Climate, Green Living, News

Ocean oscillation patterns explain global warming ‘hiatus’

climate change hiatus

One of the prime arguments climate change skeptics throw about is how surface temperatures have remained more or less constant for the past 15 years, hence there is no man-made global warming – it’s all a sham, a conspiracy to keep scientists busy with gratuitous grants and fill Al Gore’s pockets. I’ve written previously about models and observations that explain

Great Pics, Health & Medicine, News

Bill Gates commissions Pro-vaccine artworks to remind us why immunization is important

Set in an 18th century English doctor’s surgery, this stunning portrait features Dr. Edward Jenner inoculating James Phipps, the first person to receive the smallpox vaccine. Dr. Jenner’s pioneering work in the late 18th century led to the eradication of smallpox in 1980. Alexia created and photographed the entire tableaux. The aristocratic woman in the center represents how smallpox did not discriminate, affecting the rich and poor alike. The many flowers throughout the piece symbolize the global impact of smallpox, and the skulls on every bottle the ephemeral nature of life and death.

Like most things in our modern day life style, we tend to take vaccines for granted. Some, in ever growing numbers, are on the contrary pushing and inciting against vaccination for all the wrong reasons. It’s easy to forget, however, that since their introduction hundreds of millions of lives have been spared. Vaccines given to infants and young children over

Health & Medicine

This map shows why people are dying earlier than they should by country

leading cause of death

In America and other developed countries, the leading causes of death are heart disease and cancer. Elsewhere, the picture can be a bit more complicated. A report called the Global Burden of Disease study plotted a map where it outlined the leading causes of lost years of life by country. “Cause of lost years of life” and “cause of death” are sensibly different.

News, Technology

Google’s AI beats pro gamers at classic ATARI video games – yes, this is actually important

ATARI's classic arcade video game Breakout. Image: Emuparadise.com

A complex artificial intelligence program developed by DeepMind, a London-based company which was acquired by Google last year for $400 million, mastered classic ATARI video games, like Breakout, Video Pinball, and Space Invaders. It was so effective that it outperformed professional game testers in 29 of the 49 games it tried out. As is the case with such demonstrations, there’s more to it than just humiliating humans. The same algorithms could be used to develop and improve autonomous robots or self-driving cars.

Animals, News

Hippo ancestor was the size of an overgrown sheep

Illustration of what's believed to be  a common ancestor to hippos. (Image: Dmitry Bogdanov/Wikimedia Commons). The animal was a bit larger than a sheep.

Paleontologists have excavated and analyzed the remains of an ancient hypo ancestor in Kenya. The 28 million-year-old fossils paint a broader picture revealing the missing link between modern day hippos and the earliest ancestor who lived some 53 million years ago. As an interesting tidbit, the closest living relatives of the hippo are whales and dolphins, as revealed by previous

Astronomy, News, Space

Newly discovered ancient Black hole is monstrously big for its age

This is an artist's impression of a quasar with a supermassive black hole in the distant universe. Credit: Zhaoyu Li/NASA/JPL-Caltech/Misti Mountain Observatory

Astronomers have discovered a humongous supermassive black hole that’s 12 billion times as massive as the Sun. What’s peculiar about it isn’t necessarily its mass – some even bigger black holes have been found – but rather its age. Observations suggest that the black hole 12.8 billion light-years away, which means what scientists are reading and observing what the black

Biology, News

Rats reward their friends for help – first such act seen among non-humans

norwegian rat

Norwegian rats know how to keep their friends close. A new study found they reward other rats for their help even though there’s no immediate gain at hand as a result of this behavior. Called direct reciprocation, this is the first time something like this has been recorded by science outside human interactions.

Health & Medicine, News

Pill reduces risk of HIV infection for gay men by 86%

ChallengesGraphic2-Percentage

Two new studies – both covering gay men, one in Britain and the other in France – were recently shared with the public boasting terrific results. In the trials, gay men were asked to take a drug called Truvada either daily or right before and after having sex. In an unlikely event of chance, both studies found a 86 percent reduction in new HIV infections among volunteers using Truvada. This suggests that the orally administered drug might be a lifeline in many HIV-ridden communities, considering 90% of all HIV cases could be prevented if those infected seek treatment.

Mind & Brain, News

Decisions are reached in the brain by the same method used to crack the Nazi Enigma code

Alan Turing Enigma

The highlight of the award winning film, “The Imitation Game”, is when Alan Turing and colleagues devise an ingenious statistical method that eventually helped decipher the Nazis’ Enigma code. This breakthrough allowed Allied intelligence to read previously unavailable German military positions and actions, vastly shortening World War II. Interestingly, a team of neuroscientists at Columbia University found that more or less the same statistical method applied by Turing and co. is used by the brain to make any kind of decision, be it going left instead of right in an intersection or placing a higher bet during a high raise power game instead of folding.

Health & Medicine, News

Drunken rats in the attic? No problem, sober them up with some oxytocin

drunken rat

The love hormone, oxytocin, was found to neutralize the motor deficiency effects of alcohol in rats, sobering them up. The researchers involved believe that given enough oxytocin, similar sobering effects might be seen in humans as well.