"A poet once said, “The whole universe is in a glass of wine.” We will probably never know in what sense he meant that, for poets do not write to be understood. But it is true that if we look at a glass of wine closely enough we see the entire universe. There are the things of physics: the twisting liquid which evaporates depending on the wind and weather, the reflections in the glass, and our imagination adds the atoms. The glass is a distillation of the Earth’s rocks, and in its composition we see the secrets of the universe’s age, and the evolution of stars. What strange arrays of chemicals are in the wine? How did they come to be? There are the ferments, the enzymes, the substrates, and the products. There in wine is found the great generalization: all life is fermentation. Nobody can discover the chemistry of wine without discovering, as did Louis Pasteur, the cause of much disease. How vivid is the claret, pressing its existence into the consciousness that watches it! If our small minds, for some convenience, divide this glass of wine, this universe, into parts — physics, biology, geology, astronomy, psychology, and so on — remember that Nature does not know it! So let us put it all back together, not forgetting ultimately what it is for. Let it give us one more final pleasure: drink it and forget it all!"
Based on new research, trustworthiness and trust are based on the hormone oxytocin, which is triggered in response to trust and caring. Suggests that the more you are trusted and cared for, the more trustworthy and caring you will be.
The survival of the endangered snow leopard is looking promising thanks to Monash Univ. scientists who have, for the first time, produced embryonic stem-like cells from the tissue of an adult leopard. Never before have induced pluripotent stem (iPS) cells, which share many of the useful properties of embryonic stem cells, been generated from a member of the cat family. The breakthrough raises the possibility of cryopreservation of genetic material for future cloning and other assisted reproduction techniques.
The technique of Optogenetics normally works by genetically altering certain cells to make them responsive to light, and then selectively stimulating them with a laser to either turn the cells on or off. This allows scientists to modify certain parts of the brain in mice, for example, then perform experiments on the mice with those parts of the brain switched on or off. While useful, it relies on the subject being positioned carefully under the laser.
Now a new technique developed by an American startup is using LEDs and laser diodes, which can be controlled via a tiny wireless device, plugged into an implant in the animal’s brain. The device weighs only 3 grams and is also powered wirelessly, by supercapacitors below the animal’s cage.
Using the system, researchers have already been able to start to understand how activating or inhibiting specific groups of neurons change the way mice eat, in a study on feeding behaviour. The wireless technology means researchers can leave the room, leaving the animals to behave normally without threat of humans nearby.
And in case you’re thinking the next step is human mind control, remember - the cells must have first been genetically altered to be light controlled, so you’re safe for now.
Having contributed in large part to the Internet’s very existence, DARPA is now setting out to make its secure networks more secure. But rather than relying upon the conventional notion of a password—a complex string of letters and numerals that an individual must remember—the agency is looking to create a “cognitive fingerprint” for individuals that constantly authenticates that person for the duration of the time he or she has access to a network.
DARPA’s approach relies on biometrics, but not the usual brand of biometrics we’re used to seeing, like iris or fingerprint scans. DARPA wants to employ what it calls software-based biometrics—biometrics that don’t require any extra equipment and can be deployed on any computer via a software package—to recognize individual humans.
That means identifying humans not by a physical characteristic, but via a blend of mental or behavioral traits that are inherent in the way the person interacts with the terminal and the network. These things could include analysis of patterns in a person’s keystrokes, use of a computer’s built-in camera to track eye-movement patterns, semantic analysis that evaluates how a user searches and selects information (how you structure search queries, for instance, or what verbs and predicates you tend to use), the structure and syntax of a user’s sentences, the speed with which an individual tends to read content—the list goes on.
Any lucid dreamers out there? Thanks to neural imaging and this very realistic state of dreaming, scientists have shown that the movements you dream about fire the same neurons as the real-life action.
Whether we’re falling or flying, dancing or driving, moving in our dreams feels very real to us at the time. And our brains, it seems, agree. By imaging the brains of sleeping subjects, researchers have found that when we move in our dreams, our brains fire in the same pattern as when we move in the real world.
Because we tend to forget our dreams as soon as we wake up, researchers know little about how our minds create them. Neuroscientists Martin Dresler and Michael Czisch, both of the Max Planck Institute of Psychiatry in Munich, Germany, and their colleagues wanted to find a way to use brain-imaging techniques to watch what people were doing in their dreams. To interpret these images of the dreaming brain, however, they would first have to know how the brain looks when it is performing a certain task in the dream—a difficult challenge because most dreamers can’t control what they’re doing.
Very rarely, however, dreamers experience a phenomenon known as lucid dreaming, in which a sleeper is aware that he or she is dreaming and has some level of control over actions in the dream.
(via ScienceNOW; Painting: “The Sleeping Gypsy“ by Henri Rosseau)
A Caltech team has taken an Android phone and turned it into a real-time cell-culture microscope. With the help of LEGOs of course, because they make everything better.
“Our ePetri dish is a compact, small, lens-free microscopy imaging platform. We can directly track the cell culture or bacteria culture within the incubator,” explains Guoan Zheng, lead author of the study and a graduate student in electrical engineering at Caltech. “The data from the ePetri dish automatically transfers to a computer outside the incubator by a cable connection. Therefore, this technology can significantly streamline and improve cell culture experiments by cutting down on human labor and contamination risks.”
The team built the platform prototype using a Google smart phone, a commercially available cell-phone image sensor, and Lego building blocks. The culture is placed on the image-sensor chip, while the phone’s LED screen is used as a scanning light source. The device is placed in an incubator with a wire running from the chip to a laptop outside the incubator.
As the image sensor takes pictures of the culture, that information is sent out to the laptop, enabling the researchers to acquire and save images of the cells as they are growing in real time.
Because color does not literally exist, we perceive it through our brains, not our eyes. What does exist is light, and that can take on any color in our brains. A fire engine is not always red. The sky is not always blue.
The next time you try to describe an object, consider that what you see is not necessarily the same as what your neighbor would see.
It’s all tied to language.
The Himba Tribe of Namibia, for example, see the sky as black and water as white but, because they have two different words for those colors, easily differentiate between shades of green so similar the difference would stump most Westerners. Because they use the same word for specific shades of green and blue, on the other hand, they cannot spot what, to a Westerner, would be an obvious difference on a color chart.