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Schizophrenia, Hubris and Science

By Neuroskeptic | February 1, 2016 3:14 pm


A press-release from the Harvard-MIT Broad Institute reaches astonishing heights of hyperbole in announcing a new schizophrenia study (Sekar et al. 2016). Here’s the release:
Genetic study provides first-ever insight into biological origin of schizophrenia

Landmark analysis reveals excessive “pruning” of connections between neurons in brain predisposes to schizophrenia

A landmark study, based on genetic analysis of nearly 65,000 people, has revealed that a person’s risk of …


UK Scientists Get Green Light to Genetically Edit Human Embryos

By Nathaniel Scharping | February 1, 2016 12:52 pm

Regulators in the United Kingdom on Monday approved a request from scientists to use the emerging CRISPR gene editing tool to perform experiments on human embryos.

Researchers from the Francis Crick Institute in London filed a license application in September 2015 with Britain’s Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority to perform gene editing experiments to better understand the genes that help humans develop in their earliest stages of growth. Their request was granted, which marks  …

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Health & Medicine, top posts

Seriously, Science?

Dogs recognize the emotions of other dogs as well as humans.

By Seriously Science | February 1, 2016 6:00 am

Although many people believe that dogs can read their owners’ emotions, it was only recently shown that dogs can visually differentiate between happiness and anger. In fact, they are the first animals shown to discriminate emotions in another species. This study extends this line of research, adding an auditory component—they test whether dogs can match visual and sound representation of emotions. The researchers showed the pooches a face and either a concordant (matching) or discordan …

Science Sushi

No, GM Mosquitoes Didn't Start The Zika Outbreak.

By Christie Wilcox | January 31, 2016 9:56 pm

A new ridiculous rumor is spreading around the internets. According to conspiracy theorists, the recent outbreak of Zika can be blamed on the British biotech company Oxitec, which some are saying even intentionally caused the disease as a form of ethnic cleansing or population control. The articles all cite a lone Redditor who proposed the connection on January 25th to the Conspiracy subreddit. “There are no biological free lunches,” says one commenter on the idea. “Releasing genetically a …

A concept video shows how  a Microsoft Hololens wearer could call up a virtual recipe in the kitchen. Credit: Microsoft

Lovesick Cyborg

Microsoft Patent Targets Virtual Nutrition Labels

By Jeremy Hsu | January 31, 2016 9:55 pm

A Microsoft patent idea sees the future of eating for smart glasses wearers going something like this. You’re about to chow down on a juicy hamburger when a virtual nutrition label pops up that says: “Typically a hamburger of this size may have 800 – 1200 calories.” Ignoring the information, you pick up the greasy burger and take a large bite. As you chew, another floating warning pops up in your vision: “This is your second big meal today — are you sure you want to do that?”

Having …

Body Horrors

The Elephants in the Outbreak

By Rebecca Kreston | January 31, 2016 7:08 pm

They are considered the most noble creature to grace Earth. They have massive brains, complex forms of communication, the ingenuity for tool use, and the capacity to express emotions, including grief and empathy. Yet, as impressive as they are in size and majesty, elephants can still be felled by the most human of ailments: tuberculosis.

Tuberculosis is an infection that has been infecting humans for millennia, but it is also a promiscuous organism that can infect the lungs of many other …

Quadcopter drones race through an indoor obstacle course. Credit: Drone Racing League

Lovesick Cyborg

Can Robot Racing Win Human Hearts?

By Jeremy Hsu | January 31, 2016 5:26 pm

Not much on live TV compares with the tension of watching human race car drivers risk possible injury or death at speeds of hundreds of miles per hour. A split second of bad timing can quickly transform a tight, controlled race into chaos as machines spin out of control, careen off walls or smash directly into one another. By comparison, the rise of robot racing with flying drones or self-driving cars aims to attract both old and new racing fans without putting human lives at risk. The  …

CATEGORIZED UNDER: technology, top posts, Uncategorized


As the 'blue Arctic' expands thanks to global warming, an icebreaker finds no ice to break

By Tom Yulsman | January 30, 2016 5:36 pm

Shrinking Arctic sea ice — now at record-low levels — has implications for ecosystems, climate, weather, and people

During a recent mission off the Arctic archipelago of Svalbard, a Norwegian Coast Guard icebreaker encountered unusual winter conditions for an area just 800 miles from the North Pole.

Open water.

At this time of year, sea ice usually closes in around Svalbard’s northern and eastern coasts. But not this year. The sturdy 340-foot-long, 6,375-ton KV Sval …

The Extremo Files

Could Volcanoes in India have Actually Killed the Dinosaurs?

By Jeffrey Marlow | January 30, 2016 8:49 am

The demise of the dinosaurs is the stuff of middle school science classes: everybody knows that a massive meteorite crashed into the Yucatan Peninsula, setting off a series of calamities. Tsunamis rocked back and forth across the oceans, a scalding cloud of dust and ash shot outward from the impact site, and secondary impacts from the initial ejecta ignited forest fires far from ground zero.

None of this was good news for the charismatic megafauna roaming the planet 66 million years ago,  …


The Automatic Neuroscientist

By Neuroskeptic | January 30, 2016 6:01 am

We’ve learned this week that computers can play Go. But at least there’s one human activity they will never master: neuroscience. A computer will never be a neuroscientist. Except… hang on. A new paper just out in Neuroimage describes something called The Automatic Neuroscientist. Oh.

So what is this new neuro-robot? According to its inventors, Romy Lorenz and colleagues of Imperial College London, it’s a framework for using “real-time fMRI in combination with modern machine-learning te …

CATEGORIZED UNDER: fMRI, methods, papers, science, select, Top Posts

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