The American Academy of Pediatrics tackles youth football injuries

Science Daily - Sun, 25/10/2015 - 5:06am
With football remaining one of the most popular sports for children and teens, the American Academy of Pediatrics is issuing new recommendations to improve the safety of all players while on the field.
Categories: Science

New Algorithm Provides Huge Speedups For Optimization Problems

Slashdot - Sun, 25/10/2015 - 3:07am
An anonymous reader writes: MIT graduate students have developed a new "cutting-plane" algorithm, a general-purpose algorithm for solving optimization problems. They've also developed a new way to apply their algorithm to specific problems, yielding orders-of-magnitude efficiency gains. Optimization problems look to find the best set of values for a group of disparate parameters. For example, the cost function around designing a new smartphone would reward battery life, speed, and durability while penalizing thickness, cost, and overheating. Finding the optimal arrangement of values is a difficult problem, but the new algorithm shaves a significant amount of operations (PDF) off those calculations. Satoru Iwata, professor of mathematical informatics at the University of Tokyo, said, "This is indeed an astonishing paper. For this problem, the running time bounds derived with the aid of discrete geometry and combinatorial techniques are by far better than what I could imagine."

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Categories: Science

The Army Bug Bounty Program: a Critical Need In Defense

Slashdot - Sat, 24/10/2015 - 11:01pm
hypercard writes: It seems just about every major tech company and even a few other large non-tech corporations have bug bounty programs as part of an effort to improve security through a community effort. Captains Rock Stevens and Michael Weigand, both Cyber officers in the U.S. Army, recently published Army Vulnerability Response Program, an outline for a legal way of disclosing bugs in Army software and networks. They say, "[T]he Army does not have a central location for responsibly disclosing vulnerabilities found through daily use, much less a program that can permit active security assessments of networks or software solutions. Without a legal means to disclose vulnerabilities in Army software or networks, vulnerabilities are going unreported and unresolved."

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Categories: Science

Today’s Storm Sets Up a Very Exciting F1 Race Day

Wired News - Sat, 24/10/2015 - 10:21pm

Race control called it a day here in Austin at 4 pm, pushing qualifying to Sunday morning and guaranteeing a busy day for the drivers.

The post Today’s Storm Sets Up a Very Exciting F1 Race Day appeared first on WIRED.

Categories: Science

Judge Tosses Wikimedia's Anti-NSA Lawsuit Because Wikipedia Isn't Big Enough

Slashdot - Sat, 24/10/2015 - 9:54pm
An anonymous reader writes: A federal judge has dismissed a lawsuit filed by the Wikimedia Foundation, Amnesty International, and others against the NSA and other U.S. intelligence agencies for their surveillance of internet communications. The judge used some odd reasoning in his ruling to absolve the NSA of any constitutional violations. He said that since the plaintiffs couldn't prove that all upstream internet communications were monitored, they didn't have standing to challenge whatever communications were monitored. This is curious, given that tech companies are known to be under gag orders preventing them from discussing certain types of government data collection. The judge also made a strange argument about Wikipedia's size: "For one thing, plaintiffs insist that Wikipedia's over one trillion annual Internet communications is significant in volume. But plaintiffs provide no context for assessing the significance of this figure. One trillion is plainly a large number, but size is always relative. For example, one trillion dollars are of enormous value, whereas one trillion grains of sand are but a small patch of beach."

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Categories: Science

Saturn and Its Moon Dione | Space Wallpaper - Sat, 24/10/2015 - 9:02pm
Dione, one of Saturn's larger moons, orbits across the face of the planet with Saturn's unilluminated rings crossing the planet's middle.
Categories: Science

Mimic, the Evil Script That Will Drive Programmers To Insanity

Slashdot - Sat, 24/10/2015 - 8:54pm
JustAnotherOldGuy writes: Mimic implements a devilishly sick idea floated on Twitter by Peter Ritchie: "Replace a semicolon (;) with a Greek question mark (;) in your friend's C# code and watch them pull their hair out over the syntax error." There are quite a few characters in the Unicode character set that look, to some extent or another, like others – homoglyphs. Mimic substitutes common ASCII characters for obscure homoglyphs. Caution: using this script may get you fired and/or beaten to a pulp.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Categories: Science

You Can’t Even Believe How Much Rain There Is in Austin

Wired News - Sat, 24/10/2015 - 8:25pm

An incredibly strong weather system has doused the Circuit of the Americas with six-plus inches of rain, flooding the track and delaying the race by hours

The post You Can’t Even Believe How Much Rain There Is in Austin appeared first on WIRED.

Categories: Science

You Can't Get Smarter, But You Can Slow How Fast You Get Dumber

Slashdot - Sat, 24/10/2015 - 7:52pm
An anonymous reader writes: An article at the NY Times summarizes the state of research on cognitive improvement. There are multiple industries — from big pharma to the makers of "brain-training" games — trying to convince you there are ways to become more intelligent. Unfortunately, scientific research doesn't really bear that out. There is, however, evidence you can provide short-term boosts, slow aging-related cognitive decline, and trick yourself into achieving better outcomes. Experiments show that simply telling a group of low-performing students that intelligence is malleable led to higher test scores. Researchers also found a use for mental exercises, but only in adults over the age of 60, a time at which some level of cognitive decline is common. Physical exercise seems to help fight that cognitive shrinkage as well. Oddly, different exercises fight it in different ways. As for drugs, there is some evidence that stimulants help with long-term memory, but that's about it. That's not to say they have no effect, just that their effect is more to make you feel smarter instead of actually being smarter. The article does point out one of the best ways to combat cognitive decline: maintain social engagement as you get older. "[P]eople with the highest level of social integration had less than half the decline in their cognitive function of the least socially active subjects."

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If F1 Drivers Can’t Race, They Start Dancing

Wired News - Sat, 24/10/2015 - 7:42pm

Rain's put today's F1 racing on hold, and teams are getting a bit stir crazy.

The post If F1 Drivers Can’t Race, They Start Dancing appeared first on WIRED.

Categories: Science

Do Not Call 911! The Life and Death of an Amazon Warehouse Temp

Slashdot - Sat, 24/10/2015 - 6:50pm
theodp writes: Earlier this week, Amazon sicced former White House Press Secretary Jay Carney on the NY Times and the ex-Amazon employees that were interviewed for the NYT's brutal August 2015 article about Amazon's white-collar workplace culture. So, one can hardly wait to see how Amazon and Carney will respond to The Life and Death of an Amazon Warehouse Temp, Dave Jamieson's epic new HuffPo piece on what the future of low-wage work really looks like. Jamieson tells the heartbreaking tale of Jeff Lockhart Jr., who through some workforce sleight-of-hand was working-at-Amazon-but-not-entitled-to-Amazon-benefits when he met his maker after he collapsed in aisle A-215 of Amazon's Chester, VA fulfillment center and laid unconscious beneath shelves stocked with Tupperware and heating pads. Lockhart, whose white work badge distinguished him as a member of the Integrity Staffing Solutions temp worker caste as opposed to a blue-badged Amazon employee (Google yellow-badged its benefits-less temp workers), sadly left behind a wife and three kids, the oldest of which is legally blind. Jamieson writes, "Whoever found Jeff on the third floor apparently alerted Amcare, Amazon's in-house medical team, which is staffed with EMTs and other medical personnel. In the event of a health issue, Amazon instructs workers to notify security before calling emergency services. An employee brochure from a facility in Tennessee, obtained through a public records request, reads: 'In the event of a medical emergency, contact Security. Do Not call 911! Tell Security the nature of the medical emergency and location. Security and/or Amcare will provide emergency response.'" If you're pressed for reading time, Salon's Scott Timberg has a nice TL;DR recap.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Categories: Science

FBI Chief Links Video Scrutiny of Police To Rise In Violent Crime

Slashdot - Sat, 24/10/2015 - 5:43pm writes: This year, murders have spiked in major cities across America. According to FBI director James B. Comey the additional scrutiny and criticism of police officers that has come in the wake of highly publicized incidents of police brutality may be the main reason for the recent increase in violent crime. "I don't know whether that explains it entirely, but I do have a strong sense that some part of the explanation is a chill wind that has blown through American law enforcement over the last year," says Comey. He says he's been told by many police leaders that officers who normally would stop to question suspicious people are opting to stay in their patrol cars for fear of having their encounters recorded and become video sensations. That hesitancy has led to missed opportunities to apprehend suspects and has decreased the police presence on the streets of the country's most violent cities. Officers tell Comey that youths surround police when they get out of their vehicles, taunting them and making videos of the spectacle with their cell phones. "In today's YouTube world, there are officers reluctant to get out of their cars and do the work that controls violent crime," says Comey. "Our officers are answering 911 calls, but avoiding the informal contact that keeps bad guys from standing around, especially with guns."

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Categories: Science

'Zeno Effect' Verified: Atoms Won't Move While You Watch

Slashdot - Sat, 24/10/2015 - 4:40pm
An anonymous reader writes: One of the oddest predictions of quantum theory – that a system can't change while you're watching it – has been confirmed in an experiment by Cornell physicists. Graduate students Yogesh Patil and Srivatsan Chakram created and cooled a gas of about a billion Rubidium atoms inside a vacuum chamber and suspended the mass between laser beams (abstract). In that state the atoms arrange in an orderly lattice just as they would in a crystalline solid. But at such low temperatures the atoms can "tunnel" from place to place in the lattice. The famous Heisenberg uncertainty principle says that position and velocity of a particle are related and cannot be simultaneously measured precisely. The researchers observed the atoms under a microscope by illuminating them with a separate imaging laser. A light microscope can't see individual atoms, but the imaging laser causes them to fluoresce, and the microscope captured the flashes of light. When the imaging laser was off, or turned on only dimly, the atoms tunneled freely. But as the imaging beam was made brighter and measurements made more frequently, the tunneling reduced dramatically.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Categories: Science

3D Printing Soft Body Parts: a Hard Problem That Just Got Easier

Slashdot - Sat, 24/10/2015 - 3:36pm
sciencehabit writes: Humans are squishy. That's a problem for researchers trying to construct artificial tissues and organs, and one that two separate teams of engineers may have just solved. Using a dish of goo the consistency of mayonnaise as a supporting 'bath,' a team led by biomedical engineer Adam Feinberg at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, can now print 3D biological materials that don't collapse under their own weight as they form—a difficulty that has long stood in the way of printing soft body parts (abstract). Once printed, the structures are stiff enough to support themselves, and they can be retrieved by melting away the supportive goo. The other team, from the University of Florida (UF) in Gainesville, has a similar system for printing (abstract), but without the slick trick of the melting goo.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Categories: Science

Cobalt atoms on graphene: a low-cost catalyst for producing hydrogen from water

Kurzweil AI - Sat, 24/10/2015 - 3:42am

A new catalyst just 15 microns thick has proven nearly as effective as platinum-based catalysts but at a much lower cost, according to scientists at Rice University. The catalyst is made of nitrogen-doped graphene with individual cobalt atoms that activate the process. (credit: Tour Group/Rice University)

Graphene doped with nitrogen and augmented with cobalt atoms has proven to be an effective, durable catalyst for the production of hydrogen from water, according to scientists at Rice University.

The Rice University lab of chemist James Tour and colleagues has developed a robust, solid-state catalyst that shows promise to replace expensive platinum for hydrogen generation. (Catalysts can split water into its constituent hydrogen and oxygen atoms, a process required for fuel cells.)

The latest discovery, detailed in Nature Communications, is a significant step toward lower-cost catalysts for energy production, according to the researchers.

Disordered graphitic carbon doped with nitrogen and augmented with cobalt atoms serves as an efficient, robust catalyst for hydrogen separation from water. The material discovered at Rice University could challenge more expensive platinum-based catalysts. (credit: Tour Group/Rice University)

Cost-effective replacement for platinum

“What’s unique about this paper is that we show … the use of atoms,” Tour said, instead of the conventional use of metal particles or nanoparticles. “The particles doing this chemistry are as small as you can possibly get.”

Even particles on the nanoscale work only at the surface, he explained. “There are so many atoms inside the nanoparticle that never do anything. But in our process, the atoms driving catalysis have no metal atoms next to them. We’re getting away with very little cobalt to make a catalyst that nearly matches the best platinum catalysts.” He said that in comparison tests, the new material nearly matched platinum’s efficiency to begin reacting at a low onset voltage (the amount of electricity it needs to begin separating water into hydrogen and oxygen).

The researchers discovered that heat-treating graphene oxide and small amounts of cobalt salts in a gaseous environment forced individual cobalt atoms to bind to the material. Electron microscope images showed cobalt atoms widely dispersed throughout the samples. They also tested nitrogen-doped graphene on its own and found it lacked the ability to kick the catalytic process into gear. But adding cobalt in very small amounts significantly increased its ability to split acidic or basic water.

The new catalyst is mixed as a solution and can be reduced to a paper-like material or used as a surface coating. Tour said single-atom catalysts have been realized in liquids, but rarely on a surface. “This way we can build electrodes out of it,” he said. “It should be easy to integrate into devices.”

Cobalt atoms shine in an electron microscope image of a new catalyst for hydrogen production invented at Rice University. The widely separated cobalt atoms are bound to a sheet of nitrogen-doped graphene. (credit: Tour Group/Rice University)

“This is an extremely high-performance material,” Tour added. He noted platinum-carbon catalysts still boast the lowest onset voltage. “No question, they’re the best. But this is very close to it and much easier to produce and hundreds of times less expensive.”

Atom-thick graphene is the ideal substrate, Tour said, because of its high surface area, stability in harsh operating conditions, and high conductivity. Samples of the new catalyst showed a negligible decrease in activity after 10 hours of accelerated degradation studies in the lab.

Rice colleagues at the Chinese Academy of Sciences, the University of Texas at San Antonio, and the University of Houston were also involved in the research.

Rice University | H2 evolution

Abstract of Atomic cobalt on nitrogen-doped graphene for hydrogen generation

Reduction of water to hydrogen through electrocatalysis holds great promise for clean energy, but its large-scale application relies on the development of inexpensive and efficient catalysts to replace precious platinum catalysts. Here we report an electrocatalyst for hydrogen generation based on very small amounts of cobalt dispersed as individual atoms on nitrogen-doped graphene. This catalyst is robust and highly active in aqueous media with very low overpotentials (30 mV). A variety of analytical techniques and electrochemical measurements suggest that the catalytically active sites are associated with the metal centres coordinated to nitrogen. This unusual atomic constitution of supported metals is suggestive of a new approach to preparing extremely efficient single-atom catalysts.

Categories: Science

How to 3-D print a heart

Kurzweil AI - Sat, 24/10/2015 - 3:17am

Coronary artery structure being 3-D bioprinted (credit: Carnegie Mellon University College of Engineering)

Carnegie Mellon scientists are creating cutting-edge technology that could one day solve the shortage of heart transplants, which are currently needed to repair damaged organs.

“We’ve been able to take MRI images of coronary arteries and 3-D images of embryonic hearts and 3-D bioprint them with unprecedented resolution and quality out of very soft materials like collagens, alginates and fibrins,” said Adam Feinberg, an associate professor of Materials Science and Engineering and Biomedical Engineering at Carnegie Mellon University.

Feinberg leads the Regenerative Biomaterials and Therapeutics Group, and the group’s study was published in an open-access paper today (Oct. 23) in the journal Science Advances.

College of Engineering, Carnegie Mellon University | Adam Feinberg Demonstrates 3-D Bioprinting Process

“The challenge with soft materials is that they collapse under their own weight when 3-D printed in air,” explained Feinberg. “So we developed a method of printing these soft materials inside a support bath material. Essentially, we print one gel inside of another gel, which allows us to accurately position the soft material as it’s being printed, layer-by-layer.”

A FRESH idea

A schematic of the FRESH process showing the hydrogel (green) — representing an artery — being added to the gelatin slurry support bath (yellow). The 3D object is built layer by layer and, when completed, is released by heating to 37°C and melting the gelatin. (credit: Thomas J. Hinton et al./Science Advances)

With this new FRESH (Freeform Reversible Embedding of Suspended Hydrogels) technique, after printing, the support gel can be easily melted away and removed by heating to body temperature, which does not damage the delicate biological molecules or living cells that were bioprinted.

(Left) A model of a section of a human right coronary arterial tree created from a 3D MRI image is processed at full scale into machine code for FRESH printing. (Right) An example of the arterial tree printed in alginate (black) and embedded in the gelatin slurry support bath. Scale bar: 10 mm. (credit: Thomas J. Hinton et al./Science Advances)

As a next step, the group is working toward incorporating real heart cells into these 3-D printed tissue structures, providing a scaffold to help form contractile muscle.

Accessible bioprinters

Most 3-D bioprinters cost more than $100,000 and/or require specialized expertise to operate, limiting wider-spread adoption. Feinberg’s group, however, has been able to implement their technique on a range of consumer-level 3-D printers, which cost less than $1,000 and use open-source hardware and software.

“Not only is the cost low, but by using open-source software, we have access to fine-tune the print parameters, optimize what we’re doing, and maximize the quality of what we’re printing,” Feinberg said.

More than 4,000 Americans are currently on the waiting list to receive a heart transplant. With failing hearts, these patients have no other options; heart tissue, unlike other parts of the body, is unable to heal itself once it is damaged.

Abstract of Three-dimensional printing of complex biological structures by freeform reversible embedding of suspended hydrogels

We demonstrate the additive manufacturing of complex three-dimensional (3D) biological structures using soft protein and polysaccharide hydrogels that are challenging or impossible to create using traditional fabrication approaches. These structures are built by embedding the printed hydrogel within a secondary hydrogel that serves as a temporary, thermoreversible, and biocompatible support. This process, termed freeform reversible embedding of suspended hydrogels, enables 3D printing of hydrated materials with an elastic modulus <500 kPa including alginate, collagen, and fibrin. Computer-aided design models of 3D optical, computed tomography, and magnetic resonance imaging data were 3D printed at a resolution of ~200 μm and at low cost by leveraging open-source hardware and software tools. Proof-of-concept structures based on femurs, branched coronary arteries, trabeculated embryonic hearts, and human brains were mechanically robust and recreated complex 3D internal and external anatomical architectures.

Categories: Science

This microrobot could be a model for a future dual aerial-aquatic vehicle

Kurzweil AI - Sat, 24/10/2015 - 1:47am

The Harvard RoboBee concept (credit: Harvard Microrobotics Lab)

In 1939, Russian engineer Boris Ushakov proposed a “flying submarine” — a cool James Bond-style vehicle that could seamlessly transition from air to water and back again. Ever since, engineers have been trying to design one, with little success. The biggest challenge: aerial vehicles require large airfoils like wings or sails to generate lift, while underwater vehicles need to minimize surface area to reduce drag.

Engineers at the Harvard John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Science (SEAS) decided to try that a new version of their RoboBee microbot (see “A robotic insect makes first controlled test flight“), taking a clue from puffins. These birds with flamboyant beaks employ flapping motions that are similar in air and water.

Harvard University | RoboBee: From Aerial to Aquatic

But to make that actually work, the team had to first solve four thorny problems:

Surface tension. The RoboBee is so small and lightweight that it cannot break the surface tension of the water. To overcome this hurdle, the RoboBee hovers over the water at an angle, momentarily switches off its wings, and then crashes unceremoniously into the water to make itself sink.

Water’s increased density (1,000 times denser than air), which would snap the wing off the RoboBee. Solution: the team lowered the wing speed from 120 flaps per second to nine but kept the flapping mechanisms and hinge design the same. A swimming RoboBee simply changes its direction by adjusting the stroke angle of the wings, the same way it does in air.

Shorting out. Like the flying version, it’s tethered to a power source. Solution: use deionized water and coat the electrical connections with glue.

Moving from water to air. Problem: it can’t generate enough lift without snapping one of its wings. They researchers say they’re working on that next.

“We believe the RoboBee has the potential to become the world’s first successful dual aerial, aquatic insect-scale vehicle,” the researchers claim in a paper presented at the International Conference on Intelligent Robots and Systems in Germany. The research was funded by the National Science Foundation and the Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering.

Hmm, maybe we’ll see a vehicle based on the RoboBee in a future Bond film?

Categories: Science

Improving learning and memory in aged mice with cholesterol-binding membrane protein

Kurzweil AI - Fri, 23/10/2015 - 3:47am

SynCav1 gene delivery enhances granule cell neuron dendritic arborization (neuron branching in adult mice. Scale bar: 20 micrometers. (credit: Chitra D. Mandyam et al./Biological Psychiatry)

Using gene therapy to increase a crucial cholesterol-binding membrane protein called caveolin-1 (Cav-1) in neurons in the hippocampus* of the brain improved learning and memory in aged mice, according to findings from a new study led by scientists at The Scripps Research Institute (TSRI), the Veterans Affairs San Diego Healthcare System (VA) and University of California (UC) San Diego School of Medicine.

The result for treated mice was improved neuron growth and better retrieval of contextual memories — they froze in place, an indication of fear, when placed in a location where they’d once received small electric shocks.

The researchers believe that this type of gene therapy may be a path toward treating age-related memory loss, including loss resulting from alcohol and drug use. The researchers are now testing this gene therapy in mouse models of Alzheimer’s disease and expanding it to possibly treat injuries such as spinal cord injury and traumatic brain injury. ”

The study, published recently online ahead of print in the journal Biological Psychiatry, expands scientists’ understanding of neuroplasticity, the ability of neural pathways to grow in response to new stimuli.

* The hippocampus is a structure in the brain thought to participate in the formation of contextual memories — for example, if one remembers a past picnic when later visiting a park.

Abstract of Neuron-targeted caveolin-1 improves molecular signaling, plasticity and behavior dependent on the hippocampus in adult and aged mice

Background: Studies in vitro demonstrate that neuronal membrane/lipid rafts (MLRs) establish cell polarity by clustering pro-growth receptors and tethering cytoskeletal machinery necessary for neuronal sprouting. However, the effect of MLR and MLR-associated proteins on neuronal aging is unknown.

Methods: Here we assessed the impact of neuron-targeted overexpression of a MLR scaffold protein, caveolin-1 (via a synapsin promoter; SynCav1), in the hippocampus in vivo in adult (6-months-old) and aged (20-month-old) mice on biochemical, morphologic and behavioral changes.

Results: SynCav1 resulted in increased expression of Cav-1, MLRs, and MLR-localization of Cav-1 and tropomyosin-related kinase B (TrkB) receptor independent of age and time post gene transfer. Cav-1 overexpression in adult mice enhanced dendritic arborization within the apical dendrites of hippocampal CA1 and granule cell neurons, effects that were also observed in aged mice, albeit to a lesser extent, indicating preserved impact of Cav-1 on structural plasticity of hippocampal neurons with age. Cav-1 overexpression enhanced contextual fear memory in adult and aged mice demonstrating improved hippocampal function.

Conclusions: Neuron-targeted overexpression of Cav-1 in the adult and aged hippocampus enhances functional MLRs with corresponding roles in cell signaling and protein trafficking. The resultant structural alterations in hippocampal neurons in vivo are associated with improvements in hippocampal dependent learning and memory. Our findings suggest Cav-1 as a novel therapeutic strategy in disorders involving impaired hippocampal function.

Categories: Science