2018年4月13日 星期五

Daily Bulletin for 04/13/2018 

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Why Is the Human Brain So Efficient?

Liqun Luo, Nautilus

The brain is complex; in humans it consists of about 100 billion neurons, making on the order of 100 trillion connections. It is often compared with another complex system that has enormous problem-solving power: the digital computer. Both the brain and the computer contain a large number of elementary unitsneurons and transistors, respectivelythat are wired into complex circuits to process information conveyed by electrical signals.

Supertides Linked to Formation of New Supercontinent

Mattias Green, Conv

Earth's crust is made up of fractured slabs of rock, like a broken shell on an egg. These plates move around at speeds of about 5cm per year and eventually this movement brings all the continents together and form what is known as a supercontinent. The last supercontinent on Earth was Pangaea, which existed between 300-180m years ago.

How the Science Wars Ruined Margaret Mead

Matthew Blackwell, Quillette

When I was about 23, I embarked on a lone trip around the Vanuatu Islands. I eventually wound up on the isolated Maskelyne Island, quite a few days away from civilization in the Western sense of the word. A man had just died and many suspected that witchcraft was involved in cursing his food. For a week I attended the extensive funeral ceremonies, dove on the reef in my spare time, and drank kava with the locals at night.

How Do We Control Dangerous Bio Research?

Filippa Lentzos, BotAS

No military wishes for an enemy with capabilities that match its own. Indeed, the US chairman of the joint chiefs of staff has said he does not want American service members to ever have to face a fair fight. But how do you stay ahead of an adversary? The United States tries to remain overmatched against any enemy by investing heavily in technological innovation, and today, a considerable part of that investment goes into the biological sciences.

What If a Nuke Goes Off in Washington D.C.?

M. Mitchell Waldrop, Science

At 11:15 on a Monday morning in May, an ordinary looking delivery van rolls into the intersection of 16th and K streets NW in downtown Washington, D.C., just a few blocks north of the White House. Inside, suicide bombers trip a switch.Instantly, most of a city block vanishes in a nuclear fireball two-thirds the size of the one that engulfed Hiroshima, Japan. Powered by 5 kilograms of highly enriched uranium that terrorists had hijacked weeks earlier, the blast smashes buildings for at least a kilometer in every direction and leaves hundreds of thousands of people dead or dying in the ruins.

Trouble Detected in Infamous Dark Matter Signal

Natalie Wolchover, Quanta

For 20 years, an experiment in Italy known as DAMA has detected an oscillating signal that could be coming from dark matter the fog of invisible particles that ostensibly fill the cosmos, sculpting everything else with their gravity.One of the oldest and biggest experiments hunting for dark matter particles, DAMA is alone in claiming to see them.

Why the Panic Over E-Cigs May Have Deadly Results

Sally Satel, Forbes

Teens and electronic cigarettes are a combustible issue that's been heating up the headlines lately. I Can't Stop': Schools Struggle with Vaping Explosion, blares the New York Times. The Wall Street Journal announces widespread concern: Schools and Parents Fight a JUUL E-Cigarette Epidemic. Meanwhile, CNN wonders whether vaping is the health problem of the decade.

Solar Superstorms May Have Set Stage for Life

Richard A. Lovett, Cosmos

Gigantic solar storms may have helped strip unwanted gases from the Earth's atmosphere, while helping to seed its surface with the chemicals for life, scientists say.The storms may also have set in motion chemical reactions that helped keep the Earth and Mars warm enough for liquid water early in their histories, when the Sun was putting out 30 percent less energy than it is today.

Scientists Solve Mystery of 'Giant's Causeway'

Hannah Devlin, The Guardian

According to legend, the Giant's Causeway was built by the Irish giant, Finn MacCool, as a crossing to confront his Scottish rival. Scientists have an alternative explanation, and for the first time they have reproduced in the laboratory the process through which the causeway's 40,000 near-perfect hexagonal columns were formed.

Swarm of 1,400 Sharks Seen Off New England

C. Smith-Schoenwalder, Nat Geo

Swarms of up to over a thousand basking sharks have been spotted along the northeastern U.S., puzzling experts who study the normally solitary species.Aerial surveys meant to locate endangered North Atlantic right whales in recent decades have revealed massive groups of the world's second-largest fish. Found worldwide, these slow-moving filter feeders pose no threat to humans.

The March for Science Is Back This Weekend


Supporters of science around the world will take to the streets on 14 April for the second annual March for Science. Over the past year, the march which began as a single day of demonstrations in April 2017 has evolved into a global advocacy movement. Nature takes a look at why people are marching, how the movement has changed over time and what its future could bring.

The March for Science Is Still Going Nowhere

Alex B. Berezow, ACSH

Remember the Occupy movement? It began in 2011 and fizzled out a few years later. Why?Because it stood for nothing. Anything that protesters disliked was a target to be "occupied," so activists used the movement to vent their anger over the status quo. But what exactly made them angry and how they proposed to fix it were never elaborated.

Caffeine Causes Widespread Brain Entropy

Christian Jarrett, R-Digest

Basic neuroscience teaches us how individual brain cells communicate with each other, like neighbours chatting over the garden fence. This is a vital part of brain function. Increasingly however neuroscientists are zooming out and studying the information processing that happens within and between neural networks across the entire brain, more akin to the complex flow of digital information constantly pulsing around the globe.

Muscle May Explain the Obesity Paradox

Ross Pomeroy, RealClearScience

Nearly twenty years ago, researchers began noticing a curious paradox in health-focused studies: despite common wisdom that being overweight or obese is unhealthy, a significant number of analyses showed that in a variety of circumstances additional weight is actually associated with a lower risk of death!

Seismic Cloak Successfully Deflects Earthquake Waves

Phil McKenna, PBS

For an experiment with such ambition, the setting couldn't have been more humble. Yet scientists from across Europe converged herea dirt lane between a farmer's field and a small wood in southern Francein the fall of 2016 to test a provocative idea: could they make the seismic waves of an earthquake disappear?

Astronomers Spot a Neutron Star 'Glitch'

John Timmer, Ars Technica

Neutron stars are the most dense form of matter in our Universe (black holes cram more stuff into a smaller space, and it's not clear if that stuff is still "matter"). A neutron star is produced by the collapse of a stellar core, which crams a bit more mass than our Sun into a sphere about 20 kilometers across.At this density, matter does strange things. Models based on theoretical considerations suggest that there's a distinct "crust" that sits atop a superfluid of subatomic particles, but it's not like we can visit one and confirm this.

The Myth of 'Learning Styles'

Olga Khazan, The Atlantic

In the early 90s, a New Zealand man named Neil Fleming decided to sort through something that had puzzled him during his time monitoring classrooms as a school inspector. In the course of watching 9,000 different classes, he noticed that only some teachers were able to reach each and every one of their students. What were they doing differently?
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