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Sensory Substitution and Brain Plasticity: How to Augment our Senses

Since 1968 scientists have been creating sensory substitution and augmentation devices. With these devices they try to replace or enhance one sense by using another sense. For example, in tactile–vision, stimulation of the skin driven by input to a camera is used to replace the ordinary sense of vision that uses our eyes. The feelSpace belt aims to give people a magnetic sense of direction using vibrotactile stimulation driven by a digital compass. This talk discusses these developing technologies, mentions psychologists studying the minds and behavior of subjects who use these kind of devices, and analyzes the nature of perceptual experience and sensory interaction. The talk also explores the nature, limits and possibilities of these technologies, how they can be used to help those with sensory impairments, and what they can tell us about perception and perceptual experience in general.


Via Dr. Stefan Gruenwald
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Viral Video Showing Sun’s “Vortex” Motion Is Wildly Inaccurate

Viral Video Showing Sun’s “Vortex” Motion Is Wildly Inaccurate | Science, Technology, and Current Futurism | Scoop.it
I’ve been getting lots of tweets and email from folks linking to a slick-looking video, a computer animation showing the motion of the planets around the Sun as the Sun orbits around the Milky Way Galaxy. It’s a very pretty video with compelling music and well-done graphics. It’s wrong. And not just superficially; it’s deeply wrong, based on a very wrong premise. While there are some useful visualizations in it, I caution people to take it with a galaxy-sized grain of salt.
Sharrock's insight:
excerpt: "how things should be and how they are don’t always overlap. The Universe is a pretty cool place, and works using a fairly well-regulated set of rules. We call those rules physics, they’re written in the language of math, and trying to understand all that is science."
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Can social science still be used as a foundation for public policy? On improving the reliability of evidence.

Can social science still be used as a foundation for public policy? On improving the reliability of evidence. | Science, Technology, and Current Futurism | Scoop.it
If ‘boring’ negative findings are less likely to be published, the evidence base becomes dominated by positive results. This creates a serious problem for a policymaker trying to assess the scientific evidence on any given topic. They will end up getting a highly distorted picture of the real world; one in which the extent and severity of social problems is probably exaggerated, as is the extent to which policy interventions can change things. This might leave policymakers too active in public policy investing in potentially ineffective solutions to social problems that might not even exist.
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Posttraumatic stress disorder reveals imbalance between signalling systems in the brain

Posttraumatic stress disorder reveals imbalance between signalling systems in the brain | Science, Technology, and Current Futurism | Scoop.it
It has previously been shown that people with PTSD have altered brain anatomy and function. A new study by researchers from the Department of Psychology at Uppsala University and Clinical Neuroscience at Karolinska Institutet shows that people with PTSD have an imbalance between two neurochemical signalling systems of the brain, serotonin and substance P.
Sharrock's insight:

Interesting research support that experiences can significantly change brain. 

 

"The study, which has been published in the renowned scientific journal Molecular Psychiatry, shows that it is the imbalance between the two signalling systems which determines the severity of the symptoms suffered by the individual rather than the degree of change in a single system. Others have previously speculated that the biological basis of psychiatric disorders such as PTSD includes a shift in the balance between different signalling systems in the brain but none has yet proved it. The results of the study are a great leap forward in our understanding of PTSD. It will contribute new knowledge which can be used to design improved treatments for traumatised individuals." (excerpt)

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New half-meter record for quantum superposition at macroscopic level

New half-meter record for quantum superposition at macroscopic level | Science, Technology, and Current Futurism | Scoop.it

A team of researchers working at Stanford University has extended the record for quantum superposition at the macroscopic level, from 1 to 54 centimeters. In their paper published in the journal Nature, the team describes the experiment they conducted, their results and also discuss what their findings might mean for researchers looking to find the cutoff point between superposition as it applies to macroscopic objects versus those that only exist at the quantum level. Nature has also published an editorial on the work done by the team, describing their experiment and summarizing their results.

 

Scientists entangling quantum particles and even whole atoms has been in the news a lot over the past couple of years as experiments have been conducted with the goal of attempting to better understand the strange phenomenon—and much has been learned. But, as scientists figure out how to entangle two particles at ever greater distances apart there has come questions about the size of objects that can be entangled. Schrödinger's cat has come up in several such discussions as theorists and those in the applied fields seek to figure out if it might be truly possible to cause a whole cat to actually be in two places at once. In this new work, the team at Stanford has perhaps muddied the water even more as they have extended the record for supposition from a mere one centimeter to just over half a meter.

 

They did it by creating a Bose-Einstein condensate cloud made up of 10,000 rubidium atoms (inside of a super-chilled chamber) all initially in the same state. Next, the used lasers to push the cloud up into the 10 meter high chamber, which also caused the atoms to enter one or the other of a given state. As the cloud reached the top of the chamber, the researchers noted that the wave function was a half-and-half mixture of the given states and represented positions that were 54 centimeters apart. When the cloud was allowed to fall back to the bottom of the chamber, the researchers confirmed that atoms appeared to have fallen from two different heights, proving that the cloud was held in a superposition state.

 

The team acknowledges that while their experiment has led to a new record for superposition at the macroscopic scale, it still was done with individual atoms, thus, it is still not clear if superposition will work with macroscopic sized objects.


Via Dr. Stefan Gruenwald
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Slideshow: The Science Behind Weird Body Quirks

Slideshow: The Science Behind Weird Body Quirks | Science, Technology, and Current Futurism | Scoop.it
Who hasn't had an ice cream brain freeze, or been awakened by the pain of a charley horse? What's behind these weird body quirks anyway? Find out.
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Spooky quantum connection quantified for multiple particles

Spooky quantum connection quantified for multiple particles | Science, Technology, and Current Futurism | Scoop.it
Physicists have measured quantum entanglement between several particles rather than just two.
Sharrock's insight:
Peter Zoller, a theoretical quantum physicist at the University of Innsbruck in Austria, says that while studying entangled particle pairs is interesting, the real world is dominated by entangled states that encompass much larger sets of particles. 
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Spiders sprayed with nanotubes have spun the toughest fibre ever measured

Spiders sprayed with nanotubes have spun the toughest fibre ever measured | Science, Technology, and Current Futurism | Scoop.it
Spider silk is already one of the toughest materials around, but scientists have now made it even stronger by spritzing spiders with water containing carbon nanotubes and graphene flakes. In fact, the resulting super silk that the spiders produced...
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The Science of What Makes an Introvert and an Extrovert

The Science of What Makes an Introvert and an Extrovert | Science, Technology, and Current Futurism | Scoop.it
Do you like to make small talk? Do you prefer one-to-one conversations or group activities? These questions and many others often show up in personality quizzes to reveal how introverted or extroverted you are, but what does that really mean? Here's what science tells us about extroversion and introversion.
Sharrock's insight:

"Several decades ago, German psychologist Hans Eysenck came up with a more biologically based model for E/I. According to Eysenck's theory, the behaviors of introverts and extroverts are due to differences in cortical arousal (the speed and amount of the brain's activity). Compared with extroverts, introverts have naturally high cortical arousal, and may process more information per second." (excerpt)

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Absurd Creature of the Week: The Wasp That Enslaves Cockroaches With a Sting to the Brain

Absurd Creature of the Week: The Wasp That Enslaves Cockroaches With a Sting to the Brain | Science, Technology, and Current Futurism | Scoop.it
The jewel wasp enslaves cockroaches, stinging their brains in ridiculously precise spots and injecting mind-controlling venom.
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Physicists measure force that makes antimatter stick together

Physicists measure force that makes antimatter stick together | Science, Technology, and Current Futurism | Scoop.it
the measurements show no difference between matter and antimatter in the way the strong force behaves. That is, within the accuracy of these measurements, matter and antimatter appear to be perfectly symmetric. That means, at least with the precision the scientists were able to achieve, there doesn't appear to be some asymmetric quirk of the strong force that can account for the continuing existence of matter in the universe and the scarcity of antimatter today.
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Basic quantum computation achieved with silicon for first time

Basic quantum computation achieved with silicon for first time | Science, Technology, and Current Futurism | Scoop.it

So far we have had to use supercooled materials to try out ultra-fast quantum logic. Now silicon, already standard in electronics, has gained that talent.

 

The ingredients for superfast computers could be nearly in place. For the first time, researchers have demonstrated that two silicon transistors acting as quantum bits can perform a tiny calculation. Now it’s just a question of using these as the building blocks of a larger quantum computer – taking advantage of the very material that is ubiquitous in conventional electronics.


Where conventional computing uses bits, quantum computing uses qubits, which can take the values 0, 1 or various combinations of these, instead of being stuck at either 0 or 1. This means they could exponentially shrink the time it takes to solve problems, transforming fields like encryption and the search for new pharmaceuticals.


Previously qubit calculations had been made using ultra-cold superconductors, which are easier to couple together into a basic calculator – but never with user-friendly silicon. In silicon, the qubits are isolated to keep them stable, which is a barrier to making two qubits interact with each other.


Now, a team led by Andrew Dzurak of the University of New South Wales in Sydney, Australia, has achieved that feat. Their device looks at the spin of two electrons and follows instructions: if the first one is spinning in a particular direction, flip the spin of the second electron. If not, do nothing.

This is an example of a logic gate, a fundamental unit in a computer.

 

Repetition of that same humble logic by creating sequences of gates can enable more and more complex calculations. Dzurak’s team says it has patented a design for a chip containing millions of such qubits.


“This is a seminal breakthrough in the world of quantum computer development – with some caveats,” says Thomas Schenckel of the Lawrence Berkley National Laboratory in California. Although easier to scale up, “silicon-based qubits are still way behind superconducting qubits”, he says.


But that doesn’t diminish the potential of the work. “Nothing beats what we can do in silicon in terms of economical scaling and large-scale integration,” Schenkel says.


Journal reference: Nature, DOI: 10.1038/nature15263


Via Jocelyn Stoller, Dr. Stefan Gruenwald
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Understanding Bayes: Evidence vs. Conclusions

Understanding Bayes: Evidence vs. Conclusions | Science, Technology, and Current Futurism | Scoop.it
In this installment of Understanding Bayes I want to discuss the nature of Bayesian evidence and conclusions. In a previous post I focused on Bayes factors' mathematical structure and visualization.
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Thousand-Year Rains Possible in Carolinas; Joaquin Headed North | Dr. Jeff Masters' WunderBlog | Weather Underground

Thousand-Year Rains Possible in Carolinas; Joaquin Headed North | Dr. Jeff Masters' WunderBlog | Weather Underground | Science, Technology, and Current Futurism | Scoop.it
Hurricane Joaquin continued to lash the Bahamas on Friday morning as it turned north on a course expected to keep it well away from the U.S. East Coast.
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The Hidden Epidemic Of Doctor Suicides

The Hidden Epidemic Of Doctor Suicides | Science, Technology, and Current Futurism | Scoop.it
One of the biggest problems reformers like Wible face is the fact that health care professionals have been aware of the anomalously high suicide rate in their field for a long time. Every once in a while, a medical journal or a trade publication will run an article about the problem. It’s not unknown.

Robert P. Bright and Lois Krahn of the Mayo Clinic sum up the problem as follows:

Physicians have a much higher rate of suicide than the general population, but are less likely to seek treatment because of fears of losing their licenses or being thrown out of medical school, fear of losing patients if word gets out they are seeking mental health treatment, or simply not having time to seek treatment due to their workloads.
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Can You Make Yourself Smarter?

Can You Make Yourself Smarter? | Science, Technology, and Current Futurism | Scoop.it
average I.Q.’s have been rising steadily for a century as access to schooling and technology expands, a phenomenon known as the Flynn Effect. As Jaeggi and others see it, the genetic component of intelligence is undeniable, but it functions less like the genes that control for eye color and more like the complex of interacting genes that affect weight and height (both of which have also been rising, on average, for decades). “We know that height is heavily genetically determined,” Jonides told me during our meeting at the University of Michigan. “But we also know there are powerful environmental influences on height, like nutrition. So the fact that intelligence is partly heritable doesn’t mean you can’t modify it.”
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A Brief History Of Cancer [PHOTOS]

A Brief History Of Cancer [PHOTOS] | Science, Technology, and Current Futurism | Scoop.it
Cancer is as old as humanity, and just as complex as the human condition.
Sharrock's insight:
Cancer is not "new" or a result of modern living. "Since the first record of a tumor in ancient Egypt to the modern use of targeted cancer treatments, we’ve learned a great deal about cancer — how it spreads, how it resists, and how it’s defeated — but we’ve also learned a lot about ourselves and the strength of human resilience." A Brief History Of Cancer [PHOTOS] http://www.medicaldaily.com/ancient-tumors-todays-breakthroughs-brief-history-cancer-339818#.VopYcBenxZY.twitter via @medicaldaily
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Mystery material stuns scientists

Mystery material stuns scientists | Science, Technology, and Current Futurism | Scoop.it

It's a UV light, semiconductor, sensor, superconductor, ferromagnet, optoelectronic device. Just add water.

 

In a remarkable chance landmark discovery, a team of researchers at four universities has discovered a mysterious material that emits ultraviolet light and has insulating, electrical conducting, semiconducting, superconducting, and ferromagnetic properties — all controlled by surface water. It happened while the researchers were studying a sample of lanthanum aluminate film on a strontinum titanate crystal. The sample mysteriously began to glow, emitting intense levels of ultraviolet light from its interior. After carefully reproducing the experimental conditions, they tracked down the unlikely switch that turns UV light on or off: surface water moisture.

 

The team of researchers from Drexel University, the University of Pennsylvania, the University of California at Berkeley, and Temple University also found that the interface between the materials’ two layers of electrical insulators also had an unusual electrical conducting state that, like UV, could also be altered by the water on the surface. On top of that, the material also exhibited superconducting, ferromagnetic ordering, and photoconductive properties. Even weirder, “we can also make [the effects] stronger by increasing the distance between the molecules and surface and the buried interface, by using thicker films for example,” said Drexel College of Engineering Professor Jonathan E. Spanier.

 

Puzzled, the researchers turned to their theory collaborators on the team: Penn’s Andrew M. Rappe, Fenggong Wang, and Diomedes Saldana-Grego. “Dissociation of water fragments on the oxide surface releases electrons that move to the buried interface, cancelling out the ionic charges,” Wang said. “This puts all the light emission at the same energy, giving the observed sharp photoluminescence.”

 

According to Rappe, this is the first report of the introduction of molecules to the surface controlling the emission of light — of any color — from a buried solid-surface interface. “The mechanism of a molecule landing and reacting, called dissociative chemisorption, as a way of controlling the onset and suppression of light is unlike any other previously reported,” Saldana-Grego added. The team recently published its findings in the American Chemical Society journal Nano Letters.

 


Via Dr. Stefan Gruenwald
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Super-Tasting Science: Find Out If You're a "Supertaster"!

Super-Tasting Science: Find Out If You're a "Supertaster"! | Science, Technology, and Current Futurism | Scoop.it
Have you ever noticed that some people are a lot pickier about the food they eat than other people are? They might be more selective because they are supertasters! To supertasters, the flavors of foods are much stronger than to average tasters. Whether or not someone is a supertaster comes down to the taste buds on his or her tongue, and you can actually investigate a person's supertaster status by looking at this. Are you a supertaster? Find out with this tongue-based activity!
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Fears About Gene Editing Are Probably Overblown

Fears About Gene Editing Are Probably Overblown | Science, Technology, and Current Futurism | Scoop.it
Alarm about super-healthy children seems like "a first world problem."
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Breakthrough Prizes Give Top Scientists the Rock Star Treatment

Breakthrough Prizes Give Top Scientists the Rock Star Treatment | Science, Technology, and Current Futurism | Scoop.it
The richest awards in science were handed out Sunday as the Breakthrough Prize organization presented a total of $21.9 million to physicists, mathematicians, life scientists and one talented teenager.
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New way to find DNA damage: Chemists look for precursors to disease mutations

New way to find DNA damage: Chemists look for precursors to disease mutations | Science, Technology, and Current Futurism | Scoop.it
University of Utah chemists devised a new way to detect chemical damage to DNA that sometimes leads to genetic mutations responsible for many diseases, including various cancers and neurological disorders.
Sharrock's insight:
"We have a way of marking and copying DNA damage sites so that we can preserve the information of where and what the damage was."
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Campus Technology 2015 Salary Survey: IT Pay -- Campus Technology

Campus Technology 2015 Salary Survey: IT Pay -- Campus Technology | Science, Technology, and Current Futurism | Scoop.it
The numbers are in: Our survey of higher education IT professionals gathered salary data for hundreds of tech leaders and staffers in colleges and universities across the country.
Sharrock's insight:

insights from Tom McDonald: 

Tom McDonald • 19 hours ago

Why is it that when we talk of education compensation, we rarely include education 
specific benefits, which most often dramatically exceed non-education benefits?

We know that people remain employed in education because the salary is acceptable and the benefits are exceptional; health, life, dental, vision, with low out of pocket costs; fully funded retirement, vacation, plus a work environment where resistance to change is systemic and no need to be accountable for a profit, slows down the forward momentum.

Simply comparing salaries is a misrepresentation of the facts and leads us to inaccurately believe that 'these poor folks' are being taken advantage of, which is far from accurate

 
David Nagel Mod  Tom McDonald • 18 hours ago

Thanks for the comment. This is covered int he second part on job satisfaction:https://campustechnology.com/a...

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Why Makerspaces are Changing the World - Medium

Why Makerspaces are Changing the World - Medium | Science, Technology, and Current Futurism | Scoop.it

"The real impact of makerspaces is long term and hard to grade. These spaces enable experiences that over time can significantly strengthen self-efficacy, eliminate learned helplessness, and build an internal locus of control.

 

In makerspaces I’ve seen students teach their teachers about new technologies. I’ve seen 1st graders intuit the existence of cartesian coordinate systems just by observing 3D printers move. I’ve seen kids shout “YOU JUST DISCOVERED SOMETHING!” at classmates wearing ear-to-ear smiles. Teams of runny nosed kindergarteners are crafting Mars rovers out of chopsticks and 5th graders have built freaking 3D printed prosthetic hands before my eyes."


Via John Evans
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Marie Crawford's curator insight, November 6, 2015 11:53 AM

This is why we 'make' and play!

Louise Robinson-Lay's curator insight, January 23, 7:05 PM
Makerspaces
John Rudkin's curator insight, January 24, 6:41 AM

Seriously - Makerspaces are a start...

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Coating cancels acoustic scattering from odd-shaped objects

Coating cancels acoustic scattering from odd-shaped objects | Science, Technology, and Current Futurism | Scoop.it
In a new twist, a team of researchers from the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory and the University of Texas at Austin has applied to acoustic waves the concept of "scattering cancellation," which has long been used to systematically cancel the dominant scattering modes of electromagnetic waves off objects.

 

The work provides fundamental new tools to control acoustic scattering and should improve the ability to make acoustic measurements in the laboratory. It is described this week in the Journal of Applied Physics.

"Scattering" occurs when an object has material properties different than those of the medium surrounding it, such as air or water, and its "mode" is characterized by the way waves bounce off of it. By applying a coating with the appropriate material properties, electromagnetic scattering modes can be cancelled—a process known as "scattering cancellation."

 

It turns out that this applies equally well to other types of waves, such as acoustic waves. As the team reports this week, the principles of scattering aren't limited to electromagnetic waves but are a fundamental feature of how any type of wave interacts with its environment.

 

"Scientists have spent many years studying mathematical solutions to discover how waves scatter from simple objects, such as spheres or cylinders. In most cases, they've attempted to solve the 'forward problem' to determine what the scattered field will look like for a particular object," says Matthew Guild, a National Research Council postdoctoral research associate at the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory.


Via Dr. Stefan Gruenwald
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The great chain of being sure about things

The great chain of being sure about things | Science, Technology, and Current Futurism | Scoop.it
The technology behind bitcoin lets people who do not know or trust each other build a dependable ledger. This has implications far beyond the cryptocurrency
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