Monthly Archives: October 2013

Poverty’s Penalty on the Brain

Growing up isn’t easy. Growing up in poverty is harder. Unstable living conditions, a chronic lack of resources, poor nutrition, inadequate emotional support, and stressed parents are a toxic combination of hurdles on the road to adulthood. Typically, psychologists, educators, and social workers see the signs of childhood poverty manifested in schools and workplaces as poor self control, weak attention and language skills, lower IQ scores, and reduced memory capabilities. These professionals conduct their assessments and interventions based largely on behavioral symptoms.

Two new research studies provide specific evidence that the experience of poverty can actually change the way the brain works and leave people with chronic impairment to emotional and cognitive functioning. The work illustrates some unseen costs of poverty and, hopefully, provides a fresh incentive to deal with them

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What Happens in Space . . . Might Have to Stay in Space

Dreams of interstellar voyages and planetary colonies are the adrenaline of human spaceflight programs. Such dreams imply that humans will reproduce during generations away from earth. Biological research is showing, however, that reproduction in space will be hard, and maybe impossible, and suggests that human physiology may yet be the limiting factor to long duration space missions.

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Robots Like Us – From Tools to Teammates

If robots aren’t everywhere yet, they’re well on their way. Robots are getting better vision, dexterity, and intelligence, so they’ll be used to do more things in more settings. And they won’t be confined to special rooms or behind barriers on the factory floor, either; they’ll be working right next to us. Consider that robots are already used for some pretty personal tasks such as:

If robots aren’t quite colleagues, they’re already more than tools

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Personal Bionics – Electronics in Our Heads

(Scientific American)

(Scientific American)

Say “prosthetic” and most of us think of artificial limbs, important devices that help people regain essential functions lost to injury or disease. Modern prosthetics, however, are a long way from that image. Today, they’re often an integration of electronics and living tissue and can support much more than physical locomotion. New bionic technologies aid hearing and sight. Soon, they may help thinking itself. Some researchers are even looking beyond replacement of lost capabilities to providing capabilities we weren’t born with. If they succeed, the effect may revise our concepts of what defines a “normal” human.

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Archaeology from Above

The remnants of ancient cultures are often hidden by more than dirt. What isn’t eventually reclaimed by forests and jungles can be hidden by urban development. Technologies originally developed for other purposes, however, are being harnessed to survey large parts of the planet for science, and their effect on archaeology has been particularly dramatic. . .

Egypt may top most archaeological A-lists but Sarah Parcak, of the University of Arkansas, has shown that there’s still a lot left to excavate. She used satellite imagery to locate 17 new pyramids, 1000 tombs, and 3,100 ancient settlements without setting foot in Egypt’s sands.

Afghanistan isn’t a healthy place for hiking, especially for Westerners, so David Thomas, of La Trobe University in Melbourne, Australia used Google Earth to locate over 670 new archaeological sites in Afghanistan’s Registan Desert without leaving his lab.

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GUEST BLOG – Planet Outside our Solar System has its Clouds Mapped

(NASA/JPL - Caltech/MIT)

(NASA/JPL – Caltech/MIT)

This story was provided by Tibi Puiu. Tibi is a science enthusiast and co-founder of  ZME Science, a popular science blog which aims to bring science back to the people by translating seemingly complicated concepts into layman  terms.


Kepler-7b (left) which is 1.5 times the radius of Jupiter (right), is the first exoplanet to have its clouds mapped. The cloud map was produced using data from NASA’s Kepler and Spitzer space telescopes.

For the first time scientists using data from the Kepler and Spitzer space telescopes have mapped the cloud formations of an exoplanet – a planet outside our solar system. The exoplanet in question, called Kepler-7b, doesn’t look one bit like Earth and more resembles Jupiter.

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