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Science News Reports

AI points to better decision-making despite poker match loss
Carnegie Mellon University computer scientists looked to Pittsburgh Supercomputing Center supercomputer Blacklight in their construction of Claudico, a poker-playing artificial intelligence. Claudico came up short against the
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Caught and caged: the future of drug delivery
Discover how the DNANANO project has been using the Curie supercomputer — a PRACE tier-0 system — to help design nanocages for targeted drug delivery. Simulating one of these nanocages for just 100
Read More 84 Hits 0 Ratings
How the NIH facilitates biomedical research: A conversation with George Komatsoulis
At the recent Internet2 Global Summit iSGTW sat down with George Komatsoulis to talk about the state of distributed research and the NIH Commons, a scalable virtual environment to provide high-performance computing and data
Read More 84 Hits 0 Ratings
Semiliquid battery competitive with both Li-ion batteries and supercapacitors
The new battery (pink star), in comparison with other energy-storage devices, exhibits a very high power density and a reasonably good energy density. Credit: Ding, et al. ©2015 American Chemical
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New device may make converting waste heat to electricity industrially competitive
The proposed thermoelectric device consists of many parallel nanowires with an external gate voltage that can be tuned to optimize the efficiency and power output for different temperature
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Physicists find ways to increase antihydrogen production
Antihydrogen consists of an antiproton and a positron. Credit: public domain (Phys.org)—There are many experiments that physicists would like to perform on antimatter, from studying its
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NASA picks nine instruments for future mission to Europa
 Your daily roundup of research news Science News Staff Science Ticker Planetary Science 4:54pm, May 26, 2015 A future mission to Europa, illustrated here, will investigate the moon’s subsurface ocean while
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White House hits pause on editing human germline cells
 Your daily roundup of research news Science News Staff Science Ticker 4:05pm, May 26, 2015 Clinical experiments that use DNA-editing methods to alter human germline cells have been put on hold in the United
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Diet and nutrition is more complex than a simple sugar
A new study shows that the simple sugar fructose has different effects on human behavior than glucose. But it’s doesn’t tell us much about what those lollipops will do to our health or behavior. When it comes to studying
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Acting Out Dreams Is Often Early Sign of Parkinson's Disease
Credit: Sergey Nivens/Shutterstock.com A rare sleep disorder that makes people act out their dreams may be an early warning of a deadly neurological illness, a new review of previous research suggests. About half of
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Playing with Fire: AI Makers Must Be Careful 13 April 2015, 23.29 Science
Playing with Fire: AI Makers Must Be Careful
Credit: jimmi | Shutterstock From smartphone apps like Siri to features like facial recognition of photos, artificial intelligence (AI) is becoming a part of everyday life. But humanity should take more care in
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Man Tears Tendon After Playing 'Candy Crush' for Weeks
Credit: Authentic Creations / Shutterstock.com A California man tore a tendon in his thumb after playing a puzzle game on his smartphone too much, according to a new report of the case. The case is interesting because
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Marijuana Extract May Help Reduce Epilepsy Seizures
Credit: Atomazul | Shutterstock.com A medicine made from marijuana may provide some relief to people with severe epilepsy who don't get better after trying other treatments, according to a new study. In the study,
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How to Avoid a Shark Attack 13 April 2015, 23.29 Science
How to Avoid a Shark Attack
A great white shark. Credit: Sergey Uryadnikov/Shutterstock.com The seventh fatal shark attack in four years struck this past weekend at a surfer's paradise in the Indian Ocean. Yet teaching people when and where to swim
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Dog Family: Facts About Canines & Their Cousins
A pack of grey wolves in Slovenia. Credit: Miha Krofel, Slovenia Dogs and humans have been best friends for thousands of years. Researchers know that dogs regularly lived with humans by about 10,000 years ago, and dogs
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Physicists propose method to measure variations in the speed of light
A relation between the angular diameter distance (DA), the Hubble function (H), and the speed of light c at a specific point called the maximum redshift (zM) may allow researchers to detect
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Maze-solving automatons can repair broken circuits (w/ video)
This screenshot from the video below shows the self-healing of an open circuit fault. When a fault occurs, an electric field develops in the gap, which polarizes the conductive particles in the
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Unparticles may provide a new path to superconductivity
Unparticles may emerge when, at high energies, the particle sector couples to the unparticle sector. Physicists plan to look for the signatures of unparticles in future experiments, possibly by
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Focus on disability: Reaching patients with smartphones
Hannah Kuper, co-director of the International Centre for Evidence in Disability at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine in the UK, explains how cheap smartphone adapters can be used to diagnose ear and eye
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Drawn to the sound: Supercomputers reveal phonon magnetism
Using the Oakley supercomputer and a very small, frozen tuning fork, Joseph Heremans is rewriting our science textbooks. His computational research team has discovered that phonons — sound and heat particles —
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Tiny GEMs, big insights 13 April 2015, 23.27 Science
Tiny GEMs, big insights
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Citizen scientists earn their stripes with tiger-tagging app
Researchers from the University of Surrey, UK, have developed an iPad app that could change the way wildlife is monitored in the future. The Wildsense app loads photos of tigers from the web for analysis by players in return
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Afterglow alerts astronomers to gamma-ray burst
STARBURST  These images from the Samuel Oschin telescope show the sudden appearance of a bright flash (middle frame, in crosshairs) that gradually faded (right). All three photos were taken within several hours on Feb. 26,
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Marijuana component fights epilepsy 13 April 2015, 23.27 Science
Marijuana component fights epilepsy
GREEN OPTION  A no-buzz component of marijuana can reduce severe epileptic seizures, a study suggests. A buzz-free component of marijuana can benefit epilepsy patients who have particularly severe seizures, a new study
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Rubidium atoms used to record coldest temperature — ever
CLUMPED AND COLD  Stanford University physicists used images like this one, which depicts the concentration of rubidium atoms, to determine that they had cooled the atoms to a record-low temperature. T. Kovachy et
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Rosetta data deluge reveals dynamic comet with sand dunes and jets
Last November the European Space Agency's Rosetta mission made history when its Philae lander touched down on the surface of comet 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko. Now, mission researchers have studied new data from a host of
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Structured photons slow down in a vacuum 24 January 2015, 00.26 Science
Structured photons slow down in a vacuum
The speed of light in a vacuum is 299,792,458 m s–1, right? Not necessarily, according to a team of physicists in the UK, which has found that the speed of an individual photon decreases by a tiny amount if it is
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Cellular model of tissue growth could shed light on metastasis
A simple yet potentially very useful model of how living cells interact to create tissue has been created by Anatolij Gelimson and Ramin Golestanian of the University of Oxford in the UK. The simulation considers how
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Magnetic levitation spins up waxy 'tektites' in the lab
Solid wax models of "splash-form tektites" – tiny pieces of natural glass that are created when asteroids or comets impact the Earth – have been created in the lab for the first time by researchers in the UK. Using
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Women shun fields that are perceived to require 'innate ability'
The notion that natural ability or brilliance are required to excel in certain fields could explain the lack of women in those subjects, according to a survey of US academics. The survey, carried out by researchers also in
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Lost Beagle 2 spacecraft found intact on Martian surface
The UK-led Beagle 2 Mars lander, thought lost on the red planet since 2003, has been found partially deployed on the Martian surface. New images show that it successfully touched down on the planet's surface in 2003 but
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Water-soluble silicon leads to dissolvable electronics
(Phys.org)—Researchers working in a materials science lab are literally watching their work disappear before their eyes—but intentionally so. They're developing water-soluble integrated circuits that dissolve in water
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Reversible solid-to-liquid phase transition offers new way to synthesize crystals
(Phys.org) —The simple acts of heating and cooling affect different substances in different ways: some substances may change phase from solid to liquid to gas, while others may irreversibly break down when heat is
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First-of-its-kind tube laser created for on-chip optical communications
(Phys.org)—Nanophotonics, which takes advantage of the much faster speed of light compared with electrons, could potentially lead to future optical computers that transmit large amounts of data at very high speeds.
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Velociraptor: Facts About the 'Speedy Thief' 24 January 2015, 00.24 Science
Velociraptor: Facts About the 'Speedy Thief'
Velociraptor is one of the most bird-like dinosaurs ever discovered. It was small and fast, and the sickle-shaped claw on the second toe of each foot made it a formidable predator. A special bone in its wrist allowed it to
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A Good Night's Rest: The Best Sleep Apps 24 January 2015, 00.24 Science
A Good Night's Rest: The Best Sleep Apps
Credit: Andrey_Popov/Shutterstock.com Sleep is crucial to brain functioning, memory formation and to life itself (look up fatal familial insomnia). But all too often, sleep is elusive. The Centers for Disease Control and
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How To Save Dying Coral Reefs | Video 24 January 2015, 00.24 Science
How To Save Dying Coral Reefs | Video
Hot Crocodile Problem Video - Under Antarctic Ice Recreating an Ancient Tsunami An Earth Day Message from a Personal Submersible See the great storm spin, shrink, grow and intensi ... Video - Wave
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Zigzag Physics: Loophole Makes Light Particles Act Drunk
Credit: Iscatel | Shutterstock.com A universal rule of thumb may need to be rewritten: Light moving freely through empty space does not necessarily travel at the speed of light. As physicists have come to know, light
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Here's What to Eat to Lower Inflammation 24 January 2015, 00.24 Science
Here's What to Eat to Lower Inflammation
Credit: Milleflore Images/Shutterstock.com Ginger, nuts, fatty fish and whole grains are just some of the many foods that have been touted to have anti-inflammatory properties. But do they work? It turns out that experts
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5 Cool Things We Just Learned About Rosetta’s Rubber Ducky Comet
The Rosetta mission made history last year, by being the first manmade spacecraft to ever orbit or land on a comet. Things didn't go exactly as planned, though. The lander Philae bounced around and got lost somewhere on the
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Flying animals can teach drones a thing or two 24 January 2015, 00.24 Science
Flying animals can teach drones a thing or two
Small drones will soon be zipping between trees and dodging buildings, just like swallows, bees and moths BIOMIMICRY  Scientists are turning to the animal kingdom to inspire the next wave of small drones. View the video Ty
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Decoding sommeliers’ brains, one squirt of wine at a time
TASTE TEST  A gustometer drips precise quantities of colored liquids into the mouth of a woman lying in a brain scanner. Gustometer \guhs-TOH-meh-ter\ n. A device used to squirt measured amounts of liquids into the mouth of
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See Iceland's Lava Field From Space 24 January 2015, 00.24 Science
See Iceland's Lava Field From Space
Sometimes Iceland really lives up to its name. For instance, in the picture above, the entire country is basically covered in snow and ice. With one notable exception. See that big black dot in the middle? No, not in the
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Scientists Figure Out How To Unboil Eggs 24 January 2015, 00.24 Science
Scientists Figure Out How To Unboil Eggs
It has often been said that you can't unscramble an egg. But you might be able to unboil one. When you boil an egg, the heat causes the proteins inside the egg white to tangle and clump together, solidifying it. New research
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Upside-Down Icebergs, Living Fossil Sharks, And Other Amazing Images Of The Week
Lapka, a company that makes sensors to monitor your home and your health, is trying to take Google’s not-yet-released Project Ara smartphone to the next level. This is how the modular smartphone might look with Lapka’s
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Scientists Slow Down The Speed Of Light As It Travels Through Air
Light passes through air at about 299,000,000 meters per second, an accepted constant that hasn’t been challenged—until now. By manipulating a single particle of light as it passed through free space, researchers have
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Football Physics And The Science Of Deflategate 24 January 2015, 00.24 Science
Football Physics And The Science Of Deflategate
News reports say that 11 of the 12 game balls used by the New England Patriots in their AFC championship game against the Indianapolis Colts were deflated, showing about 2 pounds per square inch (psi) less pressure than the
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Fast and furious: The real lives of swallows 24 January 2015, 00.24 Science
Fast and furious: The real lives of swallows
FANCY FLIERS  Biophysicist Douglas Warrick tracks radiotagged barns swallows near an Oregon farm. Bret Tobalske, University of Montana For more on small drones inspired by birds and other flying animals, see SN's feature
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PLANTOID: Robotic solutions inspired by plants 24 January 2015, 00.24 Science
PLANTOID: Robotic solutions inspired by plants
Humans tend to see plants as passive organisms that don’t ‘do’ much of anything, but plants do move, and they sense, and they do so in extremely efficient ways. Barbara Mazzolai, coordinator of the PLANTOID
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Exploring the universe with supercomputing 24 January 2015, 00.24 Science
Exploring the universe with supercomputing
The Center for Computational Astrophysics in Japan recently upgraded its ATERUI supercomputer, doubling the machine’s theoretical peak performance to 1.058 petaFLOPS. Eiichiro Kokubo, director of the center, tells iSGTW
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Unlocking the secrets of vertebrate evolution 24 January 2015, 00.24 Science
Unlocking the secrets of vertebrate evolution
As high-performance computers reshape the future, scientists gain the next-generation tools enabling them to see deeper into the past. Paleobiologists at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and Indiana University look to these
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How's the weather up there? 24 January 2015, 00.24 Science
How's the weather up there?
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Nanostructure puts the gloss on avian eggshells 08 January 2015, 00.14 Science
Nanostructure puts the gloss on avian eggshells
The family of chicken-sized birds native to South America called tinamous lay brightly coloured eggs that are some of the glossiest in nature. Now, an international team of scientists has discovered the secret to the eggs'
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Fast-moving glaciers slide more easily 08 January 2015, 00.14 Science
Fast-moving glaciers slide more easily
As glaciers move faster, they experience less friction between the ice and the ground below. This is the conclusion of Lucas Zoet and Neal Iverson of Iowa State University in the US, who used a new experimental tool to
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Physicists get set for UNESCO's Year of Light 08 January 2015, 00.14 Science
Physicists get set for UNESCO's Year of Light
Physicists around the world are gearing up for the International Year of Light and Light-based Technologies (IYL), which kicks off later this month at an official opening ceremony at the headquarters of the United Nations
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Indian Neutrino Observatory set for construction 08 January 2015, 00.14 Science
Indian Neutrino Observatory set for construction
The Indian government has given the go-ahead for a huge underground observatory that researchers hope will provide crucial insights into neutrino physics. Construction will now begin on the Rs15bn ($236m) Indian Neutrino
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Thermal memory thrives at extremely high temperatures
(Phys.org)—While the performance of electronic memory devices degrades at high temperatures, a newly proposed memory actually requires temperatures in excess of 600 K to operate. Called NanoThermoMechanical memory, the
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Nanoscale neighbors: First use of transformation optics to accurately analyze nonlocality in 3D plasmonic systems
(Phys.org) —The ubiquitous van der Waals interaction – a consequence of quantum charge fluctuations – includes intermolecular forces such as attraction and repulsion between atoms, molecules and surfaces. The most
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Super-insulated clothing could eliminate need for indoor heating
(Phys.org)—By wearing clothes that have been dip-coated in a silver nanowire (AgNW) solution that is highly radiation-insulating, a person may stay so warm in the winter that they can greatly reduce or even eliminate
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This Computer Program Can Beat Anyone at Poker 08 January 2015, 00.13 Science
This Computer Program Can Beat Anyone at Poker
Researchers developed a computer program that can outplay humans at the game of poker. Credit: John Ulan, University of Alberta Computers have figured out how to win at chess, checkers and tic-tac-toe, and now, a
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New Implant Lets Paralyzed Rats Walk Again 08 January 2015, 00.13 Science
New Implant Lets Paralyzed Rats Walk Again
The e-Dura implant Credit: © EPFL 2015 An experimental flexible implant that connects directly to the spinal cord might someday lead to a treatment for people with spinal cord injuries, and could possibly help people
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10,000 Steps? New Trackers Go Beyond the Data Dump
Credit: PathDoc/Shutterstock.com LAS VEGAS — You earned 3,000 Fuel points! You walked 8,755 steps. Your heartbeat was 65. Your sleep efficiency was 60 percent. As fitness trackers and other wearable devices have
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Bionic Legs Help Spinal Cord Patient Walk | Video 08 January 2015, 00.13 Science
Bionic Legs Help Spinal Cord Patient Walk | Video
A powered exoskeleton from Ekso allows stroke victims and partial spinal cord injury patients, like Shane Mosko, to walk farther, aiding
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So Long, Ugly Fitness Trackers: Fashionable Devices Debut
Fitness trackers are getting their fashionable on. Credit: Misfit, Mira, Wellograph, Withings (edited by Live Science) LAS VEGAS — The era of ugly fitness trackers appears to be coming to an end. A number of the
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'Pop-Up' 3D Structures Can Mimic Brain Circuits 08 January 2015, 00.13 Science
'Pop-Up' 3D Structures Can Mimic Brain Circuits
A 3D silicon microstructure. Credit: J. Rogers, University of Illinois By mimicking children's pop-up books, scientists can now make complex microscopic 3D shapes that model brain circuitry and blood vessels, researchers
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Scientists Spend Arctic Winter Adrift On An Ice Floe
When it comes to travel, the Arctic is not a typical destination, especially in the depths of winter. And even the most hardy travelers will tend to stick to the land. But for two Norwegians, home for the next several months
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Balloons And Airships Aren't Just Steampunk, They're Doing Cutting-Edge Science
When you think NASA, you think of space, rockets, and maybe budget overruns. But NASA stands for more than just Space. That first A in the acronym is often ignored, but NASA devotes a considerable amount of time and money
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Ask Anything: Can Plants Get STDs? 08 January 2015, 00.13 Science
Ask Anything: Can Plants Get STDs?
Researchers have long known that certain fungal parasites can spread from one flower to another through their pollen. And like most animal STDs, plant STDs aren’t usually fatal for the individual host plant. Still, the
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Earth News Reports

FitDesk Lets You Pedal Your Way to Fitness While You Work
Share on TumblrEmail Telecommuting saves workers money on subway or gas costs while conserving energy – but it can also mean less exercise. The folks at FitDesk have a solution – a brilliant bicycle/desk that
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10 websites for designers to get free PSD templates 26 May 2015, 17.17 Green Architecture
10 websites for designers to get free PSD templates
PSD files/templates are very useful resource for designers. It saves time and makes it easier to make a new design simply by customizing the existing one. Rather than creating from a scratch, it’s more smart step to modify
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Spectacular sketches by PEZ 26 May 2015, 17.17 Green Architecture
Spectacular sketches by PEZ
PEZ is the artist name of a talented French illustrator. His art goes far beyond simple illustrations, but what we share in this post are his incredibly detailed sketches. In this series, PEZ took on some famous characters with
Read More 473 Hits 1 Rating
Google reveals Literata, a new typeface for Google Play books
So far, Droid Serif was the default font for reading books on Google Play. Earlier in May, Google quietly introduced a new typeface to replace it along with the release of the latest version of PlayBooks. Google introduced
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A collection of vintage Photoshop textures 26 May 2015, 17.17 Green Architecture
A collection of vintage Photoshop textures
Textures are a great way to add some depth to your designs, it can also make the designs much more realistic, if that’s what you are trying to achieve. For a vintage look-and-feel, the Photoshop textures in this post will
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3D printed books by Tim Burtonwood 26 May 2015, 17.17 Green Architecture
3D printed books by Tim Burtonwood
Although 3D printing is gaining ground on a larger scale at quick speed, most of the 3D printing projects you’ll see are still experimental. Tim Burtonwood is one of these experimenting 3D artists who took on publishing
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Bookmarks that look like a character’s legs are sticking out
On Designer Daily, we love good books and creative bookmarks. There is no way we couldn’t feature these awesome bookmarks designed by Olena Mysnyk. On the Ukrainian designer’s Etsy shop, you can find all the
Read More 469 Hits 1 Rating
15 cool gift ideas that were inspired by bikes 26 May 2015, 17.17 Green Architecture
15 cool gift ideas that were inspired by bikes
Are you a crazy bicycle lover? Is yes, then you have reached the right place because here we have a collection of 15 cool gift ideas that were inspired by bicycles. Get your favorite one and enjoy! 1. Bicycle pizza cutter You
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Poop-powered bus breaks world speed record 26 May 2015, 17.17 Transportation
Poop-powered bus breaks world speed record
Share on TumblrEmail The UK’s poop-powered bus has set a speed record for a regular service bus with a top speed of 76.8 miles per hour (123.5kph). The vehicle is called the ‘Bus Hound’ (a tongue-in-cheek
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Watch this man set the world record for farthest hoverboard flight
Share on TumblrEmail Catalin Alexandru Duru, an inventor from Canada, set the world’s record recently for the longest flight by hoverboard. Ever since Marty McFly surfed the streets of Hill Valley on a
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Future News Reports

Obama's War Against US Energy Independence:  Give Away Oil Rich Alaskan Islands to Russia!
  By Joe Miller The Obama administration, despite the nation’s economic woes, effectively killed the job-producing Keystone Pipeline last month. The Arab Spring is turning the oil production of Libya and other Arab
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OSBIT Power's MaXccess system completes successful offshore trials 08 April 2012, 02.33 Administrator Energy
OSBIT Power's MaXccess system completes successful offshore trials
OSBIT Power's MaXccess system completes successful offshore trials Visit http://www.osbitpower.com for further information OSBIT Power (OP), Siemens Wind Power and Statoil have successfully completed offshore
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North America's EV charging infrastructure to get a boost 12 January 2012, 02.01 Administrator Energy
North America's EV charging infrastructure to get a boost
        North America’s EV charging infrastructure may soon see significant improvements, thanks to a recent agreement between Eaton Corporation and Coulomb Technologies. Under the deal, Eaton’s Level II and
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Could The Gravitomagnetic Field Be The Ultimate Energy Source? 28 May 2011, 01.34 Administrator Energy
Could The Gravitomagnetic Field Be The Ultimate Energy Source?
      Have scientists already unknowingly discovered the source for all atomic energy reactions, and could the discovery of the gravitomagnetic field be the ultimate energy source?  What if our understandings on how
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Physicists urge caution over apparent speed of light violation 25 September 2011, 16.27 Administrator Energy
Physicists urge caution over apparent speed of light violation
Physicists wary of junking light speed limit yet Physicist Antonio Ereditato poses before presenting the result of an experiment, which found a subatomic particle, the neutrino, seemed to move faster than the speed of
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STEORN ORBO  FREE ENERGY:  What's Next a Self Charging Unit for your Electric Car?
Steorn's Free Energy Orbo -- From Permanent Magnets to Solid State Systems   My associate, Hank Mills composed this for PESN, Saturday, February 12, 2011 6:17 Steorn is a small company based in Dublin, Ireland. For
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Cold Fusion, Releases Energy from Hydrogen's Gravitomagnetic Field 16 January 2011, 09.17 Administrator Energy
Cold Fusion, Releases Energy  from Hydrogen's Gravitomagnetic Field
Cold Fusion "In Bologna we did it" By Ilaria VENTURI, La Republica News, Bolona, Italy For the first time in Italy, in front of experts, the process was carried out using nickel and hydrogen. It 's the way to achieve
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Abu Dhabi Media Zone to generate renewable energy through its façade
Eco Factor: Sustainable development to generate renewable solar energy. Bernard Tschumi Architects have re-imagined their master plan for the new Abu Dhabi Media Zone, by incorporating several environmentally-friendly
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AI points to better decision-making despite poker match loss PDF Print E-mail

Carnegie Mellon University computer scientists looked to Pittsburgh Supercomputing Center supercomputer Blacklight in their construction of Claudico, a poker-playing artificial intelligence. Claudico came up short against the world's best poker players, but what the scientists have learned spells good news for medical decision-making.

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Caught and caged: the future of drug delivery PDF Print E-mail

Discover how the DNANANO project has been using the Curie supercomputer — a PRACE tier-0 system — to help design nanocages for targeted drug delivery.

Simulating one of these nanocages for just 100 nanoseconds would take nearly a decade on a normal workstation. However, by accessing PRACE resources, the research group was able to carry out multiple simulations of this kind in less than thirty days.

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How the NIH facilitates biomedical research: A conversation with George Komatsoulis PDF Print E-mail

At the recent Internet2 Global Summit iSGTW sat down with George Komatsoulis to talk about the state of distributed research and the NIH Commons, a scalable virtual environment to provide high-performance computing and data storage for bio-medical research. When implemented, the Commons will create a marketplace for digital bio-medical resources, driving down costs and democratizing access.

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Congratulations, Science as Art contest winners PDF Print E-mail

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Semiliquid battery competitive with both Li-ion batteries and supercapacitors PDF Print E-mail

The new battery (pink star), in comparison with other energy-storage devices, exhibits a very high power density and a reasonably good energy density. Credit: Ding, et al. ©2015 American Chemical Society

(Phys.org)—A new semiliquid battery developed by researchers at The University of Texas at Austin has exhibited encouraging early results, encompassing many of the features desired in a state-of-the-art energy-storage device. In particular, the new battery has a working voltage similar to that of a lithium-ion battery, a power density comparable to that of a supercapacitor, and it can maintain its good performance even when being charged and discharged at very high rates.

The researchers, led by Assistant Professor Guihua Yu, along with Yu Ding and Yu Zhao, at UT Austin, have published their paper on the new membrane-free, semiliquid in a recent issue of Nano Letters. The researchers explain that the battery is considered "semiliquid" because it uses a liquid ferrocene electrolyte, a liquid cathode, and a solid lithium anode.

"The greatest significance of our work is that we have designed a semiliquid battery based on a new chemistry," Yu told Phys.org. "The battery shows excellent rate capability that can be fully charged or discharged almost within one minute while maintaining good energy efficiency and reasonable energy density, representing a promising prototype liquid redox battery with both high energy density and for energy storage."

The battery is designed for applications in two of the biggest areas of : hybrid electric vehicles and energy storage for renewable energy resources.

As shown in the figure above, the battery's high power density (1400 W/L) and good energy density (40 Wh/L) put it in the uniquely favorable position of combining a power density that is as high as that of current supercapacitors with an energy density on par with those of state-of-the-art redox flow batteries and lead-acid batteries, though slightly lower than that of lithium-ion batteries. This combination is especially attractive for electric vehicles, where the power density corresponds to top speed and the energy density to the vehicle's range per charge.

The researchers also report in their paper that the has a high capacity (137 mAh/g) and a high capacity retention of 80% for 500 cycles.

The structure and working principle of the new ferrocene-based, membrane-free semiliquid battery, along with an experimental demonstration showing that the battery’s power output can light a 9 x 9 LED array. Credit: Ding, et al. ©2015 American Chemical Society

The researchers attribute the battery's good performance in large part to its liquid electrode design that enables its high rate capability, which is basically a measure of how fast the battery operates. The ions can move through the liquid battery very rapidly compared to in a solid battery, and the redox reactions in which the electrons are transferred between electrodes also occur at very high rates in this particular battery. For comparison, the values used to measure these rates (the diffusion coefficient and the reaction constant) are orders of magnitude greater in the new battery than in most conventional flow batteries.

Although the battery looks very promising so far, the researchers note that more work still needs to be done, in particular regarding the lithium anode.

"The potential weakness of this battery is the lithium anode in terms of long-term stability and safety," Yu said. "More advanced lithium anode protection is required to fully suppress self-discharge. We suppose that other metals like zinc and magnesium may also function as the anode for such a battery as long as the electrolyte compatibility is resolved. We also expect that other organometallic compounds with multi-valence-state metal centers (redox centers) may also function as the anode, which eventually would make the battery fully liquid."

In the future, the researchers plan to test the long-term durability of the battery, especially its lithium anode, under realistic operating conditions. In addition, the researchers want to find a way to increase the solubility of ferrocene in order to further increase the to compete with current lithium-ion batteries while maintaining its very high power density.

Explore further: Beyond the lithium ion—a significant step toward a better performing battery

More information: Yu Ding, et al. "A Membrane-Free Ferrocene-Based High-Rate Semiliquid Battery." Nano Letters. DOI: 10.1021/acs.nanolett.5b01224

© 2015 Phys.org



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New device may make converting waste heat to electricity industrially competitive PDF Print E-mail

The proposed thermoelectric device consists of many parallel nanowires with an external gate voltage that can be tuned to optimize the efficiency and power output for different temperature differences between the leads and different loads. Credit: Muttalib and Hershfield. ©2015 American Physical Society

(Phys.org)—Currently, up to 75% of the energy generated by a car's engine is lost as waste heat. In theory, some of this waste heat can be converted into electricity using thermoelectric devices, although so far the efficiency of these devices has been too low to enable widespread commercialization.

Now in a new study, physicists have demonstrated that a thermoelectric device made of nanowires may achieve a high enough efficiency to be industrially competitive, potentially leading to improvements in fuel economy and other applications.

The scientists, Khandker A. Muttalib and Selman Hershfield, both physics professors at the University of Florida in Gainesville, have published a paper on the new thermoelectric device in a recent issue of Physical Review Applied.

In addition to recovering energy from the waste heat in combustion engines in vehicles, thermoelectric devices could also perform similar functions in the engines of ships, as well as in power plants, manufacturing refineries, and other places that produce large amounts of waste heat.

In their paper, the scientists explain that using bulk materials in thermoelectric devices has turned out to be inherently inefficient, but nanoengineered materials appear to be more promising. The new device consists simply of two large leads at different temperatures connected by several noninteracting, very thin nanowires. Each nanowire transmits current from the hotter lead to the colder lead, and many nanowires in parallel can scale the power up to high levels.

One of the biggest challenges facing thermoelectric devices is that the conditions that optimize a device's efficiency and power output are different for different temperature gradients between the two leads as well as for different electrical loads (how much power is being consumed at a given moment). Because of this complexity, the optimum device for a particular temperature gradient and load may not work nearly as well for a different temperature gradient or load.

The researchers here found a way around this issue by applying a voltage to the nanowires, which allows power to be transmitted along the nanowires only at energies above a certain value. This value depends on the temperature gradient and the load, which vary, but the applied voltage can also be varied in order to tune the power transmission and simultaneously optimize the device's power and efficiency.

Using nanowires to connect the leads also has a practical advantage compared to using other materials. While many other candidate materials are difficult to manufacture reliably, nanowires can be manufactured reliably and controllably, which is important for realizing the precise optimum dimensions.

Although the physicists' theoretical analysis suggests that the proposed device could have significant performance advantages over current devices, they caution that it's too early to make any definite estimates.

"Any estimate at this point is going to be unreliable because there are so many ways to lose heat in any practical device that our theoretical proposal does not take into account," Muttalib told Phys.org. "Even then, we gave a very crude estimate in our paper where both the efficiency and power output can be tuned (with a gate voltage) to be significantly larger than any commercial device currently available. Note that there are other theoretical proposals with large efficiency but without sufficient power, and therefore not practically usable."

Most importantly, the physicists hope that the new ideas presented here may inspire new ways of thinking about thermoelectric technology.

"Perhaps the greatest significance is a possible shift in paradigm in the design of thermoelectric devices," Muttalib said. "Currently, the focus of the community is overwhelmingly in the so-called 'linear response' regime (where the temperature and the voltage gradients across the material connecting the hot and the cold leads are small); the performance of such devices depends solely on the properties of the connecting material. This has kept the current efforts limited to finding or designing a 'good' thermoelectric material. Our work suggests that, in the 'non-linear' regime, the performance of the device also depends crucially on the parameters of the leads and the loads; the optimization of performance in such cases has many more interesting possibilities to be explored."

Although this work offers many new possible directions for future research, Muttalib and Hershfield hope that it will be other scientists who move the technology forward.

"We are both theoretical physicists doing research in basic sciences, and in particular we are not experts in device technology," Muttalib said. "We stumbled upon the current idea while trying to understand the effects of non-linear response on electron transport in nano systems. We hope that experimentalists and device engineers will find our work interesting and will pursue it to build an actual device. Our next plan in this general area is to understand, again at a very fundamental theoretical level, the effects of phonons or lattice vibrations in nano systems in general; these effects are known to be important for thermoelectric devices as well."

The nanowire-based isn't the only new thermoelectric design to appear recently. In the same issue of Physical Review Applied, Riccardo Bosisio, et al., at Service de Physique de l'Etat Condensé in France have developed a thermoelectric device in which the electrons travel through the nanowires by "phonon-assisted hopping," where the phonons are vibrations that carry heat.

Explore further: Company developing commercial tech to convert heat to electricity

More information: K. A. Muttalib and Selman Hershfield. "Nonlinear Thermoelectricity in Disordered Nanowires." Physical Review Applied. DOI: 10.1103/PhysRevApplied.3.054003

© 2015 Phys.org



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Physicists find ways to increase antihydrogen production PDF Print E-mail

Antihydrogen consists of an antiproton and a positron. Credit: public domain

(Phys.org)—There are many experiments that physicists would like to perform on antimatter, from studying its properties with spectroscopic measurements to testing how it interacts with gravity. But in order to perform these experiments, scientists first need some antimatter. Of course, they won't be finding any in nature (due to antimatter's tendency to annihilate in a burst of energy when it comes in contact with ordinary matter), and creating it in the lab has proven to be very technically challenging for the same reasons.

Now in a new paper published in Physical Review Letters, Alisher S. Kadyrov, et al., at Curtin University in Perth, Australia, and Swansea University in the UK, have theoretically found a method to enhance the rate of antihydrogen production by several orders of magnitude. They hope that their finding will guide antihydrogen programs toward achieving the production of large amounts of antihydrogen for long confinement times, and at cool temperatures, as required by future investigative experiments.

"Laws of physics predict equal amounts of matter and created after the Big Bang," Kadyrov, Associate Professor at Curtin University, told Phys.org. "One of science's mysteries is where did all the antimatter go? To unravel this mystery, scientists at CERN [the European Organization for Nuclear Research] plan to do gravitational and spectroscopic experiments with antimatter. The simplest example is antihydrogen. However, it is challenging and expensive to create and study antihydrogen in the laboratory."

Antihydrogen is an appealing form of antimatter for scientists to study in part because it is electrically neutral: it consists of an antiproton (a negatively charged proton) and a positron or antielectron (a positively charged electron). Because it's made of just two antiparticles, antihydrogen is also somewhat easier to produce than larger antiatoms.

In 2002, scientists produced antihydrogen in the first dedicated antihydrogen production experiment at CERN, and in 2010 they confined antihydrogen in traps for up to 30 minutes. Eventually, however, the antihydrogen annihilates, such as by impacting the walls of the experimental apparatus or interacting with background gases.

There are a few different ways to produce antihydrogen in the lab, all of which involve colliding or scattering particles off one another. In the new study, the physicists focused on the reaction in which an antiproton is scattered off , which is a bound state consisting of a positron and an ordinary electron. In a sense, positronium can be thought of as a hydrogen atom in which the proton is replaced by a positron. So far, the antiproton-positronium scattering reaction has been investigated mostly when the positronium is in its ground state.

In the new study, the scientists theoretically showed that antiproton collisions with positronium in an excited state instead of the ground state can enhance antihydrogen production significantly, particularly at the lower energies.

"Our calculations show that a very efficient way of producing antihydrogen is to bring together slow antiprotons with positronium, which has been prepared in an excited state, something that is now routine using lasers," Kadyrov said. "It turns out antihydrogen formation increases by several orders of magnitude for positronium in excited states as compared to the due to unexpected low-energy behavior revealed in our calculations."

For the first time, these theoretical results allow for realistic estimates of antihydrogen formation rates via antiproton-positronium scattering at low energies. Because lower energies are more important in experiments than higher energies, the scientists hope that this method will offer a practical way to create cold antihydrogen, which could then be used to test the fundamental properties of antimatter.

"Scientists from the ALPHA, ATRAP, AEgIS and GBAR Collaborations at CERN are working on producing and trapping antihydrogen in sufficient quantities for experiments on the spectroscopic and gravitational properties of antihydrogen," Kadyrov said. "We believe that the efficient mechanism for antihydrogen formation that our research has unveiled could be used to facilitate these investigations."

The scientists plan to investigate this antihydrogen production mechanism more in the future, with the goal to achieve even better results.

"Presently, positronium can be excited to high-energy states, known as Rydberg states," Kadyrov said. "Next we want to investigate antiproton collisions with positronium in such a state. Given the magnitude of the enhancement we have got for the lower excited states, one can expect that the corresponding enhancement would be enormous. This then could open a very promising way of producing low-energy antihydrogen beams for spectroscopic experiments, for example, for measurements of hyperfine splitting in ."

Explore further: CERN experiment takes us one step closer to discovering where all the antimatter went

More information: A. S. Kadyrov, et al. "Antihydrogen Formation via Antiproton Scattering with Excited Positronium." Physical Review Letters. DOI: 10.1103/PhysRevLett.114.183201

© 2015 Phys.org



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NASA picks nine instruments for future mission to Europa PDF Print E-mail



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Christopher Crockett

4:54pm, May 26, 2015

illustration of future mission to Europa

A future mission to Europa, illustrated here, will investigate the moon’s subsurface ocean while orbiting Jupiter and flying by the moon multiple times (blue lines).

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NASA is gearing up to see what’s lurking in the salty seas beneath the icy shell of Jupiter’s moon Europa. Nine instruments will fly aboard a spacecraft slated to launch sometime in the 2020s that will investigate whether or not the moon is habitable, space agency officials announced at a news conference May 26.

Two cameras will map the moon, while an ice-penetrating radar will peer beneath its surface. To figure out what’s in the water, three instruments will measure the composition of material deposited on the surface of the moon and what’s blasted into space. The probe will carry two detectors that will measure the moon’s magnetic field, which will reveal the depth and saltiness of the ocean. And an ultraviolet spectrometer will be the spacecraft’s dedicated plume hunter, seeking out evidence of water vents like those seen on Saturn’s moon Enceladus.

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White House hits pause on editing human germline cells PDF Print E-mail



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Tina Hesman Saey

4:05pm, May 26, 2015

DNA illustration

Clinical experiments that use DNA-editing methods to alter human germline cells have been put on hold in the United States.

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The United States will hold off, for now, on clinical experiments that could alter the human germ line. John Holdren, director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy issued a statement on May 26 supporting a moratorium on the clinical use of DNA-editing methods that could cause inherited changes in human genes.

New methods that could permanently fix genetic mutations have raised the specter that people may abuse the technology to create designer babies or even alter human evolution.

“The Administration believes that altering the human germline for clinical purposes is a line that should not be crossed at this time,” Holdren writes. The full implications of creating genetically altered humans “could not be known until a number of generations had inherited the genetic changes made — and choices made in one country could affect all of us.”

An international summit convened this fall by the National Academy of Sciences and the National Academy of Medicine will tackle the issue. 

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Diet and nutrition is more complex than a simple sugar PDF Print E-mail

A new study shows that the simple sugar fructose has different effects on human behavior than glucose. But it’s doesn’t tell us much about what those lollipops will do to our health or behavior.

When it comes to studying the vast complexity of the food we eat, it helps to simplify. Test one nutrient or variable at a time to find out how each functions. Compare one part of a sugar molecule against another. These studies can tell us a great deal about how specific nutrients are processed in the body, and how they affect our health, our waistlines and even our behavior.

But one thing many of these single-nutrient studies don’t tell us? Anything about the food we actually eat.

A new study shows that a hit of fructose — the simple sugar common in fruits, vegetables and honey — leaves people hankering for a snack more than a similar hit of glucose, the simple sugar taken up directly by our muscles and brain. But while the results can tell scientists something about the body responds to glucose and fructose, they have very little to say about the apples in your diet.

Fructose and glucose are both monosaccharides, the most basic unit of a carbohydrate. Combine the two together in equal amounts for basic table sugar. Mix 55 percent fructose with glucose and water for high-fructose corn syrup. Glucose is the energy source our cells prefer (especially the cells in the brain). Fructose is glucose’s sweeter cousin.

While glucose stimulates the release of insulin and circulates in the blood for uptake by muscles and the brain, fructose is broken down by the liver. Because fructose does not stimulate insulin — beginning the cascade of hormonal responses that end in feelings of fullness — high levels of fructose may not be as satisfying as glucose, leading people to eat more to feel satisfied. This in turn might mean that higher levels of fructose may play some role in increasing waistlines.

But to understand if there is any role of fructose in obesity, scientists first need to understand how our appetites respond to its presence. “We wanted to understand brain reward pathways and eating behavior,” explains endocrinologist Kathleen Page, of the University of Southern California in Los Angeles and coauthor of the new study, published May 19 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. “If we’re going to understand how each [dietary] component works to understand how they modify appetite, we have to look at them separately first.”

So Page and her colleagues recruited 24 volunteers to, on three separate mornings, drink water, water sweetened with 75 grams (the mass of a little over a third of a cup of table sugar) of glucose or water with the same dose of fructose. The volunteers ranked how hungry they were before and after consuming the drinks.

Then, while lying in an fMRI scanner, volunteers were shown images of food with a dollar amount for how much the food cost. They could rank whether they wanted the pictured food now, or whether they would wait to receive the money instead of the food. “We wanted to mimic a real-world situation where the benefits of turning down high-calorie foods come later in the benefits of weight maintenance,” Page explains.

The results showed that fructose and glucose have different effects on both body and behavior. Fructose did not reduce hunger as much as glucose. After the volunteers drank fructose drinks, they were willing to pay slightly more money (about $1.45 more) for a snack than when they drank glucose. After fructose drinks, the fMRI scans showed that participants had more activity in the visual cortex than after glucose, and they had more activity in reward-related brain areas such as the orbitofrontal cortex and striatum. 

Blood tests showed that glucose caused a large increase in blood insulin. But fructose is cleared out of the blood quickly and broken down in the liver, and does not stimulate insulin very much at all. The authors think this might be part of the reason why fructose tended to leave the participants hungry for more, while glucose, which stimulates insulin production, kept them relatively satisfied.

Along with Page’s previous study looking at fructose, glucose and brain blood flow, “it forms a nice story suggesting that there are two different mechanisms controlling fructose and glucose,” says Jacki Rorabaugh, a neuropharmacologist at Emory University in Atlanta. “Maybe down the line it could give us more drug or behavioral targets to try and curb sugar intake.”

To many diet gurus, fructose is the devil du jour. Particularly in the form of high-fructose corn syrup, fructose is thought to contribute to the rising obesity rates in the United States and elsewhere. But while this study does show that pure fructose leaves a hungry study subject wanting more, it’s just one step toward understanding the complexities of fructose’s role in human diets.

“As far as how you [apply this to] public health, it’s limited,” Rorabaugh explains. “You can buy pure fructose and pure glucose, but in the majority of sugars we consume, you get both at the same time.” Fructose may have different effects in the brain, Rorabaugh says, but “is that extra effect so strong it overrides the glucose? That’s a different study that still needs to be done.”

The doses used in the experiment are also a lot higher than most people would ever consume on their own, notes Luc Tappy, who studies human nutrition at the University of Lausanne in Switzerland. Seventy-five grams of pure fructose, he points out, is half of a 150-gram dose of table sugar, and that amount of sugar has almost 600 calories. It’s a lot of sweet in one single drink. So while he agrees that studying how the body processes glucose and fructose is extremely important, “I would, however, be very careful [not] to jump to definitive conclusions.” Lower, more realistic doses of fructose may not have significant effects.

Many people want scientific studies to offer one single answer on what they should eat. They want to know that if they add or eliminate just one thing, all their health problems will be solved. Maybe they should eat only unprocessed foods, ditch carbs  or avoid foods high in fructose, such as fruit. But the reality is almost always more complicated.  Our brains and bodies are almost never exposed to pure glucose or fructose. Instead they are presented with sugars, salts, fats and proteins, all providing their own set of information to the body.

Next up, Page says, is a study of differences in the effects of sucrose and high-fructose corn syrup on the brain and behavior. “Those have more real-world implications,” Page says. She also says that she would like to examine long-term effects of different monosaccharides as opposed to a lone sugary dose. But while fructose alone may have its health problems, nutrition is always going to be more complex than a single simple sugar.  

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Acting Out Dreams Is Often Early Sign of Parkinson's Disease PDF Print E-mail

an artistic image of a flying woman.
Credit: Sergey Nivens/Shutterstock.com

A rare sleep disorder that makes people act out their dreams may be an early warning of a deadly neurological illness, a new review of previous research suggests.

About half of people who have a condition known as rapid eye movement sleep behavior disorder will develop Parkinson's disease or a related disorder within a decade of being diagnosed with RBD.

Eventually, nearly everyone with RBD will ultimately develop a neurological disorder, the study found. [Top 10 Spooky Sleep Disorders]

"If you get this disorder and live long enough, you will almost certainly get Parkinson's disease or a condition similar to it — it's an early warning sign," said Dr. Michael Howell, a professor of neurology at the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis and co-author of the study, published today (April 13) in the journal JAMA Neurology.

The main symptom of RBD is moving around during the rapid eye movement (REM) period of sleep, when most dreaming occurs and the muscles are usually paralyzed by the brain stem. People with RBD are thought to have a brain-stem malfunction that allows them to move during REM sleep, and thus act out their dreams, according to the study.

People with RBD describe having vivid dreams, and their enactments range from small hand movements to violent actions such as punching, kicking or leaping out of bed. The disorder poses a risk of injury to the patient or their bed partner, Howell said. Scientists first described the disorder in the 1980s. It is distinct from sleepwalking, and affects about 0.5 percent of the population, or 35 million people worldwide, he said.

To find out whether RBD was, in fact, an early sign of Parkinson's disease and similar brain disorders, Howell and his colleagues sifted through more than 500 studies on the subject published between 1986 and 2014.

Strikingly, they found that between 81 and 90 percent of patients with RBD developed a degenerative brain disorder during their lifetimes, the studies showed.

Parkinson's disease is caused by the breakdown of certain proteins, called alpha-synuclein proteins, in neurons in the brain that produce dopamine, a chemical that produces pleasurable feelings in response to rewarding activities. It could be that RBD results from the early stages of alpha-synuclein breakdown in the brain, so it could be a useful warning sign of Parkinson's, Howell said. Not everyone who develops Parkinson's disease will have RBD first, however.

The findings could help doctors find a way to treat Parkinson's while it's still in its early stages, Howell said.

RBD is not curable, but it can be treated with high doses of the sleep aid melatonin or low doses of the anti-anxiety drug clonazepam. Patients with RBD should also take steps to prevent possible sources of injury.

"It's very important to make the bedroom environment [as] safe as possible" by removing objects that can be picked up or used as a weapon, such as guns, Howell said.

Parkinson's disease is not curable, either, but it can be managed with drugs. In addition, an experimental therapy known as deep-brain stimulation has shown promise in some patients.

Follow Tanya Lewis on Twitter. Follow us @livescience, Facebook & Google+. Original article on Live Science.

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Playing with Fire: AI Makers Must Be Careful PDF Print E-mail

Credit: jimmi | Shutterstock

From smartphone apps like Siri to features like facial recognition of photos, artificial intelligence (AI) is becoming a part of everyday life. But humanity should take more care in developing AI than with other technologies, experts say.

Science and tech heavyweights Elon Musk, Bill Gates and Stephen Hawking have warned that intelligent machines could be one of humanity's biggest existential threats. But throughout history, human inventions, such as fire, have also posed dangers. Why should people treat AI any differently? 

"With fire, it was OK that we screwed up a bunch of times," Max Tegmark, a physicist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, said April 10 on the radio show Science Friday. But in developing artificial intelligence, as with nuclear weapons, "we really want to get it right the first time, because it might be the only chance we have," he said. [5 Reasons to Fear Robots]

On the one hand, AI has the potential to achieve enormous good in society, experts say. "This technology could save thousands of lives," whether by preventing car accidents or avoiding errors in medicine, Eric Horvitz, managing director of Microsoft Research lab in Seattle, said on the show. The downside is the possibility of creating a computer program capable of continually improving itself that "we might lose control of," he added.

For a long time, society has believed that things that are smarter must be better, Stuart Russell, a computer scientist at the University of California, Berkeley, said on the show. But just like the Greek myth of King Midas, who transformed everything he touched into gold, ever-smarter machines may not turn out to be what society wished for. In fact, the goal of making machines smarter may not be aligned with the goals of the human race, Russell said.

For example, nuclear power gave us access to the almost unlimited energy stored in an atom, but "unfortunately, the first thing we did was create an atom bomb," Russell said. Today, "99 percent of fusion research is containment," he said, and "AI is going to go the same way."

Tegmark called the development of AI "a race between the growing power of technology and humanity's growing wisdom" in handling that technology. Rather than try to slow down the former, humanity should invest more in the latter, he said.

At a conference in Puerto Rico in January organized by the nonprofit Future of Life Institute (which Tegmark co-founded), AI leaders from academia and industry (including Elon Musk) agreed that it's time to redefine the goal of making machines as smart and as fast as possible. The goal should now be to make machines beneficial for society. Musk donated $10 million to the institute in order to further that goal.

After the January conference, hundreds of scientists, including Musk, signed an open letter describing the potential benefits of AI, yet warned of its pitfalls.

Follow Tanya Lewis on Twitter. Follow us @livescience, Facebook & Google+. Original article on Live Science.

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Man Tears Tendon After Playing 'Candy Crush' for Weeks PDF Print E-mail

A person playing Candy Crush Saga on a smartphone
Credit: Authentic Creations / Shutterstock.com

A California man tore a tendon in his thumb after playing a puzzle game on his smartphone too much, according to a new report of the case.

The case is interesting because such injuries are usually quite painful, but the man appeared to not notice any pain while he played, according to the doctors who treated him. The case shows that, in a sense, video games may numb people's pain and contribute to video game addiction, they said.

"We need to be aware that certain video games can act like digital painkillers," said Dr. Andrew Doan, a co-author of the case report and head of addictions research at the Naval Medical Center San Diego. "We have to be very cognizant that that can be abused," Doan said.

The 29-year-old went to the doctor because his left thumb hurt and he was having trouble moving it. He told doctors that he had played the puzzle game "Candy Crush Saga" on his smartphone all day for six to eight weeks. The man had played the game with his left hand while he used his right hand for other things, the report said.

"Playing was a kind of secondary thing, but it was constantly on," the man was quoted as saying in the case report. 

After examining the man and performing magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) on his hand, doctors determined that the man had ruptured a tendon involved in moving the thumb, and they said he needed surgery to repair the tendon. [9 Odd Ways Your Tech Devices May Injure You]

Typically, when people rupture this tendon, the tear occurs at the point where the tendon is thinnest, or where it attaches to the bone, Doan told Live Science. But in this man's case, the rupture occurred at the point where the tendon was thickest, which would usually cause pain prior to the rupture, Doan said.

But the man said he didn't feel pain while he played the smartphone game. This may be because, when people play video games, they can feel pleasure and excitement that are tied to the release of natural painkillers in the body — the same thing that happens when a person feels a "runner's high," Doan said.

This may lead to reduced perceptions of pain, but it may also play a role in the addictive nature of video games, Doan said.

" In this particular case, the man was not addicted to "Candy Crush." Rather, he was playing the game as a way to pass time, Doan said. (The man had recently left the military and was between jobs.) But video game addictions can occur, and they sometimes cause problems in people's relationships, finances and work, Doan said.

People should try to limit gaming to about 30 minutes a day, Doan said. Studies show that about one hour or less of video game play a day can have social and emotional benefits, but too much gaming can have the opposite effect, Doan said.

People who experience problems in their lives as a result of too much video-game play should seek help, and can visit the support group On-Line Gamers Anonymous, Doan said.

It's well-known that smartphones and other devices can cause injuries — the phrase "BlackBerry thumb" refers to repetitive strain injuries that result from the overuse of thumbs to press buttons on mobile devices. And a recent review of Nintendo injuries found that the video games have been linked with a number of injuries over the last three decades, including muscle injuries, and cuts and black eyes linked with playing Nintendo Wii.

But despite the potential for video games to be abused and lead to injuries, their "painkiller" effect might have benefits in the right circumstances, such as for people in pain, the researchers said.

"Although this is only a single case report, research might consider whether video games have a role in clinical pain management and as nonpharmacologic alternatives during uncomfortable or painful medical procedures," the researchers wrote in the April 13 issue of the journal JAMA Internal Medicine. "It may be interesting to ascertain whether various games differ in their ability to reduce the perception of pain," they said.

Follow Rachael Rettner @RachaelRettner. Follow Live Science @livescience, Facebook & Google+. Original article on Live Science.

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Marijuana Extract May Help Reduce Epilepsy Seizures PDF Print E-mail

Marijuana plant
Credit: Atomazul | Shutterstock.com

A medicine made from marijuana may provide some relief to people with severe epilepsy who don't get better after trying other treatments, according to a new study.

In the study, researchers examined 137 people, ranging in age from toddlers to adults, who all had severe epilepsy, a condition that causes seizures. The participants took an extract made from cannabis plants daily for 12 weeks, and during that time, the number of seizures they experienced fell by an average of 54 percent.

The researchers noted that the participants knew they were receiving the extract, and that the study did not include a comparison group of people with severe epilepsy who were not given the marijuana drug or who were given a placebo instead.

"While the findings are promising, more research is needed, such as randomized-controlled trials to help eliminate the possibility of a placebo effect," said study author Dr. Orrin Devinsky, director of New York University Langone Comprehensive Epilepsy Center.

The main ingredient in the drug the participants took was cannabidiol, a marijuana compound that does not have psychoactive properties. (The "high" feeling that marijuana produces comes from another compound in the plant, called THC.)

The people in the study had previously tried other treatments for their epilepsy, such as anti-epileptic drugs, diet changes, surgery and neurostimulation therapies, Devinsky said. In fact, "about one-third of patients with epilepsy do not respond to medications," he told Live Science. [11 Odd Facts About Marijuana]

There were 213 participants at the beginning of the study, but some dropped out of the study before reaching the 12-week mark, including 6 percent (12 people) who stopped taking the marijuana extract because of the drug's side effects. Overall, more than 10 percent of people in the study experienced side effects. Sleepiness occurred in 21 percent of the people, 17 percent experienced diarrhea and fatigue and 16 percent said their appetites decreased.

Formal studies on this marijuana extract have been scarce so far, Devinsky said. The new results add to the previous findings related to the extract, which were presented at the American Epilepsy Society meeting in October 2014, he said. However, that study was smaller; it involved only 23 participants with epilepsy for whom other treatments had not worked. After the participants took the drug for three months, their seizures decreased by an average of 32 percent, the researchers found.

It is not clear exactly how the extract works in patients with epilepsy. One of the potential mechanisms involved could be related to a receptor called GPR55, which could be triggered by cannabidiol and may affect nerve cells' activities, Devinsky said.

The study was funded by GW Pharmaceuticals, a United Kingdom-based company that specializes in developing cannabinoid prescription medicines.

The new findings will be presented April 22 at the American Academy of Neurology's annual meeting in Washington, D.C.

Follow Agata Blaszczak-Boxe on Twitter. Follow Live Science @livescience, Facebook & Google+. Originally published on Live Science.

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How to Avoid a Shark Attack PDF Print E-mail

A great white shark.
A great white shark.
Credit: Sergey Uryadnikov/Shutterstock.com

The seventh fatal shark attack in four years struck this past weekend at a surfer's paradise in the Indian Ocean.

Yet teaching people when and where to swim to avoid sharks, and improving the emergency response to shark bites, can significantly reduce the number of deaths due to shark attacks, according to shark-attack statistics.

The 13-year-old boy killed this past weekend was surfing in an off-limits area at La Reunion Island, located east of Madagascar, according to news reports. The shark tore off both of his legs and bit through his stomach. In an attempt to get rid of the deadly shark, officials caught and killed an 11.4-foot-long (3.5 meters) tiger shark later that day, but it turned out not to be the same shark, the reports said.

The La Reunion government has banned swimming, surfing and other water sports in the ocean there, except in protected areas, to prevent shark attacks. There have been 16 shark attacks and seven deaths since 2011 off La Reunion Island. The ban was enacted after a shark killed a 15-year-old girl in 2013. [See Stunning Photos of Great White Sharks]

Despite shrinking shark populations, the number of shark attacks on humans worldwide continues to grow each decade, according to the International Shark Attack File at the University of Florida (UF). More people are enjoying the beach every year, and globalization means formerly isolated islands — such as La Reunion — are welcoming new visitors who don't know where sharks congregate. The lush tropical island, an overseas department of France, has seen a sharp increase in shark attacks following a tourism boom that started in the 1990s.

"One of the problems at places like La Reunion, and any number of insular places that are opening to tourism, is that tourists are not getting the information that the locals have about where the dangerous places are," said shark biologist George Burgess, curator of the world shark attack data at UF's Florida Museum of Natural History. "Either they're not asking, or they're not being told."

For example, an investment in outreach and medical infrastructure has paid off in the United States, home to two-thirds of all shark attacks every year. On average, just one person dies from a shark bite every year in the United States, compared with the worldwide average of six shark-attack deaths each year. And there were no shark-related fatalities in the United States during 2014, though there were 52 shark attacks in the country, according to the International Shark Attack File. Worldwide, there were 72 unprovoked shark attacks on humans, three of which ended in human deaths. (This includes the U.S. numbers.) Examples of provoked attacks include a fisherman wearing his bloody catch or someone harassing a shark.

In the United States, lifeguards stop swimmers and surfers from entering the water when sharks are present. Lifeguards also receive medical training to help stop bleeding linked to shark bites, and people who are injured can be quickly transported to a nearby hospital.

"We [in the United States] do seem to do a better job of keeping people alive and keeping people away from where sharks are known to be present," Burgess said.

But the same techniques may be hard to recreate in a remote tropical paradise. So here's how to avoid sharks.

Watch out for sharks

  • The most important tip is to use your common sense, Burgess said. Avoid swimming near fish. "Where there are fish, there are predators," he told Live Science. Stay away from fishing boats and areas with diving seabirds; both indicate fish are in the water. 
  • Avoid deep channels, troughs between sandbars and underwater drop-offs. Fish also congregate in these areas, attracting sharks.
  • Stay out of murky water that makes it hard for you to see sharks, and for sharks to see you're a human, not a fish or a seal.
  • Don't swim alone. Sharks are less likely to go after groups of swimmers or divers.
  • Don't swim at dawn or dusk, when sharks are more likely to be actively feeding close to shore. "A nighttime swim may be very romantic, but it's certainly not the smartest thing to do," Burgess said.
  • Avoid wearing shiny jewelry or watches in the water. They gleam like fish scales.
sharks, animal behavior, bull shark companions

Two male bull sharks traveling together. Nose-to-tail swimming is common among sharks — with males and juveniles, as well as females.
Credit: Ila France Porcher

Power respects power

The species that tend to attack humans are the same worldwide: tiger sharks, bull sharks and great white sharks. [On the Brink: A Gallery of Wild Sharks]

Their attacks come in three forms:

The hit and run: In shallow water, a shark grabs a human like it grabs for fish. This often happens in rough surf, strong currents or murky water. The shark grabs, realizes its mistake, lets go and leaves. People are usually bitten only once, on the legs or feet, but even one bite can inflict terrible blood loss.

The bump and bite: A shark bumps a swimmer or surfer with its head or body before biting. This kind of attack often involves more than one bite, causing serious injuries or death.

The sneak attack: Sharks hunt by stealth and surprise because seals and fish are fast and nimble, able to outswim a shark. They rush toward their prey, grab hold and injure the creature before it can escape. If the prey is human, this grab-and-smash attack can be deadly.

If a shark actually bites you, hit it on the nose, or claw at its eyes or gills, Burgess advises. This is one predator that respects a powerful counterattack. For more on what to do during a shark attack, visit the Florida Museum of Natural History.

And remember, every year, jellyfish kill more people than sharks. So does lightning. And humans kill many, many more sharks than the other way around. About 100 million sharks die at human hands each year, about 70 percent of them for their fins, according to the United Nations' Food and Agriculture Organization. More than 180 species of sharks and rays are listed by the International Union for Conservation of Nature as threatened with extinction.

"Sharks have had 400 million years of practice in becoming good predators, but the real story isn't shark bites man. It's man bites shark," Burgess said.

 Follow Becky Oskin @beckyoskin. Follow Live Science @livescience, Facebook & Google+. Originally published on Live Science.

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Dog Family: Facts About Canines & Their Cousins PDF Print E-mail
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A pack of grey wolves in Slovenia.
A pack of grey wolves in Slovenia.
Credit: Miha Krofel, Slovenia

Dogs and humans have been best friends for thousands of years. Researchers know that dogs regularly lived with humans by about 10,000 years ago, and dogs and people are found buried together as early as 14,000 years ago. And for even longer, perhaps hundreds of thousands of years, humans walked alongside the domestic dog's ancestor, an extinct species of wolf.

Domestic dogs and wolves are part of a large taxonomic family called Canidae, which also includes coyotes, foxes and jackals, according to the Integrated Taxonomic Information System (ITIS). Members of this family are called canids. Domestic dogs are a subspecies called Canis lupus familiaris. [Related: How Did Dogs Get to Be Dogs?]

Size

The Canidae family includes 14 genera and 34 species, according to the University of Michigan Museum of Zoology. With such variety, it is easy to see why there are so many different sizes of dogs. According to the University of Edinburgh, the smallest canid is the Fennec fox. It is only 9.4 inches (24 centimeters) high and weights only 2.2 lbs. (1 kilogram). The largest canid is the gray wolf, at 6.5 feet (200 cm) high and around 60 lbs. (27 kg). 

Habitat

Canids are found all over the world. Coyotes roam North America's forests and mountains. Red foxes live in grasslands, forests, mountains and deserts in the Northern Hemisphere, according to National Geographic. Jackals are found in the savannas, deserts, and arid grasslands of Africa. Wolves live on every continent in the Northern Hemisphere. 

Habits

Canids are typically social and travel in groups called packs. They are very territorial, though, and mark their territory with scent marking. Even domesticated dogs will mark their yards by leaving their scent on trees, bushes and objects. 

Jackals are a little less social and usually travel in pairs, according to the African Wildlife Foundation. Males and females mate for life, which is very rare for mammals. 

Wolves, foxes and other dogs don't howl at the moon. They are actually howling at each other as a form of communication. Dogs also yelp, whine, bark and growl to communicate. 

Diet

Though dogs are omnivores, they eat mostly meat and are born killers. They have non-retractable claws, long legs for speed and teeth that are sharp, pointed and perfect for tearing at meat. Wolves, for example, eat deer, domestic livestock, caribou, beaver, moose and hares. Jackals eat smaller fare such as rodents, young gazelle, lagomorphs and monkeys.

Dogs also have well-developed carnassial molars, according to the University of Illinois at Urbana–Champaign. These teeth are used to crush vegetation such as fruits and grasses.

Offspring

All of the members of the Canidae family have live births after a gestation period of around 45 to 55 days. Canids typically have many babies at once. Domestic dogs can have as many as 15 young, called pups, at the same time. Other genus types are less prolific. For example, the genus Urocyon has only one to seven young per year, according to the University of Illinois at Urbana–Champaign. The Biological Sciences Department of Smith College reports that there is a correlation between the weight of a canid and reproduction; the larger the female, the larger the litter size.

Fennec fox, dogs, dog facts

The fennec fox is the smallest member of the Canidae family.
Credit: nattanan726 | Shutterstock

Classification/Taxonomy 

The taxonomy of dogs, according to ITIS, is:

Kingdom: Animalia
Subkingdom: Bilateria
Infrakingdom: Deuterostomia
Phylum: Chordata
Subphylum: Vertebrata
Infraphylum: Gnathostomata
Superclass: Tetrapoda
Class: Mammalia
Subclass: Theria
Infraclass: Eutheria
Order: Carnivora
Suborder: Caniformia
Family: Canidae

Genera

Atelocynus
Species: Atelocynus microtis — short-eared dog, small-eared dog, small eared zorro

Canis
Species: Canis adustus — side-striped Jackal; Canis aureus — golden jackal; Canis latrans —coyote; Canis lupus — wolf, gray wolf; Canis mesomelas — black-backed jackal; Canis simensis— simian jackal, simien fox, Ethiopian wolf
Subspecies: Canis lupus familiaris — domestic dog

Cerdocyon
Species: Cerdocyon thous — crab-eating fox

Chrysocyon
Species: Cerdocyon thous — maned wolf

Cuon
Species: Cuon alpinus — dhole, Indian dhole, Asiatic wild dog, red dog

Dusicyon
Species: Dusicyon australis — Falkland Island wolf, Falkland Islands wolf

Lycalopex
Species: Lycalopex culpaeus — culpeo; Lycalopex fulvipes — Darwin's fox; Lycalopex griseus — South American gray fox; Lycalopex gymnocercus — pampas fox; Lycalopex sechurae — Sechuran fox; Lycalopex vetulus — hoary fox

Lycaon
Species: Lycaon pictus — African hunting dog, African wild dog

Nyctereutes
Species: Nyctereutes procyonoides — raccoon dog

Otocyon
Species: Otocyon megalotis — bat-eared fox, big-eared fox

Speothos
Species: Speothos venaticus — bush dog

Urocyon
Species: Urocyon cinereoargenteus — gray fox, common gray fox; Urocyon littoralis — island fox, island gray fox, Channel Islands gray fox

Vulpes
Species: Vulpes bengalensis — bengal fox; Vulpes cana — Blanford's fox; Vulpes chama — cape fox; Vulpes corsac — corsac fox; Vulpes ferrilata — Tibetan fox, Tibetan sand fox; Vulpes lagopus — blue fox, ice fox, polar fox, white fox, Arctic fox; Vulpes macrotis — kit fox; Vulpes pallida — pale fox; Vulpes rueppellii — Rüppell's fox; Vulpes velox — swift fox; Vulpes vulpes— red fox; Vulpes zerda — fennec, fennec fox

Conservation status

According to the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), many of the Canidae family are threatened or near threatened. For example, the short-eared dog and dhole are near threatened. The African wild dog and Ethiopian wolf are endangered, while the red wolf and Darwin's fox are critically endangered. The Falkland Island wolf is the only dog listed as extinct by the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.

Other facts

The lifespan of a dog varies, depending on what type it is. Wolves, coyotes, jackals and domestic dogs live around 10 years. Vulpes, or true foxes, live around five years.

Coyotes are scavengers that will eat almost anything. Their diet includes bugs, trash, deer, rodents and snakes. They are also very fast runners and can run up to 40 mph (64 kph), according to National Geographic.

The lead male and female are the only two that typically breed in a wolf pack. Their hierarchy is very strict. A pack is usually lead by a dominate male.

Additional resources

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Physicists propose method to measure variations in the speed of light PDF Print E-mail

A relation between the angular diameter distance (DA), the Hubble function (H), and the speed of light c at a specific point called the maximum redshift (zM) may allow researchers to detect variations in the speed of light. Credit: Salzano, et al. ©2015 American Physical Society

(Phys.org)—The speed of light, c, is one of the best-known constants, having a value of just under 300,000,000 meters per second in a vacuum. But in some alternative theories of cosmology, the speed of light is not actually constant, but varies throughout time and space. Observational data in support of variations in the speed of light are lacking, but in a new paper, physicists have proposed a way to constrain possible speed-of-light variations and show that future experiments might be able to detect these variations, if large enough.

The , Vincenzo Salzano, Mariusz P. Dąbrowski, and Ruth Lazkoz, at universities in Poland and Spain, have published their paper on measuring variations in the speed of in a recent issue of Physical Review Letters.

"When the data collected by future missions become available, our model will be able to detect a variation of 1% in c in the more pessimistic case, and down to 0.1% in a more optimistic scenario," Salzano, at the University of Szczecin in Poland, told Phys.org. "We want to stress that the main novelty of our method is that it relies on a direct measurement of the speed of light at the cosmological level, with a very minimal number of assumptions about the dynamics of the universe. Other probes, even if giving slightly better constraints, can only test indirect probes and assume c as one of the many cosmological parameters to be determined."

The new method relies on observations of baryon acoustic oscillations, along with a mathematical relationship. Baryonic acoustic oscillations refer to the clustering of baryonic matter in the universe that led to large-scale structures, such as galaxies. To measure how far away a distant object is in space, scientists must account for the object's redshift since the universe is expanding. They do this by using the angular diameter distance, which increases as redshift increases, but only up to a point, which the authors call the maximum redshift, when it starts to diminish. The exact value of the maximum redshift is not known because it depends on the cosmological model used, but it is somewhere between 1.4 and 1.8.

The new method also relies on a mathematical relationship: when evaluated at the maximum redshift, the angular diameter distance (DA) and the Hubble function (H) give the value of the speed of light c through the relation DA(zM)H(zM) = c(zM).

"Here, the distance DA plays the role of a ruler, while the inverse of the Hubble function plays the role of a clock, and their ratio gives the speed of light at the maximum redshift," Salzano explained.

Using the of the angular diameter distance and Hubble function, the physicists were able to calculate a value for the maximum redshift of just under 1.6. This value can then be used to evaluate the above relation and estimate any possible variation in the value of c, should it exist.

The physicists also investigated whether it may be possible to detect variations in the speed of light using future experiments, such as Euclid, a spacecraft to be launched in 2020. They predict that Euclid will be able to detect variations that are 1% or greater with reasonable accuracy, but smaller variations will be more difficult to detect. At this point, observations indicate that any variation in the speed of light would most likely be smaller than 1%. However, Euclid and other surveys may still have a chance of detecting smaller variations if observational errors are sufficiently small.

"Our method is almost perfectly fit for Euclid: it would give its best with an experiment entirely designed on it, but even so, it will be possible to apply it to Euclid data in a very straightforward way," Salzano said. "Therefore, some result will surely be obtained: if positive (detection of a variation of c) or not (constancy of c confirmed), it will be equally important for the understanding of our universe and the validity of Einstein's relativity."

Detecting variations in the speed of light over time could have several interesting consequences.

"If the speed of light was different in the remote past, then this would have some consequences for the future of life in our universe," Salzano said. "Perhaps, it could also prove that some other pieces of the universe or even other universes with different physical properties could exist—ones in which, for example, the radio, television or mobile phone transmission signals would be slower than on the Earth. If the was larger, we would see more of the universe; if it was smaller, we would see less of the ."

Explore further: How fast is the universe expanding?

More information: Vincenzo Salzano, et al. "Measuring the Speed of Light with Baryon Acoustic Oscillations." Physical Review Letters. DOI: 10.1103/PhysRevLett.114.101304

© 2015 Phys.org



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Maze-solving automatons can repair broken circuits (w/ video) PDF Print E-mail

This screenshot from the video below shows the self-healing of an open circuit fault. When a fault occurs, an electric field develops in the gap, which polarizes the conductive particles in the fluid. The positively charged end of each polarized particle aligns with the negatively charged end of another particle due to dipole interactions, causing the particles to form a bridge between the two electrodes. Credit: Nair, et al. ©2015 AIP Publishing

(Phys.org)—Modern electronic circuits may provide unprecedented flexibility and robustness, but even the best-made circuits are subject to open circuit faults—breaks caused by thermal, mechanical and electrical stress. In a new study, scientists have developed an intelligent self-healing mechanism that can locate open circuit faults—even when not in the line of sight—and then repair them by building bridges of tiny conductive particles to close the gap. The real-time repair mechanism could be especially useful for space technology, allowing open faults on satellites to be repaired without the need for expensive operations.

The researchers, led by Sanjiv Sambandan at the Indian Institute of Science in Bangalore and the Vikram Sarabhai Space Center in Trivandrum, India, have published a paper on the new in a recent issue of Applied Physics Letters.

"The immediate short-term significance of this work lies in the towards repairing open faults present in vias, solder joins, and interconnects on electronic boards subjected to harsh environments," Sambandan told Phys.org. "The fact that the board reliability can be improved by an 'add-on sticker' is a great bonus."

The "add-on" repair mechanism consists of a drop of insulating silicon oil containing conductive particles—either spherical copper particles or metallic carbon nanotubes. When the circuit is functioning correctly, this dispersion remains stationary and inert. But when a fault occurs somewhere in the circuit, an electric field develops in the gap, which polarizes the conductive particles and triggers the dispersion to move to repair the fault. The polarized particles, which have a positively charged end and a negatively charged end, line up across the open fault, bridging the gap and repairing the connection.

Even though the repair mechanism consists simply of particles dispersed in oil, the researchers also describe the dispersion as a "maze-solving thermodynamic automaton." Its ability to solve mazes arises from the fact that the strength of the electric field is highest along the circuit path through the fault, so that the basically pulls the automaton in the correct direction. This mechanism can also be understood thermodynamically, as the conductive path is created in order to maximize the entropy production rate.

Polarized particles dispersed in fluid line up to bridge a 200-µm gap between two electrodes, repairing the open circuit fault. Credit: Nair, et al. ©2015 AIP Publishing

Although the repair mechanism can heal an open fault so that current can again flow through the circuit, it still has some shortcomings in terms of resistance and current capacity. The mechanism works best when the circuit does not carry much current; because the repair bridge is much thinner than the original line, it is not as robust as the original.

Still, the method has the advantages that it works quickly and autonomously, which could make it useful for repairing open faults on satellites and other difficult-to-reach locations. The technique could also have applications for weight assignment in neural networks—biological-inspired systems that learn by adapting the weights of the links between nodes/neurons.

The dispersion can solve a maze by diffusing in response to the strength of the electric field along the solution path. Here, the maze has multiple paths to the exit. Credit: Nair, et al. ©2015 AIP Publishing

"This technology provides options for the engineering of printed circuit boards meant to operate in harsh conditions, such as space or battlefields," Sambandan said. "However, the ability to form structures in fluids has applications in several areas of engineering."

The researchers plan to investigate these applications and more in the future.

"Immediate plans are to make the repair more robust by improving current capacities," Sambandan said. "With some imagination with regards to materials used and the modulation of the dynamics, we are investigating novel sensing and actuation devices for applications in areas such as health care, device fabrication, etc."

Explore further: Electronic circuits with reconfigurable pathways closer to reality

More information: Aswathi Nair, et al. "Maze solving automatons for self-healing of open interconnects: Modular add-on for circuit boards." Applied Physics Letters. DOI: 10.1063/1.4916513

© 2015 Phys.org



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