Archive for February, 2011

World's Teeniest, Tiniest Computer Fits on the 'N' of a Penny

By Patrick Morgan | February 23, 2011 2:50 pm

Back in the 1960s when mainframe computers filled entire rooms, the idea of sticking a computer in someone’s eye would likely have sounded ridiculous–but that’s just what scientists are planning to do. Researchers have unveiled an implantable computer system that’s meant to monitor glaucoma patients’ eye pressure.

The University of Michigan researchers say it’s officially the world’s smallest computer. Measuring less than 0.04 inches long (or a little over one cubic millimeter), the entire computer packs a lot into a little space: It has a pressure sensor, a low-power microprocessor, a wireless radio and antenna that sends information to an external device, a battery, and a solar cell to charge the battery. It can store information for up to a week, and the system can link with other devices to form networks of wireless sensors.

According to Live Science, millimeter-scale computers are a new technological frontier:

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NCBI ROFL: Perceptions of a tattooed college instructor.

By ncbi rofl | February 22, 2011 7:00 pm

“128 undergraduates’ perceptions of tattoos on a model described as a college instructor were assessed. They viewed one of four photographs of a tattooed or nontattooed female model. Students rated her on nine teaching-related characteristics. Read More

CATEGORIZED UNDER: duh, NCBI ROFL, ridiculous titles

Scientists Look for DNA on Envelopes That Amelia Earhart Licked

By Patrick Morgan | February 22, 2011 2:50 pm

Researchers hope to collect spit from someone who died more than 70 years ago: the aviation pioneer Amelia Earhart. By extracting the famous flyer’s DNA from old envelopes, researchers hope to finally put to rest one of the 20th century’s greatest mysteries.

Earhart disappeared–along with her navigator, Fred Noonan–in 1937, when she was trying to become the first female to fly around the globe. Communication with her plane was lost as she flew near Howland Island in the Pacific Ocean. The U.S. government searched in vain for the two adventurers’ remains, and on January 5, 1939, Earhart was officially pronounced dead. But speculation never stopped on whether the duo died in a crash at sea, or whether they survived for some time on a deserted island.

Just two years ago researchers from the International Group for Historic Aircraft Recovery found bone fragments on Nikumaroro Island that could be part of Amelia Earhart’s finger. The finding is controversial because a dead sea turtle was also found nearby, raising suggestions that the purported piece of Earhart actually belongs to a turtle. According to National Geographic:

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Self-Doubting Monkeys Know What They Don't Know

By Patrick Morgan | February 22, 2011 11:34 am

The number of traits chalked up as “distinctly human” seem to dwindle each year. And now, we can’t even say that we’re uniquely aware of the limits of our knowledge: It seems that some monkeys understand uncertainty too.

A team of researchers taught macaques how to maneuver a joystick to indicate whether the pixel density on a screen was sparse or dense. Given a pixel scenario, the monkeys would maneuver a joystick to a letter S (for sparse) or D (for dense). They were given a treat when they selected the correct answer, but when they were wrong, the game paused for a couple seconds. A third possible answer, though, allowed the monkeys to select a question mark, and thereby forgo the pause (and potentially get more treats).

And as John David Smith, a researcher at SUNY Buffalo, and Michael Beran, a researcher at Georgia State University, announced at the AAAS meeting this weekend, the macaques selected the question mark just as humans do when they encounter a mind-stumping question. As Smith told the BBC, “Monkeys apparently appreciate when they are likely to make an error…. They seem to know when they don’t know.”

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NCBI ROFL: This just in: best paper title of the year!

By ncbi rofl | February 22, 2011 11:00 am

Chemical processes in the deep interior of Uranus.

“The unusual magnetic fields of the planets Uranus and Neptune represent important observables for constraining and developing deep interior models. Models suggests that the unusual non-dipolar and non-axial magnetic fields of these planets originate from a thin convective and conducting shell of material around a stably stratified fluid core. Here, we present an experimental and computational study of the physical properties of a fluid representative of the interior of Uranus and Neptune. Read More

NCBI ROFL: Inverted nipples. What to do?

By ncbi rofl | February 21, 2011 7:00 pm

Management of Flat or Inverted Nipples with Simple Rubber Bands.

“Occurrences of flat or inverted nipples are not uncommon problems, and although they should not preclude breastfeeding, they often seriously hamper initiation and continuation of breastfeeding. Various therapies including nipple exercise, breast shells, inverted syringes, or surgical corrections have been reported with varying success rates. Subjects and Methods: A new method has been devised by the authors that consisted of tying a rubber band around the base of the nipple, with the help of a syringe applicator, to make it prominent. Read More


NCBI ROFL: Can differing levels of sexual experience doom your relationship?

By ncbi rofl | February 18, 2011 7:00 pm

Matching in sexual experience for married, cohabitating, and dating couples.

“The present study examined heterosexual romantic partners’ number of intercourse partners prior to the initiation of their relationship to determine if a significant positive correlation (matching) occurred between partners, and if this matching was associated with their level of love, satisfaction with, and commitment to the relationship. Read More

Docs Say a Migraine—Not a Stroke—Caused Reporter's On-Air Babbling

By Patrick Morgan | February 18, 2011 12:36 pm

It turns out that the news reporter who suddenly began speaking gibberish as she covered the Grammy Awards wasn’t suffering from a stroke–doctors conclude that a migraine is to blame.

Serene Branson, a reporter for KCBS-TV, began speaking incoherently during her coverage of the annual music awards ceremony. “As soon as I opened my mouth I knew something was wrong,” Branson told MSNBC. “I was having trouble remembering the word for Grammy…. I knew what I wanted to say but I didn’t have the words to say it.”

Many internet viewers thought she was stricken by an on-air stroke, but physicians from the University of California at Los Angeles scanned her head and tested her blood, and discovered that she was simply the victim of a migraine. It all started with a strong headache, Branson told MSNBC, but then it escalated:

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New Zealand Enlists Dung Beetles to Deal With Piles and Piles of Crap

By Patrick Morgan | February 18, 2011 12:11 pm

In New Zealand, there’s a running joke that the sheep outnumber the people. What’s not funny is the consequence of all those woolly creatures: poop. Piles and piles of it. To reduce this overflowing cornucopia of crap, the government is calling in reinforcements in the form of 11 Australian dung beetle species.

The country’s excess poo not only finds it way into water reservoirs, it also releases nitrous oxide into the atmosphere–and to put that in perspective, cow crap alone accounts for 14 percent of New Zealand’s greenhouse gas emissions. “One of the big things basically is the accumulation of dung on pasture surfaces,” Landcare New Zealand research scientist Shaun Forgie told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation. It’s bad for cattle because more dung increases the “zone of repugnance, which means there’s an area around dung which is basically offensive to grazing livestock…. They don’t want to eat around that, so unless you break feed, you’re losing that surface area to graze on.”

Dung beetles cut the crap by feasting on it: adults lay eggs in manure, and the baby beetles feed on the scrumptious scat, devouring an entire pile within 48 hours. Farmers are excited about the project, according to the Australian Broadcasting Corporation:

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NCBI ROFL: Introducing…the automatic LOLcat detector!

By ncbi rofl | February 17, 2011 7:00 pm

Detecting Some Popular Animals in Online Photos: Learning from Ears and Eyes.

“Robust object detection has many important applications in real-world online photo processing. For example, both Google image search and MSN live image search have integrated human face detector to retrieve face or portrait photos. Inspired by the success of such face filtering approach, in this paper, we focus on another popular online photo category – animal, which is one of top five categories in the MSN live image search query log. As a preliminary attempt, we focus on the problem of animal head detection of a set of relatively large land animals that are popular on the internet, such as cat, tiger, panda, fox, and cheetah. Read More


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