Reading with children starting in infancy gives lasting literacy boost

Science Daily - Thu, 04/05/2017 - 12:31pm
New research shows that reading books with a child beginning in early infancy can boost vocabulary and reading skills four years later, before the start of elementary school.
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Handheld screen time linked with speech delays in young children

Science Daily - Thu, 04/05/2017 - 12:31pm
As the number of smart phones, tablets, electronic games and other handheld screens in US homes continues to grow, some children begin using these devices before beginning to talk. New research suggests these children may be at higher risk for speech delays.
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First EPA-approved outdoor field trial for genetically engineered algae

Science Daily - Thu, 04/05/2017 - 12:30pm
Scientists have successfully completed the first outdoor field trial sanctioned by the US Environmental Protection Agency for genetically engineered algae. The researchers tested a genetically engineered strain of algae in outdoor ponds under real-world conditions. The researchers conclude that genetically engineered algae can be successfully cultivated outdoors while maintaining engineered traits, and, most importantly, without adversely impacting native algae populations.
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Luke, the Jedi Shouldn’t End. They Just Need Workers’ Comp

Wired News - Thu, 04/05/2017 - 12:30pm
And other policy recommendations so that the order can evolve instead of just dying out. The post Luke, the Jedi Shouldn’t End. They Just Need Workers' Comp appeared first on WIRED.
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America’s Obscene Wealth, in Pictures

Wired News - Thu, 04/05/2017 - 12:00pm
Lauren Greenfield has dedicated her career to documenting what she calls "the influence of affluence." The post America’s Obscene Wealth, in Pictures appeared first on WIRED.
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Want to Start Riding Your Bike to Work? Get This Gear

Wired News - Thu, 04/05/2017 - 11:30am
Whether you're new to commuting or just want to ride more, these practical accessories will make it easier. The post Want to Start Riding Your Bike to Work? Get This Gear appeared first on WIRED.
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Familiar Rings: Nearby Alien Solar System Looks Like Earth's - Thu, 04/05/2017 - 11:07am
A young planetary system located only 10.5 light-years away has a structure that is remarkably similar to Earth's solar system, a new study shows.
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Airbnb’s San Francisco Deal Puts Storyline Over Bottom Line

Wired News - Thu, 04/05/2017 - 11:00am
In San Francisco, Airbnb became a prime target of the anti-tech backlash. As it approaches a possible IPO, it would like to be seen as a good neighbor. The post Airbnb's San Francisco Deal Puts Storyline Over Bottom Line appeared first on WIRED.
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How Artists Engineer Their Work to Mess With Our Minds

Wired News - Thu, 04/05/2017 - 11:00am
The most compelling visual artists are tech innovators, using advanced materials, industrial design, and clever light manipulation to trick your brain. The post How Artists Engineer Their Work to Mess With Our Minds appeared first on WIRED.
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Why the Force Is Still Strong with 'Star Wars' Fans - Thu, 04/05/2017 - 11:00am
A long, long time ago — 40 years ago this month, actually — an initially small group of theatergoers was transported to a galaxy far, far away, heralding the birth of the "Star Wars" universe.
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'Star Wars' Spaceships: Our Favorite Vehicles in a Galaxy Far, Far Away - Thu, 04/05/2017 - 11:00am
From the nimble X-wing starfighters to the artful Naboo N-1 starfighters, there are a lot of great spaceships in the "Star Wars" universe. In honor of Star Wars Day (May the 4th), here's a list of our favorite ships from the "Star Wars" movies.
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Coming Soon? Scientists Discuss Potential Breakthroughs in Alien-Life Search - Thu, 04/05/2017 - 11:00am
A recap of the recent Breakthrough Discuss conference, where scientists and engineers came together to talk about the best ways to hunt for life beyond Earth's solar system.
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With the Model 3 Coming, Tesla Grapples With Quality Control

Wired News - Thu, 04/05/2017 - 10:45am
And Musk's newer customers may not be so forgiving. The post With the Model 3 Coming, Tesla Grapples With Quality Control appeared first on WIRED.
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New nuclear magnetic resonance technique offers ‘molecular window’ for live disease diagnosis

Kurzweil AI - Thu, 04/05/2017 - 3:18am

New nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) system for molecular diagnosis (credit: University of Toronto Scarborough)

University of Toronto Scarborough researchers have developed a new “molecular window” technology based on nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) that can look inside a living system to get a high-resolution profile of which specific molecules are present, and extract a full metabolic profile.

“Getting a sense of which molecules are in a tissue sample is important if you want to know if it’s cancerous, or if you want to know if certain environmental contaminants are harming cells inside the body,” says Professor Andre Simpson, who led research in developing the new technique.*

An NMR spectrometer generates a powerful magnetic field that causes atomic nuclei to absorb and re-emit energy in distinct patterns, revealing a unique molecular signature — in this example: the chemical ethanol. (credit: adapted from the Bruker BioSpin “How NMR Works” video at

Simpson says there’s great medical potential for this new technique, since it can be adapted to work on existing magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) systems found in hospitals. “It could have implications for disease diagnosis and a deeper understanding of how important biological processes work,” by targeting specific biomarker molecules that are unique to specific diseased tissue.

The new approach could detect these signatures without resorting to surgery and could determine, for example, whether a growth is cancerous or benign directly from the MRI alone.

The technique could also provide highly detailed information on how the brain works, revealing the actual chemicals involved in a particular response. “It could mark an important step in unraveling the biochemistry of the brain,” says Simpson.

Overcoming magnetic distortion

Until now, traditional NMR techniques haven’t been able to provide high-resolution profiles of living organisms because of magnetic distortions from the tissue itself.  Simpson and his team were able to overcome this problem by creating tiny communication channels based on “long-range dipole interactions” between molecules.

The next step for the research is to test it on human tissue samples, says Simpson. Since the technique detects all cellular metabolites (substances such as glucose) equally, there’s also potential for non-targeted discovery.

“Since you can see metabolites in a sample that you weren’t able to see before, you can now identify molecules that may indicate there’s a problem,” he explains. “You can then determine whether you need further testing or surgery. So the potential for this technique is truly exciting.”

The research results are published in the journal Angewandte Chemie.

* Simpson has been working on perfecting the technique for more than three years with colleagues at Bruker BioSpin, a scientific instruments company that specializes in developing NMR technology. The technique, called “in-phase intermolecular single quantum coherence” (IP-iSQC), is based on some unexpected scientific concepts that were discovered in 1995, which at the time were described as impossible and “crazed” by many researchers. The technique developed by Simpson and his team builds upon these early discoveries. The work was supported by Mark Krembil of the Krembil Foundation and the Natural Sciences Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC).

Abstract of In-Phase Ultra High-Resolution In Vivo NMR

Although current NMR techniques allow organisms to be studied in vivo, magnetic susceptibility distortions, which arise from inhomogeneous distributions of chemical moieties, prevent the acquisition of high-resolution NMR spectra. Intermolecular single quantum coherence (iSQC) is a technique that breaks the sample’s spatial isotropy to form long range dipolar couplings, which can be exploited to extract chemical shift information free of perturbations. While this approach holds vast potential, present practical limitations include radiation damping, relaxation losses, and non-phase sensitive data. Herein, these drawbacks are addressed, and a new technique termed in-phase iSQC (IP-iSQC) is introduced. When applied to a living system, high-resolution NMR spectra, nearly identical to a buffer extract, are obtained. The ability to look inside an organism and extract a high-resolution metabolic profile is profound and should find applications in fields in which metabolism or in vivo processes are of interest.

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