MonthJanuary 2010

Can You Win The J.J. Abrams Board Game?

J.J. Abrams Board Game

io9 has posted a J.J. Abrams Board Game. Head there to see the full size version.

(Thanks Bill!)

Oceanic tickets on kayak.com

oceanic tickets on kayak

What you may find if you search for Sydney to LAX one-way non-stop on 9/22/2010 on kayak.com

(via Boing Boing)

Human Brain Uses a Triangler Grid to Represent Space

triangular Grid

A virtual reality environment which human participants explored while lying in an fMRI brain scanner. An example of the spatially-organised firing pattern of a grid cell is overlaid on the arena floor.

A virtual reality environment which human participants explored while lying in an fMRI brain scanner. An example of the spatially-organised firing pattern of a grid cell is overlaid on the arena floor.

‘Grid cells’ that act like a spatial map in the brain have been identified for the first time in humans, according to new research by UCL scientists which may help to explain how we create internal maps of new environments. […]

Grid cells represent where an animal is located within its environment, which the researchers liken to having a satnav in the brain. They fire in patterns that show up as geometrically regular, triangular grids when plotted on a map of a navigated surface. They were discovered by a Norwegian lab in 2005 whose research suggested that rats create virtual grids to help them orient themselves in their surroundings, and remember new locations in unfamiliar territory.

Study co-author Dr Caswell Barry said: “It is as if grid cells provide a cognitive map of space. In fact, these cells are very much like the longitude and latitude lines we’re all familiar with on normal maps, but instead of using square grid lines it seems the brain uses triangles.

Science Daily: Human Brain Uses a Grid to Represent Space

U.S. Keeps Foreign Ph.D.s

foreign phds

Despite Fears of a Post-9/11 Drop, Most Science, Engineering Post-Grads Have Stayed

Most foreigners who came to the U.S. to earn doctorate degrees in science and engineering stayed on after graduation—at least until the recession began—refuting predictions that post-9/11 restrictions on immigrants or expanding opportunities in China and India would send more of them home.

Newly released data revealed that 62% of foreigners holding temporary visas who earned Ph.D.s in science and engineering at U.S. universities in 2002 were still in the U.S. in 2007, the latest year for which figures are available. Of those who graduated in 1997, 60% were still in the U.S. in 2007, according to the data compiled by the U.S. Energy Department’s Oak Ridge Institute for Science and Education for the National Science Foundation.

Foreigners account for about 40% of all science and engineering Ph.D. holders working in the U.S., and a larger fraction in engineering, math and computer fields. “Our ability to continue to attract and keep foreign scientists and engineers is critical to…increase investment in science and technology,” Oak Ridge analyst Michael Finn said.

Wall Street Journal: U.S. Keeps Foreign Ph.D.s

(via Beerken’s Blog)

Insect Colonies Operate as ‘Superorganisms’, New Research Finds

ant colony

New A team of researchers including scientists from the University of Florida has shown insect colonies follow some of the same biological “rules” as individuals, a finding that suggests insect societies operate like a single “superorganism” in terms of their physiology and life cycle. […]

Now, researchers from UF, the University of Oklahoma and the Albert Einstein College of Medicine have taken the same mathematical models that predict lifespan, growth and reproduction in individual organisms and used them to predict these features in whole colonies.

By analyzing data from 168 different social insect species including ants, termites, bees and wasps, the authors found that the lifespan, growth rates and rates of reproduction of whole colonies when considered as superorganisms were nearly indistinguishable from individual organisms.

Science Daily: Insect Colonies Operate as ‘Superorganisms’, New Research Finds

(via Chris Arkenberg)

Nanodrugs to target specific parts of the body

dr mario

The day when patients can “swallow their doctor” has come a step closer with the development of a submicroscopic nanoparticle that acts as an intelligent pill to deliver drugs when and where they are needed in the body.

Each nanoparticle is built to target a specific part of the body and to release their drugs in a controlled manner over a given period of time. They are so small that millions of them could be injected into the bloodstream without harming healthy tissues.

Scientists at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in Cambridge have designed the first nanoparticles designed to target the walls of the arteries around the heart. They bind specifically to the proteins that only stick out from the inner lining of the these blood vessels when they are damaged.

Once the nanoparticles take up position in the diseased arteries they are programmed to release small quantities of drugs over several weeks or months to help cardiovascular patients to recover without exposing other parts of the body to much higher doses of potentially toxic drugs.

Under the weather? Just swallow a doctor

(via Disinfo)

Strange photographs of the surface of Mars

photograph of mars surface that looks like it has trees on it

This image looks remarkably like groves of trees growing among Martian dunes. But, the trees are an optical illusion. They are actually dark streaks of sediment on the downwind side of the dunes. They were created by escaping gas from the evaporating carbon dioxide ice below. The bottom of the ice melts into vapor and moves toward holes in the ice, carrying dark sediment along with it that is then deposited when the gas escapes.

photograph from the surface of Mars

Wired Science: Strange Places on Mars: What Do You Want to See Next?

CrossFit: Getting Fit, Even if It Kills You

uncle rhabdo

This is from 2005, but still interesting:

Mr. Glassman, CrossFit’s founder, does not discount his regimen’s risks, even to those who are in shape and take the time to warm up their bodies before a session.

“It can kill you,” he said. “I’ve always been completely honest about that.”

But CrossFitters revel in the challenge. A common axiom among practitioners is “I met Pukey,” meaning they worked out so hard they vomited. Some even own T-shirts emblazoned with a clown, Pukey. CrossFit’s other mascot is Uncle Rhabdo, another clown, whose kidneys have spilled onto the floor presumably due to rhabdomyolysis.

New York Times: CrossFit: Getting Fit, Even if It Kills You

This is also interesting:

The Navy SEALs workout

Should DARPA run the economy?

darpa robot dog

Above: One of DARPA’s many useful inventions.

This is from a year ago, but I don’t remember it:

Newly-inaugurated President Barack Obama has been urged by a top US spysat chief to revitalise America’s economy through the use of DARPA*, the legendary Pentagon barmy-boffinry bureau which has given the world the internet and the stealth bomber. More recently the agency has also sponsored initiatives such as mindreading peril-sensitive brainhat binoculars and brainchipped cyborg zombie insecto-bugs.

The recommendations come from Pedro L Rustan, a senior figure in the US National Reconnaissance Office, the secretive agency which handles American spy satellites. Rustan delivered his exhortations to Mr Obama in the form of an open letter to the aerospace mag Aviation Week, titled Refocus DARPA Beyond Defense.

Spy chief to Obama: Let DARPA fix economy

The open letter

‘Cyber Genome Project’ kicked off by DARPA

dna

Applecart-bothering Pentagon boffinry bureau DARPA is at it again. This time, the military scientists want to establish a “Cyber Genome” project which will allow any digital artifact – a document, a piece of malware – to be probed to its very origins. […]

Or in other words, any code you write, perhaps even any document you create, might one day be traceable back to you – just as your DNA could be if found at a crime scene, and just as it used to be possible to identify radio operators even on encrypted channels by the distinctive “fist” with which they operated their Morse keys. Or something like that, anyway.

The Register: ‘Cyber Genome Project’ kicked off by DARPA

(via William Gibson)

Hard to see this working out well.

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