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Three, six or 36: how many basic plots are there in all stories ever written?

Three, six or 36: how many basic plots are there in all stories ever written? | education | Scoop.it
Slaughterhouse-Five author Kurt Vonnegut’s rejected university thesis laid out his vision of deep narrative ‘shapes’. Now academics have run computer analysis of his theory

Via Sharon Bakar
LEONARDO WILD's insight:
It really depends on your understanding of "Plot" and which of the story elements you are focusing on, and what your understanding of "basic" is. If we take into account the fact that there is NO story without Conflict (just as there can be no story without Characters, and no story without Setting), Conflict being one of the core and most basic ingredients for a story to be a story at all, then I say there are 9 different Story types based on the 9 different Conflict types—no more, no less. I gave a workshop on this subject at ThrillerFest 2015 called "High Concept Conflict." 9 Story Types—based on conflict type, that have been giving us all the stories in the world, much like color theory, its primary colors, and the millions of colors made possible.
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NASA's New 'Intruder Alert' System Spots An Incoming Asteroid

NASA's New 'Intruder Alert' System Spots An Incoming Asteroid | education | Scoop.it

A large space rock came fairly close to Earth on Sunday night. Astronomers knew it wasn't going to hit Earth, thanks in part to a new tool NASA is developing for detecting potentially dangerous asteroids. The tool is a computer program called Scout, and it's being tested at NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif. Think of Scout as a celestial intruder alert system. It's constantly scanning data from telescopes to see if there are any reports of so-called Near Earth Objects. If it finds one, it makes a quick calculation of whether Earth is at risk, and instructs other telescopes to make follow-up observations to see if any risk is real.

 

NASA pays for several telescopes around the planet to scan the skies on a nightly basis, looking for these objects. "The NASA surveys are finding something like at least five asteroids every night," says astronomer Paul Chodas of JPL. But then the trick is to figure out which new objects might hit Earth.


Via Dr. Stefan Gruenwald
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Highest Resolution Image of Eta Carinae: raging winds in famous massive stellar system

Highest Resolution Image of Eta Carinae: raging winds in famous massive stellar system | education | Scoop.it

An international team of astronomers have used the Very Large Telescope Interferometer to image the Eta Carinae star system in the greatest detail ever achieved. They found new and unexpected structures within the binary system, including in the area between the two stars where extremely high velocity stellar winds are colliding. These new insights into this enigmatic star system could lead to a better understanding of the evolution of very massive stars.

 

Led by Gerd Weigelt from the Max Planck Institute for Radio Astronomy (MPIfR) in Bonn, a team of astronomers have used the Very Large Telescope Interferometer (VLTI) at ESO’s Paranal Observatory to take a unique image of the Eta Carinaestar system in the Carina Nebula. This colossal binary system consists of two massive stars orbiting each other and is very active, producing stellar winds which travel at velocities of up to ten million kilometres per hour [1]. The zone between the two stars where the winds from each collide is very turbulent, but until now it could not be studied.

 

The power of the Eta Carinae binary pair creates dramatic phenomena. A “Great Eruption” in the system was observed by astronomers in the 1830s. We now know that this was caused by the larger star of the pair expelling huge amounts of gas and dust in a short amount of time, which led to the distinctive lobes, known as the Homunculus Nebula, that we see in the system today. The combined effect of the two stellar winds as they smash into each other at extreme speeds is to create temperatures of millions of degrees and intense deluges of X-ray radiation.

 

The central area where the winds collide is so comparatively tiny — a thousand times smaller than the Homunculus Nebula — that telescopes in space and on the ground so far have not been able to image them in detail. The team has now utilised the powerful resolving ability of the VLTI instrument AMBER to peer into this violent realm for the first time. A clever combination — an interferometer — of three of the four Auxiliary Telescopes at the VLT lead to a tenfold increase in resolving power in comparison to a single VLT Unit Telescope. This delivered the sharpest ever image of the system and yielded unexpected results about its internal structures.

 

The new VLTI image clearly depict the structure which exists between the two Eta Carinae-stars. An unexpected fan-shaped structure was observed where the raging wind from the smaller, hotter star crashes into the denser wind from the larger of the pair. “Our dreams came true, because we can now get extremely sharp images in the infrared. The VLTI provides us with a unique opportunity to improve our physical understanding of Eta Carinae and many other key objects”, says Gerd Weigelt.


Via Dr. Stefan Gruenwald
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Scientists find key protein for spinal cord repair in zebrafish

Scientists find key protein for spinal cord repair in zebrafish | education | Scoop.it

Unlike mammals, zebrafish efficiently regenerate functional nervous system tissue after major spinal cord injury. Whereas glial scarring presents a roadblock for mammalian spinal cord repair, glial cells in zebrafish form a bridge across severed spinal cord tissue and facilitate regeneration. Scientists now performed a genome-wide profiling screen for secreted factors that are up-regulated during zebrafish spinal cord regeneration. They found that connective tissue growth factor A (ctgfa) is induced in and around glial cells that participate in initial bridging events. Mutations in ctgfa disrupted spinal cord repair, and transgenic ctgfa overexpression and local delivery of human CTGF recombinant protein accelerated bridging and functional regeneration. This study reveals that CTGF is necessary and sufficient to stimulate glial bridging and natural spinal cord regeneration.

Reference:Mayssa H. Mokalled, Chinmoy Patra, Amy L. Dickson, Toyokazu Endo, Didier Y. R. Stainier, Kenneth D. Poss. Injury-induced ctgfa directs glial bridging and spinal cord regeneration in zebrafish. Science,November 4, 2016. DOI: 10.1126/science.aaf2679

Via Dr. Stefan Gruenwald
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Supercomputers capture the crush in biological cells

Supercomputers capture the crush in biological cells | education | Scoop.it
Using the largest computer in Japan - one of the most powerful in the world - research led by an MSU scientist has achieved breakthroughs in understanding how proteins are affected by realistic biological environments. The work, published in the current issue of eLife, is a significant step forward in simulating biology in a computer.

"Biological processes that make life happen and cause diseases largely take place inside cells, which can be studied with microscopes and other techniques, but not in enough detail," said Michael Feig, an MSU professor of biochemistry and molecular biology who led the research project. "Our research has revealed unprecedented details about what exactly takes place inside biological cells, and how proteins in particular behave in their natural environment."

The team set out to examine whether the crowding in biological cells alters the properties of biological molecules and their ability to carry out their function. Armed with access to the "K computer," a supercomputer housed at the RIKEN Advanced Institute for Computational Science in Kobe, Japan, the research team was able to conduct computer simulations that model the cellular interior of a bacterium, and show a detailed view of how the various molecular components interact in a very dense environment.

Via Mariaschnee
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Google AI invents its own cryptographic algorithm and no one knows how it works

Google AI invents its own cryptographic algorithm and no one knows how it works | education | Scoop.it

Google Brain has created two artificial intelligences that evolved their own cryptographic algorithm to protect their messages from a third AI, which was trying to evolve its own method to crack the AI-generated crypto. The study was a success: the first two AIs learnt how to communicate securely from scratch.

 

The Google Brain team (which is based out in Mountain View and is separate from Deep Mind in London) started with three fairly vanilla neural networks called Alice, Bob, and Eve. Each neural network was given a very specific goal: Alice had to send a secure message to Bob; Bob had to try and decrypt the message; and Eve had to try and eavesdrop on the message and try to decrypt it. Alice and Bob have one advantage over Eve: they start with a shared secret key (i.e. this is symmetric encryption).

 

Importantly, the AIs were not told how to encrypt stuff, or what crypto techniques to use: they were just given a loss function (a failure condition), and then they got on with it. In Eve's case, the loss function was very simple: the distance, measured in correct and incorrect bits, between Alice's original input plaintext and its guess. For Alice and Bob the loss function was a bit more complex: if Bob's guess (again measured in bits) was too far from the original input plaintext, it was a loss; for Alice, if Eve's guesses are better than random guessing, it's a loss. And thus an adversarial generative network (GAN) was created.


Via Dr. Stefan Gruenwald
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Zebrafish want to hang out with moving 3-D robotic models of themselves

Zebrafish want to hang out with moving 3-D robotic models of themselves | education | Scoop.it

Authenticity is an important trait, and zebrafish take it especially seriously. An interdisciplinary team of researchers at the NYU Tandon School of Engineering discovered that zebrafish engage more with 3D-moving robotic models of themselves than with other stimuli.

 

The team, headed by Maurizio Porfiri, professor of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering, devised the controllable, customizable robotic platform to help researchers more accurately study freshwater fish behavior. Like a puppet master, the robotic platform maneuvers biologically inspired 3D-printed replicas to mimic the swimming patterns of real fish.

 

Zebrafish are highly versatile and increasingly taking the place of more complex animals in behavioral studies. Understanding their social behavior may help researchers explore mechanisms behind human disorders like anxiety, addiction, autism, and schizophrenia.

 

For this test, Porfiri and his team introduced the live zebrafish in the middle section of a three-compartment experimental tank with the robotic fish and an empty section on either side. The researchers contrasted the response of live fish to the 3D-moving replica, a 2D-moving replica, a static replica, a transparent replica, and a non-moving rod.

 

Their findings showed that fish were attracted to a robot that mimicked both the appearance and the motion of real fish, and this attraction was lost when either differed.

 

"The fish, when presented with the choice between a static robot and one that was moving in 3D and beating its tail, preferred to spend time with the latter. This clarifies the important role motion plays in influencing zebrafish behavior," said Porfiri. "These experiments also significantly refined the robotic platform that enables consistent, repeatable tests with our live subjects."

 

The research team includes NYU Tandon researchers Tommaso Ruberto and Daniele Neri, doctoral student Violet Mwaffo, and undergraduate student Sukhgewanpreet Singh.


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Space oddity: Group claims to have created nation in space

Space oddity: Group claims to have created nation in space | education | Scoop.it

Welcome to Asgardia! Today, an international group of researchers, engineers, lawyers, and entrepreneurs announced the creation of a nation in space, named after the city of the skies ruled over by Odin in Norse mythology. Although Asgardia does not yet have any land, it is attracting citizens. Anyone can sign up on the nation’s website. Asgardia would allow space entrepreneurs to flourish, and protect Earth, too.

 

The idea behind the initiative, organizers say, is to create a new legal framework for the peaceful exploitation of space free of the control of Earth-bound nations (governance by Norse deities being preferable, obviously). The nation-building effort is led by Igor Ashurbeyli, a Russian space scientist and engineer who in 2013 founded the Aerospace International Research Center (AIRC) in Vienna, known mostly for publishing the space journal Room. Ashurbeyli told a press conference in Paris today: “The scientific and technological component of the project can be explained in just three words—peace, access, and protection.”

 

The protection component comes in the form of a satellite, scheduled to be launched in 2017, which will provide a “state-of-the-art protective shield for all humankind from cosmic manmade and natural threats to life on Earth such as space debris, coronal mass ejections, and asteroid collisions.” A bold plan, because the combined might of the world’s space agencies and military have yet to figure out how to prevent their own satellites colliding with each other, let alone protect Earth from a rock the size of a city. And it is not clear whether the organizers have the financing or technical capability to launch their own satellite.

 

The initiative appears to be an effort to sidestep the oversight of the United Nations’s Outer Space Treaty, which gives nations the duty of overseeing any space activities undertaken from its territory, whether by government bodies, commercial companies, or nonprofit organizations. The nation then takes responsibility for any damage that launchers and satellites may cause both in space and anywhere on Earth. “By creating a new Space Nation, private enterprise, innovation and the further development of space technology to support humanity will flourish free from the tight restrictions of state control that currently exist,” the project said in a statement. It’s not yet clear, however, what kind of governmental oversight, democratic or otherwise, is provided for in the Asgardian constitution—or whether the nation even has one.

 

Asgardia is not yet recognized by any other nation, nor by the United Nations, and it is not clear how, not having its own territory to launch from, it will be able to loft a satellite without it coming under some other nation’s control as described by the Outer Space Treaty. 


Via Dr. Stefan Gruenwald
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Stephen Wolfram: AI & The Future Of Human Civilization

Stephen Wolfram: AI & The Future Of Human Civilization | education | Scoop.it

What makes us different from all these things? What makes us different is the particulars of our history, which gives us our notions of purpose and goals. That's a long way of saying when we have the box on the desk that thinks as well as any brain does, the thing it doesn't have, intrinsically, is the goals and purposes that we have. Those are defined by our particulars—our particular biology, our particular psychology, our particular cultural history.

 

The thing we have to think about as we think about the future of these things is the goals. That's what humans contribute, that's what our civilization contributes—execution of those goals; that's what we can increasingly automate. We've been automating it for thousands of years. We will succeed in having very good automation of those goals. I've spent some significant part of my life building technology to essentially go from a human concept of a goal to something that gets done in the world.

 

There are many questions that come from this. For example, we've got these great AIs and they're able to execute goals, how do we tell them what to do?...

 

STEPHEN WOLFRAM, distinguished scientist, inventor, author, and business leader, is Founder & CEO, Wolfram Research; Creator, Mathematica, Wolfram|Alpha & the Wolfram Language; Author, A New Kind of Science. Stephen Wolfram's Edge Bio Page


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Google’s Neural Network for Language Translation Narrows Gap Between Machines & Humans

Google’s Neural Network for Language Translation Narrows Gap Between Machines & Humans | education | Scoop.it
Of course, machine translation is still far from perfect. Despite its advances, GNMT can still mistranslate, particularly when it encounters proper names or rare words, which prompt the system to, again, translate individual words instead of looking at them within the context of the whole. Clearly, there is still a gap between human and machine translations, but with GNMT, it is getting smaller.

Via Nik Peachey
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Nik Peachey's curator insight, October 13, 4:56 AM

A good thing for those in the language learning industry to keep up with.

EI Design's curator insight, October 17, 6:31 AM
Google’s Neural Network for Language Translation Narrows Gap Between Machines & Humans
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Plant that mimics the smell of a dying honey bee

Plant that mimics the smell of a dying honey bee | education | Scoop.it

The smell of a dying honey bee may not sound appealing, but one species of plant uses it to lay a clever trap, according to a new study. About 5% of plants use deceiving tactics to attract pollinators, including sporting flowers that look like female bees to attract eager male pollinators. But the distinctive-looking Ceropegia sandersonii, or parachute plant (pictured above), takes things to the next level. It plays on the behavior of female flies of the genus Desmometopa, which eat the juices secreted by bees trapped in carnivorous plants. Using a mixture of four compounds, C. sandersonii was able to imitate the smell released by worker honey bees from their glands when they try to bite or sting to defend themselves, researchers report today in Current Biology. Desmometopa flies are then attracted into the flower of C. sandersonii, where they end up coated in the plant's pollen. But the plant allows them to escape—and be lured into yet another C. sandersonii plant’s flower, which the insects then pollinate. Thus, the circle of life and deception continues.


Via Dr. Stefan Gruenwald
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Hurricane Matthew-Humanitarian Mapping

Hurricane Matthew-Humanitarian Mapping | education | Scoop.it

"The Humanitarian OpenSteetMap Team (HOT) has activated to provide geographic base data in areas affected by Hurricane Matthew. Category 4 Hurricane Matthew continues to strengthen and is advancing on Haiti and the Bahamas. Hurricane Matthew is expected to cause 'catastrophic' damage including extreme flooding and landslides potentially affecting millions in Haiti, Jamaica, and Bahamas. To start we are mapping coastal communities in the storm path."


Via Seth Dixon
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Seth Dixon's curator insight, October 7, 12:21 PM

Want to see geographic knowledge and geospatial skills in action?  Crowd-sourced mapping is increasingly an important resource during an emergency.  Poorer places are often not as well mapped out by the commercial cartographic organizations and these are oftentimes the places that are most vulnerable to natural disasters.  Relief agencies depend on mapping platforms to handle the logistics of administering aid and assessing the extent of the damage and rely on these crowd-sourced data sets.  My students and I are working on this over the weekend; can you join in and help?  The projects that are marked urgent by the Red Cross are all in Haiti right now.  Here are is a video playlist that explains the project and how you can help if you are new to OpenStreetMap (OSM).

 

Tags: disasters, mappingSTEM, physicalHaiti, weather and climate.

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New Smart Tattoos Let You Control Your Mobile Phone Using Your Skin

New Smart Tattoos Let You Control Your Mobile Phone Using Your Skin | education | Scoop.it

In a recent post about biohacking, I wrote about people who have implanted chips into their bodies to benefit their health, simplify their lives, or connect themselves to an external network. Though some have been quick to adopt it, biohacking is still a relatively new and bizarre trend that makes many people wary. The thought of burying chips in our arms is unsettling, and most of us would only do it if it was medically necessary. But for those who are curious yet not quite ready to take the chip-implantation plunge, there’s now another way to join the biohacking party: temporary tattoos.

 

Created by MIT PhD student Cindy Hsin-Liu Kao in conjunction with Microsoft Research, the Duoskintattoos transfer onto your skin with water, and they can be customized for both aesthetic and functional purposes. Hsin-Liu Kao presented her paper about the tattoos at the International Symposium on Wearable Computers in Heidelberg, Germany last week.

 

The first step in creating a tattoo is to make a tiny circuit board using graphic design software. A stencil of the circuit is created by applying a layer of vinyl film onto tattoo paper, then gold leaf is layered over the stencil to act as conductive material. The last step is to surface-mount electronics. All tattoos except those with an NFC chip connect to a microcontroller that processes sensor data, supplies power, and links devices through Bluetooth. The total cost of creating a three by four centimeter squared NFC tag is less than $2.50.

 

In trials, the team tested conductive thread and copper tape as alternatives to gold leaf, but found gold leaf to be the most durable and the most skin-friendly.


Via Dr. Stefan Gruenwald
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Adele Taylor's curator insight, October 4, 8:45 PM

Have I missed something?

I didn't know micro-chipping your body was a thing, would you do it?

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Singularity 2045: The Year Man Becomes Immortal Or Is No Longer Needed

Singularity 2045: The Year Man Becomes Immortal Or Is No Longer Needed | education | Scoop.it

We're fast approaching the moment when humans and machines merge. Welcome to the Singularity movement.

 

On Feb. 15, 1965, a diffident but self-possessed high school student named Raymond Kurzweil appeared as a guest on a game show called I've Got a Secret. He was introduced by the host, Steve Allen, then he played a short musical composition on a piano. The idea was that Kurzweil was hiding an unusual fact and the panelists — they included a comedian and a former Miss America — had to guess what it was. On the show (the clip on YouTube), the beauty queen did a good job of grilling Kurzweil, but the comedian got the win: the music was composed by a computer. Kurzweil got $200. (Watch TIME's video "Singularity: How Scared Should We Be?")

 

Kurzweil then demonstrated 'the computer', which he built himself — a desk-size affair with loudly clacking relays, hooked up to a typewriter. The panelists were pretty blasé about it; they were more impressed by Kurzweil's young age than by anything he had actually done. They were ready to move on to Mrs. Chester Loney of Rough and Ready, Calif., whose secret was that she'd been President Lyndon Johnson's first-grade teacher.

 

But Kurzweil would spend much of the rest of his career working out what his demonstration meant. Creating a work of art is one of those activities we reserve for humans and humans only. It's an act of self-expression; you're not supposed to be able to do it if you don't have a self. To see creativity, the exclusive domain of humans, usurped by a computer built by a 17-year-old is to watch a line blur that cannot be unblurred, the line between organic intelligence and artificial intelligence.

 

That was Kurzweil's real secret, and back in 1965 nobody guessed it. Maybe not even him, not yet. But now, 46 years later, Kurzweil believes that we're approaching a moment when computers will become intelligent, and not just intelligent but more intelligent than humans. When that happens, humanity — our bodies, our minds, our civilization — will be completely and irreversibly transformed. He believes that this moment is not only inevitable but imminent. According to his calculations, the end of human civilization as we know it is about 35 years away.

(See the best inventions of 2010.)

 

Computers are getting faster. Everybody knows that. Also, computers are getting faster faster — that is, the rate at which they're getting faster is increasing. True? True. So if computers are getting so much faster, so incredibly fast, there might conceivably come a moment when they are capable of something comparable to human intelligence. That 'something' is Artificial intelligence or often called AI. All that horsepower could be put in the service of emulating whatever it is our brains are doing when they create consciousness — not just doing arithmetic very quickly or composing piano music but also driving cars, writing books, making ethical decisions, appreciating fancy paintings, making witty observations at cocktail parties.

 

If you can swallow that idea, and Kurzweil and a lot of other very smart people can, then all bets are off. From that point on, there's no reason to think computers would stop getting more powerful. They would keep on developing until they were far more intelligent than we are. Their rate of development would also continue to increase, because they would take over their own development from their slower-thinking human creators. Imagine a computer scientist that was itself a super-intelligent computer. It would work incredibly quickly. It could draw on huge amounts of data effortlessly. It wouldn't even take breaks to play Farmville. (See the best inventions of 2010.)

 

Probably. But it's impossible to predict the behavior of these smarter-than-human intelligences with which (with whom?) we might one day share the planet, because if you could, you'd be as smart as they would be. But there are a lot of theories about it. Maybe we'll merge with them to become super-intelligent cyborgs, using computers to extend our intellectual abilities the same way that cars and planes extend our physical abilities. Maybe the artificial intelligences will help us treat the effects of old age and prolong our life spans indefinitely. Maybe we'll scan our consciousnesses into computers and live inside them as software, forever, virtually. Maybe the computers will turn on humanity and annihilate us. The one thing all these theories have in common is the transformation of our species into something that is no longer recognizable as such to humanity circa 2011. This transformation has a name: the Singularity.

 

The difficult thing to keep sight of when you're talking about the Singularity is that even though it sounds like science fiction, it isn't, no more than a weather forecast is science fiction. It's not a fringe idea; it's a serious hypothesis about the future of life on Earth. There's an intellectual gag reflex that kicks in anytime you try to swallow an idea that involves super-intelligent immortal cyborgs, but suppress it if you can, because while the Singularity appears to be, on the face of it, preposterous, it's an idea that rewards sober, careful evaluation.

 


Via Dr. Stefan Gruenwald
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Cow goes moo: Artificial intelligence-based system associates images with sounds

Cow goes moo: Artificial intelligence-based system associates images with sounds | education | Scoop.it
The cow goes 'moo.' The pig goes 'oink.' A child can learn from a picture book to associate images with sounds, but building a computer vision system that can train itself isn't as simple. Using artificial intelligence techniques, however, researchers at Disney Research and ETH Zurich have designed a system that can automatically learn the association between images and the sounds they could plausibly make.

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Giant Crack in Africa Will Create a New Ocean

Giant Crack in Africa Will Create a New Ocean | education | Scoop.it
A 35-mile rift in the desert of Ethiopia will likely become a new ocean eventually, researchers now confirm.

Via Kathy Bosiak
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Michael Rodriguez's comment, November 16, 6:06 PM
This article is about how a rift has formed in Ethiopia that is 35 miles in length and that it will form a new ocean in the region. They start to explain how that ocean ridges are formed from rifts and how that they are connect to the bottom of the ocean and that the red sea will eventually fill the rift and then become a ocean and it will connect all the water sources in the area. I chose this because I found it very cool and interested.
Bwana Moses's comment, November 17, 5:26 AM
The article has all the elements of the where, when, how and looks forward to a possible next event. Its gives the rare opportunity of observing a natural process in real time.
Jonathan ��'s comment, November 17, 7:37 PM
Why does this remind me of Ice Age? Heck, I don't even LIKE Ice Age. It's one of my least favorite movies of all time besides Norm Of The North, but that's a topic for another day. So apparently, there's this huge rift in Ethiopia, and some scientists suspect this thing is gonna become an ocean. It's also pulling a Moses on us and parting the Red Sea. According to the article's information, this thing is obviously a divergent rift, pulling apart from itself. It's also quite volcanic. So until further information, I agree with the theory that this will make a new ocean.

And I'd call this new ocean the Moses Ocean.
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How the Writer Researches: Annie Proulx

How the Writer Researches: Annie Proulx | education | Scoop.it
Annie Proulx is 80 years old and still not sure where she belongs. Standing in the atrium of her home in the Snoqualmie Valley, the Pulitzer Prize-winning

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Sharon Bakar's curator insight, November 6, 9:08 PM
Annie Proulx talks about how she researches, and how she edits.   
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WORLD'S LARGEST NATURAL SOUND LIBRARY NOW ONLINE - Video & Filmmaker magazine

WORLD'S LARGEST NATURAL SOUND LIBRARY NOW ONLINE - Video & Filmmaker magazine | education | Scoop.it

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Researchers observe phase transition thought impossible

Researchers observe phase transition thought impossible | education | Scoop.it
An ultrapure material taken to pressures greater than that in the depths of the ocean and chilled to temperatures colder than outer space has revealed an unexpected phase transition that crosses two different phase categories.

 

A Purdue University-led team of researchers observed electrons transition from a topologically ordered phase to a broken symmetry phase. "To our knowledge, a transition across the two groups of phases had not been unambiguously demonstrated before, and existing theories cannot describe it," said Gábor Csáthy, an associate professor in Purdue's Department of Physics and Astronomy who led the research. "It is something like changing water from liquid to ice; except the two phases we saw were very different from one another."


A paper detailing the results of the Department of Energy and National Science Foundation-funded research will be published in an upcoming issue of Nature Physics and is currently available online.


Csáthy's research team was focusing on the fractional quantum Hall state at quantum number 5/2, which is believed to be a non-Abelian topological phase. Non-Abelian states are different from anything known in nature, he said.


"Imagine eggs in an egg carton as electrons arranged in a certain formation," he said. "The eggs are identical just like the electrons are identical particles. If you swap one egg with another, nothing has changed. It is still a group of eggs in the same formation. If someone did not see the swap, he or she would never know it had happened. In non-Abelian states, if you swap two electrons, it causes a change to the entire group and the egg carton enters an entirely different state. This ability of a swap to affect the state of the entire group is a very special property."


It is thought that if this property could be harnessed, it could be used in quantum computing, he said. The team was trying to induce an electron spin transition in this non-Abelian state, but before the desired state was reached, the electrons spontaneously transitioned into the so-called "stripe" phase that belongs to the traditional, broken symmetry phases group.


"When we started the experiment we were trying to accomplish something else, but the stripes kept popping up and we would lose the fractional quantum Hall phase we were investigating," Csáthy said. "We were very surprised because it was thought that these two different categories of phases were far apart and such a transition was impossible, but the electrons went from deep in the topological phase to deep in the broken symmetry phase."


The team then changed the course of the experiment to go step by step through the new transition. The team next plans to characterize the new phase transition and establish its parameters so that the data can be compared to the developing theories, Csáthy said.


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Zika Virus Infection Alters Human and Viral RNA

Zika Virus Infection Alters Human and Viral RNA | education | Scoop.it

Findings may influence vaccine and therapy development


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Nanowires as sensors in new type of atomic force microscope

Nanowires as sensors in new type of atomic force microscope | education | Scoop.it
A new type of atomic force microscope (AFM) uses nanowires as tiny sensors. Unlike standard AFM, the device with a nanowire sensor enables measurements of both the size and direction of forces. Physicists at the University of Basel and at the EPF Lausanne have described these results in the recent issue of Nature Nanotechnology.

Via Mariaschnee
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Watching the brain in action real-time

Watching the brain in action real-time | education | Scoop.it

Watching millions of neurons in the brain interacting with each other is the ultimate dream of neuroscientists! A new imaging method now makes it possible to observe the activation of large neural circuits, currently up to the size of a small-animal brain, in real time and three dimensions. Researchers at the Helmholtz Zentrum München and the Technical University of Munich have recently reported on their new findings in Nature’s journal ‘Light: Science & Applications’.

 

Nowadays it is well recognized that most brain functions may not be comprehended through inspection of single neurons. To advance meaningfully, neuroscientists need the ability to monitor the activity of millions of neurons, both individually and collectively. However, such observations were so far not possible due to the limited penetration depth of optical microscopy techniques into a living brain.

A team headed by Prof. Dr. Daniel Razansky, a group leader at the Institute of Biological and Molecular Imaging (IBMI), Helmholtz Zentrum München, and Professor of Molecular Imaging Engineering at the Technical University of Munich, has now found a way to address this challenge. The new method is based on the so-called optoacoustics*, which allows non-invasive interrogation of living tissues at centimeter scale depths.

”We discovered that optoacoustics can be made sensitive to the differences in calcium ion concentrations** resulting from neural activity and devised a rapid functional optoacoustic neuro-tomography (FONT) system that can simultaneously record signals from a very large number of neurons”, said Dr. Xosé Luis Deán-Ben, first author of the study. Experiments performed by the scientists in brains of adult zebrafish (Danio rerio) expressing genetically encoded calcium indicator GCaMP5G demonstrated, for the first time, the fundamental ability to directly track neural dynamics using optoacoustics while overcoming the longstanding penetration barrier of optical imaging in opaque brains. The technique was also able to trace neural activity during unrestrained motion of the animals.


Via Dr. Stefan Gruenwald
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Chigozie Obioma: who should I write for – Nigerians, Africans, or everyone?

Chigozie Obioma: who should I write for – Nigerians, Africans, or everyone? | education | Scoop.it
What does it mean to be an ‘African’ writer? And is provincial writing always political? The Nigerian author explains why the best literature is accessible to all

Via Sharon Bakar
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Sharon Bakar's curator insight, October 14, 9:26 AM
Important questions for any non-western writer.
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Why Hurricane Categories Make a Difference

During a hurricane you usually hear meteorologists refer to its intensity by categories. If you don't know the difference between a category 1 and a category 5 hurricane, The Weather Channel meteorologist Mark Elliot breaks it down for you.

Via Seth Dixon
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Seth Dixon's curator insight, October 6, 1:41 PM

With Hurricane Matthew having just hit Haiti (video) and Cuba, it now poised to strike Florida. Many are unsure what the term “category 4” actually means because they are unfamiliar with the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale.  This video is a good introduction to what this means to people in the path of the hurricane. As we monitor this (and future) situation, these are my favorite digital globes that display wind speeds and a few other of Earth’s physical systems. What is beautiful and majestic from one scale can be horrific and catastrophic at another:    

 

Tagsphysical, weather and climatedisasters, mapping, visualization.

Lorraine Chaffer's curator insight, October 7, 5:16 PM
Atmospheric / hydrologic hazards
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Getting Japanese Citizenship

Getting Japanese Citizenship | education | Scoop.it

"To become a Japanese citizen, a foreigner must display 'good conduct', among other things. The rules do not specify what that means, and make no mention of living wafu (Japanese-style). But for one candidate, at least, it involved officials looking in his fridge and inspecting his children’s toys to see if he was Japanese enough (he was). Bureaucratic discretion is the main reason why it is hard to get Japanese nationality. The ministry of justice, which handles the process, says officials may visit applicants’ homes and talk to their neighbors."


Via Seth Dixon
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Seth Dixon's curator insight, September 13, 3:04 PM

Japan has a remarkably homogeneous population, in large part because they have very tight immigration laws (here is a more extended list of the requirements to obtain a Japanese citizenship).

 

Questions to Ponder: How is the notion of Japanese citizenship different from American citizenship?  As Japan's population continues to decline, how might that change Japan's migration/citizenship policies?   

 

Tags: JapanEast Asia, place, perspective, cultural norms, culture.