Amazing Science
770.3K views | +41 today
Scooped by Dr. Stefan Gruenwald
onto Amazing Science!

The Interspecies Internet: Reiss, Gabriel, Gershenfeld and Cerf in Discussion at TED2013

The Interspecies Internet: Reiss, Gabriel, Gershenfeld and Cerf in Discussion at TED2013 | Amazing Science |

The internet connects people all over the world. But could the internet also connect us with dolphins, apes, elephants and other highly intelligent species? In a bold talk in Session 10 of TED2013, four incredible thinkers come together to launch the idea of the interspecies internet. Each takes four minutes to talk, then passes the metaphorical baton, building the narrative in parts.


The talk begins with Diana Reiss, a cognitive psychologist who studies intelligence in animals. She shows us a video of an adorable dolphin twirling in the water. But the dolphin isn’t spinning playfully for the camera — the dolphin is watching itself in a two-way mirror.


“A dolphin has self-awareness,” says Reiss. “We used to think this was a uniquely human quality, but dolphins aren’t the only non-human animals to show self-recognition in a mirror. Great apes, our closest relatives, also show this ability.” Ditto for elephants and even magpies.


Reiss shares her work with dolphins — she’s been teaching them to communicate through an underwater keyboard of symbols that correspond to whistles and playful activities. Through this keyboard, the dolphins learned to perform activities on demand, and also to express their desire for them.

No comment yet.
Amazing Science
Amazing science facts - 3D_printing • aging • AI • anthropology • art • astronomy • bigdata • bioinformatics • biology • biotech • chemistry • computers • cosmology • education • environment • evolution • future • genetics • genomics • geosciences • green_energy • history • language • map • material_science • math • med • medicine • microscopy • nanotech • neuroscience • paleontology • photography • photonics • physics • postings • robotics • science • technology • video
Your new post is loading...
Scooped by Dr. Stefan Gruenwald!

20,000+ FREE Online Science and Technology Lectures from Top Universities

20,000+ FREE Online Science and Technology Lectures from Top Universities | Amazing Science |



Toll Free:1-800-605-8422  FREE
Regular Line:1-858-345-4817



NOTE: To subscribe to the RSS feed of Amazing Science, copy into the URL field of your browser and click "subscribe".


This newsletter is aggregated from over 1450 news sources:


All my Tweets and Scoop.It! posts sorted and searchable:



You can search through all the articles semantically on my

archived twitter feed


NOTE: All articles in the amazing-science newsletter can also be sorted by topic. To do so, click the FIND buntton (symbolized by the FUNNEL on the top right of the screen)  and display all the relevant postings SORTED by TOPICS.


You can also type your own query:


e.g., you are looking for articles involving "dna" as a keyword



CLICK on the little

FUNNEL symbol at the





• 3D-printing • aging • AI • anthropology • art • astronomy • bigdata • bioinformatics • biology • biotech • chemistry • computers • cosmology • education • environment • evolution • future • genetics • genomics • geosciencesgreen-energy • history • language • mapmaterial-science • math • med • medicine • microscopymost-reads • nanotech • neuroscience • paleontology • photography • photonics • physics • postings • robotics • science • technology • video 

Saberes Sin Fronteras OVS's curator insight, November 30, 2014 5:33 PM

Acceso gratuito a documentos de las mejores universidades del mundo

♥ princess leia ♥'s curator insight, December 28, 2014 11:58 AM

WoW  .. Expand  your mind!! It has room to grow!!! 

Scooped by Dr. Stefan Gruenwald!

Unveiling the Quantum Necklace

Unveiling the Quantum Necklace | Amazing Science |
Researchers simulate quantum necklace-like structures in superfluids.


The quantum world is both elegant and mysterious. It is a sphere of existence where the laws of physics experienced in everyday life are broken—particles can exist in two places at once, they can react to each other over vast distances, and they themselves seem confused over whether they are particles or waves. For those not involved in the field, this world may seem trifling, but recently, researchers from the Okinawa Institute of Science and Technology Graduate University (OIST) have theoretically described two quantum states that are extraordinary in both the physics that define them and their visual appeal: a complex quantum system that simulates classical physics and a spellbinding necklace-like state. Their study is published in the journal Physical Review A.


The quest for these states begins with a doughnut, or rather, a doughnut-shaped container housing a rotating superfluid. This superfluid, which is a fluid that moves with no friction, is made of Bose-Einstein condensates (BECs) comprising particles with no charge that are cooled to near-zero degrees kelvin, a temperature so cold, that it does not exist in the universe outside of laboratories. At this temperature, particles begin to exhibit strange properties—they clump together, and eventually become indistinguishable from one another. In effect, they become a single entity and thus move as one.


Since this whirling BEC superfluid is operating at a quantum scale, where tiny distances and low temperatures reign, the physical characteristics of its rotation are not those seen in the classical world. Consider a father who is swinging his daughter around in a circle by the arms. Classical physics mandates that the child’s legs will move faster than her hands around the circle, since her legs must travel further to make a complete turn.


In the world of quantum physics the relationship is the opposite. “In a superfluid…things which are very far away [from the center] move really slowly, whereas things [that] are close to the center move very fast,” explains OIST Professor Thomas Busch, one of theresearchers involved in the study. This is what is happening in the superfluid doughnut.


In addition, the superfluid inside of the doughnut shows a uniform density profile, meaning that it is distributed around the doughnut evenly. This would be the same for most liquids that are rotating via classical or quantum rules. But what happens if another type of BEC is added, one that is made from a different atomic species and that cannot mix with the original BEC? Like oil and water, the two components will separate in a way that minimizes the area in which they are touching and form two semicircles on opposite sides of the doughnut container.

No comment yet.
Scooped by Dr. Stefan Gruenwald!

Biggest ever simulations help to uncover the history of the galaxy

Biggest ever simulations help to uncover the history of the galaxy | Amazing Science |
The Royal Astronomical Society, encourages and promotes the study of astronomy, solar-system science, geophysics and closely related branches of science. The RAS organizes scientific meetings in Burlington House, its London HQ, and throughout the country, publishes international research and review journals, recognizes outstanding achievements by the award of medals and prizes, maintains an extensive library, supports education through grants and outreach activities and represents UK astronomy nationally and internationally.


Thousands of processors, terabytes of data, and months of computing time have helped a group of researchers in Germany create some of the largest and highest resolution simulations ever made of galaxies like our Milky Way. Led by Dr Robert Grand of the Heidelberger Institut fuer Theoretische Studien, the work of the Auriga Project appears in the journal Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society.


A composite of images from the simulation. (Left) Projected gas density of the galaxy environment about 10 billion years ago. Depicted are filamentary gas structures that feed the main galaxy at the centre. (Middle) Bird’s eye view of the gas disc in the present day. The fine detailed spiral pattern is clearly visible. (Right) Side-on view of the same gas disc in the present day. Cold gas is shown as blue, warm gas as green and hot gas as red.


Astronomers study our own and other galaxies with telescopes and simulations, in an effort to piece together their structure and history. Spiral galaxies like the Milky Way are thought to contain several hundred thousand million stars, as well as copious amounts of gas and dust. The spiral shape is commonplace, with a massive black hole at the centre, surrounded by a bulge of old stars, and arms winding outwards where relatively young stars like the Sun are found. However understanding how systems like our galaxy came into being continues to remain a key question in the history of the cosmos.


The enormous range of scales (stars, the building blocks of galaxies, are each about one trillion times smaller in mass than the galaxy they make up), as well as the complex physics involved, presents a formidable challenge for any computer model. Using the Hornet and SuperMUC supercomputers in Germany and a state-of-the-art code, the team ran 30 simulations at high resolution, and 6 at very high resolution, for several months.

No comment yet.
Scooped by Dr. Stefan Gruenwald!

Gynandromorphs: Half Male, Half Female Animals

Gynandromorphs: Half Male, Half Female Animals | Amazing Science |

As they often do after a rainstorm, butterflies had gathered around puddles on Pigeon Mountain in northwest Georgia. Nets in hand, James Adams and his friend Irving Finkelstein watched the insects lapping up salts and proteins dissolved in the muddy water, their folded wings yawning apart now and then. There were silvery-blue Celastrinas and Skippers the color of cinnamon and ash. Largest of all were the Tiger Swallowtails—pastel lemon males with black dagger-like stripes and midnight-dark females with a dusting of evening cerulean.


Suddenly a very odd creature flitted past Adams and Finkelstein—a swallowtail unlike any they had ever seen. Its left half was yellow; its right, black. It was as though someone had sliced up two different insects and seamlessly sewn them back together. Finkelstein yelped and took a swipe at the bizarre beauty, missing by quite a bit. Suppressing his excitement, lest it misguide his hand, Adams chased the butterfly a few steps, swung, and netted it. He could see immediately that he had caught a gynandromorph—an animal that was half-male and half-female.


Butterfly collectors love gynandromorphs for their rarity as much as their peculiarity. They are unpredictable hiccups in nature’s symphony of symmetry. The creatures tantalize scientists, too, because they offer a unique opportunity: the chance to study typically male and female genes and anatomy in the same body.


For hundreds of years, naturalists have been documenting gynandromorphs among insects, spiders, lobsters, and birds. More recently, researchers—aided by increasingly sophisticated laboratory tools—have overturned reigning theories of sexual development by studying such hybrids. As has proven true time and again throughout the history of science, the creatures that seem strangest—those that are too odd, too asymmetrical to fit neatly into our presupposed categories—teach us the most about how all living things work. It turns out, for example, that the standard explanation of how a bird becomes male or female is wrong. Scientists came to this realization not by investigating scores of typical birds, but rather by examining a few gynandromorphs. It all started with an odd zebra finch.

No comment yet.
Scooped by Dr. Stefan Gruenwald!

A new AI algorithm summarizes text amazingly well

A new AI algorithm summarizes text amazingly well | Amazing Science |
Training software to accurately sum up information in documents could have great impact in many fields, such as medicine, law, and scientific research.


Who has time to read every article they see shared on Twitter or Facebook, or every document that’s relevant to their job? As information overload grows ever worse, computers may become our only hope for handling a growing deluge of documents. And it may become routine to rely on a machine to analyze and paraphrase articles, research papers, and other text for you.


An algorithm developed by researchers at Salesforce shows how computers may eventually take on the job of summarizing documents. It uses several machine-learning tricks to produce surprisingly coherent and accurate snippets of text from longer pieces. And while it isn’t yet as good as a person, it hints at how condensing text could eventually become automated.


The algorithm produced, for instance, the following summary of a recent New York Times article about Facebook trying to combat fake news ahead of the U.K.’s upcoming election:

  • Social network published a series of advertisements in newspapers in Britain on Monday.
  • It has removed tens of thousands of fake accounts in Britain.
  • It also said it would hire 3,000 more moderators, almost doubling the number of people worldwide who scan for inappropriate or offensive content.


The Salesforce algorithm is dramatically better than anything developed previously, according to a common software tool for measuring the accuracy of text summaries. “I don’t think I’ve ever seen such a large improvement in any [natural-language-processing] task,” says Richard Socher, chief scientist at Salesforce. Socher is a prominent name in machine learning and natural-language processing, and his startup, MetaMind, was acquired by Salesforce in 2016.


The software is still a long way from matching a human’s ability to capture the essence of document text, and other summaries it produces are sloppier and less coherent. Indeed, summarizing text perfectly would require genuine intelligence, including commonsense knowledge and a mastery of language.

No comment yet.
Rescooped by Dr. Stefan Gruenwald from Fragments of Science!

Nanofibers feel forces and hear sounds made by individual cells

Nanofibers feel forces and hear sounds made by individual cells | Amazing Science |

Engineers at the University of California San Diego have developed a miniature device that's sensitive enough to feel the forces generated by swimming bacteria and hear the beating of heart muscle cells. The device is a nano-sized optical fiber that's about 100 times thinner than a human hair. It can detect forces down to 160 femtonewtons—about ten trillion times smaller than a newton—when placed in a solution containing live Helicobacter pylori bacteria, which are swimming bacteria found in the gut. In cultures of beating heart muscle cells from mice, the nano fiber can detect sounds down to -30 decibels—a level that's one thousand times below the limit of the human ear. "This work could open up new doors to track small interactions and changes that couldn't be tracked before," said nanoengineering professor Donald Sirbuly at the UC San Diego Jacobs School of Engineering, who led the study.


Some applications, he envisions, include detecting the presence and activity of a single bacterium; monitoring bonds forming and breaking; sensing changes in a cell's mechanical behavior that might signal it becoming cancerous or being attacked by a virus; or a mini stethoscope to monitor cellular acoustics in vivo.

The work is published in Nature Photonics on May 15.


The optical fiber developed by Sirbuly and colleagues is at least 10 times more sensitive than the atomic force microscope (AFM), an instrument that can measure infinitesimally small forces generated by interacting molecules. And while AFMs are bulky devices, this optical fiber is only several hundred nanometers in diameter. "It's a mini AFM with the sensitivity of an optical tweezer," Sirbuly said.


The device is made from an extremely thin fiber of tin dioxide, coated with a thin layer of a polymer, called polyethylene glycol, and studded with gold nanoparticles. To use the device, researchers dip the nano optical fiber into a solution of cells, send a beam of light down the fiber and analyze the light signals it sends out. These signals, based on their intensity, indicate how much force or sound the fiber is picking up from the surrounding cells. "We're not just able to pick up these small forces and sounds, we can quantify them using this device. This is a new tool for high resolution nanomechanical probing," Sirbuly said.


Here's how the device works: as light travels down the optical fiber, it interacts strongly with the gold nanoparticles, which then scatter the light as signals that can be seen with a conventional microscope. These light signals show up at a particular intensity. But that intensity changes when the fiber is placed in a solution containing live cells. Forces and sound waves from the cells hit the gold nanoparticles, pushing them into the polymer layer that separates them from the fiber's surface. Pushing the nanoparticles closer to the fiber allows them to interact more strongly with the light coming down the fiber, thus increasing the intensity of the light signals. Researchers calibrated the device so they could match the signal intensities to different levels of force or sound.


The key to making this work is the fiber's polymer layer. It acts like a spring mattress that's sensitive enough to be compressed to different thicknesses by the faint forces and sound waves produced by the cells. And Sirbuly says the polymer layer can be tuned—if researchers want to measure larger forces, they can use a stiffer polymer coating; for increased sensitivity, they can use a softer polymer like a hydrogel.


Moving forward, researchers plan to use the nano fibers to measure bio-activity and the mechanical behavior of single cells. Future works also includes improving the fibers' "listening" capabilities to create ultra-sensitive biological stethoscopes, and tuning their acoustic response to develop new imaging techniques.

Via Mariaschnee
No comment yet.
Scooped by Dr. Stefan Gruenwald!

New 3-D printing method creates shape-shifting objects

New 3-D printing method creates shape-shifting objects | Amazing Science |

A team of researchers from Georgia Institute of Technology and two other institutions has developed a new 3-D printing method to create objects that can permanently transform into a range of different shapes in response to heat.


The team, which included researchers from the Singapore University of Technology and Design (SUTD) and Xi'an Jiaotong University in China, created the objects by printing layers of shape memory polymers with each layer designed to respond differently when exposed to heat.


"This new approach significantly simplifies and increases the potential of 4-D printing by incorporating the mechanical programming post-processing step directly into the 3-D printing process," said Jerry Qi, a professor in the George W. Woodruff School of Mechanical Engineering at Georgia Tech. "This allows high-resolution 3-D printed components to be designed by computer simulation, 3-D printed, and then directly and rapidly transformed into new permanent configurations by simply heating."


The research was reported April 12, 2017 in the journal Science Advances, a publication of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

No comment yet.
Scooped by Dr. Stefan Gruenwald!

3D direction-dependent force measurement at the subatomic scale

3D direction-dependent force measurement at the subatomic scale | Amazing Science |

Atomic force microscopy (AFM) is an extremely sensitive technique that allows us to image materials and/or characterize their physical properties on the atomic scale by sensing the force above material surfaces using a precisely controlled tip. However, conventional AFM only provides the surface normal component of the force (the Z direction) and ignores the components parallel to the surface (the X and Y directions).


To fully characterize materials used in nanoscale devices, it is necessary to obtain information about parameters with directionality, such as electronic, magnetic, and elastic properties, in more than just the Z direction. That is, it is desirable to measure these parameters in the X and Y directions parallel to the surface of a material as well. Measuring the distribution of such material parameters on the atomic scale will increase our understanding of chemical composition and reactions, surface morphology, molecular manipulation, and nanomachine operation.


A research group at Osaka University has recently developed an AFM-based approach called "bimodal AFM" to obtain information about material surfaces in the X, Y, and Z directions (that is, in three dimensions) on the subatomic scale. The researchers measured the total force between an AFM tip and material surface in the X, Y, and Z directions using a germanium (Ge) surface as a substrate. Their collaborative partner, the Institute of Physics of the Slovak Academy of Sciences, contributed computer simulations of the tip-surface interactions. The bimodal AFM approach was recently reported in Nature Physics.


"A clean Ge(001) surface has alternately aligned anisotropic dimers, which are rotated by 90° across the step, meaning they show a two-domain structure," explains first author Yoshitaka Naitoh. "We probed the force fields from each domain in the vertical direction by oscillating the AFM tip at the flexural resonance frequency and in the parallel direction by oscillating it at the torsional one."


The team first expressed the force components as vectors, providing the vector distribution above the surface at the subatomic scale. The computer simulation supported the experimental results and shed light on the nature of chemical tip termination and morphology and, in particular, helped to clarify the outstanding questions regarding the tip-surface distances in the experiment.


"We measured the magnitude and direction of the force between the AFM tip and Ge surface on a subatomic scale in three dimensions," says Naitoh. "Such measurements will aid understanding of the structure and chemical reactions of functionalized surfaces."

No comment yet.
Scooped by Dr. Stefan Gruenwald!

New dinosaur fossil so well-preserved it looks like a statue

New dinosaur fossil so well-preserved it looks like a statue | Amazing Science |

Before being assembled into something recognizable at a museum, most dinosaur fossils look to the casual observer like nothing more than common rocks. No one, however, would confuse the over 110 million-year-old nodosaur fossil for a stone.


The fossil, being unveiled today in Canada’s Royal Tyrrell Museum of Paleontology, is so well preserved it looks like a statue.

Even more surprising might be its accidental discovery, as unveiled in the June issue of National Geographic magazine.


On March 21, 2011, Shawn Funk was digging in Alberta’s Millennium Mine with a mechanical backhoe, when he hit “something much harder than the surrounding rock.” A closer look revealed something that looked like no rock Funk had ever seen, just “row after row of sandy brown disks, each ringed in gunmetal gray stone.”


What he had found was a 2,500-pound dinosaur fossil, which was soon shipped to the museum in Alberta, where technicians scraped extraneous rock from the fossilized bone and experts examined the specimen.


“I couldn’t believe my eyes — it was a dinosaur,” Donald Henderson, the curator of dinosaurs at the museum, said. “When we first saw the pictures we were convinced we were going to see another plesiosaur (a more commonly discovered marine reptile).”


More specifically, it was the snout-to-hips portion of a nodosaur, a “member of the heavily-armored ankylosaur subgroup,” that roamed during the Cretaceous Period, according to Smithsonian. This group of heavy herbivores, which walked on four legs, likely resembled a cross between a lizard and a lion — but covered in scales.

No comment yet.
Scooped by Dr. Stefan Gruenwald!

Robotic exoskeleton could prevent falls among the elderly

Robotic exoskeleton could prevent falls among the elderly | Amazing Science |
The evolution to bipedalism forced humans to develop suitable strategies for dynamically controlling their balance, ensuring stability, and preventing falling. The natural aging process and traumatic events such as lower-limb loss can alter the human ability to control stability significantly increasing the risk of fall and reducing the overall autonomy. Accordingly, there is an urgent need, from both end-users and society, for novel solutions that can counteract the lack of balance, thus preventing falls among older and fragile citizens.
In a recent study, the researchers show a novel ecological approach relying on a wearable robotic device (the Active Pelvis Orthosis, APO) aimed at facilitating balance recovery after unexpected slippages. Specifically, if the APO detects signs of balance loss, then it supplies counteracting torques at the hips to assist balance recovery. Experimental tests conducted on eight elderly persons and two transfemoral amputees revealed that stability against falls improved due to the “assisting when needed” behavior of the APO. Interestingly, this approach required a very limited personalization for each subject, and this makes it promising for real-life applications. These findings demonstrate the potential of closed-loop controlled wearable robots to assist elderly and disabled subjects and to improve their quality of life.
No comment yet.
Scooped by Dr. Stefan Gruenwald!

Structural nanocolors: Laser printer makes colors without ink

Man-made structural colors, which originate from resonant interactions between visible light and manufactured nanostructures, are emerging as a solution for ink-free color printing. Scientists now show that non-iridescent structural colors can be conveniently produced by nanostructures made from high-index dielectric materials. Compared to plasmonic analogs, color surfaces with high-index dielectrics, such as germanium (Ge), have a lower reflectance, yielding a superior color contrast. Taking advantage of band-to-band absorption in Ge, we laser-postprocess Ge color metasurfaces with morphology-dependent resonances. Strong on-resonance energy absorption under pulsed laser irradiation locally elevates the lattice temperature (exceeding 1200 K) in an ultrashort time scale (1 ns). This forms the basis for resonant laser printing, where rapid melting allows for surface energy–driven morphology changes with associated modification of color appearance. Laser-printable high-index dielectric color metasurfaces are scalable to a large area and open a new paradigm for printing and decoration with nonfading and vibrant colors.

No comment yet.
Scooped by Dr. Stefan Gruenwald!

Massive galaxy clusters: The final frontier of the Frontier Fields

Massive galaxy clusters: The final frontier of the Frontier Fields | Amazing Science |

The NASA/ESA Hubble Telescope has peered across six billion light years of space to resolve extremely faint features of the galaxy cluster Abell 370 that have not been seen before. Imaged here in stunning detail, Abell 370 is part of the Frontier Fields program which uses massive galaxy clusters to study the mysteries of dark matter and the very early Universe.


Six billion light-years away in the constellation Cetus (the Sea Monster), Abell 370 is made up of hundreds of galaxies [1]. Already in the mid-1980s higher-resolution images of the cluster showed that the giant luminous arc in the lower left of the image was not a curious structure within the cluster, but rather an astrophysical phenomenon: the gravitationally lensed image of a galaxy twice as far away as the cluster itself. Hubble helped show that this arc is composed of two distorted images of an ordinary spiral galaxy that just happens to lie behind the cluster.


Abell 370's enormous gravitational influence warps the shape of spacetime around it, causing the light of background galaxies to spread out along multiple paths and appear both distorted and magnified. The effect can be seen as a series of streaks and arcs curving around the centre of the image. Massive galaxy clusters can therefore act like natural telescopes, giving astronomers a close-up view of the very distant galaxies behind the cluster – a glimpse of the Universe in its infancy, only a few hundred million years after the Big Bang.


This image of Abell 370 was captured as part of the Frontier Fields program, which used a whopping 630 hours of Hubble observing time, over 560 orbits of the Earth. Six clusters of galaxies were imaged in exquisite detail, including Abell 370 which was the very last one to be finished. An earlier image of this object – using less observation time and therefore not recording such faint detail – was published in 2009.


During the cluster observations, Hubble also looked at six "parallel fields", regions near the galaxy clusters which were imaged with the same exposure times as the clusters themselves. Each cluster and parallel field were imaged in infrared light by the Wide Field Camera 3 (WFC3), and in visible light by the Advanced Camera for Surveys (ACS).


The Frontier Fields programme produced the deepest observations ever made of galaxy clusters and the magnified galaxies behind them. These observations are helping astronomers understand how stars and galaxies emerged out of the dark ages of the Universe, when space was dark, opaque, and filled with hydrogen.


Studying massive galaxy clusters like Abell 370 also helps with measuring the distribution of normal matter and dark matter within such clusters [heic1506]. By studying its lensing properties, astronomers have determined that Abell 370 contains two large, separate clumps of dark matter, contributing to the evidence that this massive galaxy cluster is actually the result of two smaller clusters merging together.


Now that the observations for the Frontier Fields program are complete, astronomers can use the full dataset to explore the clusters, their gravitational lensing effects and the magnified galaxies from the early Universe in full detail.

Christopher Chilvers's curator insight, May 21, 1:56 AM
Studying a galactic cluster 6 billion light years away and how it creates a gravitational lens for a spiral galaxy behind it.
Scooped by Dr. Stefan Gruenwald!

Alien Knowledge: Our AI Machines Will Soon Have Knowledge We’ll Never Understand

Alien Knowledge: Our AI Machines Will Soon Have Knowledge We’ll Never Understand | Amazing Science |
The new availability of huge amounts of data, along with the statistical tools to crunch these numbers, offers a whole new way of understanding the world. Correlation supersedes causation, and science can advance even without coherent models, unified theories, or really any mechanistic explanation at all.


We are increasingly relying on machines that derive conclusions from models that they themselves have created, models that are often beyond human comprehension, models that “think” about the world differently than we do.


But this comes with a price. This infusion of alien intelligence is bringing into question the assumptions embedded in our long Western tradition. We thought knowledge was about finding the order hidden in the chaos. We thought it was about simplifying the world. It looks like we were wrong. Knowing the world may require giving up on understanding it.


There are generic algorithms that can tell you something interesting about a set of data without you having to write any custom code specific to the problem. Instead of writing code, you feed data to the generic algorithm and it builds its own logic based on the data.


In addition, you can take machine learning further by creating an artificial neural network that models in software how the human brain processes signals. Nodes in an irregular mesh turn on or off depending on the data coming to them from the nodes connected to them; those connections have different weights, so some are more likely to flip their neighbors than others. Although artificial neural networks date back to the 1950s, they are truly coming into their own only now because of advances in computing power, storage, and mathematics. The results from this increasingly sophisticated branch of computer science can be deep learning that produces outcomes based on so many different variables under so many different conditions being transformed by so many layers of neural networks that humans simply cannot comprehend the model the computer has built for itself.


Clearly our computers have surpassed us in their power to discriminate, find patterns, and draw conclusions. That’s one reason we use them. Rather than reducing phenomena to fit a relatively simple model, we can now let our computers make models as big as they need to. But this also seems to mean that what we know depends upon the output of machines the functioning of which we cannot follow, explain, or understand.


Since we first started carving notches in sticks, we have used things in the world to help us to know that world. But never before have we relied on things that did not mirror human patterns of reasoning — we knew what each notch represented — and that we could not later check to see how our non-sentient partners in knowing came up with those answers. If knowing has always entailed being able to explain and justify our true beliefs — Plato’s notion, which has persisted for over two thousand years — what are we to make of a new type of knowledge, in which that task of justification is not just difficult or daunting but impossible?

No comment yet.
Scooped by Dr. Stefan Gruenwald!

Male Fish Borrows Egg to Clone Itself

Male Fish Borrows Egg to Clone Itself | Amazing Science |

A fish created by spontaneous androgenesis is the first known vertebrate to arise naturally by this asexual reproductive phenomenon.


Researchers in Portugal studying a rare type of hybrid fish in the Ocreza River have found an individual that is the exact genomic match to his father. While such androgenesis—the reproduction of a male with no female genetic component—occurs in some non-vertebrates and has been induced in vertebrates artificially, today’s report (May 24) in Royal Society Open Science is the first known description of a vertebrate reproducing this way in the wild.


“I was very surprised,” said Miguel Morgado-Santos, a graduate student at the University of Lisbon in Portugal who co-authored the study. “I thought maybe it was a mistake and we had captured the father.” But, when the researchers examined the animal’s mitochondrial DNA, which can only be inherited from the mother’s egg, they found that it differed from the father’s. “So, it was definitely an androgenetic individual,” he said. “Although [androgenesis] is very rare, there are a number of species out there that do this and . . . it is interesting that people have found it now in a vertebrate,” said evolutionary biologist Laura Ross of the University of Edinburgh who was not involved in the study.


While the females of many species, including some vertebrates, are well known to be able to reproduce themselves without any input from a male—a process called parthenogenesis—“for a long time, biologists thought that clonal reproduction by males was impossible as they are not able to have babies,” said Ross. However, there are now known to be a handful of species—certain types of ants and fresh water clams, for example—where the “males basically use a surrogate mum to clone themselves,” she said.


Because there are so few examples of androgenesis, it is not always clear how the phenomenon arises. However, in some species the males are thought to produce sperm with twice the normal genetic content (diploid), and the genetic content of the egg is either absent or eliminated after fertilization. Alternatively, it’s possible that a normal sperm (haploid) can fertilize an egg with either an absent or eliminated genome and the male genome then replicates, or that two sperm can co-fertilize a genome-less egg. Which, if any, of these occurred in the fish is unknown, said Morgado-Santos.


“In a lot of these cases,” Ross said, “these bizarre types of reproduction seem to have arisen by two closely related species hybridizing at some point in their evolutionary history and something going really, really wrong with reproduction.” Hybridization often results in unmatched chromosome numbers, and consequent sterility of the offspring, she explained, so in essence the reproductive quirks provide a workaround.


Indeed, the fish that is the subject of the new research—Squalius alburnoides—is the result of a natural hybridization event between another fish, Squalius pyrenaicus, and a now extinct species of the lineage Anaecypris hispanica.


Members of S. alburnoides are an assorted mix of diploids, triploids and tetrapoids, meaning they carry different combinations and copy numbers of the two genomes of the originator species, explained Morgado-Santos. He and colleagues had been studying an isolated population of S. alburnoides in the hopes of figuring out the complexities of reproduction in these strange fish when, by chance, they found a male offspring that was an exact genomic replica of its father.

No comment yet.
Scooped by Dr. Stefan Gruenwald!

Digital logic circuits in yeast using CRISPR-dCas9 NOR gates

Digital logic circuits in yeast using CRISPR-dCas9 NOR gates | Amazing Science |

Natural genetic circuits enable cells to make sophisticated digital decisions. Building equally complex synthetic circuits in eukaryotes remains difficult, however, because commonly used components leak transcriptionally, do not arbitrarily interconnect or do not have digital responses. Scientists now designed dCas9-Mxi1-based NOR gates in Saccharomyces cerevisiae that allow arbitrary connectivity and large genetic circuits. Because they used the chromatin remodeller Mxi1, their gates showed minimal leak and digital responses. The researchers built a combinatorial library of NOR gates that directly convert guide RNA (gRNA) inputs into gRNA outputs, enabling the gates to be ‘wired’ together. They constructed logic circuits with up to seven gRNAs, including repression cascades with up to seven layers. Modeling predicted the NOR gates have effectively zero transcriptional leak explaining the limited signal degradation in the circuits. This approach enabled the largest, eukaryotic gene circuits to date and will form the basis for large, synthetic, cellular decision-making systems.

No comment yet.
Scooped by Dr. Stefan Gruenwald!

Mining the moon for rocket fuel to get us to Mars

Mining the moon for rocket fuel to get us to Mars | Amazing Science |

Forty-five years have passed since humans last set foot on an extraterrestrial body. Now, the moon is back at the center of efforts not only to explore space, but to create a permanent, independent space-faring society.


Planning expeditions to Earth's nearest celestial neighbor is no longer just a NASA effort, though the U.S. space agency has plans for a moon-orbiting space station that would serve as a staging ground for Mars missions in the early 2030s. The United Launch Alliance, a joint venture between Lockheed Martin and Boeing, is planning a lunar fueling station for spacecraft, capable of supporting 1,000 people living in space within 30 years.


Billionaires Elon Musk, Jeff Bezos and Robert Bigelow all have companies aiming to deliver people or goods to the moon. Several teams competing for a share of Google's US$30 million cash prize are planning to launch rovers to the moon. Groups of students from around the world recently participated in the 2017 Caltech Space Challenge, proposing designs of what a lunar launch and supply station for deep space missions might look like, and how it would work.


Right now all space missions are based on, and launched from, Earth. But Earth's gravitational pull is strong. To get into orbit, a rocket has to be traveling 11 kilometers a second – 25,000 miles per hour!


Any rocket leaving Earth has to carry all the fuel it will ever use to get to its destination and, if needed, back again. That fuel is heavy – and getting it moving at such high speeds takes a lot of energy. If we could refuel in orbit, that launch energy could lift more people or cargo or scientific equipment into orbit. Then the spacecraft could refuel in space, where Earth's gravity is less powerful.

No comment yet.
Scooped by Dr. Stefan Gruenwald!

Massive Lava Waves Detected on Jupiter’s Moon Io

Massive Lava Waves Detected on Jupiter’s Moon Io | Amazing Science |
Io is the closest thing we have to hell in our Solar System, a Jovian moon that features hundreds of active volcanoes and expansive lakes filled with lava. New observations suggests that the largest of these lakes, Loki Patera, produces enormous waves that repeatedly flow around the molten surface.


Jupiter's moon Io has the biggest active volcano in the Solar System. Inside the volcano, a warm floor surrounds a cool central island. Previous observations have indicated that volcanic resurfacing occurs every one to three years, but telescope observations have insufficient resolution to see how this progresses, and spacecraft observations have not been able to see the entire floor at once. Katherine De Kleer et al. used an occultation of Io by another of Jupiter's moons (Europa) to map the entire floor at a spatial resolution of 2 kilometers, using interferometric telescope observations. They find that the resurfacing happens in two waves, with different starting times and velocities, which then converge around the central island. They interpret the differences between the waves as evidence of either a non-uniformity in the lava or variations in the bulk density of the crust across the volcano.

No comment yet.
Rescooped by Dr. Stefan Gruenwald from levin's linkblog: Knowledge Channel!

Scientists discover dolphins speech complexity is almost as high as in humans

Scientists discover dolphins speech complexity is almost as high as in humans | Amazing Science |

Dolphins are capable of “highly developed spoken language” which closely resembles human communication, scientists have suggested.  While it has long been acknowledged dolphins are of high intelligence and can communicate within a larger pack, their ability to converse with each other individually has been less understood.


But researchers at the Karadag Nature Reserve, Feodosia, Crimea, believe the pulses, clicks and whistles – of up to five “words” – made by dolphins are listened to fully by another before a response is made. 


“Essentially, this exchange resembles a conversation between two people,” wrote lead researcher Dr Vyacheslav Ryabov in the study,published in the journal Mathematics and Physics. Dr Ryabov said each pulse produced by a dolphin “is different from another” in its time span and the frequencies it emits. 


“In this regard, we can assume that each pulse represents a phoneme or a word of the dolphin’s spoken language,” Dr Ryabov wrote. However: “The dolphin’s speech unfortunately lies beyond the time and frequency characteristics of the human hearing, and is thus unavailable to humans.”

Via Levin Chin
No comment yet.
Scooped by Dr. Stefan Gruenwald!

Physicists find a way to control charged molecules -- with quantum logic

Physicists find a way to control charged molecules -- with quantum logic | Amazing Science |

National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) physicists have solved the seemingly intractable puzzle of how to control the quantum properties of individual charged molecules, or molecular ions. The solution is to use the same kind of "quantum logic" that drives an experimental NIST atomic clock. The new technique achieves an elusive goal, controlling molecules as effectively as laser cooling and other techniques can control atoms. Quantum control of atoms has revolutionized atomic physics, leading to applications such as atomic clocks. But laser cooling and control of molecules is extremely challenging because they are much more complex than atoms.


The NIST technique still uses a laser, but only to gently probe the molecule; its quantum state is detected indirectly. This type of control of molecular ions -- several atoms bound together and carrying an electrical charge -- could lead to more sophisticated architectures for quantum information processing, amplify signals in basic physics research such as measuring the "roundness" of the electron's shape, and boost control of chemical reactions.


The research is described in the May 11, 2017 issue of Nature and was performed in the NIST Boulder group that demonstrated the first laser cooling of atomic ions in 1978. "We developed methods that are applicable to many types of molecules," NIST physicist James Chinwen Chou said. "Whatever trick you can play with atomic ions is now within reach with molecular ions. Now the molecule will 'listen' to you -- asking, in effect, 'What do you want me to do?'"


"This is comparable to when scientists could first laser cool and trap atoms, opening the floodgates to applications in precision metrology and information processing. It's our dream to achieve all these things with molecules," Chou added. Compared to atoms, molecules are more difficult to control because they have more complex structures involving many electronic energy levels, vibrations and rotations. Molecules can consist of many different numbers and combinations of atoms and be as large as DNA strands more than a meter long.


The NIST method finds the quantum state (electronic, vibrational, and rotational) of the molecular ion by transferring the information to a second ion, in this case an atomic ion, which can be laser cooled and controlled with previously known techniques. Borrowing ideas from NIST's quantum logic clock, the researchers attempt to manipulate the molecular ion and, if successful, set off a synchronized motion in the pair of ions. The manipulation is chosen such that it can only trigger the motion if the molecule is in a certain state. The "yes" or "no" answer is signaled by the atomic ion. The technique is very gentle, indicating the molecule's quantum states without destroying them.

No comment yet.
Scooped by Dr. Stefan Gruenwald!

Zebrabow: A multispectral cell labeling system for cell tracing and lineage analysis in zebrafish

Zebrabow: A multispectral cell labeling system for cell tracing and lineage analysis in zebrafish | Amazing Science |

Advances in imaging and cell-labeling techniques have greatly enhanced our understanding of developmental and neurobiological processes. Among vertebrates, zebrafish is uniquely suited for in vivo imaging owing to its small size and optical translucency. However, distinguishing and following cells over extended time periods remains difficult. Previous studies have demonstrated that Cre recombinase-mediated recombination can lead to combinatorial expression of spectrally distinct fluorescent proteins (RFP, YFP and CFP) in neighboring cells, creating a 'Brainbow' of colors. The random combination of fluorescent proteins provides a way to distinguish adjacent cells, visualize cellular interactions and perform lineage analyses. A group of scientists describe Zebrabow (Zebrafish Brainbow) tools for in vivo multicolor imaging in zebrafish.


First, they show that the broadly expressed ubi:Zebrabow line provides diverse color profiles that can be optimized by modulating Cre activity. Second, they find that colors are inherited equally among daughter cells and remain stable throughout embryonic and larval stages. Third, they were able to show that UAS:Zebrabow lines can be used in combination with Gal4 to generate broad or tissue-specific expression patterns and facilitate tracing of axonal processes. Fourth, they demonstrate that Zebrabow can be used for long-term lineage analysis. Using the cornea as a model system, this model provides evidence that embryonic corneal epithelial clones are replaced by large, wedge-shaped clones formed by centripetal expansion of cells from the peripheral cornea. The Zebrabow tool set presented here provides a resource for next-generation color-based anatomical and lineage analyses in zebrafish.


Zebrabow embryos express random combinations of red, green, and blue fluorescent proteins, revealing a spectrum of unique hues. These same hues can be used to ‘barcode’ individual stem cells to track their birth and contribution to tissues as the embryo grows–all cells of the same hue were produced from one stem cell’s divisions. The Zebrabow system allows for long-term tissue lineage analysis, because the fluorescent proteins will be expressed in each cell throughout the lifespan of the zebrafish.

No comment yet.
Scooped by Dr. Stefan Gruenwald!

Bubble-printed patterning of quantum dots on plasmonic substrates

Bubble-printed patterning of quantum dots on plasmonic substrates | Amazing Science |

The use of quantum dots (QDs) in practical applications relies on the ability to precisely pattern QDs on substrates with desired optical properties. Typical direct-write printing techniques such as inkjet and gravure printing are limited in resolution (micron-scale), structural complexity, and require significant post-processing time.In new work, researchers at the University of Texas at Austin use laser-induced bubble printing to pattern CdSe/CdS QDs on plasmonic substrates with submicron resolution (<700nm line width), high throughput (∼10E4 µm/s) and strong QD-substrate adhesion.Not only is the bubble-mediated immobilization at the submicron scale stable, but the submicron-sized bubble's stability can be maintained over a large area.


This technique is also compatible with flexible substrates and can be further integrated with smartphone to realize haptic integration. Finally, the emission characteristics of the QDs in terms of the emission wavelength and lifetime can be modified in real-time to achieve site-sensitive emission.The team, led by Yuebing Zheng, Assistant Professor of Mechanical Engineering and Materials Science & Engineering has been published in ACS Applied Materials & Interfaces ("High-Resolution Bubble Printing of Quantum Dots").

No comment yet.
Scooped by Dr. Stefan Gruenwald!

The Genomic History Of Europe (100+ authors)

The Genomic History Of Europe (100+ authors) | Amazing Science |

Full Paper is here (free)


Farming was first introduced to southeastern Europe in the mid-7th millennium BCE - brought by migrants from Anatolia who settled in the region before spreading throughout Europe. However, the dynamics of the interaction between the first farmers and the indigenous hunter-gatherers remain poorly understood because of the near absence of ancient DNA from the region. We report new genome-wide ancient DNA data from 204 individuals-65 Paleolithic and Mesolithic, 93 Neolithic, and 46 Copper, Bronze and Iron Age-who lived in southeastern Europe and surrounding regions between about 12,000 and 500 BCE.


A large group of researchers now document that the hunter-gatherer populations of southeastern Europe, the Baltic, and the North Pontic Steppe were distinctive from those of western Europe, with a West-East cline of ancestry. They show that the people who brought farming to Europe were not part of a single population, as early farmers from southern Greece are not descended from the Neolithic population of northwestern Anatolia that was ancestral to all other European farmers. The ancestors of the first farmers of northern and western Europe passed through southeastern Europe with limited admixture with local hunter-gatherers, but they show that some groups that remained in the region mixed extensively with local hunter-gatherers, with relatively sex-balanced admixture compared to the male-biased hunter-gatherer admixture that prevailed later in the North and West. After the spread of farming, southeastern Europe continued to be a nexus between East and West, with intermittent steppe ancestry, including in individuals from the Varna I cemetery and associated with the Cucuteni-Trypillian archaeological complex, up to 2,000 years before the Steppe migration that replaced much of northern Europe's population.

No comment yet.
Scooped by Dr. Stefan Gruenwald!

Precise Gene Editing, One SNP At A Time

Precise Gene Editing, One SNP At A Time | Amazing Science |

Researchers from the Institute for Basic Science (IBS) in South Korea have modified the CRISPR-Cas9 gene editing system such that single nucleotide replacements can be made without introducing double stranded breaks. Their findings have been published in Nature Biotechnology. Human DNA has approximately three billion nucleotides of four types: Adenine (A), cytosine (C), guanine (G), and thymine (T). In some cases, the difference of just one nucleotide can bring serious consequences. For example, cystic fibrosis, sickle cell anemia, Huntington's disease and phenylketonuria are all disorders caused by the mutation of a single nucleotide.


Scientists hope to cure these diseases by substituting the incorrect nucleotide with the correct one. However, it is technically challenging to replace a single nucleotide with the popular CRISPR-Cas9 gene editing technique. Instead, researchers from IBS' Center for Genome Engineering have used a variation of CRISPR-Cas9 to produce mice with a single nucleotide difference. CRISPR-Cas9 works by cutting around the faulty nucleotide in both strands of the DNA and cutting out a small section. In the present study, researchers used a variation of the Cas9 protein (nickase Cas9, nCas9) fused with a protein called cytidine deaminase, or Base Editor, which is able to substitute one nucleotide into another. In this way, no DNA deletion occurs, but a single nucleotide substitution.

No comment yet.
Scooped by Dr. Stefan Gruenwald!

Nvidia makes a self-driving AI that tells you how it works

Nvidia makes a self-driving AI that tells you how it works | Amazing Science |
In a step toward making AI more accountable, Nvidia has developed a neural network for autonomous driving that highlights what it’s focusing on.


The chip maker has also been developing systems that demonstrate how an automaker might apply deep learning to autonomous driving. This includes a car that is controlled entirely by a deep-learning algorithm. Amazingly, the vehicle’s computer isn’t given any rules to follow—it simply matches input from several video cameras to the behavior of a human driver, and figures out for itself how it should drive. The only catch is that the system is so complex that it’s difficult to untangle how it actually works.


But Nvidia is working to open this black box. It has developed a way to visually highlight what the system is paying attention to. As explained in a recently published paper, the neural network architecture developed by Nvidia’s researchers is designed so that it can highlight the areas of a video picture that contribute most strongly to the behavior of the car’s deep neural network. Remarkably, the results show that the network is focusing on the edges of roads, lane markings, and parked cars—just the sort of things that a good human driver would want to pay attention to.

“What’s revolutionary about this is that we never directly told the network to care about these things,” Urs Muller, Nvidia’s chief architect for self-driving cars, wrote in a blog post.


It isn’t a complete explanation of how the neural network reasons, but it’s a good start. As Muller says: “I can’t explain everything I need the car to do, but I can show it, and now it can show me what it learned.” This sort of approach could become increasingly important as deep learning is applied to just about any problem involving large quantities of data, including critical areas like medicine, finance, and military intelligence.


A handful of academic researchers are exploring the issue as well. For example, Jeff Clune at the University of Wyoming and Carlos Guestrinat the University of Washington (and Apple) have found ways of highlighting the parts of images that classification systems are picking up on. And Tommi Jaakola and Regina Barzilay at MIT are developing ways to provide snippets of text that help explain a conclusion drawn from large quantities of written data.


The Defense Advanced Projects Research Agency (DARPA), which does long-term research for the U.S. military, is funding several similar research efforts through a program it calls Explainable Artificial Intelligence (XAI). Beyond the technical specifics, though, it’s fascinating to consider how this compares to human intelligence. We do all sorts of things we can’t explain fully, and the explanations we concoct are often only approximations, or “stories” about what’s going on. Given the opacity of today’s increasingly complex machine-learning methods, we may someday be forced to accept such explanations from AI, too.

No comment yet.
Scooped by Dr. Stefan Gruenwald!

High-Speed Space Broadband for Everyone: SpaceX Details their Plans to Launch 1000s of Internet Satellites

High-Speed Space Broadband for Everyone: SpaceX Details their Plans to Launch 1000s of Internet Satellites | Amazing Science |

SpaceX and Tesla-founder Elon Musk has made some rather bold promises over the years. In addition to building a fleet of reusable rockets, an Interplanetary Transport System, colonizing Mars, and revolutionizing transportation, he has also made it clear that he hopes to provide worldwide broadband access by deploying a “constellation” of internet-providing satellites.


In November of 2016, SpaceX filed an application with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) for a license to operate this constellation of non-geostationary satellites (NGS). And earlier this week, the US Senate Committee on Commerce. Science, and Transportation convened a hearing to explore this proposal for next-generation telecommunications services. The hearing was titled, “Investing in America’s Broadband Infrastructure: Exploring Ways to Reduce Barriers to Deployment”. In the course of things, the committee heard from representatives of government and industry who spoke about the best ways to offer streamlined broadband access (especially in rural areas), the necessary infrastructure, and how to encourage private investment.


Of those the committee heard from, Ms. Patricia Cooper – VP of Satellite Government Affairs for SpaceX – was on hand to underscore the company’s vision. As she stated: “SpaceX sees substantial demand for high-speed broad band in the United States and worldwide. As the Committee is aware, millions of Americans outside of limited urban areas lack basic, reliable access. Furthermore, even in urban areas, a majority of Americans lacks more than a single fixed broadband provider from which to choose and may seek additional competitive options for high-speed service.”


Cooper also cited recent FCC findings, which indicated that millions of Americans lag behind other developed nations in terms of broadband speed, access, and price competitiveness. Basically, thirty-four million American citizens do not have access to 25 megabits per second (“Mbps”) broadband service while 47% of students in the US lack the connectivity to meet the FCC’s short-term goal of 100 Mbps per 1,000 students and staff.


This is at at a time when global demand for broadband services and internet connectivity continue to grow at an unprecedented rate. According to a report prepared by Cisco in 2016 – titled “White paper: Cisco VNI Forecast and Methodology, 2015-2020” – global Internet Protocol (IP) traffic surpassed the zettabyte threshold. In other words, over 1,000 billion gigabytes of data were exchanged worldwide in a single year!

No comment yet.
Scooped by Dr. Stefan Gruenwald!

World's largest X-ray laser lights up for the first time

World's largest X-ray laser lights up for the first time | Amazing Science |

In bright news for the scientific world, the world's biggest X-ray laser has generated its first light in Hamburg, Germany. The 3.4 km (2.1 mi) long European X-ray Free Electron Laser (XFEL) produced a pulsing laser light with a wavelength of 0.8 nm at one pulse per second as part of the last major development milestone ahead of its September official opening. When up and running properly, it will generate up to 27,000 pulses per second – a considerable improvement over the previous maximum of 120 per second.


A free electron laser operates on the principle of a synchrotron, an atomic accelerator that generates high-intensity electromagnetic radiation by accelerating electrons to relativistic speeds, then directing them through special magnetic structures. Only in this case, the XFEL is a billion times more brilliant than conventional synchrotron light sources and can capture images at atomic resolution.


The key component is a 2.1 km (1.3-mi) long superconducting linear accelerator that came online in April. Here electron pulses are accelerated to near the speed of light and to very high energies before entering a photon tunnel containing 210-m (689-ft) of X-ray-generating devices consisting of 17,290 permanent magnets called "undulators" with alternating poles above and below the electron stream. These twist the electrons out of their straight line, and every time they curve they give off energy like an overloaded truck losing its cargo, only this is in the form of extremely short-wavelength X-rays.

No comment yet.