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The Best Science and Engineering Visualizations of 2013 - Wired Science

The Best Science and Engineering Visualizations of 2013 - Wired Science | Complex Insight  - Understanding our world | Scoop.it
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.
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Multiple sclerosis link to food bug

Multiple sclerosis link to food bug | Complex Insight  - Understanding our world | Scoop.it

A food poisoning bacterium may be implicated in MS, say US researchers.

ComplexInsight's insight:

Lab tests in mice by the team from Weill Cornell Medical College revealed a toxin made by a rare strain of Clostridium perfringens caused MS-like damage in the brain. And earlier work by the same team, published in PLoS ONE, identified the toxin-producing strain of C. perfringens in a young woman with MS. However experts urge caution, saying more work is needed to explore the link. Click on title or image to go the story.

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Researchers develop a longer, stronger cotton fiber - Texas A&M Univ (2014)

Researchers develop a longer, stronger cotton fiber - Texas A&M Univ (2014) | Complex Insight  - Understanding our world | Scoop.it

An international collaboration... has figured out how to make a longer cotton fiber... could potentially have a multi-billion-dollar impact on the global cotton industry and help cotton farmers fend off increasing competition from synthetic fibers... 

 

"This technology allows improvement of fiber quality in upland cotton, which is widely grown everywhere," said Alan Pepper, an associate professor in the Texas A&M Department of Biology... "This will increase the competitiveness of natural cotton fibers versus synthetic fibers, which have been snagging an increasing amount of the market share every year."

 

The overwhelming majority of cotton harvested in the U.S. and worldwide is upland cotton, or Gossypium hirsutum, with more than 6.5 million acres planted in 2012 in Texas alone... A higher-end cotton called Gossypium barbadense is more desirable because of greater fiber length and strength but is late-maturing, low-yielding and more difficult to grow because it requires dry climates with significant irrigation and is less resistant to pathogens and pests.

 

"For a long time cotton breeders have been trying to develop upland cotton with the fiber qualities ofbarbadense cotton... Globally, everybody's trying to do it. Economically, it's a huge deal, because every millimeter you add to fiber length adds that much to the price of cotton when the farmer sells it." The researchers' method increased the length of the fiber by at least 5 millimeters, or 17 percent, compared to the control plants in their experiment... 

 

The cotton plants developed in the project technically are genetically modified organisms (GMOs)... "What we're doing is a little different," Pepper said. "We're not actually adding in a gene from another species. Rather, we're knocking down the effect of one of the genes that's already in the plant... This was pure basic science, seeking to understand the biological function of a gene... And sure enough, the phytochrome 'knock-down' plants had all these phenotypic changes associated with it [phytochrome], and one of them was longer fiber."

 

The discovery was especially important to Ibrokhim Abdurakhmonov, the lead author of the study who received his master's degree in plant breeding from Texas A&M in 2001 and is now a professor in his native Uzbekistan. The landlocked agricultural nation that borders Afghanistan historically has relied heavily on cotton... Uzbekistan currently accounts for around 10 percent of world cotton fiber exports.

 

"Sustainability and biosecurity of cotton production is pivotal for the Uzbekistan economy because agriculture accounts for 24-to-28 percent of the country's gross domestic product... The increased value of longer and stronger lint, at 10 cents per pound, would be at least $100 per acre more income from the lint for each new cultivar using this technology. New markets for longer, finer, stronger and more uniform cotton lint fiber, as well as early maturity and increased yield potential could further increase estimated economic value. Our anticipation of possible improvement of resistance to abiotic stresses via phytochrome RNA interference further adds to its commercial potential." ... 

 

Press release:  http://www.science.tamu.edu/articles/1157/

Original article:  http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/ncomms4062

 


Via Alexander J. Stein
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Telecommunications data show civic dividing lines in major countries

Telecommunications data show civic dividing lines in major countries | Complex Insight  - Understanding our world | Scoop.it

Many residents of Britain, Italy, and Belgium imagine there to be a kind of north-south divide in their countries, marking a barrier between different social groups and regional characteristics. Now a new study by MIT researchers reveals that such divides can be seen in the patterns of communication in those countries and others.

 


Via Claudia Mihai, Complexity Institute
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4th Student Conference on Complexity Science

4th Student Conference on Complexity Science | Complex Insight  - Understanding our world | Scoop.it

The Student Conference on Complexity Science (SCCS) is the largest UK conference for early-career researchers working under the interdisciplinary framework of Complex Systems, with a particular focus on computational modelling, simulation and network analysis. Since 2010, this conference series has brought together PhD students and early career researchers from both the UK and overseas, whose interests span areas as diverse as quantum physics, ecological food webs or the economics of happiness. This interdisciplinary nature of the conference is reflected by the diversity of keynote speakers as well as practical, hands-on workshops.


The 4th Student Conference on Complexity Science will be held 19-22 August 2014 at the University of Sussex, Brighton, UK.

http://sccs2014.soton.ac.uk


Via Complexity Digest
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Tiny Robot Flies Like a Jellyfish

Tiny Robot Flies Like a Jellyfish | Complex Insight  - Understanding our world | Scoop.it
A new, naturally stable flying robot moves through the air like a jellyfish swims through the water. The robot could be useful for tasks such as air quality monitoring and surveillance.

Via The Robot Launch Pad
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Antibody machinery 'leukaemia cause'

Antibody machinery 'leukaemia cause' | Complex Insight  - Understanding our world | Scoop.it

The tools used to fortify the body against infection are also one of the causes of the most common form of childhood leukaemia, say researchers. The machinery used to produce millions of antibodies in the immune system can misfire, making cells more likely to become cancerous.

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BBC Radio 4 - In Our Time, Complexity

BBC Radio 4 - In Our Time, Complexity | Complex Insight  - Understanding our world | Scoop.it

Melvyn Bragg and his guests discuss complexity and how it can help us understand the world around us. When living beings come together and act in a group, they do so in complicated and unpredictable ways: societies often behave very differently from the individuals within them. Complexity was a phenomenon little understood a generation ago, but research into complex systems now has important applications in many different fields, from biology to political science. Today it is being used to explain how birds flock, to predict traffic flow in cities and to study the spread of diseases.


Via Bernard Ryefield, NESS, Eugene Ch'ng
ComplexInsight's insight:

You know a topic or meme has migrated into cultural hype-scape when Melvyn Bragg discusses it on Radio 4. However it's good to see complex adaptive systems research getting  considered coverage outside of the likes of Scientific American and New Scientist who have long promoted balanced views of the field.

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New Algorithm Dramatically Streamlines Max Flow Solutions

New Algorithm Dramatically Streamlines Max Flow Solutions | Complex Insight  - Understanding our world | Scoop.it

 Finding the most efficient way to transport items across a network like the U.S. highway system or the Internet is a problem that has taxed mathematicians and computer scientists for decades.

To tackle the problem, researchers have traditionally used a maximum-flow algorithm, also known as “max flow,” in which a network is represented as a graph with a series of nodes, known as vertices, and connecting lines between them, called edges.

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'Sticky balls' stop cancer spreading

'Sticky balls' stop cancer spreading | Complex Insight  - Understanding our world | Scoop.it
Cancer-killing "sticky balls" can whip tumour cells out of the blood and may prevent cancers spreading, early research suggests.
ComplexInsight's insight:

An interesting approach to tackling metastases from researchers at Cornell.

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Debilitating Virus Infects Island Paradise

Debilitating Virus Infects Island Paradise | Complex Insight  - Understanding our world | Scoop.it

A painful mosquito-borne disease is spotted in the Western Hemisphere for first time, boosting U.S. risk.

Given a choice between dengue fever or another mosquito-borne disease called chikungunya fever, choose dengue every time. Neither has an available vaccine or treatment, but chikungunya (pronounced chik-un-GUHN-ya) is far more severe – it literally means “that which bends up” because patients are often stooped over from debilitating joint pain.

If you’re a resident of the Caribbean island of St. Martin (or lucky enough to be traveling there for the holidays) you are now at risk of both. The island, roughly the size of Manhattan and located some 300 kilometers east of Puerto Rico, has the first confirmed outbreak of chikungunya in the Western Hemisphere. 


Via Ed Rybicki, Chris Upton + helpers
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Ed Rybicki's curator insight, December 28, 2013 1:15 PM

I hate to say it, but why is something only severe when it threatens the US?  As it is, global warming has now brought chikungunya (which comes from near where I grew up) to near the US - and it will almost certainly join West Nile as being endemic fairly soon.

Which means we may get a vaccine....

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Artificial Economics 2014 - AE 2014

The main aim of the Symposium is to facilitate the meeting of people working on different topics in different fields (mainly Economics, Finance and Computer Science) in order to encourage a structured multi-disciplinary approach to social sciences. Presentations and keynote sessions center around multi-agent modelling, from the viewpoint of both applications and computer-based tools. The event is also open to methodological surveys.

The event will be hosted by Social Simulation 2014, the 10th Conference of the European Social Simulation Association at the Universitat Autonoma de Barcelona, Barcelona, Spain.
September 1-5th, 2014.

http://essa2014.org


Via Complexity Digest
ComplexInsight's insight:

Understanding how to simulate economic and social systems will be critical in future planning and analysis tools- The Social Simulation 2014 conference will be a key event. 

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ComplexInsight's curator insight, December 11, 2013 6:50 AM

bookmarking so can come back and read later.

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Viewpoint: Human evolution, from tree to braid

Viewpoint: Human evolution, from tree to braid | Complex Insight  - Understanding our world | Scoop.it

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.

ComplexInsight's insight:

Nice article from Prof.Clive Finlayson on 2013 archeology discoveries adn the implications for how we interpret human evolution. 

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Smallpox: Last refuge of an ultimate killer

Smallpox: Last refuge of an ultimate killer | Complex Insight  - Understanding our world | Scoop.it
If a virus killed millions, why keep it alive? Two places on Earth guard the last vials of smallpox, but Rachel Nuwer finds that they may not be there for long
ComplexInsight's insight:

Good article from the BBC on Smallpox before the World Health Assembly debate destroying the remaining stores at CDC and Vector.

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This Simulation Of The Known Universe Does Not Disappoint

This Simulation Of The Known Universe Does Not Disappoint | Complex Insight  - Understanding our world | Scoop.it
There's the Earth. Annnnnd it's gone. (This simulation of the known universe does not disappoint http://t.co/YuS96HSc2N)
ComplexInsight's insight:

Awesome video that shows our place in the universe as we curently know it. 

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Viruses affect an African flamingo population by killing their bacterial food source

Viruses affect an African flamingo population by killing their bacterial food source | Complex Insight  - Understanding our world | Scoop.it

Trophic cascade effects occur when a food web is disrupted by loss or significant reduction of one or more of its members. In East African Rift Valley lakes, the Lesser Flamingo is on top of a short food chain. At irregular intervals, the dominance of their most important food source, the cyanobacterium Arthrospira fusiformis, is interrupted. Bacteriophages are known as potentially controlling photoautotrophic bacterioplankton. In Lake Nakuru (Kenya), we found the highest abundance of suspended viruses ever recorded in a natural aquatic system. We document that cyanophage infection and the related breakdown of A. fusiformis biomass led to a dramatic reduction in flamingo abundance. This documents that virus infection at the very base of a food chain can affect, in a bottom-up cascade, the distribution of end consumers. We anticipate this as an important example for virus-mediated cascading effects, potentially occurring also in various other aquatic food webs.


Via Chris Upton + helpers, Ed Rybicki
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Mathematical Formulation of Multilayer Networks

Mathematical Formulation of Multilayer Networks | Complex Insight  - Understanding our world | Scoop.it

Describing a social network based on a particular type of human social interaction, say, Facebook, is conceptually simple: a set of nodes representing the people involved in such a network, linked by their Facebook connections. But, what kind of network structure would one have if all modes of social interactions between the same people are taken into account and if one mode of interaction can influence another? Here, the notion of a “multiplex” network becomes necessary. Indeed, the scientific interest in multiplex networks has recently seen a surge. However, a fundamental scientific language that can be used consistently and broadly across the many disciplines that are involved in complex systems research was still missing. This absence is a major obstacle to further progress in this topical area of current interest. In this paper, we develop such a language, employing the concept of tensors that is widely used to describe a multitude of degrees of freedom associated with a single entity.

Our tensorial formalism provides a unified framework that makes it possible to describe both traditional “monoplex” (i.e., single-type links) and multiplex networks. Each type of interaction between the nodes is described by a single-layer network. The different modes of interaction are then described by different layers of networks. But, a node from one layer can be linked to another node in any other layer, leading to “cross talks” between the layers. High-dimensional tensors naturally capture such multidimensional patterns of connectivity. Having first developed a rigorous tensorial definition of such multilayer structures, we have also used it to generalize the many important diagnostic concepts previously known only to traditional monoplex networks, including degree centrality, clustering coefficients, and modularity.

We think that the conceptual simplicity and the fundamental rigor of our formalism will power the further development of our understanding of multiplex networks.

 


Via Claudia Mihai, Complexity Institute
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ECCS'14 European Conference on Complex Systems

ECCS'14 European Conference on Complex Systems | Complex Insight  - Understanding our world | Scoop.it

ECCS’14 will be a major international conference and event in the area of complex systems and interdisciplinary science in general. It will offer unique opportunities to study novel scientific approaches in a multitude of application areas. Two days of the conference, 24 and 25 of September, are reserved for satellite meetings, which will cover a broad range of subjects on all aspects of Complex Systems, as reflected by the conference tracks.

 

ECCS'14 European Conference on Complex Systems

Lucca, Italy

2014-09-22:26

http://www.eccs14.eu


Via Complexity Digest
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António F Fonseca's curator insight, January 16, 12:02 PM

The major conference in Complex Systems this year will be held in Lucca.

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Combining Chemoinformatics with Bioinformatics: In Silico Prediction of Bacterial Flavor-Forming Pathways by a Chemical Systems Biology Approach “Reverse Pathway Engineering”

Combining Chemoinformatics with Bioinformatics: In Silico Prediction of Bacterial Flavor-Forming Pathways by a Chemical Systems Biology Approach “Reverse Pathway Engineering” | Complex Insight  - Understanding our world | Scoop.it

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Socrates Logos's curator insight, January 16, 1:38 PM

by

Mengjin Liu,  Bruno Bienfait,  Oliver Sacher,  Johann Gasteiger,  Roland J. Siezen,  Arjen Nauta, 

 Jan M. W. Geurts 

"The incompleteness of genome-scale metabolic models is a major bottleneck for systems biology approaches, which are based on large numbers of metabolites as identified and quantified by metabolomics. Many of the revealed secondary metabolites and/or their derivatives, such as flavor compounds, are non-essential in metabolism, and many of their synthesis pathways are unknown. In this study, we describe a novel approach, Reverse Pathway Engineering (RPE), which combines chemoinformatics and bioinformatics analyses, to predict the "missing links" between compounds of interest and their possible metabolic precursors by providing plausible chemical and/or enzymatic reactions. We demonstrate the added-value of the approach by using flavor-forming pathways in lactic acid bacteria (LAB) as an example. Established metabolic routes leading to the formation of flavor compounds from leucine were successfully replicated. Novel reactions involved in flavor formation, i.e. the conversion of alpha-hydroxy-isocaproate to 3-methylbutanoic acid and the synthesis of dimethyl sulfide, as well as the involved enzymes were successfully predicted. These new insights into the flavor-formation mechanisms in LAB can have a significant impact on improving the control of aroma formation in fermented food products. Since the input reaction databases and compounds are highly flexible, the RPE approach can be easily extended to a broad spectrum of applications, amongst others health/disease biomarker discovery as well as synthetic biology." 

http://bit.ly/LaT2VD

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Escaping the poverty trap: modeling the interplay between economic growth and the ecology of infectious disease

The dynamics of economies and infectious disease are inexorably linked: economic well-being influences health (sanitation, nutrition, treatment capacity, etc.) and health influences economic well-being (labor productivity lost to sickness and disease). Often societies are locked into ``poverty traps'' of poor health and poor economy. Here, using a simplified coupled disease-economic model with endogenous capital growth we demonstrate the formation of poverty traps, as well as ways to escape them. We suggest two possible mechanisms of escape both motivated by empirical data: one, through an influx of capital (development aid), and another through changing the percentage of GDP spent on healthcare. We find that a large influx of capital is successful in escaping the poverty trap, but increasing health spending alone is not. Our results demonstrate that escape from a poverty trap may be possible, and carry important policy implications in the world-wide distribution of aid and within-country healthcare spending.

 

Escaping the poverty trap: modeling the interplay between economic growth and the ecology of infectious disease
Georg M. Goerg, Oscar Patterson-Lomba, Laurent Hébert-Dufresne, Benjamin M. Althouse

http://arxiv.org/abs/1311.4079


Via Complexity Digest, Eugene Ch'ng
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Report calls on NHS to consistently use simulation software ahead of big decisions

Report calls on NHS to consistently use simulation software ahead of big decisions | Complex Insight  - Understanding our world | Scoop.it
The NHS could be run more effectively if senior decision makers used simulation software to test the outcome of different approaches before rolling them out, according to a report out today.

Via Eugene Ch'ng
ComplexInsight's insight:

As someone who believes most many of societies bigger decisions would benefit from better simulations - the report makes for an interesting read. Simulation is going to grow in importance in many areas - as data analytics enable us to consider impact landscapes. Using large scale data analysis to drive simulations we can begin to use simulation as a means of possibility search (something engineering routinely does now) on a broader canvas.

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'Golden age' of antibiotics 'set to end'

'Golden age' of antibiotics 'set to end' | Complex Insight  - Understanding our world | Scoop.it

We cannot say we weren't warned. The growing threat of antibiotic resistant organisms is once again in the spotlight. Prof Jeremy Farrar, the new head of Britain's biggest medical research charity the Wellcome Trust said it was a "truly global issue". In his first major interview since taking up his post, Prof Farrar told BBC Radio 4's Today programme that the golden age of antibiotics could come to an end unless action is taken

ComplexInsight's insight:

Prof. Farrar's comments echo those of England's Chief Medical Officer - Sally Davies and the US's Center for Disease Control. As the BBC report shows - warnings regarding the state of anti-biotic effectiveness and bacterial resistance and potential impact started occuring in government circles in the mid 1990's. The World Health Assembly of the WHO will discuss the issue in May 2014. 

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Big Data Myths Give Way To Reality In 2014

Big Data Myths Give Way To Reality In 2014 | Complex Insight  - Understanding our world | Scoop.it

Much of what we believe about Big Data is wrong, which will be demonstrated in 2014.

 

For many enterprises, Big Data remains a nebulous goal, rather than a current reality. Yet it's a goal that more and more enterprises are pushing to the top of their priority list. As Gartner surveys have shown, everyone is keen to board the Big Data bandwagon, yet a comparative few really understand why. And as Gartner analyst Svetlana Sicular points out, the myths that hold back Big Data adoption vary depending on where along the adoption curve an enterprise happens to be.In 2014, many of the sillier Big Data myths will crumble to be replaced by increased experience with data-driven applications...


Via Jeff Domansky
ComplexInsight's insight:

Over the years I have come to appreciate Garner's hypercycle - especially as technologies and terms become less fashionable. I am pretty certain 2014 will see a backlash to the term big data - just at the same time large scale data initiatives go into production in many enterprises and valuable deployment stories and application experience is shared.. Interesting article from readwriteweb.

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Jeff Domansky's curator insight, January 2, 3:11 AM

What's the big deal about big data? Mostly, it's about the myths that prevent it from being better utilized.

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Coding for Physical Devices

Coding for Physical Devices | Complex Insight  - Understanding our world | Scoop.it

Steve Thomas's Coding for Physical Devices

 

ComplexInsight's insight:

If you have an interest in getting people interested in programming or on the various tools and languages that people get started with (Python, Java, Scratch, Processing etc) then Steve Thomas's scoop.it site is awesome. Be warned hours of enjoyable distractions to be had discovering new tools, toys and techniques. Thoroughly recommended.

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The new smart city – from hi-tech sensors to social innovation

The new smart city – from hi-tech sensors to social innovation | Complex Insight  - Understanding our world | Scoop.it

At last week's Smart City World Expo in Barcelona, Jong-Sung Hwang, former CIO of the Seoul metropolitan government, informed of the city's attempt to capture real-time traffic data. For years the city invested millions of dollars in sensors embedded into the road infrastructure.

"But we failed again and again," said Hwang. "It cost a lot ... but the traffic information was not correct so could not be used." In 2012, however, the city's 25,000 taxis introduced a touchcard payment system using GPS technology, effectively giving Seoul the real-time traffic information it had long craved at a fraction of the cost. "A smart city can now use smart technology and solve problems without changing the city infrastructure", said Hwang.

ComplexInsight's insight:

Good article on how smart cities can be implemented using technologies that are increasingly being deployed for related developments.

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