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Where You Can Find Me After Google+ (and Why)
A Survival Guide for Connecting with Me After the Pluspocalypse
Check Back Regularly for Updates

Rather than shoot out a new Post to this Collection each time I test out a post-Google+ social network I'm looking into, I'm going to Pin this Post to this Collection, with a link to where I have written down all the networks I am committed to or testing where you can find me.

I will Update the Original Post whenever necessary, and you can always find the latest up-to-date version Pinned to my Profile by clicking the link below.

#GPlusForwardingAddress #GooglePlusForwardingAddress
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Scientists Leave Their Jobs Sooner and Spend More Time in Supporting Roles

In the 1960's, half of Scientists spent 35-years or more professionally in their chosen discipline. Nowadays, that 'half life' is a mere half a decade. In addition, the number of Scientists who never become lead authors of a paper has risen from about a quarter to about 6 in 10, with many Scientists increasingly spending their (generally shorter) careers entirely in supporting roles.

While there are likely many reasons for this development, it is in many ways unfortunate, as decades of hands-on experiences in ones chosen field are invaluable for mastering and advancing within it. If no one stays in their jobs for long enough, then the Sciences are certain to suffer a Talent Gap.

Moreover, those Scientists who do remain in supporting roles cannot count on earning much esteem or professional stability, or to be seen as much other than a failure within a publish-or-perish, advance-or-die world.

#BlindMeWithScience #ScienceEducation #ScienceJobs
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Tornadoes May Form Ground-Up Rather Than Cloud-Down

Picture the formation of a tornado, and you may imagine a twister forming high up in the clouds of a supercell storm, then diving down to the ground below to wreak havoc and devastation. When Movies and TV depict the event, this is inevitably how they depict it happening. Early radar studies of tornado formation also seemed to confirm this idea.

New research presented at the 2018 annual meeting of the American Geophysical Union is now challenging this view. Using more advanced radar imaging allowing 30-second windows of observation rather than the 5-minute windows of earlier studies, and by limiting themselves to four tornadoes for which sufficiently precise detail could be determined without contamination by local sources such as power lines, telephone poles, houses, and trees interfering with radar readings, they found that all of the tornadoes formed ground-up.

Unfortunately, with only four tornadoes making the final sample cut, the sample size of the study leaves open the possibility that tornadoes may form in both directions. Even if cloud-down tornadoes occurred most of the time, in fact, it is by no means statistically inconceivable that four tornadoes in a study would all form ground-up instead of cloud-down, just as gambler might win four straight bets even if the odds strongly favor the house.

Nonetheless, this has the potential to reshape our understanding of their formation and, by extension, how to predict them. It also makes a certain amount of sense when one compares this finding with other predominantly-ground-hugging whirlwind activities like dust devils and fire whirls.

This is not to say that the storm cloud itself plays no part in the process, as clearly the wind rotation of the storm would promote such ground-level whirlwind formations, but simply to say that the formation of a tornado as we know it may result, at least in some cases, from ground-level activity nurtured by cloud-driven forces to swell in size and strength until it reaches into the sky.

#BlindMeWithScience #Meteorology #Twister
Live Science
Live Science
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Bumblebees with Bugged Backbacks Beat Bug Bots with Batteries

Researchers at the University of Washington have equipped Bumblebees with sensor backpacks, in an alternative approach to building insect-sized drones for the same purposes.

The ability to equip thousands of small drones, or conversely to equip small living creatures, with small sensors is potentially invaluable for applications such as large scale agriculture, by efficiently gathering thousands upon thousands of individual data points such as location, temperature, and humidity.

Insect sized drones currently suffer from extremely limited battery life, operating for a half hour or less at a time. Flying insects like Bees are much more power efficient. Previous research, however, has utilized GPS chips attached to the insects to gather location data, which in itself is inefficient, exhausting their portable batteries very quickly.

This new approach removes the GPS chips from the equation by instead calculating location data by measuring Radio Frequency signals from wireless Access Points near the hive, which both download and transmit data from the sensor backpacks on the bees, as well as wirelessly charging their batteries, whenever they return within range of the Access Point.

While true insect-sized mechanical drones may some day become a reality, in the meantime it seems likely that approaches such as this, which utilize living insects and other insect-sized animals in combination with other technologies, are likely to be more successful in the near term.

Living things are typically far more energy efficient than any current human technologies, thereby allowing researchers to focus on designing efficient sensor tech, without worrying about the energy costs of physical locomotion.

#BlindMeWithScience #Bionics #Drones
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Mitochondria Can Sometimes Be Inherited From Fathers

It has long been accepted as essentially a fact that Mitochondrial DNA is only passed through the Maternal Lineage, i.e. from Mothers, never Fathers. Large swaths of our understanding of the migration patterns of ancient humans, for example, depend upon this; many Ancestral DNA tests depend upon it, or utilize it as part of an analysis; and it is even considered as a risk source for genetic disease if the mother, but not the father, has a Mitochondrial disorder, which has even fueled 'Three Parent' Fertilizations and the attendant controversies.

A new study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences has now partly overturned this doctrine, by showing that in a small number of cases, Paternal Mitochondria can and does pass on to offspring.

Mitochondria, as a quick primer, is the Powerhouse of Cells, and has its own distinctive DNA (it is believed to have begun as a separate organism, in fact, before evolutionary pathways joined it to the larger cells forever as a single organism). Sperm cells have Mitochondria, and hence mtDNA (its shorthand), but this is usually destroyed during the fertilization process.

Usually, but not always, as it turns out. In some cases, the study reveals, the Paternal mtDNA survives this process, passes on to the offspring, and can even out replicate the Maternal mtDNA in the resultant offspring.

Thus, Paternal mtDNA may need be considered across a range of Research and Medical disciplines which have long neglected this. In many cases, this will not alter the overall picture of things such as genetic historical models of human migration patterns, as the occurrence is fairly rare in a large sample.

In cases where smaller data sets are involved, however, such as Ancestral DNA Tests, or where Medical considerations may be an issue such as when a father has a Mitochondrial disorder (previously neglected from consideration) or, alternately, when mtDNA from both parents may interact unexpectedly in fetal development (including Three Parent Fertilizations, where Paternal mtDNA may well survive along with, and perhaps even predominate over, the Donor mtDNA in some cases), this may become an enormous and immediate consideration.

#BlindMeWithScience #Biology #Mitochondria
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Researchers Create VR Simulation of a Supermassive Black Hole
And You Can Experience It, Too!

Sagittarius A* is a supermassive Black Hole at the center of our very own galaxy. There it sits, in the heart of our Milky Way home, and yet so far away that the eyes of a man could never see it, let alone experience it in all of its multidimensional glory.

Using recent astrophysical models, an international team of Scientists at Radboud University and Goethe University, Germany have now brought this heavenly denizen a bit closer to Earth, by creating a 3D Virtual Reality Simulation. You may think you know what Black Holes look like, but what you will see and experience through this 360-Degree simulation may surprise you.

The best part is that it can be experienced using widely available VR Headsets and Consoles, including the dirt cheap Google Cardboard platform. The Researchers hope this wide availability will help it reach millions of people, and maybe inspire the present and future generations of Astronomers, Cosmologists, and laypeople to learn more about our phenomenal universe.

#BlindMeWithScience #BlackHoles #VirtualReality
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Neuroscientists Find Previously Undiscovered Region of Human Brain

Researchers at Neuroscience Research Australia, utilizing an advanced new technique of neuronal staining for the development of a new brain atlas, have identified a previously undiscovered region of the human brain.

Located at the base of the brain, near where the brain meets the spinal cord, this new region has been dubbed the endorestiform nucleus, and has not been previously identified in Rhesus monkeys or other higher primates or other animals, suggesting it may be unique (among surviving species) to humans.

Given its position, it is suspected to play a key role in human fine motor skills, of the sort that allow us to become Beethovens and the like, i.e. to master skills requiring fine motor control in a manner no other species could, even if they were so inclined and could be trained to do so.

The existence of this region was already hinted at by therapeutic anterolateral cordotomy, a surgery in which long spinal cord fibres are cut to relieve chronic pain. Until now, the reason why this worked has been unclear, but in retrospect, the fibres seem to terminate near this structure.

While on the one hand a very exciting discovery, on the other hand this means that animal models of human brain development and disease are likely to be even less valid than previously suspected, especially for any diseases linked specifically with this structure, assuming it is indeed unique to humans.

#BlindMeWithScience #Neuroscience #Consciousness
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Cosmology Still In Crisis Over How to Measure the Universe

Cosmologists have a problem, the same problem they've had for generations now in fact, and one which strikes at the very heart of their endeavor: how do we measure the growth of the Universe?

That the Universe is growing is established enough to use as a reference point. We have a pretty good idea of its current size and rate of Inflation (expansion of space itself), or at least we think we do. And we have some picture, we think, of its very early growth, from some early period right after Inflation (i.e. the 'Big Bang' event) to the early cosmic ages following this period.

The problem is that the two don't match up. Enter our measures for the early cosmos, project forward, and you don't end up with the current Universe. Conversely, project back from our measures for the current Universe, and you don't end up with what we think the early cosmos looked like.

Hence, a Crisis in Cosmology, not unlike the ongoing Replication Crisis in many fields, most notably the Social Sciences ( Most researchers believe that the resolution to this lay in determining the Hubble Constant, which is the rate of the aforementioned Inflation, but various ways of estimating this number have arrived at different outcomes.

Initially, the error margins on these estimates had overlapping regions, hence making the crisis seem likely to be resolved, but as these margins have tightened, and ceased to overlap, the disagreement between them persists.

While I cannot claim to be able to resolve the matter, I wonder if the article itself doesn't inadvertently contain a hint to it, by way of comparing this to the growth of a human from baby to adult. The article speaks rather glibly as if one could take the numbers for a baby and an adult of the same person, plug them together, and see a clear picture of growth and development.

But anyone who even slightly understands how much, and how little, we understand of biological development recognizes this as a substantial oversimplification. One could not, to any reasonable degree, take known data for a baby, plot it forward as a set of continuous growth variables, and get a good estimate of what they'd be like as adults, nor the reverse.

This is not due to ignorance of either state, but rather to the developmental discontinuities that occur in human growth, perhaps most notably (excluding the prenatal development of primary sexual characteristics, which require rather specialized instruments to observe) puberty, which so radically changes a person that it is common even for the most advanced Machine Vision A.I. systems today to be unable to face match a prepubertal face to its postpubertal counterpart. Such discontinuities are not as extreme as, say, a caterpillar metamorphosing into a butterfly, but are still substantial.

If, instead of a continuous growth process based on unchanging constants, the growth of the Universe involved similar discontinuities, then it would make sense that we cannot take the data from the two periods and plug them together into a neat, tidy picture of cosmic development.

Or, as most Cosmologists still maintain, we may simply need more precise estimates of certain variables than we have currently achieved with any of our measurement approaches.

#BlindMeWithScience #Cosmology #Inflation
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Latest Big Social Psych Replication Program Reaffirms and Refines 'Crisis'

There has been much talk in recent years about a 'Replication Crisis' in Social Psychology, and in some of the other sciences as well it should be added (even medicine). Given, though, the greater lack of replicable foundational findings compared with most fields, however, and the real world policy implications of their alleged findings, such a crisis in Social Psychology is especially daunting.

Previous replication projects designed to assess the replicability of Social Psychology experiments have typically found a replication rate of about half, i.e. half of studies are successfully replicated. Previous projects, however, have had numerous limitations that undercut their basic assertions: low sample sizes (meaning insufficient power for replication), critical sampling differences (e.g. using a different sample type, but not using many different sample types that include the original type), imperfect replication protocols, few international replications, or the selection of weak or low prominence findings for testing.

The latest replication project, by a group called Many Labs 2, is helping resolve these issues by focusing on prominent, high impact findings; using samples generally larger than the original studies; carefully replicating the original studies, and even consulting with original researchers to ensure this; and testing many types of participant samples, including international samples.

Surprisingly, their results are in line with previous efforts: about half of all findings replicated successfully, making this an ironically very replicable result. Given the complexity of human behavior, this is actually not as terrible as it sounds in a way, but is worse in another way since many of these are highly foundational and influential 'findings', such as the Marshmallow Effect.

On the bright side, their findings also suggest that sample differences may matter far less than supposed: if a result was replicated, it tended to be replicated across different samples, even in very different cultures, genders, and ages. The question of whether a given finding generalizes beyond a given sample has long haunted the Social Sciences, especially with their reliance on undergraduate participant samples for much of their experimental research. In fact, those results which were replicated by Many Labs 2 tended to replicate even in groups the original researchers specifically expected not to find them replicated.

They also replicated previous findings suggesting that online betters are surprisingly accurate at predicting which results will be replicated in follow-up studies and which won't, suggesting that intuition may be able to play more of an important role in designing and prioritizing research than normally suspected, though with the caveat that those directly involved in research are least likely to themselves possess objective intuitions about their likelihood of success.

Moreover, it is worth remembering that the fact that an experiment replicated, does not mean it necessarily tells us anything about the real world, or tells us what it claims to tell us about it at any rate. As an example, experimental Social Psychologists consistently find that younger samples have better Time Management skills than elderly samples; yet studies of real world Time Management consistently show elderly samples miss fewer deadlines and appointments in practice, and easily so.

In my opinion, what all of this points to is that the Experimental Psychologies fell prey to a desire to quickly 'Catch Up' with very basic Reductive Operational Sciences, like basic Physics and Chemistry, and were at times too willing to accept highly theatrical demonstrations of effects later shown to be overstated at best (e.g. the Stanford Prison Experiments) to get there. What they ignored is that, even in other Operational Sciences dealing with complex materials, replicability can be tricky, such as Biochemistry or Quantum Physics.

And in the case of studying humans, controlling all variables is especially tricky, and there is little motivation for most researchers to pursue slow, methodical programs of study when what they want is to name a Theory of Love after themselves or discover a new therapy for ASD children.

It is important for the Social Sciences to continue to evolve into full fledged Operational Sciences, and to embrace Reductive approaches wherever appropriate, but there has been perhaps a degree of patience, humility, and sweating-the-details absent in much of the research to-date. Hence the replication crisis. Or, at least, I suspect this is certainly part of the answer.

#BlindMeWithScience #Psychology #ReplicationCrisis
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Kilogram Redefined for 21st Century (and Beyond)

Ever since the 1800's, the kilogram has been defined by a literal, physical object: a platinum iridium cylinder, locked away in a vault and France and only rarely removed for reweighing.

On the one hand, there is a very imprecise way to define a unit of weight that often needs to be very precise. For example, the Earth is not a perfect sphere, and therefore very slight gravitational differences on different parts of our planet mean the relation between weight and mass is less than perfect. On the other hand, objects lose mass over time no matter how well preserved from the elements, and this cylinder is no exception, and has been losing mass.

The new measure of a kilogram will be based on an application of Planck's constant, which thus should be valid across time and space. The cylinder will no doubt be retired now to some museum, a relic of how we once measured the universe little more sensible in retrospect than the arbitrary measures in the English measuring systems which the new metric measurements eventually replaced (everywhere, at least, except in the United States).

#BlindMeWithScience #Physics #Kilogram
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