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Recent plant extinctions much more extensive than thought, study shows

Recent plant extinctions much more extensive than thought, study shows | Communication design | Scoop.it

A team of researchers with the Royal Botanic Gardens in the U.K. and Stockholm University has found that plant extinctions over the past two and a half centuries have been more extensive than previous estimates suggested. In their paper published in the journal Nature Ecology and Evolution, the group describes their exhaustive study of plants and which have gone extinct, and what it might mean for future plant life.

 

In recent years, botanists have estimated that fewer than 150 plant species have gone extinct in modern times—most due to human activities. In this new effort, the researchers have found that the real number is closer to quadruple such estimates—they found 571 plants that have gone extinct since 1753. That was the year that famed botanist Carl Linnaeus published his Species Plantarum—a collection of all known plant species at that time.

 


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Communication design
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Smart Glove Lets You Grip Virtual Objects

Smart Glove Lets You Grip Virtual Objects | Communication design | Scoop.it
A new smart glove makes VR more immersive by making the virtual objects people touch feel as though they're really there.
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A Reminder That 'Fake News' Is An Information Literacy Problem - Not A Technology Problem - FORBES

A Reminder That 'Fake News' Is An Information Literacy Problem - Not A Technology Problem - FORBES | Communication design | Scoop.it
Beneath the spread of all “fake news,” misinformation, disinformation, digital falsehoods and foreign influence lies society’s failure to teach its citizenry information literacy: how to think critically about the deluge of information that confronts them in our modern digital age. Instead, society has prioritized speed over accuracy, sharing over reading, commenting over understanding. Children are taught to regurgitate what others tell them and to rely on digital assistants to curate the world rather than learn to navigate the informational landscape on their own. Schools no longer teach source triangulation, conflict arbitration, separating fact from opinion, citation chaining, conducting research or even the basic concept of verification and validation. In short, we’ve stopped teaching society how to think about information, leaving our citizenry adrift in the digital wilderness increasingly saturated with falsehoods without so much as a compass or map to help them find their way to safety. The solution is to teach the world's citizenry the basics of information literacy.

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David W. Deeds's curator insight, July 15, 3:09 AM

Thanks to John Evans.

Dennis T OConnor's curator insight, July 19, 2:09 PM

The ability recognize fake news can be taught and learned.  For all those who say,  '...There's no time to do this, there's no place to fit it in the curriculum!'  .... WAKE UP.

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How the moon’s light affects animals

How the moon’s light affects animals | Communication design | Scoop.it
The moon’s light influences lion prey behavior, dung beetle navigation, fish growth, mass migrations and birdsong.

 

Crowds of people gather to watch an evening spectacle on beaches in Southern California: Twice a month, typically from March through August, the sand becomes carpeted with hundreds or thousands of California grunion. Writhing, flopping, silvery sardine look-alikes lunge as far onto shore as possible. As the female fish dig their tails into the sand and release eggs, males wrap around females and release sperm to fertilize those eggs. About 10 days later, the eggs hatch and the little grunion get washed out to sea.

 

This mating ritual is set to the tides, with hatching timed to the arrival of the peak high tide every two weeks. But the ultimate force choreographing this dance is the moon.

 

Many people know that the moon’s gravitational tug on the Earth drives the tides, and with them, the life cycles of coastal creatures. Yet the moon also influences life with its light.


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AI Trained on Reading Scientific Papers Makes Discoveries Humans Missed

AI Trained on Reading Scientific Papers Makes Discoveries Humans Missed | Communication design | Scoop.it

Using just the language in millions of old scientific papers, a machine learning algorithm was able to make completely new scientific discoveries.

 

In a study published in Nature on July 3, 2019, researchers from the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory used an algorithm called Word2Vec sift through scientific papers for connections humans had missed. Their algorithm then spit out predictions for possible thermoelectric materials, which convert heat to energy and are used in many heating and cooling applications.


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Human Handedness and Scalp Hair-Whorl Direction Develop From a Common Genetic Mechanism

Human Handedness and Scalp Hair-Whorl Direction Develop From a Common Genetic Mechanism | Communication design | Scoop.it

Theories concerning the cause of right- or left-hand preference in humans vary from purely learned behavior, to solely genetics, to a combination of the two mechanisms. The cause of handedness and its relation to the biologically specified scalp hair-whorl rotation has also been determined. The general public, consisting of mostly right-handers (RH), shows counterclockwise whorl rotation infrequently in 8.4% of individuals. Interestingly, non-right-handers (NRH, i.e., left-handers and ambidextrous) display a random mixture of clockwise and counterclockwise swirling patterns. Confirming this finding, in another independent sample of individuals chosen because of their counterclockwise rotation, one-half of them are NRH.

 

 


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When Choosing a Mate, Female Parrots Prefer Brains Over Beauty or Brawn

When Choosing a Mate, Female Parrots Prefer Brains Over Beauty or Brawn | Communication design | Scoop.it

When it comes to affairs of the heart, there are a variety of factors at play: mutual attraction, shared interests, an intangible spark that eventually leads to love. But in Darwinian terms, the recipe for reproduction is far more clinical, with animals seeking mates based on the potential evolutionary advantage—often superior cognition skills—offered by a match.

 

Now, a new study published in the journal Science suggests that female budgerigars, a species of small Australian parrots better known as budgies, employ this selective brand of logic when playing the mating game. As Nick Carne writes for Cosmos, a team of Chinese and Dutch researchers found that female budgies preferred brains over beauty and brawn. The birds would even change their selection if the previously overlooked mate learned a new trick.

 


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ThePlanetaryArchives/BlackHorseMedia - San Francisco's curator insight, July 8, 9:43 PM

So, birds are smarter than humans.....?

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MIT’s new interactive machine learning prediction tool could give everyone AI superpowers

MIT’s new interactive machine learning prediction tool could give everyone AI superpowers | Communication design | Scoop.it

Soon, you might not need anything more specialized than a readily accessible touchscreen device and any existing data sets you have access to in order to build powerful prediction tools. A new experiment from MIT and Brown Universityresearchers have added a capability to their ‘Northstar’ interactive data system that can “instantly generate machine-learning models” to use with their exiting data sets in order to generate useful predictions.

 

One example the researchers provide is that doctors could make use of the system to make predictions about the likelihood their patients have of contracting specific diseases based on their medial history. Or, they suggest, a business owner could use their historical sales data to develop more accurate forecasts, quickly and without a ton of manual analytics work.

 

Researchers are calling this feature the Northstar system’s “virtual data scientist,” (or VDS) and it sounds like it could actually replace the human equivalent, especially in settings where one would never actually be readily available or resourced anyway. Your average doctor’s office doesn’t have a dedicated data scientist headcount, for instance, and nor do most small- to medium-sized businesses for that matter. Independently owned and operated coffee shops and retailers definitely wouldn’t otherwise have access to this kind of insight.


Via Charles Gerth, Dr. Stefan Gruenwald
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How Far Are We From Achieving Artificial General Intelligence?

How Far Are We From Achieving Artificial General Intelligence? | Communication design | Scoop.it

Although it might be theoretically possible to replicate the functioning of a human brain, it is not practicable as of now. Thus, capability-wise, we are leaps and bounds away from achieving artificial general intelligence. However, time-wise, the rapid rate at which AI is developing new capabilities means that we might be get close to the inflection point when the AI research community surprises us with the development of artificial general intelligence. And experts have predicted the development of artificial intelligence to be achieved as early as by 2030. A survey of AI experts recently predicted the expected emergence of AGI or the singularity by the year 2060.

 

Thus, although in terms of capability, we are far from achieving artificial general intelligence, the exponential advancement of AI research may possibly culminate into the invention of artificial general intelligence within our lifetime or by the end of this century. Whether the development of AGI will be beneficial for humanity or not is still up for debate and speculation. So is the exact estimate on the time it will take for the emergence of the first real-world AGI application. But one thing is for sure -- the development of AGI will trigger a series of events and irreversible changes (good or bad) that will reshape the world and life as we know it, forever.


Via Charles Gerth, Dr. Stefan Gruenwald
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Joe Boutte's curator insight, July 1, 12:49 PM

When we get to the inflection point of AGI replicating a human brain, will we be smart enough to know?  Will a computer tell us? Will it be too late for humankind?

aktanakin4234@gmail.com's comment, July 7, 8:14 PM
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D-Wave Introduces World’s Largest Quantum Computer

D-Wave Introduces World’s Largest Quantum Computer | Communication design | Scoop.it

The world's largest maker of quantum computers, Canada's D-Wave Systems Inc., recently announced the Pegasus generation of its quantum computers, featuring 2.5 times the qubits (more than 5,000) than its predecessor, as well as the elimination of a major stumbling block to commercialization by directly connecting each of those qubits to three times as many nearby qubits as its previous generation, the Chimera. Analysts are predicting that Pegasus will advance quantum applications down the technology lifetime exponential growth curve.

 


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A Russian scientist has threatened to make more CRISPR babies

A Russian scientist has threatened to make more CRISPR babies | Communication design | Scoop.it

A Russian biologist has told a journalist at Nature that he wants to create more gene-edited babies and will do it if he can win approval.

 

Who’s involved: Denis Rebrikov of the Pirogov Russian National Research Medical University in Moscow says he wants to repeat last year’s widely condemned experiment in China to create humans resistant to HIV. He believes he can do a better job.

 

Is this serious? Rebrikov isn’t known for his work with gene editing. A search of his publications mostly turns up reports on biomarkers of gum disease. However, last October he did author a report in which the gene-editing tool CRISPR was applied to human IVF embryos, one of just a dozen or so such experiments ever described. What’s more, his coauthors included the director of a large Russian maternity clinic, the Kulakov National Medical Research Center for Obstetrics, Gynecology, and Perinatology in Moscow. Rebikov believes Russian rules on creating gene-modified babies are unclear and says that he plans to seek approval to carry out the procedure.

 

Expert response: Experts say it wouldn’t be responsible to make more CRISPR babies at this time. One reason is that it is hard to know what unexpected effects altering a baby’s genes will have. The gene the Russians want to delete from embryos, CCR5, doesn’t just protect against HIV. It appears to have potential effects on cognition and life span, too. Yet some scientists will remain driven to genetically modify children, no matter what. “I think I’m crazy enough to do it,” Rebikov told Nature.


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How old are your organs? To scientists' surprise, organs are a mix of young and old cells

How old are your organs? To scientists' surprise, organs are a mix of young and old cells | Communication design | Scoop.it

Scientists once thought that neurons, or possibly heart cells, were the oldest cells in the body. Now, Salk Institute researchers have discovered that the mouse brain, liver and pancreas contain populations of cells and proteins with extremely long lifespans -- some as old as neurons. The findings, demonstrating "age mosaicism," were published in Cell Metabolismon June 6, 2019.

 

The team's methods could be applied to nearly any tissue in the body to provide valuable information about lifelong function of non-dividing cells and how cells lose control over the quality and integrity of proteins and important cell structures during aging.

"We were quite surprised to find cellular structures that are essentially as old as the organism they reside in," says Salk Vice President, Chief Science Officer Martin Hetzer, senior author and professor. "This suggests even greater cellular complexity than we previously imagined and has intriguing implications for how we think about the aging of organs, such as the brain, heart and pancreas."

 

Most neurons in the brain do not divide during adulthood and thus experience a long lifespan and age-related decline. Yet, largely due to technical limitations, the lifespan of cells outside of the brain was difficult to determine.

 

"Biologists have asked -- how old are cells in an organism? There is this general idea that neurons are old, while other cells in the body are relatively young and regenerate throughout the organism's lifetime," says Rafael Arrojo e Drigo, first author and Salk staff scientist. "We set out to see if it was possible that certain organs also have cells that were as long-lived as neurons in the brain."

 

Since the researchers knew that most neurons are not replaced during the lifespan, they used them as an "age baseline" to compare other non-dividing cells. The team combined electron isotope labeling with a hybrid imaging method (MIMS-EM) to visualize and quantify cell and protein age and turnover in the brain, pancreas and liver in young and old rodent models.


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Space: The Final Illusion?

Space: The Final Illusion? | Communication design | Scoop.it

The intuitive idea that objects influence each other because they're in physical proximity is soon to become another of those beliefs that turn out to be wrong when we look deeper.

 

One persistent illusion is that physical objects only interact with other objects they are close to. This is called the principle of locality. We can express this more precisely by the law that the strengths of forces between any two objects falls off quickly—at least by some power of the distance between them. This can be explained by positing that the bodies do not interact directly, but only through the mediation of a field, such as an electromagnetic field, which propagates from one body to the other. Fields spread out as they propagate, with the field lines covering a constantly greater area—providing a natural explanation for the laws that say the forces between charges and masses fall off like the square of the distance between them.

 

 


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Artist / Icon / Inspiration : Women in Photography

Artist / Icon / Inspiration : Women in Photography | Communication design | Scoop.it

Phillips announces the sale of Artist | Icon | Inspiration: Women in Photography, an auction presented with gallerist and collector Peter Fetterman that will explore the role of women as artists, subjects, and innovators. The auction on 7 June in New York will offer approximately…



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LEAPER a major leap? Chinese Scientists Say They’ve Found a Safer Alternative to CRISPR

LEAPER a major leap? Chinese Scientists Say They’ve Found a Safer Alternative to CRISPR | Communication design | Scoop.it

Researchers from China’s Peking University have developed a new gene-editing technology —  and they think it shows promise as a CRISPR alternative for fighting human diseases.

 

According to a paper published on Monday in the journal Nature Biotechnology, this new technology, LEAPER, which stands for “leveraging endogenous ADAR for programmable editing of RNA,” works similarly to CRISPR-Cas13, targeting RNA molecules as opposed to DNA like the well-known CRISPR-Cas9.

 

But while CRISPR-Cas13 relies on both a guide RNA and the Cas13 enzyme to make its edits to RNA, the LEAPER system needs just one component known as an arRNA. This makes the system “more easily deliverable and less likely to result in unwanted cellular immune responses,” the researchers told China-based media outlet Caixin.

 

As for the potential uses of their CRISPR alternative, Peking researcher Zhou Zhuo told Caixin that “there are clear prospects for using this technology in disease treatment.” In fact, in tests of cells taken from people with the debilitating genetic disorder Hurler syndrome, LEAPER was able to correct “sufficient amounts” of the cells’ mutated RNA, University of Queensland geneticist Ernst Wolvetang, who wasn’t involved in the research, told Caixin.

 

However, the research is still in the early stages and is only now moving into tests on animals — meaning we won’t know for some time if LEAPER will dethrone CRISPR as the preeminent gene-editing technology.


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Artificial Intelligence Explained: What Are Generative Adversarial Networks (GANs)?

Artificial Intelligence Explained: What Are Generative Adversarial Networks (GANs)? | Communication design | Scoop.it

The principle behind the GAN was first proposed in 2014, and at its most basic level, it describes a system that pits two AI systems (neural networks) against each other to improve the quality of their results.

 

To understand how they work, imagine a blind forger trying to create copies of paintings by great masters. To start with, he has no idea what a painting should look like – but he happens to have a friend who has a photographic memory of every masterpiece that's ever been painted.

 


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More than half of new drugs have not been shown to add any benefit, study shows

More than half of new drugs have not been shown to add any benefit, study shows | Communication design | Scoop.it

On 1 January 2011, Germany introduced early benefit assessment (Frühe Nutzenbewertung) of new drugs through the reform of the market for medicinal products act (AMNOG). Its aim is to determine whether a new drug has any added benefit over standard care. The Federal Joint Committee (G-BA), the main decision making body within the German statutory health insurance system, is responsible for the assessment procedure and ultimately decides on the added benefit.

The G-BA specifies the standard care based on criteria laid down in the law. According to these criteria, standard care is an approved and reimbursed intervention that is established in clinical practice and for which a benefit has been proved according to the standards of evidence based medicine (predominantly based on studies with patient relevant outcomes). If appropriate, standard care might also be watchful waiting or best supportive care.


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French Village Hits 114.6 Degrees Due to Global Warming, Setting New National Record

French Village Hits 114.6 Degrees Due to Global Warming, Setting New National Record | Communication design | Scoop.it

In July 2019, the village of Gallargues-le-Montueux located in southern France outside of Montpellier topped 114.6 degrees Fahrenheit, the highest temperature ever recorded in continental France.

That sweltering heat broke the previous record of 113.2 degrees, which was set just hours before in the village of Villevieille. And those weren’t the only hot spots. Brian Kahn at Earther reports that at least 12 weather stations in France detected temperatures above 111.4 degrees Fahrenheit, the previous hottest temperature set in 2003.


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A third CRISPR baby may have already been born in China

A third CRISPR baby may have already been born in China | Communication design | Scoop.it
Another genetically edited baby is due, but the world may never learn of its birth if the Chinese government decides to keep it a secret.

 

The Second International Summit on Human Genome Editing, held in Hong Kong last November, was meant to debate the pros and cons of genetically engineering humans. Instead, the proceedings were turned upside down by the revelation that He Jiankui, a Chinese biophysicist, had already done it. He’d gone ahead and edited the DNA of twin girls with the powerful gene modification tool called CRISPR.

 

 

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Researchers 3D Printing High Resolution Tricalcium Phosphate Scaffolds for Bone Regeneration

Researchers 3D Printing High Resolution Tricalcium Phosphate Scaffolds for Bone Regeneration | Communication design | Scoop.it

In ‘Application of high resolution DLP stereolithography for fabrication of tricalcium phosphate scaffolds for bone regeneration,’ researchers examine how to make complex, stable scaffolds based on β-tricalcium. Typically, there are obstacles to finding materials and techniques suitable for creating structures capable of sustaining cell life.

 

The authors are aware of the necessities in tissue engineering: the material cannot be toxic, obviously, as that would cause further health issues in a patient, biodegradability is key, with the material being absorbed along with suitable bone growth, and porosity and density must be suitable too, balanced out with proper strength.

 

DLP 3D printing has proven successful for creating scaffolds due to comprehensive irradiation over the whole cross-section, and shorter processing times in comparison to other processes. The researchers focused on DLP 3D printing for this study, in relation to the use of calcium phosphate structures that are not only complex and high resolution but also strong. The team assessed both rectilinear grid structure and hexagonal geometries (at 50 and 75 percent porosity) for mechanical properties, with complete chemical analyses performed before and after bioprinting.


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