Inferential models of language learning specify how perceptual maps can be divided up to be labelled with words. However, no models currently allow bilingualism. Some proposals are made as to how to achieve this.... Read more »
Au TK, & Glusman M. (1990) The principle of mutual exclusivity in word learning: to honor or not to honor?. Child development, 61(5), 1474-90. PMID: 2245739
Byers-Heinlein K, & Werker JF. (2009) Monolingual, bilingual, trilingual: infants' language experience influences the development of a word-learning heuristic. Developmental science, 12(5), 815-23. PMID: 19702772
Grassmann S, Stracke M, & Tomasello M. (2009) Two-year-olds exclude novel objects as potential referents of novel words based on pragmatics. Cognition, 112(3), 488-93. PMID: 19616205
Healey, E. and Scarabela, B. (2009) Are children willing to accept two labels for one object?. Proceedings of the Child Language Seminar. University of Reading. info:/
Copenhagen drew lots of attention to Reducing Emission from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD). Much of the interest is based upon the fact that carbon-rich tropical forests happen to hold a majority of the world’s biodiversity, so money spent on combating climate change could potentially also benefit other things we care about; namely, biodiversity.However, REDD is designed to combat climate change – in particular, by making forest protection cost-competitive with alternative land uses that destroy rather than maintain terrestrial carbon stocks – and it does not include biodiversity as an explicit goal. The forests protected by REDD are likely to be the cheapest available, on a $/ton basis, and not necessarily the most biodiversity-rich forests.A recent paper in Science examines the spatial concordance of carbon and biodiversity, and determines whether biodiversity protection can be achieved by REDD, and at what cost to theprogram’s carbon benefits.The authors applied a decision-theory framework to determine exactly how, given environmental and economic factors, the REDD funding would be allocated. The analysis accounted for forest extent and carbon content, current protected areas, business as usual deforestation rates, deforestation ceilings, and agricultural opportunity costs.The analysis showed that, for a carbon-only strategy for allocating REDD funding, the “benefits for biodiversity are low.”Alternatively, a new orientation toward protecting biodiversity resulted in four times the number of species protected. In this scenario, the spatial distribution of protected forests shifts dramatically, from almost entirely in South America to more funding directed to Southeast Asia and Africa.There is of course a implicit trade-off: a stated preference for biodiversity would necessarily shift REDD funding to more expensive land, thereby reducing the carbon benefits resulting from the (fixed) REDD investment. The strategy of protecting biodiversity can result in a significant reduction in the carbon benefits.But a more careful balancing of carbon and biodiversity outcomes can result in a better allocation (e.g., before the curve steepens like it does). The authors determine an allocation that doubles the biodiversity benefits of REDD (compared to the baseline, carbon-only allocation) while only reducing the carbon benefits by 4 to 8 percent.Venter, O., Laurance, W., Iwamura, T., Wilson, K., Fuller, R., & Possingham, H. (2009). Harnessing Carbon Payments to Protect Biodiversity Science, 326 (5958), 1368-1368 DOI: 10.1126/science.1180289... Read more »
Venter, O., Laurance, W., Iwamura, T., Wilson, K., Fuller, R., & Possingham, H. (2009) Harnessing Carbon Payments to Protect Biodiversity. Science, 326(5958), 1368-1368. DOI: 10.1126/science.1180289
A criticism on Hagen's (2008) theory of the evolution of second language acquisition. A new model offers an alternative explanation.... Read more »
L. Kirk Hagen. (2008) The Bilingual Brain: Human Evolution and Second Language Acquisition. Evolutionary Psychology, 43-63. info:/
Review of Kovacs & Mehler (2009), with some data on ABA, AAB and ABB syllable structures from different languages.... Read more »
Kovacs, A., & Mehler, J. (2009) Flexible Learning of Multiple Speech Structures in Bilingual Infants. Science, 325(5940), 611-612. DOI: 10.1126/science.1173947
The promise of perfect "20/10" vision for everybody appeared to be a real possibility in the early 2000's. 2010 is already here and your doctor cannot offer you yet supervision...... Read more »
Santamaria, Artal, Bescos. (1987) Determination of the point spread function of human eyes using a hybrid optical-digital method. J.Opt.Soc.Am.A., 1109. info:/
In a recent article in Science, Julio Mercader, of the University of Calgary, discusses his discovery of “starch granules” on surfaces of stone tools dating back to 105,000 years ago at a cave site in Mozambique. In other words, in contrast to the idea that Homo sapiens relied on a cereal-less diet of nuts, roots, [...]... Read more »
Mercader, J. (2009) Mozambican Grass Seed Consumption During the Middle Stone Age. Science, 326(5960), 1680-1683. DOI: 10.1126/science.1173966
Bacteria swim in water solution with a random movement resembling brownian motion. Imagine they while impacting randomly on a micro-gear. They will transfer some energy to the gear, but due to random movements the resultant will not provide any directed motion. However, you should remember from physics101 that a principle for the conservation of the force does NOT exist: imagine each tooth of the gear as a lever arm, and do design gears with asymmetric teeth. In this way, bacteria impacting on one tooth side, will transfer more energy than bacteria impacting on the other side. And here comes the magic: motion!
By conventional photolitography, Sokolov and colleagues from Argonne National Laboratory, report on PNAS the design of microscopic gears (6 ug mass) able to extract useful work from swimming Bacillus subtilis sworms. According to their calculations, few hundred bacteria work together in order to turn the gear at a velocity of 1-2 rpm, generating femtowatt power.
Here the concept is that brownian motion can generate directed motion (in non-equilibrium conditions). Since Middle Age, oxen, horses and other animals have been used to generate power to move mills and other machines (in non-equilibrium conditions). Bacteria, and perhaps other floating cells/molecules might provide new energy sources for new micro-machines. Applications are wide and may impact also molecular and synthetic biology. What about designing proteins with asymmetrical teeth? Merry Christmas.
Sokolov, A., Apodaca, M., Grzybowski, B., & Aranson, I. (2009). Swimming bacteria power microscopic gears Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences DOI: 10.1073/pnas.0913015107
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I recently saw a research paper discussing the lack of tools for designers hoping to make their products greener, more environmentally benign, sustainable even. The paper focused more on the likes of coming up with a green espresso machine and offered a five-step scheme for getting the green credentials booked into a the design and [...]Five-step plan for green design is a post from: Sciencebase Science Blog
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Dominique Millet, Nicolas Tchertchian, & Daniel Brissaud. (2009) How to identify the most promising areas of environmental improvement at the early stages of the design process?. Int. J. Design Engineering, 2(3), 299-319. info:/
A recent paper in Ecology Letters, “Understanding relationships among multiple ecosystem services,” addresses the relationship among multiple ecosystem services at a single site, addressing in particular one consequence of maximizing one ecosystem service: other services often decline substantially.
Despite growing interest in ecosystem services, the authors contend that much of the research literature is limited by only considering a single ecosystem service, or at most two services. By focusing on “spatial concordance among … multiple ecosystem services and biodiversity,” current research paints an unclear picture of where and to what extent concordance actually occurs.
In reality though, many services are typically at play, and the provision of each is not necessarily correlated with the others. Because there can be this “high degree of spatial variability in the costs and benefits, as well as in the optimal decision about land use conversion indicated by the net value of services provided,” the appropriate management of the ecosystem services is not adequately informed by the research.
To address these shortcomings, the authors develop a typology of relationships among ecosystem services. The framework classifies ecosystem services according to interactions among ecosystem services and the common (external) drivers affecting them.
This allows the authors to categorize a variety of documented relationships of multiple ecosystem services according to the ‘direction’ of their interactions: whether a change in one service affects another service positively or negatively. In particular, multiple services interact to varying degrees, and they may or may not share the impacts of an external human-caused driver:
[Note: each of the six sectors is distinguished by the number of relationships (e.g., the arrows) among the services and external drivers.]
The authors contend that this framework will help us manage ecosystem services: if we know there are interactions among services, for example, then addressing the external driver alone may not adequately address the provision of the desired ecosystem service. Rather, such a case would dictate that attention must be paid to the interactions and trade-offs among services, in addition to the external driver. By classifying a particular situation using this framework, managers can be more deliberate in how they manage the potential trade-offs in question.
The authors go on to identify three priorities for future research. First, integrated social-ecological approaches must replace stand-alone social or ecological data alone. Next, understanding the interactions between and among services can identify high-return management interventions; in particular, managing regulating services may also benefit provisioning and cultural services by, among other things, maintain the ecosystem’s resilience. And, third, management of ecosystem services necessarily must include attention to the resilience of the ecosystem.
As global human populations continue to grow, the intensity of crop production – so-called ‘provisioning services’ – will also increase. It is hoped that the authors’ new framework for ecosystem-service trade-offs will help to understand and ameliorate the adverse impacts on important but under-valued services.
Bennett, E., Peterson, G., & Gordon, L. (2009). Understanding relationships among multiple ecosystem services Ecology Letters, 12 (12), 1394-1404 DOI: 10.1111/j.1461-0248.2009.01387.x... Read more »
Bennett, E., Peterson, G., & Gordon, L. (2009) Understanding relationships among multiple ecosystem services. Ecology Letters, 12(12), 1394-1404. DOI: 10.1111/j.1461-0248.2009.01387.x
The Brookhaven team, has been refining techniques to use strands of artificial DNA as a highly specific kind of Velcro or glue to link up nanoparticles. Such DNA-based self-assembly holds promise for the rational design of a range of new materials for applications in molecular separation, electronics, energy conversion, and other fields. But none of these structures has had the ability to change in a programmable manner in response to molecular stimuli — until now. “Now we’re using a special type of DNA-linking device — a kind of ‘smart glue’ — that affects how the particles connect to make structures that are switchable between different configurations,” says Oleg Gang a team lead. This reliable, reversible switching could be used to regulate functional properties — for example, a material’s fluorescence and energy transfer properties — to make new materials that are responsive to changing conditions, or to alter their functions on demand.... Read more »
Maye, M., Kumara, M., Nykypanchuk, D., Sherman, W., & Gang, O. (2009) Switching binary states of nanoparticle superlattices and dimer clusters by DNA strands. Nature Nanotechnology. DOI: 10.1038/nnano.2009.378
Sequencing centers keep pumping large amounts of sequence data into the omics-sphere (will I get a New Worst omics Word Award for this?) There is no way we can annotate even a small fraction of those experimentally and indeed most annotations are automatic, done bioinformatically. Typically function is inferred by homology: if the protein sequence [...]... Read more »
Schnoes, A., Brown, S., Dodevski, I., & Babbitt, P. (2009) Annotation Error in Public Databases: Misannotation of Molecular Function in Enzyme Superfamilies. PLoS Computational Biology, 5(12). DOI: 10.1371/journal.pcbi.1000605
Some examples and some advice on scientists becoming politicians...... Read more »
Binocular adaptive optics visual simulator. (2009) Binocular adaptive optics visual simulator. Optics Letters. info:/
By 2020 seventy percent of the heart patients of the World, a study suggests, would be in India. The cause seems genetic. The gene that codes the enzyme called PON1 is defective in Indians and predisposes them to heart ailments and diabetes. Coupled with degenerating lifestyle – eating habits – leads to such a dire [...]... Read more »
Kaoui, B., Biros, G., & Misbah, C. (2009) Why Do Red Blood Cells Have Asymmetric Shapes Even in a Symmetric Flow?. Physical Review Letters, 103(18). DOI: 10.1103/PhysRevLett.103.188101
Electric vehicles reduce noise and local air pollution, such as nitrogen oxides, particulate matter and ground-level ozone, but do they simply relocate the carbon tire-tracks to fossil-fired power stations or are there benefits on the global scale?
Fundamentally, an electric engine can achieve 85 to 90% energy conversion efficiency, which contrasts starkly with the internal combustion [...]Thinking about electric vehicles is a post from: Sciencebase Science Blog
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Åsgeir Helland. (2009) Well-to-wheel CO2 analysis of electric and ICE vehicles: are global CO2 emission reductions possible?. Int. J. Global Warming, 1(4), 432-442. info:/
Harvard researchers recently released the study Hospital Computing and the Costs and Quality of Care: A National Study, which examined computerization’s cost and quality impacts at 4,000 hospitals in the U.S over a four-year period.The researchers concluded that the immense cost of installing and running hospital IT systems is greater than any expected cost savings. Much of the software being written for use in clinics is aimed at administrators, not doctors, nurses and lab workers. Additionally, as currently implemented, hospital computing might modestly improve process measures of quality but does not reduce administrative or overall costs.The researchers also found no reliable data support claims of cost savings or dramatic quality improvement from electronic medical records.The researchers did acknowledge that the modest quality advantages associated with computerization were difficult to interpret since the quality scores reflect processes of care rather than outcomes. Access to more information technology may merely improve scores without actually improving care by facilitating documentation of allowable exceptions.From the paper:"We used a variety of analytic strategies to search for evidence that computerization might be cost-saving. In cross-sectional analyses, we examined whether more computerized hospitals had lower costs or more efficient administration in any of the 5 years. We also looked for lagged effects, that is, whether cost-savings might emerge after the implementation of computerized systems. We looked for subgroups of computer applications, as well as individual applications, that might result in savings. None of these hypotheses were borne out. Even the select group of hospitals at the cutting edge of computerization showed neither cost nor efficiency advantages. Our longitudinal analysis suggests that computerization may actually increase administrative costs, at least in the near term."Himmelstein, D., Wright, A., & Woolhandler, S. (2009). Hospital Computing and the Costs and Quality of Care: A National Study The American Journal of Medicine DOI: 10.1016/j.amjmed.2009.09.004... Read more »
Himmelstein, D., Wright, A., & Woolhandler, S. (2009) Hospital Computing and the Costs and Quality of Care: A National Study. The American Journal of Medicine. DOI: 10.1016/j.amjmed.2009.09.004
Quantifying research quality is a buzz-activity in academia for the last two decades. The irony is lost in the paper work. For reasons best left out in this essay, this activity has come to stay in our academics. One such quantifying-quality measure (QQM) evolved recently is the Impact Factor (IF) of journals  that publish [...]
Related posts:Research Result Drenching and indulging in such droplets from the ocean of...
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Neylon, C., & Wu, S. (2009) Article-Level Metrics and the Evolution of Scientific Impact. PLoS Biology, 7(11). DOI: 10.1371/journal.pbio.1000242
It’s not a new topic and in fact it is one that I recently discussed in “A Silent Mass Extinction”. I also doubt that I’m treading on novel ground by incorporating spiders, centipedes, insects, invertebrates, bugs, or whatever you prefer to use as an everyday descriptive term, in my definition of wildlife. I guess to [...]... Read more »
Snaddon, J., Turner, E., & Foster, W. (2008) Children's Perceptions of Rainforest Biodiversity: Which Animals Have the Lion's Share of Environmental Awareness?. PLoS ONE, 3(7). DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0002579
Conviviality – the state of being convivial, occupied with feasting from late Latin convivialis derived from convivium banquet, from com- + vivere to live.
We’re all in this together right, feasting at the same table? Well, some people aren’t as most of us well know after two decades on the net. There are spammers, of course. [...]Post from: David Bradley's Sciencetext Tech TalkFeasting on the web’s conviviality
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Patrice Caire. (2010) How to import the concept of conviviality to web communities. Int. J. Web Based Communities, 6(1), 99-113. info:/
The two page article reflects upon the current economic crisis and the authors views on the implications for SC Management.... Read more »
MMS Sodhi, & CS Tang. (2009) Rethinking links in the supply chain. Financial Times. info:/
Today we are going back in time, to one of the seminal articles in road vulnerability that has laid the groundwork for many researchers, and has been cited by not few authors since it was first published. It is a conceptual paper that provides the basis for why road vulnerability needs to be a more important issue than it usually is considered as. It is also the first paper to develop a framework for measuring road vulnerability.... Read more »
Berdica, K. (2002) An introduction to road vulnerability: what has been done, is done and should be done. Transport Policy, 9(2), 117-127. DOI: 10.1016/S0967-070X(02)00011-2
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