Friday, March 19, 2010

Could a Pill Increase Learning Ability Post-Puberty?

ScienceDaily (Mar. 19, 2010) — It is well known that the onset of puberty marks the end of the optimal period for learning language and certain spatial skills, such as computer/video game operation. Recent work published in the journal Science by Sheryl Smith, PhD, professor of physiology and pharmacology, and colleagues at SUNY Downstate Medical Center in Brooklyn shows that a novel brain receptor, alpha4-beta-delta, emerges at puberty in the hippocampus, part of the brain that controls learning and memory.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Filming For The Hobbit Begins In July

Posted by samzenpus on Thursday March 18, @11:55AM
from the chip-the-glasses-and-crack-the-plates dept.
krou writes"Sir Ian McKellen has revealed that filming for The Hobbit and its sequel is scheduled to begin in July, and will take approximately a year to complete. Casting is now 'taking place in LA, London and New York,' and [director Guillermo] Del Torro is already 'living in Wellington, close to the Jacksons' and the studio in Miramar.' Apparently the script is still being worked on, and 'the first draft is crammed with old and new friends, again on a quest in Middle-earth.' The planned sequel to The Hobbit is to be an original story not written by Tolkien, covering the 60 years between The Hobbit, and The Lord of the Rings."

Professor Ditches Grades For XP System

Posted by samzenpus on Thursday March 18, @07:57AM
from the exam-quest dept.
schliz writes"Like in World of Warcraft, students of Indiana University's game design classes start as Level 1 avatars with 0 XP, and progress by completing quests solo, as guilds, or in 'pick up groups.' Course coordinator Lee Sheldon says students are responding with 'far greater enthusiasm,' and many specifics of game design could also be directly applied to the workforce. These included: clearly defining goals for workers; providing incremental rewards; and balancing effort and reward."

DARPA sets sights on cameras that understand

By Sean Hollister posted Mar 18th 2010 7:08AM

DARPA wants to let you all know that its plans for the robot apocalypse are still going strong. The agency's got IBM working on the brains, has an RFI out on the skin, and is handling propulsion andmotor control in-house. Next up? Eyeballs. In order to give its robots the same sort of "visual intelligence" currently limited to animals, DARPA is kicking off a new program called The Mind's Eye with a one-day scientific conference this April. The goal is a "smart camera" that can not only recognize objects, but also be able to describe what they're doing and why, allowing unmanned bots and surveillance systems to report back, or -- we're extrapolating here -- make tactical decisions of their own. To be clear, there's no funding or formal proposal requests for this project quite yet. But if the code does come to fruition, DARPA, please: make sure autoexec.bat includes a few Prime Directives.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Scientists Demonstrate Mammalian Tissue Regeneration

Posted by Soulskill on Wednesday March 17, @11:02AM
from the wolverine-explained dept.
telomerewhythere writes"A quest that began over a decade ago with a chance observation has reached a milestone: the identification of a gene that may regulate regeneration in mammals. The absence of this single gene, called p21, confers a healing potential in mice long thought to have been lost through evolution and reserved for creatures like flatworms, sponges, and some species of salamander. 'Unlike typical mammals, which heal wounds by forming a scar, these mice begin by forming a blastema, a structure associated with rapid cell growth and de-differentiation as seen in amphibians. According to the Wistar researchers, the loss of p21 causes the cells of these mice to behave more like embryonic stem cells than adult mammalian cells, and their findings provide solid evidence to link tissue regeneration to the control of cell division. "Much like a newt that has lost a limb, these mice will replace missing or damaged tissue with healthy tissue that lacks any sign of scarring," said the project's lead scientist.' Here is the academic paper for those with PNAS access."

Facebook Attracting More Visitors Than

Posted by Soulskill on Wednesday March 17, @08:54AM
from the bigger-they-are dept.
vikingpower writes"Internet research firm Hitwise just broke the news: last week, Facebook attracted 7.07 percent of the internet traffic in the USA, compared to 7.03 percent for Google. This is the first time has been out of the top spot since it surpassed MySpace in 2007, and reflects a change in the way people use internet. They tend to privilege social interaction sites above 'passive' search engines."Facebook still has a ways to go if you include Google's non-search properties, which bring the total up to 11.03% of traffic.

China To Connect Its High-Speed Rail To Europe

Posted by kdawson on Monday March 15, @07:25PM
from the time-for-several-murders dept.
MikeChino sends in this excerpt from Inhabitat:"China already has the most advanced and extensive high-speed rail lines in the world, and soon that network will be connected all the way to Europe and the UK. With initial negotiations and surveys already complete, China is now making plans to connect its HSR line through 17 other countries in Asia and Eastern Europe in order to connect to the existing infrastructure in the EU. Additional rail lines will also be built into South East Asia as well as Russia, in what will likely become the largest infrastructure project in history."They hope to get it done within 10 years, with China providing the financing in exchange for raw materials, in some cases.

Scottish Wave Energy Plans Move Forward

It's been a long time coming (2007, 2005, and 2002 respectively), but the project to harness wave energy off the Scots coast is finally coming together. Reader krou writes:"The BBC is reporting that ten sites on the seabed off Scotland in Pentland Firth and around Orkney have been leased to energy companies with the hopes of generating wave and tidal energy. 'Six sites have been allocated for wave energy developments potentially generating 600 megawatts of power and four for tidal projects, also generating 600 MW.' The leases were awarded to SSE Renewables Developments, Aquamarine Power, ScottishPower Renewables, E.ON, Pelamis Wave Power, OpenHydro Site Developments, and Marine Current Turbines. Scotland's First Minister Alex Salmond said that 'These waters have been described as the Saudi Arabia of marine power and the wave and tidal projects unveiled today — exceeding the initial 700MW target capacity — underline the rich natural resources of the waters off Scotland.'"

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Stanford develops safer lithium-sulfur batteries with four times the charge of lithium-ion cells

By Richard Lai posted Mar 14th 2010 at 7:29AM
Longer battery life is high atop our list of gadget prayers, and the brainiacs at Stanford are one step closer to making our dreams come true with a new lithium-sulfur technology. Half of this trick lies in the silicon nanowire anode that the same team developed back in 2007, whereas the new cathode consists of a similarly commodious lithium sulfide nanostructure. Compared to present lithium-ion batteries, Stanford's design is "significantly safer" and currently achieves 80 percent more capacity, but it's nowhere near commercial launch with just 40 to 50 charge cycles (Li-ion does "300 to 500") due to the compound's rapid degradation. That said, we're promised a theoretical quadruple boost in capacity as the technology matures, so until then we'll keep that hamster running in our backpack.

Your Rights Online: NY To Replace IT Vendors With State Workers

on Friday March 12, @03:29PM
Posted by Soulskill on Friday March 12, @03:29PM from the this-can-only-end-well dept.
dcblogs writes "New York state plans to replace as many as 500 IT contract workers with a new type of temporary state worker. The state estimates it can save $25,000 annually for each contracting position that is in-sourced. This is the result of a new law creating 'term appointments,' which strip away some hiring and firing rules that apply to permanent state workers. These term appointment workers are employed 'at will.' Term appointments can be up to five years and workers get state benefits. Proponents of this change said a state IT worker might earn an average of $55 an hour, including benefits, while the state pays its contractors an average of $128 an hour for workers in similar jobs."