Feb 11, 2016

The Malware Museum shows the cute computer viruses of the past

posted by Laura Domela

Modern malware is designed to do things like steal your credit card information, enable identity theft, and even shut down nuclear power stations, and usually carries out its attacks silently and behind the scenes so as not to arouse suspicion. But it hasn't always been this way. Rather than hijack them, the creators of the viruses of the past often set out to destroy computers, and trumpeted their activities with garish splash screens, showing scrambled code, animated pot leaves, or laughing skulls.
via The Verge

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Feb 11, 2016

Your brain operates differently depending on the time of year

posted by Larra Morris

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Winter gloom and springtime glee are common seasonal swings. But beyond swaying how you feel, yearly cycles may also shift the way you think, according to a new study in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Comparing the cognitive function of 28 volunteers tested at different points in the year, researchers noted pronounced seasonal patterns in brain region activity. Namely, areas involved in working memory hit peak performance around the autumn equinox, and areas dealing with sustained attention crested around the summer solstice. Though it’s still early in the research to understand the significance of possible annual mental oscillations, the study hints at a previously unappreciated seasonal rhythm of the human brain that could affect learning and behavior.
via Ars Technica

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Image: Diana/Flickr

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Feb 11, 2016

Machine turns your Twitter posts into tasty cocktails

posted by Larra Morris

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Ever wondered what your tweets would taste like if you could distill them into a drink? Probably not, but there's now a way to find out. Clément Gault and Koi Koi Design have whipped up Data Cocktail, an Arduino-powered machine that creates a drink based on Twitter updates. In its current incarnation, it looks for the five latest tweets mentioning keywords linked to ingredients, and fills the glass accordingly. The result is an original, spur-of-the-moment mix -- it'll even print out the 'recipe' (really, a ratio of the keywords) and thank the users who unwittingly contributed to the beverage.
via Engadget

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Feb 11, 2016

Cotton candy machines help create artificial organs

posted by Larra Morris

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From growing a full thymus gland inside a mouse, to creating a slice of artificial liver tissue, to using ink jet printing technology to create a human ear, researchers are steadily moving us toward the day when ordering up a new organ could be as commonplace as ordering an MRI is today. One of the hurdles in creating lab-grown organs, though, is that the cells in such a structure need a way to receive nutrients. Researchers at Vanderbilt University (VU) may have just leaped that hurdle using a most unexpected tool – a cotton candy machine.

Leon Bellan, an assistant professor of mechanical engineering at VU, has actually been tinkering with cotton candy machines for some time after realizing the machines were perfect at spinning out tiny threads that resembled human capillaries.
via Gizmag

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Image: Bellan Lab / Vanderbilt

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Feb 10, 2016

Wearable sleeve could improve stroke recovery therapy

posted by Larra Morris

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When it comes to tools that help stroke victims on their way to recovery, we've seen exoskeletons of sorts to medicine covered clot-busting nanoparticles. But researchers from the University of South Hampton and Imperial College London have something altogether different cooked up: a wireless sleeve that gathers information of how a patient's muscles react during home therapy. As the school tells it, this sleeve, dubbed M-Mark, is the first to bring mechanomyogrpahy sensors (essentially ultra-sensitive microphones that measure muscle contraction) together with tri-axial accelerometers, gyroscopes and magnetometers.

What that means in English is the sleeve is detecting the various inputs and information and using the data to show a patient how much he or she has improved since the beginning of therapy. That info will go to a tablet app that will also give doctors a better look at what's going on in the patient's environment and recovery regimen.
via Engadget

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Feb 10, 2016

The National Archives has released a coloring book of retro patents

posted by Larra Morris

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The National Archives of America recently released a free PDF of a coloring book depicting 16 favorite patents from their holdings. Most of the illustrations date back over a century, and they range from the practical (the actual troop lander used on D-Day) to the bizarre (protective goggles for your chickens). While many of the patents never seem to have made it off the ground, maybe this coloring book can be a chance to give them a second look. A mini hammock for trains that hooks onto the seat in front of you would be a perfect fit for movie theaters, and “sandwiched bread”—bread with chunks of meat baked inside—sounds like something today’s Americans would eat right up.
via Mental Floss

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Image: The National Archives

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Feb 10, 2016

Study: Suspects shocked by Taser “more likely” to waive Miranda Rights

posted by Larra Morris

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A new study says the obvious: suspects' brains are briefly scrambled when they are on the receiving end of a Taser stun gun and its 50,000-volt delivery. But the study, "TASER Exposure and Cognitive Impairment: Implications for Valid Miranda Waivers and the Timing of Police Custodial Interrogations," questions whether suspects who were just shocked have the mental capacity to validly waive their Miranda rights and submit to police questioning.

"TASER-exposed participants resembled patients with mild cognitive impairment, which suggests that not only might our participants be more likely to waive their Miranda rights directly after TASER exposure, but also they would be more likely to give inaccurate information to investigators," reads the study, which appears in the journal Criminology & Public Policy. "Thus, part of our findings implicates a suspect’s ability to issue a valid waiver, whereas another part implicates the accuracy of information he or she might give investigators during a custodial interrogation (e.g., false confessions or statements)."
via Ars Technica

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Image: Christopher Paul

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