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Oct 3, 2018

Liquid crystals and the origin of life

Posted by in categories: biotech/medical, computing, genetics, mobile phones

The display screens of modern televisions, cell phones and computer monitors rely on liquid crystals—materials that flow like liquids but have molecules oriented in crystal-like structures. However, liquid crystals may have played a far more ancient role: helping to assemble Earth’s first biomolecules. Researchers reporting in ACS Nano have found that short RNA molecules can form liquid crystals that encourage growth into longer chains.

Scientists have speculated that life on Earth originated in an “RNA world,” where RNA fulfilled the dual role of carrying genetic information and conducting metabolism before the dawn of DNA or proteins. Indeed, researchers have discovered catalytic RNA strands, or “ribozymes,” in modern genomes. Known ribozymes are about 16–150 nucleotides in length, so how did these sequences assemble in a primordial world without existing ribozymes or proteins? Tommaso Bellini and colleagues wondered if liquid crystals could help guide short RNA precursors to form longer strands.

To find out, the researchers explored different scenarios under which short RNAs could self-assemble. They found that at high concentrations, short RNA sequences (either 6 or 12 nucleotides long) spontaneously ordered into phases. Liquid crystals formed even more readily when the researchers added magnesium ions, which stabilized the crystals, or polyethylene glycol, which sequestered RNA into highly concentrated microdomains. Once the RNAs were held together in liquid crystals, a chemical activator could efficiently join their ends into much longer strands. This arrangement also helped avoid the formation of circular RNAs that could not be lengthened further. The researchers point out that and the chemical activator would not be found under primordial conditions, but they say that other molecular species could have played similar, if less efficient, roles.

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Oct 3, 2018

Humanities and scientific explanation: the need for change

Posted by in categories: education, energy

For too long, presentations of science for the general public, and education in schools, has suggested that science wields a sort of hegemonic power, as if its terms and methods gradually replace and make redundant all other discourse; the only reason it has not yet completed its conquest is that the world is complicated—but it is only a matter of time…

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Oct 3, 2018

The Cipher of Intelligence

Posted by in categories: information science, robotics/AI

If simulating the brain is proving tricky, why don’t we try decoding it?


“There’s a good reason the first flying machines weren’t mechanical bats: people tried that, and they were terrible.” — Dan Robitzski

In the current AI Spring, many people and corporations are betting big that the capabilities of deep learning algorithms will continue to improve as the algorithms are fed more data. Their faith is backed by the miracles performed by such algorithms: they can see, listen and do a thousand other things that were previously considered too difficult for AI.

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Oct 3, 2018

Scientists Have Connected The Brains of 3 People, Enabling Them to Share Thoughts

Posted by in categories: internet, neuroscience

Cientistas conectaram o cérebro de 3 pessoas, permitindo que elas compartilhassem os pensamentos! smile


Neuroscientists have successfully hooked up a three-way brain connection to allow three people share their thoughts – and in this case, play a Tetris-style game. The team thinks this wild experiment could be scaled up to connect whole networks of people, and yes, it’s as weird as it sounds.

It works through a combination of electroencephalograms (EEGs), for recording the electrical impulses that indicate brain activity, and transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS), where neurons are stimulated using magnetic fields.

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Oct 3, 2018

The Next Social Networks Could Be Brain-to-Brain

Posted by in categories: neuroscience, physics, space

It might already feel like social media is taking up too much of our mental space, but just wait until it’s literally inside of our brains.

Physicists and neuroscientists have developed the world’s first “brain-to-brain” network, using electroencephalograms (EEGs), which record electrical activity in the brain, and transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS), which can transmit information into the brain, to allow people to communicate directly with each other’s brains — a new and thrilling (and a little terrifying?) example of science fiction brought to life.

Researchers at the University of Washington in Seattle announced last week that they successfully used their interface, which they call BrainNet, to have a small group of people play a collaborative “Tetris-like” game — with their minds.

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Oct 3, 2018

Silicon Valley’s Keystone Problem: ‘A Monoculture of Thought’

Posted by in category: engineering

Ms. Powell does not have any easy or obvious ideas for how to address tech’s monoculture. She thinks of her book as starting a conversation. But any solution, she said, will involve “a fundamental, bottoms-up cultural change” — and one that we should not expect to see overnight.


In a satirical new novel, a former Google executive identifies the technology industry’s chief issue: its narrow engineering-focused bubble.

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Oct 2, 2018

First woman Physics Nobel winner in 55 years

Posted by in category: physics

Only the third woman to win Nobel in Physics.


The 2018 Nobel Prize in Physics is awarded to a woman for only the third time since the award began.

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Oct 2, 2018

Dark stars come into the light

Posted by in category: cosmology

With help from dark matter annihilation, some of the universe’s earliest stars were able to grow much larger than they would otherwise.

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Oct 2, 2018

As stem cell and gene technologies advance, La Jolla conference mushrooms

Posted by in categories: biotech/medical, business

Now in its 12th year, the Cell & Gene Meeting on the Mesa continues to grow, much like the stem cells that are the center of its business and scientific discussions.

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Oct 2, 2018

DJI Can Now Authorize Drone Flights in Controlled Airspace

Posted by in categories: drones, government

DJI now has the US government’s permission to authorize drone flights in controlled airspace near airports.

The FAA has approved DJI as part of its Low Altitude Authorization and Notification Capability (LAANC) program. The agency rigorously tested and validated DJI’s technology capabilities before giving its stamp of approval.

DJI was one of 9 companies that were just newly authorized. The other eight are Aeronyde, Airbus, AiRXOS, Altitude Angel, Converge, KittyHawk, UASidekick, and Unifly.

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