How Real-Life Science Influenced Guardians of the Galaxy

Wired News - Thu, 31/07/2014 - 10:45am
Of all the people who are partially responsible for Friday's much-anticipated Marvel movie, the most surprising one might be scientist Richard Feynman. But without him, Nicole Perlman might never have developed the movie's screenplay.






Categories: Science

The Week’s Best Trailers: Interstellar in Space and a First Look at Mockingjay

Wired News - Thu, 31/07/2014 - 10:45am
Thanks to last week's Comic-Con International we have a ton of new trailers to share. Let's dive into the best and the brightest, shall we?






Categories: Science

The Guardians of the Galaxy Are Part of Marvel’s Oldest Tradition

Wired News - Thu, 31/07/2014 - 10:45am
While relatively new, the Guardians of the Galaxy are maybe the purest standard-bearers of the Marvel Cinema juggernaut. (Well, except Juggernaut.)






Categories: Science

F1 Tech Is About to Make Buses Way More Efficient

Wired News - Thu, 31/07/2014 - 10:45am
A technology developed for F1 cars is being used to make buses more fuel efficient.






Categories: Science

PlayStation Unleashes Its Game Streaming Service on North America

Wired News - Thu, 31/07/2014 - 10:30am
The secret to selling gamers on PlayStation Now, says David Perry, is to not tell them what it is.






Categories: Science

New Super 8 Camera Boosts Vintage Film With Digital Tech

Wired News - Thu, 31/07/2014 - 10:30am
Designed by an enterprising father-son team in Denmark, the Logmar S-8 is the first new Super 8 camera to hit the market in 30 years.






Categories: Science

"ExamSoft" Bar Exam Software Fails Law Grads

Slashdot - Thu, 31/07/2014 - 9:50am
New submitter BobandMax writes ExamSoft, the management platform software that handles digital bar exam submissions for multiple states, experienced a severe technical meltdown on Tuesday, leaving many graduates temporarily unable to complete the exams needed to practice law. The snafu also left bar associations from nearly 20 states with no choice but to extend their submission deadlines. It's not the first time, either: a classmate of mine had to re-do a state bar exam after an ExamSoft glitch on the first go-'round. Besides handling the uploading of completed exam questions, ExamSoft locks down the computer on which it runs, so Wikipedia is not an option.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.








Categories: Science

A ‘nanosubmarine’ that could deliver drug molecules to cells

Kurzweil AI - Thu, 31/07/2014 - 9:12am

Nanocarriers transport donor and acceptor  molecules across cell membranes with fluorescence activation (credit: Francisco Raymo)

Researchers at the University of Miami and the University of Ulster have created self-assembling nanoparticles that can transport drugs and other molecules into target living cells.

The new nanocarriers are just 15 nanometers in diameter, based on building blocks called amphiphilic polymers: they have both hydrophilic (water-loving, polar) and lipophilic (fat-loving) properties). That allows the nanocarriers to hold the guest molecules within their water-insoluble interior and use their water-soluble exterior to travel through an aqueous environment. And that makes the nanocarriers ideal for transferring molecules that would otherwise be insoluble in water.

They also emit a fluorescent signal that can be observed with a microscope, allowing for tracking and photographing the nanoparticles in the body.


University of Miami | Francisco Raymo on nanocarrier research

“The size of these nanoparticles, their dynamic character and the fact that the reactions take place under normal biological conditions (at ambient temperature and neutral environment) makes these nanoparticles an ideal vehicle for the controlled activation of therapeutics, directly inside the cells,” says lead investigator Francisco Raymo, professor of chemistry in the University of Miami College of Arts and Sciences and UM laboratory for molecular photonics.

The next phase of this investigation involves demonstrating that this method can be used to achieve chemical reactions inside cells, instead of energy transfers.

This strategy is unique because it involves “sequential transport of interacting species inside cells,” Raymo explained in an email to KurzweilAI. “However, we are still very far from any commercial application at this stage.”

The study was published in the Journal of the American Chemical Society. Researchers at the University of Ulster were also involved in the research.

Abstract of Journal of the American Chemical Society paper

Decyl and oligo(ethylene glycol) chains were appended to the same poly(methacrylate) backbone to generate an amphiphilic polymer with a ratio between hydrophobic and hydrophilic segments of 2.5. At concentrations greater than 10 μg mL–1 in neutral buffer, multiple copies of this particular macromolecule assemble into nanoparticles with a hydrodynamic diameter of 15 nm. In the process of assembling, these nanoparticles can capture anthracene donors and borondipyrromethene acceptors within their hydrophobic interior and permit the transfer of excitation energy with an efficiency of 95%. Energy transfer is observed also if nanocarriers containing exclusively the donors are mixed with nanoparticles preloaded separately with the acceptors in aqueous media. The two sets of supramolecular assemblies exchange their guests with fast kinetics upon mixing to co-localize complementary chromophores within the same nanostructured container and enable energy transfer. After guest exchange, the nanoparticles can cross the membrane of cervical cancer cells and bring the co-entrapped donors and acceptors within the intracellular environment. Alternatively, intracellular energy transfer is also established after sequential cell incubation with nanoparticles containing the donors first and then with nanocarriers preloaded with the acceptors or vice versa. Under these conditions, the nanoparticles exchange their cargo only after internalization and allow energy transfer exclusively within the cell interior. Thus, the dynamic character of such supramolecular containers offers the opportunity to transport independently complementary species inside cells and permit their interaction only within the intracellular space.

Categories: Science

A rice genome to feed the world

Kurzweil AI - Thu, 31/07/2014 - 8:26am

Understanding the complete genome of African rice will enable researchers and agriculturalists to develop new varieties of rice with African rice’s hardiness, making them better able to adapt to conditions of a changing climate. (Credit: International Rice Research Institute)

An international team of researchers led by the University of Arizona (UA) has sequenced the complete genome of African rice.

The genetic information will enhance scientists’ and agriculturalists’ understanding of the growing patterns of African rice, and help development of new rice varieties that are better able to cope with increasing environmental stressors to help solve global hunger challenges, the researchers say.

The research paper was published in Nature Genetics (open access).

The 9 billion-people question

“Rice feeds half the world, making it the most important food crop,” said Rod A. Wing, director of the Arizona Genomics Institute at the UA . “Rice will play a key role in helping to solve what we call the 9-billion-people question.”

The 9 billion-people question refers to predictions that the world’s population will increase to more than 9 billion people — many of whom will live in areas where access to food is extremely scarce — by the year 2050. The question lies in how to grow enough food to feed the world’s population and prevent the host of health, economic and social problems associated with hunger and malnutrition.

Now, with the completely sequenced African rice genome, scientists and agriculturalists can search for ways to cross Asian and African species to develop new varieties of rice with the high-yield traits of Asian rice and the hardiness of African rice.

“African rice is once more at the forefront of cultivation strategies that aim to confront climate change and food availability challenges,” said Judith Carney, a professor in the Department of Geography and the Institute of the Environment and Sustainability at the University of California, Los Angeles, and author of “Black Rice.” The book describes the historical importance of African rice, which was brought to the United States during the period of transatlantic slavery.

Carney is also a co-author on the Nature Genetics paper, and her book served as one of the inspirations behind sequencing the African rice genome.

Although it is currently cultivated in only a handful of locations around the world, African rice is hardier and more resistant to environmental stress in West African environments than Asian varieties, Wing said.

African rice already has been crossed with Asian rice to produce new varieties under a group known as NERICA, which stands for New Rice for Africa.

The African rice genome is especially important because many of the genes code for traits that make African rice resistant to environmental stress, such as long periods of drought, high salinity in the soils and flooding.

“Now that we have a precise knowledge of the genome we can identify these traits more easily and move genes more rapidly through conventional breeding methods, or through genetic modification techniques,” noted Wing, who is also a member of the UA’s BIO5 Institute and holds the Axa Endowed Chair of Genome Biology and Evolutionary Genomics at the International Rice Research Institute. “The idea is to create a super-rice that will be higher yielding but will have less of an environmental impact — such as varieties that require less water, fertilizer and pesticides.”

Super-crop centers

Wing is also working with Quifa Zhang from Huazhong Agricultural University in Wuhan, China, to create a set of super-crop science and technology centers around the world, where focused and coordinated efforts could help solve the 9 billion-people question. “We really only have about 25 years to solve this problem, and if we’re always competing with each other it’s not going to work,” he said.

In November, Wing and his collaborators will celebrate the 10th anniversary of the completion of the Asian rice genome and the new completion of the African rice genome at the 12th International Symposium on Rice Functional Genomics, a conference that will be held in Tucson, Arizona.

Sequencing of the African rice genome was made possible by National Science Foundation grants to the Oryza Map Alignment and Oryza Genome Evolution Projects.

Abstract of Nature Genetics paper

The cultivation of rice in Africa dates back more than 3,000 years. Interestingly, African rice is not of the same origin as Asian rice (Oryza sativa L.) but rather is an entirely different species (i.e., Oryza glaberrima Steud.). Here we present a high-quality assembly and annotation of the O. glaberrima genome and detailed analyses of its evolutionary history of domestication and selection. Population genomics analyses of 20 O. glaberrima and 94 Oryza barthii accessions support the hypothesis that O. glaberrima was domesticated in a single region along the Niger river as opposed to noncentric domestication events across Africa. We detected evidence for artificial selection at a genome-wide scale, as well as with a set of O. glaberrima genes orthologous to O. sativa genes that are known to be associated with domestication, thus indicating convergent yet independent selection of a common set of genes during two geographically and culturally distinct domestication processes.

Categories: Science

Nanopropeller could be used for microscopic medicine

Kurzweil AI - Thu, 31/07/2014 - 7:53am

Schematic of micro- and nanopropellers in hyaluronan gels. The polymeric mesh structure blocks the larger micropropellers (top left), but smaller propellers with a diameter close to the mesh size can pass through it (credit: Debora Schamel et al./ACS Nano)

Israeli and German researchers have created a nanoscale screw-shaped propeller that can move in a gel-like fluid, mimicking the environment inside a living organism, as described in a paper published in the June 2014 issue of ACS Nano.

The team comprises researchers from Technion, the Max Planck Institute for Intelligent Systems, and the Institute for Physical Chemistry at the University of Stuttgart.

The filament that makes up the propeller, made of silica and nickel, is only 70 nanometers in diameter; the entire propeller is 400 nanometers long, small enough that their motion can be affected by Brownian motion of nearby molecules.

To test if the propellers could move through living organisms, they used hyaluronan, a material that occurs throughout the human body, including the synovial fluids in joints and the vitreous humor in your eyeball.

The hyaluronan gel contains a mesh of long proteins called polymers; the polymers are large enough to prevent micron-sized (millionths of a meter) propellers from moving much at all. But the openings are large enough for nanometer-sized objects to pass through. The scientists were able to control the motion of the propellers using a relatively weak rotating magnetic field.

“One can now think about targeted applications, for instance, in the eye, where they may be moved to a precise location at the retina,” says Peer Fischer, a member of the research team and head of the Micro, Nano, and Molecular Systems Lab at the Max Planck Institute for Intelligent Systems.

“Development of artificial ‘nature-inspired’ micro- and nano-structures that can be remotely actuated, navigated and delivered to a specific location in-vivo is largely driven by the immense potential this technology offers to biomedical applications,” study co-author Associate Professor Alex Leshanksy of the Technion Faculty of Chemical Engineering explained to KurzweilAI in an email intervew.

“The nanomotors can potentially deliver drugs, assist in microsurgery, and perform other tasks,” such as delivering tiny targeted doses of radiation to tumors, but he said the team had no plans for commercialization at this time.

Abstract of ACS Nano paper

Tissue and biological fluids are complex viscoelastic media with a nanoporous macromolecular structure. Here, we demonstrate that helical nanopropellers can be controllably steered through such a biological gel. The screw-propellers have a filament diameter of about 70 nm and are smaller than previously reported nanopropellers as well as any swimming microorganism. We show that the nanoscrews will move through high-viscosity solutions with comparable velocities to that of larger micropropellers, even though they are so small that Brownian forces suppress their actuation in pure water. When actuated in viscoelastic hyaluronan gels, the nanopropellers appear to have a significant advantage, as they are of the same size range as the gel’s mesh size. Whereas larger helices will show very low or negligible propulsion in hyaluronan solutions, the nanoscrews actually display significantly enhanced propulsion velocities that exceed the highest measured speeds in Newtonian fluids. The nanopropellers are not only promising for applications in the extracellular environment but small enough to be taken up by cells.

Categories: Science

Brainwaves of a few people predict mass audience reaction to TV programs and ads

Kurzweil AI - Thu, 31/07/2014 - 7:18am

Brain responses of just a few individuals are a remarkably strong predictor of response to future products and messages, according to a study conducted at the City College of New York (CCNY)  and Georgia Tech.

By analyzing the brainwaves of just 16 individuals as they watched mainstream television content, the researchers were able to accurately predict the preferences of large TV audiences — up to 90 percent in the case of Super Bowl commercials. The findings appear in a paper entitled “Audience Preferences Are Predicted by Temporal Reliability of Neural Processing,” published in Nature Communications (open access).

Overcoming bias

“Alternative methods such as self-reports are fraught with problems as people conform their responses to their own values and expectations,” said Jacek Dmochowski, lead author of the paper and a postdoctoral fellow at CCNY at the time the study was being conducted.

However, brain signals measured using electroencephalography (EEG) can, in principle, avoid this shortcoming by providing immediate physiological responses immune to such self-biasing. “Our findings show that these immediate responses are in fact closely tied to the subsequent behavior of the general population,” he added.

Lucas Parra, Herbert Kayser Professor of Biomedical Engineering at CCNY and the paper’s senior author explained: “When two people watch a movie, their brains respond similarly — but only if the video is engaging. Popular shows and commercials draw our attention and make our brainwaves very reliable [and predictable]; the audience is always ‘in-sync.’”

Predicting reactions to TV shows and Super Bowl Ads

In the study, participants watched scenes from The Walking Dead TV show and several commercials from the 2012 and 2013 Super Bowls. EEG electrodes were placed on their heads to capture brain activity. The recorded neural activity was then compared to audience reactions in the general population, using publicly available social media data provided by the Harmony Institute and ratings from USA Today’s Super Bowl Ad Meter.

“Brain activity among our participants watching The Walking Dead predicted 40 percent of the associated Twitter traffic,” said Parra. “When brainwaves  [of participants] were in agreement, the number of tweets tended to increase.” Brainwaves also predicted 60 percent of Nielsen ratings, which measure the size of a TV audience.


Bud Light Commercial – Super Bowl XLVI

The study was even more accurate (90 percent) when comparing preferences for Super Bowl ads. For instance, researchers saw very similar brainwaves from their participants as they watched a 2012 Budweiser commercial that featured a beer-fetching dog. The general public voted the ad as their second favorite that year. The study found little agreement in the brain activity among participants when watching a GoDaddy commercial featuring a kissing couple. It was among the worst rated ads in 2012.

The CCNY researchers collaborated with Matthew Bezdek and Eric Schumacher from Georgia Tech to identify which brain regions are involved and explain the underlying mechanisms. Using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), they found evidence that brainwaves for engaging ads could be driven by activity in visual, auditory and attention brain areas.

“Interesting ads may draw our attention and cause deeper sensory processing of the content,” said Bezdek, a postdoctoral researcher at Georgia Tech’s School of Psychology.

Abstract of Nature Communications paper

Naturalistic stimuli evoke highly reliable brain activity across viewers. Here we record neural activity from a group of naive individuals while viewing popular, previously-broadcast television content for which the broad audience response is characterized by social media activity and audience ratings. We find that the level of inter-subject correlation in the evoked encephalographic responses predicts the expressions of interest and preference among thousands. Surprisingly, ratings of the larger audience are predicted with greater accuracy than those of the individuals from whom the neural data is obtained. An additional functional magnetic resonance imaging study employing a separate sample of subjects shows that the level of neural reliability evoked by these stimuli covaries with the amount of blood-oxygenation-level-dependent (BOLD) activation in higher-order visual and auditory regions. Our findings suggest that stimuli which we judge favourably may be those to which our brains respond in a stereotypical manner shared by our peers.

Categories: Science

Why the Security of USB Is Fundamentally Broken

Wired News - Thu, 31/07/2014 - 7:08am
Computer users pass around USB sticks like silicon business cards. Although we know they often carry malware infections, we depend on antivirus scans and the occasional reformatting to keep our thumbdrives from becoming the carrier for the next digital epidemic. But the security problems with USB devices run deeper than you think: Their risk isn’t […]






Categories: Science

Facebook-Backed Nonprofit Brings Free Internet to Zambia

Wired News - Thu, 31/07/2014 - 7:08am
In an effort to help those left behind join the digital age, Internet.org---the Facebook-backed nonprofit organization---is releasing an app providing free access to a handful of core services to people in Zambia.






Categories: Science

Vint Cerf on Why Programmers Don't Join the ACM

Slashdot - Thu, 31/07/2014 - 7:01am
jfruh writes "The Association for Computing Machinery is a storied professional group for computer programmers, but its membership hasn't grown in recent years to keep pace with the industry. Vint Cerf, who recently concluded his term as ACM president, asked developers what was keeping them from signing up. Their answers: paywalled content, lack of information relevant to non-academics, and code that wasn't freely available."

Read more of this story at Slashdot.








Categories: Science

Chinese Government Probes Microsoft For Breaches of Monopoly Law

Slashdot - Thu, 31/07/2014 - 4:10am
DroidJason1 writes The Chinese government is investigating Microsoft for possible breaches of anti-monopoly laws, following a series of surprise visits to Redmond's offices in cities across China on Monday. These surprise visits were part of China's ongoing investigation [warning: WSJ paywall], and were based on security complaints about Microsoft's Windows operating system and Office productivity suite. Results from an earlier inspection apparently were not enough to clear Microsoft of suspicion of anti-competitive behavior. Microsoft's alleged anti-monopoly behavior is a criminal matter, so if found guilty, the software giant could face steep fines as well as other sanctions.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.








Categories: Science

Chinese Government Probes Microsoft For Breaches of Monopoly Law

Slashdot - Thu, 31/07/2014 - 4:10am
DroidJason1 writes The Chinese government is investigating Microsoft for possible breaches of anti-monopoly laws, following a series of surprise visits to Redmond's offices in cities across China on Monday. These surprise visits were part of China's ongoing investigation [warning: WSJ paywall], and were based on security complaints about Microsoft's Windows operating system and Office productivity suite. Results from an earlier inspection apparently were not enough to clear Microsoft of suspicion of anti-competitive behavior. Microsoft's alleged anti-monopoly behavior is a criminal matter, so if found guilty, the software giant could face steep fines as well as other sanctions.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.








Categories: Science

Chinese Government Probes Microsoft For Breaches of Monopoly Law

Slashdot - Thu, 31/07/2014 - 4:10am
DroidJason1 writes The Chinese government is investigating Microsoft for possible breaches of anti-monopoly laws, following a series of surprise visits to Redmond's offices in cities across China on Monday. These surprise visits were part of China's ongoing investigation [warning: WSJ paywall], and were based on security complaints about Microsoft's Windows operating system and Office productivity suite. Results from an earlier inspection apparently were not enough to clear Microsoft of suspicion of anti-competitive behavior. Microsoft's alleged anti-monopoly behavior is a criminal matter, so if found guilty, the software giant could face steep fines as well as other sanctions.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.








Categories: Science

Chinese Government Probes Microsoft For Breaches of Monopoly Law

Slashdot - Thu, 31/07/2014 - 4:10am
DroidJason1 writes The Chinese government is investigating Microsoft for possible breaches of anti-monopoly laws, following a series of surprise visits to Redmond's offices in cities across China on Monday. These surprise visits were part of China's ongoing investigation [warning: WSJ paywall], and were based on security complaints about Microsoft's Windows operating system and Office productivity suite. Results from an earlier inspection apparently were not enough to clear Microsoft of suspicion of anti-competitive behavior. Microsoft's alleged anti-monopoly behavior is a criminal matter, so if found guilty, the software giant could face steep fines as well as other sanctions.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.








Categories: Science

Chinese Government Probes Microsoft For Breaches of Monopoly Law

Slashdot - Thu, 31/07/2014 - 4:10am
DroidJason1 writes The Chinese government is investigating Microsoft for possible breaches of anti-monopoly laws, following a series of surprise visits to Redmond's offices in cities across China on Monday. These surprise visits were part of China's ongoing investigation [warning: WSJ paywall], and were based on security complaints about Microsoft's Windows operating system and Office productivity suite. Results from an earlier inspection apparently were not enough to clear Microsoft of suspicion of anti-competitive behavior. Microsoft's alleged anti-monopoly behavior is a criminal matter, so if found guilty, the software giant could face steep fines as well as other sanctions.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.








Categories: Science

Chinese Government Probes Microsoft For Breaches of Monopoly Law

Slashdot - Thu, 31/07/2014 - 4:10am
DroidJason1 writes The Chinese government is investigating Microsoft for possible breaches of anti-monopoly laws, following a series of surprise visits to Redmond's offices in cities across China on Monday. These surprise visits were part of China's ongoing investigation [warning: WSJ paywall], and were based on security complaints about Microsoft's Windows operating system and Office productivity suite. Results from an earlier inspection apparently were not enough to clear Microsoft of suspicion of anti-competitive behavior. Microsoft's alleged anti-monopoly behavior is a criminal matter, so if found guilty, the software giant could face steep fines as well as other sanctions.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.








Categories: Science