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Combating the Life Science Data Avalanche

August 10, 2015 | by Lindsay Hock, Editor | Comments

Big data has become a growing issue in science, as these data sets are so large and complex that traditional data processing applications are inadequate. This is especially true for the life science industry, where the growing size of data hasn’t been met with tools for analyzing and interpreting this data at the same rate, leading to what many call a “data avalanche.”

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Metamaterials Help Machines Hear

August 17, 2015 2:45 pm | by Greg Watry, Digital Reporter | Comments

Amid a roomful of auditory stimulation, humans can hone in on a single conversation and dampen extraneous stimuli. Psychologists have referred to this human phenomena as the “cocktail party effect.” Unlike humans, machines are still playing catch-up in this realm. But a new sensor developed at Duke Univ. may bridge the gap, allowing programs, such as Apple’s Siri, the ability to distinguish specific vocalizations in a crowded room.


Apple Diversity: Overall the Picture’s the Same

August 17, 2015 12:00 pm | by Greg Watry, Digital Reporter | Comments

Apple CEO Tim Cook reported that in the past year the company has made a concerted effort to increase gender and ethnic diversity among its employees, both abroad and in the U.S.


The R&D Index: Market Pulse – August 17, 2015

August 17, 2015 10:15 am | by Tim Studt | Comments

The R&D Index: Market Pulse for the week ending August 14, 2015, closed at 1606.46 for the 25 companies in the R&D Index. The R&D Index was down approximately 1.09% (or nearly 18 points) over the previous week (ending August 7, 2015). Pharmaceutical components of the R&D Index were down 0.70% for the week; automotive companies were down 3.39% and ICT (Information Communications Technology) were up 0.23% for the week.


An Alternative to PCR

August 15, 2015 3:30 pm | by Lindsay Hock, Editor | Comments

Every cancer laboratory is interested in answering a set of biological questions. The best method or tool to use in pursuit of these answers is often dependent on the type of question asked. For laboratories seeking to develop translational gene expression signatures, the ability to accurately and precisely measure expression of many genes in a cost-effective manner is important.


Orbiter and Comet Pass Sun Together

August 14, 2015 9:00 pm | by Greg Watry, Digital Reporter | Comments

Expelling 300 kg of water vapor every second, Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko made its closest approach to the sun last week, according to the European Space Agency (ESA). The agency is using its Rosetta orbiter to follow the icy nucleus’ journey as it hurdles through space.


Koko the Ape: A Journey into Speech

August 14, 2015 3:20 pm | by Greg Watry, Digital Reporter | Comments

The journey began in 1974, the year when three-year-old gorilla Koko moved from the San Francisco Zoo to Stanford Univ. There, Penny Patterson, then a graduate student, worked with Koko as part of her PhD psychology research at the university. What blossomed was a decades-long relationship, and a study into the efficacy of cross-species communication.


A Nano View

August 14, 2015 3:00 pm | by Lindsay Hock, Editor | Comments

In nanotechnology the presence of defects is critical, more so than in the case of analogous bulk materials. Small defects in the crystal structure of a bulk metal alloy might have little impact on performance. However, the presence of defects, no matter how small, in nanoparticles of the same alloy may cause it to fail in its given application.


Jupiter-like Planet Discovered

August 14, 2015 11:30 am | by Greg Watry, Digital Reporter | Comments

A Jupiter-like exoplanet 100 light-years away, and 40 million years younger than dinosaurs, was discovered by a team of astronomers using an instrument that detects a planet’s glow, rather than its shadow.


Inkjet Printing Gone Solar

August 14, 2015 8:02 am | by Lindsay Hock, Editor | Comments

With today’s demand to seek energy independence from the Middle East and other such regions, solar energy is a touted field. In this field, many photovoltaic products have come to market in hopes to help our nation reach this goal. Overall, the total photovoltaic (PV) market is valued at approximately $90 billion, and is expected to double by 2020. In the PV sector, silver inks and pastes represent an approximately $4.9 billion market.


Robot Mother Builds and Tests Children

August 13, 2015 8:40 pm | by Greg Watry, Digital Reporter | Comments

It’s like watching a mother teach her children to walk. However, the mother is a robot shaped like an arm, and her children are small cubes embedded with motors. One of the children lops across the table. Without human intervention or computer simulation, researchers at the Univ. of Cambridge have designed a robot capable of building its own children and testing which model is best, before using the information to design next iterations.


The Flipside of Machine Learning

August 13, 2015 5:15 pm | by Greg Watry, Digital Reporter | Comments

Human learning is tricky and incredibly individual. Retaining the knowledge to pass a physics test may come quickly and easily to one student, but may require hours of cramming and consideration for another. Professors at the Univ. of Wisconsin-Madison are melding the fields of computer science and psychology to reverse engineer machine learning, with the hope of devising ideal lesson plans to ease the learning process.


Early Climate Change Led to Cannibalism, Social Unrest

August 13, 2015 2:00 pm | by Greg Watry, Digital Reporter | Comments

Located on the southern slope of the Qinling Mountains in central China, Dayu Cave is home to ancient inscriptions that paint a picture of the societal impacts of climate change over seven major drought events between 1528 and 1894.


An Octopus with Tricks Up Its Tentacles

August 13, 2015 10:45 am | by Greg Watry, Digital Reporter | Comments

Darkened the color of sludge, the larger Pacific striped octopus, a species with no full ethological description, rises from the confines of a shell. Keeping seven of its arms curled inwards, it extends a single arm to a nearby shrimp. The shrimp faces the octopus. From above, the extended arm taps the shrimp’s posterior. The crustacean, in surprise, darts forward into the seven waiting and hungry arms.


Male or Female: The Difference Is in the Brain

August 12, 2015 9:45 pm | by Greg Watry, Digital Reporter | Comments

Catherine S. Woolley, a professor of neurobiology at Northwestern Univ.’s Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences, refused to study sex differences in the brain for 20 years. But in 2012, she discovered estrogens decreased inhibitory synaptic transmission in female rats, but not in their male counterparts.


Pedaling Fat Away

August 12, 2015 5:45 pm | by Greg Watry, Digital Reporter | Comments

Since 1980, worldwide obesity has more than doubled. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), 39% of adults, 18 and older, were overweight in 2014, and 13% were obese. Worldwide, more deaths are attributed to people being overweight and obese, rather than underweight.



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