Online courses: MOOC instructors may need more support for successful courses

Science Daily - Mon, 29/02/2016 - 11:25pm
Supporting instructors of massive open online courses -- MOOCs -- may be just as important to the creation of long-term, successful courses as attracting and supporting students, according to a group of researchers.
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Scientists Find That Conditions For Life May Hinge On How Fast the Universe Is Expanding

Slashdot - Mon, 29/02/2016 - 11:22pm
sciencehabit writes: Scientists have known for several years now that stars, galaxies, and almost everything in the universe is moving away from us (and from everything else) at a faster and faster pace. Now, it turns out that the unknown forces behind the rate of this accelerating expansion - a mathematical value called the cosmological constant - may play a previously unexplored role in creating the right conditions for life. That is the conclusion that a group of physicists who studied the effects of massive cosmic explosions, called gamma ray bursts, on planets made. They found that when it comes to growing life, it's better to be far away from your neighbors - and the cosmological constant helps thin out the neighborhood.

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Surge Pricing Arrives In Disney's Magic Kingdom Just in Time for Star Wars Opening

Slashdot - Mon, 29/02/2016 - 10:39pm
HughPickens.com writes: Taking a page from the Uber playbook, Christopher Palmeri writes that Disney's six parks in Orlando, Florida, and Anaheim, California, are raising the cost to visit its theme parks as much as 20 percent during the busiest times of year and lowering them on typically slow days. Previously, the parks charged the same price for a one-day pass any time of year. "The demand for our theme parks continues to grow, particularly during peak periods," the company said. "In addition to expanding our parks, we are adopting seasonal pricing on our one-day ticket to help better spread visitation throughout the year." The move is designed to help manage traffic at the parks, which had record visits in the final three months of 2015. Busy days at Disney's amusement parks cause long lines for customers, and even gate closures. Dynamic pricing is meant to financially incentivize customers to choose less-busy days, spread out attendance, and to make as much money as possible on days when the park is historically expected to be full. It is also likely to boost Disney's total revenue since most visitors will pay more for their tickets. One reason Disney may expect bigger crowds this year is the upcoming Star Wars theme park expansion which includes a virtual reality ride that allows guests to control the Millennium Falcon in an aerial battle with the First Order. "Star Wars is, for lack of a better word awesome," said Harrison Ford. "I'm so blessed that I had the opportunity to be a part of it. To walk in these iconic locations. And soon, you'll be able to do that as well. Not in a galaxy far, far away, but in a place close to home."

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Google Self-Driving Car Might Have Caused First Crash In Autonomous Mode

Slashdot - Mon, 29/02/2016 - 9:57pm
An anonymous reader writes: While driving in autonomous mode, a Google self-driving car was involved in an accident with a public bus in California on Valentine's Day, according to an accident report filed with the California DMV.The accident report, signed by Chris Urmson, says the Google self-driving car was trying to get around some sandbags on a street when its left front struck the bus' right side. The car was going 2 mph, while the bus was going 15 mph.Google said its car's safety driver thought the bus would yield. No injuries were reported. If it's determined the Google self-driving car was at fault, it would be the first time one of its cars caused an accident while in autonomous mode.

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Ask Slashdot: Establishing Procurement Policies Regarding Secure Boot?

Slashdot - Mon, 29/02/2016 - 9:13pm
New submitter Firx writes: My university department has a tradition of selling its used computers and/or repurposing them with Linux for graduate students and science computer labs. With Windows no longer requiring one be able to disable secure boot, my department is writing up a procurement policy to ensure future machines we buy will still have this feature. Part of the draft motion reads: "Be it resolved that computers running or intending to run Microsoft Windows purchased by the department which boot using the Unified Extensible Firmware Interface (UEFI) have the ability to disable the Secure Boot features for both local hard drive and network booting." Is there something further we should be including here and what is the best way to explain the need for this policy to colleagues less technically literate?

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New Report Cites Dangers of Autonomous Weapons

Slashdot - Mon, 29/02/2016 - 8:46pm
HughPickens.com writes: A new report written by a former Pentagon official who helped establish United States policy on autonomous weapons argues that autonomous weapons could be uncontrollable in real-world environments, where they are subject to design failure as well as hacking, spoofing and manipulation by adversaries. The report contrasts these completely automated systems, which have the ability to target and kill without human intervention, to weapons that keep humans "in the loop" in the process of selecting and engaging targets. "Anyone who has ever been frustrated with an automated telephone call support helpline, an alarm clock mistakenly set to 'p.m.' instead of 'a.m.,' or any of the countless frustrations that come with interacting with computers, has experienced the problem of 'brittleness' that plagues automated systems," Mr. Scharre writes. The United States military does not have advanced autonomous weapons in its arsenal. However, this year the Defense Department requested almost $1 billion to manufacture Lockheed Martin's Long Range Anti-Ship Missile, which is described as a "semiautonomous" weapon. The missile is controversial because, although a human operator will initially select a target, it is designed to fly for several hundred miles while out of contact with the controller and then automatically identify and attack an enemy ship. As an alternative to completely autonomous weapons, the report advocates what it describes as "Centaur Warfighting." The term "centaur" has recently come to describe systems that tightly integrate humans and computers. Human-machine combat teaming takes a page from the field of "centaur chess," in which humans and machines play cooperatively on the same team. "Having a person in the loop is not enough," says Scharre. "They can't be just a cog in the loop. The human has to be actively engaged."

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The 2016 Oscars Actually Didn’t Suck. Here’s How to Make Them Good

Wired News - Mon, 29/02/2016 - 8:44pm
For once, we’re actually excited for next year’s Oscars—provided they follow some of these guidelines. The post The 2016 Oscars Actually Didn't Suck. Here's How to Make Them Good appeared first on WIRED.









Categories: Science

Engineered hydrogel scaffolds enable growth of functioning human breast tissue

Science Daily - Mon, 29/02/2016 - 8:38pm
Researchers have created a hydrogel scaffold that replicates the environment found within the human breast. The scaffold supports the growth of human mammary tissue from patient-derived cells and can be used to study normal breast development as well as breast cancer initiation and progression.
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Sharing health data while protecting privacy

Science Daily - Mon, 29/02/2016 - 8:38pm
How do privacy concerns affect how health data is shared? Research explores privacy laws and their effect on health information exchanges in the United States.
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Handy Chart Helps You Understand the Elements of Typography

Wired News - Mon, 29/02/2016 - 8:36pm
From the prolific poster-makers at Pop Chart Labs, here's "The Taxonomy of Typography." The post Handy Chart Helps You Understand the Elements of Typography appeared first on WIRED.









Categories: Science

Massive 2014 Colorado avalanche examined

Science Daily - Mon, 29/02/2016 - 8:35pm
On 25 May 2014, a rain-on-snow–induced rock avalanche occurred in the West Salt Creek valley on the northern flank of Grand Mesa in western Colorado (United States). The avalanche mobilized from a preexisting rock slide in the Green River Formation and traveled 4.6 km down the confined valley, killing three people.
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520-million-year-old fossilized nervous system is most detailed example yet found

Science Daily - Mon, 29/02/2016 - 8:35pm
Researchers have found one of the oldest and most detailed fossils of the central nervous system yet identified, from a crustacean-like animal that lived more than 500 million years ago. The fossil, from southern China, has been so well preserved that individual nerves are visible, the first time this level of detail has been observed in a fossil of this age.
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Two-way clustering method for QSAR modeling of diverse set of chemicals

Science Daily - Mon, 29/02/2016 - 8:32pm
New articles developed in silico models for the estimation of potential mutagenicity of chemicals from their structure without the input of any other experimental data.
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Organic cation transporter CarT crucial for Drosophila vision

Science Daily - Mon, 29/02/2016 - 8:32pm
A cell membrane transporter -- CarT -- maintains vision in the fruit fly Drosophila by recycling the neurotransmitter histamine in the brain, scientists have discovered.
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Single dose of trastuzumab kick starts immune response in certain breast cancers

Science Daily - Mon, 29/02/2016 - 8:32pm
A tumor's immune response to a single dose of the HER2 inhibitor trastuzumab predicted which patients with HER2-positive breast cancer would respond to the drug on a more long-term basis, according to the results of a new study.
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Both sides now: Brain reward molecule helps learning to avoid unpleasant experience, too

Science Daily - Mon, 29/02/2016 - 8:32pm
The brain chemical dopamine regulates how mice learn to avoid a disagreeable encounter. Research has shown that dopamine reinforces 'rewarding' behaviors, but to the researchers' surprise, in a new study they demonstrated that situations that animals learn to avoid are also regulated by dopamine.
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'Informed consent' states often give women considering abortions inaccurate information

Science Daily - Mon, 29/02/2016 - 8:31pm
Women considering abortions are getting medically inaccurate information nearly a third of the time in states that require doctors to provide informed consent materials to their patients, according to a new study.
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Black widow spiders are color-coded to deter predators without tipping off prey

Science Daily - Mon, 29/02/2016 - 8:31pm
Secret codes and hidden messages aren't just for computer security experts or kids passing notes in class -- animals use them too. The telltale red hourglass of the black widow spider appears brighter and more contrasting to birds than to insects, finds a new study. The red-and-black color combination sends a 'beware!' signal to predators without scaring off their prey.
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Is the anthropocene a formal unit of geologic time scale?

Science Daily - Mon, 29/02/2016 - 8:31pm
Reserachers tackle the hot topic of whether to define a new 'Anthropocene' epoch as a formal unit of the geologic time scale.
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Chemists combine biology, nanotechnology to create alternate energy source

Science Daily - Mon, 29/02/2016 - 8:31pm
A transformational advance has been made in an alternate lighting source, one that doesn't require a battery or a plug: high-efficient energy transfer between semiconductor quantum rods and luciferase enzymes. Quantum rods and luciferase enzymes are nanomaterials and biomaterials, respectively. When combined correctly, these materials produce bioluminescence--except, instead of coming from a biomaterial, such as a firefly enzyme, the light eminates from a nanomaterial, and is green, orange, red, or near-infrared in color.
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