sciencehabit writes "If you were a rat living in a completely virtual world like in the movie The Matrix, could you tell? Maybe not, but scientists studying your brain might be able to. Today, researchers report that certain cells in rat brains work differently when the animals are in virtual reality than when they are in the real world. In the experiment, rats anchored to the top of a ball ran in place as movie-like images around them changed, creating the impression that they were running along a track. Their sense of place relied on visual cues from the projections and their self-motion cues, but they had to do without proximal cues like sound and smell. The rodents used half as many neurons to navigate the virtual world as they did the real one."
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DaBombDotCom writes "R, a popular software environment for statistical computing and graphics, version 3.0.0 codename "Masked Marvel" was released. From the announcement: 'Major R releases have not previously marked great landslides in terms of new features. Rather, they represent that the codebase has developed to a new level of maturity. This is not going to be an exception to the rule. Version 3.0.0, as of this writing, contains only [one] really major new feature: The inclusion of long vectors (containing more than 2^31-1 elements!). More changes are likely to make it into the final release, but the main reason for having it as a new major release is that R over the last 8.5 years has reached a new level: we now have 64 bit support on all platforms, support for parallel processing, the Matrix package, and much more.'"
Via Engadget, comes a press release that might bring joy to fans of science fiction dismayed by years without any new scifi shows: "Continuing its quest to sate subscribers' appetites with a flow of original content, Netflix has announced a new original series, Sense8. Due in late 2014, it's being developed by the Wachowskis of The Matrix, V for Vendetta, Cloud Atlas and Speed Race fame, as well as J. Michael Straczynski, creator of Babylon 5. Details are thin, but the press release promises a gripping global tale of minds linked and souls hunted with a ten episode run for its first season." Hopefully it'll end up available on DVD eventually, for us poor GNU/Linux users who are not worthy enough for Netflix (or: to any Netflix engineers reading, make it work).
An anonymous reader writes "An article at Wired shows just how close we are to a 3-D printed car. Jim Kor's 'Urbee 2' design is a lightweight teardrop shape with three wheels. The engine, chassis, and wheels aren't printed, of course, but much of the car is formed layer-by-layer out of ABS plastic. It takes about 2,500 hours of printer time to create the whole thing. Assembly is easier, though, since many different parts can be consolidated into just a few. 'To negotiate the inevitable obstacles presented by a potentially incredulous NHSTA and DOT, the answer is easy. "In many states and many countries, Urbee will be technically registered as a motorcycle," Kor says. It makes sense. With three wheels and a curb weight of less than 1,200 pounds, it's more motorcycle than passenger car. No matter what, the bumpers will be just as strong as their sheet-metal equivalents. "We're planning on making a matrix that will be stronger than FDM," says Kor. He admits that yes, "There is a danger in breaking one piece and have to recreate the whole thing." The safety decisions that'll determine the car's construction lie ahead. Kor and his team have been tweaking the safety by using crash simulation software, but the full spectrum of testing will have to wait for an influx of investment cash.'"
SternisheFan writes "Nobel winner Dr. Rita Levi-Montalcini, who discovered chemical tools that the body uses to direct cell growth and build nerves, has died. She was 103. From the article: 'Dr. Rita Levi-Montalcini, a Nobel Prize-winning neurologist who discovered critical chemical tools that the body uses to direct cell growth and build nerve networks, opening the way for the study of how those processes can go wrong in diseases like dementia and cancer, died on Sunday at her home in Rome. She was 103. Her death was announced by Mayor Gianni Alemanno of Rome. "I don't use these words easily, but her work revolutionized the study of neural development, from how we think about it to how we intervene," said Dr. Gerald D. Fishbach, a neuroscientist and professor emeritus at Columbia. Scientists had virtually no idea how embryo cells built a latticework of intricate connections to other cells when Dr. Levi-Montalcini began studying chicken embryos in the bedroom of her house in Turin, Italy, during World War II. After years of obsessive study, much of it at Washington University in St. Louis with Dr. Viktor Hamburger, she found a protein that, when released by cells, attracted nerve growth from nearby developing cells.'"
SternisheFan writes "As Syria's rebels work to overthrow the tank-equipped Assad regime, they've learned that it helps to have tanks of their own. They deserve bonus points for integrating video game technology. This is no exaggeration. Have a look at the opposition forces' "100 percent made in Syria" armored vehicle, the Sham II. Named for ancient Syria and assembled out of spare parts over the course of a month, the Sham II is sort of rough around the edges, but it's got impressive guts. It rides on the chassis of an old diesel car and is fully encased in light steel that's rusted from the elements. Five cameras are mounted around the tank's outside, and there's a machine gun mounted on a turning turret. Inside, it kind of looks like a man cave. A couple of flat screen TVs are mounted on opposite walls. The driver sits in front of one, controlling the vehicle with a steering wheel, and the gunner sits at the other, aiming the machine gun with a Playstation controller."
olsmeister writes "Ever wonder if the universe is really a simulation? Well, physicists do too. Recently, a group of physicists have devised a way that could conceivably figure out one way or the other whether that is the case. There is a paper describing their work on arXiv. Some other physicists propose that the universe is actually a giant hologram with all the action actually occurring on a two-dimensional boundary region."
Fifteen years from now, your alarm goes off at 7:30 AM, pulling you out of a dead sleep. You roll over, grumbling a command, and the alarm obediently shuts up. You drift off again, but ten minutes later the alarm returns, more insistent. It won't be so easily pacified this time; the loose sensory netting inside your pillow will keep the noise going until it detects alpha waves in drastically higher numbers than theta waves. Or until it gets the automated password from the shower. Sighing, you roll out of bed, pull your Computing ID (CID) card from the alarm unit, and stumble out of the bedroom. Pausing briefly to drop your CID into your desktop computer, you make your way to the shower and begin washing. Your alarm triggered the shower's heating unit, so the water comes out at a pleasant 108 degrees, exactly your preference. (42 degrees, you remind yourself — the transition to metric still isn't second nature, after almost two full years.) You wash quickly to avoid exceeding your water quota, and step out refreshed, ready to meet the day. (Read on for more.)
MrSeb writes with news about our coming cybernetic overlords. From the article: "After more than four years of research, DARPA has created a system that successfully combines soldiers, EEG brainwave scanners, 120-megapixel cameras, and multiple computers running cognitive visual processing algorithms into a cybernetic hivemind. Called the Cognitive Technology Threat Warning System (CT2WS), it will be used in a combat setting to significantly improve the U.S. Army's threat detection capabilities. There are two discrete parts to the system: The 120-megapixel camera, which is tripod-mounted and looks over the battlefield; and the computer system, where a soldier sits in front of a computer monitor with an EEG strapped to his head, looking at images captured by the camera, wedding out false threats. In testing, the 120-megapixel camera, combined with the computer vision algorithms, generated 810 false alarms per hour; with a human operator strapped into the EEG, that drops down to just five false alarms per hour. The human brain is surprisingly fast, too: According to DARPA, CT2WS displays 10 images per second to the human operator — and yet that doesn't seem to affect accuracy."
An anonymous reader "Scientists have developed a software simulation, running on 128 computers, of an entire organism, a step toward carrying out full experiments without traditional instruments (abstract). 'For their computer simulation, the researchers had the advantage of extensive scientific literature on the bacterium. They were able to use data taken from more than 900 scientific papers to validate the accuracy of their software model. Still, they said that the model of the simplest biological system was pushing the limits of their computers. "Right now, running a simulation for a single cell to divide only one time takes around 10 hours and generates half a gigabyte of data," Dr. Covert wrote. "I find this fact completely fascinating, because I don’t know that anyone has ever asked how much data a living thing truly holds. We often think of the DNA as the storage medium, but clearly there is more to it than that." In designing their model, the scientists chose an approach that parallels the design of modern software systems, known as object-oriented programming. Software designers organize their programs in modules, which communicate with one another by passing data and instructions back and forth. Similarly, the simulated bacterium is a series of modules that mimic the different functions of the cell.'"
Aciel writes "Ruby has long been popular in the web/business community, while Python dominates the scientific community. One new project seeks to bring balance to the force: SciRuby. We've already introduced a linear algebra library called NMatrix (currently alpha status). There's at least one fellowship available for students interested in working on the project this summer."
mcmadman writes "The multi-zone audio player I'm working with uses an almost decade old card/software combo that is prone to crashes and other anomalies. I would like to know if there are open source (read 'free') or other alternatives that would allow multiple simultaneous playlists played through the myriad of audio interfaces out there. The line outs are then plugged into a CobraNet matrix, which handles the distribution of the music/sound to their respective areas. I'm looking at eight channels minimum, timed playlist start/stops, and triggered announcements. So far the only software and hardware I've found are proprietary broadcasting solutions which tend to be a bit heavy on the wallet or meant for home use."
tqft writes "What the world needs is more truly random sources of numbers. Researchers from Australian National University have found a brilliant way to make one: 'We do this by splitting a beam of light into two beams and then measuring the power in each beam. Because light is quantised, the light intensity in each beam fluctuates about the mean. Those fluctuations, due ultimately to the quantum vacuum, can be converted into a source of random numbers. Every number is randomly generated in real time and cannot be predicted beforehand.' So if you need some really random numbers, just use their generator service."
'GreenSQL is an Open Source database firewall used to protect databases from SQL injection attacks,' says the GreenSQL.net website, which also says, 'GreenSQL works as a proxy and has built-in support for MySQL and PostgreSQL. The logic is based on evaluation of SQL commands using a risk scoring matrix as well as blocking known db administrative commands (DROP, CREATE, etc).' The company also maintains a commercial version as a separate entity. GreenSQL CTO/CoFounder David Maman gives more details about both the company and open source GreenSQL in this video interview.
itwbennett writes "If you're of a certain generation, the screech of a modem, the stuttering song of the dot matrix printer, and the wet slap of a mimeograph machine can transport you to simpler (or at least slower) times. JR Raphael has rounded up 20 tech sounds on the brink of extinction for your listening torture. We're only sorry we don't have smell-o-vision to bring you that sweet mimeograph scent."
An anonymous reader writes "For the first time ever, scientists from Boston University and ATR Computational Neuroscience Laboratories in Kyoto, Japan have managed to use functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging, or fMRI to decode the process of learning. As the research stands to date, it isn't capable of much. Rather than working with skills like juggling, the researchers relied on images so they could tie into the vision part of the brain, the part that they have managed to partially decode. Nevertheless, they demonstrated that information could be taught using neurofeedback techniques. And it was effective even when people didn't know they were learning."
MrSeb writes "With a slightly weird world first, scientists have formed a feedback loop between common, baking and brewing yeast, and a computer. The computer can trigger the yeast to produce a protein, and the yeast then feeds back to the computer how much of the protein is being produced — the computer has exact control over the yeast's production. This work, performed by scientists at the Automatic Control Laboratory at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Zurich, is exceptional because of its simplicity: The computer turns the yeast on by flashing a red light, and it turns the yeast off by flashing a deeper red light. Connected to the yeast is a 'reporter' molecule that fluoresces when the protein is produced. The computer can see this fluorescence and alter the light it emits, thus creating a full feedback loop. The simplicity is significant because of the role of yeasts and bacteria in the production of antibiotics, biofuels, and more. The problem is controlling those organisms — so far, scientists have tried to genetically add synthetic control circuits, with limited success... and now the Swiss have shown that it can be done by simply shining a couple of lights."
brothke writes:"The book Digital Assassination: Protecting Your Reputation, Brand, or Business Against Online Attacks says businesses that take days to respond to social media issues are way behind the curve. Social media operates in real-time, and responses need to be almost as quick. In a valuable new book on the topic, Securing the Clicks Network Security in the Age of Social Media, Gary Bahadur, Jason Inasi and Alex de Carvalho provide the reader with a comprehensive overview on how not to be a victim of social media based security problems." Read on for the rest of Ben's review.
Coisiche writes "The BBC covers a team of scientists who are working on a new way to power medical implants: an internal biofuel cell. From the article: 'Their gadget, called a biofuel cell, uses glucose and oxygen at concentrations found in the body to generate electricity. They are the first group in the world to demonstrate their device working while implanted in a living animal. If all goes to plan, within a decade or two, biofuel cells may be used to power a range of medical implants, from sensors and drug delivery devices to entire artificial organs. All you'll need to do to power them up is eat a candy bar, or drink a coke. ... In 2010, they tested their fuel cell in a rat for 40 days and reported that it worked flawlessly, producing a steady electrical current throughout, with no noticeable side effects on the rat's behavior or physiology.' Of course, there's never been a sci-fi movie using such technology as a plot device..."
MTCicero writes "The BBC has an interesting if not apocalyptic take on the spread of algorithms into everyday life. Perhaps the author should have spent a little more time discussing how algorithms in everyday life have improved things like communications, medical care, etc... I guess doom and gloom sells more ads. From the article: 'At last month's TEDGlobal conference, algorithm expert Kevin Slavin delivered one of the tech show's most "sit up and take notice" speeches where he warned that the "maths that computers use to decide stuff" was infiltrating every aspect of our lives. Among the examples he cited were a robo-cleaner that maps out the best way to do housework, and the online trading algorithms that are increasingly controlling Wall Street.'"