Sunday, February 26, 2006

Science Sunday: Wrap-up of recent advancements in science from EurekAlert!

  • There's something fishy about human brain evolution

    Forget the textbook story about tool use and language sparking the dramatic evolutionary growth of the human brain.

    According to Dr. Stephen Cunnane it was a rich and secure shore-based diet that fuelled and provided the essential nutrients to make our brains what they are today. Controversially, according to Dr. Cunnane our initial brain boost didn't happen by adaptation, but by exaptation, or chance.
  • Buyer beware: Online shopping hazards detailed by UMass Amherst computer scientist

    Consumers who shop online may be risking their privacy with every purchase,
    contends University of Massachusetts Amherst computer scientist Kevin Fu. is research suggests that a confluence of factors, including widespread use of cookies and demand for quick and easy transactions, results in Web sites that are often insecure. Fu will discuss how Web sites leak private information on Saturday, Feb. 18 at the American Association for the Advancement of Science meeting in St. Louis.
  • The changing nature of proof

    It used to be that a mathematical proof meant absolute certainty. But today's proofs often are so long and complex that it's practically impossible for anyone
    to read one, let alone verify it.

    Thomas C. Hales, the University of Pittsburgh Mellon Professor of Mathematics, famously and finally proved Johannes Kepler's 400-year-old conjecture that the most efficient way to pack spheres was in a pyramid shape. However, when his proof was published in a peer-reviewed journal, reviewers said they could only be 99 percent certain that it was correct--one percent too little for the exacting Hales.

    Hales now is using his problem-solving skills to "prove the proof" using a specially written computer language in what he calls the Flyspeck Project, which he will discuss at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) in St. Louis, Mo., in a session titled "Paradise Lost? The Changing Nature of Mathematical Proof," Saturday, Feb. 18, from 9:45 a.m. to 11:15 a.m. (C.S.T.).
  • Amazonian terra preta can transform poor soil into fertile

    Some of the globe's richest soil -- known as terra preta, or Amazonian dark earths -- can transform poor soil into highly fertile ground. Because terra preta is loaded with so-called bio-char -- similar to charcoal -- it also can pull substantial amounts of carbon out of the increasing levels of carbon
    dioxide in the Earth's atmosphere, helping to prevent global warming.
  • Warmer than a hot tub: Atlantic Ocean temperatures much higher in the past

    Scientists have found evidence that tropical Atlantic Ocean temperatures may have once reached 107.F (42.C), about 25.F (14.C) higher than ocean temperatures today and warmer than a hot tub.
  • Princeton professor foresees computer science revolution

    At a AAAS panel February 17, Princeton Professor Bernard Chazelle foresees algorithmic advances that he says will transform the way science is done.

  • Virtual playmates help real children with language

    Can "virtual" playmates -- what the Northwestern University researcher who
    created them calls "embodied conversational agents" -- help "real world" children develop language and literacy skills? A Northwestern researcher explains how virtual peers listen to, interact with, interrupt, and tell stories to real-life children and enhance children's emergent literacy.

  • MIT powers up new battery for hybrid cars

    Researchers at MIT have developed a new type of lithium battery that could become a cheaper alternative to the batteries that now power hybrid electric cars.
  • Technology cooks up a recipe to beat nasty kitchen bugs

    Food poisoning may become a thing of the past, if commercial kitchens link their appliances to the Internet. Unique technology developed recently for this environment also promises to reduce the risk of fire and to slash maintenance costs.
  • A fresh spin in quantum physics: The 'spin triplet' supercurrent

    For the first time, scientists have created a "spin triplet" supercurrent through a ferromagnet over a long distance. Achieved with a magnet developed at Brown University and the University of Alabama, the feat upends long-standing theories of quantum physics - and may be a boon to the budding field of "spintronics," where the spin of electrons, along with their charge, is harnessed to power computer chips and circuits. Results are published in Nature.
  • Alzheimer's disease progresses more rapidly in highly educated people

    High levels of education may help ward off Alzheimer's disease, but they also speed up its progression once developed, reveals research in the Journal of Neurology Neurosurgery and Psychiatry.
  • Simple system predicts mortality of older Americans with 81 percent accuracy

    Researchers at the San Francisco VA Medical Center have created an index that is 81 percent accurate in predicting the likelihood of death within four years for people 50 and older.
  • Quantum computer solves problem, without running

    By combining quantum computation and quantum interrogation, scientists at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have found an exotic way of determining an answer to an algorithm - without ever running the algorithm. Using an optical-based quantum computer, a research team led by physicist Paul Kwiat has presented the first demonstration of "counterfactual computation," inferring information about an answer, even though the computer did not run. The researchers report their work in the Feb. 23 issue of Nature.
  • Mini robots to undertake major tasks?

    From cell manipulation to micro assembly, micro robots devised by an international team of researchers offer a glimpse of the future.

  • Nanoscience study shows that quantum dots 'talk'

    Scientists who hope to use quantum dots as the building blocks for the next generation of computers have found a way to make these artificial atoms communicate.
  • Hooked on fishing, and we're heading for the bottom, says scientist

    The world has passed "peak fish" and fishermen's nets will be hauling in ever diminishing loads unless there's political action to stem the global tide of over fishing, says a fisheries expert based at the University of British Columbia.



Blogger mac_davis said...

Now I know I love your blog and will visit every day. :D

I liked the spintronics breakthrough, I haven't seen one for a while and am glad to see it is still developing well. Spintronics and quantum computing are the future of... us. Classical computing has bits, that have two possible states, 1 and 0. Quantum computing, as you may know, involves qubits, which have 3 possible states, 1, 0, and both simultaneously (entangled state, or superpositioned). Spintronics has pbits, which have an infinite number of possible states, which is even better!!

February 27, 2006 at 5:39 AM  

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