Use Google Flu Trends as an example of how things go wrong.
Good article on risks of interpreting large scale data mining using google flu trends as an example. The conclusion that often data indications are a first point of a process that then requires scientific grunt work to identify if a given correlation is actually relevant or not and that reality is sometimes the grunt work wont be done because its hard, requires funding and takes time. Worth reading.
I remember reading this when first published and its a great paper. Any computational model of human cognition needs to integrate both chemical and eletrical mechanisms into a integrated whole. Great scoop and awesome paper.
The number of observed exoplanets - worlds circling distant stars - has passed 1,000. Of these, 12 could be potentially habitable - orbiting at a distance where it is neither "too hot" nor "too cold" for water to be liquid on the surface. The planets are given away by tiny dips in light as they pass in front of their stars or through gravitational "tugs" on the star from an orbiting world.These new worlds are listed in the Extrasolar Planets Encyclopaedia The tally now stands at 1,010 new exoplanets, bolstered by 11 new finds from the UK's Wide Angle Search for Planets (Wasp). Abel Mendez of the Planetary Habitability Laboratory at the University of Puerto Rico, said that although the number has rapidly increased in recent years, due to a lack of funding this figure is much lower than it could be. In January 2013, astronomers used Kepler's data to estimate that there could be at least 17 billion Earth-sized exoplanets in the Milky Way galaxy. They said that one in six stars could host an Earth-sized planet in close orbit.
The challenge: Unlike pottery shards, arrowhead flints, and cave paintings, language does not leave an archaeological trace that can be uncovered by intrepid linguists bearing bullwhips. That makes anything we say about early human speech and language very speculative. (As I've mentioned elsewhere, e.g., How did languages evolve?, it's been deemed so speculative that at one point, the Paris Linguistics Society banned discussion on the topic in the 19th century.)
Interesting article pointing out that many of the ideas regarding neanderthal communcation are actually drawn from lack of evidence rather than absolute certainty and the case for a potentially complex language can be made. Good discussion of both perspectives and supporting evidence (or not) as the case may be.
Dromedary camels could be responsible for passing to humans the deadly Mers coronavirus that emerged last year, research suggests.
Scientists looking for the vector for Mers coronavirus, published a study in the journal Lancet Infectious Diseases appear to have found a candidate vector. After testing for antibodies in blood samples taken from livestock animals, including camels, sheep, goats and cows, from a number of different countries the team found low levels of antibodies in 15 out of 105 camels from the Canary Islands and high levels in each of the 50 camels tested in Oman. Scientists still need to isolate or sequence the virus from an infected animal to be definite but these findings will help direct new research.
... figuring out the universe is tough. There’s all these weird things — dark matter, quasars, cosmological expansion — that are genuinely difficult to get a good handle on. So anything that helps come to terms with how the cosmos works is commendable, and for that reason I really like this new 3-D map assembled by scientists working with the National Astronomical Observatory in Japan using data from the Subaru Telescope.
Great short astronmy article in Wired on the new 3D map from the national Astronomical Observatory in Japan. Article gets extra points for using NASA's brilliant timeline of the universe graphic representation of the evolution of the universe over 13.77 billion years developed for explaining the Wilkinson Microwave Anistropy Probe.
New reconstructions of the genetic code of an ancient protein provides clues to the origins of life on Earth.
The resurrected protein is thought to have existed almost four billion years ago in single-celled organisms linked to the earliest ancestor of all life. The protein survives in the extreme environments of high acidity and temperature expected on early Earth and, intriguingly, also Mars.
Spanish and US scientists reported their study in the journal Structure.
You wouldn’t know it, but there is an elaborate stealth communication network in the Earth beneath your feet. This smart web acts like a superorganism, fortifying defensive capabilities and coordinating deadly attacks on unsuspecting targets. But it’s not run by the NSA, the CIA, or the military. This web is made of bacteria
Good artile explainging recent findings in bacterial communication research. Understanding how bacteria communicate and organise will be key to next generation treatments rather than relying only on discovered antibiotics.
Led by Tanja Woyke, a microbiologist at the US Department of Energy’s Joint Genome Institute in Walnut Creek, California, researchers used single-cell sequencing to read the genomes of 201 bacterial and archaeal cells taken from nine diverse environments, such as hydrothermal vents and an underground gold mine. None of the organisms had ever been sequenced or cultivated in a laboratory. The results are published today in Nature1.
The ability to use single cell sequencing gives a whole new insight into microbial and bacterial worlds. The research highlights not only how we will be reassessing our definitions and classifications of bacterial and archaeal kingdoms but also the range of adaptations that wait to be discovered.
A small drop in one species' population can drive others to actually die out.
Functional extinction is an important concept in ecological modeling and i suspect an increasingly important one in other systems modeling domains. Good overview article from arstechnica on why this is important.
Science and art don't intersect nearly as often as they should, but when they do, the results can be an astonishing blend of expression and fact. These are the best science and engineering visualizations from 2013.
If one human evolution paper published in 2013 sticks in my mind above all others, it has to be the wonderful report in the 18 October issue of the journal Science. The article in question described the beautiful fifth skull from Dmanisi in Georgia. Most commentators and colleagues were full of praise, but controversy soon reared its ugly head.
Nice article from Prof.Clive Finlayson on 2013 archeology discoveries adn the implications for how we interpret human evolution.
Just a month ago, the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences announced that this year's Nobel Prize for Physics would go to two of the original six researchers who proposed the existence of the so-called "Higgs particle" in 1964.
Of al the articles on the Higgs Boson - this is a really good one that is clear and concise. Enjoyable reading.
Scientists say there was a widespread extinction of bees 66 million years ago, at the same time as the event that killed off the dinosaurs.
The demise of the dinosaurs was almost certainly the result of an asteroid or comet hitting Earth. But the extinction event was selective, affecting some groups more than others. Writing in Plos One journal, the team used fossils and DNA analysis to show that one bee group suffered a serious decline at the time of this collision.
Any study explaining why a species went extinct 65 million years ago will at first glance seem disconnected from current events. However bees are critical to agriculture and ensuring biodiversity. Understanding extinction events that impacted different species of Bees in the past help us better understand what could happen in the future as Bee's are currently being severely impacted by diesel pollution, modern farming practises (especially insecticides), changing ecosystems and new pests.
The next big ideas from 'Idea Man' Paul Allen: AI and cell biology NBCNews.com Software billionaire Paul Allen is already using his riches to further brain science, spaceflight, rock 'n' roll history — and oh, the Seattle Seahawks, too — but he's...
Paul Allen. who has funded a lot of important research over the years - recently announced the funding of a new Aritificial Intelligence research center in Seattle. The Paul Allen Artificial Intelligence Institute will be headed by Oren Etzioni, formerly head of the University of Washington's Computer Science Department, where he was the Washington Research Foundation Entrepreneurship Professor and Director of the Turing Center. The new AI center is a compliments to Paul Allen's $400 million neuroscience research center also in Seattle.
A malaria vaccine has shown promising results in early stage clinical trials, according to researchers.
Researchers found the vaccine, which is being developed in the US, protected 12 out of 15 patients from the disease, when given in high doses. The method is unusual because it involves injecting live but weakened malaria-causing parasites directly into patients to trigger immunity.
Globally, antimicrobial drug resistance is rapidly rising, with resultant increased illness and death. In Europe, increasing proportions of bloodstream infections caused by E. coli are resistant to third-generation cephalosporins...
Antibiotic use in agriculture tends to be a tension filled debate. Farmers want healthy stock and the use of antibiotics as with people has had a major impact. However use of antiobiotics in farming helps accelerate bacterial evolution and antibiotic resistance. The debate around antibiotic overuse on farms or over perscription in human medicine and the relation to antibiotic-resistant bacteria, how antibiotic resistant strains migrate from farms to elswhere is ongoing. The human and financial impact and cost of antiobiotic overuse in agriculture has until now been a grey area of discussion. A multi-national team of researchers recently published their findings to these questions in the open journal Emerging Infectious disease published by CDC. They found number of avoidable deaths and the costs of health care potentially caused by third-generation cephalosporin use in food animals is a staggering 1,518 deaths and 67,236 days in the hospital, every year, which would not otherwise have occurred. Considering those factors, they recommend the ongoing use of these antimicrobial drugs in mass therapy and prophylaxis should be urgently examined and stopped, particularly in poultry. The article and technical appendix are worth reading.
Health officials are watching in horror as bacteria become resistant to powerful carbapenem antibiotics — one of the last drugs on the shelf.
As antibiotic resistance continues to evolve and spread - it continues to not get the attention and funding it needs. Research work is urgently needed in new treatments but also in how bacteria, evolve, transport and move in and around hospitals, how they communicate, and how to optimize standard infection-control practices. Good article from Nature. scary reality.
Dolphins call each other by name using unique signature whistles, a study suggests.
A team from the University of St Andrews in Scotland found that when dolphins hear their own call played back to them, they respond in a similar way to humans responding to their name.The study is published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences: http://www.pnas.org/cgi/doi/10.1073/pnas.1304459110
Huge deposits identified in Gulf of Mexico and beyond.
Arsttechnica article describing research published in Geology where researchers used publicly available data from 33 deep wells drilled by the oil and gas industry in the Gulf of Mexico combined with seismic images of the region to identify massive Seafloor 'landslides' which occured as the result of the Chicxulub impact. The asteroid impact which ended the reign of the dinasaurs shook loose sediment along well over 2,000 miles of submarine slopes along the east coast of the United States as well as the Gulf of Mexico. Link to the orginal Geology paper at the end of the article.
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