Daily Archives: June 2, 2017

Bizarre Mini Brains Offer a Fascinating New Look at the Brain

ScienceNeuroscienceBizarre Mini Brains Offer a Fascinating New Look at the BrainBy Shelly Fan – May 16, 20173,228Brain balls sound like something straight out of a Tim Burton movie: starting as stem cells harvested from patients, they eventually develop into masses of living neurons, jumbled together in misshapen blobs.Just like the developing brain, these neurons stretch and grow, reaching out skinny branches that grab onto others to form synapses—junctions where one neuron talks with the next.And they do talk: previous attempts at growing these “brain organoids” found that they spark with electrical activity, much like the webs of neurons inside our heads that lead to thoughts and memories.They’re creepy. They’re fascinating. And they may be neuroscientists’ best bet at modeling developmental disorders like autism in a dish.Last week, two studies published in the prestigious journal Nature argued for brain balls as a reductionist model for broken brains. In one study, scientists took skin cells from patients with Timothy syndrome, a devastating neurodevelopmental disorder that often ends with childhood death, and grew them into brain balls to study where and how the developing brain veered off track.

Source: Bizarre Mini Brains Offer a Fascinating New Look at the Brain

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“Kill Google AMP before it kills the web”

These, in my view, don’t go far enough in stating the problem and I feel this needs to be said very clearly: Google’s AMP is bad – bad in a potentially web-destroying way. Google AMP is bad news for how the web is built, it’s bad news for publishers of credible online content, and it’s bad news for consumers of that content. Google AMP is only good for one party: Google. Google, and possibly, purveyors of fake news.I haven’t encountered enough AMP pages in my browsing time to really form an informed opinion on it, but as a matter of principle, I’m against it. At the same time, however, all of us know that modern websites are really, really terrible. It’s why so many of us use ad blockers (on top of privacy concerns, of course) – to make the modern web browsing experience bearable. In that sense, AMP serves a similar role.Simply put: if everyone created news websites and blogs as fast and light as, say, OSNews, we wouldn’t need AMP or ad blockers for speed purposes (you might still want an ad blocker for privacy reasons, of course).On a related note, something funny happened regarding this specific article. Yesterday, John Gruber wrote:But other than loading fast, AMP sucks. It implements its own scrolling behavior on iOS, which feels unnatural, and even worse, it breaks the decade-old system-wide iOS behavior of being able to tap the status bar to scroll to the top of any scrollable view.

Source: “Kill Google AMP before it kills the web”

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Humans May Have Accidentally Created a Radiation Shield Around Earth 

NASA spends a lot of time researching the Earth and its surrounding space environment. One particular feature of interest are the Van Allen belts, so much so that NASA built special probes to study them! They’ve now discovered a protective bubble they believe has been generated by human transmissions in the VLF range.VLF transmissions cover the 3-30 kHz range, and thus bandwidth is highly limited. VLF hardware is primarily used to communicate with submarines, often to remind them that, yes, everything is still fine and there’s no need to launch the nukes yet.  It’s also used for navigation and broadcasting time signals.It seems that this human transmission has created a barrier of sorts in the atmosphere that protects it against radiation from space. Interestingly, the outward edge of this “VLF Bubble” seems to correspond very closely with the innermost edge of the Van Allen belts caused by Earth’s magnetic field. What’s more, the inner limit of the Van Allan belts now appears to be much farther away from the Earth’s surface than it was in the 1960s, which suggests that man-made VLF transmissions could be responsible for pushing the boundary outwards.Overall, this seems like an accidental, but potentially positive effect of human activity – the barrier protects the Earth from potentially harmful radiation. NASA’s YouTube video on the topic suggests that understanding this mechanism better could enable us to protect our satellites and space vehicles from some of the harmful effects of the space environment.

Source: Humans May Have Accidentally Created a Radiation Shield Around Earth | Hackaday

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Study: Gay Privilege Is Now a Thing

Gay men enjoy more privilege in social settings than their straight counterparts, suggests a new study published in the Journal of Social and Personal Relationships.The study’s author, Max Morris of Durham University, interviewed 40 gay male students at four universities. As homosexuality has become more commonly accepted, most of the respondents reported that their campuses were “gay-friendly spaces” where they could forge friendships with people of diverse sexual orientations and genders.After analyzing the interviews, Morris concludes that the men’s “visibly gay identity” gave them a form of privilege he calls “gay capital.”“Through shared knowledge of gay cultures, belonging to gay social networks, and having one’s gay identity recognized as a from of prestige, gay capital supplements cultural, social, and symbolic forms of capital,” Morris wrote. “These findings trouble traditional generalizations of gay youth as victimized due to their sexual minority status.”

Source: Study: Gay Privilege Is Now a Thing

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