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Facebook’s new AI research is a real eye-opener

There are plenty of ways to manipulate photos to make you look better, remove red eye or lens flare, and so on. But so far the blink has proven a tenacious opponent of good snapshots. That may change with research from Facebook that replaces closed eyes with open ones in a remarkably convincing manner.

It’s far from the only example of intelligent “in-painting,” as the technique is called when a program fills in a space with what it thinks belongs there. Adobe in particular has made good use of it with its “context-aware fill,” allowing users to seamlessly replace undesired features, for example a protruding branch or a cloud, with a pretty good guess at what would be there if it weren’t.

But some features are beyond the tools’ capacity to replace, one of which is eyes. Their detailed and highly variable nature make it particularly difficult for a system to change or create them realistically.

Facebook, which probably has more pictures of people blinking than any other entity in history, decided to take a crack at this problem.

It does so with a Generative Adversarial Network, essentially a machine learning system that tries to fool itself into thinking its creations are real. In a GAN, one part of the system learns to recognize, say, faces, and another part of the system repeatedly creates images that, based on feedback from the recognition part, gradually grow in realism.

From left to right: “Exemplar” images, source images, Photoshop’s eye-opening algorithm, and Facebook’s method.

In this case the network is trained to both recognize and replicate convincing open eyes. This could be done already, but as you can see in the examples at right, existing methods left something to be desired. They seem to paste in the eyes of the people without much consideration for consistency with the rest of the image.

Machines are naive that way: they have no intuitive understanding that opening one’s eyes does not also change the color of the skin around them. (For that matter, they have no intuitive understanding of eyes, color, or anything at all.)

What Facebook’s researchers did was to include “exemplar” data showing the target person with their eyes open, from which the GAN learns not just what eyes should go on the person, but how the eyes of this particular person are shaped, colored, and so on.

The results are quite realistic: there’s no color mismatch or obvious stitching because the recognition part of the network knows that that’s not how the person looks.

In testing, people mistook the fake eyes-opened photos for real ones, or said they couldn’t be sure which was which, more than half the time. And unless I knew a photo was definitely tampered with, I probably wouldn’t notice if I was scrolling past it in my newsfeed. Gandhi looks a little weird, though.

It still fails in some situations, creating weird artifacts if a person’s eye is partially covered by a lock of hair, or sometimes failing to recreate the color correctly. But those are fixable problems.

You can imagine the usefulness of an automatic eye-opening utility on Facebook that checks a person’s other photos and uses them as reference to replace a blink in the latest one. It would be a little creepy, but that’s pretty standard for Facebook, and at least it might save a group photo or two.

Sharks apparently don’t mind jazz music

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Turns out you can train a shark to like jazz.

Researchers at Australia’s Macquarie University have shown that the animal has a more discerning taste in music than you’d anticipate.

The study, published in Animal Cognition, shows that baby Port Jackson sharks can learn to associate music with food. If played jazz, the sharks would swim over to a feeding station to receive their delicious reward.

“Sound is really important for aquatic animals, it travels well under water and fish use it to find food, hiding places and even to communicate,” Catarina Vila-Pouca, the study’s lead author, said in a statement online. Read more…

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Why Australia is spending millions to make GPS signals more accurate

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Maybe Australians haven’t noticed, but the little blue marker showing where you are in Google Maps, or even Apple Maps, isn’t as accurate as it could be.

It’s why Australia is spending over A$260 million (US$193 million) to invest in satellite infrastructure and technology to improve GPS accuracy, as part of the Federal Government’s budget announcement.

As it stands, Australians get uncorrected GPS signals that are accurate to five metres (5.4 yards).

To improve that, the majority of the funds will be invested in a Satellite Based Augmentation System (SBAS), which aims to correct GPS accuracy to around a metre (1.09 yards), across Australia and its maritime zone. Read more…

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Preventing Dog Attacks: Myths And Facts You Should Know

There are ninety million dogs kept as pets in the United States. One of the most common breeds is the pit bull.

Considered as vicious, this dog breed is chronically misunderstood.

Pit bulls were bred in the 19th century from a mix of two breeds: the Old English Bulldog and the Old English Terrier. With their strength and agility, they were brought to America before the Civil War. Here, they became known as the American Pit Bull Terrier.

Pit bulls have three distinct types: the American Staffordshire Terrier, the Staffordshire Bull Terrier, and the American Pit Bull Terrier. There are also countless look-a-like breeds, which contribute to the confusion about pit bulls in general.

The American Temperament Test Society (ATTS) assesses the aggression of dog breeds in a series of simulated encounters that range from passive to threatening. Dogs who pass this test are able to safely interact with humans and their environment.

When testing pit bull breeds, ATTS found a pass rate of over 80% while the Staffordshire Bull Terrier passing 91% at the time.

If Pit Bulls Aren’t Aggressive, Why The Bad Reputation?

pitbulls are not aggressive

Pit bulls are often blamed for cases of serious dog attacks. In reality, the breed is responsible for only 69% of the cases.

In 2007, two dog attacks occurred only days apart but received wildly different coverage.

On August 18th, a Labrador attacked a 70-year-old man. He ended up hospitalized and in critical condition. On August 21st, two pit bulls attacked a 56-year-old woman in her home.

The lab attack was in a single article in a local paper. The pit bull attack, on the other hand, was on the national and international news. It was in over 236 articles and television news networks.

Labeling Pit Bulls Does More Harm Than Good

labeling pit bulls

Every year, 3.3 million dogs enter shelters and 670,000 are euthanized.

A 2014 study of potential adopters found that dogs labeled as “Pit Bull” remained in the shelter more than 27 days longer than look-a-like dogs who were labeled differently. A whopping 50% of people say they would never consider adopting a pit bull.

The harm caused by labeling pit bulls as vicious extends beyond potential adopters. When asked if they considered pit bulls safe enough to live in residential neighborhoods, 40% of people said no, while only 27% thought all medium-sized dogs were somewhat or very dangerous.

Breed Specific Legislation

Due to pit bulls’ reputation for aggression, they are often the target of breed specific legislation (BSL). BSL bans or regulates specific breeds, including breed mixes.

Only 27% of “dog experts” can visually identify dog breeds without error. This is why BSL applies to dogs that resemble a pit bull or other banned breed.

Supporters of BSL say that it prevents dogs attacks on humans and other animals. Critics condemn the law as discriminatory, costly, and ineffective.

Many argue that BSL punishes dogs instead of the owners who failed to properly train and control them. National organizations opposed to BSL range from the Humane Society of the United States to the Center Centers for Disease Control. A few states have begun to prohibit municipal BSL, too.

Preventing Dog Attacks

According to the ATTS standards, Chihuahuas and Dachshunds are the most unruly breeds – pit bulls don’t even broach the top five. However, the breed is not a major factor contributor to dog attacks.

Researchers comparing factors across a 10-year range of dog attacks found that the greatest predictor of an attack was having no able-bodied person present to intervene. Attacks are also more likely to happen if the victim and the dog are strangers. Dogs that lacked positive socialization with humans and those that aren’t neutered can be aggressive, too.

These factors have nothing to do with breed and everything to do with proper training.

In general, there are three important components of training to consider:

  1. Learn to read dogs’ body language and spot the warning signs that a dog may attack
  2. Engage your dog in obedience training to learn basic commands, like “come” and “stay”. These commands will help redirect the dog in any situation.
  3. Every dog needs to be exposed to different people and situations so they can learn to feel comfortable

Finally, to learn more about why pit bulls aren’t a security threat, check out this infographic.

Pit Bulls and Public Health
Source: Online Masters in Public Health

The post Preventing Dog Attacks: Myths And Facts You Should Know appeared first on Dumb Little Man.

The world reacts to the death of the much-loved Stephen Hawking

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It may be a cliché to describe someone as an inspiration, but there is no title more befitting for the late Stephen Hawking.

The British theoretical physicist died early Wednesday morning aged 76, after a lifetime awing scientists and the public alike with his brilliance, wit, and his encouragement to investigate the universe around us.

One of the world’s most beloved scientists and a prolific authors, Hawking leaves the world with his pioneering work on black holes and relativity, as well as quintessential science books like his bestseller, A Brief History of Time.  Read more…

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Elon Musk drops epic Falcon Heavy launch trailers made by ‘Westworld’ co-creator

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Attendees of the the Westworld panel at SXSW got a surprise visit from Elon Musk.

The Tesla and SpaceX CEO used the panel to not only inspire a new generation on space exploration, but also drop two epic highlight reels of the Falcon Heavy rocket launch that carried Starman riding in a Tesla Roadster into deep space.

“Life cannot just be about solving one miserable problem after another,” Musk said. “That cannot be the only thing. There need to be things that inspire you, that make you glad to wake up in the morning and be part of humanity.” Read more…

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Turn your smartphone camera into a microscope with this 3D-printed accessory

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OK, so you can’t bring a microscope everywhere with you.

But you can certainly take this 3D-printed version, designed to clip onto your smartphone and work with its camera.

The device was developed by researchers at the ARC Centre of Excellence for Nanoscale BioPhotonics (CNBP) at Australia’s RMIT University, and is the subject of a paper in Scientific Reports.

Requiring no external power or lighting source, the smartphone microscope is slated to be a handy tool for conducting fieldwork in remote areas, especially when bringing a larger microscope is impractical or unavailable. Read more…

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Elon Musk announces an early February launch plan for Falcon Heavy

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Elon Musk’s “week or so” until the Falcon Heavy launch is now looking like it’ll be closer to two weeks.

The SpaceX founder confirmed on Twitter that he’s “aiming” to have a Feb. 6 launch for the private aerospace company’s largest rocket to date. It will lift off from the Apollo launchpad 39A at Cape Kennedy, Musk tweeted.

“Easy viewing from the public causeway.”

Aiming for first flight of Falcon Heavy on Feb 6 from Apollo launchpad 39A at Cape Kennedy. Easy viewing from the public causeway.

— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) January 27, 2018 Read more…

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This new species of brittle star lived 435 million years ago

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Scientists say the fossilized remains of a brittle star that lived 435 million years ago belong to a new species. 

The fossil was named Crepidosoma doyleii, after the paleontologist who discovered it. Eamon Doyle was a Ph.D. student when he discovered the remains of the thumbnail-sized creature in the late 1980s, embedded in a layer of fossils on a hillside in the Maam Valley in Ireland. 

Though this species of brittle star (which are closely related to starfish) first developed nearly half a billion years ago, its modern day descendants are remarkably similar.  

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This chatbot wants to cut through the noise on climate science

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Noise and misinformation, especially on climate, has long been a problem on social media.

To counter this, Australian not-for-profit the Climate Council has created a Facebook Messenger chatbot to inform people about climate science.

Launched on its Facebook page last week, it’s an effort to connect with younger people who are interested in issues like climate change, but aren’t the most engaged with the organisation — largely due to broader information overload.

“Young people are saturated on social media because they’re the most active on it, we know that they care and that they’ve got the thirst for information,” Nelli Huié, digital manager at the Climate Council, explained. Read more…

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SpaceX caps a record year with 18th successful launch of 2017

 SpaceX has completed its 18th launch in 2017, marking a record year for the private space company. It’s the most rockets SpaceX has launched in a single year, beating its previous best by ten missions. The launch today was for client Iridium, delivering 10 satellites to low Earth orbit for its Iridium NEXT communications constellation. This is the fourth such mission that SpaceX has… Read More

Oh nothing, just ‘spider lightning’ dancing across a stormy sky in Australia

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“Spider lightning”: It’s a thing.

An especially hard weather phenomenon to catch on film but one savvy videographer managed to capture it illuminating the sky in South Australia.

During an electrical storm illuminating the seaside suburb of Glenelg outside of Adelaide, local man Caleb Travis shot the stunning lightning on Monday night.

What’s spider lightning? It occurs when lightning bolts branch out and creep along the underside of stratiform clouds.

Seriously, if there’s an indication wizards are battling in our atmosphere, this could be it. Read more…

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Watch the sixth annual Breakthrough Prize awards live right here!

 As we head into awards season, one of the first shows to lead the pack is all about science. The Breakthrough Prize, a cumulative $22 million in awards that go to superstars in the fields of physics, life sciences, and mathematics, is going into its sixth year. The show was founded by Yuri and Julia Milner, Sergey Brin, Anne Wojcicki, Mark Zuckerberg and Priscilla Chan, Jack Ma and Cathy… Read More

Tencent CEO joins Breakthrough Prize as founding sponsor

 Tencent founder and CEO Ma Huateng (Pony Ma) is joining the Breakthrough Prize, sometimes referred to as “the Oscars of Science,” as a founding sponsor. He joins the likes of co-sponsors Sergey Brin of Google, Yuri Milner of DST Global, Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook, Anne Wojcicki of 23andMe and others. “Fundamental science is the bedrock of technological advancement,”… Read More

6 Science-Backed Tips On How To Be More Successful In Life

Balancing your work responsibilities and personal life commitments is never easy.

Being in an active relationship can put you way behind your professional objective. Focusing intensely on your goals at work can prevent you from keeping an eye on your lifestyle and eating habits. In the end, you may need to sacrifice one for the other.

Fortunately, it doesn’t always have to be that way. There are things you can do to make sure no areas of your life suffer as you work on achieving your goals.

And to help you with that, here are some highly-effective tips on how to be more successful in life.

Set A Deadline For Each Task

set deadline

One amazing tactic to organize your workload is to set a time limit. By doing so, you will be forced to refrain from indulging in frivolous activities and getting involved in unimportant tasks. You will save more time and have a better day at work with all of your ducks in a row.

According to a study conducted back in 2002, setting deadlines can increase self-motivation and ultimately help individuals to prosper at double rates. The researchers state that self-imposed deadlines work more efficiently than externally imposed ones.

What happens is, when we know that we have endless time to complete a job, we begin to indulge in vain activities. We put other things first, delaying the job in the end.

By putting a tap on your workload, you’ll be able to invest your utmost attention and dedication to finish the job successfully and on time.

Reward for Progress

No matter how old you become, you will always need that little spark of appreciation and reward to be motivated.

After setting deadlines for your tasks, you should also think of something to reward yourself. The idea of receiving a reward increases the level of dopamine in your brain.

According to a recent study, people who are more active and enthusiastic have shown to have more dopamine level than those who are always lazy and tired. By rewarding yourself, you remain grounded and feel encouraged to accomplish your goals. Moreover, it makes you feel completely satisfied from the inside.

Celebrate The Tiny Wins

Frank Gruber stated, “This is a journey — a hard one — and the only way to make it sustainable and bearable is if you actually acknowledge your small successes along the way.”.

One principle to follow for a successful life is to love yourself.

In your journey to being successful, you need to set big goals and targets. Unfortunately, those big goals require time and waiting for them to happen can ultimately demotivate you.

So, instead of focusing on those big goals, take some time out and set your eyes on the little achievements you made by the end of the day or week. Cherish those little achievements and you’ll surely stay motivated.

See Also: The Surprising Success Strategy That Will Empower Your Next Steps

Do Not Consume Negative News Before Going To Work

A study at the University of Pennsylvania suggested that you should stop watching negative news at the start of your day. By viewing negative news for only three minutes, you are more likely to spend an unhappy day. Keep in mind that happiness is related to productivity.

Therefore, being exposed to the negative news before 10 o’clock in the morning can build up a mindset that you are unable to take control of things. This will ultimately affect your level of productivity. It will influence your ability to organize your workload.

Instead of focusing on the negative, try to watch some solution-driven news that can motivate and freshen up your mind. Stay away from depression-inducing news and keep your head up to show the world who you truly are.

Meditate

meditate daily

Experiencing excessive workload stress creates tiny clots in our brain. This affects our nerves and blood circulation, resulting in a severe headache and laziness.

To keep our brain functioning well, you can try mindfulness meditation. Meditation rejuvenates the body from head to toe. It prevents the body from cognitive loss, controls high blood pressure, and reduces the intensity of pain by up to 40 percent.

By meditating properly, you’ll feel positive changes within your mind and body. Practices, like inhaling pure oxygen and being under the sun, can recharge your body, giving it an enthusiastic flame of energy flow. According to researchers, even the simple act of opening a window can lift one’s mood.

Therefore, to perform better, you need to recharge yourself, meditate, and get closer to nature.

See Also: Questions and Answers: A Beginners Guide to Meditation

Act Like A Pro

If you think you are investing enough efforts into your professional life but your outcomes are still minimal, then analyze the things you are doing wrong just for a second. Upon focusing, you will realize that the real problem lies in your attitude towards your work.

You are probably acting amateur. This mindset is stopping you from stepping out of your comfort zone. You take every suggestion as criticism and you never try to move ahead and learn new skills and abilities.

One tip on how to be successful is to act professionally.

Being a pro means putting your utmost dedication and surpassing every obstacle that comes along your way. You need to face your challenges as a pro learns from his mistakes and never backs down.

Conclusion

At present, the world has transformed into a highly competitive platform where every other person aims to take the superior spot. In such times, you have to work like a pro if you want to be successful. Search for new opportunities, learn from experiences, and practice new technologies. Keep pace with the ever-growing advancements and discoveries and you’ll be well on your way to the top.

The post 6 Science-Backed Tips On How To Be More Successful In Life appeared first on Dumb Little Man.

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Terrifying Hurricane Maria videos shared from Puerto Rico and Dominica

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As Hurricane Maria continues to rampage through the Caribbean, images of the destruction are starting to surface. 

The island of Dominica was completely devastated by the storm. Puerto Rico was hit by “catastrophic” flooding, as the National Weather Service put it, and its capital could be without power for four to six months. 

When Maria made landfall in Puerto Rico on Wednesday, it was a Category 4 storm with winds up to 155 miles per hour. As you can see, it was a terrifying event to live through. 

My moms friend in Puerto Rico sent us this video she took from her apartment #hurricanemaria #maria #MariaPR #pr pic.twitter.com/TzOvmfrTIC

— TheHungryCondor (@TheHungryCondor) September 20, 2017 Read more…

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Why some people can't handle coffee

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While java love is widespread, some people can’t handle the jittery effects of coffee. Why is it that some people can chug coffee like water while others can’t have a single sip without feeling like their hearts are going to pop out of their chest? Dr. Marilyn Cornelis from Northwestern University explains the genetic reason behind this phenomena. Read more…

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Don't fall for these fake Facebook videos of Hurricane Irma, like millions of other people did

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More breaking news, and another score of fake videos and Facebook Lives, attracting tens of millions of views. 

The first example is this 30-second video which falsely claims to depict Hurricane Irma devastating the islands of Antigua and Barbuda in the Caribbean. 

The video, which was shared on Facebook by Hendry Moya Duran, attracted more than 27 million views and more than 789,000 shares. 

However, the footage he used is at least more than one year old, and it allegedly shows a tornado that hit Dolores, Uruguay, in May 2016, according to several comments on this YouTube video from that time.  Read more…

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Camera lenses literally melted during the solar eclipse

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Will people ever learn?

A camera rental company found its cameras and lenses severely damaged after people took them to shoot the solar eclipse last month.

This, despite warning users not to point their cameras directly at the sun.

Online rental shop LensRentals told renters that solar filters had to be attached to lenses to protect them and camera sensors during the eclipse.

Naturally, some people didn’t listen.

Here are the results, from burnt shutter systems:

Image: lens rentals

To damaged sensors:

Image: lens rentals

This Nikon D500 saw its mirror melt: Read more…

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How the Voyager Golden Record happened (and no, The Beatles actually weren't on the wishlist)

Today marks the 40th anniversary of the launch of Voyager 2, the first of the two spacecraft that carried the Golden Record on a grand tour of the solar system and into the mysteries of interstellar space. Science journalist Timothy Ferris produced this enchanting phonograph record that tells a story of our planet expressed in sounds, images, and science for any extraterrestrial intelligence that may encounter it. Tim wrote a beautiful essay telling the story behind the Voyager record for the Voyager Golden Record vinyl box set that I co-produced. And today you can read an adaptation of it over at The New Yorker. Happy anniversary to Voyager 2 and the Golden Record! From the New Yorker:

I’m often asked whether we quarreled over the selections. We didn’t, really; it was all quite civil. With a world full of music to choose from, there was little reason to protest if one wonderful track was replaced by another wonderful track. I recall championing Blind Willie Johnson’s “Dark Was the Night,” which, if memory serves, everyone liked from the outset. Ann stumped for Chuck Berry’s “Johnny B. Goode,” a somewhat harder sell, in that Carl, at first listening, called it “awful.” But Carl soon came around on that one, going so far as to politely remind Lomax, who derided Berry’s music as “adolescent,” that Earth is home to many adolescents. Rumors to the contrary, we did not strive to include the Beatles’ “Here Comes the Sun,” only to be disappointed when we couldn’t clear the rights. It’s not the Beatles’ strongest work, and the witticism of the title, if charming in the short run, seemed unlikely to remain funny for a billion years.

Ann’s sequence of natural sounds was organized chronologically, as an audio history of our planet, and compressed logarithmically so that the human story wouldn’t be limited to a little beep at the end. We mixed it on a thirty-two-track analog tape recorder the size of a steamer trunk, a process so involved that Jimmy (Iovine) jokingly accused me of being “one of those guys who has to use every piece of equipment in the studio.” With computerized boards still in the offing, the sequence’s dozens of tracks had to be mixed manually. Four of us huddled over the board like battlefield surgeons, struggling to keep our arms from getting tangled as we rode the faders by hand and got it done on the fly.

How the Voyager Golden Record Was Made” by Timothy Ferris (The New Yorker)

Pre-order the Voyager Golden Record on vinyl or CD (Ozma Records)

Listen to excerpts from the Voyager Golden Record sourced from the original master tapes:

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Today is the anniversary of the first woman in space

On June 16, 1963, Soviet cosmonaut Valentina Tereshkova became the first woman in space. She orbited the Earth 48 times over a period of three days. Inspired by Yuri Gagarin who in 1961 became the first person in space, Tereshkova applied to the Russian space program and was accepted based on her extensive background as a skydiver. It wasn’t until 40 years later that Tereshkova’s nearly tragic experience in orbit was made public.

An error in the spacecraft’s automatic navigation software caused the ship to move away from Earth. Tereshkova noticed this and Soviet scientists quickly developed a new landing algorithm. Tereshkova landed safely but received a bruise on her face.

She landed in the Altay region near today’s Kazakhstan-Mongolia-China border. Villagers helped Tereshkova out of her spacesuit and asked her to join them for dinner. She accepted, and was later reprimanded for violating the rules and not undergoing medical tests first.

Valentina Tereshkova: First Woman in Space (Space.com)

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Project recreates cities in rich 3D from images harvested online

 People are taking photos and videos all over major cities, all the time, from every angle. Theoretically, with enough of them, you could map every street and building — wait, did I say theoretically? I meant in practice, as the VarCity project has demonstrated with Zurich, Switzerland. Read More

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Trump might pick a non-scientist to be USDA's 'chief scientist'

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In Trump’s world, you don’t have to be a scientist to land a high-level science job.

President Donald Trump has reportedly picked Sam Clovis — a conservative talk show radio host and climate change denier — to be the “chief scientist” of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s research division. If appointed, he’ll oversee key scientific work on everything from nutrition to the effects of rising temperatures on food supplies.

The top position is supposed to be filled by “distinguished scientists with specialized or significant experience in agricultural research, education, and economics,” according to the 2008 Farm Bill.  Read more…

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Data Collective and SynBioBeta founder John Cumbers launch a seed stage biotech fund

 Data Collective (DCVC) is bringing Dr. John Cumbers, the founder of synthetic biology platform SynBioBeta and setting him up with his own biotech fund for pre-seed and seed stage startups, aptly called the DCVC SynBioBeta Fund. DCVC co-managing partner Matt Ocko, who spoke to TechCrunch about the new development didn’t have an exact number set aside for the new fund but did mention… Read More

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OceanGate plans an expedition to 3D scan the Titanic

 Seattle-based OceanGate Inc. this week announced plans for a manned expedition to study the R.M.S. Titanic, the world’s most famous shipwreck. Fewer than 200 people have ever visited the Titanic since it sank in April 1912 according to historians’ estimates. To put that in perspective, more people have scaled the summit of Mt. Everest, or flown in space. The new expedition,… Read More

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CRISPR pioneer Jennifer Doudna shines hope on the future of genetic modification at SXSW

 Jennifer Doudna, co-inventor of CRISPR Cas9 technology, or the ability to program genes using a special enzyme, spoke about the promises of this technology on stage at SXSW this afternoon. In a keynote today, Doudna noted that while this technology is very young (less than five years old), “it’s been deployed very rapidly for existing applications,” she said. For example,… Read More

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With $37 million in funding, health startup Virta aims to cure type 2 diabetes by watching what you eat

 Type 2 diabetes is a disease affecting 415 million people globally and Virta, a Silicon Valley-based health startup, believes it has something unique to reverse it – remote monitoring of everything you eat.
Most people with the disease end up having to constantly monitor their blood sugar with the prick of a needle and diabetic pills or can “cure” it with bariatric surgery. Read More

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Brain activity recorded as much as 10 minutes after death

University of Western Ontario researchers examined the electrical activity in several patients before and after their life support was turned off and they were declared clinically dead, when the heart had stopped beating. In one patient, brain waves, in the form of single delta wave bursts, continued for minutes after death.

“It is difficult to posit a physiological basis for this EEG activity given that it occurs after a prolonged loss of circulation,” the researchers write in their scientific paper. “These waveform bursts could, therefore, be artefactual in nature, although an artefactual source could not be identified.”

This kind of research in the niche field of necroneuroscience is relevant to ethical discussions around organ donation and how the moment of death is defined.

(Neuroskeptic via Daily Grail)

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Jeff Bezos wants Blue Origin to be the Amazon of the Moon

Fourth successful launch of the same New Shepard vehicle during test flights / Image courtesy of Blue Origin Not one to be left out, Amazon and Blue Origin founder Jeff Bezos is also making plans to go to the Moon, just like fellow space magnate Elon Musk. Bezos’ plan, uncovered by The Washington Post via a draft proposal presented to NASA and Trump’s administration, outlines Blue Origin’s plan to create a cargo spacecraft destined for the Moon that would help it ferry supplies… Read More

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The starfish have spoken, and they hate your stupid microchips

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How cool are starfish? They have no brain, they can regenerate, and when you flip them upside down they’re like, “Screw this, I’m flippin’ myself back over!” But turns out they also really, really like their privacy. 

A recent study in the journal of the National Centre for Biotechnology Information found that starfish have a pretty cool way to avoid microchip tags.

When Danish biology students Frederik Christensen and Trine Olson tried implanting the asterias rubens (common starfish) with microchips, they found the creatures would simply draw them through their bodies internally before “spitting” them out from their arms. Outrageous.  Read more…

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NASA released a ton of software for free and here’s some you should try

software-2017-slider NASA has just published its 2017-2018 software catalog, which lists the many apps, code libraries, and tools that pretty much anyone can download and use. Of course, most of it is pretty closely tied to… you know, launching spacecraft and stuff, which most people don’t do. But here are a few items that might prove useful to tinkers and curious lay people alike. Read More

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NASA released a ton of software for free and here’s some you should try

software-2017-slider NASA has just published its 2017-2018 software catalog, which lists the many apps, code libraries, and tools that pretty much anyone can download and use. Of course, most of it is pretty closely tied to… you know, launching spacecraft and stuff, which most people don’t do. But here are a few items that might prove useful to tinkers and curious lay people alike. Read More

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Is My Cat Going To Drive Me Crazy?

Studies have previously suggested a link between cat ownership and the development of neurological diseases such as schizophrenia. However, a new study published in Psychological Medicine by Francesca Solmi and colleagues at University College London failed to find such a link.

Why would researchers suspect such a link in the first place? This is because of a single-celled parasite called Toxoplasma gondii. Toxoplasma can infect any warm-blooded vertebrate, including people, but it only reproduces in the gut of feline species. When a cat becomes infected with the parasite, it excretes infectious oocysts into the litterbox or elsewhere in the environment for one to two weeks. A new host can acquire the infection through ingestion or inhalation of these oocysts.

Toxoplasma presents a clear danger to two primary groups: immune-compromised patients and unborn children. The latter is why doctors advise pregnant women to avoid changing the litterbox, to wear gloves and a mask while gardening, and to wash fruits and vegetables before eating. Importantly, Toxoplasma can also infect people who consume undercooked meat since the parasite can encyst in muscle tissues of infected animals.

wash fruits and vegetables

See Also: The Importance of Personal Hygiene for Healthy Living

Given these multiple routes of parasite transmission, it is no wonder that Toxoplasma has spread widely around the globe with an estimated one-third of the human population carrying this parasite. Despite its prevalence, most people have not heard of Toxoplasma because it rarely causes symptomatic disease.

However, reports have surfaced over the last fifteen years that Toxoplasma infection may be producing neurological changes in people. Taking up residence as tissue cysts in the brain, heart, and skeletal muscle, the parasites are never eradicated from the body. Given the parasite’s predilection for the brain, it is tempting to speculate that neurological problems may ensue.

Well-documented studies do indeed show that Toxoplasma causes mice and rats to lose their fear of cat urine. That seems like an oddly specific behavioral change until you recall that the cat is where the parasite completes the sexual stage of its life cycle.

Since 2001, Robert Yolken and E. Fuller Torrey at Johns Hopkins have published many correlative studies showing a link between Toxoplasma infection and schizophrenia. Other neurological problems have also been linked to Toxoplasma infection, as have personality changes.

cat ownership

Since cats are the definitive host and one means of parasite transmission, investigators have been trying to find a link between cat ownership and the development of psychotic symptoms. Yolken and Torrey have published studies suggesting a correlation, but the latest study by Solmi and colleagues contradicts these data.

There are important differences in study design that may account for the discrepancy. The newer study by Solmi’s group used a much larger sample size (nearly 5,000 individuals) than previous studies, and accounted for several confounding variables that could have been misconstrued as a link between cat ownership and neurological disorders. The current study also followed individuals in real-time since the 1990s; previous studies have been retrospective, which relies on the participant’s recollection of the past.

It should also be noted that the current study tracked individuals up to eighteen years for psychotic experiences, which are typically predictive of schizophrenia later in life. Previous studies supporting a link were based on a clinical diagnosis of schizophrenia.

None of these studies address whether Toxoplasma actually causes neurological issues in people. This is still an outstanding question that deserves further research. It is estimated that 60 million people in the US are infected with the parasite yet 3.5 million people in the US are schizophrenic. If Toxoplasma is involved with schizophrenia, there must be another factor at play in this relatively small subset of patients.

To date, there is insufficient evidence to declare pet cats to be a cause of mental health problems. Nevertheless, simple precautions can be taken to safeguard you and your cat from getting infected with Toxoplasma. Keep your cat indoors. Do not feed your cat raw or undercooked meat. Finally, clean the litterbox promptly, as it takes a day for the oocysts to mature into an infectious state.

 

The post Is My Cat Going To Drive Me Crazy? appeared first on Dumb Little Man.

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Is My Cat Going To Drive Me Crazy?

Studies have previously suggested a link between cat ownership and the development of neurological diseases such as schizophrenia. However, a new study published in Psychological Medicine by Francesca Solmi and colleagues at University College London failed to find such a link.

Why would researchers suspect such a link in the first place? This is because of a single-celled parasite called Toxoplasma gondii. Toxoplasma can infect any warm-blooded vertebrate, including people, but it only reproduces in the gut of feline species. When a cat becomes infected with the parasite, it excretes infectious oocysts into the litterbox or elsewhere in the environment for one to two weeks. A new host can acquire the infection through ingestion or inhalation of these oocysts.

Toxoplasma presents a clear danger to two primary groups: immune-compromised patients and unborn children. The latter is why doctors advise pregnant women to avoid changing the litterbox, to wear gloves and a mask while gardening, and to wash fruits and vegetables before eating. Importantly, Toxoplasma can also infect people who consume undercooked meat since the parasite can encyst in muscle tissues of infected animals.

wash fruits and vegetables

See Also: The Importance of Personal Hygiene for Healthy Living

Given these multiple routes of parasite transmission, it is no wonder that Toxoplasma has spread widely around the globe with an estimated one-third of the human population carrying this parasite. Despite its prevalence, most people have not heard of Toxoplasma because it rarely causes symptomatic disease.

However, reports have surfaced over the last fifteen years that Toxoplasma infection may be producing neurological changes in people. Taking up residence as tissue cysts in the brain, heart, and skeletal muscle, the parasites are never eradicated from the body. Given the parasite’s predilection for the brain, it is tempting to speculate that neurological problems may ensue.

Well-documented studies do indeed show that Toxoplasma causes mice and rats to lose their fear of cat urine. That seems like an oddly specific behavioral change until you recall that the cat is where the parasite completes the sexual stage of its life cycle.

Since 2001, Robert Yolken and E. Fuller Torrey at Johns Hopkins have published many correlative studies showing a link between Toxoplasma infection and schizophrenia. Other neurological problems have also been linked to Toxoplasma infection, as have personality changes.

cat ownership

Since cats are the definitive host and one means of parasite transmission, investigators have been trying to find a link between cat ownership and the development of psychotic symptoms. Yolken and Torrey have published studies suggesting a correlation, but the latest study by Solmi and colleagues contradicts these data.

There are important differences in study design that may account for the discrepancy. The newer study by Solmi’s group used a much larger sample size (nearly 5,000 individuals) than previous studies, and accounted for several confounding variables that could have been misconstrued as a link between cat ownership and neurological disorders. The current study also followed individuals in real-time since the 1990s; previous studies have been retrospective, which relies on the participant’s recollection of the past.

It should also be noted that the current study tracked individuals up to eighteen years for psychotic experiences, which are typically predictive of schizophrenia later in life. Previous studies supporting a link were based on a clinical diagnosis of schizophrenia.

None of these studies address whether Toxoplasma actually causes neurological issues in people. This is still an outstanding question that deserves further research. It is estimated that 60 million people in the US are infected with the parasite yet 3.5 million people in the US are schizophrenic. If Toxoplasma is involved with schizophrenia, there must be another factor at play in this relatively small subset of patients.

To date, there is insufficient evidence to declare pet cats to be a cause of mental health problems. Nevertheless, simple precautions can be taken to safeguard you and your cat from getting infected with Toxoplasma. Keep your cat indoors. Do not feed your cat raw or undercooked meat. Finally, clean the litterbox promptly, as it takes a day for the oocysts to mature into an infectious state.

 

The post Is My Cat Going To Drive Me Crazy? appeared first on Dumb Little Man.

Powered by WPeMatico

Is My Cat Going To Drive Me Crazy?

Studies have previously suggested a link between cat ownership and the development of neurological diseases such as schizophrenia. However, a new study published in Psychological Medicine by Francesca Solmi and colleagues at University College London failed to find such a link.

Why would researchers suspect such a link in the first place? This is because of a single-celled parasite called Toxoplasma gondii. Toxoplasma can infect any warm-blooded vertebrate, including people, but it only reproduces in the gut of feline species. When a cat becomes infected with the parasite, it excretes infectious oocysts into the litterbox or elsewhere in the environment for one to two weeks. A new host can acquire the infection through ingestion or inhalation of these oocysts.

Toxoplasma presents a clear danger to two primary groups: immune-compromised patients and unborn children. The latter is why doctors advise pregnant women to avoid changing the litterbox, to wear gloves and a mask while gardening, and to wash fruits and vegetables before eating. Importantly, Toxoplasma can also infect people who consume undercooked meat since the parasite can encyst in muscle tissues of infected animals.

wash fruits and vegetables

See Also: The Importance of Personal Hygiene for Healthy Living

Given these multiple routes of parasite transmission, it is no wonder that Toxoplasma has spread widely around the globe with an estimated one-third of the human population carrying this parasite. Despite its prevalence, most people have not heard of Toxoplasma because it rarely causes symptomatic disease.

However, reports have surfaced over the last fifteen years that Toxoplasma infection may be producing neurological changes in people. Taking up residence as tissue cysts in the brain, heart, and skeletal muscle, the parasites are never eradicated from the body. Given the parasite’s predilection for the brain, it is tempting to speculate that neurological problems may ensue.

Well-documented studies do indeed show that Toxoplasma causes mice and rats to lose their fear of cat urine. That seems like an oddly specific behavioral change until you recall that the cat is where the parasite completes the sexual stage of its life cycle.

Since 2001, Robert Yolken and E. Fuller Torrey at Johns Hopkins have published many correlative studies showing a link between Toxoplasma infection and schizophrenia. Other neurological problems have also been linked to Toxoplasma infection, as have personality changes.

cat ownership

Since cats are the definitive host and one means of parasite transmission, investigators have been trying to find a link between cat ownership and the development of psychotic symptoms. Yolken and Torrey have published studies suggesting a correlation, but the latest study by Solmi and colleagues contradicts these data.

There are important differences in study design that may account for the discrepancy. The newer study by Solmi’s group used a much larger sample size (nearly 5,000 individuals) than previous studies, and accounted for several confounding variables that could have been misconstrued as a link between cat ownership and neurological disorders. The current study also followed individuals in real-time since the 1990s; previous studies have been retrospective, which relies on the participant’s recollection of the past.

It should also be noted that the current study tracked individuals up to eighteen years for psychotic experiences, which are typically predictive of schizophrenia later in life. Previous studies supporting a link were based on a clinical diagnosis of schizophrenia.

None of these studies address whether Toxoplasma actually causes neurological issues in people. This is still an outstanding question that deserves further research. It is estimated that 60 million people in the US are infected with the parasite yet 3.5 million people in the US are schizophrenic. If Toxoplasma is involved with schizophrenia, there must be another factor at play in this relatively small subset of patients.

To date, there is insufficient evidence to declare pet cats to be a cause of mental health problems. Nevertheless, simple precautions can be taken to safeguard you and your cat from getting infected with Toxoplasma. Keep your cat indoors. Do not feed your cat raw or undercooked meat. Finally, clean the litterbox promptly, as it takes a day for the oocysts to mature into an infectious state.

 

The post Is My Cat Going To Drive Me Crazy? appeared first on Dumb Little Man.

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The mystery of the Tully Monster continues

In 1958 in an Illinois creek bed, an amateur fossil collector named Francis Tully discovered the fossilized remains of a bizarre creature that resembled a mollusk, insect, and worm yet was none of those things. Since then, thousands of 300 million-year-old fossilized “Tully Monsters” have turned up and the creature was officially named as the Illinois state fossil.

(more…)

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Ornithologists are using drones to eavesdrop on songbirds

listening When conservationists put drones to work in field research, they typically function as flying eyes that gather imagery of the habitat and wildlife below. Now, ornithologists from Gettysburg College in Pennsylvania are using drones as flying ears to monitor songbirds in the Appalachian Mountains. Results of their drone study were published in the peer-reviewed journal The Auk:… Read More

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SpaceX’s CRS-10 ISS resupply mission rocket launch scrubbed, next window is Feb 19

32945170225_e5b87acce0_k Update: SpaceX aborted the launch with 13 seconds to go, citing the issue with the positioning of an engine nozzle that’s responsible for steering the rocket in the second stage as the cause. The company said it was exercising “an abundance of caution” in postponing the launch, but wanted to be absolutely sure. The next launch window is at 9:38 AM ET on Sunday morning. At… Read More

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AncestryDNA clustered 770,000 genomes to find your family’s American immigration story

NEW YORK, NY - JANUARY 31: People headed to Ellis Island look out at the Statue of Liberty as it stands in New York Harbor in the snow on January 31, 2017 in New York City. With President Donald Trump's executive order on immigration, the subject of who can come to America has once again become a hotly debated topic in the country. The executive order temporarily bars immigrants from Iraq, Iran, Yemen, Somalia, Sudan, and Libya, and indefinitely prevents all Syrian refugees, from entering the U.S.  (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images) Immigration into the U.S. is a hot political topic right now, but, unless you’re Native American, pretty much everyone here has a family history involving some sort of immigration story. Now AncestryDNA, a consumer genetics subsidiary of the genealogy research site Ancestry.com, wants to help you know more about your family’s immigration journey. To do so, the research… Read More

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A neurologist captured these bizarre and creepy images to study the physics of human expression

Https%3a%2f%2fblueprint-api-production.s3.amazonaws.com%2fuploads%2fstory%2fthumbnail%2f36460%2f48e9506e-ace0-4e25-93a2-fa169e5c7f7b

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“This expression must be that of the damned.”

Image: Metropolitan Museum of Art

In 1862, French neurologist Guillaume-Benjamin-Amand Duchenne de Boulogne published The Mechanism of Human Facial Expression, a scientific and aesthetic text on the ways in which the muscles of the face create various expressions — a dictionary, so to speak, of what he believed was a universal, God-given language.

Duchenne had previously developed a number of therapeutic techniques involving the use of localized electric shocks to stimulate muscles

While conducting experiments for his text, he partnered with Adrien Tournachon, brother of the famed photographer Nadar, to document the expressions he induced in his models with targeted, painless shocks. Read more…

More about Creepy, Expression, Neurology, Science, and History

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A neurologist captured these bizarre and creepy images to study the physics of human expression

Https%3a%2f%2fblueprint-api-production.s3.amazonaws.com%2fuploads%2fstory%2fthumbnail%2f36460%2f48e9506e-ace0-4e25-93a2-fa169e5c7f7b

Feed-twFeed-fb

“This expression must be that of the damned.”

Image: Metropolitan Museum of Art

In 1862, French neurologist Guillaume-Benjamin-Amand Duchenne de Boulogne published The Mechanism of Human Facial Expression, a scientific and aesthetic text on the ways in which the muscles of the face create various expressions — a dictionary, so to speak, of what he believed was a universal, God-given language.

Duchenne had previously developed a number of therapeutic techniques involving the use of localized electric shocks to stimulate muscles

While conducting experiments for his text, he partnered with Adrien Tournachon, brother of the famed photographer Nadar, to document the expressions he induced in his models with targeted, painless shocks. Read more…

More about Creepy, Expression, Neurology, Science, and History

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