Decision making in an enormous range of tasks involves the accumulation of evidence in support of different hypotheses. One of the enduring models of evidence accumulation is the Markov random walk (MRW) theory, which assigns a probability to each hypothesis. In an MRW model of decision making, when deciding between two hypotheses, the cumulative evidence for and against each hypothesis reaches different levels at different times, moving particle-like from state to state and only occupying a sin........ Read more »
Kvam, P., Pleskac, T., Yu, S., & Busemeyer, J. (2015) Interference effects of choice on confidence: Quantum characteristics of evidence accumulation. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 201500688. DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1500688112
Think your airline's bag fees are burdensome? Try flying after swallowing part of your luggage and strapping the rest to your legs. That's how bees do it. And depending on how a bumblebee loads herself up with nectar and pollen, her flight back to the hive might be less of a beeline than usual.
Like honeybees, bumblebees gather both nectar and pollen, bringing them back to the hive for food. They collect nectar simply by drinking it. After being slurped up a bee's long tongue, nectar is s........ Read more »
Mountcastle AM, Ravi S, & Combes SA. (2015) Nectar vs. pollen loading affects the tradeoff between flight stability and maneuverability in bumblebees. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America. PMID: 26240364
Quantum theory is one of the great achievements of 20th century science, yet physicists have struggled to find a clear boundary between our everyday world and what Albert Einstein called the “spooky” features of the quantum world, including cats that could be both alive and dead, and photons that can communicate with each other across space instantaneously.... Read more »
Qian, X., Little, B., Howell, J., & Eberly, J. (2015) Shifting the quantum-classical boundary: theory and experiment for statistically classical optical fields. Optica, 2(7), 611. DOI: 10.1364/OPTICA.2.000611
Studies find airplane crews at high altitude are exposed to potentially harmful levels of radiation from cosmic rays. But could these cosmic rays pose hazards even at sea level? In recent years, research has suggested congenital birth defects down on Earth’s surface could be caused by these “solar particle events” — spikes in cosmic rays from the sun that touch off the northern lights and sometimes hamper communications or the electric power grid.... Read more »
Overholt, A., Melott, A., & Atri, D. (2015) A link between solar events and congenital malformations: Is ionizing radiation enough to explain it?. Journal of Geophysical Research: Space Physics, 120(3), 1537-1542. DOI: 10.1002/2014JA020681
Galaxies in a cluster roughly 300 million light years from Earth could contain as much as 100 times more dark matter than visible matter, according to an Australian study. The research, published today, used powerful computer simulations to study galaxies that have fallen into the Coma Cluster, one of the largest structures in the Universe in which thousands of galaxies are bound together by gravity.... Read more »
Cameron Yozin et al. (2015) The quenching and survival of ultra-diffuse galaxies in the Coma cluster. Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society. info:/10.1093/mnras/stv1073
Research from North Carolina State University shows that lightweight composite metal foams are effective at blocking X-rays, gamma rays and neutron radiation, and are capable of absorbing the energy of high impact collisions. The finding means the metal foams hold promise for use in nuclear safety, space exploration and medical technology applications.... Read more »
Chen, S., Bourham, M., & Rabiei, A. (2015) Attenuation efficiency of X-ray and comparison to gamma ray and neutrons in composite metal foams. Radiation Physics and Chemistry. DOI: 10.1016/j.radphyschem.2015.07.003
There is little hard data bout how fracking affects health outcomes, but a new study provides a first glimpse at a correlation between increased well-drilling and inpatient rates. Read more here!... Read more »
Jemielita, T., Gerton, G., Neidell, M., Chillrud, S., Yan, B., Stute, M., Howarth, M., Saberi, P., Fausti, N., Penning, T.... (2015) Unconventional Gas and Oil Drilling Is Associated with Increased Hospital Utilization Rates. PLOS ONE, 10(7). DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0131093
It is still an open research problem to store energy generated from solar cells, but a new, all-vanadium electrochemical cell made at UT Arlington may be a solution.... Read more »
Liu, D., Zi, W., Sajjad, S., Hsu, C., Shen, Y., Wei, M., & Liu, F. (2015) Reversible Electron Storage in an All-Vanadium Photoelectrochemical Storage Cell: Synergy between Vanadium Redox and Hybrid Photocatalyst. ACS Catalysis, 5(4), 2632-2639. DOI: 10.1021/cs502024k
As much as you think your tastes are unique, psychologists say they can guess your favorite color. It's likely to be blue. And it's especially unlikely to be yellow—unless you're colorblind. Men with red-green colorblindness have preferences that are essentially opposite from everyone else's. The finding could help scientists understand why humans like what they like, and how colorblind people see the world differently.
Some researchers have claimed that the human love of blue is universa........ Read more »
Physicists at the University of Sussex have found a way of using everyday technology found in kitchen microwaves and mobile telephones to bring quantum physics closer to helping solve enormous scientific problems that the most powerful of today’s supercomputers cannot even begin to embark upon.... Read more »
Weidt, S., Randall, J., Webster, S., Standing, E., Rodriguez, A., Webb, A., Lekitsch, B., & Hensinger, W. (2015) Ground-State Cooling of a Trapped Ion Using Long-Wavelength Radiation. Physical Review Letters, 115(1). DOI: 10.1103/PhysRevLett.115.013002
Scientists have developed a new way to grow hematite as an electrode in solar water-splitting devices to greatly improve efficiency!... Read more »
Jang, J., Du, C., Ye, Y., Lin, Y., Yao, X., Thorne, J., Liu, E., McMahon, G., Zhu, J., Javey, A.... (2015) Enabling unassisted solar water splitting by iron oxide and silicon. Nature Communications, 7447. DOI: 10.1038/ncomms8447
With gravitational lensing, researchers have located population III stars in far galaxies.... Read more »
Rydberg, C., Zackrisson, E., Zitrin, A., Guaita, L., Melinder, J., Asadi, S., Gonzalez, J., Östlin, G., & Ström, T. (2015) A SEARCH FOR POPULATION III GALAXIES IN CLASH. I. SINGLY IMAGED CANDIDATES AT HIGH REDSHIFT. The Astrophysical Journal, 804(1), 13. DOI: 10.1088/0004-637X/804/1/13
A look at living with disease close at hand, using a couple different papers. Living with Risk.... Read more »
Foxman EF, Storer JA, Fitzgerald ME, Wasik BR, Hou L, Zhao H, Turner PE, Pyle AM, & Iwasaki A. (2015) Temperature-dependent innate defense against the common cold virus limits viral replication at warm temperature in mouse airway cells. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 112(3), 827-32. PMID: 25561542
Martincorena I, Roshan A, Gerstung M, Ellis P, Van Loo P, McLaren S, Wedge DC, Fullam A, Alexandrov LB, Tubio JM.... (2015) Tumor evolution. High burden and pervasive positive selection of somatic mutations in normal human skin. Science (New York, N.Y.), 348(6237), 880-6. PMID: 25999502
Cherry, J., Liu, B., Frost, J., Lemere, C., Williams, J., Olschowka, J., & O’Banion, M. (2012) Galactic Cosmic Radiation Leads to Cognitive Impairment and Increased Aβ Plaque Accumulation in a Mouse Model of Alzheimer’s Disease. PLoS ONE, 7(12). DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0053275
Organic solar cells suffer from fast electron-hole recombination, limiting efficiency, but scientists have found a cool new structure to prevent such limitations!... Read more »
Huber, R., Ferreira, A., Thompson, R., Kilbride, D., Knutson, N., Devi, L., Toso, D., Challa, J., Zhou, Z., Rubin, Y.... (2015) Long-lived photoinduced polaron formation in conjugated polyelectrolyte-fullerene assemblies. Science, 348(6241), 1340-1343. DOI: 10.1126/science.aaa6850
Moving closer to the possibility of “materials that compute” and wearing your computer on your sleeve, researchers at the University of Pittsburgh Swanson School of Engineering have designed a responsive hybrid material that is fueled by an oscillatory chemical reaction and can perform computations based on changes in the environment or movement, and potentially even respond to human vital signs. The material system is sufficiently small and flexible that it could ultimately be integrated in........ Read more »
Yashin, V., Levitan, S., & Balazs, A. (2015) Achieving synchronization with active hybrid materials: Coupling self-oscillating gels and piezoelectric films. Scientific Reports, 11577. DOI: 10.1038/srep11577
There's good news for scientists who study animals that are too small to carry a GPS monitor, or that spit ID tags back out through their arms. A setup using an off-the-shelf camera can precisely capture an animal's path in three dimensions—without anyone touching the animal.
Emmanuel de Margerie, who studies animal behavior at the University of Rennes 1 in France, says there are several reasons to seek new animal-tracking technologies. To put a GPS or other kind of tag on an animal, yo........ Read more »
de Margerie E, Simonneau M, Caudal JP, Houdelier C, & Lumineau S. (2015) 3D tracking of animals in the field, using rotational stereo videography. The Journal of experimental biology. PMID: 26056245
A description of the formation of the solar system and how we think it got to be how it is today, with a focus on Pluto and Kuiper belt.... Read more »
Thayne Currie, Carey M. Lisse, Marc J. Kuchner, Nikku Madhusudhan, Scott J. Kenyon, Christian Thalmann, Joseph Carson, & John H. Debes. (2015) Direct Imaging and Spectroscopy of a Young Extrasolar Kuiper Belt in the Nearest OB Association. Astrophysical Journal Letters. arXiv: 1505.06734v1
Konstantin Batygin, & Gregory Laughlin. (2015) Jupiter's Decisive Role in the Inner Solar System's Early Evolution. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. arXiv: 1503.06945v2
A new paper in the unconventional journal Medical Hypotheses raises concerns that MRI brain scans could be harmful.
E. Z. Meilikhov of the Moscow Institute of Physics and Technology proposes that the powerful static magnetic fields inside an MRI scanner could exert force on tiny particles of the iron-containing mineral magnetite within the brain. These nanoparticles, being magnetic, could move and rotate in the MRI's magnetic field and even be forced inside neurons, he says:
20 years ago... Read more »
Meilikhov EZ. (2015) Is magnetic resonance imaging of human brain is harmful?. Medical hypotheses. PMID: 26003831
Crystalline silicon solar cells are reaching their efficiency limit and manufacturing costs. But a new method to create black-silicon solar cells, potentially cheaper, has led to a record 22.1% efficiency. Learn about the physics behind the record here!... Read more »
Savin H, Repo P, von Gastrow G, Ortega P, Calle E, Garín M, & Alcubilla R. (2015) Black silicon solar cells with interdigitated back-contacts achieve 22.1% efficiency. Nature nanotechnology. PMID: 25984832
Magnetic superpowers are now possible by implanting a tiny magnet in your body.... Read more »
Hameed, J.; Harrison, I.; Gasson, M.N.; Warwick, K. (2010) A novel human-machine interface using subdermal magnetic implants. Cybernetic Intelligent Systems (CIS). DOI: 10.1109/UKRICIS.2010.5898141
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