mindblowingscience:

Some Things You Can Do In Your Sleep, Literally

For those who find themselves sleeping through work – you may one day find yourself working through sleep.
People who are fast asleep can correctly respond to simple verbal instructions, according to a study by researchers in France. They think this may help explain why you might wake if someone calls your name or why your alarm clock is more likely to rouse you than any other noise.
The connections between sleep, memory and learning aren’t new – but the research is notable for its examination of automatic tasks. The study, published Thursday in Current Biology, first recorded the brain waves of people while they were asked to identify spoken words as either animals or objects while they were awake. After each word, the participant pushed a button with either their right hand for animals or their left hand for objects.
The brain map produced by the EEG showed where activity was taking place in the brain and what parts of the brain were being prepped for response. This preparation might include hearing the word elephant and then processing that an elephant is an animal. The participants did this until the task became automatic.
The researchers then lulled the participants to sleep, putting them in a dark room in a reclining chair. Researchers watched them fall into the state between light sleep and the deeper sleep known as rapid eye movement (REM). They were then told a new list of words.
This time, their hands didn’t move, but their brains showed the same sorting activity as before. “In a way what’s going on is that the rule they learn and practice still is getting applied,” Tristan Bekinschtein, one of the authors of the study, told Shots. The human brain continued, when triggered, to respond even through sleep.
But the researchers weren’t fully satisfied, so they took it a step further. They did it all again, but instead of animals and objects, used real words and fake words. They also waited until the participants were more fully asleep.
Again, they found that the sleeping participants showed brain activity that indicated they were processing and preparing to move their hands to correctly indicate either real words or fake words were being spoken.
"It’s pretty exciting that it’s happening during sleep when we have no idea," Ken Paller, a cognitive neuroscientist at Northwestern University who is unaffiliated with the study, told Shots. “We knew that words could be processed during sleep.” But, Paller adds, “we didn’t know how much and so this takes it to say, the level of preparing an action.”
While this sounds like great news for those who could use a few extra hours in the day for memorizing irregular verbs or cramming for the bar exam, the researchers caution that the neural activity they found may apply only to automated tasks. They hope that future studies may look into whether any similar cognitive task begun in an awake state might continue through early sleep — like crunching calculations.
"It’s a terrible thought, in the modern world," says Bekinschtein, referring to the pride people take in forgoing sleep for work. "I think in a way, these experiments are going to empower people … that we can do things in sleep that are useful."
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mindblowingscience:

Some Things You Can Do In Your Sleep, Literally

For those who find themselves sleeping through work – you may one day find yourself working through sleep.

People who are fast asleep can correctly respond to simple verbal instructions, according to a study by researchers in France. They think this may help explain why you might wake if someone calls your name or why your alarm clock is more likely to rouse you than any other noise.

The connections between sleep, memory and learning aren’t new – but the research is notable for its examination of automatic tasks. The study, published Thursday in Current Biology, first recorded the brain waves of people while they were asked to identify spoken words as either animals or objects while they were awake. After each word, the participant pushed a button with either their right hand for animals or their left hand for objects.

The brain map produced by the EEG showed where activity was taking place in the brain and what parts of the brain were being prepped for response. This preparation might include hearing the word elephant and then processing that an elephant is an animal. The participants did this until the task became automatic.

The researchers then lulled the participants to sleep, putting them in a dark room in a reclining chair. Researchers watched them fall into the state between light sleep and the deeper sleep known as rapid eye movement (REM). They were then told a new list of words.

This time, their hands didn’t move, but their brains showed the same sorting activity as before. “In a way what’s going on is that the rule they learn and practice still is getting applied,” Tristan Bekinschtein, one of the authors of the study, told Shots. The human brain continued, when triggered, to respond even through sleep.

But the researchers weren’t fully satisfied, so they took it a step further. They did it all again, but instead of animals and objects, used real words and fake words. They also waited until the participants were more fully asleep.

Again, they found that the sleeping participants showed brain activity that indicated they were processing and preparing to move their hands to correctly indicate either real words or fake words were being spoken.

"It’s pretty exciting that it’s happening during sleep when we have no idea," Ken Paller, a cognitive neuroscientist at Northwestern University who is unaffiliated with the study, told Shots. “We knew that words could be processed during sleep.” But, Paller adds, “we didn’t know how much and so this takes it to say, the level of preparing an action.”

While this sounds like great news for those who could use a few extra hours in the day for memorizing irregular verbs or cramming for the bar exam, the researchers caution that the neural activity they found may apply only to automated tasks. They hope that future studies may look into whether any similar cognitive task begun in an awake state might continue through early sleep — like crunching calculations.

"It’s a terrible thought, in the modern world," says Bekinschtein, referring to the pride people take in forgoing sleep for work. "I think in a way, these experiments are going to empower people … that we can do things in sleep that are useful."

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I think that this topic is truly important. What do you think about it?

Source: Are stereotypes keeping women away from science?

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Do We Live in a Multiverse?
By: Charles Choi
Our universe may not be alone. It could just be one of multiple realms making up a “multiverse.”
In fact, there are a half-dozen or so lines of reasoning that lead to this conclusion, with some pointing to the even wilder possibility that we live in a kind of multiverse-within-a-multiverse-within-a-multiverse.
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Do We Live in a Multiverse?

By: Charles Choi

Our universe may not be alone. It could just be one of multiple realms making up a “multiverse.”

In fact, there are a half-dozen or so lines of reasoning that lead to this conclusion, with some pointing to the even wilder possibility that we live in a kind of multiverse-within-a-multiverse-within-a-multiverse.

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sciencesoup:

What’s up with all those giant volcanoes on Mars?
Mount Everest is an enormous and awe-inspiring sight, towering 9 kilometres above the Earth’s surface. But if you were to stick it on Mars right next to Olympus Mons, the largest volcano in the solar system, it would look foolishly small—Olympus Mons triples the height of Everest and spans the state of Arizona.
Mars is sprinkled with huge volcanoes, hundreds of kilometres in diameter and dozens of kilometres tall. The largest volcano on Earth, on the other hand, is Mauna Loa in Hawaii, which rises only 4 km above sea level.
So why is Mars blessed with these monsters of the solar system? Why doesn’t Earth have any massive lava-spewing structures?
Geology, my friends.
Earth’s crust is split up into plates that move and collide. Usually, volcanoes are formed at the boundaries where two plates meet, and one subducts below the other and melts in the heat below the surface. This melt rises as magma and causes volcanism.
But in some places on Earth, there are “hot spots” in the middle of plates, where magma rises up from the core-mantle mantle in plumes. When this magma is spewed up onto the surface, it cools and solidifies into rock, and over the years, the rock builds up and up. When plumes open out in the middle of the ocean, the magma builds islands.

Plumes are fixed, always pushing magma up to one spot, but the Earth’s plates don’t stop for anything. While the magma rises, the plates move over the hotspot—at a rate of only a few centimetres a year, but still, they move and take the newly-made volcanoes with them. So, gradually, the plates and volcanoes move on, while the plume remains in the same spot, building a whole new volcano on the next bit of the plate. As the plate moves on and on, the plume builds up a whole chain of islands, called island arcs. This is how the Hawaiian Islands were formed.

The island-volcanoes never get too big, because the plates keep moving onwards. On Mars, however, the volcanoes are enormous because the magma appears to keep rising, cooling and solidifying in the same place, taking its sweet time to build up colossal mounds of volcanic rock kilometres high.
So far, we’ve seen no volcanic arcs like we do on Earth, and this is generally taken as evidence that Mars has no tectonic plates.
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sciencesoup:

What’s up with all those giant volcanoes on Mars?

Mount Everest is an enormous and awe-inspiring sight, towering 9 kilometres above the Earth’s surface. But if you were to stick it on Mars right next to Olympus Mons, the largest volcano in the solar system, it would look foolishly small—Olympus Mons triples the height of Everest and spans the state of Arizona.

Mars is sprinkled with huge volcanoes, hundreds of kilometres in diameter and dozens of kilometres tall. The largest volcano on Earth, on the other hand, is Mauna Loa in Hawaii, which rises only 4 km above sea level.

So why is Mars blessed with these monsters of the solar system? Why doesn’t Earth have any massive lava-spewing structures?

Geology, my friends.

Earth’s crust is split up into plates that move and collide. Usually, volcanoes are formed at the boundaries where two plates meet, and one subducts below the other and melts in the heat below the surface. This melt rises as magma and causes volcanism.

But in some places on Earth, there are “hot spots” in the middle of plates, where magma rises up from the core-mantle mantle in plumes. When this magma is spewed up onto the surface, it cools and solidifies into rock, and over the years, the rock builds up and up. When plumes open out in the middle of the ocean, the magma builds islands.

image

Plumes are fixed, always pushing magma up to one spot, but the Earth’s plates don’t stop for anything. While the magma rises, the plates move over the hotspot—at a rate of only a few centimetres a year, but still, they move and take the newly-made volcanoes with them. So, gradually, the plates and volcanoes move on, while the plume remains in the same spot, building a whole new volcano on the next bit of the plate. As the plate moves on and on, the plume builds up a whole chain of islands, called island arcs. This is how the Hawaiian Islands were formed.

image

The island-volcanoes never get too big, because the plates keep moving onwards. On Mars, however, the volcanoes are enormous because the magma appears to keep rising, cooling and solidifying in the same place, taking its sweet time to build up colossal mounds of volcanic rock kilometres high.

So far, we’ve seen no volcanic arcs like we do on Earth, and this is generally taken as evidence that Mars has no tectonic plates.

NASA Exoplanet Mission to Hunt Down Earth-sized Worlds
By: Nola Taylor Redd
Set to launch in 2017, NASA’s Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS) will monitor more than half a million stars over its two-year mission, with a focus on the smallest, brightest stellar objects.
During its observations, TESS is expected to find more than 3,000 new planets outside of our solar system, most of which will be possible for ground-based telescopes to observe.
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NASA Exoplanet Mission to Hunt Down Earth-sized Worlds

By: Nola Taylor Redd

Set to launch in 2017, NASA’s Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS) will monitor more than half a million stars over its two-year mission, with a focus on the smallest, brightest stellar objects.

During its observations, TESS is expected to find more than 3,000 new planets outside of our solar system, most of which will be possible for ground-based telescopes to observe.

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Have Astronomers Seen a Forming Planet in Action?
By: Shannon Hall
Huge disks of dust and gas encircle many young stars. Some contain circular gaps — likely the result of forming planets carving out cavities along their orbital paths — that make the disks look more like ripples in a pond than flat pancakes.
But astronomers know only a few examples, including the archetypal disk surrounding Beta Pictoris, of this transitional stage between the original disk and the young planetary system. And they have never spotted a forming planet.
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Have Astronomers Seen a Forming Planet in Action?

By: Shannon Hall

Huge disks of dust and gas encircle many young stars. Some contain circular gaps — likely the result of forming planets carving out cavities along their orbital paths — that make the disks look more like ripples in a pond than flat pancakes.

But astronomers know only a few examples, including the archetypal disk surrounding Beta Pictoris, of this transitional stage between the original disk and the young planetary system. And they have never spotted a forming planet.

Continue Reading

Scientists got it wrong on gravitational waves. So what?
By: Phillip Ball
The team involved has been criticised for publishing results before they were peer reviewed. But this is what science is: debate, discussion, deliberation
It was announced in headlines worldwide as one of the biggest scientific discoveries for decades, sure to garner Nobel prizes. But now it looks likely that the alleged evidence of both gravitational waves and ultra-fast expansion of the universe in the big bang (called inflation) has literally turned to dust.
Last March, a team using a telescope called Bicep2 at the South Pole claimed to have read the signatures of these two elusive phenomena in the twisting patterns of the cosmic microwave background radiation: the afterglow of the big bang. But this week, results from an international consortium using a space telescope called Planck show that Bicep2’s data is likely to have come not from the microwave background but from dust scattered through our own galaxy.
Continue Reading

Scientists got it wrong on gravitational waves. So what?

By: Phillip Ball

The team involved has been criticised for publishing results before they were peer reviewed. But this is what science is: debate, discussion, deliberation

It was announced in headlines worldwide as one of the biggest scientific discoveries for decades, sure to garner Nobel prizes. But now it looks likely that the alleged evidence of both gravitational waves and ultra-fast expansion of the universe in the big bang (called inflation) has literally turned to dust.

Last March, a team using a telescope called Bicep2 at the South Pole claimed to have read the signatures of these two elusive phenomena in the twisting patterns of the cosmic microwave background radiation: the afterglow of the big bang. But this week, results from an international consortium using a space telescope called Planck show that Bicep2’s data is likely to have come not from the microwave background but from dust scattered through our own galaxy.

Continue Reading

neuromorphogenesis:

UNDERSTANDING THE PHENOMENON OF SYNESTHESIA

The number 3 is color orange and January is moody, according to synesthetes. They are blessed with the natural ability, thought to be passed on by genes, of a blending of senses, in which the brain’s sensory centers remain connected on two levels.

by MEZZMER

DDO 68
Image Credit: NASA/ESA
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DDO 68

Image Credit: NASA/ESA

(Source: space.com)

amnhnyc:

Tupandactylus imperator

Fast Facts

When: It lived around 115 million years ago

Where: Near a freshwater lake in what is now Brazil

Wingspan: About 10 feet (3 m) 

Food: Fish

No other pterosaur had a bigger crest in relation to its body size than Tupandactylus imperator. Its spectacular crest swept from a bone on the front of its snout all the way over its head, and attached to a long rod jutting out from the back of its skull, like a sail. The extremely rare fossil specimen shows signs of the soft tissue between the bones of the crest—probably a substance similar to bird beaks.

See Tupandactylus and much more in Pterosaurs: Flight in the Age of Dinosaurs

NASA Telescopes Find Clear Skies and Water Vapor on Exoplanet
Astronomers using data from three of NASA’s space telescopes — Hubble, Spitzer and Kepler — have discovered clear skies and steamy water vapor on a gaseous planet outside our solar system. The planet is about the size of Neptune, making it the smallest planet from which molecules of any kind have been detected.
"This discovery is a significant milepost on the road to eventually analyzing the atmospheric composition of smaller, rocky planets more like Earth," said John Grunsfeld, assistant administrator of NASA’s Science Mission Directorate. "Such achievements are only possible today with the combined capabilities of these unique and powerful observatories."
Clouds in a planet’s atmosphere can block the view to underlying molecules that reveal information about the planet’s composition and history. Finding clear skies on a Neptune-size planet is a good sign that smaller planets might have similarly good visibility.
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NASA Telescopes Find Clear Skies and Water Vapor on Exoplanet

Astronomers using data from three of NASA’s space telescopes — Hubble, Spitzer and Kepler — have discovered clear skies and steamy water vapor on a gaseous planet outside our solar system. The planet is about the size of Neptune, making it the smallest planet from which molecules of any kind have been detected.

"This discovery is a significant milepost on the road to eventually analyzing the atmospheric composition of smaller, rocky planets more like Earth," said John Grunsfeld, assistant administrator of NASA’s Science Mission Directorate. "Such achievements are only possible today with the combined capabilities of these unique and powerful observatories."

Clouds in a planet’s atmosphere can block the view to underlying molecules that reveal information about the planet’s composition and history. Finding clear skies on a Neptune-size planet is a good sign that smaller planets might have similarly good visibility.

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scishow:

The Future of Our Sun and Earth

SciShow Space gives you a blow by blow account of what’s going to happen to the sun — and Earth.

Much of Earth’s Water Is Older Than the Sun
By: Mike Wall
Much of the water on Earth and elsewhere in the solar system likely predates the birth of the sun, a new study reports.
The finding suggests that water is commonly incorporated into newly forming planets throughout the Milky Way galaxy and beyond, researchers said — good news for anyone hoping that Earth isn’t the only world to host life.
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Much of Earth’s Water Is Older Than the Sun

By: Mike Wall

Much of the water on Earth and elsewhere in the solar system likely predates the birth of the sun, a new study reports.

The finding suggests that water is commonly incorporated into newly forming planets throughout the Milky Way galaxy and beyond, researchers said — good news for anyone hoping that Earth isn’t the only world to host life.

Continue Reading

Researcher shows that black holes do not exist
Black holes have long captured the public imagination and been the subject of popular culture, from Star Trek to Hollywood. They are the ultimate unknown – the blackest and most dense objects in the universe that do not even let light escape. And as if they weren’t bizarre enough to begin with, now add this to the mix: they don’t exist.
By merging two seemingly conflicting theories, Laura Mersini-Houghton, a physics professor at UNC-Chapel Hill in the College of Arts and Sciences, has proven, mathematically, that black holes can never come into being in the first place. The work not only forces scientists to reimagine the fabric of space-time, but also rethink the origins of the universe.
Continue Reading

Researcher shows that black holes do not exist

Black holes have long captured the public imagination and been the subject of popular culture, from Star Trek to Hollywood. They are the ultimate unknown – the blackest and most dense objects in the universe that do not even let light escape. And as if they weren’t bizarre enough to begin with, now add this to the mix: they don’t exist.

By merging two seemingly conflicting theories, Laura Mersini-Houghton, a physics professor at UNC-Chapel Hill in the College of Arts and Sciences, has proven, mathematically, that can never come into being in the first place. The work not only forces scientists to reimagine the fabric of space-time, but also rethink the origins of the universe.

Continue Reading

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teded:

View the TED-Ed Lesson What is the Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle?

The Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle states that you can never simultaneously know the exact position and the exact speed of an object. Why not? Because everything in the universe behaves like both a particle and a wave at the same time. Chad Orzel navigates this complex concept of quantum physics.