|Complexity Digest 2008.14 01-Apr-2008|
"I think the next century will be the century of complexity." Stephen Hawking, 2000.
Consumers also want companies to promote the public good by providing healthier and safer products, retirement and health care benefits for its employees, and much else besides. Their expectations vary by industry and geography.
Tomasz Walenta Good Eye In deciding what to focus on, we scan and sweep until something sticks out and brings our bouncing cones to a halt, as shown above.
CAVE SAVE. Researchers who retrieved this fossil jaw from a Spanish cave conclude that human ancestors reached Western Europe more than 1 million years ago. EIA/Jordi Mestre
The investigators assign the new discoveries to the species Homo antecessor. A decade ago, they identified 800,000-year-old fossils from another Atapuerca site as H. antecessor. In the Spanish scientists' view, H. antecessor was an evolutionary precursor of European Neandertals and modern humans.
Sphere Of Flavor. Calcium bonds with sodium alginate to form a jelly shell around a spoonful of mojito. Darko Zagar
"What is important is in your mouth," (...). More important are structural changes that result from heating or cooling to body temperature, the action of saliva (an adult secretes 0.5 to 1.5 liters per day), and the shearing between the palate and the tongue. "There's no tongue like the human tongue," van Aken says.
(...) when clusters of synapses on a dendritic branch are stimulated simultaneously, under conditions thought to mirror brain states during learning, repeated activation leads to gradual changes in the response of the branch.
Riboswitches are found in mRNAs, where they bind small molecules and control gene expression. Most carry a single binding site, or aptamer, that recognizes a target ligand.
US vaccine company Advaxis chose Listeria monocytogenes because of its ability to stow away in immune cells called antigen-presenting cells (APCs).
The chemotherapy worked as intended on cancer, extending the lifespan of mice injected with aggressive human tumors, reported a group led by Valter Longo of the University of Southern California.
The individual steps of the process have each been done before in mice: cloning skin cells to make early embryos, extracting stem cells from the embryos, converting these embryonic stem cells into the right kind of nerve cells, and implanting the nerve cells into the mouse brains.
Microscope images show fluorescent protein created in the tiny channels of a machine able to synthesise and express its own genes (Image: David Kong/MIT)
Cells are governed by genes which provide instructions for making proteins that carry out the cell's functions.
The postage stamp-sized machine able to make and express its own genes offers a fast and cheap new way of making "designer" proteins not found in nature. It could ultimately help scientists test how individual patients will react to specific drugs.
The good news is that--unlike reductions in greenhouse gas emissions--reducing the release of large amounts of black carbon worldwide would have immediate effects.
Although the error bars on the new measurement are large, "the effects of black carbon are definitely stronger than what the IPCC estimates,"(...).
The researchers exposed eight pairings of eight rooks to the challenge. In 60 trials per pair, all were able to pull in the eggs and worms. But as with chimps, the pairs who were most "tolerant"--that is, got along with each other the best as evidenced by behaviors such as feeding from the same dish--picked up the trick the fastest. The most tolerant pair reeled in the food platform in 63% of the tries, whereas the least tolerant had a score of 20%,(...).
Using rules extracted from experience to solve problems in novel situations involves cognitions such as analogical reasoning and language learning and is considered a keystone of humans' unique abilities. Nonprimates, it has been argued, lack such rule transfer. We report that Rattus norvegicus can learn simple rules and apply them to new situations. Rats learned that sequences of stimuli consistent with a rule (such as XYX) were different from other sequences (such as XXY or YXX).
READY FOR SPACE. Curled up into a 4 millimeter-long mummy, this fly larva can suspend its life for years, withstanding severe drought and extreme temperatures. D. Tanaka/National Institute of Agrobiological Sciences in Japan
Biologists have known for years that a sugar called trehalose plays a crucial role in the survival tactics of several of these species. During desiccation, trehalose replaces water in the cellular fluids and is presumed to turn into a glassy state, much like melted sugar will solidify into candy drops. The glassy sugar would keep cellular structures from falling apart.
In contrast, Goertzel claims that synthetic characters like his dog can be taught almost anything, even things that their programmers never imagined.
To start the fuel-making process, sunlight hits a photo-active material. In plants this is chlorophyll, but in the lab it can be a silicon semiconductor, which has its electrons whacked out of position by the incoming photons. The dislodged electrons start to flow in one direction, creating a current. Left behind are positive charges, known as holes, and they drift in the opposite direction. This is a basic solar cell, which requires silicon of high purity, otherwise material defects cause the electrons and holes to recombine, reducing its performance.
Furthermore, in organic synthesis, it isn't always desirable to work with the most reactive chemical groups first, so catalysts that allow reactions to occur selectively at less reactive sites are highly desirable.
Enzymes are the acknowledged masters at reversing the reactivity of chemical groups in molecules, but non-enzymatic catalysts may on occasion compete for the accolade.
(...) in carbon nanotubes, spin and orbital motion are more strongly coupled than previously thought. Far from being a bad thing, this opens up new possibilities for manipulating electron spin.
Hypercubes in two, three, four, and five dimensions. (Images from Wikipedia)
"The unique structure of hypercubes, including M-hypercubes, has been shown to be effective in parallel computing and communication networks and provides a unique ideal intrinsic structure which fulfills many of the needs of future nanocomputing systems," Lee said. "These needs include massively parallel and distributed processing architecture with simple and robust communication linkages."
High-quality optical imaging involves measuring individual photons reflected off an object. The trouble is that the photons can be deflected en route, and extra photons created by thermal noise can obscure this weakened signal.
Seth Lloyd of Massachusetts Institute of Technology suggests that entangled photons could sharpen up such images by providing a way to discard the noise. (...) The imaging device could then ignore any unmatched photons.
Physicists' search for a theory of everything is entering territory more familiar to biologists: taxonomy. A small team of theorists is meeting in Tucson, Arizona, in April to discuss how to classify the billions upon billions of different possible universes created by string theory, which describes fundamental particles and forces as vibrating strings.
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