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Science / Technology12.03.2015

All Dressed Up For Mars Nowhere To Go

200,000 brave and/or insane people have supposedly signed up for a one-way mission to Mars. But the truth about Mars One, the company behind the effort, is much weirder (and far more worrying) than anyone has previously reported.


Arts / Misc / Science26.11.2014

Isaac Asimov Asks, “How Do People Get New Ideas?”

In 1959, I worked as a scientist at Allied Research Associates in Boston. The company was an MIT spinoff that originally focused on the effects of nuclear weapons on aircraft structures. The company received a contract with the acronym GLIPAR (Guide Line Identification Program for Antimissile Research) from the Advanced Research Projects Agency to elicit the most creative approaches possible for a ballistic missile defense system. The government recognized that no matter how much was spent on improving and expanding current technology, it would remain inadequate. They wanted us and a few other contractors to think “out of the box.” When I first became involved in the project, I suggested that Isaac Asimov, who was a good friend of mine, would be an appropriate person to participate. He expressed his willingness and came to a few meetings. He eventually decided not to continue, because he did not want to have access to any secret classified information; it would limit his freedom of expression. Before he left, however, he wrote this essay on creativity as his single formal input.


Business / Internet / Science14.08.2014

A Chinese Internet Giant Starts to Dream

Dig into the history of Baidu, however, and you’ll find it has Valley roots of its own. CEO Robin Li cofounded the company in 2000 with biotech salesman Eric Xu, after a stint as an engineer at the Sunnyvale-­based search engine Infoseek. Li was armed with a patent for a way to rank sites in search listings by the number of incoming links—filed in 1997, a year before Google cofounders Sergey Brin and Larry Page patented their similar PageRank algorithm. As China’s Internet population grew, so did Baidu, enough to attract a $5 million investment in 2004 from Google itself—which later tried to buy Baidu for $1.6 billion in an attempt to head off the Chinese company’s IPO, according to Bloomberg Businessweek. Instead, Baidu went public in August 2005, and shares rocketed 354 percent the first day. Much as Google had done in the United States, Baidu quickly solidified its hold on China’s search market and used the profits to expand into a range of other online services.

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Business / Interviews / Science / Technology18.07.2014

Laboratory-grown beef: meat without the murder, but would you eat it?

Growing meat in labs could cut hunger, tackle climate change and end animal slaughter, but creator Professor Mark Post says the biggest beef will be convincing consumers.


Business / Internet / Science / Technology / Zahlen26.06.2014

2014 Internet Trends

Mary Meeker, the former Morgan Stanley analyst and current Kleiner Perkins investor, has built a personal franchise around her annual Internet trends report. She delivered her latest at the Code Conference this morning. Meeker and her team have a knack for pulling together data that speaks to both the specificity of what’s happening right now and how it fits into the larger context of the past and present. This time around, Kleiner Perkins built a site for the reports, which date back to 2001, available here.


Business / Politics / Science / Society14.06.2014

Neuro-enhancement in the military: far-fetched or an inevitable future?

Different forms of neurostimulation in humans have now been shown to boost our ability to learn and perform motor actions, to pay attention to events in the environment, to recall information in memory, and to exercise self-control. At the same time, evidence is mounting for more complex effects on cognition. For instance, stimulation of the human prefrontal cortex can enhance or inhibit our tendency to lie, improve ourability to lie successfully, and can encourage us to comply with social norms that carry a punishment for disobedience.



Lab mice fear men but not women, and that’s a big problem for science

The history of science is one chock-full of mice and men. Historically, biological and medical research has largely depended on rodents, which provide scientists with everything from cells and organs to behavioral data. That's why a new study in which researchers found that mice actually fear men, but not women, has the potential to be so disruptive. It might mean that a number of researchers have published mouse studies in which their results reflect this male-induced stress effect — and they know nothing about it. In the study, published today in Nature Methods, researchers used the "mouse grimace scale" to measure pain responses in rodents exposed to men, women, or their respective smells. Pain is a proxy for stress because stress can, to a large extent, numb pain. So when the mice were confronted with the smell of men, they experienced less pain, whereas the presence of women — or their smell, Mogil says — "did nothing at all."


Science / Wikipedia03.04.2014


The Bloop is the name given to an ultra-low-frequency and extremely powerful underwater sound detected by the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) in 1997. The sound is consistent with the noises generated by icequakes in large icebergs, or large icebergs scraping the ocean floor. The sound's source was roughly triangulated to 50°S 100°W Coordinates: 50°S 100°W (a remote point in the south Pacific Ocean west of the southern tip of South America), and the sound was detected several times by the Equatorial Pacific Ocean autonomous hydrophone array. According to the NOAA description, it "rises rapidly in frequency over about one minute and was of sufficient amplitude to be heard on multiple sensors, at a range of over 5,000 km." The NOAA's Dr. Christopher Fox did not believe its origin was man-made, such as a submarine or bomb, nor familiar geological events such as volcanoes or earthquakes. While the audio profile of Bloop does resemble that of a living creature,[2] the source was a mystery both because it was different from known sounds and because it was several times louder than the loudest recorded animal, the blue whale.


Business / Science / Technology10.01.2014

Designing the Next Wave of Computer Chips

But Moore’s Law is not dead; it is just evolving, according to more optimistic scientists and engineers. Their contention is that it will be possible to create circuits that are closer to the scale of individual molecules by using a new class of nanomaterials — metals, ceramics, polymeric or composite materials that can be organized from the “bottom up,” rather than the top down. For instance, semiconductor designers are developing chemical processes that can make it possible to “self assemble” circuits by causing the materials to form patterns of ultrathin wires on a semiconductor wafer. Combining these patterns of nanowires with conventional chip-making techniques, the scientists believe, will lead to a new class of computer chips, keeping Moore’s Law alive while reducing the cost of making chips in the future.


Philosophie / Science23.12.2013

Simulations back up theory that Universe is a hologram

A team of physicists has provided some of the clearest evidence yet that our Universe could be just one big projection. In 1997, theoretical physicist Juan Maldacena proposed1 that an audacious model of the Universe in which gravity arises from infinitesimally thin, vibrating strings could be reinterpreted in terms of well-established physics. The mathematically intricate world of strings, which exist in nine dimensions of space plus one of time, would be merely a hologram: the real action would play out in a simpler, flatter cosmos where there is no gravity.

born to die

Business / Science / Technology27.10.2013

‘Born-to-die': this device will self-destruct in 60 seconds

Electronic devices that biodegrade to order could lead to huge medical advances. And the Pentagon, through Darpa, is investing heavily in 'born-to-die' technology too…


Science / TV / Wikipedia24.10.2013

List of problems solved by MacGyver

This is a list of problems that have been solved by MacGyver. Demonstrating resourcefulness, he employs his knowledge of science, technology and outdoorsmanship to resolve what are often life or death crises. His ingenuity is normally put to the test under dire circumstances with little time or specialized resources with which to work.


Drugs / Science / Society31.07.2013

‘Crack baby’ study ends with unexpected but clear result

A crack epidemic was raging in Philadelphia in 1989 when Hallam Hurt, then chair of neonatology at Albert Einstein Medical Center on North Broad Street, began a study to evaluate the effects of in-utero cocaine exposure on babies. In maternity wards in Philadelphia and elsewhere, caregivers were seeing more mothers hooked on cheap, smokable crack cocaine. A 1989 study in Philadelphia found that nearly one in six newborns at city hospitals had mothers who tested positive for cocaine. Some social workers predicted a lost generation - kids with a host of learning and emotional deficits who would overwhelm school systems and not be able to hold a job or form meaningful relationships. The "crack baby" image became symbolic of bad mothering, and some cocaine-using mothers had their babies taken from them or, in a few cases, were arrested. The researchers consistently found no significant differences between the cocaine-exposed children and the controls. At age 4, for instance, the average IQ of the cocaine-exposed children was 79.0 and the average IQ for the nonexposed children was 81.9. Both numbers are well below the average of 90 to 109 for U.S. children in the same age group. When it came to school readiness at age 6, about 25 percent of children in each group scored in the abnormal range on tests for math and letter and word recognition. As the children grew, the researchers did many evaluations to tease out environmental factors that could be affecting their development. On the upside, they found that children being raised in a nurturing home - measured by such factors as caregiver warmth and affection and language stimulation - were doing better than kids in a less nurturing home. On the downside, they found that 81 percent of the children had seen someone arrested; 74 percent had heard gunshots; 35 percent had seen someone get shot; and 19 percent had seen a dead body outside - and the kids were only 7 years old at the time.


Politics / Science / Society / Videos17.06.2013

Why the kill decision shouldn’t belong to a robot

As a novelist, Daniel Suarez spins dystopian tales of the future. But on the TEDGlobal stage, he talks us through a real-life scenario we all need to know more about: the rise of autonomous robotic weapons of war. Advanced drones, automated weapons and AI-powered intelligence-gathering tools, he suggests, could take the decision to make war out of the hands of humans.


Politics / Science18.04.2013

Using Choice Blindness to Shift Political Attitudes and Voter Intentions

Political candidates often believe they must focus their campaign efforts on a small number of swing voters open for ideological change. Based on the wisdom of opinion polls, this might seem like a good idea. But do most voters really hold their political attitudes so firmly that they are unreceptive to persuasion? We tested this premise during the most recent general election in Sweden, in which a left- and a right-wing coalition were locked in a close race. We asked our participants to state their voter intention, and presented them with a political survey of wedge issues between the two coalitions. Using a sleight-of-hand we then altered their replies to place them in the opposite political camp, and invited them to reason about their attitudes on the manipulated issues. Finally, we summarized their survey score, and asked for their voter intention again. The results showed that no more than 22% of the manipulated replies were detected, and that a full 92% of the participants accepted and endorsed our altered political survey score. Furthermore, the final voter intention question indicated that as many as 48% (±9.2%) were willing to consider a left-right coalition shift.


Business / Science27.02.2013

The Extraordinary Science of Addictive Junk Food

Frito-Lay had a formidable research complex near Dallas, where nearly 500 chemists, psychologists and technicians conducted research [...] on questions of crunch, mouth feel and aroma for each of these items. Their tools included a $40,000 device that simulated a chewing mouth to test and perfect the chips, discovering things like the perfect break point: people like a chip that snaps with about four pounds of pressure per square inch.


Books / Business / Internet / Science / Society / Technology16.01.2013

Die Ausspionierten

Nehmen wir nur CourseSmart, den unangefochtenen Branchenführer bei Lehrbüchern und Unterrichtsmaterial in digitalisierter Form. Dieses Unternehmen, 2007 von Pearson und McGraw-Hill Education und anderen Verlagsgiganten gegründet, hat über zwanzigtausend elektronische Lehrbücher im Angebot, das sind etwa 90 Prozent aller in Nordamerika verwendeten Lehrbücher. Diese Texte können online und offline am Computer, auf Tablets oder Smartphones gelesen werden. CourseSmart verfolgt globale Ambitionen. Wie kürzlich bekanntgegeben wurde, expandiert das Unternehmen in den Nahen Osten und nach Afrika, so dass seine Produkte auch in Ländern wie Saudi-Arabien und Zimbabwe erhältlich sind. Anfang November wurde seine jüngste Innovation namens CourseSmart Analytics vorgestellt, ein Trackingsystem, mit dessen Hilfe verfolgt werden kann, wie lange sich Studenten auf jeder Seite eines elektronischen Buchs aufhalten, welche Kapitel sie überspringen, welche Passagen ihnen Mühe bereiten und so weiter. Aus all diesen Informationen wird für jeden Studenten ein „Engagement Score“ ermittelt, den Dozenten abrufen können.


Drugs / Philosophie / Science06.01.2013


[...] most experts estimate that for every 1,000 patients who undergo general anesthesia [...], one to two will experience awareness. Patients who awake hear surgeons’ small talk, the swish and stretch of organs, the suctioning of blood; they feel the probing of fingers, the yanks and tugs on innards; they smell cauterized flesh and singed hair. But because one of the first steps of surgery is to tape patients’ eyes shut, they can’t see. And because another common step is to paralyze patients to prevent muscle twitching, they have no way to alert doctors that they are awake.


Business / Crimes / Science28.09.2012

The drugs don’t work: a modern medical scandal

In any sensible world, when researchers are conducting trials on a new tablet for a drug company, for example, we'd expect universal contracts, making it clear that all researchers are obliged to publish their results, and that industry sponsors – which have a huge interest in positive results – must have no control over the data. But, despite everything we know about industry-funded research being systematically biased, this does not happen. In fact, the opposite is true: it is entirely normal for researchers and academics conducting industry-funded trials to sign contracts subjecting them to gagging clauses that forbid them to publish, discuss or analyse data from their trials without the permission of the funder.


Business / Internet / Science / Zahlen15.06.2012

What Facebook Knows

If Facebook were a country, a conceit that founder Mark Zuckerberg has entertained in public, its 900 million members would make it the third largest in the world. It would far outstrip any regime past or present in how intimately it records the lives of its citizens. Private conversations, family photos, and records of road trips, births, marriages, and deaths all stream into the company's servers and lodge there. Facebook has collected the most extensive data set ever assembled on human social behavior.


Business / Science06.06.2012

Hey, Brother, Can You Spare a Hubble? DOD: Sure! Have Two

This is the state of our military-industrial-scientific complex in miniature: The military has so much money that it has two extra telescopes better than anything civilians have; meanwhile, NASA will need eight years to find enough change in the couches at Cape Canaveral to turn these gifts into something they can use.


Celebrities / Science26.05.2012

The Urge to Sext Naked Self-Portraits Is Primal

“The desire of the man is for the woman,” Madame de Stael famously penned, “The desire of the woman is for the desire of the man.” Being the center of sexual attention is a fundamental female turn-on dramatized in women’s fantasies, female-authored erotica, and in the cross-cultural gush of sultry self-portraits. Studies have found that more than half of women’s sexual fantasies reflect the desire to be sexually irresistible. In one academic survey, 47 percent of women reported the fantasy of seeing themselves as a striptease dancer, harem girl, or other performer. Fifty percent fantasized about delighting many men.

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Celebrities / Science15.05.2012

Why Nikolas Tesla was the greatest geek who ever lived

Tesla actually worked for Edison early in his career. Edison offered him to pay the modern equivalent of a million dollars to fix the problems he was having with his DC generators and motors. Tesla fixed Edison's machines and when he asked for the money he was promised, Edison laughed him off and has this to say: "Tesla, you don't understand our American humor." Edison is a good example of a non-geek operating in a geek space.



Researchers create brain-computer interface that bypasses spinal cord injury paralysis

The researchers have created a neuroprosthesis that combines a brain-computer interface (BCI) that’s wired directly into 100 neurons in the motor cortex of the subject, and a functional electrical stimulation (FES) device that’s wired into the muscles of the subject’s arm.