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Casimir Effect And Boosting The Force Of Empty Space

Science2.0 - July 22, 2014 - 4:30pm

A vacuum - empty space - is not as empty as one might think. In fact, empty space is a bubbling soup of various virtual particles popping in and out of existence – a phenomenon called "vacuum fluctuations". Usually, such extremely short-lived particles remain completely unnoticed, but in certain cases vacuum forces can have a measurable effect.

A team of researchers have proposed a method of amplifying these forces by several orders of magnitude using a transmission line, channeling virtual photons.


"Borrowing" Energy, but just for a Little While


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African-American Homeownership Became More Risky In The 1990s

Science2.0 - July 22, 2014 - 4:25pm

In the 1990s, it was claimed that minorities were less likely to get home mortgages 30 years after anti-discrimination laws were added to specify housing, so policies were instituted requiring justification when people were denied a home loan. As a result of widespread loan liberalization, everyone was able to get loans and there was a resulting mortgage loan crisis after the core of the system was revealed as flawed.


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Artificial Artificial Intelligence: Misidentification Of Humans As Machines Is Common In Turing Tests

Science2.0 - July 22, 2014 - 3:39pm
At various times, Alan Turing was hailed as a brilliant cryptologist, leading a team of code breakers at Bletchley Park which cracked the German Enigma machine cypher during World War II, and then later as a gay martyr. Now, due to popular media accounts of computers seeming 'human' over and over, he is known for The Turing Test and is getting a biopic, "The Imitation Game", starring Benedict Cumberbatch in the lead role.

In a 1950, Turing propose The Turing Test, where he outlined a standard for a computer being considered human and proposed that the solution to artificial intelligence would be a program with the mind of a child and teach it to think.  So the goal of the test is not to determine if a machine is correct, but whether or not it is considered real.
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True And False Discoveries: How To Tell Them Apart

Science2.0 - July 22, 2014 - 2:25pm
Many new particles and other new physics signals claimed in the last twenty years were later proven to be spurious effects, due to background fluctuations or unknown sources of systematic error. The list is long, unfortunately - and longer than the list of particles and effects that were confirmed to be true by subsequent more detailed or more statistically-rich analysis.
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Kepler-421b: Transiting Exoplanet With Longest Known Year

Science2.0 - July 22, 2014 - 2:09pm

Kepler-421b
has been revealed as a transiting exoplanet with the longest known year - 704 days. For comparison, Mars orbits our Sun once every 780 days.

 The farther a planet is from its star, the less likely it is to transit the star from Earth's point of view. It has to line up just right, and most of the 1,800-plus exoplanets discovered so far are much closer to their stars and have much shorter orbital periods. The host star, Kepler-421, is located about 1,000 light-years from Earth in the direction of the constellation Lyra. 


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Virtual Steak: Beef Is 10X More Environmentally Costly Than Other Meat, Says Study

Science2.0 - July 22, 2014 - 10:30am

Easy metrics like 'it takes a gallon of gas to make a pound of beef' or 'it takes 140 liters of water to make a cup of coffee' get mainstream media because they are outrageous. They are outrageous because they are completely wrong.

What is the 'real' cost of eating beef? Are the other animal or animal-derived foods better or worse?


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Mammoth And Mastodon Weren't So Nomadic

Science2.0 - July 22, 2014 - 8:00am

Mammoths and mastodons, the famously fuzzy relatives of elephants that lived in the American midwest, weren't as nomadic as previously believed – or Cincinnati was just a great place to be at the end of the last ice age. A study led by Brooke Crowley, an assistant professor of geology and anthropology at the University of  Cincinnati, shows the ancient proboscideans enjoyed the area so much they likely were year-round residents and not nomadic migrants as previously thought. 

They even had their own preferred hangouts. Crowley's findings indicate each species kept to separate areas based on availability of favored foods here at the southern edge of the Last Glacial Maximum's major ice sheet.


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Natural Fluctuation: Global Warming 'Pause' Since 1998 Explained

Science2.0 - July 22, 2014 - 7:00am

Statistical analysis of average global temperatures between 1998 and 2013 shows that the slowdown in global warming during this period is consistent with natural variations in temperature, according to research by McGill University physics professor Shaun Lovejoy.

In a new paper, Lovejoy concludes that a natural cooling fluctuation during this period largely masked the warming effects of a continued increase in man-made emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases.  


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Probiotics Linked To Improved Blood Pressure - Review

Science2.0 - July 22, 2014 - 6:30am

Eating probiotics regularly may modestly improve your blood pressure, according to a new review of none studies examining blood pressure and probiotic consumption in 543 adults with normal and elevated blood pressure.

Probiotics are live microorganisms naturally occurring bacteria in the gut thought to have beneficial effects; they have recently been a nutrition trend and common sources are yogurt or dietary supplements. 


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100 Locations In Human Genome Associated With Schizophrenia

Science2.0 - July 22, 2014 - 5:44am

Researchers have helped identify over 100 locations in the human genome associated with the risk of developing schizophrenia, in what is the largest genomic study published on any psychiatric disorder to date. The findings point to biological mechanisms and pathways that may underlie schizophrenia, and could lead to new approaches to treating the disorder, which hasn't made much scientific progress in the last 60 years. 


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Age-Related Macular Degeneration Occurs Much Earlier Than Assumed

Science2.0 - July 21, 2014 - 9:00pm

Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is the most common cause of visual impairment and blindness in industrialized countries but it is questionable whether it can continue to be defined as a disease in people in their 50s and beyond.

Investigations to determine the incidence of age-related macular degeneration undertaken as part of the Gutenberg Health Study of the University Medical Center of Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz (JGU) have shown that even persons under the age of 50 years may be affected by an early form of the eye disease.

Just under 4 percent of the 35 to 44-year-old subjects in the population-based study were found to be suffering from AMD. 


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Less Random Fitness: A Refined Biological Evolution Model

Science2.0 - July 21, 2014 - 8:00pm

Models for the evolution of life are now being developed to try and clarify the long term dynamics of an evolving system of species. Specifically, a recent model proposed by Petri Kärenlampi from the University of Eastern Finland in Joensuu accounts for species interactions with various degrees of symmetry, connectivity, and species abundance. This is an improvement on previous, simpler models, which apply random fitness levels to species.

The findings demonstrate that the resulting replicator ecosystems do not appear to be a self-organized critical model, unlike the so-called Bak Sneppen model, a reference in the field. The reasons for this discrepancy are not yet known.


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Human Platelets Generated Using Bioreactor

Science2.0 - July 21, 2014 - 7:00pm

Scientists have developed a scalable, next-generation platelet bioreactor to generate fully functional human platelets in vitro


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Dance Of The Dwarfs

Science2.0 - July 21, 2014 - 6:31pm

A new discovery that many small galaxies throughout the universe do not 'swarm' around larger ones like bees but instead 'dance' in orderly disc-shaped orbits is a challenge to our understanding of how the universe formed and evolved.   

The universe contains billions of galaxies. Some, such as the Milky Way, are immense, containing hundreds of billions of stars. Most galaxies, however, are dwarfs, much smaller and with only a few billion stars.

For decades astronomers have used computer models to predict how these dwarf galaxies should orbit large galaxies. They had always found that they should be scattered randomly.


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Utilizing Fat's Healing Properties In Heart Disease

Science2.0 - July 21, 2014 - 6:00pm

Too much dietary fat is bad for the heart, everyone knows that by now, but not all fats are equal. The right kind of fat keeps the heart healthy, and a paper in The Journal of Experimental Medicine shows how it works.

Unlike saturated fats discussed in popular media, unsaturated dietary fatty acids, such as eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), are known to protect against cardiovascular diseases. However, the mechanism and the specific fat metabolites responsible for this protection were unknown. 


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A Genetic Cause Of Common Breast Tumors

Science2.0 - July 21, 2014 - 5:00pm

A team of researchers made a seminal breakthrough in understanding the molecular basis of fibroadenoma, one of the most common breast tumors diagnosed in women. Led by Professors Teh Bin Tean, Patrick Tan, Tan Puay Hoon and Steve Rozen, the team used advanced DNA sequencing technologies to identify a critical gene called MED12 that was repeatedly disrupted in nearly 60% of fibroadenoma cases. 


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Mapping Environmental Effects On DNA One Cell At A Time

Science2.0 - July 21, 2014 - 4:18pm

A new single-cell technique can help investigate how the environment affects our development and the traits we inherit from our parents. It can be used to map all of the 'epigenetic marks' on the DNA within a single cell,which will boost understanding of embryonic development, enhance clinical applications like cancer therapy and even reduce the number of mice used in research.


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Delayed Language More Nature Than Nurture

Science2.0 - July 21, 2014 - 2:48pm

"She'll grow out of it," used to be a common phrase about raising kids, meaning it wasn't anything that was wrong physically or in upbringing, it is just the diversity of human existence. Some kids develop later. But in today's hyper-diagnosis culture, researchers have wanted to figure out if that old saying was true, or just wishful thinking.

A  study of 473 sets of twins followed since birth has found that, compared to single-born children, 47 percent of 24-month-old identical twins had language delay compared to 31 percent of non-identical twins. Overall, twins had twice the rate of late language emergence of single-born children. None of the children had disabilities affecting language acquisition. 


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Mitochondria And Antioxidants: A Tale Of Two Scientists

Science2.0 - July 21, 2014 - 1:53pm



There is a little miracle of science happening in your body right now. As you read this, a minuscule 5 grams of a high-energy molecule called adenosine triphosphate - ATP - is causing all kinds of reactions in order to give you the energy to sit at your computer. In total, 8 ounces of ATP is being recycled hundreds of times each day, so many times that a human can use their body weight - 200 pounds of ATP in my case – every 24 hours. 

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You Don't Stop Learning To Read In 4th Grade - Study

Science2.0 - July 21, 2014 - 11:32am

Teaching remains more art than science and a popular conjecture that has caught the attention of the education business has been that fourth grade is when students stop learning to read and start reading to learn.  People love to swap terms around that way. But is it accurate?

A new paper in Developmental Science says there is nothing special about fourth grade at all, there is no change in automatic word processing, a crucial component of that reading shift conjecture. Instead, some types of word processing become automatic before fourth grade, while others don't switch until after fifth.


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