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posted by martyb on Thursday January 13 2022, @11:59PM   Printer-friendly [Skip to comment(s)]
from the what-was-your-name-again? dept.

Remembering faces and names can be improved during sleep: Research finds memory reactivation:

The researchers found that people's name recall improved significantly when memories of newly learned face-name associations were reactivated while they were napping. Key to this improvement was uninterrupted deep sleep.

[...] The research team found that for study participants with EEG measures (a recording of electrical activity of the brain picked up by electrodes on the scalp) that indicated disrupted sleep, the memory reactivation didn't help and may even be detrimental. But in those with uninterrupted sleep during the specific times of sound presentations, the reactivation led to a relative improvement averaging just over 1.5 more names recalled.

The study was conducted on 24 participants, aged 18-31 years old, who were asked to memorize the faces and names of 40 pupils from a hypothetical Latin American history class and another 40 from a Japanese history class. When each face was shown again, they were asked to produce the name that went with it. After the learning exercise, participants took a nap while the researchers carefully monitored brain activity using EEG measurements. When participants reached the N3 "deep sleep" state, some of the names were softly played on a speaker with music that was associated with one of the classes.

When participants woke up, they were retested on recognizing the faces and recalling the name that went with each face.

[...] "We already know that some sleep disorders like apnea can impair memory," said Whitmore. "Our research suggests a potential explanation for this -- frequent sleep interruptions at night might be degrading memory."

See, also, Wikipedia entry on Prosopagnosia:

Prosopagnosia (from Greek prósōpon, meaning "face", and agnōsía, meaning "non-knowledge"), also called face blindness, is a cognitive disorder of face perception in which the ability to recognize familiar faces, including one's own face (self-recognition), is impaired, while other aspects of visual processing (e.g., object discrimination) and intellectual functioning (e.g., decision-making) remain intact. The term originally referred to a condition following acute brain damage (acquired prosopagnosia), but a congenital or developmental form of the disorder also exists, with a prevalence of 2.5%. The brain area usually associated with prosopagnosia is the fusiform gyrus,[4] which activates specifically in response to faces. The functionality of the fusiform gyrus allows most people to recognize faces in more detail than they do similarly complex inanimate objects. For those with prosopagnosia, the method for recognizing faces depends on the less sensitive object-recognition system. The right hemisphere fusiform gyrus is more often involved in familiar face recognition than the left. It remains unclear whether the fusiform gyrus is specific for the recognition of human faces or if it is also involved in highly trained visual stimuli.

Journal Reference:
Nathan W. Whitmore, Adrianna M. Bassard, Ken A. Paller. Targeted memory reactivation of face-name learning depends on ample and undisturbed slow-wave sleep [open], npj Science of Learning (DOI: 10.1038/s41539-021-00119-2)


Original Submission

posted by martyb on Thursday January 13 2022, @09:10PM   Printer-friendly [Skip to comment(s)]
from the coming-to-a-greeting-card-near-you dept.

Illuminating Origami Is Just Around The Corner:

Pop-up greeting cards are about to get a whole lot more interesting. Researchers at Seoul National University in Korea have created glowing 3D objects with a series of prototypes that fold thin QLED (Quantum Dot LED) sheets like origami. They used a CO2 laser to etch "fold lines" in the QLED so the sheets could be formed into 3D shapes. The bends are actually rounded, but at 5μm they appear to be sharp corners and the panels continue to illuminate across the fold lines for at least 500 folds. Some glow in solid colors, while others use smaller addressable areas to create animated matrix displays of patterns and letterforms. See the short video after the break, read the Physics World article or to see all the prototypes and dig into details of the full research paper in Nature (freed from the paywall by SharedIt).

51-second YouTube video.


Original Submission

posted by chromas on Thursday January 13 2022, @06:17PM   Printer-friendly [Skip to comment(s)]
from the She-thinks-my-Raspberry-Pi's-sexy dept.

In farming regions that receive limited moisture, fallow phases are used to maximize crop yield potential with special attention given to weed removal. When fields are laying fallow, it is very important to remove the weeds that are trying to establish themselves. When the density of the weeds is low, it is not efficient to spray the whole field with herbicide, so proprietary sensor-based spray booms are used to identify and spray herbicide directly onto the weeds. Researchers from the University of Sydney have developed an open-source, low-cost and image-based device for weed detection in an effort to give this technology wider availability. The demonstration system uses a Raspberry Pi 4 with a Raspberry Pi HQ Camera and 6-mm focal length lens. The Python code and detailed instructions reside in the OWL github repository.

OWL represents a novel opportunity for community-driven development of weed recognition capability using existing ‘off-the-shelf’ hardware and simple yet effective image-based algorithms. The combination of the OWL device, supporting documentation and repository create a channel for practical education of key image-based weed detection and actuation concepts for growers and the wider weed control community. The topic is of particular importance now, given the emergence of image-based in-crop weed recognition technologies. OWL has been designed as a community-focused educational platform that will grow over time with initial baseline validation performed in the present research.

Reference:
Guy Coleman, William Salter, and Michael Walsh. OpenWeedLocator (OWL): an open-source, low-cost device for fallow weed detection. [open] Sci Rep 12, 170 (2022). (DOI: 10.1038/s41598-021-03858-9)


Original Submission

posted by chromas on Thursday January 13 2022, @03:32PM   Printer-friendly [Skip to comment(s)]

New Evidence of Gravitational Wave Background Permeating All of Spacetime:

The results of a comprehensive search for a background of ultra-low frequency gravitational waves has been announced by an international team of astronomers including scientists from the Institute for Gravitational Wave Astronomy at the University of Birmingham.

These light-year-scale ripples, a consequence of Einstein’s theory of general relativity, permeate all of spacetime and could originate from mergers of the most massive black holes in the Universe or from events occurring soon after the formation of the Universe in the Big Bang. Scientists have been searching for definitive evidence of these signals for several decades.

The International Pulsar Timing Array (IPTA), joining the work of several astrophysics collaborations from around the world, recently completed its search for gravitational waves in their most recent official data release, known as Data Release 2 (DR2).

This data set consists of precision timing data from 65 millisecond pulsars – stellar remnants which spin hundreds of times per second, sweeping narrow beams of radio waves that appear as pulses due to the spinning – obtained by combining the independent data sets from the IPTA’s three founding members: The European Pulsar Timing Array (EPTA), the North American Nanohertz Observatory for Gravitational Waves (NANOGrav), and the Parkes Pulsar Timing Array in Australia (PPTA).

These combined data reveal strong evidence for an ultra-low frequency signal detected by many of the pulsars in the combined data. The characteristics of this common-among-pulsars signal are in broad agreement with those expected from a gravitational wave “background.”

The gravitational wave background is formed by many different overlapping gravitational-wave signals emitted from the cosmic population of supermassive binary black holes (i.e. two supermassive black holes orbiting each other and eventually merging) – similar to background noise from the many overlapping voices in a crowded hall.

This result further strengthens the gradual emergence of similar signals that have been found in the individual data sets of the participating pulsar timing collaborations over the past few years.

Journal Reference:
J Antoniadis, Z Arzoumanian, S Babak, et al. The International Pulsar Timing Array second data release: Search for an isotropic Gravitational Wave Background (DOI: 10.1093/mnras/stab3418; arxiv: 2201.03980)


Original Submission

posted by janrinok on Thursday January 13 2022, @12:53PM   Printer-friendly [Skip to comment(s)]
from the delegate++ dept.

Moxie Marlinspike leaves encrypted-messaging app Signal:

Moxie Marlinspike, the co-founder and chief executive of encrypted-messaging app Signal, has resigned.

He blogged it was a "good time to replace myself as CEO" after working on Signal for over a decade.

Signal recently enabled crypto-currency payments within the app, which has concerned some users. Mr Marlinspike remains a board member of the Signal Foundation, while the board's executive chair, Brian Acton, becomes interim chief executive.

[...] Mr Marlinspike - whose real name is Matthew Rosenfeld - blogged he had always hoped to reach a point where Signal could "grow and sustain" beyond his involvement.

"I was writing all the Android code, was writing all of the server code, was the only person on call for the service, was facilitating all product development, and was managing everyone," he wrote. "I couldn't ever leave cell service, had to take my laptop with me everywhere in case of emergencies, and occasionally found myself sitting alone on the sidewalk in the rain late at night trying to diagnose a service degradation."

More than 40 million people now use Signal.


Original Submission

posted by janrinok on Thursday January 13 2022, @10:07AM   Printer-friendly [Skip to comment(s)]
from the Watching-What-You-Eat dept.

Scientists Have Discovered Unexpected Benefits of Fat in Type 2 Diabetes:

With nearly 10% of the world's population affected, type 2 diabetes is a major public health issue. An excessively sedentary lifestyle and a too-caloric diet encourage the development of this metabolic disease by altering the functioning of pancreatic cells and making blood sugar regulation less effective. However, fat, which is often cited as the ideal culprit, could be rehabilitated. Indeed, fat does not necessarily aggravate the disease and could even play a protective role: by studying insulin-producing pancreatic beta cells, scientists from the University of Geneva (UNIGE), Switzerland, have shown that these cells suffered less from excess sugar when they had previously been exposed to fat. By investigating the cellular mechanisms at work, the researchers discovered how a cycle of fat storage and mobilization allows cells to adapt to excess sugar. These results, published in the journal Diabetologia, highlight an unexpected biological mechanism that could be used as a lever to delay the onset of type 2 diabetes.

Type 2 diabetes results from a dysfunction of pancreatic beta cells, which are responsible for insulin secretion. This impairs the regulation of blood sugar levels and can lead to serious heart, eye, and kidney complications. In the 1970s, fat was singled out and the concept of lipotoxicity emerged: exposure of beta cells to fat would cause their deterioration. More recently, excess sugar has also been blamed for damaging beta cells and promoting the development of type 2 diabetes. However, while the culpability of sugar is no longer in doubt, the role of fat in beta cell dysfunction remains ambiguous. What are the cellular mechanisms involved? "To answer this key question, we studied how human and murine beta cells adapt to an excess of sugar and/or fat", explains Pierre Maechler, a Professor in the Department of Cell Physiology and Metabolism and in the Diabetes Centre of the UNIGE Faculty of Medicine, who led this work.

[...] By further analyzing the cellular changes at stake, the research team realised that fat droplets were not static reserves, but were the site of a dynamic cycle of storage and mobilization. And thanks to these released fat molecules, beta cells adapt to the excess sugar and maintain a near-normal insulin secretion.

Journal Reference:
Lucie Oberhauser, Cecilia Jiménez-Sánchez, Jesper Grud Skat Madsen, et al. Glucolipotoxicity promotes the capacity of the glycerolipid/NEFA cycle supporting the secretory response of pancreatic beta cells, Diabetologia (DOI: 10.1007/s00125-021-05633-x)


Original Submission

posted by janrinok on Thursday January 13 2022, @07:12AM   Printer-friendly [Skip to comment(s)]

Should Microsoft sell Windows and Office? This former exec believes so:

A former Microsoft executive has offered up some advice for current CEO Satya Nadella: spin off Windows and Office and focus on Azure, Microsoft's cloud computing crown jewel.

Ben Slivka, a 14-year veteran at Microsoft who left in 1999, gave the unsolicited advice to Nadella in an interview with CNBC, saying: "The right thing probably is to bet the future on the cloud."

[...] On top of this, Nadella invested heavily in building out Azure and other enterprise-focused offerings to compete with Amazon's AWS and Google Cloud. By some estimates, Azure hold 20% of the cloud market, below AWS' 32% and above Google's 9%.

According to analysts that CNBC spoke to, spinning off Windows and Office would make very little sense. Nadella has built significant and much-needed synergies between Microsoft's various businesses, in such a way that the rise of one boosts the others.

So what do you think?


Original Submission

posted by janrinok on Thursday January 13 2022, @04:32AM   Printer-friendly [Skip to comment(s)]
from the I-hope-it's-only-the-legs-half dept.

Omicron May Infect Half of Europeans Within Weeks, WHO Says:

More than half of Europe's population could become infected with omicron within weeks at current transmission speeds, a World Health Organization official said.

The fast-spreading variant represents a "west-to-east tsunami sweeping the region," Hans Kluge, WHO regional director for Europe, said in a briefing Tuesday.

He cited the Institute for Metrics and Health Assessment forecast that most Europeans could take it within the next six to eight weeks. The latest Covid surge has resulted in fewer symptomatic cases and lower death rates than in previous waves, fueling optimism that the pandemic may subside.


Original Submission

posted by martyb on Thursday January 13 2022, @01:44AM   Printer-friendly [Skip to comment(s)]
from the To-see-a-world-in-a-grain-of-sand-and-corn-dancing-on-a-stove dept.

Some dynamic systems can develop multi-periodicity, meaning that some parameter, such as a mechanical oscillation, can switch between different vibrational frequencies or amplitudes. For instance, a small-scale disturbance is coupled into a large-scale one.

This has been observed in muscle motion, laser stability, seismic motion, etc, and there is much to understand about these couplings in chaotic systems. Initiated by an apparent diversion from pandemic boredom, Promode Bandyopadhya noticed that when shucked cobs of corn were placed on a glasstop hotplate, the cob oscillates autonomously about three axes with varying amplitudes and frequencies that shifted randomly with time. He videoed ears of corn as well as a number of other smooth fruits on a hot surface and extracted their motion over time. His results are summarized in a tour de force of mechanical dynamics in a Nature Scientific Reports paper. He observed that corn cobs roll, pitch, and yaw, but green chilies, blueberries, tropical berries, red grapes, oblong grapes and grape tomatoes only roll and yaw.

Autonomous thrust oscillations are difficult to design in a laboratory, however we have discovered that the seven types of fruit offer a new test bench.

Details and videos of his dynamical systems kitchen laboratory observations are provided as a Google Drive Link.

Journal Reference:
Promode R. Bandyopadhyay. Multistable autonomous motion of fruit on a smooth hotplate [open], Scientific Reports (DOI: 10.1038/s41598-021-03859-8)


Original Submission

posted by janrinok on Wednesday January 12 2022, @10:59PM   Printer-friendly [Skip to comment(s)]

Suspected North Korea missile test hit speed of Mach 10, more advanced than previous test, Seoul says:

Tuesday's projectile was launched from Jangang province, near the North Korean border with China and landed in the ocean between the Korean Peninsula and Japan, its flight covering a distance of more than 700 kilometers (435 miles) and reaching a height of 60 kilometers (37 miles), the statement said.

North Korea said Wednesday that it successfully test-fired a hypersonic missile, according to North Korean state media, making it the third alleged test of such a weapon by the Kim Jong Un regime. Kim attended the launch, state media reported.

Assessment of the test by South Korean and United States intelligence was ongoing, but initial analysis showed Tuesday's test, in which the projectile reached a speed of Mach 10 was of a more advanced weapon than the test North Korea conducted last Thursday, the South Korean Joint Chiefs said.

That test was of what North Korean state media claimed was a hypersonic missile, the second alleged test of such a weapon by the Kim Jong Un regime. However, many experts doubted this claim.

A hypersonic missile actually refers to the payload that a rocket carries aloft. In this case, that payload could be what is called a hypersonic glide vehicle (HGV).

An HGV can theoretically fly as fast as 20 times the speed of sound and can be very manoeuvrable in flight, making it almost impossible to shoot down, according to experts.


Original Submission

posted by janrinok on Wednesday January 12 2022, @08:17PM   Printer-friendly [Skip to comment(s)]

Panasonic is introducing an optional four-day work week:

Panasonic is reportedly introducing an optional four-day work week for employees, allowing its workers to spend less time working and more time actually enjoying being alive. It's one more small push toward a better world where shorter working weeks are the norm.

Announced during an investor briefing on Friday, Panasonic will offer its workers a third day off per week, with Panasonic CEO Kusumi Yuki noting they may opt to further their studies, volunteer, or even work a side job. Last year, Japan's annual economic policy guidelines revealed the country would encourage employers to adopt four-day work weeks.

"We must support the wellbeing of our employees," said Kusumi, as reported by Nikkei Asia.

Hoping to facilitate better work-life balance in its workforce, the electronics manufacturer is also increasing flexibility by allowing more employees to work from home, and giving them the freedom to turn down job transfers that require them to move. It isn't clear whether these new policies will apply to all employees globally, nor whether hours or compensation will be adjusted to offset workers' reduced days.

Would you prefer a 4 day working week?


Original Submission

posted by janrinok on Wednesday January 12 2022, @05:36PM   Printer-friendly [Skip to comment(s)]

Physicists detect a hybrid particle held together by uniquely intense 'glue': The discovery could offer a route to smaller, faster electronic devices:

Now MIT physicists have detected another kind of hybrid particle in an unusual, two-dimensional magnetic material. They determined that the hybrid particle is a mashup of an electron and a phonon (a quasiparticle that is produced from a material's vibrating atoms). When they measured the force between the electron and phonon, they found that the glue, or bond, was 10 times stronger than any other electron-phonon hybrid known to date.

The particle's exceptional bond suggests that its electron and phonon might be tuned in tandem; for instance, any change to the electron should affect the phonon, and vice versa. In principle, an electronic excitation, such as voltage or light, applied to the hybrid particle could stimulate the electron as it normally would, and also affect the phonon, which influences a material's structural or magnetic properties. Such dual control could enable scientists to apply voltage or light to a material to tune not just its electrical properties but also its magnetism.

The results are especially relevant, as the team identified the hybrid particle in nickel phosphorus trisulfide (NiPS3), a two-dimensional material that has attracted recent interest for its magnetic properties. If these properties could be manipulated, for instance through the newly detected hybrid particles, scientists believe the material could one day be useful as a new kind of magnetic semiconductor, which could be made into smaller, faster, and more energy-efficient electronics.

"Imagine if we could stimulate an electron, and have magnetism respond," says Nuh Gedik, professor of physics at MIT. "Then you could make devices very different from how they work today."

Journal Reference:
Emre Ergeçen, Batyr Ilyas, Dan Mao, et al. Magnetically brightened dark electron-phonon bound states in a van der Waals antiferromagnet [open], Nature Communications (DOI: 10.1038/s41467-021-27741-3)


Original Submission

posted by janrinok on Wednesday January 12 2022, @02:54PM   Printer-friendly [Skip to comment(s)]
from the can-we-do-it?-yes-we-can! dept.

Citizen science, supercomputers and AI:

Citizen scientists have helped researchers discover new types of galaxies, design drugs to fight COVID-19, and map the bird world. The term describes a range of ways that the public can meaningfully contribute to scientific and engineering research, as well as environmental monitoring.

As members of the Computing Community Consortium (CCC) recently argued in a Quadrennial Paper, "Imagine All the People: Citizen Science, Artificial Intelligence, and Computational Research," non-scientists can help advance science by "providing or analyzing data at spatial and temporal resolutions or scales and speeds that otherwise would be impossible given limited staff and resources."

Recently, citizen scientists' efforts have found a new purpose: helping researchers develop machine learning models, using labeled data and algorithms, to train a computer to solve a specific task.

This approach was pioneered by the crowdsourced astronomy project Galaxy Zoo, which started leveraging citizen scientists in 2007. In 2019, researchers used labeled data to train a neural network model to classify hundreds of millions of unlabeled galaxies.

"Using the millions of classifications carried out by the public in the Galaxy Zoo project to train a neural network is an inspiring use of the citizens science program," said Elise Jennings, a computer scientist at Argonne Leadership Computing Facility (ALCF) who contributed to the effort.

TACC is supporting a number of projects—from identifying fake news to pinpointing structures in danger during natural hazards—that use citizen science to train AI models and enable new scientific successes.

[...] Citizen science is as old as science itself, and yet it has more tricks to teach us, if we can learn to harness it properly. By employing cutting edge computational tools, citizenscience is poised to add even more value to the traditional scientific enterprise.


Original Submission

posted by janrinok on Wednesday January 12 2022, @12:07PM   Printer-friendly [Skip to comment(s)]

ISPs must accept gov't subsidy on all plans:

Less than a year after Verizon and other ISPs forced users to switch plans in order to get government-funded discounts, a new federal program will prevent such upselling by requiring ISPs to let customers obtain subsidies on any Internet plan.

With last year's $50-per-month Emergency Broadband Benefit that was created by Congress, the Federal Communications Commission let ISPs participate in the program as long as they offered the discount on at least one service plan. The FCC said it did so to encourage participation by providers, but some major ISPs drastically limited the subsidy-eligible plans—forcing users to switch to plans that could be more expensive in order to get a temporary discount.

Congress subsequently created a replacement program that will offer $30 monthly subsidies to people with low incomes. The program also specified that ISPs "shall allow an eligible household to apply the affordable connectivity benefit to any Internet service offering of the participating provider at the same terms available to households that are not eligible households." The FCC still has to make rules for implementing the new Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP), but that requirement prevented the FCC from using the same one-plan rule that helped ISPs use the program as an upselling opportunity.

ISPs urged FCC to exclude "legacy" plans.


Original Submission

posted by janrinok on Wednesday January 12 2022, @09:22AM   Printer-friendly [Skip to comment(s)]
from the good-luck! dept.

Man Gets Genetically-Modified Pig Heart in World-First Transplant

Man gets genetically-modified pig heart in world-first transplant

A US man has become the first person in the world to get a heart transplant from a genetically-modified pig. David Bennett, 57, is doing well three days after the experimental seven-hour procedure in Baltimore, doctors say.

The transplant was considered the last hope of saving Mr Bennett's life, though it is not yet clear what his long-term chances of survival are.

"It was either die or do this transplant," Mr Bennett explained a day before the surgery.

"I know it's a shot in the dark, but it's my last choice," he said.

Doctors at the University of Maryland Medical Center were granted a special dispensation by the US medical regulator to carry out the procedure, on the basis that Mr Bennett would otherwise have died.

[...] He had been deemed ineligible for a human transplant, a decision that is often taken by doctors when the patient is in very poor health.

Surgeons Successfully Transplant Genetically Modified Pig Heart Into Human Patient

Surgeons successfully transplant genetically modified pig heart into human patient:

[...] Scientists have tried to save humans with animal organs for decades. One of the most notable attempts occurred in 1984 when doctors grafted a baboon heart into Stephanie Fae Beauclair, an infant born with hypoplastic left heart syndrome. The congenital disorder left her body incapable of circulating blood properly. Baby Fae, as she was better known, survived for 21 days before her body eventually rejected the transplanted organ.

According to The New York Times, what makes this latest procedure different is doctors used a heart that had been genetically modified to remove four genes that encode a molecule that causes the body to reject the orphan organ. They also inserted six human genes to make the immune system more tolerable of the foreign tissue. Whether the experiment represents a breakthrough will depend on what happens next. Bennett's body could still reject the pig heart. For the moment, however, he's alive, and doctors are understandably excited about what this could mean for patients.


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