The Internet and your brain are more alike than you think

February 9, 2017

Although we spend a lot of our time online nowadays–streaming music and video, checking email and social media, or obsessively reading the news–few of us know about the mathematical algorithms that manage how our content is delivered. But deciding how to route information fairly and efficiently through a distributed system with no central authority was a priority for the Internet’s founders. Now, a Salk Institute discovery shows that an algorithm used for the Internet is also at work in the human brain, an insight that improves our understanding of engineered and neural networks and potentially even learning disabilities.

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LSD alters perception of meaning via serotonin receptors

January 26, 2017

Researchers from UZH have discovered how the perception of meaning changes in the brain under the influence of LSD. The serotonin 2A receptors are responsible for altered perception. This finding will help develop new courses of pharmacotherapy for psychiatric disorders such as depression, addictions or phobias.

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New antimatter breakthrough at CERN to help illuminate mysteries of the Big Bang

December 20, 2016

Swansea University scientists working at CERN have made a landmark finding, taking them one step closer to answering the question of why matter exists and illuminating the mysteries of the Big Bang and the birth of the Universe.

In their paper published in Nature the physicists from the University’s College of Science, working with an international collaborative team at CERN, describe the first precision study of antihydrogen, the antimatter equivalent of hydrogen.

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Fundamental solid state phenomenon unraveled

December 19, 2016

Whether water freezes to ice, iron is demagnetized or a material becomes superconducting – for physicists there is always a phase transition behind it. They endeavour to understand these different phenomena by searching for universal properties. Researchers at Goethe University Frankfurt and Technische Universität Dresden have now made a pioneering discovery during their study of a phase transition from an electrical conductor to an insulator (Mott metal-insulator transition).

According to Sir Nevill Francis Mott’s prediction in 1937, the mutual repulsion of charged electrons, which are responsible for carrying electrical current, can cause a metal-insulator transition. Yet, contrary to common textbook opinion, according to which the phase transition is determined solely by the electrons, it is the interaction of the electrons with the atomic lattice of the solid which is the determinant factor. The researchers have reported this in the latest issue of the Science Advances journal.

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Will Earth still be around 5 billion years from now?

December 9, 2016

What will happen to Earth when, in a few billion years’ time, the Sun is a hundred times bigger than it is today? Using the most powerful radio telescope in the world, an international team of astronomers has set out to look for answers in the star L2 Puppis. Five billion years ago, this star was very similar to the Sun as it is today.

“Five billion years from now, the Sun will have grown into a red giant star, more than a hundred times larger than its current size,” says Professor Leen Decin from the KU Leuven Institute of Astronomy. “It will also experience an intense mass loss through a very strong stellar wind. The end product of its evolution, 7 billion years from now, will be a tiny white dwarf star. This will be about the size of the Earth, but much heavier: one tea spoon of white dwarf material weighs about 5 tons.”

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First impressions last as people judge others

November 29, 2016

A well-known saying urges people to “not judge a book by its cover.” But people tend to do just that – even after they’ve skimmed a chapter or two, according to Cornell University research.

Vivian Zayas, professor of psychology at Cornell University, and her colleagues found that people continue to be influenced by another person’s appearance even after interacting with them face-to-face. First impressions formed simply from looking at a photograph predicted how people felt and thought about the person after a live interaction that took place one month to six months later.

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Your dog remembers exacty what you did

November 25, 2016

People have a remarkable ability to remember and recall events from the past, even when those events didn’t hold any particular importance at the time they occurred. Now, researchers reporting in the journal Current Biology on November 23 have evidence that dogs have that kind of “episodic memory” too.

The study found that dogs can recall a person’s complex actions even when they don’t expect to have their memory tested.

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Why does Earth experience an ice age every 100,000 years?

October 26, 2016

Experts from Cardiff University have offered up an explanation as to why our planet began to move in and out of ice ages every 100,000 years.

This mysterious phenomena, dubbed the ’100,000 year problem’, has been occurring for the past million years or so and leads to vast ice sheets covering North America, Europe and Asia. Up until now, scientists have been unable to explain why this happens. Read more

Observable Universe contains ten times more galaxies than previously thought

October 13, 2016

Astronomers using data from the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescopes and other telescopes have performed an accurate census of the number of galaxies in the Universe. The group came to the surprising conclusion that there are at least 10 times as many galaxies in the observable Universe as previously thought. The results have clear implications for our understanding of galaxy formation, and also help solve an ancient astronomical paradox — why is the sky dark at night?

One of the most fundamental questions in astronomy is that of just how many galaxies the Universe contains. The Hubble Deep Field images, captured in the mid 1990s, gave the first real insight into this. Myriad faint galaxies were revealed, and it was estimated that the observable Universe contains about 100 billion galaxies [1]. Now, an international team, led by Christopher Conselice from the University of Nottingham, UK, have shown that this figure is at least ten times too low. Read more

Researchers describe new large prehistoric shark

October 13, 2016

Megalolamna paradoxodon is the name of a new extinct shark described by an international research team who based their discovery on fossilized teeth up to 4.5 centimeters (1.8 inches) tall found from the eastern and western United States (California and North Carolina), Peru and Japan.

The newly identified fossil shark lived during the early Miocene epoch about 20 million years ago and belongs to a shark group called Lamniformes, which includes the modern-day great white and mako sharks. Read more

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