Jul 14, 2014

Teaching robots to play Angry Birds helps children's rehabilitation

posted by Larra Morris

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If Angry Birds is known for anything, it's an ability to keep youthful eyes glued to the screen for extended periods of time. But a new study conducted at Georgia Tech has shown that teaching a robot how to play the video game keeps kids slinging those wingless birds through the air for even longer, a finding that could help in the rehabilitation of cognitive and motor-skill disabilities.

The study observed how school-aged children engaged with Angry Birdsand how that engagement could be dictated depending on who was sitting alongside them. The kids were first asked to play the game as an adult watched on, and then to teach a robot how to play for themselves.
via Gizmag

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Image: Georgia Tech

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Jul 14, 2014

Public to get to vote on names for exoplanets

posted by Larra Morris

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Yet the Public Naming of Planets and Planetary Satellites Working Group has come through. About a year ago, it determined that exoplanet names should follow the rules that govern the naming of minor planets in the Solar System. And it suggested that any group that wanted to run a non-commercial naming campaign (meaning, you can't charge to name a planet) should get in touch. A year later, the IAU is announcing its first naming campaign, run in collaboration with the citizen science site Zooniverse.

Before you get excited about naming HAT-P-7b after your first pet goldfish, it's worth taking a look at the restrictions the IAU places on its minor planet names. The 16 characters or less must be "pronounceable (in as many languages as possible)" and non-offensive in any language or culture. The names of living persons are verboten, pet names are "discouraged," and you can't use a name that is commercial or has political, military, or religious connotations.
via Ars Technica

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Image: NASA

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Jul 14, 2014

A simple eye test could accurately detect Alzheimer's

posted by Larra Morris

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Current tests for Alzheimer's include expensive tests using brain PET or MRI imaging. But two studies have shown that a simple eye test can detect Alzheimer's accurately at very early stages—just by looking at subjects' retinas.

As you probably already know, Alzheimer's causes the loss of neurons and synapses in the brain and the accumulation of plaques and tangles of the protein beta-amyloid. The first study, led by Australia's Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization, looked for signs of that protein in the retina. How? In one study, by having subjects ingest curcumin, which binds to protein to function as a "fluorescent tag," making the beta-amyloid visible in the eyes of subjects with the disease during conventional eye imaging.
via Gizmodo

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Image: Australis Photography  

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Jul 11, 2014

Emotions used instead of cash at unique art auction

posted by Larra Morris

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If someone places the winning bid on a work of art at an auction, it must mean that they liked the piece more than any of the other bidders ... right? Well, actually, it could just mean that they were wealthier than any of the other bidders. Swedish design company Kosta Boda, however, recently held an event where money was irrelevant. In order to win a piece, bidders had to have the most pronounced physiological response upon first seeing it.
via Gizmag

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Jul 11, 2014

Smell may be the reason why cilantro tastes like soap to some people

posted by Larra Morris

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Nacho Cabellero, a 3rd year bioinformatics PhD student at Boston University, explains about the genetic variant that causes the herb cilantro to taste like soap to 10% of those who had their genetics analyzed through 23andMe, himself included.

The first time I tried cilantro I didn’t realize it; I just thought somebody had emptied a bottle of Old Spice on my pizza in an attempt to poison me. Cilantro tastes like soap to approximately 10% of the people who have had their genotype analyzed by 23andMe. The currently accepted explanation is that those of us who passionately despise cilantro were born with a genetic variant known as a single-nucleotide polymorphism (or SNP, pronounced ‘snip’)…The cilantro SNP is called rs72921001, and apparently, its genomic location lays close to a cluster of olfactory receptor genes that includes OR6A2, the gene most likely to be alerting our brain about the presence of cilantro.
via Laughing Squid

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Jul 11, 2014

Physicists rebuilding the Tesla Tower for planetary energy transmission

posted by Laura Domela

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A team of Russian physicists want to revisit Nikola Tesla’s greatest unrealized plan, update it with modern technology, and try to make his theoretical world-wide wireless power transmission system a reality. And they’re using Indiegogo to make it happen.

Tesla, born 158 years ago today, built Wardenclyffe Tower in 1902 in New York State. He planned for the massive coil at the top of the nearly 200′ tall construction to have a resonant match on the other side of the Atlantic, precisely tuned so to allow for efficient transfer of large amounts of electrical energy over great distances using principles of the ionosphere. Initially backed by J.P. Morgan, the project only lasted a few years before funds evaporated, and while the tower stood for over a decade longer, it eventually fell into disrepair and was demolished during World War I for national safety reasons.
via Make

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Image: Wardenclyffe Tower at the start of the 20th century.

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Jul 11, 2014

This abandoned warehouse is filled with live jellyfish

posted by Laura Domela

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If you find yourself wandering around Liverpool in the middle of the night, you might be surprised to happen upon a warehouse with a glowing blue door. Inside, you'll see countless live jellyfish floating peacefully in the unlikely setting. It's not a hallucination. It's art.

Artist duo Walter Hugo and Zoniel quietly opened the installation a couple of weeks ago in Liverpool's Toxteth district. Although the boarded-up windows make it look like the entire warehouse is filled with jellies, it's actually a giant tank positioned right behind a garage door with windows peering in. But the illusion is complete. It's called "The Physical Possibility of Inspiring Imagination in the Mind of Somebody Living."
via Gizmodo

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Jul 11, 2014

This flexible 18-Inch screen rolls into a tube one inch across

posted by Larra Morris

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The idea of truly flexible displays never gets boring, and now LG has created its biggest bendable screen to date: an 18-inch OLED panel that has enough flexibility to roll into a tube that's an inch across.

The prototype display uses a new polyamide film at the back instead of the usual plastic to make it thinner and, in turn, more flexible. It has a resolution of 1,200 x 810 and essentially is enough to make us dream of rollable, bendable, tablets.
via Gizmodo

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Jul 11, 2014

Superefficient campstove that charges your phone while it boils water, using only twigs

posted by Larra Morris

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The superefficient Biolite woodstove will boil water in minutes from twigs and charge your phone while it does it...

It uses an electric fan to drive combustion to unthinkable heights, allowing it to power a small thermoelectric generator that keeps the fan going (a small battery starts things off). The generator puts out enough power to run a USB charge-port that you can use to keep your phone and lights charged.

The whole thing is the size of a 1l nalgene water-bottle and weighs 2lbs, and runs on small twigs.
via Boing Boing

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Jul 11, 2014

Two-faced Sharifi-ha House changes shape on demand

posted by Larra Morris

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Based in Tehran, the Sharifi-ha House by Iranian architectural firm Nextoffice is a luxurious home by anyone's standard. The seven-floor residence boasts an elevator, swimming pool, and a sizable gym. More interestingly, it also features three rooms which resemble large wooden boxes and sit upon operable rotating platforms...

Sharifi-ha House's three operable rooms remain in a flat, or "closed" position during cold weather. However, if the sun comes out, each room can rotate 90 degrees outwards with the touch of a button to reveal a terraced area. While the house is in its "open" state, there's also more ventilation and light available to those inside.
via Gizmag

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Image: Nextoffice

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