully describe how the console’s microprocessor really works. The field of neuroscience is advancing rapidly. Scientists are able to record the simultaneous activity of more and more neurons in more and more organisms. However, testing the validity of data analysis algorithms is difficult since it is still unclear how even relatively simple neural systems like the brain of a fruit fly work. In the new paper, Eric Jonas of U.C. Berkeley and Konrad Kording of Northwestern University/ Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago describe their attempt to sidestep this issue by applying a large number of classical neuroscience analysis techniques to a computing system that they do understand: the 6502 microprocessor from the Atari 2600. “Since humans designed this processor from the transistor all the way up to the software, we know how it works at every level, and we have an intuition for what it means to ‘understand’ the system,” Jonas says. “Our goal was to highlight some of the deficiencies in ‘understanding’ that arise when applying contemporary analytic techniques to big-data datasets of computing systems.” The researchers used standard neuroscience techniques to analyze the Atari 2600’s microprocessor. They tested how well these techniques could illuminate known characteristics, such as the connections between different parts of the chip and the effects of destroying individual transistors. However, the techniques did not achieve the same level of understanding that a typical electrical engineering student would have. According to Jonas, the results suggest that, “without careful thought, current big-data approaches to neuroscience may not live up to their promise or succeed in advancing the field.” Adds Kording: “Progress requires better experiments, theories, and data analysis approaches.” Microprocessors and biological systems are different in many ways, which could limit the findings. Jonas and Kording also did not try all the existing neuroscience methods for probing the chip. Nonetheless, the study hints at potential problems with modern approaches to neuroscience and suggests new paths to explore in order to better understand the brain. “We could learn a lot about how to reverse-engineer biological systems by reverse-engineering synthetic systems,” Jonas says. via
  8. Ouija Boards

    did-you-kno: Ouija Boards ‘work’ because of the ideomotor effect, where you sometimes move objects, or even yourself, without knowing it. Combined with a strong, subconscious need for an answer, it creates a situation where people can be spelling out words while moving the planchette and still believe 100% that they aren’t the ones doing it. Source Also, the reason you can get spooky results with Ouija Boards is because you’re unaware of everything you know. A 2012 study had people answer questions both verbally and with a Ouija Board. They were blindfolded and told they’d be using the board with another person, who removed their hands after beginning the experiment. For the questions that people were unsure about, those who used a Ouija Board answered correctly 65% of the time, compared to 50% of the time when answering verbally. The researchers concluded that people have a ‘second intelligence’ buried in their subconscious that can only be accessed under certain conditions. ALSO… There’s a ghost behind you. Ouija Boards via
  9. the-future-now: A new discovery has changed scientists’ understanding of our early human relatives In 2013, two recreational cavers accidentally stumbled upon pieces of human history while exploring the Rising Star cave system at the Cradle of Humankind World Heritage Site in South Africa. Located 100 yards from the cave entrance is the Dinaledi chamber — a 30-foot long chamber somewhere between 2 million and 3 million years old — were more than 1,500 fossil fragments of 15 hominin skeletons were found buried in ancient clay. After a month of excavation and two years of analysis by international experts, a verdict was made: The fossil remnants belonged to a previously unknown species related to humans, Homo naledi. Now, the scientists behind the discovery have made another finding regarding the species’ timeline. Due to the age and condition of the bones, traditional dating methods like radiocarbon technique or DNA extraction could not be used to date the fossils, the Washington Post reported. Instead, the scientists analyzed the Naledi teeth and radioactivity in the cave to date the fossils “back to between 236,000 and 335,000 years ago.” The revelation suggests Homo naledi was alive at the same time as several species of ancient humans. Read more (5/9/17) follow @the-future-now​ via
  10. This concrete could help prevent hazards caused by flash floods. It can absorb up to 880 gallons of water per minute! via
  11. the-future-now: Scientists figured out how to convert polluted air into clean energy In an era of growing concern for the environment, scientists in Belgium have come up with the groundwork for one possible solution: converting air pollution into power. The device that can do it currently fits into the palm of a hand. It relies on solar power to convert polluted air compounds into stored hydrogen, a source of clean energy. It has two chambers separated by a membrane; one chamber cleans the air and the other generates the hydrogen gas. Air with a higher concentration of pollutants ultimately creates stronger electrical currents. This could be good news for cities such as Beijing, Delhi, India and Los Angeles, among many others. Read more (5/8/17) follow @the-future-now​ via
  12. Dutch open 'world's largest offshore' wind farm: mindblowingscience: Dutch officials on Monday opened what is being billed as one of the world’s largest offshore wind farms, with 150 turbines spinning in action far out in the North Sea. Over the next 15 years, the Gemini windpark, which lies some 85 kilometres (53 miles) off the northern coast of The Netherlands, will meet the energy needs of about 1.5 million people. At full winds the windpark has a generating capacity of some 600 megawatts, and will help supply some 785,000 Dutch households with renewable energy, the company said. “We are now officially in the operational stage,” the company’s managing director Matthias Haag told AFP, celebrating the completion of a project first conceived in 2010. Continue Reading. via
  13. NASA Wants Your Code! Boost Supercomputer Software Speed and Win $55,000: mindblowingscience: If you’re a computer programmer with some time on your hands, NASA needs you! The agency said it wants to streamline a piece of software used for aviation research and run on one of the world’s most powerful supercomputers. To do so, NASA has teamed up with HeroX and Topcoder to launch the High Performance Fast Computing Challenge (HPFCC), according to a statement. The challenge, should you choose to accept it entails getting NASA’s FUN3D design software to run faster — 10 to 10,000 times faster, in fact. [Images: NASA’s Vision of Future Air Travel] This may sound like a heady task, but NASA officials said the speed jump could be accomplished by identifying a coding bottleneck or simply by shaving milliseconds off of one of the software’s many subroutines by making it more efficient. “This is the ultimate ‘geek’ dream assignment,” said Doug Rohn, director of NASA’s Transformative Aeronautics Concepts Program (TACP), in the statement. “Helping NASA speed up its software to help advance our aviation research is a win-win for all.” Continue Reading. via
  14. 'Humanlike' ways of thinking evolved 1.8 million years ago, suggests new study: mindblowingscience: By using highly advanced brain imaging technology to observe modern humans crafting ancient tools, an Indiana University neuroarchaeologist has found evidence that human-like ways of thinking may have emerged as early as 1.8 million years ago. The results, reported May 8 in the journal Nature Human Behavior, place the appearance of human-like cognition at the emergence of Homo erectus, an early apelike species of human first found in Africa whose evolution predates Neanderthals by nearly 600,000 years. “This is a significant result because it’s commonly thought our most modern forms of cognition only appeared very recently in terms of human evolutionary history,” said Shelby S. Putt, a postdoctoral researcher with The Stone Age Institute at Indiana University, who is first author on the study. “But these results suggest the transition from apelike to humanlike ways of thinking and behaving arose surprisingly early.” Continue Reading. via
  15. Boom! Supersonic Passenger Jet Coming by 2020: mindblowingscience: Richard Branson of Virgin Galactic has just partnered with startup Boom Technology to build a supersonic aircraft, Boom Technology announced. The plane would zip through the skies faster than the Concorde jet or any other commercial aircraft today, Boom Technology said. Aircraft that fly faster than the speed of sound were first developed in the mid-20th century. But regulations and technical challenges halted innovation and expansion of the concept, said Boom Technology, which has headquarters in Denver. The aviation startup said it aims to change that by developing a modern, supersonic passenger jet that travels at Mach 2.2. That’s twice the speed of sound, or 1,451 mph (2,335 km/h). The Concorde, a now-retired supersonic passenger jet, flew at speeds of up to about 1,350 mph (2,180 km/h). Boom also aims to set a new speed record for civil aircraft, according to a blog post by Blake Scholl, CEO and founder of Boom. At Mach 2.2, passengers could travel between New York City and London in 3 hours and 15 minutes, the company said. The supersonic jet could fly between San Francisco and Tokyo in 5.5 hours, or between Sydney and Los Angeles in 6 hours and 45 minutes. Continue Reading. via