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Oct 18, 2015

A New Google Patent Filing Reveals Methods of Mapping Brain Functions & Analyzing Epileptogenic Zones

Posted by in categories: biotech/medical, electronics, neuroscience

Electrocorticography (ECoG) was pioneered in the early 1950s by Wilder Penfield and Herbert Jasper, neurosurgeons at the Montreal Neurological Institute. The two developed ECoG as part of their groundbreaking Montreal procedure, a surgical protocol used to treat patients with severe epilepsy. The cortical potentials recorded by ECoG were used to identify epileptogenic zones – regions of the cortex that generate epileptic seizures. These zones would then be surgically removed from the cortex during resectioning, thus destroying the brain tissue where epileptic seizures had originated. Penfield and Jasper also used electrical stimulation during ECoG recordings in patients undergoing epilepsy surgery under local anesthesia. This procedure was used to explore the functional anatomy of the brain, mapping speech areas and identifying the somatosensory and somatomotor cortex areas to be excluded from surgical removal. This week we learned that Google has filed a patent relating to this medical field titled “Microelectrode Array for an Electrocorticogram.”

2AF 55 - GOOGLE PATENT FIG. 6

Google’s patent FIG. 6 noted above shows an application of the microelectrode array 1 according to the invention when recording an electrocorticogram of a human being. The microelectrode array is wirelessly connected to an electronic control device 10, which comprises in particular an amplifier for the electrode signals and a data acquisition system. The microelectrode array, implanted e.g. below the patient’s scalp, has an energy receiving coil 60 and an antenna 61 for bidirectional data transfer between the microelectrode array 1 and the electronic control device. It is also possible for the energy receiving coil simultaneously to be used as an antenna, such that no separate antenna is required.

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Oct 18, 2015

A New Experiment May Determine Whether Gravity Is Quantized

Posted by in categories: particle physics, quantum physics

In physics there are two broad ways to look at the world. One is the classical realm of Newton and Einstein, where objects have definite form and interact in clearly determinate ways. The other is the quantum realm, where objects seem nebulous, with a strange mix of particle-like and wave-like behavior. The classical view gives us a wonderfully accurate description of everything from planets to baseballs. The quantum view is necessary to accurately describe the behavior of light and atoms. The classical world dominates on the scale of our daily lives, but nature seems to be rooted in quantum theory at its most basic level.

While both the classical and quantum approach are extremely accurate in their respective regimes, what happens in the intersection of the two regimes is still unclear. We don’t have a rigorous theory combining our classical and quantum models. We also don’t have certain key observational evidence, particularly in the nexus of quantum theory and gravity. But as quantum experiments increasingly study more massive objects and gravity experiments become increasingly sensitive, we’re approaching the point where “quantum gravity” experiments could be made. That’s the goal of a recently proposed experiment.

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Oct 18, 2015

Amazing promises of nuclear fusion: How close are we?

Posted by in categories: nuclear energy, sustainability

“Tens of billions of dollars have been spent in the past 60 years, entire careers have been invested, but the ability to produce a commercially viable nuclear fusion reactor remains undemonstrated.”


For 60 years the world’s been waiting for cheap, clean, safe, sustainable power from nuclear fusion. Are we there yet?

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Oct 18, 2015

Cops are asking Ancestry.com and 23andMe for their customers’ DNA

Posted by in categories: biotech/medical, education, genetics

Micah's DNA
Brendan I. Koerner at Wired, explores the ramifications of the authorities requesting DNA from ancestry sites:

Mitch Morrissey, Denver’s district attorney and one of the nation’s leading advocates for familial DNA searching, stresses that the technology is “an innovative approach to investigating challenging cases, particularly cold cases where the victims are women or children and traditional investigative tactics fail to yield a solid suspect.” Familial DNA searches have indeed helped nab people who might otherwise have evaded justice. In the most celebrated example, Los Angeles police arrested a man believed to be the Grim Sleeper serial killer after discovering that the crime scene DNA shared a significant number of genetic markers with that of a convicted felon—who turned out to be the man’s son.

But the well-publicized success stories obscure the fact that familial DNA searches can generate more noise than signal. “Anyone who knows the science understands that there’s a high rate of false positives,” says Erin Murphy, a New York University law professor and the author of Inside the Cell: The Dark Side of Forensic DNA. The searches, after all, look for DNA profiles that are similar to the perpetrator’s but by no means identical, a scattershot approach that yields many fruitless leads, and for limited benefit. In the United Kingdom, a 2014 study found that just 17 percent of familial DNA searches “resulted in the identification of a relative of the true offender.”

Continue reading “Cops are asking Ancestry.com and 23andMe for their customers’ DNA” »

Oct 17, 2015

Programming Hate Into AI Will Be Controversial, But Possibly Necessary

Posted by in categories: biotech/medical, education, neuroscience, robotics/AI

In the last few years, the topic of artificial intelligence (AI) has been thrust into the mainstream. No longer just the domain of sci-fi fans, nerds or Google engineers, I hear people discussing AI at parties, coffee shops and even at the dinner table: My five-year-old daughter brought it up the other night over taco lasagna. When I asked her if anything interesting had happened in school, she replied that her teacher discussed smart robots.

The exploration of intelligence — be it human or artificial — is ultimately the domain of epistemology, the study of knowledge. Since the first musings of creating AI back in antiquity, epistemology seems to have led the debate on how to do it. The question I hear most in this field from the public is: How can humans develop another intelligent consciousness if we can’t even understand our own?

It’s a prudent question. The human brain, despite being only about 3 pounds in weight, is the least understood organ in the body. And with a billion neurons — with 100 trillion connections — it’s safe to say it’s going to be a long time before we end up figuring out the brain.

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Oct 17, 2015

Interstellar Space Travel: Antimatter-Powered Rockets Could Make It A Reality

Posted by in category: space travel

Space travel today is just too slow, so one rocket scientist is developing technology that could send humans to Mars in a matter of weeks.

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Oct 17, 2015

Have researchers really discovered a ‘new miracle drug to cure nine in 10 cancers’? No, but the research is fascinating

Posted by in category: biotech/medical

Unfortunately, the answer is no. At least for now. But that’s not to say this isn’t important, promising new research.

The reports centre on the supposedly serendipitous discovery of a link between an experimental malaria vaccine for pregnant women and a molecule that sits on the surface of cancer cells.

So what did the study – published in the journal Cancer Cell – actually show?

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Oct 17, 2015

Beachgoer Discovers 10,000-Year-Old Spearhead That May Hold Clues to Prehistoric Life in NJ

Posted by in category: education

While walking along the Jersey Shore, a woman recently stumbled upon a rare spearhead about 10,000 to 11,000 years old, according to experts who believe the ancient artifact may hold clues into prehistoric life in the Americas.

The projectile point was examined this past Tuesday by curators at the New Jersey State Museum after Audrey Stanick — a 58-year-old resident of Lanoka Harbor, New Jersey — made the discovery on Oct. 6 while walking along a Seaside Heights beach with her sister looking for sea glass after a recent storm.

“I noticed it because it was very dark and shiny, and my sister from Florida who likes to collect sharks’ teeth taught me to always look out for dark and shiny things at the beach,” Stanick said. “Then, I remembered a boy made a similar discovery last year, so I got in contact with the museum.”

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Oct 17, 2015

Humans will be able to use augmented intelligence to compete with robots

Posted by in categories: augmented reality, robotics/AI, virtual reality

In January this year Microsoft announced the HoloLens, a technology based on virtual and augmented reality (AR).

HoloLens supplements what you see with overlaid 3D images. It also uses artificial intelligence (AI) to generate relevant information depending on the situation the wearer is in. The information is then augmented to your normal vision using virtual reality (VR).

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Oct 17, 2015

Interesting Mathematics Animation

Posted by in category: mathematics

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