Absurd Creature of the Week: The World’s Tiniest Bird Weighs Less Than a Dime

Wired News - Fri, 10/07/2015 - 11:00am

Cuba is home to the smallest bird in the world: the bee hummingbird, which weighs a mere 1/15 of an ounce.

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Categories: Science

The Best Thing About IBM’s Super-Chip? It’s Not From Intel

Wired News - Fri, 10/07/2015 - 11:00am

For Moore's Law to stay healthy, a company other than Intel needs to help push computing forward.

The post The Best Thing About IBM’s Super-Chip? It’s Not From Intel appeared first on WIRED.

Categories: Science

Hacking Team Shows the World How Not to Stockpile Exploits

Wired News - Fri, 10/07/2015 - 11:00am

Zero-day exploits are like gold to hackers. Keep them all in one place and you're asking to get robbed.

The post Hacking Team Shows the World How Not to Stockpile Exploits appeared first on WIRED.

Categories: Science

How Ecstasy, Aspirin, and LSD Look Under the Microscope

Wired News - Fri, 10/07/2015 - 10:05am

From aspirin to ecstasy, Maurice Mikkers cracks open the insides of popular prescription and recreational drugs.

The post How Ecstasy, Aspirin, and LSD Look Under the Microscope appeared first on WIRED.

Categories: Science

A Million Kids in the UK Will Get This Tiny Computer

Wired News - Fri, 10/07/2015 - 9:45am

BBC Learning will give every student in Year 7 (11- and 12-year-olds) a credit card-sized Micro:bit computer.

The post A Million Kids in the UK Will Get This Tiny Computer appeared first on WIRED.

Categories: Science

Review: Symbol Audio Modern Record Console

Wired News - Fri, 10/07/2015 - 9:42am

Want to Mad Men up your bachelor pad? Consider this retro-fabulous hi-end audio console. It's only $20,000.

The post Review: Symbol Audio Modern Record Console appeared first on WIRED.

Categories: Science

Hacker Group That Hit Twitter, Facebook, Apple and Microsoft Intensifies Attacks

Slashdot - Fri, 10/07/2015 - 9:35am
itwbennett writes: The hacker group, which security researchers from Kaspersky Lab and Symantec call Wild Neutron or Morpho, has broken into the networks of over 45 large companies since 2012. After the 2013 attacks against Twitter, Facebook, Apple and Microsoft were highly publicized, the group went underground and temporarily halted its activity. However, its attacks resumed in 2014 and have since intensified, according to separate reports released Wednesday by Kaspersky Lab and Symantec.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Categories: Science

Ingredients for Earth-Like Planets Are Found All Around the Milky Way

Space.com - Fri, 10/07/2015 - 9:08am
The building blocks to create another Earth are found at solar systems across our Milky Way Galaxy, a new study reveals.
Categories: Science

What Pluto Can Teach Scientists About 'Star Wars' Planet Tatooine

Space.com - Fri, 10/07/2015 - 8:53am
In recent years, planetary scientists have begun to suggest that Pluto and its moons might serve as an analogue to planets orbiting double star systems — like the fictional planet Tatooine, home of Luke Skywalker.
Categories: Science

Moon Meets Beautiful Hyades Star Cluster Sunday Morning

Space.com - Fri, 10/07/2015 - 8:45am
A pre-dawn celestial pageant well worth getting up early to see will take place Sunday morning (July 12), with a lovely crescent moon in close proximity to one of the most beautiful star clusters.
Categories: Science

See Venus at Its Most Brilliant Tonight

Space.com - Fri, 10/07/2015 - 8:43am
Venus is putting on a show for skywatchers throughout July. Tonight (July 10), Earth's "sister planet" will be at its most luminous, blazing brightly in the western sky.
Categories: Science

OCZ Toshiba Breaks 40 Cent Per GB Barrier With New Trion 100 Series SSD

Slashdot - Fri, 10/07/2015 - 7:06am
MojoKid writes: OCZ is launching a brand new series of solid state drives today, dubbed the Trion 100. Not only are they the first drives from the company to use TLC NAND, but they're also the first to use all in-house Toshiba technology with the drive's Flash memory and controller both designed and built by Toshiba. That controller is paired to A19nm Toshiba TLC NAND Flash memory and a Nanya DDR3 DRAM cache. Details are scarce on the Toshiba TC58 controller but it does support Toshiba's QSBC (Quadruple Swing-By Correction — a Toshiba proprietary error correction technology) and the drives have a bit of SLC cache to boost write performance in bursts and increase endurance. The OCZ Trion 100 series is targeted at budget conscious consumers and users still contemplating the upgrade from a standard hard drive. As such, they're not barn-burners in the benchmarking department, but performance is still good overall and a huge upgrade over any HDD. Pricing is going to be very competitive as well, at under .40 per GiB for capacities of 240GB, 480GB and 960GB and .50 per GiB for the smallest 120GB drive.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Categories: Science

UK Privacy Advocate Caspar Bowden Dies

Slashdot - Fri, 10/07/2015 - 4:30am
wendyg writes: Many outlets are reporting that UK privacy advocate Caspar Bowden has died. For ten years or so, Caspar was one of Microsoft's leading privacy officers, but he is most significantly known as a tireless campaigner against back-doored encryption and key escrow. As a founder of the Foundation for Information Policy Research, he spent countless hours studying the legislation that became the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act and was instrumental in keeping some of the worst proposals out of the eventual law. Campaigners from Privacy International, Big Brother Watch, Open Rights Group, and No2ID all speak of how important his advice and insight were in their work.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Categories: Science

A graphene microphone and loudspeaker that operate at up to 500 kilohertz

Kurzweil AI - Fri, 10/07/2015 - 3:55am

Construction of graphene electrostatic wideband receiver (microphone). The graphene membrane is suspended across the supporting frame (A). The membrane is electrically contacted with gold wires, and spacers are added (B) to control the distance from the membrane to the gold-coated stationary electrodes (C). (credit: Qin Zhou et al./PNAS)

University of California, Berkeley, physicists have used graphene to build lightweight ultrasonic loudspeakers and microphones, enabling people to mimic bats or dolphins’ ability to use sound to communicate and gauge the distance and speed of objects around them.

More practically, the wireless ultrasound devices complement standard radio transmission using electromagnetic waves in areas where radio is impractical, such as underwater, but with far greater fidelity than current ultrasound or sonar devices. They can also be used to communicate through objects, such as steel, that electromagnetic waves can’t penetrate.

“Sea mammals and bats use high-frequency sound for echolocation and communication, but humans just haven’t fully exploited that before, in my opinion, because the technology has not been there,” said UC Berkeley physicist Alex Zettl. “Until now, we have not had good wideband ultrasound transmitters or receivers. These new devices are a technology opportunity.”

The diaphragms in the new devices are graphene sheets a mere one atom thick that have the right combination of stiffness, strength and light weight to respond to frequencies ranging from subsonic (below 20 hertz) to ultrasonic (above 20 kilohertz). Humans can hear from 20 hertz up to 20,000 hertz, whereas bats hear only in the kilohertz range, from 9 to 200 kilohertz. The graphene loudspeakers and microphones operate from well below 20 hertz to over 500 kilohertz.

Practical graphene uses

“There’s a lot of talk about using graphene in electronics and small nanoscale devices, but they’re all a ways away,” said Zettl, who is a senior scientist at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and a member of the Kavli Energy NanoSciences Institute, operated jointly by UC Berkeley and Berkeley Lab. “The microphone and loudspeaker are some of the closest devices to commercial viability, because we’ve worked out how to make the graphene and mount it, and it’s easy to scale up.”

Zettl, UC Berkeley postdoctoral fellow Qin Zhou and colleagues describe their graphene microphone and ultrasonic radio in a paper appearing online this week in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

One big advantage of graphene is that the atom-thick sheet is so lightweight that it responds well to the different frequencies of an electronic pulse, unlike today’s piezoelectric microphones and speakers. This comes in handy when using ultrasonic transmitters and receivers to transmit large amounts of information through many different frequency channels simultaneously, or to measure distance, as in sonar applications.

“Because our membrane is so light, it has an extremely wide frequency response and is able to generate sharp pulses and measure distance much more accurately than traditional methods,” Zhou said.

Graphene membranes are also more efficient, converting over 99 percent of the energy driving the device into sound, whereas today’s conventional loudspeakers and headphones convert only 8 percent into sound. Zettl anticipates that in the future, communications devices like cellphones will utilize not only electromagnetic waves – radio – but also acoustic or ultrasonic sound, which can be highly directional and long-range.

Bat chirps

Bat expert Michael Yartsev, a newly hired UC Berkeley assistant professor of bioengineering and member of the Helen Wills Neuroscience Institute, said, “These new microphones will be incredibly valuable for studying auditory signals at high frequencies, such as the ones used by bats.

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A recording of the pipistrelle bat’s ultrasonic chirps, slowed to one-eighth normal speed (credit: Qin Zhou/UC Berkeley)

The use of graphene allows the authors to obtain very flat frequency responses in a wide range of frequencies, including ultrasound, and will permit a detailed study of the auditory pulses that are used by bats.”

Zettl noted that audiophiles would also appreciate the graphene loudspeakers and headphones, which have a flat response across the entire audible frequency range.

The work was supported by the U.S. Department of Energy, the Office of Naval Research and the National Science Foundation. Other co-authors were Zheng, Michael Crommie, a UC Berkeley professor of physics, and Seita Onishi.

Abstract of Graphene electrostatic microphone and ultrasonic radio

We present a graphene-based wideband microphone and a related ultrasonic radio that can be used for wireless communication. It is shown that graphene-based acoustic transmitters and receivers have a wide bandwidth, from the audible region (20∼20 kHz) to the ultrasonic region (20 kHz to at least 0.5 MHz). Using the graphene-based components, we demonstrate efficient high-fidelity information transmission using an ultrasonic band centered at 0.3 MHz. The graphene-based microphone is also shown to be capable of directly receiving ultrasound signals generated by bats in the field, and the ultrasonic radio, coupled to electromagnetic (EM) radio, is shown to function as a high-accuracy rangefinder. The ultrasonic radio could serve as a useful addition to wireless communication technology where the propagation of EM waves is difficult.

Categories: Science

Crowdsourcing neurofeedback data

Kurzweil AI - Fri, 10/07/2015 - 3:31am

In front of an audience, the collective neurofeedback of 20 participants were projected on the 360° surface of the semi-transparent dome as artistic video animations with soundscapes generated based on a pre-recorded sound library and improvisations from live musicians (credit: Natasha Kovacevic et al./PLoS ONE/Photo: David Pisarek)

In a large-scale art-science installation called My Virtual Dream in Toronto in 2013, more than 500 adults wearing a Muse wireless electroencephalography (EEG) headband inside a 60-foot geodesic dom participated in an unusual neuroscience experiment.

As they played a collective neurofeedback computer game where they were required to manipulate their mental states of relaxation and concentration, the group’s collective EEG signals triggered a catalog of related artistic imagery displayed on the dome’s 360-degree interior, along with spontaneous musical interpretation by live musicians on stage.

“What we’ve done is taken the lab to the public. We collaborated with multimedia artists, made this experiment incredibly engaging, attracted highly motivated subjects, which is not easy to do in the traditional lab setting, and collected useful scientific data from their experience.”

Collective neurofeedback: a new kind of neuroscience research

Participant instructions (credit: Natasha Kovacevic et al./PLoS ONE)

Results from the experiment demonstrated the scientific viability of collective neurofeedback as a potential new avenue of neuroscience research that takes into account individuality, complexity and sociability of the human mind. They also yielded new evidence that neurofeedback learning can have an effect on the brain almost immediately the researchers say.

Studying brains in a social and multi-sensory environment is closer to real life and may help scientists to approach questions of complex real-life social cognition that otherwise are not accessible in traditional labs that study one person’s cognitive functions at a time.

“In traditional lab settings, the environment is so controlled that you can lose some of the fine points of real-time brain activity that occur in a social life setting,” said Natasha Kovacevic, creative producer of My Virtual Dream and program manager of the Centre for Integrative Brain Dynamics at Baycrest’s Rotman Research Institute.

The massive amount of EEG data collected in one night yielded an interesting and statistically relevant finding: that subtle brain activity changes were taking place within approximately one minute of the neurofeedback learning exercise — unprecedented speed of learning changes that have not been demonstrated before.

Building the world’s first virtual brain

“These results really open up a whole new domain of neuroscience study that actively engages the public to advance our understanding of the brain,” said Randy McIntosh, director of the Rotman Research Institute and vice-president of Research at Baycrest. He is a senior author on the paper.

The idea for the Nuit Blanche art-science experiment was inspired by Baycrest’s ongoing international project to build the world’s first functional, virtual brain — a research and diagnostic tool that could one day revolutionize brain healthcare.

Baycrest cognitive neuroscientists collaborated with artists and gaming and wearable technology industry partners for over a year to create the My Virtual Dream installation. Partners included the University of Toronto, Scotiabank Nuit Blanche, Muse, and Uken Games.

Plans are underway to travel My Virtual Dream to other cities around the world.

Abstract of ‘My Virtual Dream’: Collective Neurofeedback in an Immersive Art Environment

While human brains are specialized for complex and variable real world tasks, most neuroscience studies reduce environmental complexity, which limits the range of behaviours that can be explored. Motivated to overcome this limitation, we conducted a large-scale experiment with electroencephalography (EEG) based brain-computer interface (BCI) technology as part of an immersive multi-media science-art installation. Data from 523 participants were collected in a single night. The exploratory experiment was designed as a collective computer game where players manipulated mental states of relaxation and concentration with neurofeedback targeting modulation of relative spectral power in alpha and beta frequency ranges. Besides validating robust time-of-night effects, gender differences and distinct spectral power patterns for the two mental states, our results also show differences in neurofeedback learning outcome. The unusually large sample size allowed us to detect unprecedented speed of learning changes in the power spectrum (~ 1 min). Moreover, we found that participants’ baseline brain activity predicted subsequent neurofeedback beta training, indicating state-dependent learning. Besides revealing these training effects, which are relevant for BCI applications, our results validate a novel platform engaging art and science and fostering the understanding of brains under natural conditions.

Categories: Science

Calling All Data Do-Gooders

Slashdot - Fri, 10/07/2015 - 2:02am
theodp writes: We're entering a new era of data-for-good, writes SAS CEO Jim Goodnight, who explains how SAS and the International Organization for Migration are using analytics and data for disaster relief efforts, but issues a broader call-to-action: "These projects just scratch the surface of what's possible when new data, and those that know how to use it, are applied to humanitarian needs. Organizations such as DataKind and INFORMS, through its new Pro Bono Analytics program, are rallying data scientists to lend their time and expertise to helping people around the world. And there are many more data sets out there that could help with relief and other humanitarian efforts. It's an exciting time to be in the world of big data and analytics. We're just beginning to understand how technology can tackle society's grand challenges." Please share your ideas on what unlikely data sources might help with disaster relief. And, how can we bring the world's analytics talent to bear on these challenges.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Categories: Science

The 10 Most Jennifer Lawrence Things Jennifer Lawrence Said at Comic-Con

Wired News - Fri, 10/07/2015 - 1:18am

Jennifer Lawrence should be mic'ed at all times. Here are a few examples why.

The post The 10 Most Jennifer Lawrence Things Jennifer Lawrence Said at Comic-Con appeared first on WIRED.

Categories: Science

The Best Part of the Doctor Who Panel Was Lego: Dimensions

Wired News - Fri, 10/07/2015 - 1:11am

The Lego versions of all the Doctors are, as they say on the Internet, all the things.

The post The Best Part of the Doctor Who Panel Was Lego: Dimensions appeared first on WIRED.

Categories: Science

Google Launches Gmail Postmaster Tools To Eliminate Spam

Slashdot - Fri, 10/07/2015 - 12:12am
Mark Wilson writes: Spam is a problem that is not going away for anyone who receives email — and who doesn't? Over the years Google has taken steps to try to reduce the amount of junk that reaches Gmail inboxes and today the company is taking things a step further with Gmail Postmaster Tools and enhanced filter training for Gmail. Part of the problem with spam — aside from the sheer volume of it — is that the detection of it is something of an art rather than a science. It is all too easy for legitimate email to get consigned to the junk folder, and this is what Gmail Postmaster Tools aims to help with. Rather than helping recipients banish spam, it helps senders ensure that their messages are delivered to inboxes rather than filtered out.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Categories: Science

New Horizons’ Latest Image Reveals Features on Charon, Too

Wired News - Fri, 10/07/2015 - 12:03am

The newest image from New Horizons shows some surprising features on the surface of Pluto's largest moon, Charon.

The post New Horizons’ Latest Image Reveals Features on Charon, Too appeared first on WIRED.

Categories: Science