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Current Topic: Science

Gödel, Escher, Bach: A Mental Space Odyssey
Topic: Science 9:29 pm EDT, Jun  7, 2009

Gödel, Escher, Bach: A Mental Space Odyssey
Summer 2007
Gödel, Escher, Bach: A Mental Space Odyssey.
Gödel, Escher, Bach: A Mental Space Odyssey. (Image by Justin Curry and Curran Kelleher).
Course Description

What do one mathematician, one artist, and one musician all have in common? Are you interested in zen Buddhism, math, fractals, logic, paradoxes, infinities, art, language, computer science, physics, music, intelligence, consciousness and unified theories? Get ready to chase me down a rabbit hole into Douglas Hofstadter's Pulitzer Prize winning book Gödel, Escher, Bach. Lectures will be a place for crazy ideas to bounce around as we try to pace our way through this enlightening tome. You will be responsible for most of the reading as lectures will consist primarily of motivating the material and encouraging discussion. I advise everyone seriously interested to buy the book, grab on and get ready for a mind-expanding voyage into higher dimensions of recursive thinking.

Gödel, Escher, Bach: A Mental Space Odyssey

Is this the secret of eternal life? - Science, News - The Independent
Topic: Science 7:23 pm EDT, Apr 26, 2009

Most centenarians attribute their great age to some magic elixir or other. The longevity of the Italian scientist Rita Levi-Montalcini, who this week became the first Nobel Prize-winner to reach the age of 100, might be the result of a potion that is a little out of the ordinary: Professor Levi-Montalcini, it is said, puts her undiminished mental vigour down to regular doses of nerve growth factor (NGF) – the discovery that made her famous.

Is this the secret of eternal life? - Science, News - The Independent

Sleep May Prepare You for Tomorrow by Dissolving Today’s Neural Connections | 80beats | Discover Magazine
Topic: Science 9:27 pm EDT, Apr  5, 2009

Sleep may be a way to sweep out the brain and get it ready for a new day of building connections between neurons, according to two new studies of fruit flies. The studies support the controversial theory that sleep weakens or entirely dissolves some synapses, the connections between brain cells. “We assume that if this is happening, it is a major function, if not the most important function, of sleep” [Science News], says Chiara Cirelli, a coauthor of the first study, published in Science.

Sleep May Prepare You for Tomorrow by Dissolving Today’s Neural Connections | 80beats | Discover Magazine

Gobekli Tepe - Paradise Regained? | Articles | Features | Fortean Times UK
Topic: Science 7:03 am EDT, Mar 27, 2009

So far, so remarkable – and if this were all there was to Gobekli Tepe, it would already be a dazzling site: a Turkish Stonehenge, or a Kurdish Carnac. But Gobekli Tepe isn’t just this. One unique factor puts it in the archæological stratosphere.

Gobekli Tepe is staggeringly ancient. Carbon dating of organic matter adhering to the megaliths shows that the complex is 12,000 years old. That is to say, it was built around 10,000–9,000 BC. By comparison, Stonehenge was built around 2,000–2,500 BC. Prior to the discovery and dating of Gobekli Tepe, the most ancient megalithic complex was thought to be in Malta, dated around 3,500BC.

Really, really old and neat shit discovered in Turkey.

Gobekli Tepe - Paradise Regained? | Articles | Features | Fortean Times UK

MBARI News Release - Researchers solve mystery of deep-sea fish with tubular eyes and transparent head
Topic: Science 7:28 pm EST, Feb 26, 2009

Researchers at the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute recently solved the half-century-old mystery of a fish with tubular eyes and a transparent head. Ever since the "barreleye" fish Macropinna microstoma was first described in 1939, marine biologists have known that its tubular eyes are very good at collecting light. However, the eyes were believed to be fixed in place and seemed to provide only a "tunnel-vision" view of whatever was directly above the fish's head. A new paper by Bruce Robison and Kim Reisenbichler shows that these unusual eyes can rotate within a transparent shield that covers the fish's head. This allows the barreleye to peer up at potential prey or focus forward to see what it is eating.

MBARI News Release - Researchers solve mystery of deep-sea fish with tubular eyes and transparent head

My Post Concussive Syndrome Speech Disorder: A Malfunctioning Word Queue
Topic: Science 12:37 am EST, Feb 12, 2009

Last Monday I was in a car accident and suffered a severe concussion that didn't manifest symptoms for 24 hours (weird, I know). Since then I've periodically lost the ability to speak. I go from normal speech to slurring, to mute. Its being looked at, but the reason I made this thread is because... I realized that it is exactly like TCP packets overloading the sliding window, or a web server with limited resources getting too many requests: overload the throughput on the queue and everything after that is lost.

So I made a diagram tonight when I had a bad episode to prove I can still think.

When things are bad, and I fill the shrunken word queue, I can't speak until it self empties. Full empty seems to take between 30 seconds and one minute, and seems to happen at a linear rate. However, if I limit myself to the actual word queue/minute throughput, I can speak continuously for a longer period. Normal speed speech very quickly fills the queue though.

Strange, but accurate. If my mind is a Turing Machine, my word queue is malfunctioning and is too small to hold enough words to speak normally.

My Post Concussive Syndrome Speech Disorder: A Malfunctioning Word Queue

Gulf War illness is real, new federal report says -
Topic: Science 12:50 pm EST, Nov 17, 2008

The report identifies two Gulf War "neurotoxic" exposures that "are causally associated with Gulf War illness." The first is the ingestion of pyridostigmine bromide (PB) pills, given to protect troops from effects of nerve agents. The second is exposure to dangerous pesticides used during the conflict.

Gulf War illness is real, new federal report says -

Pioneer anomaly - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Topic: Science 11:57 pm EST, Nov 14, 2008

The Pioneer anomaly or Pioneer effect is the observed deviation from expectations of the trajectories of various unmanned spacecraft visiting the outer solar system, notably Pioneer 10 and Pioneer 11. Both spacecraft are escaping from the solar system, and are slowing down under the influence of the Sun's gravity. Upon very close examination, however, they are slowing down slightly more than expected. The effect can be modeled as a slight additional acceleration towards the Sun.

At present, there is no universally accepted explanation for this phenomenon; while it is possible that the explanation will be mundane—such as thrust from gas leakage—the possibility of unknown physics is also being considered.

Pioneer anomaly - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The Stink in Farts Controls Blood Pressure - Yahoo! News
Topic: Science 1:50 pm EDT, Oct 24, 2008

A smelly rotten-egg gas in farts controls blood pressure in mice, a new study finds.

The unpleasant aroma of the gas, called hydrogen sulfide (H2S), can be a little too familiar, as it is expelled by bacteria living in the human colon and eventually makes its way, well, out.

The new research found that cells lining mice's blood vessels naturally make the gas and this action can help keep the rodents' blood pressure low by relaxing the blood vessels to prevent hypertension (high blood pressure). This gas is "no doubt" produced in cells lining human blood vessels too, the researchers said.

"Now that we know hydrogen sulfide's role in regulating blood pressure, it may be possible to design drug therapies that enhance its formation as an alternative to the current methods of treatment for hypertension," said Johns Hopkins neuroscientist Solomon H. Snyder, M.D., a co-author of the study detailed in the Oct. 24th issue of the journal Science.

Snyder and his colleagues compared normal mice to mice that were missing a gene for an enzyme known as CSE, long suspected as being responsible for making hydrogen sulfide. As they measured hydrogen sulfide levels taken from tissues of the CSE-deficient mice, the scientists found that the gas was depleted in the cardiovascular systems of the altered mice. By contrast, normal mice had higher levels of the gas, thereby showing that hydrogen sulfide is naturally made by mammalian tissues using CSE.

Next, the mice were subjected to higher blood pressures comparable to serious hypertension in humans. Scientists had them respond to a chemical called methacholine that relaxes normal blood vessels. The blood vessels of the CSE-lacking mice hardly relaxed, indicating that hydrogen sulfide is a huge contender for regulating blood pressure.

Hydrogen sulfide is the most recently discovered member of a family of gasotransmitters, small molecules inside our bodies with important physiological functions.

This study is the first to reveal that the CSE enzyme that triggers hydrogen sulfide is activated itself in the same way as other enzymes when they trigger their respective gasotransmitter, such as a nitric oxide-forming enzyme that also regulates blood pressure, Dr. Snyder said.

It works even better when you pull the covers over her head, because hysterical laughing lowers BP too.

The Stink in Farts Controls Blood Pressure - Yahoo! News

HIV dates back to around 1900, study shows - Los Angeles Times
Topic: Science 11:02 pm EDT, Oct  5, 2008

"The HIV virus evolves incredibly quickly," said geneticist Bette Korber of Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico, who did an analysis in 2000. "Those mutations get passed on to the next individual. So we have that evolutionary pace to enable a look backward."

Korber's analysis compared the 1959 blood sample and modern samples. She traced their common ancestor to roughly 1931.

The new analysis, published in the journal Nature on Wednesday, added lymph node tissue from a woman who died in 1960 in the Belgian Congo. The tissue specimen was one of more than 800 preserved in ice-cube-size blocks of paraffin at the University of Kinshasa.

The researchers compared that sample with modern strains to determine its mutation rate. Then they matched that rate with the 1959 sample, tracing their common ancestor to between 1884 and 1924.

HIV dates back to around 1900, study shows - Los Angeles Times

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