After a decade or so of legal back-and-forth between Utah-based Myriad Genetics and medical researchers, the ACLU, and the Public Patent Forum, the US Supreme Court will hear a case next week which attempts to address whether genes — isolated (derivative) or original — can be patented. The stakes are high on both sides: opponents use Myriad's actions to argue that giving short-term monopoly control over humanity's genetic constituency is not in the public interest, while proponents defend the use of patents to spur private research in biotech, alternative energy and other nascent industries.
Is Psychometric g a Myth? - "As an online discussion about IQ or general intelligence grows longer, the probability of someone linking to statistician Cosma Shalizi's essay g, a Statistical Myth approaches 1. Usually the link is accompanied by an assertion to the effect that Shalizi offers a definitive refutation of the concept of general mental ability, or psychometric g." [more inside]
GDELT data is now publicly available. GDELT stands for Global Data on Events, Location and Tone, and is a dataset that contains information on over 200 million geolocated events. [more inside]
Karl Deisseroth and his team at Stanford University [previously] have developed a completely new technique to make a brain perfectly see-through. They call it CLARITY, and the result has to be seen to be believed. [more inside]
A selection of glass viruses by artist Luke Jerram (a full gallery and photographs of other sculptural work are also available directly from his site)
"Brain training games don't actually make you smarter." Looking at recent meta-analyses and replication attempts of studies showing increased cognitive abilities gained from brain-training games, the New Yorker article comes to the conclusion that the results are suspect and these games haven't been shown to improve cognitive abilities broadly. Currently, brain training is a multi-million-dollar business.
Researchers have found that size does matter as it relates to overall proportions of the male body (PNAS link, PDF)
President Obama recently announced a big new effort to map and understand the human brain. [more inside]
Lewis Thomas (1913-1993) was a physician and essayist, writing gracefully on topics as varied as language, nuclear war, and our excellent health and deplorable health-care system (PDF). He believed that the existence of Bach vindicates humanity, that "ants are so much like human beings as to be an embarrassment", and that the Earth is perhaps best thought of as a cell. A three-time winner of the National Book Award, Thomas authored Lives of a Cell, which was voted the 11th-best nonfiction work of the 20th century by the Modern Library.
Do you need to know math to do science? Harvard professor emeritus E. O. Wilson says, "no." Jeremy Fox, an Associate Professor of Population Ecology at the University of Calgary disagrees.
"The Art of Observation and How to Master the Crucial Difference Between Observation and Intuition"
Lessons In Mindfulness And Creativity
Lessons In Mindfulness And Creativity
Artist/designer Shepard Fairey was commissioned the Center For The Advancement Of Science In Space to design a brand new patch for the International Space Station's ARK 1 (Advancing Researching Knowledge) mission. CASIS's Pat O'Neill unveiling the patch and the ARK 1 proposal.
NeuroBollocks: Debunking pseudo-neuroscience so you don't have to.
The Cambridge University Library houses the world's largest collection of Charles Darwin's letters: more than 9,000 of the 15,000 letters he is known to have written and received in his lifetime. They've been posting them online since 2007 (previously on MeFi), in the Darwin Correspondence Project, where we can now read and search the full texts of more than 7,500 letters, and ﬁnd information on 7,500 more -- all for free. This weekend, they added nearly all of the Darwin-Hooker letters: Over 1400 pieces of correspondence between Darwin and his closest friend, botanist Joseph Hooker. [more inside]
The New York Times has faced criticism after an obituary of Yvonne Brill, rocket scientist, opened with "She made a mean beef stroganoff, followed her husband from job to job and took eight years off from work to raise three children. “The world’s best mom,” her son Matthew said." [more inside]
Christine Ma-Kellams and Jim Blascovich. Does “Science” Make You Moral? The Effects of Priming Science on Moral Judgments and Behavior. PLOS One, 6 March 2013. (Salon) [more inside]
How would you like to go on a mindbending 3D journey into the devouring maws of four different carnivorous plants? [more inside]
The Forces Of The Next 30 Years - SF author and Mefi's Own Charles Stross talks to students at Olin College about sci-fi, fiction, speculation, the limits of computation, thermodynamics, Moore's Law, the history of travel, employment, automation, free trade, demographics, the developing world, privacy, and climate change in trying to answer the question What Does The World Of 2043 Look Like? (Youtube 56:43)
Why the collision of big data and privacy will require a new realpolitik:
The paper, entitled Unique in the Crowd: The privacy bounds of human mobility, took an anonymized dataset from an unidentified mobile operator containing call information for around 1.5 million users over 14 months. The purpose of the study was to figure out how many data points — based on time and location — were needed to identify individual users. The answer, for 95 percent of the “anonymous” users logged in that database, was just four.
Science & the City is the public gateway to the New York Academy of Sciences. We publish a comprehensive calendar of public science events in New York City, host events featuring top scientists in their fields, and produce a weekly podcast covering cutting-edge science. Meanwhile, the American Museum of Natural History presents over 200 public programs each year including workshops, seminars, lectures, cultural events, and performances. Museum lectures are presented by scientists, authors, and researchers at the forefront of their fields. These engaging sessions often reveal the findings of the Museum's own cutting-edge research in genomics, paleontology, astrophysics, biodiversity, and evolutionary biology and complement the science behind the Museum's world-famous cultural and scientific halls and special exhibitions. Now many are available in podcast form. [more inside]
The concept of nothing is as old as zero itself. How do we grapple with the concept of nothing? From the best laboratory vacuums on Earth to the vacuum of space to what lies beyond, the idea of nothing continues to intrigue professionals and the public alike. Join moderator and Hayden Planetarium Director Neil deGrasse Tyson as he leads a spirited discussion with a group of physicists, philosophers and journalists about the existence of nothing. The event, which was streamed live to the web, took place at the American Museum of Natural History on March 20, 2013. [more inside]
This week, the first images of Earth from the Landsat Data Continuity Mission (LDCM) were released by NASA. The images show the meeting of the Great Plains with the Front Ranges of the Rocky Mountains in Wyoming and Colorado. [more inside]
The Hidden Life Of the Cell (57:24) There is a battle playing out inside your body right now. It started billions of years ago and it is still being fought in every one of us every minute of every day. It is the story of a viral infection - the battle for the cell. This film reveals the exquisite machinery of the human cell system from within the inner world of the cell itself - from the frenetic membrane surface that acts as a security system for everything passing in and out of the cell, the dynamic highways that transport cargo across the cell and the remarkable turbines that power the whole cellular world to the amazing nucleus housing DNA and the construction of thousands of different proteins all with unique tasks. The virus intends to commandeer this system to one selfish end: to make more viruses. And they will stop at nothing to achieve their goal. Exploring the very latest ideas about the evolution of life on earth and the bio-chemical processes at the heart of every one of us, and revealing a world smaller than it is possible to comprehend, in a story large enough to fill the biggest imaginations.
You may be familiar with molecular movies from my two previous megaposts collecting them, but this extended documentary uses original animation that is collected into a coherent educational narrative and is just so fucking gorgeous. Enjoy.[more inside]
What do 3D printing, jelly, liver transplants, chainmail, dental fillings, ferrofluids, and the Six Million Dollar man have to tell us about our future? Materials scientist and engineer Mark Miodownik lets us know in this Royal Institution lecture.
Women enjoy video games, to the astonishment of local TV newsreaders. Women enjoy science, to the astonishment of Facebook users.
Why the bacteria in food like yogurt may be the answer to anxiety and depression. Probiotic-rich food is good for your gut, but it may also be good for your brain, say researchers.
An intriguing essay on how young women in Georgian England were able to do science by hiding in the pursuits of the domestic arts.
"Women didn’t find it easy to participate in late eighteenth century science. Experimentation and discovery were not easily compatible with the ideals of domestic femininity – but there were women who rejected these social expectations and became active and renowned."
Sickness being attributed to wind turbines is more likely to have been caused by people getting alarmed at the health warnings circulated by activists, an Australian study has found. Complaints of illness were far more prevalent in communities targeted by anti-windfarm groups, said the report's author, Simon Chapman, professor of public health at Sydney University. His report concludes that illnesses being blamed on windfarms are more than likely caused by the psychological effect of suggestions that the turbines make people ill, rather than by the turbines themselves. [more inside]
seaQuest: what if we could learn to live on/underneath the oceans (or in orbit)? [previously(er)] [more inside]
Using computer systems for doing mathematical proofs - "With the proliferation of computer-assisted proofs that are all but impossible to check by hand, Hales thinks computers must become the judge." [more inside]
Extinction got you down? Try de-extinction! Our species has played a role in the extinction of ... many other species. But now some scientists are proposing a radical turn of the tables: Bringing lost species back from the dead. How to Resurrect Lost Species. [more inside]
The Experimental Lakes Area (ELA) is a unique research facility in northern Ontario comprised of 58 lakes set aside by the Government of Canada in which entire lakes are used for experimental manipulation. ELA has effectively solved the problems of nutrient loading and acid rain in freshwater ecosystems. As well, it has produced top research on the effects of estrogen, climate change and methylmercury in freshwater. Current research includes the impacts of nanosilver, climate change, transgenic fish and flame retardants on aquatic ecosystems aquatic ecosystems. On March 31, 2013, The Harper Government will close the Experimental Lakes Area. [more inside]
Defense contractor takes break from F-35 JSF, finds a way to eliminate 99% of the energy cost of desalination. Lockheed-Martin has developed a way to craft sheets of carbon a single atom thick, which can filter the salt (and just about anything else) from water with a tiny fraction of the energy required by current processes. "Lockheed officials see other applications for Perforene as well, from dialysis in healthcare to cleaning chemicals from the water used in hydraulic fracturing, or "fracking," of oil and gas wells." Previously.
"I'm confident that it's a Higgs particle. I don't need to call it Higgs-like any more...I may need to eat my words one day, but I think that's very unlikely.""Cern scientists believe newly discovered particle is the real Higgs boson. Results of analysis at Cern in Switzerland show particle behaves precisely as expected." Previously
Uri Alon, professor of molecular cell biology at the Weizmann Institute of Science, gives a lecture on the subjective and emotional sides of doing science at CalTech, complete with guitar.
Amazing Water & Sound Experiment #2 - brusspup synchronizes his video camera to a water stream run in front of a speaker outputting a 24 Hz sine wave
16 Golden Retrievers teach all about atoms. SYTL I for one would have probably done much better in chemistry if had been explained this way.
Every film Pixar has produced has landed in the top fifty highest-grossing animated films of all time. What's their secret? Mathematics. Oh, and 22 Rules of Storytelling. [more inside]
Cat responds to rotational optical illusion. The illusion in question. But why does it work? Link to the actual paper.
"I want to say here that it can never be our job to reduce anything to anything, or to explain anything. Philosophy really is 'purely descriptive.'" --Wittgenstein. Apart from a small and ignored clique of hard-core supporters the usual view these days is that his writing is self-indulgently obscure and that behind the catchy slogans there is little of intellectual value. But this dismissal disguises what is pretty clearly the real cause of Wittgenstein’s unpopularity within departments of philosophy: namely, his thoroughgoing rejection of the subject as traditionally and currently practiced; his insistence that it can’t give us the kind of knowledge generally regarded as its raison d’être. [more inside]
You read the paper Collective Motion of Moshers at Heavy Metal Concerts, watched mesmerizing moshing gifs and finally decided to simulate the pit yourself.
To put a human face on our ancestors, scientists from the Senckenberg Research Institute used sophisticated methods to form 27 model heads based on tiny bone fragments, teeth and skulls collected from across the globe. Here is a video showing those different models morphing into one another. Original article here. [via] [more inside]
If a shibboleth is a way to determine an "insider", by saying something that only an "insider" could say, what is something that an "insider" would never say? How about a 'Frisco'? [more inside]