Archive for September, 2009

Will Computer Programs Replace Mozart?

By Boonsri Dickinson | September 30, 2009 5:15 pm

musicMeet Emily Howell. She’s a composer who is about to have a CD released of sonatas she composed. So what makes her unique?

She’s a computer program.

Emily was created by University of California-Santa Cruz professor David Cope, who claims to be more of a music teacher than a computer scientist (he’s both). Cope has been working on combining artificial intelligence with music for 30 years—thereby challenging the idea that creating music should be limited to the human mind.

Prior to Emily, Cope created a program called Experiments in Musical Intelligence (EMI). It allowed the user to pick a composer like Mozart or Bach, then EMI would analyze the music and spit out a new piece that sounded like it had been created by the same composer. But the music EMI “wrote” still needed performers to play it—many of whom refused to perform music that hadn’t been written by a human.

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CATEGORIZED UNDER: Technology Attacks!

NCBI ROFL: Proof that NCBI ROFL reduces aggression!

By ncbi rofl | September 30, 2009 3:00 pm

Aggression-inhibiting influence of sexual humor.

“Forty-eight undergraduate males participated in an experiment designed to investigate the hypothesis that prior exposure to sexual humor would reduce the level of aggression directed by angry individuals against the person who had previously provoked them. In order to examine this suggestion, subjects were first angered or not angered by a male confederate; next, exposed to either neutral, nonhumorous pictures or to one of two types of sexual humor (nonexploitative, exploitative); and finally, provided with an opportunity to aggress against this individual by means of electric shock. Results indicated that exposure to exploitative sexual humor, but not exposure to nonexploitative sexual humor, significantly reduced the strength of subjects’ later attacks against the victim.”

CATEGORIZED UNDER: NCBI ROFL, scientist...or perv?

Conservation and Boozing Collide: Turning Rainwater Into Beer

By Brett Israel | September 30, 2009 12:45 pm

Atlanta was hit hard with heavy rains and severe flooding last week. But for a part of the country that was in such a deep drought the governor resorted to praying for rain, it makes sense that the good citizens of the ATL aren’t letting this newfound water go to waste. In fact, the conservationists at 5 Seasons Brewing Company in Atlanta are using their collected rainwater to make beer.

From The Huffington Post:

The local brewery uses 100% filtered rainwater that’s captured on-site to create their “green beer” (not to be confused with the St. Patrick’s Day type). The brewers believe that rainwater is cleaner and softer than city water, which makes their beer even better.

And here’s the video, from CNN:

Embedded video from CNN Video

Related Content:
DISCOVER: From Toilet To Tap
Discoblog: Today’s Conservation Gimmick: Drink Your Shower Water!
Discoblog: The Science-Minded Frat Boy’s Dream: A PhD in Beer-ology?

Image: flickr / brendan.wood

New Theory: Plastic Can Make You Fat?

By Boonsri Dickinson | September 30, 2009 10:59 am

fatWhy do some people never get fat, while most of Americans do? Sure, one can blame eating too much popcorn and junk food and not getting enough exercise for the extra weight—but our eating habits may not be the only factor that determines our chubby destiny, argues University of California, Irvine’s Bruce Blumberg. There’s growing evidence that our exposure to plastic compounds —specifically obesogens—can disrupt the body’s metabolism, enough to make us gain weight.

Planet Green reports:

No one’s blaming these compounds for the country’s entire obesity epidemic—fast food and lack of exercise are not off the hook—but emerging research points to them as one cause of the unexplained tendency for some individuals to gain weight no matter what (or how little) they eat or how much they exercise. Obesogens seem to have the ability to disrupt the fundamental rule of weight management and body chemistry: weight gain occurs when calorie consumption exceeds the amount of energy burned.

It’s all about the timing and the amount of exposure to the plastic. Preventing adult weight loss might be too late, if it’s really childhood exposure to plastics that leads to a lifetime of weight problems.

Newsweek reported recently that:

In 2006 scientists at the Harvard School of Public Health reported that the prevalence of obesity in infants under 6 months had risen 73 percent since 1980. “This epidemic of obese 6-month-olds,” as endocrinologist Robert Lustig of the University of California, San Francisco, calls it, poses a problem for conventional explanations of the fattening of America. “Since they’re eating only formula or breast milk, and never exactly got a lot of exercise, the obvious explanations for obesity don’t work for babies,” he points out. “You have to look beyond the obvious.”

While plastics appear to be linked to obesity, scientists aren’t exactly sure how yet. In the meantime, it doesn’t hurt to exercise and eat right, minimize your exposure to plastics, and yes, hope that you have the skinny gene.

Related Content:
DISCOVER: The Dirty Truth About Plastic

Image: flickr/ Phoney Nickle

MORE ABOUT: fat, gene, obesity, plastic

While Military Spends Millions, Two Guys Make Puke-Ray Gun on the Cheap

By Brett Israel | September 29, 2009 5:03 pm

puke_gun_webThe U.S. Military has been after a vomit-inducing weapon for years. The idea is to use flashing lights that can make an enemy so dizzy, he hurls (and thereby becomes disoriented and unable to fight).

But while the government has sunk millions into creating the perfect spew-ray gun, a couple of hardware hackers recently slapped one together for around $250.


Using a flashlight from Sears, a set of three-dollar LEDs, a nine-volt battery, and a heat sink ripped off a PC processor, they managed to put together a functioning dazzler-cum-vomit-beam. And then they published step-by-step instructions on how you can build one, too.

Click here for the video, if you think your stomach is strong enough.

Related Content:
Discoblog: Disarmingly Cute: 8 Military Robots That Spy, Fly, and Do Yoga
Discoblog: Pentagon’s New Plan to Rain Down Painful Beams From the Sky
Discoblog: U.S. Military Takes on the War Against…Bugs


CATEGORIZED UNDER: Technology Attacks!

NCBI ROFL: Emergency contraception and fire extinguishers: a prevention paradox.

By ncbi rofl | September 29, 2009 3:00 pm

“Fires and unintended pregnancies are important causes of morbidity, mortality, and financial loss in the United States. Home fire extinguishers and emergency contraception are both effective preventive interventions. The disparity between access to fire extinguishers and emergency contraception is irrational and indirectly hurts women’s health. Although fire extinguishers require the user to make a diagnosis, choose the appropriate treatment, and assume some risk of serious injury and death, these canisters of pressurized chemicals are widely available without restriction. In contrast, women face several unnecessary obstacles to overcome before using emergency contraception, which is both simpler and safer to use. Clearly, a double standard prevails in prevention strategies for women.”

Thanks to Sarah for today’s ROFL!


Billionaire to Throw a "Tickle Party" in Space

By Brett Israel | September 29, 2009 1:01 pm

space_cokeAstronauts can’t be all business all the time; sometimes you just have to cut loose. Well that’s exactly what billionaire red-nosed clown Guy Laliberte intends to help the astronauts do when they blast into space tomorrow.

From the AP:

The man who hopes to be the first clown in space, Cirque du Soleil founder Guy Laliberte, said Tuesday he would tickle fellow astronauts as they sleep aboard the International Space Station.

The crew must be ecstatic to have him aboard. Laliberte might want to stick to handing out red noses and let the astronauts rest up so they can, um, fly a space shuttle. compiled a slideshow of their top nine space antics, a list that will surely include Laliberte’s ticklefest in the future. But for now it seems that astronauts’ favorite pastimes involve playing space golf, eating space fast-food, and dumping space trash.

Related content:
Discoblog: Bad Breath? Body Odor? Don’t Bother Applying to China’s Space Program
Discoblog: Scientists Examine Underwear Astronaut Wore for a Month
Discoblog: Today’s Conservation Gimmick: Drink Your Shower Water!

Image: NASA

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Space & Aliens Therefrom

NCBI ROFL: Clinical diagnosis: patient was 2 legit 2 quit.

By ncbi rofl | September 28, 2009 3:00 pm

Break-dance: an unusual cause of hammer syndrome.

“We report the case of a young break-dancer presenting with hammer syndrome. This syndrome has been correlated with many professional and recreational activities but this is, to our knowledge, the first description of hammer syndrome caused by break-dancing. The etiology, diagnosis and treatment modalities of this rare syndrome are considered.”


Man Boots Memories From Brain Straight to Computer

By Boonsri Dickinson | September 28, 2009 2:26 pm

Sensecam1Our obsession with posting photos on Facebook, tweeting our every move, and surfing the Internet creates an electronic trail of our life, whether we like it or not. But 75-year-old Microsoft researcher Gordon Bell takes digital recording to a whole new level: He creates e-memories so he won’t have to remember a single detail of his days.

Bell lugs around video cameras and audio recorders to record every action and social interaction. Not only does he save receipts by taking digital pictures of them, he records every single bill, medical record, and conversation. So far he’s in his tenth year of living this digital lifestyle and has amassed more than 350 gigabytes of memory (not including the video storage).

If you’re jealous, the good news is that soon you might be able to make your own digital library of your life. Microsoft is creating a SenseCam, a device that would hang around your neck and take pictures.

Related Content:
80beats: Your Eyes Reveal Memories That Your Conscious Brain Forgot
80beats: Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mouse
80beats: Researchers Updates His Twitter Feed Using Only Brainwaves

Image: flickr/ Aquillo

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Technology Attacks!
MORE ABOUT: facebook, memory, technology

Disarmingly Cute: 8 Military Robots That Spy, Fly, and Do Yoga

By Brett Israel | September 28, 2009 10:58 am

no images were found

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Technology Attacks!
MORE ABOUT: robots, technology

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