Harvard scientists insert wooly mammoth DNA into elephant DNA

Sarah Knapton, for The Telegraph: Beth Shapiro of the University of California, an expert on ancient DNA, said: “If we really want to bring mammoths back to life, then we’re in luck, as far as DNA preservation goes. “Some mammoths lived in places where their bones and carcasses were buried in permafrost, like being stuck…

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Nine Weird Implications of the Many Worlds Interpretation

George Dvorsky, for io9: Quantum physicists have used the [Many Worlds Interpretation] to reconcile an uncomfortable shortcoming of the Copenhagen Interpretation, namely the assertion that unobserved phenomenon can exist in dual states. So instead of saying that Schrödinger’s cat is both alive and dead, Many Worlders would say the cat has simply “branched” off into two different worlds: one…

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Robots with their minds in the clouds

Sean Gallagher, for Ars Technica: We’re already seeing some companies offloading an autonomous “brain” to the cloud. And it may not be too long before the same sorts of services used to build mobile digital assistants like Siri, Google’s Voice Search, and Cortana are helping physical robots understand the world around them. The result could…

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Generating fractals on a 50 year old IBM 1401 mainframe

When tech tinkerer Ken Shirriff came across a working IBM 1401 computer at his local Computer History Museum (in Mountain View, CA), he decided to write a fractal program for it in assembly language. Because of course he did! Shirriff: To run the program, first you hit the “Power On” button on the IBM 1401 console. Relays clunk for…

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The inside story of how Apple’s new medical research platform was born

ResearchKit

Daniela Hernandez, for Fusion: Last week, Apple unveiled ResearchKit, an open-source platform that will make it easier for scientists to build apps that collect health data for research studies from volunteers, along with five iPhone apps aimed at some of the most costly medical conditions in the world. A day later, thousands of people had already downloaded these…

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Pixar team reminisces about the early days of computer animation

At SXSW, Pixar writer-director Pete Docter, et al., spoke on stage about some of the studio’s earliest days. Bryan Bishop, for The Verge: While Pixar had been making commercials and shorts for years, producer Galyn Susman said that the young studio drastically underestimated the resources needed to pull off a full-length feature. “We thought that we would…

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The soft materials science behind artificial muscles and active-camouflage

Katia Moskvitch, for BBC News: To mimic these natural mechanisms, the team used “smart” electro-active polymeric materials, connected to an electric circuit. When a voltage was applied, the materials contracted; they returned to their original shape when they were short-circuited. “These artificial muscles can replicate the [natural] muscular action… and can have strong visual effects,”…

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The Dictionary of Obscure Sorrows

Here’s a fun one. According to its author, John Koenig: The Dictionary of Obscure Sorrows is a compendium of invented words written by John Koenig. Each original definition aims to fill a hole in the language—to give a name to emotions we all might experience but don’t yet have a word for. Great idea, and the entries…

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Billions of stars have one to three planets in the habitable zone

A news piece from the Niels Bohr Institute, University of Copenhagen: Astronomers have discovered thousands of exoplanets in our galaxy, the Milky Way, using the Kepler satellite and many of them have multiple planets orbiting the host star. By analysing these planetary systems, researchers from the Australian National University and the Niels Bohr Institute in Copenhagen have…

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Rosetta trails Comet 67P, still sending back photos

These images, presented as a series as they were taken over time, are just stunning. To me they look like something out of a 50s sci-fi movie. It’s hard to believe this is actually happening right now. See more as they come in, at Rosetta’s photo library.

The Mercedes-Benz F 015 and the future of transportation

Chris Ziegler, writing for Ars Technica, spent a day with the research car: Everything about the F 015 is automated, or at least gives the appearance of being automated — the car is summoned by a smartphone app, opens and closes its doors automatically, and gently urges nearby pedestrians (like me) to “please, go ahead.” In…

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Another nail in the “loudness war” coffin?

With YouTube’s use of loudness normalization on their music videos, Production Advice has proclaimed an end to the so-called “loudness war.” Says Ian Shepherd: It’s now irrelevant how high the mastering levels of your music are – as I’ve shown before, on iTunes Radio, on Spotify and now on YouTube, we have no control about how loud people hear it – just as…

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3D printer concept by Carbon3D grows objects from resin bath

Drew Prindle, for Digital Trends: The company has developed a radical new technique called Continuous Liquid Interface Production (CLIP) that is anywhere from 25 to 100 times faster than most 3D printers. Instead of depositing plastic layer by layer onto a substrate, CLIP uses a light projection system to “grow” objects out of a pool…

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Elon Musk on the self-driving cars of the future

Josh Lowensohn, in The Verge: Tesla has already added some self-driving features to its cars, but is working on technology that will let the car drive itself completely. An “autopilot” mode introduced for the Model S will do things like change speed, brake, and keep you in the correct lanes using on-board sensors. The next logical…

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Synesthesia could be shaped by associations made in childhood

Cathleen O’Grady, in Ars Technica: A recent paper in PLOS ONE suggests that the letter-color pairings of many GC synesthetes might have been conditioned by objects in their environment as children, such as colorful alphabet fridge magnets. The researchers are clear that they’re not suggesting that synesthesia can be learned, or that colorful letter toys lead to…

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ISS Crew Discusses Life in Space (video)

NASA: Aboard the International Space Station, the new Expedition 43 Commander Terry Virts of NASA and Flight Engineer Samantha Cristoforetti of ESA (European Space Agency) discussed the progress of their mission and key activities in the weeks ahead in a pair of in-flight interviews March 13 with WTOP Radio in Washington, D.C,. and Euronews. Virts…

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James Dyson on portable energy, and the future of his company

The world has changed since batteries were only for flashlights and radios, and Dyson is more than just a vacuum cleaner company. The evolution of James Dyson’s eponymous company has been interesting to watch. Cliff Kuang, for Wired: Dyson isn’t intent on building more vacuums. He wants to build a full-blown technology company, one that reaches…

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Voyager 1 & 2 team still dedicated to the project

Jonathan Margolis, for The Guardian: Space exploration tends to be more inward looking today than in the so-called Space Age. The famous Curiosity rover is of course still working wonders on Mars, but almost all the US’s coming spacecraft will be restricted to studying our own planet, with special attention to environmental issues. The Voyagers…

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Quarantine center in rural England guards against cocoa blight

Ari Shapiro, reporting on NPR: Cocoa is unusually susceptible to disease. Every year, a third of the crop is destroyed by fungi and pests with names like “Witches’ Broom,” “Frosty Pod Rot,” and “Vascular-streak dieback.” A few years ago, one of these cocoa diseases hit Brazil. At the time, “Brazil was one of the world’s largest…

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Artistic depiction of forward motion shows left-to-right bias

It’s a preference that may be independent of cultural norms, according to Psychologist Dr. Peter Walker of Lancaster University: “What artistic conventions are used to convey the motion of animate and inanimate items in still images, such as drawings and photographs? One graphic convention involves depicting items leaning forward into their movement, with greater leaning conveying…

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Michael Shermer on science and science fiction

Michael Shermer

Wired’s Geek’s Guide to the Galaxy podcast features Skeptic magazine’s editor Michael Shermer this week. You can hear the entire podcast, but Wired has plucked out a few interesting tidbits to whet your appetite: Recent studies suggest that those who read fiction become better at understanding and empathizing with others, particularly when those stories involve characters and cultures that…

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The History of Lorem Ipsum

Cicero

As a designer, lorem ipsum — and its variants — is everywhere. There’s even a “Paste Lorem Ipsum” feature in Photoshop. Rosie Cima, for Priceonomics: In the first Century BC, there was a man named Marcus Tullius Cicero. He was a lawyer, statesman, and philosopher, and he was very good at oratory. In fact he might…

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