A Momentary Flow

Updating Worldviews one World at a time

nysci:

Check out the best of Princeton’s Art of Science exhibit now at @nysci. http://ow.ly/zBwYw

The Art of Science exhibition explores the interplay between science and art. Both of these disciplines involve the pursuit of those moments of discovery when what is perceived suddenly becomes more than the sum of its parts. Each piece in this exhibition is, in its own way, a record of such a moment.

nysci:

Check out the best of Princeton’s Art of Science exhibit now at @nysci. http://ow.ly/zBwYw



The Art of Science exhibition explores the interplay between science and art. Both of these disciplines involve the pursuit of those moments of discovery when what is perceived suddenly becomes more than the sum of its parts. Each piece in this exhibition is, in its own way, a record of such a moment.

Astrocytes — not neurons — found to control the brain’s gamma waves and some forms of memory | KurzweilAI

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Terrence Sejnowski, Professor and Laboratory Head of the Computational Neurobiology Laboratory (credit: Salk Institute for Biological Studies) In a study

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In a study published July 28 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Salk Institute for Biological Sciences researchers have found that brain cells called astrocytes — not neurons — can control the brain’s gamma waves.

They also found that astrocytes — a type of glial cell traditionally thought to provide more of a support role in the brain — and the gamma oscillations they help shape are critical for some forms of memory, such as object recognition.

(When you’re expecting something or when something captures your interest, unique high-frequency electrical rhythms called gamma waves sweep through your brain. Gamma waves have been associated with higher-level brain function, and disturbances in the patterns have been tied to schizophrenia, Alzheimer’s disease, autism, epilepsy and other disorders.)

Evidence linking gamma waves with attention and memory, influenced by astrocytes

“This is what could be called a smoking gun,” says co-author Terrence Sejnowski, head of the Computational Neurobiology Laboratory at the Salk Institute for Biological Sciences, a Howard Hughes Medical Institute investigator. “There are hundreds of papers linking gamma oscillations with attention and memory, but they are all correlational. This is the first time we have been able to do a causal experiment, where we selectively block gamma oscillations and show that it has a highly specific impact on how the brain interacts with the world.”

A collaboration among the labs of Salk professors Sejnowski, Inder Verma, and Stephen Heinemann found that activity in the form of calcium signaling in astrocytes immediately preceded gamma oscillations in the brains of mice. This suggested that astrocytes, which use many of the same chemical signals as neurons, could be influencing these oscillations.


See on kurzweilai.net

Broody octopus keeps record-breaking four-year vigil
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For four years and five months, she clung to the rock and guarded her eggs. In a feat that surely made good use of all eight arms, an octopus revealed a new secret of deep sea life when ecologists observed her record-breaking behaviour from a robotic submarine. This doubles the longest brooding time ever seen in the animal kingdom, giving embryos time to develop in the cold. The discovery, published in the journal PLOS One, was made in a canyon 1.4km beneath the Pacific, off California. Dr Bruce Robison led the research at the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute (MBARI). He told BBC News his team had stumbled upon the plucky mother in the days before she settled down and glued her eggs to the rock face. She was heading, slowly, for a known brooding site. By looking at characteristic scars in one of her eight armpits, the team identified the same octopus on the next dive, one month later. (via BBC News - Broody octopus keeps record-breaking four-year vigil)

'Quantum Cheshire Cat' becomes reality
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Scientists have for the first time separated a particle from one of its physical properties - creating a “quantum Cheshire Cat”. The phenomenon is named after the curious feline in Alice in Wonderland, who vanishes leaving only its grin. Researchers took a beam of neutrons and separated them from their magnetic moment, like passengers and their baggage at airport security. They describe their feat in Nature Communications. The same separation trick could in principle be performed with any property of any quantum object, say researchers from Vienna University of Technology. Their technique could have a useful application in metrology - helping to filter out disturbances during high-precision measurements of quantum systems.
Schrodinger’s paradox In Lewis Carroll’s classic children’s story, the Cheshire Cat gradually disappears, leaving only its mischievous grin. This prompts Alice to exclaim: “Well! I’ve often seen a cat without a grin, but a grin without a cat! It’s the most curious thing I ever saw in my life!” The idea of a “quantum Cheshire Cat” was first proposed in 2010 by Dr Jeff Tollaksen from Chapman University, a co-author on this latest paper. In the world familiar to us, an object and its properties are always bound together. A rotating ball, for instance, cannot become separated from its spin. (via BBC News - ‘Quantum Cheshire Cat’ becomes reality)

Man-made ‘breathing’ leaf is an oxygen factory for space travel - CNET

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An artificial leaf converts water and light to oxygen, and that’s good news for road-tripping to places beyond Earth.

One of the persistent challenges of manned space exploration is that pesky lack of oxygen throughout much of the universe. Here on Earth, trees and other plant life do us a real solid by taking in our bad breath and changing it back to clean, sweet O2.

So what if we could take those biological oxygen factories into space with us, but without all the land, sun, water, soil, and gravity that forests tend to require? This is the point where NASA and Elon Musk should probably start paying attention.

Royal College of Art graduate Julian Melchiorri has created the first man-made, biologically functional leaf that takes in carbon dioxide, water, and light and releases oxygen. The leaf consists of chloroplasts — the part of a plant cell where photosynthesis happens — suspended in body made of silk protein.

"This material has an amazing property of stabilizing (the chloroplast) organelles," Melchiorri says in the video below. "As an outcome I have the first photosynthetic material that is living and breathing as a leaf does."

In addition to its potential value to space travel, Melchiorri also imagines the technology literally providing a breath of fresh air to indoor and outdoor spaces here on Earth. The facades of buildings and lampshades could be made to exhale fresh air with just a thin coating of the leaf material.

But perhaps best of all, a man-made breathing leaf could be the key to not just space travel but space colonization. No need to figure out how to till that dry, red Martian dirt to get some nice leafy trees to grow; we could just slap them on the inside of the colony’s dome and puff away.


See on cnet.com