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Jan 5, 2020

Engrams emerging as the basic unit of memory

Posted by in categories: biotech/medical, genetics, robotics/AI

Experiments in rodents have revealed that engrams exist as multiscale networks of neurons. An experience becomes stored as a potentially retrievable memory in the brain when excited neurons in a brain region such as the hippocampus or amygdala become recruited into a local ensemble. These ensembles combine with others in other regions, such as the cortex, into an “engram complex.” Crucial to this process of linking engram cells is the ability of neurons to forge new circuit connections, via processes known as “synaptic plasticity” and “dendritic spine formation.” Importantly, experiments show that the memory initially stored across an engram complex can be retrieved by its reactivation but may also persist “silently” even when memories cannot be naturally recalled, for instance in mouse models used to study memory disorders such as early stage Alzheimer’s disease.

“More than 100 years ago Semon put forth a law of engraphy,” wrote Josselyn, Senior Scientist at SickKids, Professor of Psychology and Physiology at the University of Toronto and Senior Fellow in the Brain, Mind & Consciousness Program at the Canadian Institute for Advanced Research, (CIFAR) and Tonegawa, Picower Professor of Biology and Neuroscience at the RIKEN-MIT Laboratory for Neural Circuit Genetics at MIT and Investigator of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute. “Combining these theoretical ideas with the new tools that allow researchers to image and manipulate engrams at the level of cell ensembles facilitated many important insights into memory function.”

“For instance, evidence indicates that both increased intrinsic excitability and synaptic plasticity work hand in hand to form engrams and that these processes may also be important in memory linking, memory retrieval, and memory consolidation.”

Continue reading “Engrams emerging as the basic unit of memory” »

Jan 5, 2020

Researchers Crack Newton’s Elusive ‘3-Body’ Problem That Has Baffled Scientists for Centuries

Posted by in categories: information science, space

It’s been nearly 350 years since Sir Isaac Newton outlined the laws of motion, claiming “For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction.” These laws laid the foundation to understand our solar system and, more broadly, to understand the relationship between a body of mass and the forces that act upon it. However, Newton’s groundbreaking work also created a pickle that has baffled scientists for centuries: The Three-Body Problem.

After using the laws of motion to describe how planet Earth orbits the sun, Newton assumed that these laws would help us calculate what would happen if a third celestial body, such as the moon, were added to the mix. However, in reality, three-body equations became much more difficult to solve.

Jan 5, 2020

Warning Issued For Millions Of Microsoft Windows 10 Users [Updated]

Posted by in category: cybercrime/malcode

Windows 10 users need to avoid Microsoft’s latest update, but it has already been installed by millions…

Jan 5, 2020

The Other MEDUSA: A Microwave Sound Weapon

Posted by in categories: business, energy, military

MEDUSA appears to be a popular name for directed energy weapons. There’s the MEDUSA I wrote about yesterday, a high-energy beam weapon one company hopes could destroy tanks and planes. And then there’s another MEDUSA, a nonlethal microwave weapon that was briefly funded by the Navy that uses “silent audio” (the auditory effect from microwaves). In other words, it makes you hear things in your head:

Hyper_microwave_22_gr
The main goal of the Phase I project wad to design and build a breadboard prototype of a temporary personnel incapacitation system called MEDUSA (Mob Excess Deterrent Using Silent Audio). This non-lethal weapon is based on the well established microwave auditory effect (MAE). MAE results in a strong sound sensation in the human head when it is irradiated with specifically selected microwave pulses of low energy. Through the combination of pulse parameters and pulse power, it is possible to raise the auditory sensation to the “discomfort” level, deterring personnel from entering a protected perimeter or, if necessary, temporarily incapacitating particular individuals. *

The idea of the “Voice of God” weapon (a weapon that makes you hear voices in your head) has been around for a while, and this small business contract was but one one modest, and likely unrelated, offshoot of other microwave-auditory effect research. The company stated at the end of “phase one” of this research: “An operating frequency was chosen — Hardware requirements were established (commercial magnetron, high-voltage pulse former) — Hardware was designed and built — Power measurements were taken and the required pulse parameters confirmed — Experimental evidence of MAE was observed.”

Jan 5, 2020

Branka Marijan, back from Geneva: An Update on the Discussion about Autonomous Weapons

Posted by in category: robotics/AI

Branka Marijan of Project Ploughshares has a short video update on The Campaign To Stop Killer Robots.


This week, our Wednesday office update features Program Officer Branka Marijan. Branka just got back from Geneva, where the discussion of Autonomous Weapons continued! Here’s an update on the conversation.

Jan 5, 2020

First Suleimani Attack

Posted by in categories: cybercrime/malcode, government

The first U.S. government website has been hacked post the killing of Qassem Suleimani, exposing the true nature of the short-term threat.

Jan 5, 2020

SpaceX Test-Fires Rocket for 60-Satellite Starlink Launch, the 1st of 2020

Posted by in categories: internet, satellites

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. — SpaceX on Saturday fired up the rocket that will ferry the company’s next batch of Starlink satellites into space.

The company conducted a static-fire test on Saturday (Jan. 4) of a Falcon 9 rocket at Space Launch Complex 40 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida, the company said on Twitter. That rocket is expected to send 60 Starlink internet satellites into space no earlier than Monday (Jan. 6), marking the first launch of the year from Florida’s Space Coast.

Jan 5, 2020

Artificial intelligence turns brain activity into speech

Posted by in categories: information science, robotics/AI

Fed data from invasive brain recordings, algorithms reconstruct heard and spoken sounds.

Jan 5, 2020

Scientists Print Functional Human “Mini-Livers”

Posted by in categories: 3D printing, biotech/medical

A team of Brazilian researchers have succesfully bioprinted tiny organoids that perform all of the human liver’s functions, Brazilian news service Agência FAPESP reports — functions including building proteins, storing vitamins and secreting bile.

The researchers had to cultivate and reprogram human stem cells, and then 3D print them in layers to form tissue.

While the “mini-livers” perform the functions of a liver, they’re unfortunately still a far cry from an actual full-scale liver.

Jan 5, 2020

False Alarm: The So-Called ‘Angel Particle’ Is Still a Mystery

Posted by in categories: computing, particle physics, quantum physics

A 2017 report of the discovery of a particular kind of Majorana fermion — the chiral Majorana fermion, referred to as the “angel particle” — is likely a false alarm, according to new research. Majorana fermions are enigmatic particles that act as their own antiparticle and were first hypothesized to exist in 1937. They are of immense interest to physicists because their unique properties could allow them to be used in the construction of a topological quantum computer.

A team of physicists at Penn State and the University of Wurzburg in Germany led by Cui-Zu Chang, an assistant professor of physics at Penn State studied over three dozen devices similar to the one used to produce the angel particle in the 2017 report. They found that the feature that was claimed to be the manifestation of the angel particle was unlikely to be induced by the existence of the angel particle. A paper describing the research appears on January 3, 2020 in the journal Science.

“When the Italian physicist Ettore Majorana predicted the possibility of a new fundamental particle which is its own antiparticle, little could he have envisioned the long-lasting implications of his imaginative idea.”