Login now

Not your profile? Login and get free access to your reports and analysis.

Tags

Sign in

The following tags have been added by users of CircleCount.com.
You can login on CircleCount to add more tags here.

  • Scientists

Are you missing a tag in the list of available tags? You can suggest new tags here.

Login now

Do you want to see a more detailed chart? Check your settings and define your favorite chart type.

Or click here to get the detailed chart only once.

Mark Bruce has been at 1 events

HostFollowersTitleDateGuestsLinks
NASA2,182,181The most advanced robot ever sent to another world is set to land on Aug. 5, 2012 (PDT). Will you be watching? Mars Science Laboratory will deliver the Curiosity rover to the surface of Mars at approximately 10:31 p.m. PDT on Aug. 5 (1:31 a.m. EDT and 5:31 a.m. UTC on Aug. 6). Curiosity, carrying laboratory instruments to analyze samples of rocks, soil and atmosphere, will investigate whether Mars has ever offered environmental conditions favorable for microbial life. NASA TV will broadcast live from mission control at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif., during Curiosity’s critical entry, descent and landing phase. Two live feeds of video during key landing activities from mission control rooms at JPL will be carried on NASA TV, NASA TV online http://www.nasa.gov/multimedia/nasatv/index.html and Ustream http://www.ustream.tv/ between 8:30 and 11:00 p.m. PDT on Aug. 5 (11:30 p.m. Aug. 5 to 2:00 a.m. Aug. 6 EDT), and between 12:30 and 1:30 a.m. PDT on Aug. 6 (3:30 to 4:30 a.m. EDT). The NASA TV Public Channel and http://www.ustream.tv/nasajpl will carry a feed including commentary and interviews. The NASA TV Media Channel and http://www.ustream.tv/nasajpl2 will carry an uninterrupted, clean feed. Follow the mission on Facebook and on Twitter at http://www.facebook.com/marscuriosity and http://www.twitter.com/marscuriosity.NASA's Curiosity Mars Rover Landing2012-08-06 02:00:002200 

Mark Bruce has been shared in 207 public circles

You can see here the 50 latest shared circles.
If this is your profile, you can check your dashboard to see all shared circles you have been included.

AuthorFollowersDateUsers in CircleCommentsReshares+1Links
Robert Best2,617Google+ Relevance CircleWhat people of "relevance" do we have in common? Care to share?This big shared circle contains my most "relevant" circles according to G+. It also only contains people/profiles who post publicly (Either occasionally or prolifically).Do you recognize others in the list? (I think the probability is high)As far as I know, the visual beside the "Add people" button below shows you the 8 people from this circle who are most "relevant" to you. Also, if you click that add people button, the list inside is also ordered by "relevance".Some people in this circle I know very well... others I haven't met at all (Besides interfacing with what they share publicly on G+) I'm curious, what circles do we share of high relevance? Give a few people shout outs! Let's have a random chat.You were likely notified of this post... I normally don't share to any of my specific circles, so as to avoid sending out unwanted notifications... But since I have you and your attention here... HELLO! Have we talked before? Why do you think I have you circled? What's of relevance for you? (Besides people on G+) If we do know each other... Have we been in touch lately? If not, let please catch up!2015-03-03 01:03:39455000
Noah Wesley20,488Great circle to find many interesting and interactive people!!! If you received a notification, please reshare to your circlesIf you’d like to be added to the next circle share: • +1 this circle • Share this circle to PUBLIC • Include me in your circles • Comment on this post#circle #circleshare #uk #business #unitedkingdom #ireland #publiccircles #sharedcircles #sharedpubliccircles #ukcircles #irishcircles #sharedpubliccircles #sharedcircle #sharedcircles #sharedpubliccircles #circleshare #hk #china #face #book #link #travel #circlesharing #fullcircleshare #topsharedcircle #circleoftheday #sharedcircle2015-02-25 08:21:55498223
Charles Payet6,779A VERY Rare Shared Circle: My Absolute Favorite PlussersAs many of those whom I know on Google+ are aware, it can be kind of daunting at times to keep up with a G+ Stream when you follow several thousand people.  Thanks to the wonderful education by people in the +Plus Your Business! Academy last year, I did learn a lot more on how to manage my Stream, but I still need to work more on refining my Circles.  Still, I've made some slight progress.  Obviously, +Circloscope is a very helpful tool for this.But for whatever reason, I decided to Share this Circle.  This is my ONLY Notification Circle, to avoid Notification Overload.  :-)  Some of them are quite prolific posters, some are moderate, and some only post rarely.  They generally fall into the following categories:(1) Social media(2) Deep thinkers(3) Science(4) Photography(5) Curmudgeon (had to include this category specifically for Vincent LOL  But he's my kind of curmudgeon.)There are obviously a LOT more people worth following on G+, and by no means do I intend any slight to anyone not included.  I had to be VERY picky about this list.+Chrysta Rae +Sanjiv Manifest +Vincent Messina +Lauri Novak +Craig Szymanski +Gina Fiedel +Kalebra Kelby +Alexandra Riecke-Gonzales +Mark Metternich +Don Komarechka +Athena Carey +Mark Bruce +2015-02-22 14:31:3519000
Crazy Cats29 Public #circleshare   January 20, 2015Hope that you have been having a great week on Google+. Thank you for sharing and promoting this and for connecting up with all the great accounts I have included. Great With This #cirlce  !!!***************************************************************Boost your visibility on Google+ - Share the circle!Boost your visibility on Google+ - Share the circle!Follow me here : http://goo.gl/7rWIEVTo be added to the Circle you have to do these simple steps:1 Include me in your circles2 Click add people and create your circle3 +1 this circle4 Publicly share this circle to public, your circles and extended circles. ( dont forget share the circle and include yourself )5 If possible, leave a comment on this circle so I know you have done the three steps above (I say "if possible" as my circle comments more often than not hit the 500 comment limit).6  So I can easily find your share, always publicly share my original shared circle. You'll know if you're sharing the original one because you won't see "Jason Levy originally shared" above here. If you do see it, click on "originally shared" and it will bring you to this post.Special Invite :+A Tech Buzz +Axel Kratel +Andrea Gervasi +Andrew Sowerby +Anette Mossbacher +Brett Szmajda +Andrew Sowerby +Irina Sadokhina +Sean Carroll +Michael Sonntag +Mighty Dragon Studios +Eric Delcour +2015-02-01 10:25:324744411
Circles Circles Circles49,036SCIENCE CircleDo you want more science in your life? Then, be sure to add these fascinating pages and people who dwell on science daily and are actively engaging.  Enrich your stream.If you are a scientist or someone who primarily posts about science and would like to be included in this circle please make a request in the comments section below.If you have someone or an organization's G+ page to recommend please add their name in the comments section below.Note: To those included in the circle, you were added by the generous recommendation of others  -- their help is deeply appreciated. Your add back and re-share would be also deeply appreciated as it would help spread the word about science.Current Circles  Published Mondays ORIGINAL CONTENT CREATORS: http://goo.gl/fVX5bZPublished Wednesdays:BLOGGERS & THEIR BLOGS: http://goo.gl/GNkGJhPublished Thursdays:WOMEN ARE FROM VENUS : http://goo.gl/s9RkeEMEN ARE FROM MARS : http://goo.gl/W8VDbBPublished Fridays:A CIRCLE TO PAY IT FORWARD: http://goo.gl/5mr38oOthers CirclesCREATIVES: http://goo.gl/9c5A3XSCIENCE: http://goo.gl/4UAeINTECHNOLOGY: http://goo.gl/whvLzNG+ Pages: http://goo.gl/jNZdWf#circleshare   2015-01-22 16:19:121067218
Rian Sigap475Get More Google+ Follower with  +TubeDEVILZ  January 15, 2015*****************************************************************HERE'S OF MY SHARED PUBLIC CIRCLE*****************************************************************Hope that you have been having a great week on Google+. Thank you for sharing and promoting this and for connecting up with all the great accounts I have included. Great With This Cilcle!!,Boost your visibility on Google+ - Share the circle!Boost your visibility on Google+ - Share the circle!To be added to the Circle you have to do these simple steps:1 Include me in your circles2 Click add people and create your circle3 +1 this circle4 Publicly share this circle to public, your circles and extended circles. ( dont forget share the circle and include yourself )5 If possible, leave a comment on this circle so I know you have done the three steps above (I say "if possible" as my circle comments more often than not hit the 500 comment limit).6  So I can easily find your share, always publicly share my original shared circle. You'll know if you're sharing the original one because you won't see "Jason Levy originally shared" above here. If you do see it, click on "originally shared" and it will bring you to this post.**************************************Follow Me Here : http://goo.gl/c18bpxAnd Subcribe : http://goo.gl/NT0MCkSpecial Invitation (Please +1 and Share) :+Alfina Dewi +Agus Septiann +Dini Ashanti +Amy Cesario +Sergii Daniloff +Danis Sanju +Lieven Damman +dini iftita +Lincoln Harrison +Riskhha Nur Hayati +Nanang Hendro +Hanste2015-01-16 20:15:35473419
Xtreme Videos0#CircleSharing#SharedCircles#Circle#CircleOfTheDay#SHARE#SharedPublicCircles#TeamElite#circlesdiscovery#Shared#ADD#Friends#Google#PublicCircle#teamelitecircle#teameliteengagercircle#dontconfusethecircles#SocialMedia#SocialMediaMarketing#EliteInnerCircle#Engagement#love#couple#cute#adorable#TagsForLikes#kiss#kisses#hugs#romance#forever#girlfriend#boyfriend#gf#bf#bff#together#photooftheday2015-01-16 16:26:1950161410
Ryan Johnson23,295This circle contains people who are very active on Google+If you received a notification, please reshare to your circlesIf you’d like to be added to the next circle share: • +1 this circle • Share this circle to PUBLIC • Include me in your circles • Comment on this post#circle #Sharedcircles #circleshare  #sri_lanka #colombo #australia #adelaide #australia #cairns #australia #darwin #australia #hobart #new_zealand #auckland #new_zealand #wellington #papua_new_guinea #papua_new_guinea #awesome #AwesomePeople #AwesomeCircle #addmetoyourcircles #addcircle #addpeople #circlemeup #circlesdiscovery #circleshare #circlesharing #publiccircle #publicsharedcircles #SharedCircles #weeklyreview #sharedcircle #topsharedcircle #circleoftheday 2015-01-16 13:00:35472236
RuMuZ NeYiMe1,336good morningadd friends list..#addcircle #addcircles #addpeople #awesomecircle #awesomecircles #awesomepeople #besharable #besocial #bestcircle #bestcircles #bestengagers #circleadd #circleall #circleme #circlemenow #circlemeup #circlenetwork #circleplus #circlesdiscovery #circleshare #circleshares #circlesharing #circleup #circleyoushare #coolpeople #engagerscircle #engagerscircles #findcircle #findcircles #follow4follow #followback #followme #fullcircleshare #influencermarketing #internetmarketing #morefollowers #networkcircle 2015-01-12 08:56:27466002
John Sean10,506This circle contains people who really are interesting and active people on Google Plus.If you would like to be included in the next Circle Share, you only have to do these simple steps:1 - Include me in your circles2 - Share the circle (Publicly)3 - Add +1 to the post.4 - Leave a comment if you like.I will thankful if you plus and share this circle!#publiccircle #circleshare #circlesharing #philadelphia #phoenix #san_antonio #san_diego #san_francisco #san_jose #seattle #tampa #washington #american_samoa #american_samoa #pago_pago #fiji #fiji #nadi #fiji #suva #argentina #argentina #buenos_aires #argentina #cordoba #argentina #iguaza #argentina #mendoza #argentina #rosaio #argentina #san_carlos_de_bariloche #bolivia #bolivia #cochabamba 2015-01-12 06:41:19465012
Norman E Grant2,529Share this Circle of passionate people and grow your network. 2014-12-08 20:18:364787312
STEM on Google+ Community18,387The STEM Community Active User Circle!Here's the latest circle of people who are Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) fans.  Some post great original material, some are great commenters, and some re-post interesting things from others into the community. There are a good number of newer G+ users here, and if you add them they will likely add you back.  Share this circle with people you know like science topics!While this circle has been selected based on activity and topic, there's no guarantee you will like everyone.  It's advised to add any new circle to a 'temporary name' circle and browse the content for a few weeks.  Add the people/pages that you find interesting to other circles you maintain as you go.  This makes deleting the rest easier in the future! #STEM   #sciencecircle   #publicsharedcircles   #science   #technology   #engineering   #math   #community   #welcometogplus   #newtogoogleplus   #curatedcircle  2014-12-05 10:44:062018111
Atanas Georgiev Atanasov2,751SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY FRIENDS : Circle V.1.11. Link to my own scientific research topic: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4212005/  To be included in future circle-editions, please ENGAGE: add me to your own circles/+1/re-share/comment on the original circle-post, or on some of the other science-related posts on my wall (this is needed since the number of people that could be circled is limited from Google – and therefore I am forced to keep included just the most active users). Currently featured science-related GOOGLE PLUS post:https://plus.google.com/115938908270684192009/posts/8LU6LVz75jxI would be happy to connect on other networks too:http://about.me/Atanas_At   Below I am just pasting some keyords/topics to improve the visibility of the circle and to make it more discoverable: #Science   #Research   #Technology   #NASA    #Space   #Innovation   #Engineering   #nutrition    #ScienceSunday   #Sundayscience   #Science   #Research   #Tech #GameTech   #GameTechnology    #Microsoft #MicrosoftResearch    #innovation   #Inflammation   #Brain #mindcontrol   #photography   #tech   #socialmedia   #googleplus #naturalproduct   #artists   #foodies   #cars   2014-11-27 06:30:22451433271
Amaresh Singh11Circle Of the DayTo be considered for this circle, please:1- Share this circle in your stream.2- Ask to be included in the comments section of the original post.3- Make sure you've added our page to your circles.4- You must post your own original work in your stream.2014-11-21 09:58:32238231124
Circles Circles Circles45,721SCIENCE CircleDo you want more science in your life? Then, be sure to add these fascinating pages and people who dwell on science daily and are actively engaging.  Enrich your stream.If you are a scientist or someone who primarily posts about science and would like to be included in this circle please make a request in the comments section below.If you have someone or an organization's G+ page to recommend please add their name in the comments section below.Note: To those included in the circle, you were added by the generous recommendation of others  -- their help is deeply appreciated. Your add back and re-share would be also deeply appreciated as it would help spread the word about science.Current Circles   Published Mondays ORIGINAL CONTENT CREATORS: http://goo.gl/pOzhN7Published Wednesdays:BLOGGERS & THEIR BLOGS: http://goo.gl/mlXh9WPublished Thursdays:WOMEN ARE FROM VENUS : http://goo.gl/DgeQIAMEN ARE FROM MARS : http://goo.gl/hhJPlSPublished Fridays:A CIRCLE TO PAY IT FORWARD:  http://goo.gl/Ik2RfOOthers CirclesCREATIVES: http://goo.gl/Ahy2X9SCIENCE: http://goo.gl/pzaC4yTECHNOLOGY: http://goo.gl/a1jWG6G+ Pages: http://goo.gl/9v2o43        #sciencecircle   #circleshare   #sharingcircles  2014-11-19 18:04:35106205
Atanas Georgiev Atanasov1,950SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY + FRIENDS : CIRCLE V.8; maintained by +Atanas Georgiev Atanasov  ; You can learn more about my personal scientific research at: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25083916   To be added to the circle, please +1/reshare/comment/add me to your circles. I would be happy to connect on other networks too:http://about.me/Atanas_At   Below I am just pasting some keyords/topics to improve the visibility of the circle and to make it more discoverable: #Science   #Research   #Technology   #NASA    #Space   #Innovation   #Engineering   #NIAC   #nutrition   #Entrepreneur   #Commercial #ScienceSunday   #Sundayscience   #Science   #Research   #Tech #GameTech   #GameTechnology   #Gaming   #VideoGaming   #Microsoft #MicrosoftResearch    #innovation   #Inflammation   #Brain #mindcontrol   #photography   #tech   #socialmedia   #googleplus #naturalproduct   2014-11-17 05:24:2236226837
Atanas Georgiev Atanasov1,633SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY + FRIENDS : CIRCLE V.7; maintained by +AtanasGeorgievAtanasov ; You can learn more about my personal scientific research at: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25083916   To be added to the circle, please +1/reshare/comment/add me to your circles. I would be happy to connect on other networks too:http://about.me/Atanas_At   Below I am just pasting some keyords/topics to improve the visibility of the circle and to make it more discoverable: #Science   #Research   #Technology   #NASA    #Space   #Innovation   #Engineering   #NIAC   #nutrition   #Entrepreneur   #Commercial #ScienceSunday  #Sundayscience   #Science   #Research   #Tech #GameTech  #GameTechnology   #Gaming   #VideoGaming   #Microsoft #MicrosoftResearch   #innovation   #Inflammation   #Brain #mindcontrol  #photography   #tech   #socialmedia   #googleplus #naturalproduct  #artists   #foodies   #cars2014-11-13 05:47:40346101
Atanas Georgiev Atanasov1,550SCIENCE and TECHNOLOGY + FRIENDS of it : CIRCLE V.6; maintained by +AtanasGeorgievAtanasov ; You can learn more about my personal scientific research here: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25083916   To be added to the circle, please +1/reshare/comment/add me to your circles. I would be happy to connect on other networks too:http://about.me/Atanas_At   Below I am just pasting some keyords/topics to improve the visibility of the circle and to make it more discoverable: #Science   #Research   #Technology   #NASA    #Space   #Innovation   #Engineering   #NIAC   #nutrition   #Entrepreneur   #Commercial #ScienceSunday  #Sundayscience   #Science   #Research   #Tech #GameTech  #GameTechnology   #Gaming   #VideoGaming   #Microsoft #MicrosoftResearch   #innovation   #Inflammation   #Brain #mindcontrol  #photography   #tech   #socialmedia   #googleplus #naturalproduct  #artists   #foodies   2014-11-10 06:22:16330123
Atanas Georgiev Atanasov1,228SCIENCE and TECHNOLOGY + FRIENDS of it : CIRCLE V.5; maintained by +AtanasGeorgievAtanasov ; You can learn more about my personal scientific research here: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25083916   To be added to the circle, please +1/reshare/comment/add me to your circles. I would be happy to connect on other networks too:http://about.me/Atanas_At   Below I am just pasting some keyords/topics to improve the visibility of the circle and to make it more discoverable: #Science  #Research #Technology #NASA  #Space #Innovation #Engineering #NIAC #nutrition #Entrepreneur #Commercial#ScienceSunday #Sundayscience #Science #Research #Tech#GameTech #GameTechnology #Gaming #VideoGaming +Microsoft#MicrosoftResearch  #innovation #Inflammation #Brain#mindcontrol #photography #tech #socialmedia #googleplus#naturalproduct #artists #foodies #cars #sharingiscaring  #Liver#sharingmeansthankyou #socialmedia  #sports #Smartphones#tablets 2014-11-06 08:10:34369051
Sharon Caroline1,691Hello my friends, good morning/evening for you all!Boost Your visibility On Google+!Shared and be shared. :)Thank you for sharing and promoting this.#circleshare #sharedcircles #sharingcircles #sharedcircleoftheday2014-11-05 08:31:58463203
Atanas Georgiev Atanasov1,228SCIENCE and TECHNOLOGY + FRIENDS of it : Circle V.3, maintained by +AtanasGeorgievAtanasov To be added to the circle, please +1/reshare/comment/add me to your circles. I would be happy to connect on other networks too:http://about.me/Atanas_At   You can learn a bit more about my personal scientific research from these links: https://plus.google.com/115938908270684192009/posts/MGt3zvEtTgq  http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25083916   Below I am just pasting some keyords/topics to improve the visibility of the circle and to make it more discoverable: #Science  #Research #Technology #NASA  #Space #Innovation  #Engineering #NIAC #nutrition #Entrepreneur #Commercial #ScienceSunday #Sundayscience #Science #Research #Tech #GameTech #GameTechnology #Gaming #VideoGaming +Microsoft #MicrosoftResearch  #innovation #Inflammation #Brain #mindcontrol #photography #tech #socialmedia #googleplus #naturalproduct #artists #foodies 2014-11-05 07:02:42362515
Atanas Georgiev Atanasov1,127Science and Technology +Friends: Circle 2014 V.2 To be added to the circle, please +1/reshare/comment. I would be happy to connect on other networks too:http://about.me/Atanas_At   You can learn a bit more about my personal scientific research from these links: https://plus.google.com/115938908270684192009/posts/MGt3zvEtTgq  http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25083916   Below I am just pasting some keyords/topics to improve the visibility of the circle and to make it more discoverable: #Science  #Research #Technology #NASA  #Space #Innovation  #Engineering #NIAC #nutrition #Entrepreneur #Commercial #ScienceSunday #Sundayscience #Science #Research #Tech #GameTech #GameTechnology #Gaming #VideoGaming +Microsoft #MicrosoftResearch  #innovation #Inflammation #Brain #mindcontrol #photography #tech #socialmedia #googleplus #naturalproduct #artists #foodies #cars 2014-11-04 06:51:44407103
Atanas Georgiev Atanasov1,054Science and Technology Circle 2014 To be added to the circle, please +1/reshare/comment. I would be happy to connect on other networks too:http://about.me/Atanas_At   You can learn a bit more about my personal scientific research from these links: https://plus.google.com/115938908270684192009/posts/MGt3zvEtTgq  http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25083916   Below I am just pasting some keyords/topics to improve the visibility of the circle and to make it more discoverable: #Science  #Research #Technology #NASA   #Space #Innovation   #Engineering #NIAC #nutrition #Entrepreneur #Commercial #ScienceSunday #Sundayscience #Science #Research #Tech #GameTech #GameTechnology #Gaming #VideoGaming #Microsoft #MicrosoftResearch   #innovation #Inflammation #Brain #mindcontrol #photography #tech #socialmedia #googleplus #naturalproduct #artists 2014-11-02 08:37:19453526
Becky Collins17,500Top Active Engager's Circle :Circle of very #social #engagerspeople and companiesTo be included in my shares (#sharedcircle), be so kind to:1 - Do +1 t the post2 - Comment the post and specify your "category" (job or interest) Ex: Fashion, SEO, Companies, Social Media Marketing, Sailing, Photography, Bloggers/Writers, Web graphics and design, Italy, Artists, Sport, Finance/Economy ...3 - include the circle among your circles4 - share the circle (include yourself)Improve your popularity, be social be cool !Keep yourself updated, enjoy the Shared Circles Hellenic Alliance, you can share your shared circles inside the upcoming Community:https://plus.google.com/communities/112552559573595396104  #socialmedia  #media  #circles   #circleshare   #circlesharing  #circlecircle   #beckyscircle   #sharedcircles   #sharedpubliccircles  #sharedcircleoftheday  +Becky Collins ?2014-10-13 05:05:40478002
John Nuntiatio48,007#newcircle   #sharedcircles #circlesharing #circle #bestcircle #news #bestofcircles #bestcircleshare #share #tech #business #sport #small #smallcircle #photography #health2014-10-12 14:20:47149011
RokSimec.com7,554To be added to the Circle you have to do these simple steps:1 - include me in your circles2 - Click add people and create your circle3 - share the circle (include yourself)4 - add +1 to the post*More you share more you get!*#circle                    2014-10-01 11:44:4749811914
RokSimec.com7,248 To be added to the Circle you have to do these simple steps:1 - include me in your circles2 - Click add people and create your circle3 - share the circle (include yourself)4 - add +1 to the post*More you share more you get!*#circle                    2014-09-26 10:33:5149813920
Becky Collins16,609Science Circle :Circle of very #social #engagerspeople and companiesTo be included in my shares (#sharedcircle), be so kind to:1 - Do +1 t the post2 - Comment the post and specify your "category" (job or interest) Ex: Fashion, SEO, Companies, Social Media Marketing, Sailing, Photography, Bloggers/Writers, Web graphics and design, Italy, Artists, Sport, Finance/Economy ...3 - include the circle among your circles4 - share the circle (include yourself)Improve your popularity, be social be cool !Keep yourself updated, enjoy the Shared Circles Hellenic Alliance, you can share your shared circles inside the upcoming Community:https://plus.google.com/communities/112552559573595396104  #socialmedia  #media  #circles   #circleshare   #circlesharing  #circlecircle   #beckyscircle   #sharedcircles   #sharedpubliccircles  #sharedcircleoftheday  +Becky Collins ?2014-09-16 05:24:00459102
Amazing Circles790Amazing BigCircle updated. 2014-09-01 19:35:12500123
Carlos Esteban50,970ENGAGERS and other INTERESTING PEOPLE Here you will find a sample of recent and repeat engagers, people that include me in shared circles, and people that publish interesting, useful or amusing posts. Add the circle and check them out. Maybe you like some of them! Feel free to re-share the circle :) Have a great week!2014-08-11 15:57:3149910779158
Circles Circles Circles37,983SCIENCE CircleDo you want more science in your life? Then, be sure to add these fascinating pages and people who dwell on science daily and are actively engaging.  Enrich your stream.If you are a scientist or someone who primarily posts about science and would like to be included in this circle please make a request in the comments section below.If you have someone or an organization's G+ page to recommend please add their name in the comments section below.Note: To those included in the circle, you were added by the generous recommendation of others  -- their help is deeply appreciated. Your add back and re-share would be also deeply appreciated as it would help spread the word about science.Current Circles  Published Mondays ORIGINAL CONTENT CREATORS : http://goo.gl/o82s0mPublished Wednesdays:BLOGGERS & THEIR BLOGS: http://goo.gl/IkCTLPPublished Thursdays:WOMEN ARE FROM VENUS : http://goo.gl/nFCsGwMEN ARE FROM MARS :  http://goo.gl/tID4ZmPublished Fridays:A CIRCLE TO PAY IT FORWARD:  http://goo.gl/E6v81LOthers CirclesSCIENCE: http://goo.gl/xXWLPtTECHNOLOGY: http://goo.gl/z3z8lh#science       #scienceeveryday       #sciencecircle       #circlesharing  2014-07-17 04:08:1710691432
khairul efendi0 Keep this simple!1. ADD the circle2 Share the post3. Plus the post.4. Comment to be added. BAM that is all easy right!? #circleshare  #circlesharing #sharedpubliccircles #snowballcircle #hyberballcircle #publicsharedcircles      #ownsocialmedia   #socialmediamarketing   #circlesharingpages   #sharingcircles   #whatshot   #followers   #googleplustips #CircleSharing #CircleShare #CircleOfTheDay #Circle #SharedCircles #Google #Google+ #GooglePlusTips #AddCircle #ADD #SharedPublicCircles #SharedCircle #Circles #Shared #Friends #Blogging #SharingCircles #CircleofFriends #Blogger #Engagers2014-06-20 07:31:49501215
Circles Circles Circles35,732SCIENCE CircleDo you want more science in your life? Then, be sure to add these fascinating pages and people who dwell on science daily and are actively engaging.  Enrich your stream.If you are a scientist or someone who primarily posts about science and would like to be included in this circle please make a request in the comments section below.If you have someone or an organization's G+ page to recommend please add their name in the comments section below.Note: To those included in the circle, you were added by the generous recommendation of others  -- their help is deeply appreciated. Your add back and re-share would be also deeply appreciated as it would help spread the word about science.Current Circles  Published Mondays ORIGINAL CONTENT CREATORS : http://goo.gl/RPEbdlPublished Wednesdays:BLOGGERS & THEIR BLOGS: http://goo.gl/fmOadpPublished Thursdays:WOMEN ARE FROM VENUS : http://goo.gl/Oyg8RBMEN ARE FROM MARS :  http://goo.gl/9NT51gPublished Fridays:A CIRCLE TO PAY IT FORWARD:  http://goo.gl/5mT3s0Others CirclesSCIENCE: http://goo.gl/AV4WvdTECHNOLOGY: http://goo.gl/YANzuo#science     #scienceeveryday     #sciencecircle     #circlesharing  2014-06-19 02:05:331065924
Maria Morisot32,548Moan Lisa's All Kinds of People Shared Circle15 June, 2014RESHARE if you want to be includedmoanlisa.org2014-06-15 11:11:532988283105
John Nuntiatio38,202#circles #sharedcircles #circlesharing #circle #bestcircle #news #bestofcircles #bestcircleshare #share #tech #business #sport #small #smallcircle #photography #health2014-06-15 06:01:32319368
DEVILZART2,249 This circle will add great, amazing, wonderful, and awesome content to you feed plus your page will receive massive engagement and +1 'sBoost your visibility on Google+ - Share the circle!To be added to the Circle you have to do these simple steps:1 - Include me in your circles2 - Click add people and create your circle3 - share the circle (include yourself)4 - add +1 to the post +DevilzArt More you share more you get!#circle   #circleshare   #circlesharing   #circleshared   #share   #sharedcircles   #sharedcircleoftheday   #engagers   #engagerscircle   #engagerspeople   #engagersshowcasecircle   #publicsharedcircles   #wordpress   #seo   #affiliatemarketing    #googleplus   #googleplusupdate   #blogger   #bloggers   #blogging     #internet   #socialmedia   #socialmediatips   #socialnetworking   #internetmarketing   #seo   #seotips   #bloggingtips   #bloggingforbusiness   #bloggingforbusiness   #bloggingtipsandtricks   #googleplustips   2014-06-15 02:13:005014415
Becky Collins10,439Super Science Circle :Circle of very #social #engagerspeople and companiesTo be included in my shares (#sharedcircle), be so kind to:1 - Do +1 t the post2 - Comment the post and specify your "category" (job or interest) Ex: Fashion, SEO, Companies, Social Media Marketing, Sailing, Photography, Bloggers/Writers, Web graphics and design, Italy, Artists, Sport, Finance/Economy ...3 - include the circle among your circles4 - share the circle (include yourself)Improve your popularity, be social be cool !Keep yourself updated, enjoy the Shared Circles Hellenic Alliance, you can share your shared circles inside the upcoming Community:https://plus.google.com/communities/112552559573595396104  #socialmedia  #media  #circles   #circleshare   #circlesharing  #circlecircle   #beckyscircle   #sharedcircles   #sharedpubliccircles  #sharedcircleoftheday  +Becky Collins ?2014-05-31 05:09:154901211
Circles Circles Circles33,758SCIENCE CircleDo you want more science in your life? Then, be sure to add these fascinating pages and people who dwell on science daily and are actively engaging.  Enrich your stream.If you are a scientist or someone who primarily posts about science and would like to be included in this circle please make a request in the comments section below.If you have someone or an organization's G+ page to recommend please add their name in the comments section below.Note: To those included in the circle, you were added by the generous recommendation of others  -- their help is deeply appreciated. Your add back and re-share would be also deeply appreciated as it would help spread the word about science.Current Circles  Published Mondays ORIGINAL CONTENT CREATORS : http://goo.gl/WbY7NSPublished Wednesdays:BLOGGERS & THEIR BLOGS: http://goo.gl/XPSnHVPublished Thursdays:WOMEN ARE FROM VENUS : http://goo.gl/itFj7ZMEN ARE FROM MARS : http://goo.gl/uBBxgdPublished Fridays:A CIRCLE TO PAY IT FORWARD: http://goo.gl/f1wz2IOthers CirclesSCIENCE: http://goo.gl/MOGsxGTECHNOLOGY: http://goo.gl/bDcYF4#science     #scienceeveryday     #sciencecircle     #circlesharing  2014-05-28 20:17:02102101219
Farid Shaikh171Google Friends! - You're in this   #Circle   -   #Share the circle *'"*:•:••:*:•-:¦:* Share and Be   #Shared   :¦:-•::••-:•:''''*                                              This is a super   #Circle   and in it I put together a group of really interesting and active people on Google Plus to add in your circles.I'm talking about the top   #Google + users that share unique and original contents.#Follow   this advice and grow your G+ community with people that share amazing content that will surprise you:#boost   visibility on Google+ - Share the circle!If you want to be added to the next Circle you have to do these simple steps:1 - Include me in your circles 3 - Share the circle (Publicly) 4 - Add +1 to the post 5 -   #Follow   your dreams and smile to life.More you share More you get! :)Thanks!#circles       #circleshare       #circlesharing       #sharedcircles                 #addcircles     #addpeople       #addcircle     #addfriends      2014-05-18 17:00:275015011
Farid Shaikh171No strings attached circle!If you want to be in the #circle  then let us know if you want to be in the circle! That's it! If you got notified, then you are in this one!2014-05-18 02:16:335017310
Farid Shaikh65Google Friends! - You're in this  #Circle   -  #Share   the circle *'"*:•:•* •-::-•:*:•-:¦: Share and Be  #Shared   :¦:-•:*:•.::• •-:•:''''*                                              115This is a super  #Circle   and in it I put together a group of really interesting and active people on Google Plus to add in your circles.I'm talking about the top   #Google + users that share unique and original contents.#Follow   this advice and grow your G+ community with people that share amazing content that will surprise you:#boost   visibility on Google+ - Share the circle!If you want to be added to the next Circle you have to do these simple steps:1 - Include me in your circles 3 - Share the circle (Publicly) 4 - Add +1 to the post 5 -  #Follow   your dreams and smile to life.More you share more you get! :)Thanks!#circles      #circleshare      #circlesharing      #sharedcircles                #addcircles    #addpeople      #addcircle    #addfriends      2014-05-17 06:20:0550110811
Circles Circles Circles32,435SCIENCE CircleDo you want more science in your life? Then, be sure to add these fascinating pages and people who dwell on science daily and are actively engaging.  Enrich your stream.If you are a scientist or someone who primarily posts about science and would like to be included in this circle please make a request in the comments section below.If you have someone or an organization's G+ page to recommend please add their name in the comments section below.Note: To those included in the circle, you were added by the generous recommendation of others  -- their help is deeply appreciated. Your add back and re-share would be also deeply appreciated as it would help spread the word about science.Current Circles  Published Mondays ORIGINAL CONTENT CREATORS : http://goo.gl/Hev5GIPublished Wednesdays:BLOGGERS: http://goo.gl/Nqll1yPublished Thursdays:WOMEN ARE FROM VENUS : http://goo.gl/olCV0EMEN ARE FROM MARS : http://goo.gl/l58RRiPublished Fridays:A CIRCLE TO PAY IT FORWARD: http://goo.gl/oIXG1ROthers Circles:SCIENCE: http://goo.gl/voKgBxTECHNOLOGY: http://goo.gl/bDcYF4#science   #scienceeveryday   #sciencecircle   #circlesharing  2014-05-16 02:10:07103141426
Carlos Esteban45,152ENGAGERS and other INTERESTING PEOPLE Here you will find a sample of recent and repeat engagers, people that include me in shared circles, and people that publish interesting, useful or amusing posts. Add the circle and check them out. Maybe you like some of them! Feel free to re-share the circle :) Have a great week! #circles #circlethis #circleyoushare #sharedcircles #addcircle #sharedpubliccircles #growfollowers #circleshare #publicsharedcircles #circleoftheweek #circlesharing #publiccircle #findcircles #circlemeup #sharedcircle #circleshare  #thursdaycircle   #thursdaycircleshared   #circlethursday #circle 2014#82014-05-12 13:43:52499150111187
Charles Barouch5,184G|+|ost Town #1 Circle of Awesome!http://www.hdwpbooks.com/books/g+ost-town/2014-05-03 06:56:1143416
Adam Black6,732Transhumans CircleBy popular Demand,  I am sharing some of my Circles. This is +Mark Bruce  Transhumans Circle  Plus Others Ive been adding.If you are tagged,  you are in it.Web Link for Mobile https://plus.google.com/u/0/+AdamBlack/posts/6iQmLpEj1Zm #sharedcircles   #GeekCulture   #ScienceSunday #Transhumans #Transhumanism #HumanPlus  2014-04-13 06:25:0424521733
steph wanamaker101,611#followfriday   #australianpeeps  thanks very much to paul sneddon for sharing his circle with me ! any australians I didn't include let me know!Happy Friday!2014-04-11 20:35:49202407
DEVILZART1,310#sharedcircle #publiccircleshare   #circleshare   #circleoftheday #circleshares   #circlesharing   #circlesshare   #publicsharedcircle #publicsharedcircles   #sharedcircleoftheday #sharedcircleoftheweek #sharedcircles   #sharedpubliccircle #todayspublicsharedcircle #todayssharedcircle   #publiccircle #circle   #circles   #awesome #awesomeness #awesomepeople #shareyourcircle   #bestengagers #followers   #followback #paulaawesomecircle   #awesomecircles #paulateshima #topsharedcircle #topsharedcircle   #myseoissocial #besocial   #socializethesocial   #trust #circles #sharedcircle 2014-04-04 17:15:22500141023
STEM on Google+ Community14,148Here are the "Movers & Shakers" in the STEM Community!February--March, 2014!Here's the latest updated edition of people & pages whose posts and comments appeared in the STEM on Google+ Community.  There are both science content creators and science readers here, and they are all active and interested in Science, Technology, Engineering, and/or Math.  Add this circle to your stream!Click here to enter the community >>https://plus.google.com/b/112166434848553337850/communities/110555615319066448343  Get involved in science discussions in the STEM community and you'll be in the next circle!If you received notification for this post, you are included in the circle!  If you do not wish to be notified, or shared in this (or other) circles, please let me know.~+Malthus John #sciencecircle   #stemcircle   #publicsharedcircles   #scienceeveryday   #sciencessunday   #stem   #gpluscommunities   #science   #technology   #engineering   #mathematics   #engagement  2014-03-24 17:43:08235232369
Matthew J Price8,236It's been some time since I shared my favorite circle: Accelerated Thinkers.  These 91 people are the ones I trust with bringing me the good news every day, and leading the conversation about the future of humanity.  Thank you so much!2014-03-22 04:25:4591103
Enrico Altavilla5,522I'm sharing with you my Science circle. It's focused mainly on physics, astrophysics and math but it also contains subjects (both people and pages) who share news about other scientific fields. Enjoy! 2014-03-21 06:45:031031015

Activity

Average numbers for the latest posts (max. 50 posts, posted within the last 4 weeks)

15
comments per post
13
reshares per post
53
+1's per post

3,885
characters per posting

Top posts in the last 50 posts

Most comments: 77

posted image

2014-11-19 14:41:35 (77 comments, 51 reshares, 79 +1s)Open 

Consciousness: Digging into Computational Equivalence and Physical Equivalence.

TL;DR
* The underlying physical properties of a computational system matter. 
* Computational equivalence is not enough to host consciousness.
* Real integration in time and space is key. 
* This matters and needs to be testable. 

I enjoyed an interesting thread last week in which I attempted to discuss computational versus physical equivalence as it pertains to the hard problem of consciousness, and which was initiated by a post (https://plus.google.com/u/0/110186693922408613972/posts/X2kuVjNsRN7) where +Nate Gaylinn pondered recent developments in deep learning and whether brain-like algorithms could ever be conscious. It was also the first time in a discussion I’d been strongly told I was fundamentally wrong in the same breath as being told I had spoken truthfully. It isa top... more »

Most reshares: 54

posted image

2014-11-16 12:53:37 (14 comments, 54 reshares, 115 +1s)Open 

SciTech #ScienceSunday Digest, 46/14.
Optical spinal control, personal tricorder, connectome drives robot, human intelligence tweaks, interesting batteries, artificial retina, printable electronics, full duplex communications, inducing phantoms, cyborg rescue roaches.

1. Optical Control of Motor Functions.
A new optogenetics probe comprises a polymer fiber as thin as a human hair that is able to both optically stimulate optogenetically active neurons and record the electrical activity of those neurons http://newsoffice.mit.edu/2014/striking-cord-optical-control-motor-functions-chi-lu-1107. Interestingly the demonstration involved use of the device in the tiny (1mm) spines of mice, with light pulses stimulating spinal neurons and the device recording the neuronal activity; one experiment demonstrated muscle twitches in limbs as a result of stimulation while... more »

Most plusones: 168

posted image

2015-02-22 08:02:14 (21 comments, 43 reshares, 168 +1s)Open 

SciTech #ScienceSunday Digest - 08/2015.
Permalink here: http://www.scitechdigest.net/2015/02/autonomous-atom-assembly-human.html

Autonomous atom assembly, Auto face detection, Human epigenome map, DNA data storage, UberBlox modular tools, Ultrasound vs brain barrier, Strong limpet teeth, Measuring synaptic transmission, Early cancer tests, Silicon nanofiber batteries. 

1. Autonomous Assembly of Atoms into Nanostructures
NIST researchers have developed a new system that enables the computer-controlled autonomous assembly of individual atoms into precisely defined nanostructures on a copper surface using a scanning tunnelling microscope http://www.nist.gov/cnst/automated_atom_assembly.cfm. The system first scans the surface to determine the precise locations of the atoms available for assembly, calculates the coordinate transformations necessary to... more »

Latest 50 posts

posted image

2015-03-03 12:25:11 (6 comments, 2 reshares, 43 +1s)Open 

Brain in a robot FTW!

I've often thought that given the simulation abilities and virtual worlds we will create in future it is likely, at some point, that we will get to explore and re-live a great many different lives; both possible forks of our own journey, and those of others past, future, and fantastical. 

Perils of being tied in half dimension of time.___Brain in a robot FTW!

I've often thought that given the simulation abilities and virtual worlds we will create in future it is likely, at some point, that we will get to explore and re-live a great many different lives; both possible forks of our own journey, and those of others past, future, and fantastical. 

posted image

2015-03-01 09:12:19 (18 comments, 27 reshares, 52 +1s)Open 

SciTech #ScienceSunday Digest - 09/2015.
Permalink here: http://www.scitechdigest.net/2015/03/dna-nanotubes-injected-hydrogels-super.html

DNA nanotubes, Injected hydrogels, Super atomic bonds, Quicker multicore chips, DeepMind plays games, DNA minicircle applications, Optogenetic pain control, Superatom superconductors, 5G at 1Tbps, New agricultural tools. 

1. Self-Assembled DNA Nanotubes
Continuing the development and evolution of DNA origami techniques we saw the demonstration of a new method of directed DNA self-assembly to produce DNA nanotubes http://www.mcgill.ca/channels/news/building-tailor-made-dna-nanotubes-step-step-243039. The new method adds modular block subunits iteratively, results in fewer errors, and by incorporating fluorescent tags the group were able to observe the addition of successive blocks to the nanotube. The prototype... more »

SciTech #ScienceSunday Digest - 09/2015.
Permalink here: http://www.scitechdigest.net/2015/03/dna-nanotubes-injected-hydrogels-super.html

DNA nanotubes, Injected hydrogels, Super atomic bonds, Quicker multicore chips, DeepMind plays games, DNA minicircle applications, Optogenetic pain control, Superatom superconductors, 5G at 1Tbps, New agricultural tools. 

1. Self-Assembled DNA Nanotubes
Continuing the development and evolution of DNA origami techniques we saw the demonstration of a new method of directed DNA self-assembly to produce DNA nanotubes http://www.mcgill.ca/channels/news/building-tailor-made-dna-nanotubes-step-step-243039. The new method adds modular block subunits iteratively, results in fewer errors, and by incorporating fluorescent tags the group were able to observe the addition of successive blocks to the nanotube. The prototype DNA nanotubes constructed with the technique reached about 20 units, or 450nm in length. I imagine such structures being used as atomically precise scaffolding in future. 

2. Drug Delivery via Injected Self-Healing Hydrogel
A new self-healing hydrogel comprised of a mesh of nanoparticles and polymer strands can be implanted into patients simply by injecting through a syringe http://newsoffice.mit.edu/2015/self-healing-nanogel-drug-delivery-0219. Such gels might carry one or more drugs at a time that are released at a controlled rate over a defined period of time; the prototype performed successfully in mice and released both a hydrophobic and hydrophilic drug over several days. I’d also be interested to see if such a gel could be loaded with functional cells - either bacterial or modified versions of the patients own - and protect such cells from the immune system as they respond to the environment and produce useful biochemical factors.

3. Confirmation of Metastable Innershell Molecular States
Metastable Innershell Molecular States were a theoretical prediction of short-lived molecules formed by high-energy collisions and bound together by deep electrons in the inner, as opposed to outer, shell or orbital. Bond strengths for these short-lived molecules are up to 1,000 times stronger and lengths 100 times shorter than normal molecules, and their dissociation would produce high-energy X-rays http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Metastable_inner-shell_molecular_state. New work seems to confirm that these entities do in fact exist http://nextbigfuture.com/2015/02/confirmation-of-ultra-high-energy.html. Possible future applications include high intensity X-rays, advanced lithography, superexplosives, and inertial fusion.

4. Boosting the Speed of Muticore Chips
A new scheduling technique distributes data and computation throughout multicore chips with such efficiency that a test 64 core chip realised a computational speed increase of 46% and a power consumption decrease of 36% https://gigaom.com/2015/02/20/mit-researchers-claim-they-have-a-way-to-make-faster-chips/. The advance addresses problems in communication and memory access in increasingly parallel systems by trying to co-locate data and the associated computation. That’s a pretty decent contribution; one piece of work from one team produces the equivalent of an additional full year of Moore’s Law type increases. 

5. Google DeepMind Learns to Play Many More Games
Originally demonstrating the ability to independently learn to play and master a couple of very simple computer games, the team behind Google-acquired DeepMind has successfully developed the system further to the point where it has now taught itself to play and master a much wider range of more complex 1980s Atari games http://spectrum.ieee.org/tech-talk/robotics/artificial-intelligence/google-ai-learns-classic-arcade-games-from-scratch-would-probably-beat-you-at-them. The system, known as a deep Q-network, the result of the evolution of deep learning techniques, and running on a single GPU-equipped desktop computer achieved impressive results in the games. The team next hope to address requirements for sophisticated exploration and long-term planning, and plan to move onto games from the 1990s. 

6. Cancer Detection and Cell Manipulation with DNA Minicircles
DNA minicircles (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Minicircle) are short plasmid derivatives about 4,000 basepairs long able to function as transgenic elements to get DNA inside cells, but lack bacterial DNA and so less likely to be recognised as foreign, and can also be made to replicate or not (and degrade) in the host cell. By injecting into mice DNA minicircles (in a carrier), that encode a gene only active during embryonic development, and controlled by a promoter region that is only active during embryonic development and in most (all?) cancer cells (never in healthy adult cells), researchers have caused mice with cancer (but not those without) to express a protein that can be easily detected in blood within two days to diagnose the presence and approximate amount of cancer http://med.stanford.edu/news/all-news/2015/02/customized-dna-rings-aid-early-cancer-detection-in-mice.html. Other applications include producing fluorescent proteins to image cancer cells directly, using different elements able to respond & manipulate different cells behaviour in different ways, and ideally via oral delivery. 

7. Controlling Pain via Optogenetics
By shining specific wavelengths of light onto the anterior cingulate cortex of mice brains modified by optogenetics (certain neurons producing light-sensitive channel proteins) researchers were able to controllably stimulate inhibitory neurons to drastically reduce the experience of pain for the mice http://www.uta.edu/news/releases/2015/02/mohanty-pain-inhibition.php. This was far more effective than electrode-based stimulation, which leads to activation of both inhibitory and excitatory neurons involved in these circuits. The group has also built up considerable expertise in near-infrared two-photon stimulation to allow deeper and more precise targeting and activation of optogenetically modified neurons. 

8. Superconductivity in Superatoms
Superatoms (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Superatom) made of a homogenous cluster of aluminium have been found to form cooper-pairs and superconduct at a temperature of 100 Kelvin http://news.usc.edu/76293/these-superconductors-are-just-getting-warmed-up/. Contrast this to bulk aluminium, which superconducts at 1 Kelvin. Another impressive feat demonstrated by the group was the ability to construct superatoms with a defined number of atoms, from 32 all the way up to 95 atoms and to precisely probe the electron energy levels of each. The hope is that further research on other types of elemental superatoms might reveal far higher superconducting temperatures, always striving for room temperature, and fabricating tracks of connected superatoms on circuits might enable nanoscale superconducting paths for a range of applications. See also superatom crystals http://www.rsc.org/chemistryworld/2013/06/artificial-superatoms-new-periodic-table. 

9. 5G Cellphone Speeds of 1 Terabit per Second
New prototype wireless transmitters and receivers were demonstrated for future 5G networks that successfully facilitated data transfers of 1 terabit per second over a distance of 100m http://nextbigfuture.com/2015/02/5g-cellphone-wireless-speeds-of-1.html. The group ultimately hope to bring the end-to-end latency of the system down below one millisecond. This compared to Ofcom, which hopes to have 5G networks offering 50 Gpbs across the UK by 2020. 

10. A Trio of Agricultural Developments
There were a few interesting agricultural projects this week. First, vertical farming continues to spring up around the world with a new facility next to a Wyoming parking lot called Vertical Harvest able to produce 37,000 pounds of greens, 4,400 pounds of herbs, and 44,000 pounds of tomatoes http://www.theverge.com/2015/2/26/8112889/vertical-farm-wyoming-hydroponics-grow-food. Second, we saw a new beehive design called the Flow Hive demonstrated that automatically extracts honey via tap without disturbing the bees http://www.thisiscolossal.com/2015/02/honey-on-tap/. Finally, new company Afforestt offers a new system for regrowing forests that can produce a mature forest in just ten years http://nextbigfuture.com/2015/02/growing-mature-forest-in-ten-years.html. 

Archived: http://www.scitechdigest.net/2015/03/dna-nanotubes-injected-hydrogels-super.html___

posted image

2015-02-28 13:04:32 (4 comments, 7 reshares, 51 +1s)Open 

Nature Chemistry's Coverage of the Latest in Molecular Electronics.

I just came across the latest Nature Chemistry journal with its focus on molecular electronics - seriously, what else would I be doing on a Saturday night!?

http://www.nature.com/nchem/focus/molecular-electronics/index.html#ed

It's pay-walled of course, but just the list of article titles and abstracts is pretty damn mind-blowing. There is the effect of molecular length on charge carriers in single molecules, single molecular switching, DNA charge transport, DNA molecular electronics, single molecule diodes, molecular rectifiers, currents through molecular wires and others. 

#molecular   #electronics   #chemistry  

Nature Chemistry's Coverage of the Latest in Molecular Electronics.

I just came across the latest Nature Chemistry journal with its focus on molecular electronics - seriously, what else would I be doing on a Saturday night!?

http://www.nature.com/nchem/focus/molecular-electronics/index.html#ed

It's pay-walled of course, but just the list of article titles and abstracts is pretty damn mind-blowing. There is the effect of molecular length on charge carriers in single molecules, single molecular switching, DNA charge transport, DNA molecular electronics, single molecule diodes, molecular rectifiers, currents through molecular wires and others. 

#molecular   #electronics   #chemistry  ___

posted image

2015-02-26 12:24:06 (9 comments, 11 reshares, 35 +1s)Open 

Drone Delivery.
Ever hear about the Amazon delivery drones and think Naaah, no way! 
Ever hear about delivering packages via drones and think Not going to happen by 2020 or even 2025! 
Then check this out, and be sure to read the video description afterwards. 

#drone   #delivery   #quadcopter  

Drone Delivery.
Ever hear about the Amazon delivery drones and think Naaah, no way! 
Ever hear about delivering packages via drones and think Not going to happen by 2020 or even 2025! 
Then check this out, and be sure to read the video description afterwards. 

#drone   #delivery   #quadcopter  ___

2015-02-24 12:41:21 (14 comments, 7 reshares, 27 +1s)Open 

Might 100% of Your Memories be at Least Partly Fictitious?
Latest research suggests yes.

The latest You Are Not So Smart podcast about the science of misremembering, memory, and confabulation is well worth a listen. The key feature of this episode is the interview with psychologist Julia Shaw and the discussion of her latest research (which I covered in a recent SciTech Digest [1]) showing that it is possible to implant false memories into people and convince them that they committed crimes that they did not commit. 

Julia kicks off with the statement that 100% of human memories are at least partially fictitious and as the talk delves into the nature of the memory implantation work one can't help but consider the nature and meaning of human memory, personal identity, and life narratives. Pretty fundamental stuff. 

At the end we get a discussion on recento... more »

Might 100% of Your Memories be at Least Partly Fictitious?
Latest research suggests yes.

The latest You Are Not So Smart podcast about the science of misremembering, memory, and confabulation is well worth a listen. The key feature of this episode is the interview with psychologist Julia Shaw and the discussion of her latest research (which I covered in a recent SciTech Digest [1]) showing that it is possible to implant false memories into people and convince them that they committed crimes that they did not commit. 

Julia kicks off with the statement that 100% of human memories are at least partially fictitious and as the talk delves into the nature of the memory implantation work one can't help but consider the nature and meaning of human memory, personal identity, and life narratives. Pretty fundamental stuff. 

At the end we get a discussion on recent optogenetics work trying to engineer memory and directly implant false memories (into mice for now) via light-induced neuronal activation, which was also covered in the SciTech Digest about five months ago [2]. 

Finally, during the interview a TED talk by psychologist Elizabeth Loftus is referred to. Elizabeth is one of the leading researchers world-wide in the field of false memories and confabulation. The talk is brilliant in its own right and induces fascination, wonder, anger, injustice, and sadness, and all because of the pervasive ignorance throughout society regarding the true nature of very fallible human memory. Check it out here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PB2OegI6wvI 

And, just by coincidence, tonight we happened to watch the new movie Before I Go To Sleep. It's a pretty good psychological thriller about a woman who has lost her memory following an accident and forgets the previous day's memories after falling asleep. I thought of a few different possible twists while watching but was completely surprised by the one they went with; I didn't see that coming! Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OtSzAEvBIK0 

[1] http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2015/01/150115102835.htm
[2] http://spectrum.ieee.org/tech-talk/biomedical/devices/lasers-switch-memories-from-bad-to-good 

#memory   #identity   #fallibility  ___

posted image

2015-02-24 02:54:26 (4 comments, 0 reshares, 18 +1s)Open 

My 2014 Year in Photos.
Sharing mainly so I have a publicly accessible link. 

My 2014 Year in Photos.
Sharing mainly so I have a publicly accessible link. ___

posted image

2015-02-22 08:02:14 (21 comments, 43 reshares, 168 +1s)Open 

SciTech #ScienceSunday Digest - 08/2015.
Permalink here: http://www.scitechdigest.net/2015/02/autonomous-atom-assembly-human.html

Autonomous atom assembly, Auto face detection, Human epigenome map, DNA data storage, UberBlox modular tools, Ultrasound vs brain barrier, Strong limpet teeth, Measuring synaptic transmission, Early cancer tests, Silicon nanofiber batteries. 

1. Autonomous Assembly of Atoms into Nanostructures
NIST researchers have developed a new system that enables the computer-controlled autonomous assembly of individual atoms into precisely defined nanostructures on a copper surface using a scanning tunnelling microscope http://www.nist.gov/cnst/automated_atom_assembly.cfm. The system first scans the surface to determine the precise locations of the atoms available for assembly, calculates the coordinate transformations necessary to... more »

SciTech #ScienceSunday Digest - 08/2015.
Permalink here: http://www.scitechdigest.net/2015/02/autonomous-atom-assembly-human.html

Autonomous atom assembly, Auto face detection, Human epigenome map, DNA data storage, UberBlox modular tools, Ultrasound vs brain barrier, Strong limpet teeth, Measuring synaptic transmission, Early cancer tests, Silicon nanofiber batteries. 

1. Autonomous Assembly of Atoms into Nanostructures
NIST researchers have developed a new system that enables the computer-controlled autonomous assembly of individual atoms into precisely defined nanostructures on a copper surface using a scanning tunnelling microscope http://www.nist.gov/cnst/automated_atom_assembly.cfm. The system first scans the surface to determine the precise locations of the atoms available for assembly, calculates the coordinate transformations necessary to move the atoms to new locations, then instructs the STM tip to move the atoms as desired. As a possible application the group quote the production of tailored quantum states for information processing and nanophotonics.

2. Face Detection Algorithms at Human Performance Levels
Deep Sense Face Detector is a new face detection algorithm, built on a deep convolutional neural network, that is able to quickly and accurately spot human faces at any angle and orientation in an image, even when partially occluded http://www.technologyreview.com/view/535201/the-face-detection-algorithm-set-to-revolutionize-image-search/. Key applications of course include image search and robotics, particularly robotic interaction with humans. Such detection capabilities combined with ever-better face recognition capabilities provide a glimpse into the near-future capabilities we’ll have for searching for people through both personal images and surveillance footage. In related news software is being developed to determine where a video was shot based based on the scenery and ambient sound http://www.gizmag.com/video-geolocation-algorithms/36172/. 

3. First Human Epigenome Map
A map of the human epigenome has been generated for the first time, and in the process creating a valuable tool that embodies genomic epigenetic changes, their regulatory effects, and comparisons across a wide range of cell and tissue samples http://newsoffice.mit.edu/2015/human-epigenome-map-0218. The data generated involved 150 billion sequencing reads and 3,174-fold coverage of the human genome and relied heavily on machine-learning algorithms to translate these massive datasets. The goal here is to understand the dynamic epigenetic code and how it might be manipulated; how it relates to cell and tissue specialisation and gives rise to various traits. 

4. Very Long Term Data Storage via DNA Encoding
Digital data can typically be encoded into DNA for short term applications. But by taking the digitally encoded DNA strands and encapsulating them in silica glass spheres measuring 150 nm researchers created a fossilised storage medium able to potentially preserve the digital information for a million years or more https://www.ethz.ch/en/news-and-events/eth-news/news/2015/02/data-storage-for-eternity.html. The information is retrieved by breaking down the glass with fluorine chemistry and sequencing the DNA found within, but the key enabling development was the addition and use of error-correction codes to handle the inevitable errors that are present. The proof-of-concept successfully stored and retrieved the Switzerland Federal Charter and an Archimedes text. 

5. UberBlox: Modular Components for Tools and Devices
UberBlox is a new modular construction set and prototyping system with a standard connection and locking mechanism between units and a variety of control systems for computer enabled automation of a wide variety of tools and devices http://www.gizmag.com/uberblox-modular-construction-set-lego-maker/36006/. UberBlox can be assembled into a range of devices including 3D printers, laser cutters, CNC millers and routers, manipulator arms, rovers, robots, and all compatible with Arduino, Raspberry Pi, and other systems. Modularity enables familiar standards, ease of use, lower costs, and faster evolution of designs; we just need to reach the point of creating something like an UberBlox that can create more UberBoxes.

6. Applications for Opening the Blood Brain Barrier with Ultrasound
Magnetic resonance imaging has previously been used to guide focused ultrasound to temporarily open the blood brain barrier to allow desired drugs to pass through. In a recent study this technique was used on the hippocampus of animal models of Alzheimers disease, and was found to assist with the reduction of plaques, increase neuronal plasticity, and improve cognition and spatial learning, and all without tissue damage or behavioural changes http://www.nibib.nih.gov/news-events/newsroom/attacking-alzheimer%E2%80%99s-ultrasound. Early days but with such a relatively simple technique and promising animal results I’m thinking human tests will be good to see. 

7. Limpet Teeth: New Strongest Natural Material
Limpet teeth are made of geothite and recent tests suggest the fibrous structure of this material in limpet teeth may be the strongest known natural material http://www.port.ac.uk/uopnews/2015/02/18/scientists-find-strongest-natural-material/. Interestingly the strength of the limpet teeth was found to be somewhat scale-invariant, with the same relative strength over different length scales - a counter-intuitive finding given larger structures tend to have more defects and so less relative strength. Finding a synthetic process to mimic the fabrication of this material on a large scale would have obvious applications across a wide range of areas. 

8. Measuring Synaptic Transmission in Live Animals
For the first time the synaptic transmission between neurons in live animals has been recorded with the aid of optogenetics http://actu.epfl.ch/news/controlling-brain-cells-with-light/. Using optogenetically engineered mice that produce neurons sensitive to certain wavelengths of light, researchers activated a subset of neurons in the sensory cortex with flashes of blue light while simultaneously using implanted microelectrodes to record electrical signals in neighbouring neurons, and used this to directly observe the activation of one neuron from another. Developing this technique the group showed that synaptic transmission differs depending on the type of neuron receiving the signal, and ultimately hope this can be used to build larger pictures of connectivity between other types of neuron across the brain. 

9. Developing Liquid Biopsies and Early Cancer Tests
A nice overview article gives an update of the rapid development of liquid biopsies and testing for early stage cancers via DNA sequencing a drop of blood from patients http://www.technologyreview.com/featuredstory/534991/liquid-biopsy/. The technique, originally developed for testing a drop of a pregnant woman’s blood to sequence DNA determine whether her fetus has Down Syndrome, is now making big strides in testing for the presence of early stage cancers with numerous clinical studies underway. The benefits of such a technique being rolled out would have a profound impact on patients as the prognosis for early, pre-symptomatic, cancer detection is much better. The the rapidly declining cost of DNA sequencing strongly suggests that before too long we might all have a weekly or monthly sequencing test. 

10. Silicon Nanofibers Enable Better Batteries
I don’t often cover battery technologies because they’re announced all the time with usually little result. But this new paper-like material composed of a high-density matrix of silicon nanofibers as an anode for lithium-ion batteries looks quite promising http://ucrtoday.ucr.edu/27263. Silicon can pack 10 times the electrical charge per unit weight compared to typical graphite electrodes in lithium-ion batteries and should enable similar-sized batteries with several times the storage capacity. Produced via electrospinning the new material solves existing problems of scalability and volume expansion. Multigram amounts were fabricated for prototyping and testing and the group next plans to fabricate a standard pouch-cell lithium-ion battery for testing with real devices. Doubling or quadrupling lithium-ion battery capacity impacts everything from smartphones to drones to electric vehicles. 

Archived: http://www.scitechdigest.net/2015/02/autonomous-atom-assembly-human.html ___

posted image

2015-02-19 13:54:53 (28 comments, 4 reshares, 59 +1s)Open 

Current VR Setup

Naturally, getting a new phone with a big 6" QuadHD / 2K display demanded I get my hands on a new, bigger Google Cardboard with which to view virtual reality content. The new phone certainly wouldn't fit in the old cardboard, and to really appreciate that pixel density you're going to have to strap it to your face. And after playing around with this a few times I'm convinced I need a 4K screen in my next device, and hopefully an 8K screen after that; pixel density is still not good enough. Also looking forward to a dedicated, comfortable, robust headset at some point. 

A few other necessities:
- Wad of Blu Tack on the nose-rest to prevent sore crease forming on nose.
- Headphones are a must; this phone has great speakers but you need dedicated in-ear audio for best effect.
- Turn the lights off; a darkened room is best to... more »

Current VR Setup

Naturally, getting a new phone with a big 6" QuadHD / 2K display demanded I get my hands on a new, bigger Google Cardboard with which to view virtual reality content. The new phone certainly wouldn't fit in the old cardboard, and to really appreciate that pixel density you're going to have to strap it to your face. And after playing around with this a few times I'm convinced I need a 4K screen in my next device, and hopefully an 8K screen after that; pixel density is still not good enough. Also looking forward to a dedicated, comfortable, robust headset at some point. 

A few other necessities:
- Wad of Blu Tack on the nose-rest to prevent sore crease forming on nose.
- Headphones are a must; this phone has great speakers but you need dedicated in-ear audio for best effect.
- Turn the lights off; a darkened room is best to prevent light leakage from the bottom / sides destroying the feeling of immersion.
- A bluetooth controller compatible with your smartphone. I previously hacked a PS3 controller to work with the old system but decided to get a dedicated one this time around and chose the new Asus Game Pad that was launched for the Google Nexus Player. 

Tonight I:
- Went back to the abandoned spaceship I'd first visited with cardboard and despite the fact that I knew the aliens were there, and I knew they came after you, and I knew they surprised you . . . still experienced that visceral feeling of terror, surge of adrenaline, hair standing on end, sick in the pit of my stomach at the sight of one and being pursued by one. 
- Rode on a wild roller coaster around a tropical island.
- Shot zombies while walking down dark abandoned subway lines. 
- Orbited a planet while dodging debris and space junk and shooting weird aliens. 
- Did a vertical drop from orbit, avoiding obstacles, but managing to die multiple times.
- Bounced around a simulated mountain landscape.
- Floated on a serene lake at night, the waves lapping and crickets chirping, as candle-lanterns drifted by, past a bridge, and off towards the mountains. 
- Explored a level from the FPS game Shadowgun but wasn't able to shoot anything unfortunately (needed controller). 
- Sat in a dark creepy room with a low power torch looking around for murder clues as the door slammed shut, foot prints appeared on the floor, a bloody hand on the wall, and a girl in a chair scurried off.
- Watched parts of three different VR movies including "The Mission" set in WW2, "Kaiju Fury" set in a city under attack from a giant monster, and "Black Mass" which was pretty damn creepy. 

And there are of course "other" VR content genres emerging for your ahem discrete consumption. 

Not Just Video
Audio is becoming an increasingly important aspect of a good VR experience as evidenced by the resurgence of 3D Audio, which is not to be mistaken with surround sound which is very different. +The Verge had a great, recent article on 3D Audio or Binaural Audio and I'd recommend you checking it out here http://www.theverge.com/2015/2/12/8021733/3d-audio-3dio-binaural-immersive-vr-sound-times-square-new-york but even if you don't you should definitely watch this accompanying video https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Yd5i7TlpzCk from the article with headphones in to see (and hear!) what it is all about. 

#cardboard   #virtual   #reality  ___

posted image

2015-02-18 10:44:27 (44 comments, 0 reshares, 34 +1s)Open 

Caffeine Abstinence. 

I've only had caffeine once in the last two and a half weeks. This from a usual routine of two cups of coffee each day and a coke most nights. But I hadn't been sleeping well: difficulty falling asleep, a long time to fall asleep, very light sleep and easily woken, waking up earlier than expected and earlier than the alarm. Insomnia at some point along the spectrum. 

I have generally good sleep hygiene - good room environment - but knew it had to be something. I've also been rather paranoid about getting enough sleep ever since reading this study about sleep being critical for cleaning the brain of waste products and maintaining good mental health http://www.urmc.rochester.edu/news/story/index.cfm?id=3956. First thing to try was cutting out caffeine; cold turkey. 

Within days I was sleeping solidly again and have only had one badnig... more »

Caffeine Abstinence. 

I've only had caffeine once in the last two and a half weeks. This from a usual routine of two cups of coffee each day and a coke most nights. But I hadn't been sleeping well: difficulty falling asleep, a long time to fall asleep, very light sleep and easily woken, waking up earlier than expected and earlier than the alarm. Insomnia at some point along the spectrum. 

I have generally good sleep hygiene - good room environment - but knew it had to be something. I've also been rather paranoid about getting enough sleep ever since reading this study about sleep being critical for cleaning the brain of waste products and maintaining good mental health http://www.urmc.rochester.edu/news/story/index.cfm?id=3956. First thing to try was cutting out caffeine; cold turkey. 

Within days I was sleeping solidly again and have only had one bad night in the last two and a half weeks. I'm also more alert during the day than when I was consuming coffees and cokes and have probably consumed 50 or so teaspoons of sugar less than I otherwise would have, which adds up pretty quickly when you think about it. 

Of course this is only a nice correlation at this stage; to really be sure caffeine was the culprit I'd have to repeat the experience. Regardless I plan to keep this new habit, but not exclusively - everything in moderation - and I'm happy to indulge on weekends and with others during social occasions. 

Everyone's metabolism is different of course, and I'd be interested to hear other people's relationship to the most popular and widely dosed stimulant drug in the world. How many coffees per day do you have and do you sleep well?

Caffeine: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Caffeine 

#coffee   #caffeine   #sleep  ___

posted image

2015-02-17 13:11:11 (14 comments, 1 reshares, 41 +1s)Open 

Celebrating One Million YouTube Views!
300,000 views ago :P

In recognition of passing what is, for me, the significant milestone of my first 1,000,000 views of my videos on YouTube I wanted to make a new and updated basic robots video with the new Lego EV3 set. This was chosen partly in homage to the original 4 Basic Robots video (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=85kI6oBSXHY) that has turned out to be my most popular video so far and earning me many 100s of dollars in ad income, and partly because it is fun as hell. 

The thing is, the event of buying my first house and other happenings in life kinda got in the way of my pursuit of personal projects like this and before I knew it four months and an additional 300,000 views had slipped by. 

And really, after using the NXT Lego kit to make a telepresence robot, a book-scanning robot, a keyless home entry system,a... more »

Celebrating One Million YouTube Views!
300,000 views ago :P

In recognition of passing what is, for me, the significant milestone of my first 1,000,000 views of my videos on YouTube I wanted to make a new and updated basic robots video with the new Lego EV3 set. This was chosen partly in homage to the original 4 Basic Robots video (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=85kI6oBSXHY) that has turned out to be my most popular video so far and earning me many 100s of dollars in ad income, and partly because it is fun as hell. 

The thing is, the event of buying my first house and other happenings in life kinda got in the way of my pursuit of personal projects like this and before I knew it four months and an additional 300,000 views had slipped by. 

And really, after using the NXT Lego kit to make a telepresence robot, a book-scanning robot, a keyless home entry system, and other things it was well past time to have a tinker and play with the newer EV3 Lego robotics kit. These 5 basic robots are the standard designs and programs that come with the kit and are models that everyone with an EV3 should be familiar with. The video is broken down as follows:

0:02 - Time lapse build
1:31 - Track3r Tank Bot
2:31 - Ev3rstorm Humanoid Bot
3:33 - Strik3r Scorpion Bot
4:36 - R3ptar Snake Bot
5:38 - Gripp3r Mover Bot

One thing that becomes abundantly apparent when building and programming these basic robots is that Lego designers are fricken geniuses. Generally the level of cleverness isn't obvious from just observing the robots do their basic things, but only becomes apparent when building the thing from scratch and seeing and understanding the constraints and other design choices made to enable a particular function. 

As always this is a creative endeavour: building these things inspires additional creativity and creative thinking, reinforces the power and importance of modularity in technology, and invariably leads to thoughts of what might be possible if you had swarms of programmable self-assembling bits. 

Other stats for the channel include:
- There are currently 1,900 subscribers
- Last month there were 70,000 views, which is slightly above average although this has been double at times
- Last month there were 184,000 minutes watched, which works out to be 3,066 hours or 127.8 days or 4.12 months
- i.e. there were a bit over 4 months worth of video watched last month, which means a bit over 4 sets of eyeballs are watching the videos at any given instant 
- This translates into about $95 in earnings
- 87% of the audience is male
- 33% are aged 25-34 yo, while 77% are aged 18-44 yo
- 52% of views are via computer, 25% via mobile

#lego   #ev3   #robots  ___

posted image

2015-02-17 09:54:59 (5 comments, 0 reshares, 16 +1s)Open 

Checking out Slickwraps.

I ordered some Slickwraps (slickwraps.com) the other week to try and give my phone a new look, and after a tricky application process involving repeated careful alignment and a blow dryer managed to get the result below. This is the white carbon fiber wrap.

Pros:
- Back plate looks great
- Textures feel great
- More grip and less slippery

Cons:
- Alignment isn't perfect, especially on curved surfaces
- Noticeably less travel for power and volume buttons
- Sharper feeling edges
- Front plate isn't the best

Still undecided whether I'll keep the wrap or not but probably leaning towards taking it off; glad I gave it a try in any case. Has anyone else given these a go?


Checking out Slickwraps.

I ordered some Slickwraps (slickwraps.com) the other week to try and give my phone a new look, and after a tricky application process involving repeated careful alignment and a blow dryer managed to get the result below. This is the white carbon fiber wrap.

Pros:
- Back plate looks great
- Textures feel great
- More grip and less slippery

Cons:
- Alignment isn't perfect, especially on curved surfaces
- Noticeably less travel for power and volume buttons
- Sharper feeling edges
- Front plate isn't the best

Still undecided whether I'll keep the wrap or not but probably leaning towards taking it off; glad I gave it a try in any case. Has anyone else given these a go?
___

posted image

2015-02-15 05:13:16 (11 comments, 50 reshares, 88 +1s)Open 

SciTech #ScienceSunday Digest - 07/2015.
Permalink here: http://www.scitechdigest.net/2015/02/crispr-via-light-volume-graphene.html

CRISPR via light, Volume graphene production, Spot the robot, Printed DNA hydrogels, Implanted artificial organs, Printing via spinnerets, Scanadu tricorder, Prosthetic arms, Contact lens telescope, GMO apple approval. 

1. Light-Induced CRISPR for Custom Tissue Architectures 
By attaching light sensitive proteins from plants to a specific CRISPR sequence and to gene activation proteins a new controlled gene regulation system has been engineered that enables any desired gene to be switched on and off by simply shining light of a particular wavelength onto the cell http://www.pratt.duke.edu/news/controlling-genes-light. The proof-of-concept showed a dish of cells expressing fluorescent proteins only on those areas thath... more »

SciTech #ScienceSunday Digest - 07/2015.
Permalink here: http://www.scitechdigest.net/2015/02/crispr-via-light-volume-graphene.html

CRISPR via light, Volume graphene production, Spot the robot, Printed DNA hydrogels, Implanted artificial organs, Printing via spinnerets, Scanadu tricorder, Prosthetic arms, Contact lens telescope, GMO apple approval. 

1. Light-Induced CRISPR for Custom Tissue Architectures 
By attaching light sensitive proteins from plants to a specific CRISPR sequence and to gene activation proteins a new controlled gene regulation system has been engineered that enables any desired gene to be switched on and off by simply shining light of a particular wavelength onto the cell http://www.pratt.duke.edu/news/controlling-genes-light. The proof-of-concept showed a dish of cells expressing fluorescent proteins only on those areas that had been exposed to light. Future applications include light-induced control over the variable differentiation of stem cell cultures to facilitate better and more realistic tissue engineering, or even skin-based cell therapies that allow you to activate a particular pathway at will.

2. Towards Volume Production of Graphene
An alteration to conventional chemical vapour deposition techniques has resulted in a new method to enable the scalable production of graphene sheets http://www.rug.nl/news/2015/02/0210-publ-grafeen. The key insight was simply to grow the graphene on a copper oxide substrate; the process of removing or decoupling the graphene from this substrate preserves the graphene structure and properties and circumvents the risks of breakage or contamination. In related graphene fabrication news, 3D printing of complex 3D graphene-based structures is being facilitated by better graphene-loaded inks http://www.nanowerk.com/spotlight/spotid=38965.php. 

3. Spot, by Boston Dynamics
Leading robotics company Boston Dynamics showed off a new mid-size quadruped robot weighing 160 lbs called Spot this week http://spectrum.ieee.org/automaton/robotics/robotics-hardware/spot-is-boston-dynamics-nimble-new-quadruped-robot. Smaller but faster and more agile than its big brother Big Dog, Spot is battery powered and actuated by hydraulics, and can recover quickly from even severe knocks - as can be seen in the embedded video and which will test your anthropomorphic tendencies. In other robotics news new flying drone designs prove almost indestructible in most situations http://spectrum.ieee.org/automaton/robotics/aerial-robots/gimball-drones-for-good-competition. 

4. 3D Printed Self-Assembled Hydrogel Structures
Complementary DNA strands loaded into a gel enable the gel to carry live cells and be 3D printed into custom structures http://phys.org/news/2015-02-synthetic-dna-gel-artificial.html. The complementary DNA self-assembles to impart the mechanical characteristics of the gel, which can be altered as needed by changing the sequence of DNA; this self-assembly obviates the need for high temperatures and so better facilitates the handling of live cells through a print nozzle for tissue engineering applications. In other biological self-assembly news the self-assembled protein coats some microbes use to protect themselves is offering insights for engineering artificial variants for a range of purposes http://newscenter.lbl.gov/2015/02/11/bacterial-armor/. 

5. Artificial Organs in Implantable Capsules
Pancreatic precursor cells loaded into a flexible, biocompatible mesh capsule that blocks white blood cells but allows the passage of nutrients, oxygen, waste products, proteins, and secreted factors, successfully treats diabetes in animals for long periods of time and has already been implanted into one person to kick off clinical trials http://www.technologyreview.com/news/535036/a-pancreas-in-a-capsule/. The device was developed by Viacyte and they aren’t the only group developing similar technologies; future work will improve the life of the device and create full differentiated islet cells rather than a mix. It’s fascinating to think how the function of artificial organs can be provided in this way, or even other custom biological functions perhaps; combined with the light-induced CRISPR you could have a subdermal patch that you switch on when needed to pump out some enzyme like alcohol dehydrogenase for example. 

6. Robotic Bio-Mimicking Spinnerets for Amazing 3D Printing
A new 3D printer demonstration combines a robotic arm and an innovative 3D printer that includes multiple dynamically moving print heads that each continuously extrude print filament in a system that mimics a spider’s spinnerets extruding silk fibres http://gizmodo.com/this-incredible-robotic-arm-prints-plastic-like-a-spide-1685397572. The machine can extrude or “print” custom 3D fibres or structures, suspended in space, on the go and results in fibres comprising an internal core fibre surrounded by three looping fibres that help convey structural strength and flexibility. Check out the video; it’s pretty amazing. Think of this attached to a mobile robot or mobile swarm of robots. 

7. Scanadu Personal Medical “Tricorder” Ships
Starting out as a successful Indiegogo crowd-funding project Scanadu has finally launched and shipped their Scout product, a small round device that is held to the forehead and very quickly sends readings to your smartphone with measurements of heart rate, temperature, blood pressure, oxygen level, and ECG http://edition.cnn.com/2015/02/12/tech/mci-scanadu-tricorder/index.html?eref=edition. Early users will help with real world calibration and testing and if the measurements are confirmed as accurate (an FDA submission is also in the works) then this would be a pretty powerful consumer device and one I’d definitely buy. They are also working on a “Scanaflo” product, intended to be a urine test kit for measuring  wide range of metabolic factors.

8. Prosthetic Arms by DARPA & OSRF
DARPA and its partners including the Open Source Robotics Foundation continue to develop advanced prosthetic arms and hands for amputees http://spectrum.ieee.org/automaton/robotics/medical-robots/darpa-and-osrf-developing-nextgen-prosthetic-limbs-in-simulation-and-reality. In a couple of recent demonstrations of the ongoing work we can see a man using a prosthetic arm to climb a rock wall, while other amputees use the prosthetic arms to pick grapes, spoon-feed themselves, “hand” objects between each other, pour drinks into glasses and other feats. The ultimate goal of the program is to create artificial limbs that behave like, are controlled like, and for the user feel like, a normal biological arm. 

9. Telescope in a Contact Lens
Another DARPA collaboration, this time with the EPFL, has resulted in the production of a new type of contact lens embedded with thin aluminium mirrors that, in conjunction with a pair of LCD glasses function as a telescopic lens http://gizmodo.com/this-contact-lens-can-zoom-in-with-a-wink-of-the-eye-1685695869. Light passing through the LCD in one polarisation appears normal and conveys normal vision, but switch the LCD to produce a different polarisation that interacts with the contact lens and the result is telescopic magnification. Future work will improve the oxygen permeability of the lens for greater eye comfort and perhaps seek incorporate the switchable liquid crystal elements directly. 

10. Genetically Modified Apples Approved by Regulators
For the first time genetically engineered apples have been granted regulatory approval by the US Department of Agriculture http://www.theverge.com/2015/2/13/8035775/gmo-apples-usda-commercial-farming-genetically-modified. The genetic modifications are pretty simple, and involve altering the activity levels of a particular gene / enzyme to ensure the apples will greatly resist browning when cut or dropped. I can only hope that this paves the way for greater varieties and greater numbers of different GM foods that convey a range of different nutritional benefits such as more vitamins, etc as opposed to the usual pesticide resistance that we usually see with staple crops. 

Archived: http://www.scitechdigest.net/2015/02/crispr-via-light-volume-graphene.html___

posted image

2015-02-08 13:43:52 (26 comments, 1 reshares, 79 +1s)Open 

Just finished a thoroughly awesome day

Just finished a thoroughly awesome day___

posted image

2015-02-08 06:38:26 (12 comments, 35 reshares, 71 +1s)Open 

SciTech #ScienceSunday Digest - 06/2015.
Permalink here: http://www.scitechdigest.net/2015/02/embryo-on-chip-multi-organ.html 

Embryo on a chip, Multi-organ microfluidics, 2D materials, Smartphone diagnostics, Videos & deep learning, RNA gene switch, Nano optics antennas, Rapid genome analysis, 1.5nm ruler, Aviation additive manufacturing. 

1. Embryos on a Chip
With the development of a new PDMS biomimetic system there is now such a things as an embryo-on-a-chip http://phys.org/news/2015-02-transparent-soft-pdms-eggshell-embryo.html. PDMS was used to create artificial transparent shells with the same shape and curvature of real egg shells within which it is possible to culture and grow embryos, which in the proof-of-concept were chick embryos, and allows new ways to study embryo development. Compounds of interest can be introduced as neededin... more »

SciTech #ScienceSunday Digest - 06/2015.
Permalink here: http://www.scitechdigest.net/2015/02/embryo-on-chip-multi-organ.html 

Embryo on a chip, Multi-organ microfluidics, 2D materials, Smartphone diagnostics, Videos & deep learning, RNA gene switch, Nano optics antennas, Rapid genome analysis, 1.5nm ruler, Aviation additive manufacturing. 

1. Embryos on a Chip
With the development of a new PDMS biomimetic system there is now such a things as an embryo-on-a-chip http://phys.org/news/2015-02-transparent-soft-pdms-eggshell-embryo.html. PDMS was used to create artificial transparent shells with the same shape and curvature of real egg shells within which it is possible to culture and grow embryos, which in the proof-of-concept were chick embryos, and allows new ways to study embryo development. Compounds of interest can be introduced as needed into the embryo by use of the device. I also wonder whether this will aid the development of artificial uteruses. 

2. Organism on a Chip and Microfluidics
In related news we had the latest development of microfluidic chips designed to host multiple organs at the same time connected with a circulatory system, and working towards a complete organism-on-a-chip http://www.fraunhofer.de/en/press/research-news/2015/february/mini-synthetic-organism-instead-of-test-animals.html. The promise here is to greatly accelerate clinical drug development by allowing rapid chip-based testing of drugs instead of animal studies and lengthy human trials. A novel and very clever microfluidic pumping mechanism was also unveiled this week that involved a simple vibrating saw-toothed grating to propel fluids around the chip https://photos.aip.org/publishing/journal-highlights/industrial-pump-inspired-flapping-bird-wings. 

3. This Week in 2D Materials
First, transistors have been made from silicene for the very first time, proving various models and confirming ballistic electron transport, despite the technique currently being impractical for everyday use http://spectrum.ieee.org/nanoclast/semiconductors/materials/transistor-made-from-silicene-for-first-time. Second, a new allotrope of carbon called penta-graphene has been discovered in theoretical models; comprised of tiled pentagons (instead of hexagons) it should be stable, strong, and naturally semiconducting but first they’ll have to synthesise it http://phys.org/news/2015-02-penta-graphene-variant-carbon.html. Third, and related to the second, it seems grain boundary defects in graphene sheets, which are usually comprised of 5 or 7 member rings appear to provide a nice semiconducting bandgap for graphene http://phys.org/news/2015-02-borders-graphene.html. 

4. Smartphone-Powered Diagnostic Testing
A new device that plugs into the audio jack of a smartphone for power and data transfer is able to accurately test a person’s blood sample to diagnose syphilis or HIV, and to top it off the device costs just $34 http://spectrum.ieee.org/tech-talk/biomedical/diagnostics/34-diagnostic-tool-for-stds-plugs-into-smartphone-rivals-18000-lab-equipment. The test accuracy matches that of far more expensive equipment, and while it competes with cheaper paper-based tests it also might be easily expanded to handle a range of other diagnostics as well. The modular utilisation of smartphones is a big plus in my opinion, and marks yet another step towards portable, personal, tricorder-like medical devices.

5. Applying Deep Learning Analysis to Video Footage
A couple of new companies have launched new software, powered by deep learning techniques, to automatically analyse, breakdown, and characterise video footage http://www.technologyreview.com/news/534631/a-startups-neural-network-can-understand-video/. Videos lasting minutes can be processed in seconds to produce timelines for the appearance or presence of different objects, compositions, landscapes, or activity. Interesting applications for embedded video advertising, personal and public video search for short relevant sections of video buried in long videos, and also real-time analysis of surveillance footage. The capabilities are already impressive and can be expected to get much better. 

6. Genetic On-Off Switch Made of RNA
A new system allows controlled activation of desired genes simply with specific sequences of RNA; one sequence is tailored to bind to a region of DNA upstream of the gene of interest and block the transcription or activation of that gene, while a second sequence is tailored to the first and when present binds to and removes the first strand to allow gene activation to continue http://phys.org/news/2015-02-genetic-exclusively-rna.html. This sounds similar to CRISPR-style mechanisms. A nice and simple solution to control the activation of a particular gene, provided the RNA strands can be effectively and efficiently introduced / delivered into the cells of interest. 

7. Light Emission Gains on Light Stimulation for Applications
A new nano-scale antenna made of gold boosts the spontaneous light emission of a specific nanorod by 115 times, which is getting close to the 200-fold improvement that stimulated light (e.g. lasers) have typically enjoyed over spontaneous emission light http://newscenter.lbl.gov/2015/02/03/rediscovering-spontaneous-light-emission/. The group believe they can greatly improve this performance and this would make it possible to replace wires on microchips with LEDs for significant on-chip performance gains. As noted by the authors we’ve only just started to fabricate and utilise antennas in optics. 

8. Whole-Genome Analysis in 90 Minutes
The time taken to analyse a single person’s genome has been drastically reduced after the development and demonstration of new software called “Churchill” that is able to analyse a genome to find mutations and other differences of interest in under 90 minutes http://www.nationwidechildrens.org/news-room-articles/new-software-analyzes-human-genomes-faster-than-other-available-technologies-empowering-population-scale-genomic-analysis?contentid=137732. The accuracy of the software was demonstrated as 100% reproducible, and to have the highest sensitivity (99.7%), accuracy (99.99%), and diagnostic effectiveness (99.66%) compared to other competing computational genomic analysis techniques. Rapid personalised genomics takes another step towards realisation. 

9. 1.5 Nanometer Ruler for Extending Moore’s Law
 The finest ever nanoscale ruler has been fabricated with line measurements of just 1.5nm, and is intended to aid the development of the next semiconductor nodes at 11nm and 7nm required for the continuation of Moore’s Law http://www.eetimes.com/document.asp?doc_id=1325587. The ruler will be used as a test pattern to calibrate and test the instruments used to fabricate next generation semiconductor technology. Measuring just 6x6 micrometers, samples of the new ruler will be critical not just for advanced semiconductor fabs but also for making better scanning microscopes, atomic force microscopes, and soft x-ray microscopes. 

10. Pushing Additive Manufacturing and New Materials
Aircraft and jet engine manufacturers continue to push additive manufacturing to enable transformative performance improvements in aviation by using laser or electron beam sintering of metal to make lighter, stronger parts http://www.technologyreview.com/news/534726/additive-manufacturing-is-reshaping-aviation/. In addition they are trying to transform engine design so that engines contain drastically fewer parts and are cheaper to make while performing better; the new technology allows the consideration of wild alterations such as many smaller engines embedded along the wings themselves. In related materials news, new iron-aluminium steel alloys overcome brittle problems to provide tensile strength and ductility performance greater than titanium alloys http://nextbigfuture.com/2015/02/ultrastrong-low-density-steel-with.html. 

Archived:
http://www.scitechdigest.net/2015/02/embryo-on-chip-multi-organ.html___

posted image

2015-02-07 13:31:37 (8 comments, 1 reshares, 18 +1s)Open 

Smartphone Cosmic Ray Detector: Fake?

I'm calling B.S. on this one. You might remember some months ago the Deco app was launched by researchers at the University of Wisconsin. Deco runs on your phone, running the camera with the lens covered, examining ostensibly dark images for signs of noise and relevant signals that are likely to have been produced by cosmic rays (and cosmic ray debris) passing through the camera's CMOS detector. 

I thought this sounded pretty cool and wanted to give it a try immediately. However:

* I've never been able to get it to work despite wasting time on three separate occasions trying. 
* The account / service registration process has failed every time, with the same error, across both mobile and desktop. 
* I've emailed the people involved on multiple occasions for assistance but not once received a reply orac... more »

Smartphone Cosmic Ray Detector: Fake?

I'm calling B.S. on this one. You might remember some months ago the Deco app was launched by researchers at the University of Wisconsin. Deco runs on your phone, running the camera with the lens covered, examining ostensibly dark images for signs of noise and relevant signals that are likely to have been produced by cosmic rays (and cosmic ray debris) passing through the camera's CMOS detector. 

I thought this sounded pretty cool and wanted to give it a try immediately. However:

* I've never been able to get it to work despite wasting time on three separate occasions trying. 
* The account / service registration process has failed every time, with the same error, across both mobile and desktop. 
* I've emailed the people involved on multiple occasions for assistance but not once received a reply or acknowledgement of my inquiry. 

Which is weird because the group seem to have upgraded their website, see http://wipac.wisc.edu/deco, it doesn't make a whole lot of sense. Especially when they've apparently created a Google Group  for users and trouble-shooting and yet this is a private group and so is completely useless to help resolve any issues; you must be a member and I suspect that means you must have been registered - something they consistently fail to do. 

Anyway, I'm just disappointed in the group, the app, and the entire experience. Did anyone else give this a try and experience anything different? 

#deco   #cosmicrays   #app  ___

2015-02-05 13:29:13 (2 comments, 3 reshares, 13 +1s)Open 

The Individual and the Collective: Survival, Reproduction, Transparency, and Secrecy.

I've always enjoyed +Valkyrie McGill​'s (a.k.a. Valkyrie Ice) articles and writing over the years; as a transhumanist writer she is up there with Extropia Dasilva although her style is different. Broad scope, deep insight, and at times, expansive vision. Even when I've disagreed with a piece or a certain premise it has been undeniably thought-provoking and stimulating. Most of the articles have appeared on other, more mainstream sites and not this personal blog.

The following posts are from last year, and have been sitting in my ever-growing "To Post About" reminder note in Google Keep for over 9 months now. I was waiting for the third installment but alas I don't think it will be written and it ultimately isn't necessary. These posts are a lengthy, if notqu... more »

The Individual and the Collective: Survival, Reproduction, Transparency, and Secrecy.

I've always enjoyed +Valkyrie McGill​'s (a.k.a. Valkyrie Ice) articles and writing over the years; as a transhumanist writer she is up there with Extropia Dasilva although her style is different. Broad scope, deep insight, and at times, expansive vision. Even when I've disagreed with a piece or a certain premise it has been undeniably thought-provoking and stimulating. Most of the articles have appeared on other, more mainstream sites and not this personal blog.

The following posts are from last year, and have been sitting in my ever-growing "To Post About" reminder note in Google Keep for over 9 months now. I was waiting for the third installment but alas I don't think it will be written and it ultimately isn't necessary. These posts are a lengthy, if not quite meandering, examination of the basic structure of society from fundamental first principles. Keep an open mind and give the first post a chance, at least the first page or two, for it to kick in and grab you. 

You may not agree with the content, the conclusions, or the opinions but I think you'll find it thought-provoking, and I think you'll have a decent idea for the scenarios and future possibilities that would have made it into Part 3. 

The Individual and the Collective, Part 1
http://valkyrieice.blogspot.com.au/2014/05/the-individual-and-collective-part-one.html 

The Individual and the Collective, Part 2
http://valkyrieice.blogspot.com.au/2014/06/the-individual-and-collective-pt2.html 

#society   #transparency   #secrecy  ___

posted image

2015-02-01 13:51:30 (7 comments, 30 reshares, 67 +1s)Open 

SciTech #ScienceSunday Digest - 05/2015.
Permalink here: http://www.scitechdigest.net/2015/02/mobius-of-light-probiotics-vs-diabetes.html

Mobius of light, Probiotics vs diabetes, Artificial organelles, Locking down GMOs, Neural imaging, Neural stimulators, Printing quantum dots, Drone commoditisation, False memories, and Haptic machine interfaces. 

1. Creating a Mobius Strip Out of Light
Researchers figured out how to twist the polarisation of a beam of light to create a structure with the same topology as a Mobius strip; a two dimensional surface twisted in a third dimension and possessing a single face or side http://spectrum.ieee.org/tech-talk/semiconductors/optoelectronics/a-mobius-strip-made-of-light. This was done by sending the light beam through a plate containing specially-ordered liquid crystals and then focusing onto a gold... more »

SciTech #ScienceSunday Digest - 05/2015.
Permalink here: http://www.scitechdigest.net/2015/02/mobius-of-light-probiotics-vs-diabetes.html

Mobius of light, Probiotics vs diabetes, Artificial organelles, Locking down GMOs, Neural imaging, Neural stimulators, Printing quantum dots, Drone commoditisation, False memories, and Haptic machine interfaces. 

1. Creating a Mobius Strip Out of Light
Researchers figured out how to twist the polarisation of a beam of light to create a structure with the same topology as a Mobius strip; a two dimensional surface twisted in a third dimension and possessing a single face or side http://spectrum.ieee.org/tech-talk/semiconductors/optoelectronics/a-mobius-strip-made-of-light. This was done by sending the light beam through a plate containing specially-ordered liquid crystals and then focusing onto a gold nanoparticle, on which they measured the oscillating electric field of the light, twisting around in a band with only one side. They created strips with 1.5 twists and 4.5 twists. An interesting new phenomena. 

2. Engineered Probiotic Bacteria Efficiently Combat Diabetes
A common gut bacterium has been engineered to secrete a protein called GLP-1; when secreted by the bacteria in the gut GLP-1 induces intestinal epithelial cells to become insulin-producing cells (similar to pancreatic cells) that result in a 30% reduction in blood glucose in diabetic animals http://www.news.cornell.edu/stories/2015/01/diabetes-rats-treated-engineered-probiotic. Future work will explore larger doses to see if complete treatment can be achieved and attempt via spin-out company to introduce the treatment to humans that might involve taking a probiotic pill each day. Such probiotic therapeutics are only scratching the surface and I think many more treatments and applications could be explored in this way. 

3. Engineering Artificial Organelles for Cells
By introducing engineered plasmid DNA vectors - that produce lipid-like proteins with hydrophilic and hydrophobic ends - into cells, the lipid-like proteins are produced and self-assemble into organelle-like compartments inside the cell http://phys.org/news/2015-01-genetic-blueprint-organelles-simple-cells.html. The structures can be further engineered to (i)  incorporate artificial amino acids to facilitate desired chemical functions, (ii) incorporate membrane proteins to bind to cell membrane and co-opt cellular metabolism, (iii) modify or add to cellular metabolism. This is an interesting technology platform for exploring applications in synthetic biology and nanotechnology. 

4. Locking Down Genetically Engineered Organisms
Continuing to build on work to reprogram the genetic code itself, new strains of bacteria have now been created that (i) are dependent on artificial amino acids (not produced in the environment) for building proteins and for the function of their proteins, (ii) will soon incorporate seven recoded codons instead of just one, and (iii) are dependent on synthetic chemicals for gene expression http://www.nature.com/news/gm-microbes-created-that-can-t-escape-the-lab-1.16758. Such organisms are resistant to viruses, are incapable of swapping genes with other bacteria, and in (i) and (iii) are dependent on synthetic chemicals and so cannot survive outside of controlled environments - a useful protection for biocontainment and controlling the function of the organism in the environment. 

5. Advances in Imaging Neural Activity
The neural activity of freely-moving nematode worms has been recorded for the first time http://www.technologyreview.com/view/534481/first-videos-created-of-whole-brain-neural-activity-in-an-unrestrained-animal/. Neural activity is captured by engineered fluorescent proteins that emit light when the neurons produce calcium, and the microscope automatically tracks and follows an individual worm as is moves; in this way the group seek to analyse neural activity in relation to movement. In related imaging studies separate functions have been observed for identical neighbouring neurons in certain cases http://news.unchealthcare.org/news/2015/january/new-deep-brain-imaging-reveals-separate-functions-for-nearly-identical-neurons. 

6. Devices that Improve the Sensing and Stimulating of Neural Activity
On-going developments of neural polymer fibre technology have now resulted in complex multimodal fibres thinner than a hair that resemble neural tissue properties and can deliver both optical signals and drugs directly into the brain while simultaneously recording neural electrical activity http://newsoffice.mit.edu/2015/fibers-deliver-simultaneous-stimuli-0119. In related news we also had an excellent recent review of the field by three representatives of companies developing and selling products into this space http://spectrum.ieee.org/biomedical/bionics/smart-neural-stimulators-listen-to-the-body, basically implanted devices that stimulate the nervous system, measure neural electrical activity and responses, and which can adapt their stimulus on the fly depending on feedback. 

7. High Resolution Printing of Quantum Dots
The light-emitting semiconductor nanocrystals known as quantum dots can now be printed in high resolution to produce true quantum dot displays rather than the quantum-dot-enhanced back light currently available in high-end televisions http://spectrum.ieee.org/tech-talk/consumer-electronics/audiovideo/highresolution-printing-of-quantum-dots-for-vibrant-inexpensive-displays. Such a printed surface offers the promise of extremely high resolution, rich and vibrant, efficient and cheap displays for many different applications. The technique relies upon electrodynamic jet printing, which had been used previously to print patterns of DNA and nanotubes, and may offer some interesting cross-over applications. 

8. Drone Commoditisation Takes a Big Leap
A normal stock smartphone can now be used as the brains and sensor platform for full autonomous control of quadrotors and other drones http://spectrum.ieee.org/automaton/robotics/aerial-robots/a-smartphone-is-the-brain-for-this-autonomous-quadcopter. Install the software onto your phone and plug it into a drone body with a motor-controller and power supply for the rotors and away you go - either remote control via another device or set the parameters within which the phone is to pilot the drone autonomously; I’ve been waiting for this for a while now. Of course, drone applications are currently proliferating rapidly http://singularityhub.com/2015/01/27/drones-will-be-everywhere-watching-listening-and-planting-millions-of-trees/. 

9. Inducing False Criminal Memories in People
New psychological research suggests that innocent adults can be convinced after a few hours that they perpetrated crimes as a teenager http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2015/01/150115102835.htm. Up to 75% of participants formed the false memories, but this required the interviewer to (i) possess knowledge of personal events in the participant’s past, (ii) construct the false event by linking it or constructing it with aspects of true events and memories, and (iii) actively encouraging participants to “try” remembering details they said they couldn’t remember. This sounds like induced confabulation of the person’s guilt for an event that never happened that, in up to 75% of cases is later retained as a genuine memory. I’d like to see this study repeated in multiple scenarios to see if this holds up. 

10. Haptic Interfaces as Motor Skill Teachers and Human-Machine Interfaces
In the continuing evolution of haptic robotic devices designed to assist humans in the acquisition of muscle memory to learn new motor skills we have a new family of devices created to teach people how to draw http://www.wired.com/2015/01/machine-guides-hand-teach-draw/. The main aim of the work however is to develop an understanding of how to better design human-machine interfaces with regard to how much control humans will tolerate a machine having over them, “to understand the negotiations people make when machine and humans have different perspectives and the same goal.” 

http://www.scitechdigest.net/2015/02/mobius-of-light-probiotics-vs-diabetes.html___

posted image

2015-01-31 06:33:14 (14 comments, 5 reshares, 74 +1s)Open 

Utterly indulgent chocolate degustation at +Koko Black Chocolate in Adelaide this afternoon.

* Mocha for me
* Hot chocolate for Elise
Plate with, from left to right:
* Belgian chocolate mousse
* Chocolate Alchemy Cake
* Raspberry chocolate dome
* Chocolate hazelnut layered stack
* Chocolate ice-cream with chocolate crumbs

Also left with two bags of chocolate bits and a tray of selected flavoured chocolates. Safe to say my sweet tooth is rather satisfied! The raspberry chocolate dome was our favourite - if we were forced to pick. Strongly recommend any fellow Australians visit a local Koko Black in their capital city :-D

#chocolate   #indulgence   #foodcoma  

Utterly indulgent chocolate degustation at +Koko Black Chocolate in Adelaide this afternoon.

* Mocha for me
* Hot chocolate for Elise
Plate with, from left to right:
* Belgian chocolate mousse
* Chocolate Alchemy Cake
* Raspberry chocolate dome
* Chocolate hazelnut layered stack
* Chocolate ice-cream with chocolate crumbs

Also left with two bags of chocolate bits and a tray of selected flavoured chocolates. Safe to say my sweet tooth is rather satisfied! The raspberry chocolate dome was our favourite - if we were forced to pick. Strongly recommend any fellow Australians visit a local Koko Black in their capital city :-D

#chocolate   #indulgence   #foodcoma  ___

posted image

2015-01-29 13:02:35 (22 comments, 3 reshares, 60 +1s)Open 

Christmas arrived late this year.

Three new devices arrived yesterday, three that I've been hanging out to get for quite some time.

Chromebook
Elise and I got a great deal of mileage out of our first Chromebooks, the original Samsung Series 5 that, after 3 years, was showing definite signs of age. Elise used hers exclusively without a need for any other computer aside from her phone and tablet; I used mine far less often, mainly because I tended to default to the conventional beefy laptop for video editing, data management, and custom software applications. So this time around I opted just for the one device for us to share with separate login accounts as needed. 

Last year I was interested in getting the Samsung Chromebook 2 when it was announced but availability in Australia for these devices is rather poor at the best of times. Then the Acer... more »

Christmas arrived late this year.

Three new devices arrived yesterday, three that I've been hanging out to get for quite some time.

Chromebook
Elise and I got a great deal of mileage out of our first Chromebooks, the original Samsung Series 5 that, after 3 years, was showing definite signs of age. Elise used hers exclusively without a need for any other computer aside from her phone and tablet; I used mine far less often, mainly because I tended to default to the conventional beefy laptop for video editing, data management, and custom software applications. So this time around I opted just for the one device for us to share with separate login accounts as needed. 

Last year I was interested in getting the Samsung Chromebook 2 when it was announced but availability in Australia for these devices is rather poor at the best of times. Then the Acer Chromebook 13 came out and for me it edged out the competition at this point in time. Bought on Ebay from a reputable international seller this Acer Chromebook 13 as numerous advances and benefits over the old device:

* Vastly improved build quality; feels solid, track-pad is great, keys have a better feel.
* Screen is also very nice: moving from 720p to 1080p is extremely noticeable. Only drawback is effective viewing angles are a bit poor.
* Moving from 2GB to 4GB RAM and from a single-core 1.5 GHz processor to a Tegra K1 2.3 GHz quad-core provide a substantial performance boost. 

So far satisfied I made the right choice of Chromebook. 

Moto Hint
That little device in the image is a bluetooth headset ear-bud with dual microphones for audio communication to your phone . . . a la the movie her. Being a long-time user of bluetooth headsets (although less so in the last 6 months) the advanced design and features of the Moto Hint certainly caught my attention when it launched last year. Another Ebay purchase, I've only just set it up so don't really have a verdict at this stage, only a few thoughts for now:

* Still getting the hang of intuitively touching the touch-pad for the right amount of time to activate a "press".
* The inclusion of an inner sensor that detects whether or not the thing is in your ear, and routes calls to your phone or itself accordingly is pretty cool.
* Charging cradle is cute but very well implemented.
* Volumes seem to default to the lower end, and while your can still boost this substantially via the volume button on the device, it'd be nice to control the default volume.
* Ultimate utility and continuing of use will depend on call quality and, key, ease of frictionless voice commands to device and Google Now - something that I still need to test and set up properly.

Nexus 6
This is phone is ultimately a compromise for me. I've been wanting one ever since Google and Motorola launched the device at the end of October last year; I upgrade my phones every year and this is the longest I've had to wait due to what can only be called the worst disaster of a false-expectation-setting launch ever. Something has obviously gone very very wrong for Motorola on the production side of things. 

I would probably have been able to snap up a hard-to-get unit in December IF I was content to get the 32GB storage version, but I was holding out for the 64GB version. So I waited, and waited, and read rumours and ultimately the 64GB version never came to the Play Store, with indication this week from other retailers that it wouldn't be available until mid-March (unacceptably late given my upgrade cycle). I would have forked out the extra cash to get a unit from Hong Kong via Ebay but was dissuaded due to rumours of some production runs having problems with screen burn-in, battery expansion, and back plate separations. So I settled for a local retailer that happened to have a single 32GB unit in stock, given the lack of stock via Google Play, and guaranteed that if there were any issues I could go back to the store with my receipt to quickly have it replaced (I think this is unlikely). I wanted 64GB and ended up with 32GB. I wanted white and ended up with dark blue. A few thoughts:

* Immediately unlocked and rooted with the wonderful Wugs Nexus Root Toolkit. 
* It is big and not for everyone but personally I'm very happy with the size of the thing, and so is Elise with her's. After just 12 hours of using the device my old phone and any other smaller phone looks and feels like a cute little child's toy. 
* Screen is gorgeous, with vibrant colours and a resolution that makes it impossible for me to make out any sort of pixelation in any of the UI elements. I can't wait to get an upgraded version of Cardboard to again explore VR applications with this thing: double the resolution and bigger viewing angles should make for a better experience than the one I had with my Nexus 5. Downside: performance in bright sunlight outdoors is not the best.
* Still need to set up always-on voice, double-tap to wake, and a couple of other things. 
* One handed usage isn't too bad. Not perfect, not flawless, but manageable. Main issue is reaching across to "back" arrow of navigation bar. Hoping a software solution, like that for the Note 4, helps mitigate one-handed usage soon. But not a deal-breaker. 
* I don't expect to use my Nexus 7 tablet again; even reading books on this 6" screen is great. 
* Two-factor authentication is a pain when setting up a new phone for the first time: you login and get sent a code that you can't access because you haven't finished the setup process, so you have to go back, skip, finish set-up, and then dig in and add your account from scratch.
* Ambient display and ambient notifications are a nice touch. 
* Significant processing boost: tested a random Game of Life run at very high resolution and high speed, settings that would cause my Nexus 5 to stutter, and this thing crunched it smoothly without missing a beat. 
* Yet to test the camera properly but not expecting any issues. 
* Have noticed that sometimes, when calls come in, the screen doesn't immediately wake up and needs a press of the button to do so. This needs to be addressed with a software update. 
* Battery life doesn't seem anywhere near as good as what I was expecting - maybe I'm playing with it too much? - will see how battery life goes after a week of usage. Seem to be getting a full day but not the day-and-a-half others have reported; could be for any number of reasons. Quick-charge is a nice feature. 
* Qi charging works but it doesn't have the magnets the N5 had to lock the phone in place over the charger - a small annoyance. 

The price-performance of computing doubles every 18 months or so. Back then I was using another flagship, the Nexus 4, so how does my N6 compare to the N4 from 18 months ago?

* 4G/LTE instead of 3G+ mobile data connectivity.
* 2.7 GHz quad-core CPU instead of 1.5 GHz quad-core CPU.
* 170 GFlops GPU instead of 60 GFlops GPU.
* 3 GB of RAM instead of 2 GB. 
* 32 GB storage (I wanted 64 GB) instead of 16 GB. 
* 3220 mAh battery instead of 2100 mAh battery.
* 493 ppi display density instead of 318 ppi.
* Quad-HD (double 1080p) display instead of ~720p display. 
* 13 MP camera instead of 8 MP camera.
* 4K video recording instead of 1080p video recording.
* 802.11ac WiFi instead of 802.11n WiFi.

#chromebook13   #motohint   #nexus6  ___

posted image

2015-01-26 13:42:07 (48 comments, 42 reshares, 112 +1s)Open 

Travelling Faster than the Speed of Light.
There exist natural phenomena in our Universe that will allow you to do just that; so long as it is your local spacetime moving and you're just along for the ride.

Massive rotating black holes exhibit frame-dragging on an unimaginable scale. Frame-dragging is a prediction from General Relativity that rotating massive objects literally drag spacetime around themselves in the direction of rotation and cause nearby orbiting objects to precess; this dragging of spacetime around the Earth, while a small effect, has been confirmed by the Gravity Probe B experiment. The more massive the object and the faster it rotates, the more severe this dragging of the surrounding spacetime becomes. 

Most popular discussion on black holes tends to concern non-rotating black holes, also known as Schwarzchild black holes, which are characterised by... more »

Travelling Faster than the Speed of Light.
There exist natural phenomena in our Universe that will allow you to do just that; so long as it is your local spacetime moving and you're just along for the ride.

Massive rotating black holes exhibit frame-dragging on an unimaginable scale. Frame-dragging is a prediction from General Relativity that rotating massive objects literally drag spacetime around themselves in the direction of rotation and cause nearby orbiting objects to precess; this dragging of spacetime around the Earth, while a small effect, has been confirmed by the Gravity Probe B experiment. The more massive the object and the faster it rotates, the more severe this dragging of the surrounding spacetime becomes. 

Most popular discussion on black holes tends to concern non-rotating black holes, also known as Schwarzchild black holes, which are characterised by a gravitationally dense point or singularity and surrounded or hidden by an event horizon, defined as the surface at which the escape velocity for the black hole reaches the speed of light. Given the movements that characterise stars and galaxies I’m not sure I’m convinced that non-rotating black holes can exist. In any case rotating black holes are known as Kerr black holes and have far more interesting characteristics. 

Rotating black holes collapse not to a point singularity but to a one-dimensional ring singularity, and as they do so they form a number of different event horizons and related surfaces. The first “surface” an external observer would pass through pertains to frame-dragging, is referred to as the edge of the ergosphere and is the point at which spacetime is being dragged around the black hole at the speed of light. Further out from the surface of the ergosphere spacetime is still being dragged around, but at a speed slower than the speed of light. 

Beyond this surface however and deeper towards the rotating black hole, spacetime is being dragged at a rate faster than the speed of light and the deeper you go the faster it gets. Although spacetime itself is being dragged faster than the speed of light, before you hit the first event horizon the escape velocity is still lower than the speed of light and so it is still possible to escape the black hole in this region, and indeed still possible to extract energy in this region that might be used elsewhere. 

A photon striking the edge of the ergosphere at a tangent and in opposite direction to the rotation will come to a stop relative to an external observer; its speed of light propagation will be matched by the opposite speed of light propagation of space itself. Although massive objects still cannot travel faster than light through space, when inside the ergosphere the rotating spacetime will necessarily transport them faster than the speed of light in relation to an external observer. The raw phenomenon to power your warp drive does indeed exist; whether we might ever harness it is another matter. 

Passing through the first event horizon your space-like path becomes time-like, and further inwards you’ll pass another event horizon and your time-like path will again become space-like; but it will have flipped this time and is now reversed with gravity near the ring singularity becoming repulsive. If this wasn’t mind-blowing enough, some paths through these horizons can comprise closed-timelike-curves and the ring singularities might be linked through spacetime to act as wormholes - although these more exotic predictions appear to demand perfectly stable inner regions for rotating black holes and the inner regions appear inherently unstable. 

The wikipedia pages for the main concepts and claims here provide good starting points for digging into more detailed references.


Unanswered Questions.

* Something I’ve always wondered when thinking about rotating massive stars in the process of collapsing to a black hole, and the massive speed-up in rotation rate due conservation of angular momentum as gravity crushes and shrinks the mass . . . is that simple calculations suggest that the rotation rate of the collapsing mass will quickly bump up against the speed of light long before it gets anywhere near infinitely dense singularity status. And as it bumps up near the speed of light it will appear to us to slow down and be frozen in time. Yet the maths suggest infinite density is the end result . . . but that would require speed of light violation? What am I missing? Can someone resolve this for me? 

* Related to above - how can a massive object, presumably not rotating faster than the speed of light, nonetheless cause the surrounding spacetime to be dragged around faster than the speed of light? Can anyone help me out here? 


Other Cool Concepts.

Linear frame-dragging - like rotational frame dragging but for a massive object moving rapidly with a large velocity and dragging spacetime along behind it. 

Gravitomagnetism - or gravitoelectromagnetism; related to frame-dragging. 

Mach’s principle - the idea that local inertial frames are determined by the large-scale distribution of matter; useful for thinking about the precessing that occurs for objects in the ergosphere. 


Item 5 from this short stimulating article served as the inspiration for me to go digging and looking into these topics in more detail: http://listverse.com/2010/11/04/10-strange-things-about-the-universe/ 

#blackhole   #spacetime   #framedragging  ___

posted image

2015-01-25 10:20:30 (23 comments, 18 reshares, 62 +1s)Open 

SciTech #ScienceSunday Digest - 04/2015.

First month done: please provide feedback on new format. Like? Hate? Keep? Go back to old?

Four weeks into 2015 and we had Parabiosis benefits, Accelerating without a force, Cosmological paradoxes, 2D Material analysis, Blockchains for IoT, Spacetime shape dynamics, Anti-aging advances, Advanced computing architectures, Many electrons from a photon, and Cheaper autonomous navigation.

Full archive of the SciTech Digests can also be found here: http://www.scitechdigest.net 

SciTech #ScienceSunday Digest - 04/2015.

First month done: please provide feedback on new format. Like? Hate? Keep? Go back to old?

Four weeks into 2015 and we had Parabiosis benefits, Accelerating without a force, Cosmological paradoxes, 2D Material analysis, Blockchains for IoT, Spacetime shape dynamics, Anti-aging advances, Advanced computing architectures, Many electrons from a photon, and Cheaper autonomous navigation.

Full archive of the SciTech Digests can also be found here: http://www.scitechdigest.net ___

posted image

2015-01-23 11:10:43 (8 comments, 0 reshares, 51 +1s)Open 

Finally found a regular use for my buckyballs!

Finally found a regular use for my buckyballs!___

posted image

2015-01-19 02:42:24 (14 comments, 2 reshares, 44 +1s)Open 

A Coffee Mug Just For Me.

This coffee mug is a little gift I receive from my uncle over Christmas, who got me as his Kris Kringle (Secret Santa) person for our extended family's gift-giving. At first I was like Oh, that's pretty cool and then after checking out a binary-to-text converter I was like Aha! Now I get it! I received a matching T-shirt too :)

A Coffee Mug Just For Me.

This coffee mug is a little gift I receive from my uncle over Christmas, who got me as his Kris Kringle (Secret Santa) person for our extended family's gift-giving. At first I was like Oh, that's pretty cool and then after checking out a binary-to-text converter I was like Aha! Now I get it! I received a matching T-shirt too :)___

posted image

2015-01-18 08:05:12 (8 comments, 25 reshares, 53 +1s)Open 

SciTech #ScienceSunday Digest - 03/2015.

The third week of 2015 gave us Wondrous 2D materials, DNA-assembled crystals, Extension microscopy, Neuroprotective Cold-Shock Proteins, Removing less functional cells to extend life, metasurface analogue computing, 3D printed electronics, Converting white to brown fat, Muscle engineering, and the Mechanism of olfaction identification. 

If you'd like notifications of these weekly Digests then just throw the SciTech Digest page into a notification circle: https://plus.google.com/u/0/b/105994073381308284341/+ScitechdigestNet/posts

SciTech #ScienceSunday Digest - 03/2015.

The third week of 2015 gave us Wondrous 2D materials, DNA-assembled crystals, Extension microscopy, Neuroprotective Cold-Shock Proteins, Removing less functional cells to extend life, metasurface analogue computing, 3D printed electronics, Converting white to brown fat, Muscle engineering, and the Mechanism of olfaction identification. 

If you'd like notifications of these weekly Digests then just throw the SciTech Digest page into a notification circle: https://plus.google.com/u/0/b/105994073381308284341/+ScitechdigestNet/posts___

posted image

2015-01-17 02:51:53 (35 comments, 4 reshares, 47 +1s)Open 

Using a Mouse with your Phone!?

Elise dropped her phone the other day and completely shattered it - its the Nexus 4 on the right, which was my old phone. It wasn't just glass either but the underlying capacitive touch layer too. 

When I went to plug the phone into the computer to get the files and photos off, of course, the pattern unlock prevented the files from being accessible - and without the touch interface working I couldn't put the pattern in to unlock it. If it was rooted and had a custom recovery then I might have been able to set up an ADB interface to manually retrieve files from certain folders; but while the phone was rooted when I was using it I unrooted it when I gave it too Elise. 

Next thing to try was a different input method that didn't rely on touch. Enter the little $2 OTG cable I grabbed off Ebay that simply connects a standard USBp... more »

Using a Mouse with your Phone!?

Elise dropped her phone the other day and completely shattered it - its the Nexus 4 on the right, which was my old phone. It wasn't just glass either but the underlying capacitive touch layer too. 

When I went to plug the phone into the computer to get the files and photos off, of course, the pattern unlock prevented the files from being accessible - and without the touch interface working I couldn't put the pattern in to unlock it. If it was rooted and had a custom recovery then I might have been able to set up an ADB interface to manually retrieve files from certain folders; but while the phone was rooted when I was using it I unrooted it when I gave it too Elise. 

Next thing to try was a different input method that didn't rely on touch. Enter the little $2 OTG cable I grabbed off Ebay that simply connects a standard USB port to the micro USB on your phone, and into which I could plug in a wired mouse I had lying around. You can see it working perfectly on my current phone, the Nexus 5 to the left - look closely and you can see the little black mouse arrow that you control with the mouse, and which you can use to emulate touches on-screen, open apps, scroll screens, and even enter in pattern unlock patterns. 

Alas it didn't work on the smashed Nexus 4, for whatever reason including a possible broken micro USB port too, and so I'm still locked out of the phone and can't get the files off. Funny thing is Elise couldn't really care less because (i) most of her photos were automatically backed up to Google+ anyway, and (ii) we picked up a brand new Nexus 6 for her less than 48 hours later, which she loves. 

Now I'm not sure what to do with the device - it'll probably just sit in my desk draw with every other phone I've ever owned because I don't want to put much more effort into more time-consuming methods of getting into it. 

I'll finish by using this opportunity to shout-out +Google and +Motorola Mobility for their pathetically abysmal excuse for production and launch of the latest flagship device, the Nexus 6. Thanks for providing an abject lesson in how not to launch a device and piss off your loyal customers. 3 months after launch and I still can't get my hands on a 64GB Nexus 6 and irony of ironies my wife has a Nexus 6 before me because she was content with 32GB. If I haven't got one within the next 8 or so weeks then the window may well have closed for me upgrading at all this year because the launch of the next device will only be a little over 6 months away. #annnoyedcustomerrant  over. ___

posted image

2015-01-16 02:07:40 (23 comments, 8 reshares, 33 +1s)Open 

Kickstarting A Civilisation Reboot.

Densely packed with lots of interesting concepts concerning society, civilisation, values, wealth, propaganda (a little conspiracy-ish perhaps) but stimulating and thought-provoking all the same. Worth a share and also to remind me to re-read in more detail before offering more structured thoughts and opinions on the piece. 

h/t to +Samuel Holmes and +Firas Hermez 

___Kickstarting A Civilisation Reboot.

Densely packed with lots of interesting concepts concerning society, civilisation, values, wealth, propaganda (a little conspiracy-ish perhaps) but stimulating and thought-provoking all the same. Worth a share and also to remind me to re-read in more detail before offering more structured thoughts and opinions on the piece. 

h/t to +Samuel Holmes and +Firas Hermez 

posted image

2015-01-15 14:26:03 (10 comments, 7 reshares, 26 +1s)Open 

A Chronic Case of The Fear of Missing Out.

H/t and thanks to +Kevin Kelly for recommending this recent Jason Silva clip that I'd missed. It's one of the best Shots of Awe I've seen in a while and presents some nice concepts concerning decisions and possibilities, etc that I enjoyed thinking about afterwards for quite some time. 

A Chronic Case of The Fear of Missing Out.

H/t and thanks to +Kevin Kelly for recommending this recent Jason Silva clip that I'd missed. It's one of the best Shots of Awe I've seen in a while and presents some nice concepts concerning decisions and possibilities, etc that I enjoyed thinking about afterwards for quite some time. ___

posted image

2015-01-11 12:39:09 (18 comments, 31 reshares, 67 +1s)Open 

SciTech #ScienceSunday Digest - 02/2015.

The second week into 2015 gave us a new drug for weight loss, pistons and hinges made of DNA, promising antibiotics and methods for finding more, improved engineering of optogenetics, flexible neural implants, directional time dilation theory, movements of Cambrian Genomics, popup 3D microstructures, better perovskite materials, and ultrasound tactile interfaces. 

The weekly SciTech Digests are also available as a Google Newsstand Magazine Edition here: 
https://www.google.com/producer/editions/CAow4-hB/scitech_digest 

SciTech #ScienceSunday Digest - 02/2015.

The second week into 2015 gave us a new drug for weight loss, pistons and hinges made of DNA, promising antibiotics and methods for finding more, improved engineering of optogenetics, flexible neural implants, directional time dilation theory, movements of Cambrian Genomics, popup 3D microstructures, better perovskite materials, and ultrasound tactile interfaces. 

The weekly SciTech Digests are also available as a Google Newsstand Magazine Edition here: 
https://www.google.com/producer/editions/CAow4-hB/scitech_digest ___

posted image

2015-01-08 05:41:55 (10 comments, 13 reshares, 40 +1s)Open 

Something You Don't See Every Day

* A Hedge Fund
* Using a 2012 change in law
* To take a portfolio of large pharmaceuticals companies to court
* To challenge and invalidate questionable patents on big drugs
* That if successful could halve the value of those companies
* AND reduce the costs of medications for everyone
* AND benefit the Hedge Fund's own investments thereby making them money in the first place

While this is all fair I strongly believe that if you're going to use the patent system in this way against large pharmaceutical companies, it should be backed up by simultaneous changes to the regulatory system to help lower the cost of drug development, which is arguably the primary cause of firms pursuing these questionable patents in the first case. 

http://www.cnbc.com/id/102317621#. 

Something You Don't See Every Day

* A Hedge Fund
* Using a 2012 change in law
* To take a portfolio of large pharmaceuticals companies to court
* To challenge and invalidate questionable patents on big drugs
* That if successful could halve the value of those companies
* AND reduce the costs of medications for everyone
* AND benefit the Hedge Fund's own investments thereby making them money in the first place

While this is all fair I strongly believe that if you're going to use the patent system in this way against large pharmaceutical companies, it should be backed up by simultaneous changes to the regulatory system to help lower the cost of drug development, which is arguably the primary cause of firms pursuing these questionable patents in the first case. 

http://www.cnbc.com/id/102317621#. ___

posted image

2015-01-05 11:09:11 (9 comments, 0 reshares, 52 +1s)Open 

First day back at work after the festive break; new building, new office, new labs and the first Baxter I've seen in the flesh. 

First day back at work after the festive break; new building, new office, new labs and the first Baxter I've seen in the flesh. ___

posted image

2015-01-04 10:43:07 (18 comments, 29 reshares, 71 +1s)Open 

SciTech #ScienceSunday  Digest - 01/2015.

The first week of 2015 gave us optogenetic control of REM sleep, acoustic 3D metamaterials, robots learning tool use from YouTube, resveratrol health benefits, new protein elongation mechanism, space telescopes made of dust, glass fibers stronger than steel, van der Waals investigations of nonlocal effects, robotic cuttlefish, and modular 3D toy design and printing. 

Full archive of the SciTech Digests can also be found here: http://www.scitechdigest.net 

SciTech #ScienceSunday  Digest - 01/2015.

The first week of 2015 gave us optogenetic control of REM sleep, acoustic 3D metamaterials, robots learning tool use from YouTube, resveratrol health benefits, new protein elongation mechanism, space telescopes made of dust, glass fibers stronger than steel, van der Waals investigations of nonlocal effects, robotic cuttlefish, and modular 3D toy design and printing. 

Full archive of the SciTech Digests can also be found here: http://www.scitechdigest.net ___

posted image

2014-12-31 07:24:39 (10 comments, 0 reshares, 66 +1s)Open 

A coincidence, I swear! 
Drinking red wine while coming across a red wine resveratrol health benefits article :)

A coincidence, I swear! 
Drinking red wine while coming across a red wine resveratrol health benefits article :)___

posted image

2014-12-28 10:58:09 (18 comments, 31 reshares, 71 +1s)Open 

SciTech #ScienceSunday Digest, 52/14.
The 150th SciTech Digest, and the 68th consecutive weekly post; abridged for the holidays. Wishing you all a very merry, safe, and fun festive holiday season and an enticing start to 2015!

1. Capturing Synaptic Transmission in Live Mammalian Brains with Optogenetics.
http://www.cell.com/neuron/pdf/S0896-6273(14)01077-0.pdf 

2. New Evidence Suggests Long-Term Memories are Not Stored In Synapses; Despite Other Studies Contradicting This.
https://www.fightaging.org/archives/2014/12/preliminary-evidence-suggesting-long-term-memory-is-not-stored-in-synapses.php and also related: Preventing Memory Decline in Old Age: http://newswire.rockefeller.edu/2014/12/19/new-research-suggests-an-existing-drug-riluzole-may-prevent-foggy-old-age-brain/ 

3. Non-Invasive Brain Surgery via Focused,P... more »

SciTech #ScienceSunday Digest, 52/14.
The 150th SciTech Digest, and the 68th consecutive weekly post; abridged for the holidays. Wishing you all a very merry, safe, and fun festive holiday season and an enticing start to 2015!

1. Capturing Synaptic Transmission in Live Mammalian Brains with Optogenetics.
http://www.cell.com/neuron/pdf/S0896-6273(14)01077-0.pdf 

2. New Evidence Suggests Long-Term Memories are Not Stored In Synapses; Despite Other Studies Contradicting This.
https://www.fightaging.org/archives/2014/12/preliminary-evidence-suggesting-long-term-memory-is-not-stored-in-synapses.php and also related: Preventing Memory Decline in Old Age: http://newswire.rockefeller.edu/2014/12/19/new-research-suggests-an-existing-drug-riluzole-may-prevent-foggy-old-age-brain/ 

3. Non-Invasive Brain Surgery via Focused, Phased-Array Ultrasound.
http://spectrum.ieee.org/biomedical/devices/an-ultrasonic-scalpel-for-brain-surgery

4. Using Unique Recombinations of Three Viral Vectors to Tag Neurons and Other Cells with Individual Colours.
http://www.southampton.ac.uk/mediacentre/news/2014/dec/14_238.shtml#.VJ_VoF4AEA

5. Constructor Theory: A Deeper Linking of Classical & Quantum Information.
https://medium.com/the-physics-arxiv-blog/deeper-than-quantum-mechanics-david-deutschs-new-theory-of-reality-9b8281bc793a

6. Better Technique for Making Perovskite Nanowires & Ultimately Better Solar Cells.
http://actu.epfl.ch/news/building-a-new-nanowire-for-solar-cells/

7. Humans and Deep Learning Software Currently See Things Very Differently.
http://www.technologyreview.com/news/533596/smart-software-can-be-tricked-into-seeing-what-isnt-there/

8. Towards a Human Trial of DNA Nanobots.
Watch https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LnvY17U1lvw, via additional background and detail http://nextbigfuture.com/2014/12/ido-bachelet-announces-2015-human-trial.html 

9. The Benefits of Piezoelectricity in Two-Dimensional Semiconductors.
http://newscenter.lbl.gov/2014/12/22/piezoelectricity-2d-semiconductor/

10. The Role of the Immune System in Tissue Regeneration.
https://www.fightaging.org/archives/2014/12/hair-regrowth-as-a-pointer-to-the-role-of-immune-system-activity-in-tissue-regeneration.php 

If you'd like notifications of these weekly Digests then just throw the SciTech Digest page into a notification circle: https://plus.google.com/u/0/b/105994073381308284341/+ScitechdigestNet/posts___

posted image

2014-12-21 14:57:14 (7 comments, 35 reshares, 69 +1s)Open 

SciTech #ScienceSunday Digest, 51/14.
Causes from effects, controlling prosthetic arms, 3D computing, genomic loops, computer object recognition, automated skin cancer testing, smartphone medical devices, pulsed magnetic fields, save file boost memory, ibuprofen life extension.

1. Determining Cause and Effect from Observed Correlations.
A new statistical technique called the additive noise model can determine cause and effect relationships purely from observational data alone, something that was previously thought impossible https://medium.com/the-physics-arxiv-blog/cause-and-effect-the-revolutionary-new-statistical-test-that-can-tease-them-apart-ed84a988e. This works only for simple situations in which one variable causes another and is far less useful in situations involving more complex collections of variables. The technique proved accurate 80% of the... more »

SciTech #ScienceSunday Digest, 51/14.
Causes from effects, controlling prosthetic arms, 3D computing, genomic loops, computer object recognition, automated skin cancer testing, smartphone medical devices, pulsed magnetic fields, save file boost memory, ibuprofen life extension.

1. Determining Cause and Effect from Observed Correlations.
A new statistical technique called the additive noise model can determine cause and effect relationships purely from observational data alone, something that was previously thought impossible https://medium.com/the-physics-arxiv-blog/cause-and-effect-the-revolutionary-new-statistical-test-that-can-tease-them-apart-ed84a988e. This works only for simple situations in which one variable causes another and is far less useful in situations involving more complex collections of variables. The technique proved accurate 80% of the time when tested across 88 different datasets measuring different variables in different situations. There many more other situations in science where such techniques may prove to be powerful and offer additional, quicker insights that weren’t possible before. 

2. Duo of Human Mind-Controlled Prosthetic Arm Demonstrations.
First, while not mind-control in the strictest sense, was the double prosthetic arms controlled by a double-amputee who had undergone a targeted muscle reinnervation surgical procedure to reassign nerves that formerly controlled the biological arms, but which can now coordinate the artificial arms http://www.jhuapl.edu/newscenter/pressreleases/2014/141216.asp. The patient was able to perform a range of complex movements after training. Second, using arms supplied by the same group as those that enabled the above advance, a quadriplegic patient fitted with an array of 96 electrodes implanted into her motor cortex was able to control the prosthetic arm to reach, grasp, and place a variety of objects http://www.upmc.com/media/NewsReleases/2014/Pages/pitt-team-publishes-new-findings-on-mind-controlled-robot.aspx. 

3. Three Dimensional Computing Architectures.
First, clearing three distinct technological hurdles allowed the creation of a new “high-rise” computer chip architecture whose prototype includes two layers of resistive RAM memory sandwiched between two layers of carbon nanotube logic processing and all connected by a dense array of interconnections http://engineering.stanford.edu/news/stanford-team-combines-logic-memory-build-high-rise-chip. Second, Crossbar revealed the latest advances for their ultra-high-density three-dimensional RAM technology, marking another definite step on the path to commercialising RRAM chips capable of storing one terabyte of data on the area of a postage stamp http://www.crossbar-inc.com/events/press-releases/crossbar-unveils-another-breakthrough-innovation-at-iedm-2014.html. 

4. Mapping the Structural Code in the Looped Human Genome.
The first high resolution 3D maps of entire folded genomes have been assembled and shown to represent a structural basis for additional gene regulation http://www.seas.harvard.edu/news/2014/12/scientists-map-human-loop-ome. This revealed thousands of genetic switches that weren’t known before and the work was made possible by new big-data processing capabilities of huge genomic datasets. The formation of loops in genomic DNA was found to be highly constrained and dependent on a single protein that binds to both specific DNA sequences and another copy of itself bound to a more distant spot on the genome - causing the string of DNA in between to form the loop. Different cell types probably have very different but distinct looping patterns in their genomes to keep key genes switched on and off. 

5. Deep Neural Network Matches Primate Brain in Object Recognition.
One of the latest generations of deep neural networks has succeeded in matching the primate brain in visual object recognition achieved during brief glances http://newsoffice.mit.edu/2014/computer-neural-networks-identify-objects-like-primate-brain-1218. One of the differences in this study compared to other recent ones in the field is the integration with neuroscientific studies that directly measured the primate brain’s object recognition ability via implanted electrode arrays that showed the population of neurons (neural representation) that responded for every object the animals looked at - and then compared this with the representations created by the deep neural networks as they looked at similar images. 

6. IBM Automates Visual Skin Cancer Detection.
In related news IBM has helped develop a computer vision system that was trained on a dataset of 3,000 dermoscopy images of different types of skin cancer and is able to correctly identify the correct diagnosis 95% of the time, compared with human experts who only manage to average 75% - 84% http://www.dotmed.com/news/story/24830. Instances like this will only become increasingly common (and increasingly accurate) and I think we will reach the point - if we haven’t passed it already - whereby not using these systems when they are available will constitute a form of medical negligence. 

7. Smartphone Medical Device Convergence.
Technologies like IBM’s above should, at some point, enable users to use smartphones to accurately diagnose skin cancers with a high degree of confidence. This week we caught another couple of smartphone medical devices such as (i) a smartphone microscope and fluorescence kit able to detect individual DNA molecules http://phys.org/news/2014-12-individual-dna-molecules-smartphone-microscope.html, (ii) a smartphone otoscope able to image inside the ear and eardrum and diagnose problems http://spectrum.ieee.org/tech-talk/biomedical/devices/diagnosing-ear-infections-with-a-new-smartphone-gadget-, and (iii) a clip-on smartphone camera adapter being developed to image the back of a patient’s eye and retina for diagnosis https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/peek-retina-help-fight-avoidable-blindness. 

8. Pulsed Magnetic Fields Can Orient and Position Nanoparticles.
A new fast-pulse magnetic field technique is able to focus magnetic nanorods, control their orientation, and push the nanorods to precisely position them http://www.kurzweilai.net/new-pulsed-magnetic-method-uses-nanorods-to-deliver-drugs-deeply-in-the-body. I thought this was an interesting proof-of-concept as the group are proposing to enter in vivo studies to test the system in animals, which I something I think would be very difficult and dependent on an adequate real-time imaging system to keep track of the nanorods and the biological structures in which they are being moved. As an application the nanorods could carry drugs, etc. 

9. Memory Boost Observed from Simply Saving Files.
In an interesting little study people were shown to be significantly better at learning and remembering new information when they saved previous information to a computer for example http://www.psychologicalscience.org/index.php/news/releases/saving-old-information-can-boost-memory-for-new-information.html. The information used in the study comprised simple lists of words. The effect disappeared if the study participants were told that the saving or computer storage mechanism might not work correctly. The group suggest that the reason for the memory boost in subsequent information memorisation results as the act of saving is a form of offloading, knowing that the information will be accessible in future allows cognitive resources to be utilised elsewhere. 

10. Life Extension from Simple Ibuprofen?
In yet another life extension study with model organisms such as yeast, worms, and flies, this time with ibuprofen, we see a 15% increase in lifespan https://www.fightaging.org/archives/2014/12/so-does-ibuprofen.php - with the suggestion from the group that this is related to tryptophan metabolism. And yet, despite five decades of worldwide usage there is no indication that ibuprofen provides any sort of significant boost to lifespan in humans. Perhaps the message should be: as always, beware extrapolations from model organisms to complex organisms regarding numerous interventions such as boosts to lifespan, especially with regard to simple molecules and targets. 

The weekly SciTech Digests are also available as a Google Newsstand Magazine Edition here: 
https://www.google.com/producer/editions/CAow4-hB/scitech_digest ___

posted image

2014-12-18 13:39:18 (6 comments, 8 reshares, 27 +1s)Open 

Tonotopy, Retinotopy, and Correlates of Consciousness.
A quick summary of closely related topics and concepts I’ve been delving into.

Tonotopy is a delightful word that I have +Rajini Rao to thank for teaching me some time ago. It simply refers to the spatial arrangement of where sounds of different frequency are processed in the brain; sounds that are close to each other in frequency are processed in close, or neighbouring, areas of the brain. This spatial arrangement of frequency processing can be traced from the brain to the cochlea, which is sensitive to different frequencies of sound along its length http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tonotopy. 

Retinotopy is the related term for vision, and is the mapping of visual input from the retina to neurons in the visual cortex; these retinotopic maps in the visual cortex of the brain are representations of theinp... more »

Tonotopy, Retinotopy, and Correlates of Consciousness.
A quick summary of closely related topics and concepts I’ve been delving into.

Tonotopy is a delightful word that I have +Rajini Rao to thank for teaching me some time ago. It simply refers to the spatial arrangement of where sounds of different frequency are processed in the brain; sounds that are close to each other in frequency are processed in close, or neighbouring, areas of the brain. This spatial arrangement of frequency processing can be traced from the brain to the cochlea, which is sensitive to different frequencies of sound along its length http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tonotopy. 

Retinotopy is the related term for vision, and is the mapping of visual input from the retina to neurons in the visual cortex; these retinotopic maps in the visual cortex of the brain are representations of the inputs received by the visual field of the retina. Visual inputs received by neighbouring regions of the retina are processed by neighbouring regions of the visual cortex. Such maps are typically determined by fMRI studies http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Retinotopy. See the main image of this post for an example. 

Deeper layers of visual cortex get progressively more complex and are said to process second-order representations of visual field input. There are two main processing streams. One stream processes primary visual input to determine recognition and object representation, and also plays a role in long-term visual memory. The second determines motion, object location, and other factors. Your visual cortex contains about 140 million neurons. Cortical magnification is the phenomenon of a disproportionately large amount of primary visual cortex being mapped to a small, concentrated area of the visual field of the retina - namely the fovea http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Visual_cortex. 

A scotoma is an area of the field of vision that has been altered, but which is surrounded by an otherwise normal field of vision. The blind spot present in each of your eyes is a form of scotoma. I have experienced scintillating scotomas in my visual field as part of migraines in the past. Beyond this scotomas in the visual field typically arise due to damage or injury to either the retina, optic nerve, or visual cortex, for example, multiple sclerosis, tumour, stroke, substance abuse http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scotoma. 

Cerebral achromatopsia is a type of colour blindness caused by damage, such as head injury or stroke, to specific areas of cortex related to vision. Sufferers are unable to experience or perceive colour and describe the world in shades of grey. fMRI studies reveal this area is active in processing colour stimuli and direct electrical stimulation of the area induces conscious sensations of colour, at least according to subjective patient reports. There is dispute over whether this area is a processing center or pathway linking several important (integrated?) areas http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cerebral_achromatopsia. 

Studies have shown that retinotopic maps and the neurons and brain regions that support them play an integral role in conscious visual sensation, and are neural correlates of visual consciousness. For example when a stimulus is consciously perceived at a particular location in the visual field, the corresponding location in the retinotopic cortex is activated even when there is no direct physical stimulation at that visual field location. For example, activity in the retinotopic cortex can be seen on the path of apparent motion where no stimulus is physically present, and this reflects top-down signals from higher visual areas involved in the processing of visual motion. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4166676/. 

Other fMRI studies have concluded Whichever occipital area was responsible for the perceptual activity, our conclusion remains the same. It seems that when we see a contour at a particular spatial location, the activity underlying the seeing is tied to the representation of that spatial location and not a diffuse activation of the area involved. http://lnfp.dr18.cnrs.fr/publication_labo/Are_neural.pdf. And also The responses to subjective contours within primary visual cortex were retinotopically specific and analogous to that to real contours http://journal.frontiersin.org/Journal/10.3389/neuro.09.002.2008/full. 

#consciousness   #brian   #topography  ___

posted image

2014-12-16 12:56:11 (4 comments, 0 reshares, 21 +1s)Open 

Never fails to make me feel omnipotent

Never fails to make me feel omnipotent___

posted image

2014-12-14 11:22:48 (16 comments, 31 reshares, 77 +1s)Open 

SciTech #ScienceSunday Digest, 50/14.
Artificial skin, APM nanoparticle clustering, wireless BCIs, solar technology advances, tiny computers, small particle accelerators, self-assembled optical memory, RoboBrain, laser graphene structures, entropy and life.

1. Better Artificial Skin.
Improved artificial skin has been developed by combining a new flexible polymer that mimics key properties of normal skin with a dense but flexible array of gold and silicon sensors http://www.technologyreview.com/news/533106/artificial-skin-that-senses-and-stretches-like-the-real-thing/. This is the most sensitive artificial skin yet, with 400 sensors per square millimeter, and is designed to facilitate the sensing of touch, pressure, temperature, and moisture. Immediate applications are of course for robotics, which need to be better able to sense and interact with the... more »

SciTech #ScienceSunday Digest, 50/14.
Artificial skin, APM nanoparticle clustering, wireless BCIs, solar technology advances, tiny computers, small particle accelerators, self-assembled optical memory, RoboBrain, laser graphene structures, entropy and life.

1. Better Artificial Skin.
Improved artificial skin has been developed by combining a new flexible polymer that mimics key properties of normal skin with a dense but flexible array of gold and silicon sensors http://www.technologyreview.com/news/533106/artificial-skin-that-senses-and-stretches-like-the-real-thing/. This is the most sensitive artificial skin yet, with 400 sensors per square millimeter, and is designed to facilitate the sensing of touch, pressure, temperature, and moisture. Immediate applications are of course for robotics, which need to be better able to sense and interact with the environment, and also for prosthetic limbs for amputees - although developing suitable brain- or nerve-computer-interfaces to convey this information to patients is a work-in-progress, even with promising proof-of-concept demonstrations evident. 

2. Fine Control Over Nanoparticle Scale and Clustering.
Combining specific DNA sequences with specific zinc-finger DNA binding proteins that also attach to specific nanoparticles allows fine control over nanoparticle clustering and the directed (self-assembled) fabrication of specific nanoparticle clusters http://phys.org/news/2014-12-nanoparticle-cluster-technique-dna-protein.html. The nanoparticle clusters created in the study contain magnetic nanoparticles, gold nanoparticles, and quantum dots, different combinations and arrangements of which produce different physical and optical properties and so fine control of assembly is important; these clusters can be used as MRI contrast media, fluorescence imaging, and drug transport. The DNA and proteins are atomically precise structures and work like this represents promising baby-steps on the path to mature atomically precise manufacturing of materials. 

3. Wireless Brain Computer Interfaces.
There have been a number of approaches over the past couple of years to untether brain computer interfaces from the cables typically used to connect brain-connected devices to computers, and so enabled more natural freedom of movement and other experiments. This latest device sits on the head and connects via a small port in the skull to an implanted electrode array that records neuronal network activity https://news.brown.edu/articles/2014/12/sensor. It’s battery allows WiFi data transmission for up to two days but at 5 cm and 46 grams it still needs another couple of generations of miniaturisation before it might be said to disappear and be genuinely unobtrusive. Demonstration experiments included motor cortex monitoring of monkeys while they walked and general cortical monitoring while monkeys progressed through sleep-wake cycles. 

4. Impressive Advances in Solar Cell Technology.
We had a couple of promising solar cell advances this week. First, we had the achievement of a 40% energy efficiency milestone using commercially available solar cells, bandpass filters, and light-concentrating optics http://newsroom.unsw.edu.au/news/science-technology/unsw-researchers-set-world-record-solar-energy-efficiency. Second, we had yet another advance for spray-on solar cells using colloidal quantum dots and readily available and affordable parts that most people should have access to http://news.engineering.utoronto.ca/new-technique-offers-spray-on-solar-power/; this is intended to be used in a variety of manufacturing situations with roll-to-roll printing or spraying on firm, curved, or flexible substrates, and ideally will lead to a future ability to directly coat irregular roofs and other surfaces - it will also benefit from independent advances in quantum dot materials development. 

5. Cubic Millimeter Computers.
Full computer systems measuring one millimeter cubed have been developed that include wireless communications, computation and data storage, battery, photovoltaic recharging, and sensors such as pressure, temperature, and imaging for image and video capture https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VjLRNkNgJGU. The chips are assembled in layers with different sub-components layered on top of each other to form the whole unit. Just think: a tiny wireless camera only a millimeter in size, or a million of them (only a cube of material 10cm on a side) scattered around the environment to provide some impressive (and near invisible) surveillance capabilities. This is smart dust and we can only begin to imagine the applications that may be possible. The group ultimately wish to shrink the complete systems down to the micron-scale where individual units might fit inside cells. 

6. Milestone for Tabletop Particle Accelerators.
The most powerful tabletop particle accelerator in the world demonstrated the ability to produce electrons with an energy of 4.25 giga-electronvolts http://newscenter.lbl.gov/2014/12/08/world-record-for-compact-particle-accelerator/. While the system was hooked up to a much larger petawatt laser system, the laser-plasma accelerator comprising a 9cm long tube was able to induce an acceleration gradient 1,000 times greater than normal particle accelerators. For comparison the monumental LCH produced particle collisions measuring 4 terra-electronvolts and aims to achieve 14 TeV later next year. There are thoughts that such compact laser-plasma devices (or assemblies of them) may be able reach these energy levels in future. 

7. Self-Assembled Optical Memory.
A new molecular self-assembly system creates uniform surfaces comprised of precisely ordered arrays of identical, optically-sensitive molecules that switch between two different states http://spectrum.ieee.org/nanoclast/semiconductors/memory/selfassembly-technique-offers-potential-scalable-prodution-of-optical-memory. Not only are the molecules photochromic, meaning they change colour reversibly when irradiated with light, but they are electric dipoles, which helps with self-assembly and binding onto surfaces while still retaining their attractive optoelectronic properties. The group hope to develop the system into molecular-scale memory storage devices with data densities up to 1,000 times greater than what is possible today. 

8. Latest Developments on RoboBrain.
RoboBrain is intended to be a search and knowledge engine for robots, that robots and related devices can query for data and instructions and, importantly, send data back to RoboBrain as they carry out the task in order to help the system learn over time and make it better http://www.technologyreview.com/view/533471/robobrain-the-worlds-first-knowledge-engine-for-robots/. Given the many differences in robotic architecture this is a difficult problem and a difficult project. Beyond receiving feedback directly from robots themselves, RoboBrain is also designed to allow independent researchers to contribute knowledge to the system with hope being that a community network of developers and researchers will help the system grow quickly and become more broadly useful to more robots in more situations. Demonstrations have involved robots using the system to help navigate indoors or move cooking ingredients around but an important capability will be the application of knowledge learned in one situation to other situations. 

9. Graphene Structures Fabricated with Lasers.
A new room-temperature process can fabricate patterned, flexible, multilayered graphene microstructures out of a polymer with a computer-controlled laser http://phys.org/news/2014-12-defects-laser-induced-graphene.html. The material comprises a complex interconnected foam mesh of graphene flakes, and patterns can comprise discrete supercapacitor designs. The group claim the process is scalable, may eventually result in a roll-to-roll manufacturing process and so far produces functional structures that perform well even after 9,000 charge-discharge cycles. 

10. Entropy, Thermodynamics, and Life.
While this article was first presented at the start of the year I only stumbled across it this week thanks to +Samuel Holmes http://www.quantamagazine.org/20140122-a-new-physics-theory-of-life/. It concerns a recent, and ambitious theory linking entropy, thermodynamics, and the emergence and evolution of life; it is intended to underlie and support evolution via natural selection. Basically, systems with an external input of energy tend to evolve towards increasing their irreversibility, and towards increasing their energy absorption and subsequent dissipation into the local environment. The claim is energy dissipation and entropy increases drive the spark of matter into self-replicating life and the evolution of living systems. 

An archive of the SciTech Digests can also be found here: http://www.scitechdigest.net ___

posted image

2014-12-12 11:43:05 (16 comments, 7 reshares, 25 +1s)Open 

Christof Koch: Here, There, but not Everywhere.
Christof is a great communicator and this is another excellent and accessible talk on consciousness. 

Part 1. For those who remain highly skeptical of Integrated Information Theory (and think I’m flogging a dead horse) you should still enjoy the first half of this lecture from Christof Koch, which discusses the basics of consciousness, illusions, attention or inattention, criteria for consciousness, designing scientific experiments for consciousness, behavioural correlates, neural correlates, the visual system, the cerebellum containing 66% of brain neurons and yet not contributing to consciousness, the critical importance of the claustrum, stimulating the claustrum to manipulate consciousness, and states important and unimportant to consciousness. 

A couple of paraphrased quotes: 

If science is toexpl... more »

Christof Koch: Here, There, but not Everywhere.
Christof is a great communicator and this is another excellent and accessible talk on consciousness. 

Part 1. For those who remain highly skeptical of Integrated Information Theory (and think I’m flogging a dead horse) you should still enjoy the first half of this lecture from Christof Koch, which discusses the basics of consciousness, illusions, attention or inattention, criteria for consciousness, designing scientific experiments for consciousness, behavioural correlates, neural correlates, the visual system, the cerebellum containing 66% of brain neurons and yet not contributing to consciousness, the critical importance of the claustrum, stimulating the claustrum to manipulate consciousness, and states important and unimportant to consciousness. 

A couple of paraphrased quotes: 

If science is to explain everything then surely it must tackle consciousness.

Philosophy has a bad historical track record of predicting things science can’t do.

Part 2. Starting from 39:00 we delve into the Integrated Information Theory of Consciousness, it’s axioms and their meaning, prerequisites for the physical substrates of consciousness, cause-effect repertoires, basic introduction to the formalism underlying IIT, the importance of irreducible exchanges and maximal irreducibility, the relationship between the structure or shape of the processing and experience and changes over time, quantifying the shape and intensity of experience with Phi, graded consciousness, implications for feed-forward systems and simulations, measuring integration and Phi in sleeping and awake patients, using Phi to measure how conscious people are in various states such as locked-in syndrome and its clinical relevance, speculations into evolution and Phi, and some predictions made by IIT and proposed future experiments to test them e.g. by inducing anosognosia. 

#consciousness   #integratedinformationtheory   #theoryofmind  ___

posted image

2014-12-11 08:26:39 (7 comments, 8 reshares, 19 +1s)Open 

Metzinger on The Self and Self-Consciousness.

This is a good and thorough talk given by Metzinger on consciousness with an emphasis on higher-level self-consciousness. Note that this is a philosophically-focused talk although there is mention (from memory) of neural correlates of consciousness and other neuroscientific studies. While he speaks clearly and articulately, I suspect this talk was presented to a particular audience actively working in the field and this might explain the somewhat heavy use of jargon that may make it more difficult for a lay audience to enjoy and conceptualise. 

That being said the key takeaways for me were Metzinger’s toolset of metaphors with which to think about, understand, and discuss consciousness and in particular self-consciousness. Also, while many of the clinical examples of brain-damaged patients he discusses are fascinating in their ownri... more »

Metzinger on The Self and Self-Consciousness.

This is a good and thorough talk given by Metzinger on consciousness with an emphasis on higher-level self-consciousness. Note that this is a philosophically-focused talk although there is mention (from memory) of neural correlates of consciousness and other neuroscientific studies. While he speaks clearly and articulately, I suspect this talk was presented to a particular audience actively working in the field and this might explain the somewhat heavy use of jargon that may make it more difficult for a lay audience to enjoy and conceptualise. 

That being said the key takeaways for me were Metzinger’s toolset of metaphors with which to think about, understand, and discuss consciousness and in particular self-consciousness. Also, while many of the clinical examples of brain-damaged patients he discusses are fascinating in their own right one must always beware inferring too much from N = 1 sampling sets. 

For me personally, nothing he discussed was particularly surprising and nor were the conclusions he reached; the benefit came with his descriptive rigour and the metaphors presented. The interplay between object models, self models, and environmental mapping powers a fascinating dialogue that concludes the experiencer is the experience and if the self is an illusion then it is an illusion for no-one. 

Remember that calling something an illusion doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist, just that it is not what it appears to be. 

Thanks to +Mac Vogt for sending this my way. 

#consciousness   #philosophyofmind   #self  ___

posted image

2014-12-10 23:16:51 (6 comments, 10 reshares, 36 +1s)Open 

Something Lighthearted: Friendship Tiers.

I thought you might enjoy this recent article Ten Types of Old Friendships You’re Probably Part Of from the brilliant Wait But Why that breaks down our personal friendship tiers, how those tiers were filled by historical accident, the types of people now populating those tiers, and thoughts on how to spend our precious time to get the most out of life and those friendships we cherish. While I didn't see a perfect overlap with my own situation many of the examples felt familiar and there were plenty of insightful gems and humour throughout to make this well-crafted piece worthwhile. A lighthearted and anecdotal bit of fun :)

Are you also a victim of the Perpetual Catch-Up Trap?

http://waitbutwhy.com/2014/12/10-types-odd-friendships-youre-probably-part.html

Something Lighthearted: Friendship Tiers.

I thought you might enjoy this recent article Ten Types of Old Friendships You’re Probably Part Of from the brilliant Wait But Why that breaks down our personal friendship tiers, how those tiers were filled by historical accident, the types of people now populating those tiers, and thoughts on how to spend our precious time to get the most out of life and those friendships we cherish. While I didn't see a perfect overlap with my own situation many of the examples felt familiar and there were plenty of insightful gems and humour throughout to make this well-crafted piece worthwhile. A lighthearted and anecdotal bit of fun :)

Are you also a victim of the Perpetual Catch-Up Trap?

http://waitbutwhy.com/2014/12/10-types-odd-friendships-youre-probably-part.html___

posted image

2014-12-10 10:57:55 (14 comments, 1 reshares, 51 +1s)Open 

The Things I Find in My Pool Filter #3.

So I went to check on the pool filter today and found this little guy in there, stuck after falling in. I have no idea how long he was floating in there - could have been anywhere from 1 to 48 hours. He didn't put up much of a fight when I rescued him and set him free to go about his business. 

This is a Blue-tongue Lizard. 

The first thing I found in my filter: https://plus.google.com/u/0/+MarkBruce/posts/iQMQ3DeMSTu 

The second thing I found in my filter: https://plus.google.com/u/0/+MarkBruce/posts/eExv8Jx1jE7 

The Things I Find in My Pool Filter #3.

So I went to check on the pool filter today and found this little guy in there, stuck after falling in. I have no idea how long he was floating in there - could have been anywhere from 1 to 48 hours. He didn't put up much of a fight when I rescued him and set him free to go about his business. 

This is a Blue-tongue Lizard. 

The first thing I found in my filter: https://plus.google.com/u/0/+MarkBruce/posts/iQMQ3DeMSTu 

The second thing I found in my filter: https://plus.google.com/u/0/+MarkBruce/posts/eExv8Jx1jE7 ___

posted image

2014-12-08 11:14:33 (17 comments, 0 reshares, 19 +1s)Open 

Poor Design on the Gear Live.

I'd heard about this happening on Gear Live units and after 5 uneventful months I thought I'd be safe. After removing the charging adapter one morning, gently as I always did, I noticed a tiny piece of plastic come away from one of the indents where the charging adapter clipped in. 

The first consequence of this is that the charging adapter no longer secures to the watch, which can no longer be charged. The second consequence is that it seems to have gone so far as to open a tiny cavity into the innards of the watch, and undoubtedly voided any water resistance (tiny black hole visible in first image, just to right of power button). The third consequence is that, in order to charge the oddly-shaped device, a heavy object needs to be balanced in a precarious position in order to use weight to force the pogo-pins to connect properly (see... more »

Poor Design on the Gear Live.

I'd heard about this happening on Gear Live units and after 5 uneventful months I thought I'd be safe. After removing the charging adapter one morning, gently as I always did, I noticed a tiny piece of plastic come away from one of the indents where the charging adapter clipped in. 

The first consequence of this is that the charging adapter no longer secures to the watch, which can no longer be charged. The second consequence is that it seems to have gone so far as to open a tiny cavity into the innards of the watch, and undoubtedly voided any water resistance (tiny black hole visible in first image, just to right of power button). The third consequence is that, in order to charge the oddly-shaped device, a heavy object needs to be balanced in a precarious position in order to use weight to force the pogo-pins to connect properly (see second image example). 

The fourth consequence is that this is now a pain in the ass and I now use the device less because I don't get around to recharging it as often. 

#gearlive   #flawed   #design  ___

posted image

2014-12-07 14:15:17 (20 comments, 46 reshares, 84 +1s)Open 

SciTech #ScienceSunday Digest, 49/14.
Mice with human brain cells, auto-cataloging science, passive artificial retina, better DNA origami, laser induced superconductivity, deep learning & renormalisation, better prosthetic legs, graphene items, thin printed LEDs, ultrasound haptics.

1. Mice Created with Brain Comprising Human Glial Cells.
New mice have been created in which half of the neurons have been replaced with human cells http://www.newscientist.com/article/dn26639-the-smart-mouse-with-the-halfhuman-brain.html. Human glial progenitor cells were isolated from human fetuses and injected into mouse pups in which, after a year, they had expanded in number and developed into astrocytes to completely overtake the role of mouse glial cells and astrocytes and comprising about half the cells in the brain. The mice still maintained mice neurons and neural... more »

SciTech #ScienceSunday Digest, 49/14.
Mice with human brain cells, auto-cataloging science, passive artificial retina, better DNA origami, laser induced superconductivity, deep learning & renormalisation, better prosthetic legs, graphene items, thin printed LEDs, ultrasound haptics.

1. Mice Created with Brain Comprising Human Glial Cells.
New mice have been created in which half of the neurons have been replaced with human cells http://www.newscientist.com/article/dn26639-the-smart-mouse-with-the-halfhuman-brain.html. Human glial progenitor cells were isolated from human fetuses and injected into mouse pups in which, after a year, they had expanded in number and developed into astrocytes to completely overtake the role of mouse glial cells and astrocytes and comprising about half the cells in the brain. The mice still maintained mice neurons and neural networks but the support role provided by astrocytes  was now provided by human astrocytes, which are 10 to 20 times larger and carry 10 times as many tendrils with which to support myelination and coordinate electrical signalling for a larger number of neurons. The mice were significantly smarter than normal mice and there may well be applications in multiple sclerosis. Rat studies are planned but the group believe it is unethical to perform primate studies. 

2. Computers Surpass Humans in Cataloging Science Data.
PaleoDeepDive is a new computer system developed to automatically extract data from scientific publications and build a database systematically cataloging the results of tens of thousands of individual studies http://www.news.wisc.edu/23330. PaleoDeepDive is a machine-reading system and after training was demonstrated to equal or surpass the ability of humans in cataloging this data. The group hope the system will help geologists and paleontologists related and compare large data sets in order to better address big questions; lets hope the contribution can aid other fields in a similar way. 

3. Nanotube Film as Artificial Prosthetic Retina to Restore Sight.
A wireless flexible film with semiconductor nanorods combined with carbon nanotubes was tested as an artificial retina on chick retinas that were not yet sensitive to light but which nonetheless managed to passively induce neuronal activity in response to light http://phys.org/news/2014-12-nanotubes-sight-retinas.html. The group claim their device is more durable, flexible, efficient, and more stimulatory than other approaches aiming to create prosthetic retinas but the fact that the device is passive and doesn’t need an external power source to translate light to neural signals is significant. Perhaps different semiconductor rods will be needed for sensitivity to different wavelengths of light? 

4. DNA Origami Takes Another Big Step.
New simulation and design software allows the the design of the most complex self-assembled DNA structures to ever https://newsoffice.mit.edu/2014/computer-model-for-complex-dna-shapes-1203. The range of geometries, structures, and functions of DNA Origami has been significantly expanded with this new software. Future applications will include self-assembled DNA structures able to spatially organise proteins, chromophores, RNAs, and nanoparticles with nanometer precision and so engineering function at least partially with structure. Things like scaffolds of light harvesting proteins, mimicking bacterial toxins to deliver genetic payloads to cells, and assembling precise metallic nanostructures are all on the drawing board. Such scaffolds might one day also form conveyor belts for directed molecular assembly.

5. Superconductivity Very Briefly Induced by Lasers.
Short infrared laser pulses have been found to induce superconductivity in ceramics at room temperature for a few picoseconds http://www.mpg.de/8785897/superconductivity-room-temperature. The group hypothesises that the laser pulses briefly alter the crystal structure, causing the layers of copper oxide and intermediate layers to alter their thickness by a small amount that is more conducive to the emergence of superconducting phenomena. An interesting result but it is still a big question whether the effect can be harnessed for useful timescales, at room temperature, and without cooling - the main use seems to be structural knowledge that may assist in the design of better superconducting materials. 

6. Deep Learning, Physics, and Renormalisation.
Recent studies have revealed a deep connection or equivalence between the techniques of deep learning and renormalisation; accessible article here http://www.quantamagazine.org/20141204-a-common-logic-to-seeing-cats-and-cosmos/, paper here http://arxiv.org/abs/1410.3831. Put simply the statistical technique that is renormalisation allows physicists to accurately describe systems without knowing the exact state of all their component parts, also enables the artificial neural networks to categorize data as, say, “a cat” regardless of its color, size or posture in a given video. They both distill complicated systems into fundamental parts. The result implies that deep learning is equivalent to renormalisation and suggests that the human brain may also make use of renormalisation. This is considered a fairly fundamental result and cross-fertilisation from both fields is expected to yield additional insights. 

7. Engineering Better Prosthetic Legs.
A new prosthetic leg allows amputees to achieve a more stable, natural gait compared to existing prostheses http://www.utdallas.edu/news/2014/12/4-31320_Engineer-Applies-Robot-Theory-to-Improve-Prostheti_story-wide.html. The device was engineered with robot control theory to simplify the entire gait cycle down to a single variable and allow powered prosthetics to dynamically respond to the environment. When increasing the speed of the treadmill being used for testing the prosthetic was not directly told the speed had increased and yet it responded naturally and immediately altered its gait to compensate. 

8. A Duo of Graphene Items.
First, we had the demonstration of graphene’s strength and future armor applications after graphene sheets were shot with microbullets travelling at three kilometers per second http://news.rice.edu/2014/12/01/microbullet-hits-confirm-graphenes-strength/. The tests revealed that graphene is ten times better than steel at dissipating kinetic energy - the propagation of tensile stress from the point of impact was calculated as 22.2 kilometers per second, faster than any other material and creating a larger cone to absorb energy. Second, while graphene is impermeable to all gases and liquids it has been found that protons can pass through the sheets, suggesting the material may have excellent properties for use in fuel cells http://www.manchester.ac.uk/discover/news/article/?id=13372. 

9. Thinnest Printed LED Lights.
Rohinni (http://www.rohinni.com/) is a company that claims to “print light” with their new printing technology http://www.3ders.org/articles/20141201-rohinni-produces-the-world-thinnest-led-lights-3d-printing.html. The company uses its technology to mix ink and tiny LEDs (blood cell sized diodes) and print this onto a conductive layer to Lightpaper, the world’s thinnest LED lighting that can be applied to any surface in any shape. This is a very interesting platform whether they print the devices themselves or do as they claim and allow anyone to print devices. Hopefully issues with LED dispersion and orientation can be solved to further boost performance. Imagine replacing lights with light-emitting-surfaces. 

10. New Consumer Device Capabilities.
A couple of interesting consumer-focused devices this week caught my eye. First, and seemingly trivially is a battery that incorporates WiFi connectivity that allows existing appliances and devices to be connected to the Internet http://www.springwise.com/wifi-connected-battery-smoke-alarm-clever/ - this is almost trivial but as battery energy density slowly improves and electronics and sensors get smaller then adding basic intelligence to many devices becomes that much more convenient. Second, a new 3D virtual haptics interface that uses ultrasound to convey the shape and structure of virtual objects to users http://www.bris.ac.uk/news/2014/december/haptic-shapes-using-ultrasound.html. 

If you'd like notifications of these weekly Digests then just throw the SciTech Digest page into a notification circle: https://plus.google.com/u/0/b/105994073381308284341/+ScitechdigestNet/posts___

posted image

2014-12-05 09:21:42 (21 comments, 9 reshares, 35 +1s)Open 

Updated and Incomplete Discussion on Consciousness.
Thanks to everyone’s comments and criticisms in the original thread, which forced me to dig harder, learn more, and be clearer than I otherwise would have - it sent me down the rabbit hole of consciousness research and philosophy from which I've only just come up for air.

At its heart this post and the discussion is related to the Hard Problem of consciousness; how can physical phenomena give rise to rich conscious experience. If we accept that the Universe and reality are physical, then one must necessarily reconcile the unquestionable existence of subjective conscious experience with a physical Universe. You must tackle the Hard Problem at some point. From a reductionist, materialist, physicalist standpoint doing so seems to unavoidably entail the acceptance of some flavour of panpsychism, that in some way consciousness is ani... more »

Consciousness: Digging into Computational Equivalence and Physical Equivalence.

TL;DR
* The underlying physical properties of a computational system matter. 
* Computational equivalence is not enough to host consciousness.
* Real integration in time and space is key. 
* This matters and needs to be testable. 

I enjoyed an interesting thread last week in which I attempted to discuss computational versus physical equivalence as it pertains to the hard problem of consciousness, and which was initiated by a post (https://plus.google.com/u/0/110186693922408613972/posts/X2kuVjNsRN7) where +Nate Gaylinn pondered recent developments in deep learning and whether brain-like algorithms could ever be conscious. It was also the first time in a discussion I’d been strongly told I was fundamentally wrong in the same breath as being told I had spoken truthfully. It is a topic that interests me and I thought I’d expand upon it here for some wider consumption and criticism. 

Semantics

Consciousness

To be fair I think when Nate referred to consciousness he meant consciousness in the sense of self-consciousness, as in self-aware or aware of oneself as an individual entity. The term consciousness more properly refers to deep and fundamental states of awareness or perception, the qualia of conscious experience, or the raw conscious experience of the redness of the colour red to give a classic example. Self-consciousness is important of course but it sits at a higher level than raw conscious sensations by demanding - almost by definition - the smooth integration of a myriad of different conscious sensations at once. At the same time I think it is less of a jump to propose an algorithm running on a computer being aware of itself as an independent entity, than it is to propose an algorithm running on a computer experiencing a raw conscious sensation such as the colour red. 

Technology

We’ll be discussing hypotheticals below so project any technology out to some arbitrary point in the future when the capabilities would exist. Assume we have computers fast enough to run algorithms simulating the functioning of a human brain in real time, whether that is cellular, molecular, or a deeper model being computed. Assume we have neuromorphic hardware that broadly approximates the architecture of the human brain, with artificial neurons packed as densely as a brain, in similar or more layers as a brain, and with adaptive synapses that form, strengthen, and break connections as needed. Don’t get bogged down criticising the limitations or appearance of current technology. 

Concepts

Neural correlates of consciousness and specifically the conscious sensation of colour; certain regions of the visual cortex have been found to be critical in processing visual stimuli and are critical for the conscious perception of colour. This study Categorical clustering of the neural representation of colour is an example of work in this space http://www.jneurosci.org/content/33/39/15454.full. Damage or remove these regions and you will not experience colour; depending on the extent of the damage you may or may not experience the full breadth of remaining visual experience such as motion, shape, structure, depth, pattern, etc. More background here http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Neural_correlates_of_consciousness. 

The Philosophical Zombie - a human indistinguishable from a normal human in every way except that it lacks any conscious sensation. It processes sensory information and responds exactly as a normal human would; asked to describe an apple they both say red but only the normal human enjoys the rich conscious sensation of the redness of the apple, the zombie does not http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Philosophical_zombie. 

The Chinese Room - a thought experiment proposed to refute the possibility that a digital computer could ever experience consciousness, itself spawning many refutations and criticisms http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chinese_room. 

Proposition

Lets suppose we build a brain on advanced neuromorphic hardware whose fundamental architecture copies the human brain with a suitable dense array of artificial neurons in similar numbers of layers and connected by a dynamic network of synaptic connections. I think it is straightforward to assume that if you feed visual sensory data into this artificial brain in a similar way as you would a normal brain, then we’d expect the artificial brain to experience deep conscious sensations such as the redness of red as perceived from an apple for example. Unless of course you’re in the camp that argues that only biological substrates can produce conscious sensations; this is something that I don’t find reasonable and won’t be dealing with here because it is only tangentially related. 

In a way the neuronal connections and their strengths can be thought of as software, with the neurons themselves behaving in a certain dynamic way. Whether we consider this neuromorphic hardware or a real organic brain for that matter, this behavior can be abstracted, modelled, and reduced to suitable algorithms. These algorithms and the models they represent can be run on a conventional computer in order to simulate or emulate the brain in question and working to process the same sensory information in the same way and so produce the same outputs in behaviour and experience (Henry Markram’s Blue Brain Project is an (incomplete) example of this latter brain simulation, as is the current Human Brain Project). 

The Difference

Except the conventional computer isn’t processing the information in exactly the same way. In the case of neuromorphic or normal brain hardware there are massively parallel neural networks carrying a dense cascade of signals running through the substrate. In the case of the conventional turing-complete computer there is a sequential, step by logical step, processing of the information, in and out of memory and so on. Even if one can easily postulate computation so fast that the sequential processing of the computer is as fast as (or even a million times faster than) brain-like hardware in processing the same inputs to produce the same outputs, updating the old state to the new state to some arbitrary accuracy and tiny time interval, it is still a sequential step-by-step processor and different in kind to the massively parallel cascade of information occurring through the neuromorphic substrate. 

It may be computing the information in the same way but it is processing it in a different way. Both systems may be computationally equivalent but I think they are obviously not physically equivalent and I think this difference matters. 

To understand where I think this difference lies I believe it is important to dig down to a deep fundamental level and consider what is physically going on at the level of charge carriers moving dynamically on the substrate and in the case of electrical signals asking what is the difference in the behaviour of the electrons and holes in both systems. 

In the neuromorphic, brain-like hardware we have a simultaneous cascade of charge carriers moving along parallel interconnected arrays of neurons (whether artificial or organic) and conveying a signal, a distinct pattern of electrical activity, through the substrate bulk, often in waves. In the serial-processing-chips of the conventional computer the physical, atomic behaviour of charge carriers moving around and changing voltage states in transistors and memory elements is very different and lacks any resemblance to the pattern seen in neuromorphic hardware. No matter how fast that computer may be it is still operating to change the states of transistors and memory elements in a sequential manner, step-by-step inducing charge carriers and currents to travel along the chip to make voltage changes to discrete transistors and other components. 

Even if the cascade of charge carriers is found to cause, via diffuse electric fields etc, changes in other parts of the system or discrete components of the neuromorphic network, and this phenomenon and effect is included in the algorithmic models to account for them, the result will be the same: more accurate computational equivalence perhaps, but still fundamentally physically different in the nature of the information processing. This is true even though, as Nate pointed out, the neuromorphic system is essentially a hardware optimisation for some aspect of the algorithms running on a conventional computer. 

In whatever form it takes, consciousness and raw conscious sensation and experience, as the only thing you can ever be sure of, must be a fundamental property of the physical nature of the Universe. This can be interpreted as a form of panpsychism. As such I believe that arguments based purely on computational equivalency, for example, “both systems compute the information in the same way and therefore will exhibit consciousness in the same way” entail a leap of blind faith that ignores the subtle physical differences. 

A Thought Experiment to Test It

A thought experiment that I came up with a while ago is as follows:

1. Imagine an advanced brain computer interface with nodes that can interface directly with potentially every individual neuron, whether in a neuromorphic substrate or more relevantly in a real brain.

2. Each node can wirelessly communicate to the other nodes as needed and also to external computational devices with arbitrarily negligible latency. 

3. Identify every input neuron and output neuron for (example) those regions of the visual cortex that are known to be responsible for enabling the conscious sensation or colour.

4. Run an accurate algorithmic model and simulation of those same regions on an external, conventional computational substrate.

5. Activate the BCI to block the activity of those identified regions of the visual cortex. 

6. The BCI records input signals to those regions and instead sends them to the inputs of the external simulation. 

7. The external simulation sends output signals to the relevant outputs overseen by the BCI in the visual cortex. 

8. Run a suitable battery of colour tests and observe and record subjective experience. Do you perceive colour when processing is handed off to the external substrate? What do you perceive of a multi-coloured scene when just the “red” processing is handed off externally? What if processing is handed off for only the left or the right eye and cover one then the other when observing a colourful scene? 

9. Reset to normal or switch off BCI and again record subjective experience, particularly memory of the event, and memory of colours experienced in the tests. Do you remember colours you didn’t experience or vice versa?  

10. Repeat the experiment with a neuromorphic brain-like substrate performing the external processing instead of the conventional computer. 

This example obviously demands advanced technology that we are not yet near to developing. But I do wonder if simpler, cruder tests with current or near-term technology might shed light on and answers to this question. 

My Ideas Here are Not Original Of Course 

The idea for this post originally was to re-share some of my comments from Nate’s interesting post and edit them into a more coherent form. I suspect my initial comments and thinking was influenced by Max Tegmark and a recent video / post on consciousness that I’d intended to get back to but lost time. In the process of writing this I embarked on more, and more detailed, research; reading articles and watching videos related to these topics. In the process I discovered (or rediscovered in a lot more detail after remembering I’d briefly come across it some time ago) the Integrated Information Theory of Consciousness (basics: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Integrated_information_theory) as espoused by Guilio Tononi and, for example http://www.wired.com/2013/11/christof-koch-panpsychism-consciousness/all/ Christof Koch whose work and talks I’ve always enjoyed. 

After looking into the Integrated Information Theory (IIT) of Consciousness it seems I’d definitely found myself in the company of Tegmark and in the camp of Tononi and Koch - far more intelligent and accomplished thinkers in this space who had wrapped a formalism around these concepts and described them far more articulately than I ever could and much earlier than I had ever imagined. IIT has quite a bit to say about computational and physical equivalence. While I am still ascending its learning curve I do understand that it implies that conventional computers processing brain-like algorithms as we have described can never be conscious in the sense we have been discussing. They might be self-conscious in the broadest sense, and they might compute sensory inputs in the same way, and respond in the same manner, but they won’t host a rich subjective conscious experience. 

This also implies a form of panpsychism although I suspect that it is at this stage more of a placeholder label until such time as future empirical tests better narrow down and describe the phenomenon. 

Why This Matters

As we continue along a technological trajectory that holds ubiquitous dominant machine intelligence in its future, machine intelligences that comprise both engineered AIs and uploaded humans of various forms, it is important that we get this right. It will not be biological humans that travel and expand through the Galaxy; it will be intelligent machines and substrate-independent minds. If conventional computer architectures remain dominant and are incapable of giving rise to consciousness, one of our defining traits, not only would uploads be pointless but we risk saturating the Universe with intelligence at the expense of any conscious experience to accompany it. This would be the definition of travesty. A Universe without conscious experience would not be a Universe worth existing; intelligence needs to saturate the Universe with consciousness, not instead of it. 

This is why we need to be sure of the physical basis of consciousness, and why we need to find ways to test it, predict it, control it, build it, and engineer it. It may be that my thoughts are ignorant and misguided and the IIT is wrong and conventional computer architectures can indeed host rich conscious experiences - great! But we need to be sure. If however the thoughts are accurate and the theory turns out to be right then two things are apparent: (i) by all means we will engineer intelligences on conventional computer architectures to create a myriad of useful tools, (ii) but we will also need to engineer robust neuromorphic architectures of sufficient detail to host rich conscious experiences in order to repair brains, host uploads, and make the whole (post)human endeavour worthwhile. 

Having My Mind Changed

Before this week I carried a cognitive legacy on these matters influenced by Daniel Dennett and was reasonably firm in my opinion that philosophical zombies could not exist and that the Chinese Room would indeed be conscious. Basically that in the former a system that behaved exactly the same would by default have to embody all the same properties including consciousness and in the latter, using similar reasoning, and considering the system as a whole you would have to grant it consciousness. 

As I dug into these matters when preparing this post I found myself climbing the fence away from this firm belief and surveyed both sides anew. And as I considered new concepts, ideas, memes, and models to do with raw physical phenomena and the Integrated Information Theory of consciousness I found myself climbing back down the other side - much to my surprise. I found Tonini and Koch to be far more compelling, considered, and elegant and they changed my mind. 

I now believe that in very specific circumstances the philosopher’s zombie can exist (and that we will probably create their equivalents at some point) and that the Chinese Room does not and cannot exhibit consciousness (and neither can conventional computers no matter how accurate the brain-like algorithms they run). 

But I changed my mind once and maybe a particularly insightful and erudite commenter can convince me to change it again? Until we have more advanced technology better able to test and produce evidence one way or another we are left to debate and theorise. 

Interesting Side Considerations

* When discussing accurate simulations running on computers this classic xkcd comic comes to mind: http://xkcd.com/505/ 

* In the original thread +Shrewd Simian mentioned a study involving evolved circuits that I remembered in which the chips had evolved seemingly useless features that turned out to be useful - unconnected logic gates that nonetheless exerted important influences on the other, connected logic gates. This was interesting to think about once again when considering consciousness, computational substrates, and the physical behaviour of charge carriers. An example explanation can be found here: http://www.damninteresting.com/on-the-origin-of-circuits/. 

* How the hell did you manage to read all of that in such an attention-deficit age!? Bravo if you made it to the end ;)

#consciousness   #computation   #integratedinformationtheory  ___Updated and Incomplete Discussion on Consciousness.
Thanks to everyone’s comments and criticisms in the original thread, which forced me to dig harder, learn more, and be clearer than I otherwise would have - it sent me down the rabbit hole of consciousness research and philosophy from which I've only just come up for air.

At its heart this post and the discussion is related to the Hard Problem of consciousness; how can physical phenomena give rise to rich conscious experience. If we accept that the Universe and reality are physical, then one must necessarily reconcile the unquestionable existence of subjective conscious experience with a physical Universe. You must tackle the Hard Problem at some point. From a reductionist, materialist, physicalist standpoint doing so seems to unavoidably entail the acceptance of some flavour of panpsychism, that in some way consciousness is an inherent property of things, and just another natural phenomenon that science hasn’t yet figured out. If you insist consciousness is not part of the physical world, that it is intangible, then you are a dualist (of some sort) and must accept the baggage that comes with that position. 

Background.

I started drafting the original post while thinking about the Hard Problem and considering deeply the natural phenomena operating in, and powering the processing of our brains that might give rise to, or be, conscious sensation, and simultaneously considering the natural phenomena at work in the processing of a computer running an identical brain model. This caused me to doubt the belief in consciousness arising purely as as a result of information processing - but this was a fickle intuition and not something to base a change in belief on. It was only after discovering the relatively new Integrated Information Theory of consciousness and digging into it that I realised the Integrated Information Theory represented the development of a precise formalism that supported these intuitions; a theory that (while still being developed and ironed out) was refutable, made testable predictions, and seemed to provide the most solid treatment of consciousness that we have so far developed. IIT implies that the underlying architecture (and hence phenomena) that supports brain-like information processing is critical to that processing being conscious; given this formalism provided something more concrete and scientific I was happy to change my belief. IIT also happens to be the leading scientific theory of consciousness. 

Physical Phenomena & Computational Architecture.

Considering the underlying physical phenomena of a brain (or equivalently complex neuromorphic hardware) and that of a conventional digital computer suggests a couple of things. First, the physical phenomena employed by the brain are richly integrated and happen in parallel at the same time, whether that phenomena be pulses of electrochemical ion gradients, flows of electrons and electric fields, or more subtle effects. Second, the physical phenomena employed by a computer are very different, comprising the step-by-step flow of electrons, the altering of voltage states and electric fields across discrete components, and at times more subtle effects (e.g. when quantum tunnelling becomes important). While significant and impressive parallelism is employed in modern processors this doesn’t escape the fact that each parallel processing stream is still step-by-step and doesn’t begin to approach the integrated nature of the brain. 

Of course the brain is a physical system that can in theory be modelled and algorithmically reduced to a program that can be run on a computer. A good, recent, example of this is the demonstration of a model of the C. elegans neural connectome running on a Lego robot [and its CPU] and exhibiting basic behaviours similar to a real worm. This was a good first attempt and improvements and optimisations will no doubt follow. Taking current projects like the Human Brain Project, Blue Brain Project, and Human Connectome Project we can project this out to some point in future when we will be able to map and handle human connectome models and run them on a suitably fast computer. Such models may well include models of the underlying phenomena employed by the brain, but in the course of running on a computer and simulating or emulating the information processing of the brain the computer will necessarily employ different phenomena with which to do this. And the key point according to IIT is that the nature of the information processing architecture of a conventional computer will not be sufficiently integrated to enable conscious sensation to arise as a result of a conventional computer’s computation. 

Computationalists.
There is little doubt that given a suitably accurate model of the human brain a computer will process information in the same way; both systems should be expected to give the same outputs when fed the same inputs; replace a human brain with a computer running a real-time accurate model of that brain and that human should behave the same way, or so the thinking goes. Regarding consciousness, for many of the critics in this thread, this replication of information processing is necessary and sufficient for consciousness and the computer can be said to enjoy the rich subjective experience of consciousness; consciousness is a product of the brain and replicating the information processing of the brain is enough to also replicate consciousness, regardless of the phenomena or architecture being used to perform the computation. Such proponents are known as computationalists and until a few weeks ago, I was one. 

Computationalists and Time.

There are a couple of other consequences of this that need to be considered and that computationalists need to accept. 

First, when considering a hypothetically advanced computer running an accurate model of a human mind in real-time or faster it is typical to posit future super fast computers for this purpose. But the speed of the processor doesn’t matter; so long as the computation is carried out and the information is processed in the right way a computationalist will maintain that the system is conscious. Even if we slow the computer right down. Even if we slow it down so much that it only changes the voltage state of a single transistor once per century and takes several billion years to have a single thought. Several billion years to hold a single conscious thought, carried by billions of transistors in which only one switches states every century. 

Second, so long as the computer is Turing Complete the architecture doesn’t matter. The Game of Life is a cellular automata that has been proven to be Turing Complete (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Conway%27s_Game_of_Life) and particular Game of Life patterns are able to compute any program you might feed a standard computer. So you might feed your accurate model of the human brain into the Game of Life computer that itself is being run on a computer and so watch black and white pixels switch on screen as the computation runs. But this Game of Life computation can be done in different ways of course. Instead of running it on a computer you might make a big piece of graph paper, the size of a city for example, and walk up and down the rows and columns updating the computation by colouring or erasing squares to change the states of the squares as per the very simple Game of Life rules. Or you might clear a large plane, the surface of the whole planet or larger for example, divide it up into a grid with each square having a rectangular block, and then you walk up and down the columns and rows either laying the blocks down or standing them up to change the state of the squares as per the rules. It doesn’t matter: the computation is equivalent and the resulting information processing will be the same. The computationalist stance insists that this system will be conscious and will be experiencing rich conscious sensations despite the fact that all that is happening is that you are walking along and either standing blocks on end or laying blocks down, even though there is nothing to connect one block to another and it may take you billions of years to change enough blocks for the computation to have a single “thought.” As I mentioned previously, this xkcd comic outlines this computationalist scenario best: http://xkcd.com/505/. Note that my Game of Life block example can be considered a derivation of Searle’s Chinese Room.  

As these examples make clear, computationalists believe that consciousness is time-invariant. I also wonder if the computationalist stance implies that consciousness violates locality. Examining the above examples it appears that when computationalists claim that consciousness simply “emerges” whenever information is processed in a certain way on any Turing Complete computational system they have abandoned the Hard Problem altogether, abandoned any notion of linking consciousness to any natural physical phenomena. Happy for it to exist separately. Insubstantially. Magically. 

In this light it seems that computationalists are modern day dualists with an information age twist. 

Occam’s Razor.

No one can yet say what conscious sensation is and what it isn’t; we do not yet have the technology or tools to directly probe and control it. Computationalists claim that conscious sensation just emerges as a result of information processing. The only existence proof we have of conscious sensation is indeed dependent on information processing in the brain. But the brain utilises a dense variety of phenomena by which to do this and these phenomena are deeply and instantaneously integrated. How do we know that conscious sensation isn’t simply the flow of particularly shaped electromagnetic fields, or at least dependent on them? Or maybe just electric fields? Or gravitomagnetic fields? Or the flow and arrangement of ions or atoms or molecules? Or Penrose’s microtubule quantum fields? Or the new state of matter as proposed by Tegmark? How do we know that time (abandoned by computationalists) isn’t necessary to conscious sensation in the sense of needing instantaneous and continuous interaction of massively parallel phenomena / information processing? 

Until the necessary technology is developed such speculations will remain speculations, and computationalists will remain firm in their belief that such things are simply confused and irrelevant.  

What about computational irreducibility? How do we know that consciousness and conscious sensation isn’t computationally irreducible, especially given the tremendous underlying complexity? Computationalists claim that conscious sensation is computationally reducible by default. Many natural phenomena are computationally irreducible; take the three-body problem for example. In this simple system governed by phenomena such as distance, gravity, mass, momentum, acceleration, velocity, inertia, and described by simple gravitational equations, it is impossible in principle to predict the future position of these three bodies to any arbitrary point in future; any errors in your initial measurement of the underlying phenomena will eventually grow to massively deviate the results of your computation from the results of the reality. Better measurement accuracy just delays the inevitable. This seems to often happen when continuous phenomena are reduced to discrete phenomena. 

And while you might computationally model a block of radioactive material the computation itself obviously won’t be radioactive or utilise radioactive phenomena. If you deny dualism and accept physicalism - and consciousness as a property grounded in the Universe - then you’re left with a similar conclusion.  

Some in this discussion have accused my position and that of the Integrated Information Theory as failing Occam’s Razor. Occam’s Razor, colloquially known as the principle that the simplest explanations are often the best, more formally states that in the absence of certainty the fewer assumptions a model makes the better. In the case of conscious sensations the only existence proof we have of their basis in reality appears to make use of and rely upon a complex and densely integrated set of instantaneous real-time phenomena. Computationalists assume that none of these phenomena or their coordination matters, and assume that the time-dependent integrated nature is unimportant, and assume that consciousness is computationally reducible, all without certainty. In this light Occam’s Razor either works for me or at the very least works against computationalists to the same degree given the many assumptions the position makes about the nature of consciousness. 

This is the leap of faith made by computationalists, these unproven assumptions, and the slight-of-hand dismissal of consciousness as emerging somehow magically - dualistically unbounded to any physical part of this Universe - as a result of Turing Complete time-invariant information processing. 

They might end up being right but we are talking about the physical basis of conscious sensation and at the present time not enough is known and there is no consensus; the assumptions, the predictions, and the models need to be tested. 

Integrated Information Theory of Consciousness.

The thing is: I am not alone in my views. My views here are not unique nor special nor insightful. Far more prominent persons and experts got here long before me - people like phiosopher John Searle, polymath Jeff Hawkins, physicist Max Tegmark, and neuroscientists Christof Koch and Guilio Tononi with their Integrated Information Theory of consciousness. While IIT doesn’t make any declarations about the actual phenomena responsible for conscious experience, it does make declarations about the specific type of deeply integrated information processing necessary for the underlying phenomena to give rise to conscious sensation, it does declare that any substrate material employing phenomena in this type of integrated information processing will enjoy conscious experience, and it does declare that no conventional digital computer can embody conscious sensation and infers the case of a human upload (accurate human connectome) running on a computer being a special type of philosophical zombie incapable of conscious experience. 

Regarding academic analysis of IIT we even get recent papers such as (http://arxiv.org/pdf/1405.0126.pdf) in which, in relation to consciousness, they claim to prove that complete lossless integration requires noncomputable functions. This result implies that if unitary consciousness exists, it cannot be modelled computationally. So in addition to IIT predicting that the core measure of information integration, Phi, is not realisable on conventional computers, we have more abstract work like this also implying consciousness is not computable on conventional computers. Note that computationalists will get around this by denying unitary consciousness exists. 

Other Resources

Scott Aaronson
* Scott’s critique of IIT http://www.scottaaronson.com/blog/?p=1799
* IIT’s Tononi responds to Scott http://www.scottaaronson.com/tononi.docx
* Scott’s rejoinder http://www.scottaaronson.com/blog/?p=1823 
* Tononi’s former PhD student Virgil responds http://www.scottaaronson.com/response-p1.pdf & http://www.scottaaronson.com/response-p2.pdf 

Guilio Tononi
* Latest version of IIT http://www.ploscompbiol.org/article/info%3Adoi%2F10.1371%2Fjournal.pcbi.1003588
* Earlier paper discussing qualia and the geometry of integrated information http://www.ploscompbiol.org/article/info%3Adoi%2F10.1371%2Fjournal.pcbi.1000462 
* Collaboration paper with Christof Koch Here, There but not Everywhere http://arxiv.org/ftp/arxiv/papers/1405/1405.7089.pdf which seems to form the basis for this talk https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1cO4R_H4Kww that I also shared. 

Christof Koch
* September 2014 lecture on IIT https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LGd8p-GSLgY. 

#consciousness   #integratedinformationtheory   #computation  

posted image

2014-11-30 09:00:20 (11 comments, 36 reshares, 75 +1s)Open 

SciTech #ScienceSunday Digest, 48/14.
Programmed tissue regeneration, microbiome genetics, dimensionality reduction, commercial diamond semiconductors, 3D printed graphene, better synbio circuits, neurocircuit project, self immunity, superomniphobic surfaces, chemical handedness.

1. Latest Advances in Tissue Regeneration via Reprogramming.
Zebrafish hearts regenerate and don’t scar when damaged. A screen of microRNAs in regenerating zebrafish hearts identified those microRNAs (i) whose expression levels changed during regeneration and (ii) were conserved in the mammalian genome. Four promising candidates declined during regeneration and yet were maintained at high levels in damaged mice hearts. When these four microRNAs were targeted and suppressed in the damaged hearts of mice, cardiac cells de-differentiated to an earlier stem-cell-like state anda... more »

SciTech #ScienceSunday Digest, 48/14.
Programmed tissue regeneration, microbiome genetics, dimensionality reduction, commercial diamond semiconductors, 3D printed graphene, better synbio circuits, neurocircuit project, self immunity, superomniphobic surfaces, chemical handedness.

1. Latest Advances in Tissue Regeneration via Reprogramming.
Zebrafish hearts regenerate and don’t scar when damaged. A screen of microRNAs in regenerating zebrafish hearts identified those microRNAs (i) whose expression levels changed during regeneration and (ii) were conserved in the mammalian genome. Four promising candidates declined during regeneration and yet were maintained at high levels in damaged mice hearts. When these four microRNAs were targeted and suppressed in the damaged hearts of mice, cardiac cells de-differentiated to an earlier stem-cell-like state and actively helped regenerate the damaged heart, significantly reducing scarring and improving heart wall thickness and pumping ability http://www.salk.edu/news/pressrelease_details.php?press_id=2058. The group plan to move such regenerative reprogramming into larger animals and identify other promising reprogramming targets; the work also brings up the topic of evolutionary conservation of such abilities. In related news nail stem cells are providing additional insights into the latent regenerative abilities of mammals http://stemcell.usc.edu/2014/11/20/nail-stem-cells-prove-more-versatile-than-press-ons/. 

2. We’re Symbionts Who Contribute a Minority of Genetic Information.
Building on several consecutive weeks of interesting studies concerning human intestinal flora or microbiome we have a recent study that built the most accurate catalogue ever of genes from microbes residing in the human gut, a catalogue that totalled nearly 10 million genes http://www.alphagalileo.org/ViewItem.aspx?ItemId=147564&CultureCode=en and the paper can be found here http://www.nature.com/nbt/journal/v32/n8/full/nbt.2942.html. While 60% of the genes are shared by just 1% of the human population the implication still seems to be that the amount of genetic information carried by microbes in our guts dwarfs our own genetic repository in terms of number of genes. The catalogue includes close-to-complete sets of most gut microbes and will be an important reference tool for future studies and interventions into the human microbiome for improving human health. 

3. Dimensionality Reduction: From Neuroscience to Deep Learning.
Dimensionality reduction is a mathematical or algorithmic process used to simplify complex phenomena while still capturing that complexity reasonably well. The technique is now being applied in neuroscience to enable models that account for single-neuron heterogeneity while offering simple (computable) accounts of how large groups of neurons interact with each other http://motherboard.vice.com/read/neuroscientists-have-a-new-algorithm-for-simplifying-the-brains-deep-complexity. Quote: Linear dimensionality reduction can be used for visualizing or exploring structure in data, denoising or compressing data, extracting meaningful feature spaces, etc. It is ultimately a statistical technique for analysing how large numbers of entities like neurons interact and is more frequently being used to build better machine learning systems in a range of applications. 

4. Diamond Semiconductors: Commercial Development.
Diamond semiconductor company Akhan Semiconductor has acquired a portfolio of University-developed diamond semiconductor technologies for the purpose of further development and commercial deployment http://www.anl.gov/articles/argonne-announces-new-licensing-agreement-akhan-semiconductor. Diamond semiconductor technology promises improved performance and thermal efficiency of silicon-based computers and solar cells, and (when doped) can form improved circuit elements such as transistors. Mass adoption and utility has been hampered by manufacturing techniques (see http://www.evincetechnology.com/whydiamond.html for more information) but it seems as though these hurdles are finally being overcome. 

5. 3D Printed Graphene Nanostructures.
Free-standing graphene nanostructures can now be 3D printed in complex shapes using a new technique in which a moving nozzle stretches out the ink (graphene oxide plus solvent) as the solvent rapidly evaporates and reduces the size of the dried, hardened graphene filament that remains http://www.nanowerk.com/spotlight/spotid=38253.php. The proof-of-concept involved creating graphene oxide nanowires at room temperature with smallest feature lengths coming in at 150nm, and forming beams, bridges, and suspended & woven structures. The group hope to demonstrate a range of 2D patterns and 3D architectures for various circuit elements, transistors, LEDs, sensors, and photovoltaics, although resolution and scale-up will remain as problems.

6. Improving Stability and Reliability for Biological Circuits.
Biology is messy. Simple biological circuit components exist and are predictable; combining many components together tends to rapidly degrade predictability as complexity increases. To address this problem a team has now created a synthetic biological version of a load driver to provide a buffer between the signal and output and prevent the effects of the signalling from backing up and interfering with the circuit and its outputs http://newsoffice.mit.edu/2014/predictable-biological-circuits-1124. This is an important tool contributed to the library of synthetic biology tools, and will enable the creation of much more complex and useful genetic circuits that are reliable and predictable, e.g. sensing and responding to insulin or cancer or undesirable tissue environments, etc. 

7. NeuroCircuit: Non-Invasive Treatments for Mental Illness.
The NeuroCircuit project aims to develop (i) a systematic understanding of what brain circuits underlie which specific mental illnesses and (ii) non-invasive interventions to target and alter those circuits to treat the mental illness http://news.stanford.edu/news/2014/november/neurocircuit-mental-illness-112514.html. The interventions being explored to alter the behaviour of circuits will consist initially of transcranial magnetic stimulation to target cortical brain tissue close to the surface and also directed ultrasound to target deeper regions of the brain. The hope is that such interventions will also generate far fewer side effects by specifically targeting the circuits responsible and avoiding systemic effects across the body and whole brain as caused by current pharmaceutical interventions. 

8. The Specifics of Immunological Self-Recognition.
A study this week shed light on the specific mechanism by which our innate immune system distinguishes cells the make up the body and those that are foreign and need to be attacked http://phys.org/news/2014-11-biochemists-molecular-immune-friend-foe.html. Sialic acid has been known for decades to play an important role in this process but it was only recent high-resolution structural analysis that revealed the specific way in which specific proteins of our innate immune system recognise and bind to sialic acid, found on the surface of all of our cells, and so preventing an immune cascade. Some pathogenic bacteria have evolved to exploit this mechanism to try and avoid immune recognition (and which our body deals with in other ways) but I wonder if there are efforts to exploit this mechanism to our own gain for example to protect implanted medical devices from being attacked by our immune system?

9. Superomniphobic Textures Repel All Fluids.
A newly designed surface texture is able to repel all fluids it comes in contact with no matter what material the underlying surface itself is made of http://phys.org/news/2014-11-superomniphobic-texture-capable-repelling-liquids.html. The patterned surfaces are comprised of flathead nail structures about 20 micrometers in diameter whose heads employ an overhang structure, and proved it’s superomniphobic repelling properties on surfaces made of glass, metal, and polymer. The group demonstrated the surfaces repelling all fluids including water, oils, and solvents. It even worked on perfluorohexane - the liquid with the lowest lowest known surface tension - sitting on a bed of 95% air enabled by the surface and being held together as a droplet by its own surface tension. The embedded videos are worth checking out. 

10. Insights into Chemical Handedness.
For the first time a solution of molecules of all the same handedness has been produced from simple starting materials in a single vessel http://phys.org/news/2014-11-molecules-handy-life-earth.html. Synthetic chemical reactions to produce even basic organic molecules typically create a solution of equal left- and right-handed molecules that are the mirror image of each other. And yet all life on Earth appears to be right-handed; DNA employs a right-handed helix and basic sugar is right-handed. Despite being chemically identical, given the handedness of life the biological effects of mirrored molecules can be very different - such as in the case of Thalidomide tragically demonstrating the importance of getting handedness right. The researchers here demonstrated spontaneous asymmetric synthesis for the first time, a process that may have industrial applications and also shed light on how the handedness of life arose on Earth. 

The weekly SciTech Digests are also available as a Google Newsstand Magazine Edition here: 
https://www.google.com/producer/editions/CAow4-hB/scitech_digest ___

posted image

2014-11-30 05:50:39 (32 comments, 0 reshares, 40 +1s)Open 

The things I find in my pool filter . . . 

The things I find in my pool filter . . . ___

posted image

2014-11-23 14:50:16 (9 comments, 34 reshares, 73 +1s)Open 

SciTech #ScienceSunday Digest, 47/14.
Cheaper solar, multi-state memristors, boosting photosynthesis, better robot hands, microbiome brain relationship, descriptive computer vision, aging & DNA methylation, Theranos to the masses, galactic alignment, efficient chemistries.

1. Slashing Solar Installation Costs.
A new solar panel design and installation process enables significant reductions in the price of residential installed solar panel arrays http://www.technologyreview.com/news/532731/solar-panels-that-configure-themselves/. The driving goal of the research group was to simplify the system to make it like a home appliance that didn’t need specific expertise to install and operate. The panels are flexible, come with quick-connect cables, and are attached to roofs via a special adhesive anchor that can withstand winds of up to 110 miles per hour. Ins... more »

SciTech #ScienceSunday Digest, 47/14.
Cheaper solar, multi-state memristors, boosting photosynthesis, better robot hands, microbiome brain relationship, descriptive computer vision, aging & DNA methylation, Theranos to the masses, galactic alignment, efficient chemistries.

1. Slashing Solar Installation Costs.
A new solar panel design and installation process enables significant reductions in the price of residential installed solar panel arrays http://www.technologyreview.com/news/532731/solar-panels-that-configure-themselves/. The driving goal of the research group was to simplify the system to make it like a home appliance that didn’t need specific expertise to install and operate. The panels are flexible, come with quick-connect cables, and are attached to roofs via a special adhesive anchor that can withstand winds of up to 110 miles per hour. In some cases residential installation costs can be cut by a factor of three, and novel electronics monitors electrical performance to provide automatic safety and integration with the mains grid where required. 

2. Multi-State Memristors.
A new memristor has been engineered to allow only discrete states of resistive change in response to a standard voltage stimulus and to also act as a diode http://spectrum.ieee.org/semiconductors/memory/sixstate-memristor-opens-door-to-weird-computing. Normal memristors might store one resistive value at 1 volt and another at 10 for example. This new one stores a value at 7.5v, a second one when exposed to 7.5v again, and so on up to six different states although basic improvements in resistive resolution should allow 10 discrete states to be achieved. What this device would allow you to do is create computer systems that work on base-10 memory rather than binary and allow for example 64-bit numbers to be held with 20 bits. Further miniaturisation and massive speed improvements will be needed to make this remotely viable, but in any case these multi-state memristors might find application in neuromorphic hardware. 

3. Boosting Photosynthesis and Yield in Rice by 30%.
A genetically engineered strain of rice has been created that achieves a 30% increase in yield http://newswire.uark.edu/articles/25952/rice-yield-increase-of-30-percent-enabled-by-use-of-a-photosynthesis-switch-researchers-learn. The changes target a regulatory gene / protein that enhances photosynthetic activity under numerous conditions and functions as a master regulator for photosynthesis genes and other gene networks involved in photosynthetic carbon metabolism. The plants were actually greener than the controls and contained significantly more chlorophyll; it was the photosynthetic boost that directly drove increases in biomass. Given the fundamental photosynthetic mechanism it should be possible to engineer similar interventions into other crop plants and hopefully achieve similar boosts to yield. 

4. Robotic Hands: Ever-More-Humanlike Capabilities.
One of the latest robotic hand demonstrations shows off some pretty amazing capabilties as part of DARPA’s Autonomous Robotic Manupulation program http://spectrum.ieee.org/robotics/humanoids/inexpensive-durable-plastic-hands-let-robots-get-a-grip. The robotic hand consists of three digits and five motors with each digit containing two links connected by a flexible tether and powered by a wire tendon. The links include embedded touch sensors, and even a pseudo-fingernail. The design allows a large range of motions and positions, allowing it to lift large (22kg) weights, pick up a telephone, pick a flat ID card or a key from a table and many other things - some of which you can see in this video: iHY Robot Hand Can Grip Anything. One of the more impressive was picking up tweezers and then manipulating the tweezers to pick up a piece of straw. 

5. Intestinal Flora Changes the Blood Brain Barrier.
In news I never would have expected there is now evidence that the bacterial populations comprising our intestinal flora can have an influence on the integrity of the blood brain barrier http://neurosciencenews.com/blood-brain-barrier-gut-microbiota-1558/. The evidence comes in the form of mice that either (i) developed normally with exposure and colonisation to bacteria and didn’t develop a compromised blood brain barrier, and (ii) were in a sterile environment and not not exposed to bacteria and developed a leaky, compromised blood brain barrier as confirmed by labelled antibodies (large molecules not normally able to get into the brain) that managed to cross into the brain. The leakiness was maintained until the mice received a fecal transplant containing normal bacteria. This is an interesting indicative study but the question now arises for humans and of course factors that affect our microbiome having an impact on our mental health and function. 

6. Computer Vision Getting Better at Describing Photos.
Machine learning keeps making strides in computer vision with a new system able to describe objects in the scene and put them into context http://news.stanford.edu/news/2014/november/computer-vision-algorithm-111814.html. The system builds on prior systems that learn from visual dictionaries by also incorporating a dictionary of scenes as training material. Analysing patterns in these pictures and then applied what it had learned to new and unknown images to both identify individual objects and also provide basic context as to what those objects were doing, for example, labelling appropriate images as dog lies on rug or boy stands near cow. Improved visual search and robotics tools should be just the start of applications for these capabilities. 

7. More Evidence for the Role of DNA Methylation in Aging.
A study of DNA methylation patterns found age-related differences in 8% of tested sites, although only 5% of these sites were found to be associated with altered gene expression; interestingly 42 of these sites were found to be associated pulse pressure, which is known to change with age https://www.fightaging.org/archives/2014/11/increasing-interest-in-dna-methylation-in-aging.php. While the study suggests that most methylation changes are unrelated to changes in gene expression, those methylation changes that are linked to altered gene expression are indeed potential drivers of the negative effects of aging. Work like this is important both for creating better tests to diagnose the functional age of a cell or tissue and also for identifying targets and sites in an aging genome for possible reversal of methylation changes and the restoration of youthful, healthy gene expression profiles. 

8. Theranos Executes and Distributes to Pharmacies.
I’ve previously covered the company Theranos and their next-generation microfluidic blood testing technology that can run a battery of 70 different blood tests on a finger prick of blood from a patient. The news this week was that they hadn’t fallen by the wayside but had actually executed in launching their product and technology into the marketplace with the pharmacy chain Walgreens http://www.engadget.com/2014/11/18/walgreens-blood-tests/?ncid=rss_truncated. That’s great news for the adoption of this technology and for getting it into the hands of as many people as possible - also promising implications for more tests and cheaper technology in future. Ideally these tests won’t be carried out only when you’re sick, but rather every single day, especially as personalised medicine matures. 

9. Galactic Alignment Across Billions of Light-Years.
Observations of quasars (very active galaxies thought to be powered by black holes) reveal that their rotations are aligned parallel to one another over many billions of light years, and also with the large-scale structure of the cosmic web http://www.eso.org/public/news/eso1438/. Alignment with the cosmic web was a prediction from theoretical models of the the evolution and development of the Universe and these observations provide the first observational evidence to support those models. The additional alignment on scales larger than this was not predicted by the models and suggest that they are as yet incomplete. 

10. Making Chemistry More Lego-Like.
A new Lego-like chemical synthesis method involves the creation of chemical building blocks that are carefully designed so that the first reaction generates a product that is perfectly primed for the second reaction and so on http://news.anu.edu.au/2014/11/18/finding-new-ways-to-make-drugs/. This allows efficient synthesis of large and complex molecules and the proof-of-concept for the technique involved the efficient synthesis of a complex anti-inflammatory drug, which was computed on a large super-computer-based simulator beforehand to provide confidence that it would in fact work. In some cases the technique requires only half as many synthetic steps. Having been involved in projects needing to develop synthetic pathways for complex organic chemicals myself I can appreciate how much time and effort this might save people. 

An archive of the SciTech Digests can also be found here: http://www.scitechdigest.net ___

posted image

2014-11-21 02:03:14 (14 comments, 21 reshares, 34 +1s)Open 

An Accessible Introduction to the Integrated Information Theory of Consciousness.

This talk is, I think, a good and accessible introduction to the Integrated Information Theory of consciousness. The middle is presented by Giulio Tononi where he very briefly outlines some of the mathematical formalism of IIT and discusses some predictions and tests. It is book-ended by the wonderfully-articulate Christof Koch who starts with a very interesting introduction for a lay audience and ends with some thoughtful insights including the consequence of digital computers not being able to host the rich consciousness that we're all intimately familiar with. Worth a watch in my opinion. 

This leads on from my recent post on consciousness (https://plus.google.com/u/0/+MarkBruce/posts/3FA1C5xWg1B) in which I explored computational and physical equivalence and through additional research... more »

An Accessible Introduction to the Integrated Information Theory of Consciousness.

This talk is, I think, a good and accessible introduction to the Integrated Information Theory of consciousness. The middle is presented by Giulio Tononi where he very briefly outlines some of the mathematical formalism of IIT and discusses some predictions and tests. It is book-ended by the wonderfully-articulate Christof Koch who starts with a very interesting introduction for a lay audience and ends with some thoughtful insights including the consequence of digital computers not being able to host the rich consciousness that we're all intimately familiar with. Worth a watch in my opinion. 

This leads on from my recent post on consciousness (https://plus.google.com/u/0/+MarkBruce/posts/3FA1C5xWg1B) in which I explored computational and physical equivalence and through additional research quickly discovered Tononi, Koch, and the Integrated Information Theory. Digging into IIT I realised that my mind had been changed and I was now firmly in their camp when it comes to consciousness. This talk should better explain at least partially what I was on about. 

I also found sections (particularly the middle and end) of the post-talk panel discussion worthwhile and interesting and this can be found here: Panel on Consciousness at the FQXi conference 2014 in Vieques. Finally, if you're of an academic bent and wish to dig into the formalism of IIT more thoroughly the most updated model of IIT can be found in this paper, published this year: From the Phenomenology to the Mechanisms of Consciousness: Integrated Information Theory 3.0 http://www.ploscompbiol.org/article/info:doi/10.1371/journal.pcbi.1003588 

#consciousness   #integratedinformationtheory   #computation  ___

posted image

2014-11-19 14:41:35 (77 comments, 51 reshares, 79 +1s)Open 

Consciousness: Digging into Computational Equivalence and Physical Equivalence.

TL;DR
* The underlying physical properties of a computational system matter. 
* Computational equivalence is not enough to host consciousness.
* Real integration in time and space is key. 
* This matters and needs to be testable. 

I enjoyed an interesting thread last week in which I attempted to discuss computational versus physical equivalence as it pertains to the hard problem of consciousness, and which was initiated by a post (https://plus.google.com/u/0/110186693922408613972/posts/X2kuVjNsRN7) where +Nate Gaylinn pondered recent developments in deep learning and whether brain-like algorithms could ever be conscious. It was also the first time in a discussion I’d been strongly told I was fundamentally wrong in the same breath as being told I had spoken truthfully. It isa top... more »

Consciousness: Digging into Computational Equivalence and Physical Equivalence.

TL;DR
* The underlying physical properties of a computational system matter. 
* Computational equivalence is not enough to host consciousness.
* Real integration in time and space is key. 
* This matters and needs to be testable. 

I enjoyed an interesting thread last week in which I attempted to discuss computational versus physical equivalence as it pertains to the hard problem of consciousness, and which was initiated by a post (https://plus.google.com/u/0/110186693922408613972/posts/X2kuVjNsRN7) where +Nate Gaylinn pondered recent developments in deep learning and whether brain-like algorithms could ever be conscious. It was also the first time in a discussion I’d been strongly told I was fundamentally wrong in the same breath as being told I had spoken truthfully. It is a topic that interests me and I thought I’d expand upon it here for some wider consumption and criticism. 

Semantics

Consciousness

To be fair I think when Nate referred to consciousness he meant consciousness in the sense of self-consciousness, as in self-aware or aware of oneself as an individual entity. The term consciousness more properly refers to deep and fundamental states of awareness or perception, the qualia of conscious experience, or the raw conscious experience of the redness of the colour red to give a classic example. Self-consciousness is important of course but it sits at a higher level than raw conscious sensations by demanding - almost by definition - the smooth integration of a myriad of different conscious sensations at once. At the same time I think it is less of a jump to propose an algorithm running on a computer being aware of itself as an independent entity, than it is to propose an algorithm running on a computer experiencing a raw conscious sensation such as the colour red. 

Technology

We’ll be discussing hypotheticals below so project any technology out to some arbitrary point in the future when the capabilities would exist. Assume we have computers fast enough to run algorithms simulating the functioning of a human brain in real time, whether that is cellular, molecular, or a deeper model being computed. Assume we have neuromorphic hardware that broadly approximates the architecture of the human brain, with artificial neurons packed as densely as a brain, in similar or more layers as a brain, and with adaptive synapses that form, strengthen, and break connections as needed. Don’t get bogged down criticising the limitations or appearance of current technology. 

Concepts

Neural correlates of consciousness and specifically the conscious sensation of colour; certain regions of the visual cortex have been found to be critical in processing visual stimuli and are critical for the conscious perception of colour. This study Categorical clustering of the neural representation of colour is an example of work in this space http://www.jneurosci.org/content/33/39/15454.full. Damage or remove these regions and you will not experience colour; depending on the extent of the damage you may or may not experience the full breadth of remaining visual experience such as motion, shape, structure, depth, pattern, etc. More background here http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Neural_correlates_of_consciousness. 

The Philosophical Zombie - a human indistinguishable from a normal human in every way except that it lacks any conscious sensation. It processes sensory information and responds exactly as a normal human would; asked to describe an apple they both say red but only the normal human enjoys the rich conscious sensation of the redness of the apple, the zombie does not http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Philosophical_zombie. 

The Chinese Room - a thought experiment proposed to refute the possibility that a digital computer could ever experience consciousness, itself spawning many refutations and criticisms http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chinese_room. 

Proposition

Lets suppose we build a brain on advanced neuromorphic hardware whose fundamental architecture copies the human brain with a suitable dense array of artificial neurons in similar numbers of layers and connected by a dynamic network of synaptic connections. I think it is straightforward to assume that if you feed visual sensory data into this artificial brain in a similar way as you would a normal brain, then we’d expect the artificial brain to experience deep conscious sensations such as the redness of red as perceived from an apple for example. Unless of course you’re in the camp that argues that only biological substrates can produce conscious sensations; this is something that I don’t find reasonable and won’t be dealing with here because it is only tangentially related. 

In a way the neuronal connections and their strengths can be thought of as software, with the neurons themselves behaving in a certain dynamic way. Whether we consider this neuromorphic hardware or a real organic brain for that matter, this behavior can be abstracted, modelled, and reduced to suitable algorithms. These algorithms and the models they represent can be run on a conventional computer in order to simulate or emulate the brain in question and working to process the same sensory information in the same way and so produce the same outputs in behaviour and experience (Henry Markram’s Blue Brain Project is an (incomplete) example of this latter brain simulation, as is the current Human Brain Project). 

The Difference

Except the conventional computer isn’t processing the information in exactly the same way. In the case of neuromorphic or normal brain hardware there are massively parallel neural networks carrying a dense cascade of signals running through the substrate. In the case of the conventional turing-complete computer there is a sequential, step by logical step, processing of the information, in and out of memory and so on. Even if one can easily postulate computation so fast that the sequential processing of the computer is as fast as (or even a million times faster than) brain-like hardware in processing the same inputs to produce the same outputs, updating the old state to the new state to some arbitrary accuracy and tiny time interval, it is still a sequential step-by-step processor and different in kind to the massively parallel cascade of information occurring through the neuromorphic substrate. 

It may be computing the information in the same way but it is processing it in a different way. Both systems may be computationally equivalent but I think they are obviously not physically equivalent and I think this difference matters. 

To understand where I think this difference lies I believe it is important to dig down to a deep fundamental level and consider what is physically going on at the level of charge carriers moving dynamically on the substrate and in the case of electrical signals asking what is the difference in the behaviour of the electrons and holes in both systems. 

In the neuromorphic, brain-like hardware we have a simultaneous cascade of charge carriers moving along parallel interconnected arrays of neurons (whether artificial or organic) and conveying a signal, a distinct pattern of electrical activity, through the substrate bulk, often in waves. In the serial-processing-chips of the conventional computer the physical, atomic behaviour of charge carriers moving around and changing voltage states in transistors and memory elements is very different and lacks any resemblance to the pattern seen in neuromorphic hardware. No matter how fast that computer may be it is still operating to change the states of transistors and memory elements in a sequential manner, step-by-step inducing charge carriers and currents to travel along the chip to make voltage changes to discrete transistors and other components. 

Even if the cascade of charge carriers is found to cause, via diffuse electric fields etc, changes in other parts of the system or discrete components of the neuromorphic network, and this phenomenon and effect is included in the algorithmic models to account for them, the result will be the same: more accurate computational equivalence perhaps, but still fundamentally physically different in the nature of the information processing. This is true even though, as Nate pointed out, the neuromorphic system is essentially a hardware optimisation for some aspect of the algorithms running on a conventional computer. 

In whatever form it takes, consciousness and raw conscious sensation and experience, as the only thing you can ever be sure of, must be a fundamental property of the physical nature of the Universe. This can be interpreted as a form of panpsychism. As such I believe that arguments based purely on computational equivalency, for example, “both systems compute the information in the same way and therefore will exhibit consciousness in the same way” entail a leap of blind faith that ignores the subtle physical differences. 

A Thought Experiment to Test It

A thought experiment that I came up with a while ago is as follows:

1. Imagine an advanced brain computer interface with nodes that can interface directly with potentially every individual neuron, whether in a neuromorphic substrate or more relevantly in a real brain.

2. Each node can wirelessly communicate to the other nodes as needed and also to external computational devices with arbitrarily negligible latency. 

3. Identify every input neuron and output neuron for (example) those regions of the visual cortex that are known to be responsible for enabling the conscious sensation or colour.

4. Run an accurate algorithmic model and simulation of those same regions on an external, conventional computational substrate.

5. Activate the BCI to block the activity of those identified regions of the visual cortex. 

6. The BCI records input signals to those regions and instead sends them to the inputs of the external simulation. 

7. The external simulation sends output signals to the relevant outputs overseen by the BCI in the visual cortex. 

8. Run a suitable battery of colour tests and observe and record subjective experience. Do you perceive colour when processing is handed off to the external substrate? What do you perceive of a multi-coloured scene when just the “red” processing is handed off externally? What if processing is handed off for only the left or the right eye and cover one then the other when observing a colourful scene? 

9. Reset to normal or switch off BCI and again record subjective experience, particularly memory of the event, and memory of colours experienced in the tests. Do you remember colours you didn’t experience or vice versa?  

10. Repeat the experiment with a neuromorphic brain-like substrate performing the external processing instead of the conventional computer. 

This example obviously demands advanced technology that we are not yet near to developing. But I do wonder if simpler, cruder tests with current or near-term technology might shed light on and answers to this question. 

My Ideas Here are Not Original Of Course 

The idea for this post originally was to re-share some of my comments from Nate’s interesting post and edit them into a more coherent form. I suspect my initial comments and thinking was influenced by Max Tegmark and a recent video / post on consciousness that I’d intended to get back to but lost time. In the process of writing this I embarked on more, and more detailed, research; reading articles and watching videos related to these topics. In the process I discovered (or rediscovered in a lot more detail after remembering I’d briefly come across it some time ago) the Integrated Information Theory of Consciousness (basics: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Integrated_information_theory) as espoused by Guilio Tononi and, for example http://www.wired.com/2013/11/christof-koch-panpsychism-consciousness/all/ Christof Koch whose work and talks I’ve always enjoyed. 

After looking into the Integrated Information Theory (IIT) of Consciousness it seems I’d definitely found myself in the company of Tegmark and in the camp of Tononi and Koch - far more intelligent and accomplished thinkers in this space who had wrapped a formalism around these concepts and described them far more articulately than I ever could and much earlier than I had ever imagined. IIT has quite a bit to say about computational and physical equivalence. While I am still ascending its learning curve I do understand that it implies that conventional computers processing brain-like algorithms as we have described can never be conscious in the sense we have been discussing. They might be self-conscious in the broadest sense, and they might compute sensory inputs in the same way, and respond in the same manner, but they won’t host a rich subjective conscious experience. 

This also implies a form of panpsychism although I suspect that it is at this stage more of a placeholder label until such time as future empirical tests better narrow down and describe the phenomenon. 

Why This Matters

As we continue along a technological trajectory that holds ubiquitous dominant machine intelligence in its future, machine intelligences that comprise both engineered AIs and uploaded humans of various forms, it is important that we get this right. It will not be biological humans that travel and expand through the Galaxy; it will be intelligent machines and substrate-independent minds. If conventional computer architectures remain dominant and are incapable of giving rise to consciousness, one of our defining traits, not only would uploads be pointless but we risk saturating the Universe with intelligence at the expense of any conscious experience to accompany it. This would be the definition of travesty. A Universe without conscious experience would not be a Universe worth existing; intelligence needs to saturate the Universe with consciousness, not instead of it. 

This is why we need to be sure of the physical basis of consciousness, and why we need to find ways to test it, predict it, control it, build it, and engineer it. It may be that my thoughts are ignorant and misguided and the IIT is wrong and conventional computer architectures can indeed host rich conscious experiences - great! But we need to be sure. If however the thoughts are accurate and the theory turns out to be right then two things are apparent: (i) by all means we will engineer intelligences on conventional computer architectures to create a myriad of useful tools, (ii) but we will also need to engineer robust neuromorphic architectures of sufficient detail to host rich conscious experiences in order to repair brains, host uploads, and make the whole (post)human endeavour worthwhile. 

Having My Mind Changed

Before this week I carried a cognitive legacy on these matters influenced by Daniel Dennett and was reasonably firm in my opinion that philosophical zombies could not exist and that the Chinese Room would indeed be conscious. Basically that in the former a system that behaved exactly the same would by default have to embody all the same properties including consciousness and in the latter, using similar reasoning, and considering the system as a whole you would have to grant it consciousness. 

As I dug into these matters when preparing this post I found myself climbing the fence away from this firm belief and surveyed both sides anew. And as I considered new concepts, ideas, memes, and models to do with raw physical phenomena and the Integrated Information Theory of consciousness I found myself climbing back down the other side - much to my surprise. I found Tonini and Koch to be far more compelling, considered, and elegant and they changed my mind. 

I now believe that in very specific circumstances the philosopher’s zombie can exist (and that we will probably create their equivalents at some point) and that the Chinese Room does not and cannot exhibit consciousness (and neither can conventional computers no matter how accurate the brain-like algorithms they run). 

But I changed my mind once and maybe a particularly insightful and erudite commenter can convince me to change it again? Until we have more advanced technology better able to test and produce evidence one way or another we are left to debate and theorise. 

Interesting Side Considerations

* When discussing accurate simulations running on computers this classic xkcd comic comes to mind: http://xkcd.com/505/ 

* In the original thread +Shrewd Simian mentioned a study involving evolved circuits that I remembered in which the chips had evolved seemingly useless features that turned out to be useful - unconnected logic gates that nonetheless exerted important influences on the other, connected logic gates. This was interesting to think about once again when considering consciousness, computational substrates, and the physical behaviour of charge carriers. An example explanation can be found here: http://www.damninteresting.com/on-the-origin-of-circuits/. 

* How the hell did you manage to read all of that in such an attention-deficit age!? Bravo if you made it to the end ;)

#consciousness   #computation   #integratedinformationtheory  ___

posted image

2014-11-16 12:53:37 (14 comments, 54 reshares, 115 +1s)Open 

SciTech #ScienceSunday Digest, 46/14.
Optical spinal control, personal tricorder, connectome drives robot, human intelligence tweaks, interesting batteries, artificial retina, printable electronics, full duplex communications, inducing phantoms, cyborg rescue roaches.

1. Optical Control of Motor Functions.
A new optogenetics probe comprises a polymer fiber as thin as a human hair that is able to both optically stimulate optogenetically active neurons and record the electrical activity of those neurons http://newsoffice.mit.edu/2014/striking-cord-optical-control-motor-functions-chi-lu-1107. Interestingly the demonstration involved use of the device in the tiny (1mm) spines of mice, with light pulses stimulating spinal neurons and the device recording the neuronal activity; one experiment demonstrated muscle twitches in limbs as a result of stimulation while... more »

SciTech #ScienceSunday Digest, 46/14.
Optical spinal control, personal tricorder, connectome drives robot, human intelligence tweaks, interesting batteries, artificial retina, printable electronics, full duplex communications, inducing phantoms, cyborg rescue roaches.

1. Optical Control of Motor Functions.
A new optogenetics probe comprises a polymer fiber as thin as a human hair that is able to both optically stimulate optogenetically active neurons and record the electrical activity of those neurons http://newsoffice.mit.edu/2014/striking-cord-optical-control-motor-functions-chi-lu-1107. Interestingly the demonstration involved use of the device in the tiny (1mm) spines of mice, with light pulses stimulating spinal neurons and the device recording the neuronal activity; one experiment demonstrated muscle twitches in limbs as a result of stimulation while another recorded neuronal activity arising from simple toe pinches. The fiber comprises a polycarbonate core, parallel polyethylene electrodes, and a co-polymer for electrical insulation and optical cladding; this design functions under extreme bending and flexing. I’m looking forward to the day this technology enables natural control of limbs and sensory acquisition. 

2. Personal Diagnostics & the Realisation of Tricorders.
Company DMI won the Sensing XChallenge and are a good chance to take out the Tricorder XPrize with their rHealth X1 personal medical diagnostic device that can take a single drop of blood and run a battery of 22 diagnostic laboratory tests http://spectrum.ieee.org/tech-talk/biomedical/diagnostics/winning-xprize-medical-gadget-could-run-hundreds-of-lab-tests-on-a-single-drop-of-blood. The device makes use of tiny stips loaded with proteins specific to the marker of interest such as Vitamin D, calcium, white blood cells, etc that are read by the devices laser to extract a quantitative reading. It will also ship with a patch to measure heart rate, respiration, and other vitals and transmits data to the users smartphone for storage and management. At-home and remote diagnostics will be transformative. 

3. Worm Connectome Controls Lego Robot.
In this story from the very start of the week we had the demonstration of a model of the complete C. elegans nematode neural connectome controlling the movement and behaviour of a simple Lego robot http://radar.oreilly.com/2014/11/the-robotic-worm.html. The robot’s sensors provided similar inputs to the simulated sensory neurons just like a real worm would experience, for example, an ultrasound proximity sensor on the robot stood in for the biological worm’s touch sensor and electric motors and wheels stood in for biological muscles. With this simple robot running the worm connectome it successfully demonstrated worm-like behaviors based purely on environmental stimuli. An example can be seen in this video: CElegans Neurorobotics. Fascinating stuff - at some point we’ll see this replicated with higher animals and more complex robots. 

4. Human Intelligence and Memory: Upsetting a Delicate Balance.
A couple of studies this week gives us a fascinating yet disturbing insight into the nature of human intelligence and memory. First, we had the demonstration of a drug targeting a neural protein involved in helping neurons form stable connections, disrupt this function and induce a more youthful state of neural plasticity with regards to new skill acquisition, although the effects this had on youthful memories, identity, and other skills will be important to know http://www.neomatica.com/2014/11/04/drug-unlocks-malleable-fast-learning-child-like-state-adult-brain/; and might this protein subsequently enhance memory https://www.fightaging.org/archives/2014/11/selective-removal-of-fxr1p-enhances-memory.php? Second, the identity of an algal virus that infects humans (up to 43% in the study although repeated studies with greater statistical significance will be required) and causes cognitive impairment resulting in slower processing, poorer memory, and lower attention spans http://io9.com/a-virus-that-makes-us-less-intelligent-has-been-discove-1656793377; might a measurable boost to average IQs result from a vaccine or treatment for this virus?

5. Interesting Battery Architectures.
For a number of reasons I typically set a very high bar for including battery stories. But this week we had an interesting new battery architecture built up of a billion modular batteries based on nanopores http://www.umdrightnow.umd.edu/news/billion-holes-can-make-battery. Each nanopore holds electrolyte between electrodes at either end and the bulk battery has already demonstrated rapid recharge times and thousands of charge-discharge cycles. To build a larger-capacity battery just add more nanopores. The group are working on scale-up and innovations to further boost energy density. Oxis is also building some impressive lithium-sulfur batteries that now outperform lithium-ion batteries and are expected to reach double the energy density of lithium-ion by 2016 http://www.oxisenergy.com/blog/oxis-energy-is-leading-the-world-with-its-latest-cell-energy-density-and-ca/. 

6. Building a Better Artificial Retina.
Using a plasma polymerised acrylic layer as a base, researchers engineered a novel artificial retina system that was demonstrated to absorb light and electrically stimulate neuronal activity in the retinas of chicks http://www.acs.org/content/acs/en/pressroom/presspacs/2014/acs-presspac-november-12-2014/artificial-retina-could-someday-help-restore-vision.html. The artificial retina works by combining light absorbing semiconductor nanorods with carbon nanotubes that stimulate the neurons of the retina on the flexible base material; it is a wireless and passively powered system and believed to be more durable, flexible, efficient, and a better neuronal stimulator compared to other candidate artificial retina systems. 

7. Printable Electronics Really Moving Along Now.
A trio of printable electronics stories this week reveals how quickly the field is moving now. First, there are now more inkjet-printable inks for printing a range of electronic devices including flexible digital X-ray sensors for example http://www.kurzweilai.net/inkjet-printing-electronics-pushing-the-envelope. Second, new materials and inks now allow for the printing of memristor and memcapacitor switches that exhibit synaptic plasticity http://nextbigfuture.com/2014/11/memristors-and-memcapacitors-for.html. Third, another system for roll-to-roll printing of flexible polymer solar cells with nearly 11% efficiency http://news.ncsu.edu/2014/11/efficient-solar-cell/. Printable electronics means quicker development times, cheaper devices, robust performance, and application niches not previously possible. 

8. Enabling Full Duplex Communications.
A significantly smaller and more efficient radio wave circulator has been created that could enable full-duplex communications and effectively double the bandwidth available to smartphones, or else make more efficient use of available spectrum for example http://www.utexas.edu/news/2014/11/10/radio-wave-device-alu/. Full-duplex capabilities refer to the ability to both transmit and receive signals on the same frequency band at the same time, and the key innovation in this case is the creation of a radio wave circulator that doesn’t need large magnets - something that has previously hindered the adoption and utility of such circulators in the past. The current prototype is 2cm in size although the team are confident in achieving micron-scale devices. 

9. Hacking The Self: Inducing A Phantom Presence.
In this fascinating experiment that distorts normal feedback loops in sensory experience - much like the speech jammer that plays back words with a delay (a disruption that makes it impossible to speak fluently) - researchers were able to induce in subjects the feeling of one or more beings or presences in the room http://www.gizmag.com/artificial-ghost-apparitions-epfl/34643/. The setup was simple: the subject moved a small robotic arm that was linked to a second arm positioned behind them that replicated their movements (touching the their back) with a slight delay. The explanation was that the delay disrupted normal sensory feedback between senses of body position and touch and created a distortion and subsequent impression that one or more people had materialised near them. There is an interesting discussion on body representations and the unified self. 

10. Cockroaches Guided By Sound-Processing Computer Backpacks.
In the latest development of cyborg cockroach applications, a micro-computer with microphones analyses sound waves, determines the direction of the sound, and signals the host cockroach via implanted electrodes to move in the direction of the sound http://news.ncsu.edu/2014/11/bozkurt-roach-biobot-2014/. Ostensibly developed as a search-and-rescue aid to find people in collapsed buildings after an earthquake, further signal processing on-chip could allow differentiation between important and irrelevant sounds as well as wireless communications to other people and devices. I wonder if/when they’ll put these things on not just crawling but flying insects? What other sensors might be useful in this case to map out and find a particular source? 

If you'd like notifications of these weekly Digests then just throw the SciTech Digest page into a notification circle: https://plus.google.com/u/0/b/105994073381308284341/+ScitechdigestNet/posts___

Buttons

A special service of CircleCount.com is the following button.

The button shows the number of followers you have directly in a small button. You can add this button to your website, like the +1-Button of Google or the Like-Button of Facebook.






You can add this button directly in your website. For more information about the CircleCount Buttons and the description how to add them to another page click here.

Mark BruceTwitterCircloscope