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Marcus Maertens

New Method Confirms Humans and Neandertals Interbred - 0 views

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    Looks like the genetic evidence for the interbreding of homo sapiens and homo neanderthalensis becomes significant.
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    "Humans and Neanderthals interbred" - isn't that a bit weird since we call the result of the interbreeding "Humans" as well? This is a bit like saying "Ligers and Tigers interbred".
Thijs Versloot

Secrets of a mollusk's unique bioceramic armor - 1 views

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    The secrets behind a marine creature's defensive armor -- one that is exceptionally tough, yet optically clear -- have been revealed by scientists. The shells' unique properties emerge from a specialized nanostructure that allows optical clarity, as well as efficient energy dissipation and the ability to localize deformation, the researchers found.
Ma Ru

Trends in Cognitive Sciences - Syncing your brain: electric currents to enhance cognition - 0 views

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    Yes, you read correctly. Apply current to your brain to get smarter. Ariadna anyone?
johannessimon81

Genetic mugshot recreates faces from nothing but DNA - 3 views

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    By just getting a DNA footprint of a person scientists (and soon police) can produce an image of the person's face. Check out the pictures!
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    wow thats pretty amazing! Ok, the pictures are not great (mainly due to skin surface, baggy eyes, zits I guess) but considering its only from DNA it is pretty close already. That will help crime scene investigations greatly, whether positively or negatively.
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    Ouch! You're pretty harsh on that lady... :-o
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    should try it the other way around, deduce the DNA from facial features. That would be even cooler.
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    Well actually, they did something like that as they searched for common DNA patterns in people that had similar facial features. With a large enough dataset that could provide already 24 DNA tracers that could used reliably for prediction. Imagine if you had even more data available, who needs a model then... just let the NN do it :)
johannessimon81

Smelly cuckoos protect hosts' chicks from predators - 0 views

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    "Cuckoos have a bad reputation as home-wreckers, taking over the nests of other birds and killing their chicks. But one species benefits its hosts by producing a smelly fluid that repels predators. "Cuckoos are not always the villains we think they are," says Ros Gloag of the University of Sydney, who was not involved in the study."
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    So they not only take over part of the nest, but also crap all over the place? Then again, if that is the prize to pay for safety, it might well be worth the inconvenience.. :)
Tom Gheysens

Bionic plants: Nanotechnology could turn shrubbery into supercharged energy producers -... - 1 views

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    Plants have many valuable functions: They provide food and fuel, release the oxygen that we breathe, and add beauty to our surroundings. Now, researchers wants to make plants even more useful by augmenting them with nanomaterials that could enhance their energy production and give them completely new functions, such as monitoring environmental pollutants.
Athanasia Nikolaou

Nanoparticles Augment Plant Functions - 0 views

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    "What's new: Choi said that although some researchers have used natural photosynthetic units to enhance the light-harvesting abilities of nanomaterials, this is the first time anyone has used nanomaterials to enhance the function of photosynthetic units."
Tom Gheysens

Did dark matter kill the dinosaurs? : Nature News & Comment - 1 views

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    theoretical physicists... :)

    Read the last sentence of the paper...in this way anyone can publish in nature...just make a good story with little evidence

    Did dark matter kill the dinosaurs?
    The Solar System's periodic passage through a 'dark disk' on the galactic plane could trigger comet bombardments that would cause mass extinctions.
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    Hmm.. right.. then again, this is not an actual journal publication but a news broadcast. But you are right that the name Nature is attached to it so the journal is definitely banking on their acquired status.
johannessimon81

Bioengineer builds 50-cent paper microscope - 1 views

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    Awesome! Origami finally got useful! :-D
johannessimon81

Computing with RNA - 0 views

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    After a discussion this morning on robust computing and possible implementations in biological systems I found this really nice result (from 2008) on molecular RNA computers that get assembled within cells and perform simple functions. Of course by having different types of computers within the same cell one could go on to process the output of the other and more complex computations could be executed... Food for thought. :-)
Tom Gheysens

First animals oxygenated the ocean -- ScienceDaily - 0 views

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    Now this is an interesting hypothesis!
    Would make terraforming a bit easier 
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    Having an ocean on Mars would solve so many problems... btw, again this guy? Isabelle take a look at that : Tim Lenton is everywhere, last time he wrote half of our literature references on the tipping points study.
Tom Gheysens

Sea Sapphire: the Most Beautiful Animal You've Never Heard Of - 2 views

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    this is what I call truly cloaking!...of course only found in and made by nature :)
    (video at the bottom of the page)
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    Definitely beautiful, even psychedelic maybe.. but technically its not really cloaking, you wouldn't call your window a cloaking device right? :)
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    The video looks surreal!
Marcus Maertens

Low-Protein Diet May Extend Lifespan | Science/AAAS | News - 0 views

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    Avoiding carbohydrates might make you thinner, but if you want to live longer and healthier, it might not be the smartest thing to do...
Guido de Croon

Robot termites able to build various structures - 0 views

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    Nice application of swarm robotics for building various structures. See the video at: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LFwk303p0zY Their compilation process of a desired structure into local behavior rules seems of most interest.
Thijs Versloot

Survival without oxygen, some animals needs surprisingly little - 2 views

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    :-D Tom and me had just exchanged emails about this last night.
    Fascinating how adaptive organisms can be!
Tom Gheysens

Blinded by speed, tiger beetles use antennae to 'see' while running -- ScienceDaily - 0 views

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    Speed is blinding. Just ask the tiger beetle: This predatory insect has excellent sight, but when it chases prey, it runs so fast it can no longer see where it's going.
Tom Gheysens

Computing with silicon neurons: Scientists use artificial nerve cells to classify diffe... - 1 views

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    Scientists in Germany are using artificial nerve cells to classify different types of data. These silicon 'neurons' could recognize handwritten numbers, or distinguish plant species based on their flowers.
johannessimon81

A Different Form of Color Vision in Mantis Shrimp - 4 views

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    Mantis shrimp seem to have 12 types of photo-receptive sensors - but this does not really improve their ability to discriminate between colors. Speculation is that they serve as a form of pre-processing for visual information: the brain does not need to decode full color information from just a few channels which would would allow for a smaller brain.
    I guess technologically the two extremes of light detection would be RGB cameras which are like our eyes and offer good spatial resolution, and spectrometers which have a large amount of color channels but at the cost of spatial resolution. It seems the mantis shrimp uses something that is somewhere between RGB cameras and spectrometers. Could there be a use for this in space?
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    > RGB cameras which are like our eyes

    ...apart from the fact that the spectral response of the eyes is completely different from "RGB" cameras (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Cones_SMJ2_E.svg)

    ... and that the eyes have 4 types of light-sensitive cells, not three (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Cone-response.svg)

    ... and that, unlike cameras, human eye is precise only in a very narrow centre region (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fovea)

    ...hmm, apart from relying on tri-stimulus colour perception it seems human eyes are in fact completely different from "RGB cameras" :-)

    OK sorry for picking on this - that's just the colour science geek in me :-)

    Now seriously, on one hand the article abstract sounds very interesting, but on the other the statement "Why use 12 color channels when three or four are sufficient for fine color discrimination?" reveals so much ignorance to the very basics of colour science that I'm completely puzzled - in the end, it's a Science article so it should be reasonably scientifically sound, right?

    Pity I can't access full text... the interesting thing is that more channels mean more information and therefore should require *more* power to process - which is exactly opposite to their theory (as far as I can tell it from the abstract...). So the key is to understand *what* information about light these mantises are collecting and why
    - definitely it's not "colour" in the sense of human perceptual experience.

    But in any case - yes, spectrometry has its uses in space :-)
Tom Gheysens

Fur and feathers keep animals warm by scattering light - 1 views

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    In work that has major implications for improving the performance of building insulation, scientists at the University of Namur in Belgium and the University of Hassan I in Morocco have calculated that hairs that reflect infrared light may contribute significant insulating power to the exceptionally warm winter coats of polar bears and other animals.
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    That's quite interesting. Maybe the future of buildings and spacecraft is furry?
Tom Gheysens

New genes spring, spread from non-coding DNA - 0 views

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    looks like evolution is getting better and better understood
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