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Social Foraging
Dynamics of Social Interaction
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Ants have an exceptionally 'hi-def' sense of smell

Ants have an exceptionally 'hi-def' sense of smell | Social Foraging | Scoop.it

The first complete map of the ants' olfactory system has discovered that the eusocial insects have four to fives more odorant receptors—the special proteins that detect different odors—than other insects.

 

Ants have four to five times more odor receptors than most other insects, a team of researchers have discovered. The research team, led by Lawrence Zwiebel at Vanderbilt, recently completed the first full map of olfactory system that provides ants with their sense of taste and smell. They found the industrious insects have genes that make about 400 distinct odorant receptors, special proteins that detect different odors. By comparison, silk moths have 52, fruit flies have 61, mosquitoes range from 74 to 158 and honeybees have 174.

 

"The most exciting moment for me was when the analysis came back showing that we had identified more than 400 OR genes, the largest number of any known insect species," said Xiaofan Zhou, the research associate who headed up the characterization process. "It meant that we had successfully taken the first step toward gaining a new level of understanding of the complex social system that has made ants one of the most successful families on the planet."

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Is Motivation More Important Than Cognitive Ability When It Comes to Children's Success?

Is Motivation More Important Than Cognitive Ability When It Comes to Children's Success? | Social Foraging | Scoop.it

Angela Duckworth, a psychologist at the University of Pennsylvania, has made it her life’s work to analyze which children succeed and why. She says she finds it useful to divide the mechanics of achievement into two separate dimensions: motivation and volition. Each one, she says, is necessary to achieve long-term goals, but neither is sufficient alone. Most of us are familiar with the experience of possessing motivation but lacking volition: You can be extremely motivated to lose weight, for example, but unless you have the volition—the willpower, the self-control—to put down the cherry Danish and pick up the free weights, you’re not going to succeed. If children are highly motivated, self-control techniques and exercises—things like learning how to distract themselves from temptations or to think about their goals abstractly—might be very helpful. But what if students just aren’t motivated to achieve the goals their teachers or parents want them to achieve? Then, Duckworth acknowledges, all the self-control tricks in the world aren’t going to help.

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Towards computing with water droplets: Superhydrophobic droplet logic

Towards computing with water droplets: Superhydrophobic droplet logic | Social Foraging | Scoop.it

Researchers in Aalto University have developed a new concept for computing, using water droplets as bits of digital information. This was enabled by the discovery that upon collision with each other on a highly water-repellent surface, two water droplets rebound like billiard balls.

 

In the work, published in the journal Advanced Materials, the researchers experimentally determined the conditions for rebounding of water droplets moving on superhydrophobic surfaces. In the study, a copper surface coated with silver and chemically modified with a fluorinated compound was used. This method enables the surface to be so water-repellent that water droplets roll off when the surface is tilted slightly. Superhydrophobic tracks, developed during a previous study, were employed for guiding droplets along designed paths.

 

Using the tracks, the researchers demonstrated that water droplets could be turned into technology, "superhydrophobic droplet logic." For example, a memory device was built where water droplets act as bits of digital information. Furthermore, devices for elementary Boolean logic operations were demonstrated. These simple devices are building blocks for computing.

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Weapon-wielding marine microbes may protect populations from foes

Weapon-wielding marine microbes may protect populations from foes | Social Foraging | Scoop.it

Competition is a strong driving force of evolution for organisms of all sizes: Those individuals best equipped to obtain resources adapt and reproduce, while others may fall by the wayside. Many organisms — mammals, birds and insects, for instance — also form cooperative social structures that allow resources to be defended and shared within a population.

 

But surprisingly, even microbes, which are thought to thrive only when able to win the battle for resources against those nearest to them, have a somewhat sophisticated social structure that relies on cooperation, according to MIT scientists. These researchers have recently found evidence that some ocean microbes wield chemical weapons that are harmless to close relatives within their own population, but deadly to outsiders.

 

The weapons are natural antibiotics produced by a few individuals whose closest relatives carry genes that make them resistant. The researchers believe that the few antibiotic producers are acting as protectors of the many, using the antibiotics to defend the population from competitors or to attack neighboring populations.

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Who's the most influential in a social graph? New software recognizes key influencers faster than ever

Who's the most influential in a social graph? New software recognizes key influencers faster than ever | Social Foraging | Scoop.it

At an airport, many people are essential for planes to take off. Gate staffs, refueling crews, flight attendants and pilots are in constant communication with each other as they perform required tasks. But it's the air traffic controller who talks with every plane, coordinating departures and runways. Communication must run through her in order for an airport to run smoothly and safely.

 

In computational terms, the air traffic controller is the "betweenness centrality," the most connected person in the system. In this example, finding the key influencer is easy because each departure process is nearly the same. Determining the most influential person on a social media network (or, in computer terms, a graph) is more complex.

 

Thousands of users are interacting about a single subject at the same time. New people (known computationally as edges) are constantly joining the streaming conversation. Georgia Tech has developed a new algorithm that quickly determines betweenness centrality for streaming graphs.

 

The algorithm can identify influencers as information changes within a network. The first-of-its-kind streaming tool was presented this week by Computational Science and Engineering Ph.D. candidate Oded Green at the Social Computing Conference in Amsterdam. "Unlike existing algorithms, our system doesn't restart the computational process from scratch each time a new edge is inserted into a graph," said College of Computing Professor David Bader, the project's leader. "Rather than starting over, our algorithm stores the graph's prior centrality data and only does the bare minimal computations affected by the inserted edges."

 

In some cases, betweenness centrality can be computed more than 100 times faster using the Georgia Tech software. The open source software will soon be available to businesses.

Read more at: http://phys.org/news/2012-09-influential-social-graph-software-key.html#jCp

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Researchers develop technique to remotely control cockroaches

Researchers develop technique to remotely control cockroaches | Social Foraging | Scoop.it

Researchers from North Carolina State University have developed a technique that uses an electronic interface to remotely control, or steer, cockroaches.

 

"Our aim was to determine whether we could create a wireless biological interface with cockroaches, which are robust and able to infiltrate small spaces," says Alper Bozkurt, an assistant professor of electrical engineering at NC State and co-author of a paper on the work. "Ultimately, we think this will allow us to create a mobile web of smart sensors that uses cockroaches to collect and transmit information, such as finding survivors in a building that's been destroyed by an earthquake.

 

"Building small-scale robots that can perform in such uncertain, dynamic conditions is enormously difficult," Bozkurt says. "We decided to use biobotic cockroaches in place of robots, as designing robots at that scale is very challenging and cockroaches are experts at performing in such a hostile environment." But you can't just put sensors on a cockroach.

 

Researchers needed to find a cost-effective and electrically safe way to control the roaches, to ensure the roaches operate within defined parameters – such as a disaster site – and to steer the roaches to specific areas of interest.

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Artificial Universe Created Inside a Supercomputer

Artificial Universe Created Inside a Supercomputer | Social Foraging | Scoop.it

Building a universe from scratch that brims with galaxies resembling those around us is now possible on supercomputers for the first time, researchers say.

 

Our galaxy, the Milky Way, is a spiral galaxy with a broad disk and outstretched arms, as are many in our cosmic neighborhood, such as Andromeda, the Pinwheel and the Whirlpool galaxies. Spiral galaxies are common, but past computer models that aimed to accurately simulate the birth and evolution of the universe over billions of years had trouble creating them. Instead, they often generated lots of blobby galaxies clumped into balls.

 

New computer simulations can now recreate the kind of galactic communities seen in our universe, starting with the observed afterglow of the Big Bang and evolving forward in time. Harvard's Odyssey supercomputer allowed simulations that compressed nearly 14 billion years into only a few months.

 

"We've created the full variety of galaxies we see in the local universe," said study author Mark Vogelsberger at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics.

 

The new software is called Arepo and was created by Volker Springel at the Heidelberg Institute for Theoretical Studies in Germany. Previous simulations divided space into a fixed grid of cubes, with each cube simulating the behavior of substances within that space.

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Where Do the Eyes Really Go in the Hollow-Face Illusion?

Where Do the Eyes Really Go in the Hollow-Face Illusion? | Social Foraging | Scoop.it

The hollow-face illusion refers to the finding that people typically perceive a concave (hollow) mask as being convex, despite the presence of binocular disparity cues that indicate the contrary. Unlike other illusions of depth, recent research has suggested that the eyes tend to converge at perceived, rather than actual, depths. However, technical and methodological limitations prevented one from knowing whether disparity cues may still have influenced vergence. In the current study, we presented participants with virtual normal or hollow masks and asked them to fixate the tip of the face’s nose until they had indicated whether they perceived it as pointing towards or away from them. The results showed that the direction of vergence was indeed determined by perceived depth, although vergence responses were both somewhat delayed and of smaller amplitude (by a factor of about 0.5) for concave than convex masks. These findings demonstrate how perceived depth can override disparity cues when it comes to vergence, albeit not entirely.

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A Method for Quantifying Consistency in Animal Distributions Using Survey Data

A Method for Quantifying Consistency in Animal Distributions Using Survey Data | Social Foraging | Scoop.it

The degree of consistency with which groups of animals use the landscape is determined by a variety of ecological processes that influence their movements and patterns of habitat use. We developed a technique termed Distributional Consistency that uses survey data of unmarked individuals to quantify temporal consistency in their spatial distribution, while accounting for changes in population size. Distributional consistency is quantified by comparing the observed distribution patterns to all theoretically possible distribution patterns of observed individuals, leading to a proportional score between 0 and 1, reflecting increasingly consistent use of sites within a region. The technique can be applied to survey data for any taxa across a range of spatial and temporal scales. We suggest ways in which distributional consistency could provide inferences about the dispersal and habitat decisions of individuals, and the scales at which these decisions operate. Distributional consistency integrates spatial and temporal processes to quantify an important characteristic of different habitats and their use by populations, which in turn will be particularly useful in complimenting and interpreting other ecological measures such as population density and stability. The technique can be applied to many existing data sets to investigate and evaluate a range of important ecological questions using simple survey data.

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Model to Track Wild Birds for Avian Influenza by Means of Population Dynamics and Surveillance Information

Model to Track Wild Birds for Avian Influenza by Means of Population Dynamics and Surveillance Information | Social Foraging | Scoop.it

Design, sampling and data interpretation constitute an important challenge for wildlife surveillance of avian influenza viruses (AIV). The aim of this study was to construct a model to improve and enhance identification in both different periods and locations of avian species likely at high risk of contact with AIV in a specific wetland. This study presents an individual-based stochastic model for the Ebre Delta as an example of this appliance. Based on the Monte-Carlo method, the model simulates the dynamics of the spread of AIV among wild birds in a natural park following introduction of an infected bird. Data on wild bird species population, apparent AIV prevalence recorded in wild birds during the period of study, and ecological information on factors such as behaviour, contact rates or patterns of movements of waterfowl were incorporated as inputs of the model. From these inputs, the model predicted those species that would introduce most of AIV in different periods and those species and areas that would be at high risk as a consequence of the spread of these AIV incursions. This method can serve as a complementary tool to previous studies to optimize the allocation of the limited AI surveillance resources in a local complex ecosystem. However, this study indicates that in order to predict the evolution of the spread of AIV at the local scale, there is a need for further research on the identification of host factors involved in the interspecies transmission of AIV.

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Is open source cloud computing too cloudy?

The Linux Foundation wrapped up its CloudOpen conference this weekend at the Sheraton Hotel & Marina in San Diego.

 

Billed as "the only" conference providing a collaboration and education space dedicated to advancing the open cloud, but what kind of taste did it leave in our mouths?

 

Can we say unequivocally that ALL open source cloud computing is ALL good news?

 

Some might argue that it is, but (and it's a big but) with both OpenStack and CloudStack in existence, plus the rise of deviations and modifications upon both standards... and then corporate vendor-driven spin in between...

 

... things are getting just a little confusing.

 

IT analyst house IDC says that a massive 94 percent of Windows and Linux users want open collaboration and a "vibrant and open source ecosystem" for cloud computing.

 

IDC: "72 percent of businesses say that the use of open source software, open standards and/or open APIs are key factors when choosing a cloud provider or building their own cloud."

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The homeless use Facebook?! Similarities of social network use between college students and homeless young adults

This research compared technology use among homeless young adults with that of college students as a means of understanding technology use among young adults today; people who have grown up with technology. Specifically, social network site (SNS) usage was assessed for two age-matched young adult samples, one drawn from a large introductory psychology subject pool, and a second from homeless young adults who were approached for participation when they entered metropolitan shelters. Overall, technology use was strikingly similar. These results call for a paradigm shift in researchers’ understanding of technology use and indicate that contemporary young adults sampled across socio-economic class and varying ethnicities are far more similar than prior research would suggest. These results call into question whether the term “digital divide” is useful for describing group differences in technology use as our results suggest the divide has narrowed considerably.

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Servers Too Hot? Intel Recommends a Luxurious Oil Bath

Servers Too Hot? Intel Recommends a Luxurious Oil Bath | Social Foraging | Scoop.it

That’s a technique that Intel has been testing out over the past year, running servers in little oil-filled boxes built by an Austin, Texas, company called Green Revolution Cooling. As Gigaom reported on Friday, it turns out that once you take out the PC’s fans and seal up the hard drives, oil-cooling a server works out pretty well.

 

In its tests, Green Revolution’s CarnotJet cooling system used a lot less energy than their air-cooled counterparts, Dr. Mike Patterson, a power and thermal engineer with Intel, tells Wired. Intel found that oil-cooled systems only needed another 2 or 3 percent of their power for cooling. That’s far less than your typical server, which has a 50 or 60 percent overhead. The world’s most efficient data centers — those run by Google or Facebook, for example — can get that number down to 10 or 20 percent.

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MRI reveals brain’s response to reading

MRI reveals brain’s response to reading | Social Foraging | Scoop.it

Neurobiological experts, radiologists, and humanities scholars are working together to explore the relationship between reading, attention, and distraction—by reading Jane Austen.

 

Surprising preliminary results reveal a dramatic and unexpected increase in blood flow to regions of the brain beyond those responsible for “executive function,” areas which would normally be associated with paying close attention to a task, such as reading, says Natalie Phillips, the literary scholar leading the project.

 

During a series of ongoing experiments, functional magnetic resonance images track blood flow in the brains of subjects as they read excerpts of a Jane Austen novel. Experiment participants are first asked to skim a passage leisurely as they might do in a bookstore, and then to read more closely, as they would while studying for an exam.

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The 11th International Symposium on Autonomous Decentralized Systems (ISADS 2013)

The 11th International Symposium on Autonomous Decentralized Systems (ISADS 2013) | Social Foraging | Scoop.it

June 15, 2012: Workshop and panel proposals due.

July 31, 2012: Acceptance notification for workshop proposals.

September 24, 2012: Final papers due. NEW EXTENDED DATE!

November 15, 2012: Acceptance notification for paper authors and panel organizers.

December 31, 2012: Camera-ready copies of accepted papers and panelist position papers due.

 

Opportunities and challenges for implementing highly complex, efficient, and dependable business and control systems have been steadily increasing, driven by the continuous growth in the power, intelligence, adaptiveness and openness of technologies and standards applied in computing, communication and control systems. Dynamically changing social and economic situations demand the next-generation of systems to be based on adaptive, reusable, and internet and Web-enabled technologies and applications. Such systems are expected to have the characteristics of living systems composed of largely autonomous and decentralized components. Such systems are called Autonomous Decentralized Systems (ADS). The International Symposium on Autonomous Decentralized System (ISADS) has been the premier events in the past twenty-two years to have successfully addressed these challenges. The 11th ISADS 2013 will continue to focus on the advancements and innovations in ADS concepts, technologies, applications strategic issues, and other related topics. The special topic for ISADS 2013 is the smart cities and e-applications.

 

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Scientists create 'cyberbee' with a tracking chip to track down deadly zombie parasite

Scientists create 'cyberbee' with a tracking chip to track down deadly zombie parasite | Social Foraging | Scoop.it

Scientists are attaching radio sensors to bees in a bid to find out how and when they get attacked by a deadly parasite.

 

The Apocephalus borealis parasite attaches itself to bees, and then forces them to leave their hives, head to the outside world, and 'dance' erratically in front of streetlights.

 

After an exhausting dance, the bees plunge to the ground dead, victims of a disease which is decimating colonies in America.

 

So staff at San Francisco State University are now attaching radio sensors - the size of a speck of glitter - to the insects, to monitor their movements.

 

The scientists are tagging infected bees with tiny radio trackers, and monitoring the bees' movements in and out of a specially designed hive on top of the Hensill Hall biology building on campus.

 

At the same time, they are monitoring hives on campus and on the roof of the San Francisco Chronicle's offices for further signs of the mysterious parasite and encouraging the public to participate through a new website ZomBeeWatch.org.

 

After being parasitised by the Apocephalus borealis fly, the bees abandon their hives and congregate near outside lights, moving in increasingly erratic circles on the ground before dying.

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MIT researchers create new Urban Network Analysis toolbox

MIT researchers create new Urban Network Analysis toolbox | Social Foraging | Scoop.it

MIT researchers have created a new Urban Network Analysis (UNA) toolbox that enables urban designers and planners to describe the spatial patterns of cities using mathematical network analysis methods. Such tools can support better informed and more resilient urban design and planning in a context of rapid urbanization. "Network centrality measures are useful predictors for a number of interesting urban phenomena," explains Andres Sevtsuk, the principal investigator of the City Form Research Group at MIT that produced the toolbox. "They help explain, for instance, on which streets or buildings one is most likely to find local commerce, where foot or vehicular traffic is expected to be highest, and why city land values vary from one location to another."

 

Network analysis is widely used in the study of social networks, such as Facebook friends or phonebook connections, but so far fairly little in the spatial analysis of cities. While the study of spatial networks goes back to Euler and his famous puzzle of Königsberg's seven bridges in the 18th century, there were, until recently, no freely accessible tools available for city planners to calculate computation-intensive spatial centrality measures on dense networks of city streets and buildings.

 

The new toolbox, which is distributed as free and open-source plugin-in for ArcGIS, allows urban designers and planners to compute five types of graph analysis measures on spatial networks: Reach; Gravity; Betweenness; Closeness; and Straightness. "The Reach measure, for instance, can be used to estimate how many destinations of a particular type — buildings, residents, jobs, transit stations etc. — can be reached within a given walking radius from each building along the actual circulation routes in the area", said Michael Mekonnen, a course six sophomore who worked on the project. "The Betweenness measure, on the other hand, can be used to quantify the number of potential passersby at each building."

Read more at: http://phys.org/news/2011-09-mit-urban-network-analysis-toolbox.html#jCp

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Weapon-wielding marine microbes may protect populations from foes

Weapon-wielding marine microbes may protect populations from foes | Social Foraging | Scoop.it

Competition is a strong driving force of evolution for organisms of all sizes: Those individuals best equipped to obtain resources adapt and reproduce, while others may fall by the wayside. Many organisms -- mammals, birds and insects, for instance -- also form cooperative social structures that allow resources to be defended and shared within a population.

 

But surprisingly, even microbes, which are thought to thrive only when able to win the battle for resources against those nearest to them, have a somewhat sophisticated social structure that relies on cooperation, according to MIT scientists. These researchers have recently found evidence that some ocean microbes wield chemical weapons that are harmless to close relatives within their own population, but deadly to outsiders.

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Forget Passwords: How Playing Games Can Make Computers More Secure

Forget Passwords: How Playing Games Can Make Computers More Secure | Social Foraging | Scoop.it

A new security approach would let users input patterns instead of words to verify identity...

 

It seems like something out of a Robert Ludlum spy novel. Someone tries to coerce you into revealing your computer security passwords. You might be tempted to give in, but it is impossible for you to reveal your authentication credentials. You do not actually know them because they are safely buried deep within your subconscious.

 

Sounds a bit extreme just to make sure no one can log on to your laptop or smartphone, but a team of researchers from Stanford and Northwestern universities as well as SRI International is nonetheless experimenting at the computer-, cognitive- and neuroscience intersection to combat identity theft and shore up cyber security—by taking advantage of the human brain’s innate abilities to learn and recognize patterns.

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Is “Circling” Behavior in Humans Related to Postural Asymmetry?

Is “Circling” Behavior in Humans Related to Postural Asymmetry? | Social Foraging | Scoop.it

In attempting to walk rectilinearly in the absence of visual landmarks, persons will gradually turn in a circle to eventually become lost. The aim of the present study was to provide insights into the possible underlying mechanisms of this behavior. For each subject (N = 15) six trajectories were monitored during blindfolded walking in a large enclosed area to suppress external cues, and ground irregularities that may elicit unexpected changes in direction. There was a substantial variability from trial to trial for a given subject and between subjects who could either veer very early or relatively late. Of the total number of trials, 50% trajectories terminated on the left side, 39% on the right side and 11% were defined as “straight”. For each subject, we established a “turning score” that reflected his/her preferential side of veering. The turning score was found to be unrelated to any evident biomechanical asymmetry or functional dominance (eye, hand…). Posturographic analysis, used to assess if there was a relationship between functional postural asymmetry and veering revealed that the mean position of the center of foot pressure during balance tests was correlated with the turning score. Finally, we established that the mean position of the center of pressure was correlated with perceived verticality assessed by a subjective verticality test. Together, our results suggest that veering is related to a “sense of straight ahead” that could be shaped by vestibular inputs.

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Brain Networks of Explicit and Implicit Learning

Brain Networks of Explicit and Implicit Learning | Social Foraging | Scoop.it

Are explicit versus implicit learning mechanisms reflected in the brain as distinct neural structures, as previous research indicates, or are they distinguished by brain networks that involve overlapping systems with differential connectivity? In this functional MRI study we examined the neural correlates of explicit and implicit learning of artificial grammar sequences. Using effective connectivity analyses we found that brain networks of different connectivity underlie the two types of learning: while both processes involve activation in a set of cortical and subcortical structures, explicit learners engage a network that uses the insula as a key mediator whereas implicit learners evoke a direct frontal-striatal network. Individual differences in working memory also differentially impact the two types of sequence learning.

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Inference of Biological Pathway from Gene Expression Profiles by Time Delay Boolean Networks

Inference of Biological Pathway from Gene Expression Profiles by Time Delay Boolean Networks | Social Foraging | Scoop.it

One great challenge of genomic research is to efficiently and accurately identify complex gene regulatory networks. The development of high-throughput technologies provides numerous experimental data such as DNA sequences, protein sequence, and RNA expression profiles makes it possible to study interactions and regulations among genes or other substance in an organism. However, it is crucial to make inference of genetic regulatory networks from gene expression profiles and protein interaction data for systems biology. This study will develop a new approach to reconstruct time delay Boolean networks as a tool for exploring biological pathways. In the inference strategy, we will compare all pairs of input genes in those basic relationships by their corresponding -scores for every output gene. Then, we will combine those consistent relationships to reveal the most probable relationship and reconstruct the genetic network. Specifically, we will prove that state transition pairs are sufficient and necessary to reconstruct the time delay Boolean network of nodes with high accuracy if the number of input genes to each gene is bounded. We also have implemented this method on simulated and empirical yeast gene expression data sets. The test results show that this proposed method is extensible for realistic networks.

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Impact factor: researchers should define the metrics that matter to them

Impact factor: researchers should define the metrics that matter to them | Social Foraging | Scoop.it

One of the challenges faced by research funders – both public and private – is how to maximise the amount of work being done on important problems, without institutionalising any particular dogma which may suppress novel ideas. The most common arrangement is to fund good researchers but refrain from being overly prescriptive about outcomes, and, in turn, the way to identify good researchers has been to look at the publications that follow the research they fund.

 

In 1955, Eugene Garfield, the founder of the Institute for Scientific Information (now part of Thomson Reuters), introduced a means for identifying influential journals according to the number of times work appearing in them was cited. This process results in a number called the impact factor (IF), and it's build on the assumption that those whose works have been the most influential will be the most cited.

 

However, as anyone who's compared the Twitter following of, say, pop singer Rihanna to astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson knows, influence is only one dimension of importance. While useful for many (pre-digital) years, the IF system, not unlike some celebrities, is not aging gracefully. Not only has it been widely misapplied, it has also had some unintended side effects.

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Scientists develop light-activated muscle for robots

Scientists develop light-activated muscle for robots | Social Foraging | Scoop.it

Animals have long been a source of inspiration to researchers — from swimming like dolphins, scurrying across walls like lizards or jumping like fleas. However, a team of researchers have now gone a step further — using biological ingredients to build muscle cells for advanced robots to make them more ‘organic’.

 

Scientists at MIT and the University of Pennsylvania have engineered muscle cells which can flex in response to light. Using this “bio-integrated” approach, the teams are building the light-sensitive tissue so robots could potentially become as flexible and strong as living counterparts.

 

The research will be published in a future issue of journal Lab on a Chip.

 

The team chose skeletal muscle for their robotic design, which is more powerful and stronger than cardiac muscle. Normally, neurons send electrical impulses which cause muscle to contract — so to mimic this biological function, the Ford Professor of Engineering in MIT’s Department of Mechanical Engineering and team leader Harry Asada went to the field of optogenetics.

 

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From Change Control to Adaptation

Complex Adaptive Systems (CAS) are non-linear, self-organizing systems that have the ability to adapt to changing conditions through changing the rules that organize the random autonomous interactions between agents in the environment. This adaptation takes place through gradual gained experience that is reflected in the agent’s behavior. Interacting agents that are described in terms of certain rules generate complex temporal patterns. Emergent higher level patterns can arise out of parallel complex interaction between local agents.

 

Emergent systems are rule governed systems; their capacity for learning and growth and experimentation is derived from governing decentralized level local rules. Acknowledging that giving up top-down control, giving systems a margin of freedom to govern themselves bottom-up as much as possible and letting it learn from and build on their experience is essential to understand emergence in CAS. Applying this framework to case studies from informal settlements around Cairo, we identify several innovations in governance that emerged in this program and demonstrate how complex adaptive system thinking can be useful in understanding how governance can enhance resilience.

 

The complex adaptive systems approach shifts the perspective on governance from the aim to control change in resources through a rigid prescriptive sociopolitical systems that is assumed to be stable, to enhancing the capacity of social-ecological systems to learn to live with and shape change and even find ways to transform into more desirable directions. Adaptive management of environmental resources presents a challenge to traditional government, with its reliance on bureaucratic procedures, the lengthy processes of legislative deliberation, and the often arbitrary nature of judicial decision making.

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