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Normal brain activities cause DNA damage, too
The breaks in DNA strands ‘may be part of normal learning’ that we all experience.
  • Mom: If you were going to kill someone, what weapon would you choose?
  • Me: A dull knife.
  • Dad: Why a dull knife?
  • Me: You want to really mess someone up and make it painful? Use a dull knife. Sure, it's going to take a bit more effort, but it isn't going to cut. It's going to rip. It'll be painful, and if they survive the healing process will be a lot more difficult and painful. A dull knife expresses more anger than a sharp knife. A sharp knife is kind of the nice guy murdering tool, but if I'm going to kill someone I'm going to assume that I have finally snapped so I'd go for something painful and vicious.
  • Mom: We've raised a potential serial killer.
  • Dad: I don't know about you, but I'm proud of the amount of thought that went into that.

Meet London’s Babylab, where scientists experiment on babies’ brains
In the laboratories of the Henry Wellcome Building at Birkbeck, University of London, children’s squeaky toys lie scattered on the floor. Brightly coloured posters of animals are pasted on the walls and picture books are stacked on the low tables. This is the Babylab — a research centre that  experiments on children aged one month to three years, to understand how they learn, develop and think. “The way babies’ brains change is an amazing and mysterious process,” says the lab director, psychologist Mark Johnson. “The brain increases in size by three- to four-fold between birth and teenage years, but we don’t understand how that relates to its function.”
The Birkbeck neuroscientists are interested in finding out how babies recognise faces, how they learn to pay attention to some things and not others, how they perceive emotion and how their language develops. Studies published by the lab have shown that babies prefer to look at faces over objects. They have also found that differences in the dopamine-producing gene can affect babies’ attention span and that at six to eight months of age, there are detectable differences in the brain patterns of babies who were later  diagnosed with autism. 
The biggest obstacle is designing the right kinds of experiment. “There aren’t many methods for getting inside the mind of an infant or a toddler,” Johnson explains. Graduate students at the Babylab have teamed up with technology companies, using a €1.9 million (£1.7 million) grant from the European Union, to develop tools such as EEG head nets that record electrical brain activity, helmets that use light to measure blood flow in different parts of the brain, and eye-trackers that help study attention. Eventually, they want to create wireless systems so babies can react and play naturally during experiments. But despite the wires, “all our studies are geared towards making sure our babies are contented,” says Johnson. “If we want data, we need happy babies.”

Unexpectedly Amazing Carbon-Based Energy Form
A lab “accident” may solve your annoying battery problems
Batteries are terrible. Compared to many other methods of storing energy, especially fossil fuels, batteries aren’t very energy dense—that is, a 1-pound battery stores far less energy than is contained in a pound of gasoline. That wouldn’t be so bad if the energy in a battery were easy to replenish—your Tesla might still go only a couple hundred miles on a single charge, but if you could fully recharge it in five minutes rather than several hours, the low capacity wouldn’t bother you as much.
Scientists have spent decades trying to create the perfect battery—a battery with great energy density or, at least, one that doesn’t take so long to charge. If we could somehow make this perfect battery, pretty much every gadget you use, from your phone to your laptop to your future electric car, would be amazing, or just less annoying than they are today. The perfect battery might also help with some other important stuff: climate change, oil wars, pollution, etc.
One approach for improving the battery is to forget about the battery and instead improve capacitors. A capacitor, like a battery, is a device that stores electrical energy. But capacitors charge and discharge their energy an order of magnitude faster than batteries. So if your phone contained a capacitor rather than a battery, you’d charge it up in a few seconds rather than an hour. But capacitors have a big downside—they’re even less energy dense than batteries. You can’t run a phone off a capacitor unless you wanted a phone bigger than a breadbox. But what if you could make a dense capacitor, one that stored a lot of energy but also charged and discharged very quickly? Over the past few years, researchers at several companies and institutions around the world have been racing to do just that.
They’re in hot pursuit of the perfect “supercapacitor,” a kind of capacitor that stores energy using carbon electrodes that are immersed in an electrolyte solution. Until recently, though, supercapacitors have been expensive to produce, and their energy densities have fallen far short of what’s theoretically possible. One of the most promising ways of creating supercaps uses graphene—a much-celebrated substance composed of a one-atom layer of carbon—but producing graphene cheaply at scale has proved elusive.
Then something unexpectedly amazing happened. Maher El-Kady, a graduate student in chemist Richard Kaner’s lab at UCLA, wondered what would happen if he placed a sheet of graphite oxide—an abundant carbon compound—under a laser. And not just any laser, but a really inexpensive one, something that millions of people around the world already have—a DVD burner containing a technology called LightScribe, which is used for etching labels and designs on your mixtapes. As El-Kady, Kamer, and their colleagues described in a paper published last year in Science, the simple trick produced very high-quality sheets of graphene, very quickly, and at low cost. (via Graphene supercapacitors: Small, cheap, energy-dense replacements for batteries. - Slate Magazine)

Could that cold sore increase your risk of memory problems?
The virus that causes cold sores, along with other viral or bacterial infections, may be associated with cognitive problems, according to a new study published in the March 26, 2013, print issue of Neurology®, the medical journal of the American Academy of Neurology.
The study found that people who have had higher levels of infection in their blood (measured by antibody levels), meaning they had been exposed over the years to various pathogens such as the herpes simplex type 1 virus that causes cold sores, were more likely to have cognitive problems than people with lower levels of infection in the blood.
“We found the link was greater among women, those with lower levels of education and Medicaid or no health insurance, and most prominently, in people who do not exercise,” said author Mira Katan, MD, with the Northern Manhattan Study at Columbia University Medical Center in New York and a member of the American Academy of Neurology. The study was performed in collaboration with the Miller School of Medicine at the University of Miami in Miami, FL.
For the study, researchers tested thinking and memory in 1,625 people with an average age of 69 from northern Manhattan in New York. Participants gave blood samples that were tested for five common low grade infections: three viruses (herpes simplex type 1 (oral) and type 2 (genital), and cytomegalovirus), chlamydia pneumoniae (a common respiratory infection) and Helicobacter pylori (a bacteria found in the stomach).
The results showed that the people who had higher levels of infection had a 25 percent increase in the risk of a low score on a common test of cognition called the Mini-Mental State Examination.
The memory and thinking skills were tested every year for an average of eight years. But infection was not associated with changes in memory and thinking abilities over time.
“While this association needs to be further studied, the results could lead to ways to identify people at risk of cognitive impairment and eventually lower that risk,” said Katan. “For example, exercise and childhood vaccinations against viruses could decrease the risk for memory problems later in life.”



Hahaha! Oh man, this is great.





Art&Animation by Todd Lockwood

I love gold dragons even more now

oh damn watching the gold actually in flight is amazing!


A Quantum Internet at the Speed of Light?

The realization of quantum networks is one of the major challenges of modern physics. Now, new research shows how high-quality photons can be generated from ‘solid-state’ chips, bringing us closer to the quantum ‘internet’.
Image: An artist’s impression of distributed qubits (the bright spots) linked to each other via photons (the light beams). The colours of the beams represent that the optical frequency of the photons in each link can be tailored to the needs of the network. Credit: Mete Atature
The number of transistors on a microprocessor continues to double every two years, amazingly holding firm to a prediction by Intel co-founder Gordon Moore almost 50 years ago. If this is to continue, conceptual and technical advances harnessing the power of quantum mechanics in microchips will need to be investigated within the next decade.
“We are at the dawn of quantum-enabled technologies, and quantum computing is one of many thrilling possibilities,” says Dr Mete Atature from University of Cambridge Department of Physics. “Our results in particular suggest that multiple distant qubits in a distributed quantum network can share a highly coherent and programmable photonic interconnect that is liberated from the detrimental properties of the chips. Consequently, the ability to generate quantum entanglement and perform quantum teleportation between distant quantum-dot spin qubits with very high fidelity is now only a matter of time.”
Developing a distributed quantum network is one promising direction pursued by many researchers today. A variety of solid-state systems are currently being investigated as candidates for quantum bits of information, or qubits, as well as a number of approaches to quantum computing protocols, and the race is on for identifying the best combination.
Ref: Laser-like photons signal major step towards quantum ‘Internet’



World’s Most Beautiful Abandoned Places

Italian product manager and web designer Francesco Mugnai recently added a collection of images to his blog touting some of the most beautiful images of abandoned spots and modern ruins that he’d ever seen. The images Mugnai has captured come from empty castles, shuttered power plants, and dilapidated churches around the world. From a sunken yacht in Antarctica to a forever-closed amusement park in Japan, these images all make up a sort of anti-phoenix; rather than rising as new from the ashes, these husks remain preserved in decomposition, forcing viewers to confront the strange beauty of ruination.

i love these more than anything


Buddha Snorlax
By  stablercake


Standing waves (aka stationary waves)

Standing waves are an interesting physical phenomenon that show up in several places in nature. They’re a wave that oscillates “in place”.

One of the ways a standing wave can be created is by the interference of two waves travelling in opposite directions (like in the second image). By the superposition principle, the resulting wave (in black) is the addition of the both waves (red and blue).

This standing wave has points that remain fixed (called nodes, in red), where destructive interference always occurs, and points that oscillate the most (called antinodes), where constructive interference occurs.

Standing waves are behind the sound of virtually every acoustic musical instrument, whether it is a drum, a flute or a violin. The musician operates the instrument in a manner to generate a vibration, and the vibration is propagated and reflected throughout the instrument. The interference between all of the reflected waves generate standing waves, which is what ultimately produce the bulk of the sound we hear.

The waves shown here are one-dimensional, but this phenomenon occurs in two and three dimensions as well.

By studying how waves interfere and reflect, and how these generate standing waves, one can estimate the vibration and density inside a spherical body (such as the Sun or the Earth — read those links!) from measurements of oscillation on the surface, a very powerful tool for studying the inner workings of such structures.

In the third animation, for reference, we see the wave generated when opposing waves of different frequencies interfere.



Some genius replaced the music in the Party Rock video with the cantina song from Star Wars and it matches perfectly




This is perfect.

Isn’t music just grand

This suddenly makes me enjoy this dance/video haha

(Source: marchingjaybird)


Perihelion and Aphelion

The closest point to the Sun in a planet’s orbit is called Perihelion. The furthest point is called Aphelion. The planet moves fastest at perihelion and slowest at aphelion.

GIFs extracted from Year On Earth

Planets in our Solar System orbit the Sun. The orbits of some planets are almost perfect circles, but others are not. Some orbits are shaped more like ovals, or “stretched out” circles.

Scientists call these oval shapes “ellipses”. If a planet’s orbit is a circle, the Sun is at the center of that circle. If, instead, the orbit is an ellipse, the Sun is at a point called the “focus” of the ellipse, which is not quite the same as the center.

Since the Sun is not at the center of an elliptical orbit, the planet moves closer towards and further away from the Sun as it orbits. The place where the planet is closest to the Sun is called perihelion.

When the planet is furthest away from the Sun, it is at aphelion. The words aphelion and perihelion come from the Greek language. In Greek, “helios” mean Sun, “peri” means near, and “apo” means away from.

(Source: afro-dominicano)