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Nov 30, 2019

NASA Astronaut Breaks Down Space Scenes From Film & TV

Posted by in categories: entertainment, robotics/AI, space

NASA astronaut Nicole Stott examines scenes depicting space from movies and television and breaks down how accurate they really are. What actually happens when your helmet cracks in space like in Total Recall? Are the spacewalks in Gravity realistic? Could there really be AI on a space station like in 2001: A Space Odyssey?

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Nov 29, 2019

Epilepsy drug inhibits brain tumor development

Posted by in categories: biotech/medical, neuroscience

Medication prescribed for a certain type of epilepsy may offer a new method for treating malignant infantile brain tumors. A specific mTOR inhibitor has the ability to cross the blood-brain barrier to both reach and attack the tumor at source. This has been demonstrated by researchers from Uppsala University, in collaboration with US and UK colleagues, whose research has now been published in the scientific journal Cell Stem Cell.

Approximately 100 children suffer infantile brain tumors in Sweden each year. The most common type of malignant brain tumor in infants and children is medulloblastoma. Radiation therapy is part of the standard treatment for medulloblastomas and modern has saved the lives of many children suffering from these often aggressive cancers; however, as it often comes with serious side effects for healthy brain tissue, it is seldom prescribed for infants. Although a presumably better solution would be to give more targeted treatment, in order to establish such a therapy it would naturally need to be proven to be both more effective and come with fewer side effects than current treatments.

Many infantile medulloblastomas are amplified by MYCN, an oncogene that drives tumor growth and metastasis to the spinal column, leading to a very poor prognosis. In the study in question, the researchers cultivated a particular type of neural stem cell and were able to demonstrate that MYCN was quickly able to turn these into cancer . This suggests that these cells are likely to be the origin of infantile medulloblastomas.

Nov 29, 2019

Scientists find ‘monster’ black hole so big they didn’t think it was possible

Posted by in category: cosmology

Before now, scientists did not think it was possible for a stellar black hole to have a mass larger than 20 times that of the sun, an approximation based on their understanding of the way stars evolve and die in the Milky Way.

But that assumption was metaphorically crushed in the gravity of a “monster” black hole that a group of Chinese-led international scientists discovered inside our own galaxy. The hole has a mass 70 times that of the sun, researchers said in their study published in the journal Nature.

Nov 29, 2019

Mapping our galaxy’s magnetic field

Posted by in categories: mapping, space

Astronomers from CSIRO and Curtin University have used pulsars to probe the Milky Way’s magnetic field. Working with colleagues in Europe, Canada, and South Africa, they have published the most precise catalogue of measurements towards mapping our Galaxy’s magnetic field in 3D.

The Milky Way’s is thousands of times weaker than Earth’s, but is of great significance for tracing the paths of cosmic rays, star formation, and many other astrophysical processes. However, our knowledge of the Milky Way’s 3D structure is limited.

Dr. Charlotte Sobey, the lead author of the research paper, said “We used pulsars (rapidly-rotating neutron stars) to efficiently probe the Galaxy’s magnetic field in 3D. Pulsars are distributed throughout the Milky Way, and the intervening material in the Galaxy affects their radio-wave emission.”

Nov 29, 2019

Cowlitz County PUD among U.S. utilities targeted in cyberattacks

Posted by in category: cybercrime/malcode

The Cowlitz County PUD is among more than a dozen utilities targeted in a recent cyberattack across the United States, according to an investigation by The Wall Street Journal published this week.

Cowlitz County PUD spokeswoman Alice Dietz confirmed Wednesday that the PUD’s firewall successfully blocked the only infected email that hackers sent.

“We’re proud of our IT department,” Dietz said. “They just continue to implement strong cybersecurity measures. This is a great example of why we take it so seriously.”

Nov 29, 2019

Zimbabwe ‘on brink of man-made starvation’, UN warns

Posted by in category: economics

Many people can only afford one meal a day amid an economic collapse, a top UN official says.

Nov 29, 2019

Tesla Wants to Replace Windshield Wipers With Lasers

Posted by in category: futurism

Somehow this is the least questionable thing the company did this month.

Nov 29, 2019

New Studies Show What Sleep Loss Does To The Brain And Cognition

Posted by in category: neuroscience

Sleep loss is no longer considered an emblem of productivity or success—research has shown over and over that it’s one of the worst things we can do for ourselves. The body may not need sleep so much, but the brain sure does: a huge amount of housekeeping is done while we’re sleeping, and losing sleep, especially chronically, prevents this essential work. Two new studies illustrate what sleep loss does to our thinking skills the next day and to the brain’s ability to clear out potentially dangerous “gunk.”

The first study, from Michigan State University, had 77 people stay awake all night in the lab and 63 go home and sleep normally. All the participants were rested before the study began, and then separated into their respective groups for one night of sleep deprivation or normal rest. The researchers gave them tests of attention (the Psychomotor Vigilance Task) and cognition (the UNRAVEL method, which involves having to keep track of a series of steps in the face of period interruptions) in the evening and again the following morning.

The sleep-deprived participants did conspicuously worse on the tests than the rested ones: The evening before, there was about a 15% error rate after interruptions on the UNRAVEL test, which the next morning rose to 30%. In contrast, the rested group performed about the same in the evening before and the morning after. The sleep-deprived also had significantly more lapses in attention the morning after, compared to the rested group.

Nov 29, 2019

Our place in the universe will change dramatically in the next 50 years – here’s how

Posted by in categories: physics, space

In 1900, so the story goes, prominent physicist Lord Kelvin addressed the British Association for the Advancement of Science with these words: “There is nothing new to be discovered in physics now.”

How wrong he was. The following century completely turned physics on its head. A huge number of theoretical and experimental discoveries have transformed our understanding of the universe, and our place within it.

Don’t expect the next century to be any different. The universe has many mysteries that still remain to be uncovered—and new technologies will help us to solve them over the next 50 years.

Nov 29, 2019

Flexoskeleton printing: Fabricating flexible exoskeletons for insect-inspired robots

Posted by in categories: cyborgs, robotics/AI

Insects typically have a variety of complex exoskeleton structures, which support them in their movements and everyday activities. Fabricating artificial exoskeletons for insect-inspired robots that match the complexity of these naturally-occurring structures is a key challenge in the field of robotics.

Although researchers have proposed several and techniques to produce exoskeletons for insect-inspired robots, many of these methods are extremely complex or rely on expensive equipment and materials. This makes them unfeasible and difficult to apply on a wider scale.

With this in mind, researchers at the University of California in San Diego have recently developed a new process to design and fabricate components for insect-inspired robots with structures. They introduced this process, called flexoskeleton printing, in a paper prepublished on arXiv.