Surgery achieves better long-term control of type 2 diabetes than standard therapy

Science Daily - Fri, 04/09/2015 - 2:32am
Metabolic or bariatric surgery may be more effective than standard medical treatments for the long-term control of type 2 diabetes in obese patients, according to a new study. The study is the first to provide data on five-year outcomes of surgery from a randomized clinical trial specifically designed to compare this new approach against standard medical therapy for the treatment of type 2 diabetes.
Categories: Science

Girls, boys with autism differ in behavior, brain structure

Science Daily - Fri, 04/09/2015 - 2:32am
A study of about 800 children with autism found gender differences in a core feature of the disorder, as well as in the youngsters' brain structures. Girls with autism display less repetitive and restricted behavior than boys do, according to the study.
Categories: Science

'Unethical' targets in India's private hospitals

Science Daily - Fri, 04/09/2015 - 2:32am
Many doctors working in India's private hospitals are under pressure to carry out unnecessary tests and procedures to meet revenue targets, according to a new article.
Categories: Science

Extra hour of screen time per day associated with poorer GCSE grades

Science Daily - Fri, 04/09/2015 - 2:32am
An extra hour per day spent watching TV, using the internet or playing computer games during Year 10 is associated with poorer grades at GCSE at age 16 -- the equivalent of the difference between two grades, according to research. Researchers also found that pupils doing an extra hour of daily homework and reading performed significantly better than their peers.
Categories: Science

Carbon dioxide capture by a novel material that mimics a plant enzyme

Kurzweil AI - Fri, 04/09/2015 - 2:17am

Atomic structure of the adsorbed* carbon dioxide (gray sphere bonded to two red spheres) inserted between the manganese (green sphere) and amine (blue sphere) groups within the novel metal-organic framework, forming a linear chain of ammonium carbamate (top). Some hydrogen atoms (white sphere) are omitted for clarity. (credit: Image courtesy of Thomas McDonald, Jarad Mason, and Jeffrey Long)

A novel porous material that achieves carbon dioxide (CO2) capture-and-release with only small shifts in temperature has been developed by a team of researchers at the Center for Gas Separations Relevant to Clean Energy Technologies, led by the University of California, Berkeley (a DOE Energy Frontier Research Center), and associates.

This metal-organic framework (MOF) structure, which adsorbs* CO2, closely resembles an enzyme found in plants known as RuBisCO, which captures CO2 from the atmosphere for conversion into nutrients.

The discovery* paves the way for designing more efficient materials that dramatically reduce overall energy cost of carbon capture. Such materials could be used for carbon capture from fossil-fuel-based power plants as well as from the atmosphere, mitigating the greenhouse effect.

The enhanced carbon capture efficiency of the new class of materials could allow for dramatic reductions in the overall energy cost of carbon capture in power plants or even from the atmosphere, according to the researchers.

* Adsorbed CO2 is captured on the surface of a material; absorbed CO2 is captured inside the material.

** The cooperative mechanism for carbon dioxide (CO2) adsorption in porous MOF materials:

First, a CO2 molecule gets inserted between a metal ion and an amine group within the cylindrical pore of the MOF. Interestingly, the chemical environment of the MOF with the adsorbed CO2  is very similar to that of plant enzyme RuBisCO with a bound CO2.

RuBisCO plays an essential role in biological carbon fixation by plants and conversion into nutrients. In the case of the newly synthesized diamine-appended MOFs, however, the inserted CO2 reorganizes the chemical environment at the adjacent metal ion site to be just right for the insertion of the next CO2.

As more CO2 enters the pore, a cooperative domino effect ensues that leads to the formation of linear chains of ammonium carbamate along the cylindrical pore surfaces of the MOF.

Gas adsorption measurements show the high selectivity of the material for CO2 from the typical composition of flue gas from fossil-fuel-based power plants that contains nitrogen, water, and CO2.

Furthermore, the material has large working capacities — the amount of CO2 adsorbed and desorbed for a given amount of material — that are enabled by only moderate temperature shifts for the adsorption and desorption processes.

Finally, the research points out that changing the strength of the metal-diamine bond through metal substitution allows for rational tuning of the adsorption and desorption properties.

Abstract of Cooperative insertion of CO2 in diamine-appended metal-organic frameworks

The process of carbon capture and sequestration has been proposed as a method of mitigating the build-up of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. If implemented, the cost of electricity generated by a fossil fuel-burning power plant would rise substantially, owing to the expense of removing CO2 from the effluent stream. There is therefore an urgent need for more efficient gas separation technologies, such as those potentially offered by advanced solid adsorbents. Here we show that diamine-appended metal-organic frameworks can behave as ‘phase-change’ adsorbents, with unusual step-shaped CO2 adsorption isotherms that shift markedly with temperature. Results from spectroscopic, diffraction and computational studies show that the origin of the sharp adsorption step is an unprecedented cooperative process in which, above a metal-dependent threshold pressure, CO2 molecules insert into metal-amine bonds, inducing a reorganization of the amines into well-ordered chains of ammonium carbamate. As a consequence, large CO2 separation capacities can be achieved with small temperature swings, and regeneration energies appreciably lower than achievable with state-of-the-art aqueous amine solutions become feasible. The results provide a mechanistic framework for designing highly efficient adsorbents for removing CO2 from various gas mixtures, and yield insights into the conservation of Mg2+ within the ribulose-1,5-bisphosphate carboxylase/oxygenase family of enzymes.

Categories: Science

Pioneer Looks To Laserdisc Tech For Low-Cost LIDAR

Slashdot - Fri, 04/09/2015 - 2:02am
itwbennett writes: Pioneer is developing a 3D LIDAR (light detection and ranging) sensor for use in autonomous vehicles that could be a fraction of the cost of current systems (the company envisions a price point under $83). Key to this is technology related to optical pickups once used in laserdisc players, which Pioneer made for 30 years. From the ITWorld story: "The system would detect objects dozens of meters ahead, measure their distance and width and identify them based on their shape. Pioneer, which makes GPS navigation systems, is working on getting the LIDAR to automatically produce high-precision digital maps while using a minimum of data compared to the amount used for standard maps for car navigation."

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Categories: Science

AI authors crowdsourced interactive fiction

Kurzweil AI - Fri, 04/09/2015 - 1:43am

GVU Center at Georgia Tech | A new Georgia Tech artificial intelligence system develops interactive stories through crowdsourced data for more robust fiction. Here (in a simplified example), the AI replicates a typical first date to the movies (user choices are in red), complete with loud theater talkers and the arm-over-shoulder movie move.

Georgia Institute of Technology researchers have developed a new artificially intelligent system that crowdsources plots for interactive stories, which are popular in video games and let players choose different branching story options.

“Our open interactive narrative system learns genre models from crowdsourced example stories so that the player can perform different actions and still receive a coherent story experience,” says Mark Riedl, lead investigator and associate professor of interactive computing at Georgia Tech.

With potentially limitless crowdsourced plot points, the system could allow for more creative stories and an easier method for interactive narrative generation. For example, imagine a Star Wars game using online fan fiction, generating paths for a player to take.

Current AI models for games have a limited number of scenarios, no matter what a player chooses. They depend on a dataset already programmed into a model by experts.

Near human-level authoring

The Scheherazade-IF Architecture (credit: Matthew Guzdial et al.)

test* of the AI system, called Scheherazade IF (Interactive Fiction) — a reference to the fabled Arabic queen and storyteller — showed that it can achieve near human-level authoring, the researchers claim.

“When enough data is available and that data sufficiently covers all aspects of the game experience, the system was able to meet or come close to meeting human performance in creating a playable story,” says Riedl.

The creators say that they are seeking to inject more creative scenarios into the system. Right now, the AI plays it safe with the crowdsourced content, producing what one might expect in different genres. But opportunities exist to train Scheherazade (just like its namesake implies) to surprise and immerse those in future interactive experiences.

The impact of this research can support not only online storytelling for entertainment, but also digital storytelling used in online course education or corporate training.

* The researchers evaluated the AI system by measuring the number of “commonsense” errors (e.g. scenes out of sequence) found by players, as well as players’ subjective experiences for things such as enjoyment and coherence of story.

Three test groups played through two interactive stories — a bank robbery and a date to the movies — to measure performance of three narrative generators: the AI story generator, a human-programmed generator, or a random story generator.

For the bank robbery story, the AI system performed identically to the human-programmed generator in terms of errors reported by players, with a median of three each. The random generator produced a median of 12.5 errors reported.

For the movie date scenario, the median values of errors reported were three (human), five (AI) and 15 (random). This shows the AI system performing at 83.3 percent of the human-programmed generator.

As for the play experience itself, the human and AI generators compared favorably for coherence, player involvement, enjoyment and story recognition.

Abstract of Crowdsourcing Open Interactive Narrative

Interactive narrative is a form of digital interactive experience in which users influence a dramatic storyline through their actions. Artificial intelligence approaches to interactive narrative use a domain model to determine how the narrative should unfold based on user actions. However, domain models for interactive narrative require artificial intelligence and knowledge representation expertise. We present open interactive narrative, the problem of generating an interactive narrative experience about any possible topic. We present an open interactive narrative system— Scherazade IF—that learns a domain model from crowdsourced example stories so that the player can perform different actions and still receive a coherent story experience. We report on an evaluation of our system showing near-human level authoring

Categories: Science

Silk bio-ink could help advance tissue engineering using 3-D printers

Kurzweil AI - Fri, 04/09/2015 - 1:16am

Scientists have developed a silk-based, 3-D printer ink for use in biomedical implants or tissue engineering (credit: American Chemical Society )

Tufts University scientists have developed a silk-based bio-ink that could allow for printing tissues that could be loaded with pharmaceuticals, cytokines (for directing stem cell functions), and antibiotics (for controlling infections), for example, or used in biomedical implants and tissue engineering.

Current 3-D printing processes are limited to simple body parts such as bone. And most inks currently being developed for 3-D printing are made of thermoplastics, silicones, collagen, gelatin, or alginate, which have limits. For example, the temperatures, pH changes and crosslinking methods that may be required to toughen some of these materials can damage cells or other biological components that researchers would want to add to the inks.

To address these bio-ink limitations, Tufts Stern Family Professor of Engineering David L. Kaplan and associates combined silk proteins, which are biocompatible, and glycerol, a non-toxic sugar alcohol commonly found in food and pharmaceutical products. The resulting ink was clear, flexible, stable in water, and didn’t require any processing methods, such as high temperatures, that would limit its versatility.

The researchers reported their research findings in the journal ACS Biomaterials Science & Engineering.

(a−e) Printing of 10% silk, 2% glycerol bioink into regular or irregular constructs; (a) 5 μm thick prints; (b) optically clear 250 μm thick printed mesh with regular geometry; (c) flexible, clear, 250 μm thick printed tubes; (d) irregular CAD geometry printed onto an aluminum surface; (e) Silk Lab logo printed onto a silk film substrate;
(f) printing of a 5% silk, 10% gelatin biogel mesh with simple geometry onto planar print surface; (g) a printed biogel mesh structure measuring 17 mm × 17 mm × 6 mm, microchannels are 250 μm wide; (h) SEM of a cryogel mesh created from the biogel structures via lyophilization; (i−k) printing of regular and irregular shaped constructs was performed using programming generated from CAD geometry; biogel was composed of 5% agar, 5% silk, 1% glycerol. (credit: Rod R. Jose/ACS Biomater. Sci. Eng)

Abstract of Polyol-Silk Bioink Formulations as Two-Part Room-Temperature Curable Materials for 3D Printing

Silk-based bioinks were developed for 2D and 3D printing. By incorporating nontoxic polyols into silk solutions, two-part formulations with self-curing features at room temperature were generated. By varying the formulations the crystallinity of the silk polymer matrix could be controlled to support printing in 2D and 3D formats interfaced with CAD geometry and with good feature resolution. The self-curing phenomenon was tuned and exploited in order to demonstrate the formation of both structural and support materials. Biocompatible aqueous protein inks for printing that avoid the need for chemical or photo initiators and that form aqueous-stable structures with good resolution at ambient temperatures provide useful options for biofunctionalization and a broad range of applications.

Categories: Science

Copenhagen's New All-Electric Public Carsharing Programming

Slashdot - Fri, 04/09/2015 - 12:25am
dkatana writes: Residents in Copenhagen have a new all-electric, free-floating, carsharing service. DriveNow is launching 400 brand new BMW i3 electric cars in the Danish city. The service is one-way, and metered by the minute. The big news is that residents can sign-up on the spot taking a picture of their drivers' license and a selfie and use their public transport accounts to pay. There will be a car available every 300 meters, the same distance as bus stops. The cost will be 3.50 kroner ($0.52) per minute driven. If members decide to park the car for a few minutes continuing the rental, those stationary minutes are charged at 2.5 kroner ($0.37). The maximum charge per hour is capped at 190 kroner ($28.50). There is no annual fee.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Categories: Science

Intel invests US$50 million in quantum-computing research

Kurzweil AI - Thu, 03/09/2015 - 11:56pm

Think of classical physics as a coin. It can be either heads or tails. If it were a bit, it would be 0 or 1. In quantum physics, this coin is best thought of as a constantly spinning coin. It represents heads and tails simultaneously. As a result, a qubit would be both 0 and 1 and spin simultaneously up and down. (credit: Intel)

Intel announced today (Thursday Sept. 3) an investment of $50 million and “significant engineering resources” in quantum computing research, in a 10-year collaborative relationship with the Delft University of Technology and TNO, the Dutch Organisation for Applied Research.

“A fully functioning quantum computer is at least a dozen years away, but the practical and theoretical research efforts we’re announcing today mark an important milestone in the journey to bring it closer to reality,” said Mike Mayberry, Intel vice president and managing director of Intel Labs.

Infographic: Quantum Computing

The Promise of Quantum Computing By Intel CEO Brian Krzanichg

Categories: Science

Congressional Testimony: A Surprising Consensus On Climate

Slashdot - Thu, 03/09/2015 - 11:42pm
Lasrick writes: Many legislators regularly deny that there is a scientific consensus, or even broad scientific support, for government action to address climate change. Researchers recently assessed the content of congressional testimony related to either global warming or climate change from 1969 to 2007. For each piece of testimony, they recorded several characteristics about how the testimony discussed climate. For instance, noting whether the testimony indicated that global warming or climate change was happening and whether any climate change was attributable (in part) to anthropogenic sources. The results: Testimony to Congress—even under Republican reign—reflects the scientific consensus that humans are changing our planet's climate.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Categories: Science

Google Chrome Cuts Back on Memory Usage

Wired News - Thu, 03/09/2015 - 11:40pm

Google Chrome has a reputation for high RAM usage? Not anymore.

The post Google Chrome Cuts Back on Memory Usage appeared first on WIRED.

Categories: Science

Connecting the Unwired World With Balloons, Satellites, Lasers & Drones

Slashdot - Thu, 03/09/2015 - 10:59pm
1sockchuck writes: New projects are seeking to connect the unwired world using balloons, drones, lasers and satellites to deliver wireless Internet. There are dueling low-earth orbit satellite initiatives backed by billionaires Elon Musk (SpaceX) and Richard Branson (OneWeb), while Google's Project Loon is using balloons (which sometimes crash) and Facebook is building a solar-powered UAV (Project Aquila). “The Connectivity Lab team is very focused on the technical challenges of reaching those people who are typically in the more rural, unconnected parts of the world,” Jay Parikh, vice president of engineering at Facebook says. “I think that we need to get them access. My hope is that we are able to deliver a very rich experience to them, including videos, photos and—some day—virtual reality and all of that stuff. But it’s a multi-, multi-, multi-year challenge, and I don’t see any end in sight right now.”

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Categories: Science

The Lonely-Man-Becomes-a-Crustacean Trailer: The Lobster

Wired News - Thu, 03/09/2015 - 10:34pm

Find love or turn into an animal, NBD.

The post The Lonely-Man-Becomes-a-Crustacean Trailer: The Lobster appeared first on WIRED.

Categories: Science

The Movie About Making Grand Theft Auto Looks Serious

Wired News - Thu, 03/09/2015 - 10:23pm

The BBC has released the first trailer for The Gamechangers, its upcoming film about the making of Grand Theft Auto.

The post The Movie About Making Grand Theft Auto Looks Serious appeared first on WIRED.

Categories: Science

Easy-To-Clean Membrane Separates Oil From Water

Slashdot - Thu, 03/09/2015 - 10:15pm
ckwu writes: A steel mesh with a novel self-cleaning coating can separate oil and water, easily lifting oil from an oil-water mixture and leaving the water behind. Unlike existing oil-water separation membranes, if the coated mesh gets contaminated with oil, it can be simply rinsed off with water and reused, without needing to be cleaned with detergents. The team was able to use the mesh to lift crude oil from a crude oil-seawater mixture, showcasing the feasibility of oil-spill cleanup. The membrane could also be used to treat oily wastewater and as a protective barrier in industrial sewer outlets to avoid oil discharge.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Categories: Science

The Story (And Tech) Behind That Awesome Star Wars BB-8 Toy

Wired News - Thu, 03/09/2015 - 10:00pm

It might be taking the blogs (and fans' hearts) by storm, but Sphero's toy robot is the product of one very lucky meeting.

The post The Story (And Tech) Behind That Awesome Star Wars BB-8 Toy appeared first on WIRED.

Categories: Science

LISA Pathfinder to Refine Hunt for Gravitational Waves - Thu, 03/09/2015 - 9:53pm
A new spacecraft will test ideas to find gravitational waves in the universe
Categories: Science

NASA Satellite's Dirt-Mapping Radar Bites the Dust - Thu, 03/09/2015 - 9:47pm
The radar instrument on NASA's $916 million Soil Moisture Active Passive (SMAP) spacecraft stopped returning data on July 7, a few months after the satellite began its science mission. The SMAP team now views the instrument's recovery as unlikely.
Categories: Science

The Feds Need a Warrant to Spy With Stingrays From Now On

Wired News - Thu, 03/09/2015 - 9:31pm

The federal government can no longer use controversial stingray devices to track mobile phone users without a warrant.

The post The Feds Need a Warrant to Spy With Stingrays From Now On appeared first on WIRED.

Categories: Science