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  • March 24, 2015
  • 07:00 AM
  • 50 views

A Universal Translator By Any Other Name…

by Mark E. Lasbury in The 'Scope

Star Trek wouldn’t have been possible without the universal translator. Who would want to watch a show where characters don’t understand each other – of course, that doesn’t stop people from watching political debates. The technology of a universal translator is easy, we have camera phones that will show you a foreign sign in your own language. It’s the software to decipher a previously unencountered language that’s proving tough to overcome. Are there any uni........ Read more »

Rao, R., Yadav, N., Vahia, M., Joglekar, H., Adhikari, R., & Mahadevan, I. (2009) Entropic Evidence for Linguistic Structure in the Indus Script. Science, 324(5931), 1165-1165. DOI: 10.1126/science.1170391  

Snyder, Benjamin, Regina Barzilay and Kevin Knight. (2010) A Statistical Model for Lost Language Decipherment. Proceedings of the 48th Annual Meeting of the Association for Computational Linguistics, ACL 2010. info:/

  • March 18, 2015
  • 06:43 PM
  • 76 views

How alien cell membranes could form in methane seas

by This Science is Crazy in This Science Is Crazy!

Scientist identify 'azotosomes' - short carbon chains with a nitrogen terminus native to the atmosphere of Titan which can potentially self-assemble into bilayers in liquid methane.... Read more »

  • March 17, 2015
  • 08:00 AM
  • 78 views

I See, Said The Blind Man

by Mark E. Lasbury in The 'Scope

I can’t stand it when I get dust in my eye. Can you imagine having a neural implant in your eye? Star Trek’s Geordi LaForge had implanted electrodes that, along with his visor, let him see. Visual neural prostheses are no longer a thing of science fiction, making the blind see is science fact. The only difference is that he saw in all wavelengths of the electromagnetic spectrum. But there’s no reason we can’t do that as well. ... Read more »

Jung, J., Aloni, D., Yitzhaky, Y., & Peli, E. (2014) Active confocal imaging for visual prostheses. Vision Research. DOI: 10.1016/j.visres.2014.10.023  

Nirenberg, S., & Pandarinath, C. (2012) Retinal prosthetic strategy with the capacity to restore normal vision. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 109(37), 15012-15017. DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1207035109  

Stingl, K., Bartz-Schmidt, K., Gekeler, F., Kusnyerik, A., Sachs, H., & Zrenner, E. (2013) Functional Outcome in Subretinal Electronic Implants Depends on Foveal Eccentricity. Investigative Ophthalmology , 54(12), 7658-7665. DOI: 10.1167/iovs.13-12835  

  • March 13, 2015
  • 02:20 AM
  • 109 views

How photosynthesis is inspiring solar power research

by GrrlScientist in Maniraptora

SUMMARY: To meet humanity’s growing energy demands, scientists are taking lessons from plants, which perfected the process of capturing the sun’s rays and transforming that into starch. Might scientists be able to adapt the photosynthetic process pioneered by plants and adapt it to meet human demands? ... Read more »

Barber James. (2007) Biological solar energy. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society A, 1007-1023. DOI: 10.1098/rsta.2006.1962  

Porter G. (1966) Studies of Triplet Chlorophyll by Microbeam Flash Photolysis. Proceedings of the Royal Society A: Mathematical, Physical and Engineering Sciences, 295(1440), 1-12. DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1098/rspa.1966.0222  

Porter G. (1978) The Bakerian Lecture, 1977: In Vitro Models for Photosynthesis. Proceedings of the Royal Society A: Mathematical, Physical and Engineering Sciences, 362(1710), 281-303. DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1098/rspa.1978.0134  

Cogdell R. J., P. I. Molina, & L. Cronin. (2013) The use and misuse of photosynthesis in the quest for novel methods to harness solar energy to make fuel. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society A: Mathematical, Physical and Engineering Sciences, 371(1996), 20110603-20110603. DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1098/rsta.2011.0603  

  • March 10, 2015
  • 07:00 AM
  • 86 views

Pulling Us Toward Tractor Beams

by Mark E. Lasbury in The 'Scope

Tractor beams pulling space ships are things of science fiction, but tractor beams pulling small objects on Earth are science fact. Beams usually push things away with their force, but we have learned to manipulate them so that they push things back to the source – we can do it with water, sound and even laser light.... Read more »

Shvedov, V., Davoyan, A., Hnatovsky, C., Engheta, N., & Krolikowski, W. (2014) A long-range polarization-controlled optical tractor beam. Nature Photonics, 8(11), 846-850. DOI: 10.1038/nphoton.2014.242  

Mo Li, W. H. P. Pernice, & H. X. Tang. (2009) Tunable bipolar optical interactions between guided lightwaves. Nature Photonics. arXiv: 0903.5117v1

Démoré CE, Dahl PM, Yang Z, Glynne-Jones P, Melzer A, Cochran S, MacDonald MP, & Spalding GC. (2014) Acoustic tractor beam. Physical review letters, 112(17), 174302. PMID: 24836252  

Punzmann, H., Francois, N., Xia, H., Falkovich, G., & Shats, M. (2014) Generation and reversal of surface flows by propagating waves. Nature Physics, 10(9), 658-663. DOI: 10.1038/nphys3041  

Ruffner DB, & Grier DG. (2012) Optical conveyors: a class of active tractor beams. Physical review letters, 109(16), 163903. PMID: 23215079  

  • March 3, 2015
  • 08:00 AM
  • 104 views

Star Trek Phasers, Coming To Us Sooner or Laser

by Mark E. Lasbury in The 'Scope

Can we make a Star Trek phaser? In a classic example of life imitating art, the militaries of many countries are actively pursuing such directed energy weapons. So far, we’ve developed high-energy lasers and masers, particle beams, and something that looks a lot like an aimed lightning bolt. But our versions are huge, what must be overcome to make hand-held versions?... Read more »

Shao, L., Cline, D., Ding, X., Ho, Y., Kong, Q., Xu, J., Pogorelsky, I., Yakimenko, V., & Kusche, K. (2013) Simulation prediction and experiment setup of vacuum laser acceleration at Brookhaven National Lab-Accelerator Test Facility. Nuclear Instruments and Methods in Physics Research Section A: Accelerators, Spectrometers, Detectors and Associated Equipment, 25-29. DOI: 10.1016/j.nima.2012.09.053  

Bartal, T., Foord, M., Bellei, C., Key, M., Flippo, K., Gaillard, S., Offermann, D., Patel, P., Jarrott, L., Higginson, D.... (2011) Focusing of short-pulse high-intensity laser-accelerated proton beams. Nature Physics, 8(2), 139-142. DOI: 10.1038/nphys2153  

Oxborrow, M., Breeze, J., & Alford, N. (2012) Room-temperature solid-state maser. Nature, 488(7411), 353-356. DOI: 10.1038/nature11339  

Peralta, E., Soong, K., England, R., Colby, E., Wu, Z., Montazeri, B., McGuinness, C., McNeur, J., Leedle, K., Walz, D.... (2013) Demonstration of electron acceleration in a laser-driven dielectric microstructure. Nature, 503(7474), 91-94. DOI: 10.1038/nature12664  

  • March 2, 2015
  • 11:55 PM
  • 110 views

Short history of iterated prisoner’s dilemma tournaments

by Artem Kaznatcheev in Evolutionary Games Group

Nineteen Eighty — if I had to pick the year that computational modeling invaded evolutionary game theory then that would be it. In March, 1980 — exactly thirty-five years ago — was when Robert Axelrod, a professor of political science at University of Michigan, published the results of his first tournament for iterated prisoner’s dilemma […]... Read more »

  • February 28, 2015
  • 04:42 PM
  • 164 views

Coding Responsibly Part II: Keeping a Notebook

by Geoffrey Hannigan in Prophage

In my last post I started writing about the next step a coding student can take after learning the basics. This next step is of course learning not just to code, but to code responsibly. Last time I talked about using version control to keep track of code changes as you work through a project. For this next post, I want to take the conversation further by discussing...... Read more »

Perkel, J. (2011) Coding your way out of a problem. Nature Methods, 8(7), 541-543. DOI: 10.1038/nmeth.1631  

  • February 28, 2015
  • 09:15 AM
  • 141 views

Five motivations for theoretical computer science

by Abel Molina in Evolutionary Games Group

There are some situations, perhaps lucky ones, where it is felt that an activity needs no external motivation or justification.  For the rest, it can be helpful to think of what the task at hand can be useful for. This of course doesn’t answer the larger question of what is worth doing, since it just distributes […]... Read more »

Barton, N.H., Novak, S., & Paixão, T. (2014) Diverse forms of selection in evolution and computer science. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 111(29), 10398-9. PMID: 25009183  

  • February 27, 2015
  • 11:17 AM
  • 144 views

How Deep Mind learns to win

by neuroecology in Neuroecology

About a year ago, DeepMind was bought for half a billion dollars by Google for creating software that could learn to beat video games. Over the past year, DeepMind has detailed how they did it. Let us say that you were … Continue reading →... Read more »

Mnih V, Kavukcuoglu K, Silver D, Rusu AA, Veness J, Bellemare MG, Graves A, Riedmiller M, Fidjeland AK, Ostrovski G.... (2015) Human-level control through deep reinforcement learning. Nature, 518(7540), 529-533. PMID: 25719670  

Volodymyr Mnih, Koray Kavukcuoglu, David Silver, Alex Graves, Ioannis Antonoglou, Daan Wierstra, & Martin Riedmiller. (2013) Playing Atari with Deep Reinforcement Learning. arXiv. arXiv: 1312.5602v1

  • February 24, 2015
  • 10:56 AM
  • 137 views

A Few Citizen Scientists Do Most of the Work

by Elizabeth Preston in Inkfish



Nothing turns your internet procrastination time into feelings of goodwill and teamwork like a citizen science project. You can click through a set of penguin photos or moon craters and know that your data are contributing to real science. As more citizens take part, and more researchers discover the joys of free labor, these projects are gaining popularity. But not all citizen scientists pull their weight. In fact, most do nearly nothing.

Henry Sauermann, a management professor at the G........ Read more »

Sauermann, H., & Franzoni, C. (2015) Crowd science user contribution patterns and their implications. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 112(3), 679-684. DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1408907112  

  • February 24, 2015
  • 08:00 AM
  • 130 views

Seeing Our Way to Invisibility

by Mark E. Lasbury in The 'Scope

Is it possible to hide in plain sight? Star Trek had cloaking devices, and Harry Potter and Frodo Baggins had their magic cloaks. In real life, we can make things disappear too. Cloaking devices are quickly becoming reality, and we bend light to make them work.... Read more »

Choi, J., & Howell, J. (2014) Paraxial ray optics cloaking. Optics Express, 22(24), 29465. DOI: 10.1364/OE.22.029465  

Fan, P., Chettiar, U., Cao, L., Afshinmanesh, F., Engheta, N., & Brongersma, M. (2012) An invisible metal–semiconductor photodetector. Nature Photonics, 6(6), 380-385. DOI: 10.1038/nphoton.2012.108  

  • February 23, 2015
  • 05:52 PM
  • 115 views

Merging bacteria and solar technology to make biofuel

by This Science is Crazy in This Science Is Crazy!

https://thisscienceiscrazy.wordpress.com/2015/02/23/merging-bacteria-and-solar-technology-to-make-fuel/... Read more »

Torella JP, Gagliardi CJ, Chen JS, Bediako DK, Colón B, Way JC, Silver PA, & Nocera DG. (2015) Efficient solar-to-fuels production from a hybrid microbial-water-splitting catalyst system. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America. PMID: 25675518  

  • February 20, 2015
  • 10:52 AM
  • 128 views

Video Tip of the Week: RStudio as an interface for using R

by Mary in OpenHelix

Although typically we focus on databases and algorithms in use in bioinformatics and genomics, there are some other tools that support this work that are crucial as well. The statistical software and computing tools associated with R fall into this category. Increasingly RStudio is being adopted by folks in genomics, and although we talked about R in the past, I hadn’t highlighted the RStudio interface before. But this really lowered the barrier to entry, and has changed the way to use R e........ Read more »

  • February 17, 2015
  • 07:05 AM
  • 157 views

I'll Beam Right Over

by Mark E. Lasbury in The 'Scope

Star Trek’s 50th anniversary is next year. Wouldn’t transporting a person to the ISS be a great way to celebrate? Well, there are a couple of problems to overcome, but we’re on our way. We have recently learned how to transport information and light from one place to another, without it ever existing anywhere in between! And this will help us make quantum computers that will be able to transport all the information contained in every atom of your body.... Read more »

Ma, X., Herbst, T., Scheidl, T., Wang, D., Kropatschek, S., Naylor, W., Wittmann, B., Mech, A., Kofler, J., Anisimova, E.... (2012) Quantum teleportation over 143 kilometres using active feed-forward. Nature, 489(7415), 269-273. DOI: 10.1038/nature11472  

Yokoyama, S., Ukai, R., Armstrong, S., Sornphiphatphong, C., Kaji, T., Suzuki, S., Yoshikawa, J., Yonezawa, H., Menicucci, N., & Furusawa, A. (2013) Ultra-large-scale continuous-variable cluster states multiplexed in the time domain. Nature Photonics, 7(12), 982-986. DOI: 10.1038/nphoton.2013.287  

  • February 14, 2015
  • 10:00 PM
  • 174 views

Evolutionary non-commutativity suggests novel treatment strategies

by Dan Nichol in Evolutionary Games Group

In the Autumn of 2011 I received an email from Jacob Scott, now a good friend and better mentor, who was looking for an undergraduate to code an evolutionary simulation. Jake had just arrived in Oxford to start his DPhil in applied mathematics and by chance had dined at St Anne’s College with Peter Jeavons, […]... Read more »

Tan, L., Serene, S., Chao, H.X., & Gore, J. (2011) Hidden randomness between fitness landscapes limits reverse evolution. Physical Review Letters, 106(19), 198102. PMID: 21668204  

  • February 13, 2015
  • 03:36 PM
  • 157 views

Interstellar helps physicists research spinning black holes

by Dr. Jekyll in Lunatic Laboratories

There is a saying that life imitates art and while people like to disagree with the meaning of it, sometimes art can imitate life. For instance the team responsible for the Oscar-nominated visual effects at the centre of Interstellar, have turned science fiction into science fact by providing new insights into the powerful effects of black holes.... Read more »

Oliver James, Eugenie von Tunzelmann, Paul Franklin, & Kip S. Thorne. (2015) Gravitational Lensing by Spinning Black Holes in Astrophysics, and in the Movie Interstellar. Classical and Quantum Gravity. arXiv: 1502.03808v1

  • February 10, 2015
  • 07:00 AM
  • 177 views

Sometimes Warped Thinking Is A Good Thing

by Mark E. Lasbury in The 'Scope

As Star Trek’s 50th anniversary approaches, are we getting closer to traveling at light speed? Believe it or not – yes, we are. We have begun to understand and harness the power of antimatter, and the plasma bubble-driven warp drive has moved from silly idea to serious consideration – so much so that NASA has designed a warp drive ship, the IXS Enterprise, of course.... Read more »

S. Beghella-Bartoli, P.M. Bhujbal, A. Nas. (2015) Confirmation of Santilli's detection of antimatter galaxies via a telescope with concave lens. America Journal of Modern Physics, 4(1), 34. info:/

Ganiev, Y., Gordeev, V., Krasilnikov, A., Lagutin, V., Otmennikov, V., & Panasenko, A. (2000) Aerodynamic Drag Reduction by Plasma and Hot-Gas Injection. Journal of Thermophysics and Heat Transfer, 14(1), 10-17. DOI: 10.2514/2.6504  

Ronan Keane, & Wei-Ming Zhang. (2012) Beamed Core Antimatter Propulsion: Engine Design and Optimization. J.Br.Interplanet.Soc. arXiv: 1205.2281v2

  • February 9, 2015
  • 01:30 PM
  • 157 views

Slime mould and researcher set to play piano duet

by GrrlScientist in Maniraptora

SUMMARY: A single-celled organism will perform a piano duet with a computer musician at Plymouth University on 1 March 2015. The public is invited. ... Read more »

Nakagaki Toshiyuki, Yamada Hiroyasu, & Tóth Ágota. (2000) Intelligence: Maze-solving by an amoeboid organism. Nature, 407(470). DOI: 10.1038/35035159  

Saigusa Tetsu, Toshiyuki Nakagaki, & Yoshiki Kuramoto. (2008) Amoebae Anticipate Periodic Events. Physical Review Letters, 100(1). DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1103/physrevlett.100.018101  

Miranda Eduardo R. , Adamatzky Andrew, & Jones Jeff . (2011) Sounds Synthesis with Slime Mould of Physarum polycephalum. Journal of Bionic Engineering, 107-113. arXiv: 1212.1203

  • February 8, 2015
  • 03:11 PM
  • 161 views

‘Virtual virus’ unfolds the flu on a CPU

by Dr. Jekyll in Lunatic Laboratories

The flu virus can be pretty nasty — it’s quick to evolve — which means yearly flu shots are needed and then it’s only a guess to which strain will be the most prevalent. Well new research aims to change all that, by combining experimental data from X-ray crystallography, NMR spectroscopy, cryoelectron microscopy and lipidomics (the study of cellular lipid networks), researchers have built a complete model of the outer envelope of an influenza A virion for the first time. So would that ma........ Read more »

Reddy, T., Shorthouse, D., Parton, D., Jefferys, E., Fowler, P., Chavent, M., Baaden, M., & Sansom, M. (2015) Nothing to Sneeze at: A Full-Scale Computational Model of the Human Influenza Virion. Biophysical Journal, 108(2), 31. DOI: 10.1016/j.bpj.2014.11.195  

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