New Finding


'Secret sharing': Researchers say they've found way to better encrypt genetic data

The Japan Times

WASHINGTON – Using nothing more than a simple vial of saliva, millions of people have created DNA profiles on genealogy websites. But this wealth of information is effectively inaccessible to genetics researchers, with the sites painstakingly safeguarding their databases, fearful of a leak that could cost them dearly in terms of credibility. This problem of access is one that Bonnie Berger, a professor of mathematics at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and her colleagues think they can solve, with a new cryptographic system to protect the information. "We're currently at a stalemate in sharing all this genomic data," Berger told AFP. "It's really hard for researchers to get any of their data, so they're not really helping science. "No one can gain access to help them find the link between genetic variations and disease," she said. "But just think what could happen if we could leverage the millions of genomes out there." The idea of this new cryptographic method, described ...


Meet the CHUGBOT: Robotic hand that can catch a beer and crush it could revolutionize prosthetics

Daily Mail

Scientists have developed what could turn out to be the most lifelike robotic prosthetic hand yet. The technology, developed by researchers from Cornell University, takes a page from the machinery used in a car to give the robotic arm dexterity that's comparable to a human. And to demonstrate this, the hand was able to nimbly catch a can of beer and even crush it with remarkable strength. Researchers created a life-like robotic prosthetic hand that uses a'transmission' to allow it to alternate between strength and speed. The transmission, which they call an elastomeric passive transmission, is essentially a cylindrical spool with a'tendon' wrapped around it.


Relationship of gender differences in preferences to economic development and gender equality

Science

The relationships are predicted from local polynomial regressions. Shaded areas indicate 95% confidence intervals. Preferences concerning time, risk, and social interactions systematically shape human behavior and contribute to differential economic and social outcomes between women and men. We present a global investigation of gender differences in six fundamental preferences. Our data consist of measures of willingness to take risks, patience, altruism, positive and negative reciprocity, and trust for 80,000 individuals in 76 representative country samples. Gender differences in preferences were positively related to economic development and gender equality. This finding suggests that greater availability of and gender-equal access to material and social resources favor the manifestation of gender-differentiated preferences across countries. Fundamental preferences such as altruism, risk-taking, reciprocity, patience, or trust constitute the foundation of choice theories and govern human behavior.


Electrical properties of dendrites help explain our brain's unique computing power

MIT News

Neurons in the human brain receive electrical signals from thousands of other cells, and long neural extensions called dendrites play a critical role in incorporating all of that information so the cells can respond appropriately. Using hard-to-obtain samples of human brain tissue, MIT neuroscientists have now discovered that human dendrites have different electrical properties from those of other species. Their studies reveal that electrical signals weaken more as they flow along human dendrites, resulting in a higher degree of electrical compartmentalization, meaning that small sections of dendrites can behave independently from the rest of the neuron. These differences may contribute to the enhanced computing power of the human brain, the researchers say. "It's not just that humans are smart because we have more neurons and a larger cortex. From the bottom up, neurons behave differently," says Mark Harnett, the Fred and Carole Middleton Career Development Assistant Professor of Brain and Cognitive Sciences.


Why Doesn't Ancient Fiction Talk About Feelings? - Issue 65: In Plain Sight

Nautilus

Reading medieval literature, it's hard not to be impressed with how much the characters get done--as when we read about King Harold doing battle in one of the Sagas of the Icelanders, written in about 1230. The first sentence bristles with purposeful action: "King Harold proclaimed a general levy, and gathered a fleet, summoning his forces far and wide through the land." By the end of the third paragraph, the king has launched his fleet against a rebel army, fought numerous battles involving "much slaughter in either host," bound up the wounds of his men, dispensed rewards to the loyal, and "was supreme over all Norway." What the saga doesn't tell us is how Harold felt about any of this, whether his drive to conquer was fueled by a tyrannical father's barely concealed contempt, or whether his legacy ultimately surpassed or fell short of his deepest hopes. In his short story "Forever Overhead," the 13-year-old protagonist takes 12 pages to walk across the deck of a public swimming pool, wait in line at the high diving board, climb the ladder, and prepare to jump.


Where the world will run out of water: Research shows area that will lose water from climate change

Daily Mail

New research has revealed the areas where real-life'waterworld' riots are most likely to happen. Researchers mapped the areas where future global conflict is most likely to break out as a result of climate change-fueled water shortages. Researchers believe vulnerable areas could face'hydro-political issues' due to water shortages within the next 50 to 100 years. Researchers used machine learning to identify'pre-conditions and factors' that might lead to depleting water resources, particularly areas that contain water shared by bordering nations Researchers said the areas most likely to be hit by'hydro-political' issues are those with already stressed water basins. This includes the Nile, Ganges-Brahmaputra, Indus, Tigris-Euphrates and Colorado rivers.


Video shows devastating damage drones can inflict on planes

FOX News

File photo - An airplane flies over a drone during the Polar Bear Plunge on Coney Island in the Brooklyn borough of New York Jan. 1, 2015. A video produced by the University of Dayton Research Institute shows in alarming detail what happens when a drone collides with a plane. The test, which mimicked a midair collision at 238 mph, launched a 2.1-pound DJI Phantom 2 quadcopter into the wing of a Mooney M20 aircraft. Experts from UDRI's Impact Physics group note that the drone did not shatter on impact, but tore open the wing's leading edge, damaging its main spar. "While the quadcopter broke apart, its energy and mass hung together to create significant damage to the wing," explained Kevin Poormon, group leader for impact physics at UDRI, in a statement.


Mystery of how a tiny dandelion seed can fly up to 500 miles is solved

Daily Mail

Tiny dandelion seeds have been known to waft up to 500 miles (800km) just using the power of the wind. Now scientists have found out their secret and say their super efficient mini parachutes could revolutionise designs for remote-controlled stealth drones. Never-before-seen air bubbles that surround the seeds on the yellow-flowered weed are believed to be the secret to one of'nature's best flyers'. Dandelion seeds are said to be four times more efficient than what is currently possible with man-made parachute designs. Tiny dandelion seeds have been known to waft up to 500 miles (800km) just using the power of the wind.


Brain-inspired algorithm helps AI systems multitask and remember

#artificialintelligence

Behind most of today's artificial intelligence technologies, from self-driving cars to facial recognition and virtual assistants, lie artificial neural networks. Though based loosely on the way neurons communicate in the brain, these "deep learning" systems remain incapable of many basic functions that would be essential for primates and other organisms. However, a new study from University of Chicago neuroscientists found that adapting a well-known brain mechanism can dramatically improve the ability of artificial neural networks to learn multiple tasks and avoid the persistent AI challenge of "catastrophic forgetting." The study, published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, provides a unique example of how neuroscience research can inform new computer science strategies, and, conversely, how AI technology can help scientists better understand the human brain. When combined with previously reported methods for stabilizing synaptic connections in artificial neural networks, the new algorithm allowed single artificial neural networks to learn and perform hundreds of tasks with only minimal loss of accuracy, potentially enabling more powerful and efficient AI technologies.


Evolution is at work in computers as well as life sciences

#artificialintelligence

Artificial intelligence research has a lot to learn from nature. My work links biology with computation every day, but recently the rest of the world was reminded of the connection: The 2018 Nobel Prize in Chemistry went to Frances Arnold together with George Smith and Gregory Winter for developing major breakthroughs that are collectively called "directed evolution." One of its uses is to improve protein functions, making them better catalysts in biofuel production. Another use is entirely outside chemistry – outside even the traditional life sciences. That might sound surprising, but many research findings have very broad implications.