the_newsbeagle writes Pharmaceutical research for neuropsychiatric disorders hasn't produced many breakthroughs lately, which may explain why there's so much excitement around "electroceutical" research. That buzzy new field encompasses deep brain stimulation (DBS), in which an implanted stimulator sends little jolts through the neural tissue. DBS has become an accepted therapy for Parkinson's and other motor disorders, even though researchers haven't really understood how it works. Now, new research may have found the mechanism of action in Parkinson's patients: The stimulation reduces an exaggerated synchronization of neuron activity in the motor cortex.
An anonymous reader writes with this story about magician and professor of mathematics and statistics at Stanford University Persi Diaconis. "Now a professor of mathematics and statistics at Stanford University, Diaconis has employed his intuition about cards, which he calls 'the poetry of magic,' in a wide range of settings. Once, for example, he helped decode messages passed between inmates at a California state prison by using small random 'shuffles' to gradually improve a decryption key. He has also analyzed Bose-Einstein condensation — in which a collection of ultra-cold atoms coalesces into a single 'superatom' — by envisioning the atoms as rows of cards moving around. This makes them 'friendly,' said Diaconis, whose speech still carries the inflections of his native New York City. 'We all have our own basic images that we translate things into, and for me cards were where I started.' In 1992, Diaconis famously proved — along with the mathematician Dave Bayer of Columbia University — that it takes about seven ordinary riffle shuffles to randomize a deck. Over the years, Diaconis and his students and colleagues have successfully analyzed the effectiveness of almost every type of shuffle people use in ordinary life."
alphadogg writes Three MIT grads this week are celebrating the 10th anniversary of their clever SCIgen program, which randomly generates computer science papers realistic enough to get accepted by sketchy technical conferences and publishers, with a brand new tool designed to poke even more fun at such outfits. Just a bit late for April Fool's Day, the new SCIpher program from the MIT Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Lab alums enables users to hide messages inside randomly-generated calls for papers from phony conferences whose names are so ridiculous that they sound legit. An MIT spokesman says the new tool is really just a way for geeky friends to mess with each other, whereas SCIgen pointed out major flaws in the worlds of scientific journals and conferences.
Jason Koebler writes: Researchers at Columbia University have designed a fully electric digital camera that powers itself using ambient light. Put in a well-lit room, it would work indefinitely. The camera's image sensor does double duty. It measures the light needed to make the photograph, and it also takes excess light and uses it to power a capacitor (it has no battery) that runs the camera (PDF). The research team says the technology can be used to create self-powered cameras that can live on the internet of things.
astroengine writes: A new study carried out by the ESO's Very Large Telescope and the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope has revealed for the first time that dark matter may well interact with itself — a discovery that, at first glance, seems to contradict what we thought we knew about the nature of this invisible mass. "In this study, the researchers observed the four colliding galaxies and found that one dark matter clump appeared to be lagging behind the galaxy it surrounds. The dark matter is currently 5000 light-years (50 000 million million kilometers) behind the galaxy — it would take NASA’s Voyager spacecraft 90 million years to travel that far. A lag between dark matter and its associated galaxy is predicted during collisions if dark matter interacts with itself, even very slightly, through forces other than gravity. Dark matter has never before been observed interacting in any way other than through the force of gravity."
sciencehabit writes: Researchers say they have found the oldest tools made by human ancestors—stone flakes dated to 3.3 million years ago. That's 700,000 years older than the oldest-known tools to date, suggesting that our ancestors were crafting tools several hundred thousand years before our genus Homo arrived on the scene. If correct, the new evidence could confirm disputed claims for very early tool use, and it suggests that ancient australopithecines like the famed 'Lucy' may have fashioned stone.
192_kbps writes: NASA published today the first color image of Pluto and Charon captured by the New Horizons probe, revealing a reddish world. "The fastest spacecraft ever launched, New Horizons has traveled a longer time and farther away - more than nine years and three billion miles - than any space mission in history to reach its primary target. Its flyby of Pluto and its system of at least five moons on July 14 will complete the initial reconnaissance of the classical solar system. This mission also opens the door to an entirely new "third" zone of mysterious small planets and planetary building blocks in the Kuiper Belt, a large area with numerous objects beyond Neptune's orbit." The picture is blurry, but far better than the few pixels Hubble can resolve, the image whets the appetite for New Horizon's closest approach on July 14th."
An anonymous reader writes: As space technology matures, new missions are being funded and humanity is setting its goals ever further. Space agencies are tackling some of the new problems that crop up when we try to go further away than Earth's moon. This New Yorker article takes a look at research into one of the biggest obstacles: extended isolation. Research consultant Jack Stuster once wrote, "Future space expeditions will resemble sea voyages much more than test flights, which have served as the models for all previous space missions." Long-duration experiments are underway to test the effects of isolation, but it's tough to study. You need many experiments to derive useful conclusions, but you can't just ship 100 groups of a half-dozen people off to remote areas of the globe and monitor all of them. It's also borderline unethical to expose the test subjects to the kind of stress and danger that would be present in a real Mars mission. The data collected so far has been (mostly) promising, but we have a long way to go. The technology and the missions themselves will probably come together long before we know how to deal with isolation. At some point, we'll just have to hope our best guess is good enough.
New submitter monkeyzoo writes: SpaceX has successfully launched a Falcon 9 rocket carrying a SpaceX Dragon spacecraft en route to the International Space Station with supplies (including an Italian espresso machine). This was also the second attempt to land the launch rocket on a barge, but that was not successful. Elon Musk tweeted that the rocket landed on the recovery ship but too hard to be reused. Video of the launch is available on the SpaceX webcast page.
_Sharp'r_ writes In the first "empirical study of sexism in faculty hiring using actual faculty members", Cornell University researchers found that when using identical qualifications, but changing the sex of the applicant, "women candidates are favored 2 to 1 over men for tenure-track positions in the science, technology, engineering and math fields." An anonymous reader links to the study itself.
Lucas123 writes The inherent issues that come with highly complex and kludgey electronic medical records — and for the healthcare professionals required to use them — hasn't been lost on lawyers, who see the potential for millions of dollars in judgments for plaintiffs suing for medical negligence or malpractice. Work flows that require a dozen or more mouse clicks to input even basic patient information has prompted healthcare workers to seek short cuts, such as cutting and pasting from previous visits, a practice that can also include the duplication of old vital sign data, or other critical information, such as a patient's age. While the malpractice suits have to date focused on care providers, they'll soon target EMR vendors, according to Keith Klein, a medical doctor and professor of medicine at UCLA. Klein has been called as an expert witness for more than 350 state or federal medical malpractice cases and he's seen a marked rise in plaintiff attorney's using EMRs as evidence that healthcare workers fell short of their responsibility for proper care. In one such case, a judge awarded more than $7.5 million when a patient suffered permanent kidney damage, and even though physicians hadn't neglected the patient, the complexity of the EMR was responsible for them missing uric kidney stone. The EMR was ore than 3,000 pages in length and included massive amounts of duplicated information, something that's not uncommon.
An anonymous reader writes Neal Stephenson has just released a teaser comprising the first 26 pages of his new novel Seveneves. The first words? "The moon blew up without warning and for no apparent reason."
schwit1 writes: Scientists have begun gathering increasingly detailed information about the atmosphere and weather on the exoplanet HD189733B, 63 light years away with an orbit that produces a transit every 2.2 days. The temperature appears to rise with increasing altitude, reaching 3,000 degrees at the top of the atmosphere. There are also strong winds blowing from the cold to the hot side of the planet.
An anonymous reader writes: Researchers studying the commonly used pain reliever acetaminophen found it has a previously unknown side effect: It blunts positive emotions (abstract). Acetaminophen, the main ingredient in the over-the-counter pain reliever Tylenol, has been in use for more than 70 years in the United States, but this is the first time that this side effect has been documented.
itwbennett writes A 56-page notebook manuscript by Alan Turing, the English mathematician considered to be the father of modern computer science, was sold at auction Monday for $1.025 million. Turing apparently wrote in the notebook in 1942 when he was working in Bletchley Park, England, trying to break German military code. “It gives us insight into how Alan Turing tackles problems. Sadly it shows us what he never got to finish,” said Cassandra Hatton, senior specialist at Bonhams.
coondoggie writes NASA this week will be sending its first espresso making machine into space, letting astronauts onboard the International Space Station brew coffee, tea or other hot beverages for those long space days. Making espresso in space is no small feat, as heating the water to the right temperature – 208F – and generating enough pressure to make the brew are critical in the brewing process. And then getting it into a “cup,” well that’s nearly impossible in gravity-free space. NASA, the Italian space agency ASI, aerospace firm Argotec, and coffee company Lavazza have come up with en experimental machine that will deliver the espresso into what basically amounts to a sippy pouch.
An anonymous reader writes with news about SpaceX's launch today and second attempt to land its Falcon 9 rocket on a platform floating offshore in the Atlantic ocean. "You can watch live as SpaceX launches its Falcon 9 rocket and attempts to recover the first stage portion via an automated, barge-based landing plan in the Atlantic ocean, with the first take-off attempted scheduled for 4:33 PM ET, provided conditions remain good and pre-flight checks go well. A big part of this mission, designated CRS-6 and designed primarily as a resupply flight for the International Space Station, is getting a second chance at recovering Falcon 9's first stage rocket. Once the second stage and the Dragon spacecraft detach from that first stage rocket, it'll undergo a controlled descent as it attempts to touch down with SpaceX's ocean-borne landing platform." Update: 04/13 21:43 GMT by S : The launch was scrubbed because of lightning in a nearby cloud. It's been rescheduled for tomorrow at 4:10PM ET.
astroengine writes Mars may be a frigid desert, but perchlorate salts in the planet's soil are lowering the freezing temperature of water, setting up conditions for liquid brines to form at equatorial regions, new research from NASA's Curiosity rover shows. The discovery of subsurface water, even a trickle, around the planets warmer equatorial belt defies current climate models, though spacecraft orbiting Mars have found geologic evidence for transient liquid water, a phenomenon termed "recurring slope lineae." The findings, published in this week's Nature Geoscience, are based on nearly two years worth of atmospheric humidity and temperature measurements collected by the roving science laboratory Curiosity, which is exploring an ancient impact basin called Gale Crater near the planet's equator. The brines, computer models show, form nightly in the upper 2 inches of the planet's soil as perchlorates absorb atmospheric water vapor. As temperatures rise in the morning, the liquid evaporates. The levels of liquid, however, are too low to support terrestrial-type organisms, the researchers conclude. "It is not just a problem of water, but also temperature. The water activity and temperatures are so low in Mars that they are beyond the limits of cell reproduction and metabolism," Javier Martin-Torres, with Lulea University of Technology, in Kiruna, Sweden, wrote in an email to Discovery News.
An anonymous reader writes with news about a possible cure for colorblindness. "For the more than 10million Americans with colorblindness, there's never been a treatment, let alone a cure, for the condition that leaves them unable to distinguish certain hues. Now, for the first time, two University of Washington professors have teamed with a California biotech firm to develop what they say may be a solution: a single shot in the eye that reveals the world in full color. Jay and Maureen Neitz, husband-and-wife scientists who have studied the vision disorder for years, have arranged an exclusive license agreement between UW and Avalanche Biotechnologies of Menlo Park. Together, they've found a new way to deliver genes that can replace missing color-producing proteins in certain cells, called cones, in the eyes."
An anonymous reader writes A new study published in the journal Palaeontology finds that Mosasaurs, the large marine lizards that once populated the waters about 65 million years ago, gave birth to live young in the open ocean. "Mosasaurs are among the best-studied groups of Mesozoic vertebrate animals, but evidence regarding how they were born and what baby mosasaur ecology was like has historically been elusive," said Daniel Field, lead author of a study published online April 10 in the journal Palaeontology. Field is a doctoral candidate in the lab of Jacques Gauthier in Yale's Department of Geology and Geophysics."