Friday, November 11, 2011

New Test for Consciousness in 'Comatose' Patients

ScienceDaily (Nov. 9, 2011) — The Coma Science Group (CRCyclotron, University of Liège /Liège University Hospital), led by Dr Steven Laureys, has developed, along with its partners in London, Ontario, (Canada) and Cambridge (England), a portable test which will permit a simpler and less expensive diagnosis of 'vegetative' patients who still have consciousness, despite the fact that they do not have the means to express it.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Interesting thought

A Cognitive Teardown of Angry Birds

Posted by Unknown Lamer  

from the i-really-hate-birds dept.
Hugh Pickens writes"The 50 million individuals who have downloaded 'Angry Birds' play roughly 200 million minutes of the game a day, which translates into 1.2 billion hours a year, more than ten times the 100 million hours spent creating Wikipedia over the entire life span of the online encyclopedia. Why is this seemly simple game so massively compelling? Charles L. Mauro performs a cognitive teardown of the user experience of Angry Birds and concludes that the game is engaging, in fact addictive, due to the carefully scripted expansion of the user's mental model of the strategy component and incremental increases in problem/solution methodology. The birds are packed with clever behaviors that expand the user's mental model at just the point when game-level complexity is increased ... For example, why are tiny bananas suddenly strewn about in some play sequences and not in others? Why do the houses containing pigs shake ever so slightly at the beginning of each game play sequence? Why is the game's play space showing a cross section of underground rocks and dirt? One can spend a lot of time processing these little clues, consciously or subconsciously. 'Creating truly engaging software experiences is far more complex than one might assume, even in the simplest of computer games,' writes Mauro. 'You go Birds! Your success certainly makes others Angry and envious.'"

PSA: FEMA to test nationwide Emergency Alert System today, emphasis on 'test'

By   posted Nov 9th 2011 6:13AM

Don't freak out or anything, but at 2 PM EST today, the US government will sound a nationwide alarm. Barring a coincidence of cataclysmic proportion, however, it will only be a test. It's all part of FEMA and the FCC's Emergency Alert System (EAS), which is slated to be tried out on a nationwide level for the very first time. If, like us, you've spent a healthy portion of your life sitting in front of the TV, you're probably familiar with those monthly local alerts that tend to flash across the screen smack dab in the middle of a Saved by the Bell rerun. That's basically what's gonna happen today across the nation's television and radio networks. Some TV viewers will hear that familiar "this is a test" message during the trial, though most will simply see the word "test" run across their screens. The EAS would allow the president to disseminate information to the public in times of real emergency, which is why the government is so eager to make sure it actually works. All told, it'll last about 30 seconds, so plan your End of the World party accordingly. For more details, hit up the source links below.

Oil Executive: Military-Style 'Psy Ops' Experience Applied

Last week’s oil industry conference at the Hyatt Regency Hotel in Houston was supposed to be an industry confab just like any other — a series of panel discussions, light refreshments and an exchange of ideas.

It was a gathering of professionals to discuss “media and stakeholder relations” in the hydraulic fracturing industry — companies using the often-controversial oil and gas extraction technique known as “fracking.”

But things took an unexpected twist.

CNBC has obtained audiotapes of the event, on which one presenter can be heard recommending that his colleagues download a copy of the Army and Marine Corps counterinsurgency manual. (Click below to hear the audio.) That’s because, he said, the opposition facing the industry is an “insurgency.”

NASA Proposes Orion Spacecraft Test Flight In 2014; Agency Moves to Implement Deep Space Exploration Plan

ScienceDaily (Nov. 8, 2011) — NASA plans to add an unmanned flight test of the Orion spacecraft in early 2014 to its contract with Lockheed Martin Space Systems for the multi-purpose crew vehicle's design, development, test and evaluation. This test supports the new Space Launch System (SLS) that will take astronauts farther into space than ever before, create U.S. jobs, and provide the cornerstone for America's future human spaceflight efforts.

NASA Develops Super-Black Material That Absorbs Light Across Multiple Wavelength Bands

ScienceDaily (Nov. 8, 2011) — NASA engineers have produced a material that absorbs on average more than 99 percent of the ultraviolet, visible, infrared, and far-infrared light that hits it -- a development that promises to open new frontiers in space technology.

Researchers Create Extra-Long Electrical Arcs Using Less Energy

ScienceDaily (Nov. 8, 2011) — Researchers at the University of Canterbury, in New Zealand, have developed a new, lower-voltage method of generating extra-long, lightning-like electrical arcs.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Directed Energy Weapon Downs Mosquitos

Posted by samzenpus  

from the two-pound-hammer-and-ten-penny-nail dept.
wisebabo writes"Nathan Myhrvol demonstrated at TED a laser, built from parts scrounged from eBay, capable of shooting down not one but 50 to 100 mosquitos a second. The system is 'so precise that it can specify the species, and even the gender, of the mosquito being targeted.' Currently, for the sake of efficiency, it leaves the males alone because only females are bloodsuckers. Best of all the system could cost as little as $50. Maybe that's too expensive for use in preventing malaria in Africa but I'd buy one in a second!"We ran a story about this last year. It looks like the company has added a bit more polish, and burning mosquito footage to their marketing.

Light Barrier Repels Mosquitoes

Posted by samzenpus  

from the raise-shields dept.
kodiaktau writes"Dr. Szabolcs Marka has received one of five $1M grants from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to continue his experiments with using light beams to create mosquito barriers. This is the second grant he has received from the foundation and proves to be a deviation from the previous and more dangerous use of lasers to control mosquitoes. A video of the light barrier in action can be seen here"

NASA Studying Ways to Make 'Tractor Beams' a Reality

ScienceDaily (Nov. 3, 2011) — Tractor beams -- the ability to trap and move objects using laser light -- are the stuff of science fiction, but a team of NASA scientists has won funding to study the concept for remotely capturing planetary or atmospheric particles and delivering them to a robotic rover or orbiting spacecraft for analysis.

New sensor can read your heart from afar, but knows not your feelings

By   posted Nov 3rd 2011 5:38AM

Are you fed up with your current ECG sensor? Tired of all the mess of electroconductive gels, sticky electrodes and tangled wires? How about this: Britain's Plessey Semiconductors offers an ECG sensor that promises heart-monitoring without the hassle. We've seen similar technology before, but according to the company, the Electric Potential Integrated Circuit -- or EPIC, as it's humbly called -- can read heartbeats even through a sweater; future versions might be embedded in hospital gurneys for constant, unobtrusive monitoring. Like an extremely sensitive voltmeter, it detects tiny changes in electric fields, which means it could also be used for Kinect-style motion interfaces. The company even imagines a future system where firefighters can use the EPIC to find humans in a smoke-filled room. If you're thinking, "My, that sounds just like my Deus Ex dreams" -- hey, we're right there with you.