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Comments

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Privacy Oversight Board Gives NSA Surveillance a Pass

wherrera unavoidable? (170 comments)

"The NSA cannot completely eliminate 'about' communications from its collection without also eliminating a significant portion of the 'to/from' communications that it seeks."

Almost all the US population and much of the rest of the world's people seen as.. just bycatch?

about three weeks ago
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Belief In Evolution Doesn't Measure Science Literacy

wherrera In other words... (772 comments)

One's understanding of science and theory formation in general is independent of whether a theory (even a true one) is believed. Only ideologues (see warming denial, global) would need to think otherwise.

about a month and a half ago
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Biodegradable Fibers As Strong As Steel Made From Wood Cellulose

wherrera Re:Biodegradable? (82 comments)

The first rain storm should do it.

about a month and a half ago
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Ask Slashdot: Communication With Locked-in Syndrome Patient?

wherrera DARPA has something that would work. (552 comments)

DARPA has a small implantable chip that will do what you need it to do, assuming the patient is truly fully awake. They have monkeys working a robotic arm with brain signals alone.

about 2 months ago
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Fruit Flies, Fighter Jets Use Similar Evasive Tactics When Attacked

wherrera Check the slight angle change just after the roll (65 comments)

There is a variable angle change just after the initial turn away from the threat that allows the fly to be unpredictable. Otherwise the predator can predict the fly will evade directly away and anticipate where the fly will be. Very clever.

about 3 months ago
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How Cochlear Implants Are Being Blamed For Killing Deaf Culture

wherrera reductum ad absurdum... (510 comments)

...that all cultures are equally to be valued. Otherwise, why not create more varieties of people with partial physical deficits, so as to have more such cultures?

about 3 months ago
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The Neuroscience of Computer Programming

wherrera Sigh. Yet another fMRi study with poor controls. (161 comments)

The control groups should have been two other reading selections designed to bracket programming code reading: for example, reading mathematics, such as algebraic proofs, versus reading in an unfamiliar non-math vocabulary like a dense legal contract. It's possible that all would have looked similar, or that two but not three would have been similar, or all different. We just don't know.

And don't let me even get started on the fact that most fMRI studies use far too few subjects and then use absurd values for N like thousands of MRI mapped vertex points in a single subject to reach "significance" (a technique which would be considered a statistical cheat in any other field).

about 5 months ago
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It's Not Memory Loss - Older Minds May Just Be Fuller of Information

wherrera Obligate fish story... (206 comments)

A story is told about ichthyologist David Scott Jordan. Jordan and a colleague were walking across campus one day when a student asked Dr. Jordan a question, which, upon answering, Jordan asked the student's name. Jordan's colleague asked him why he didn't remember his student's names. Jordan replied, "Every time I remember the name of a student, I forget the name of a fish!"

about 6 months ago
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Open Source Beehives Designed To Help Save Honeybee Colonies

wherrera google this phrase: (172 comments)

"monsanto treats seeds with systemic insecticide"

about 7 months ago
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Tesla Fires and Firestorms: Let's Breathe and Review Some Car Fire Math

wherrera OK, here is some math. (264 comments)

According to the US Bureau of Transportation,there are over 250 million cars on the road in the US. There are 150,000 fires in those vehicles a year __according to the OP__.

There are 20,000 Tesla cars, with 3 fires.

Relative risk = ( 3 / 20000 ) / ( 150000 / 250000000 ) = 0.00015 / 0.0006 = 0.25.

Get a Tesla, so as to avoid vehicle fires. Maybe? Depends on whether the reported stats are correct.

about 8 months ago
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Synchronized Virtual Reality Heartbeat Triggers Out-of-Body Experiences

wherrera Out-of-body is not near-death (183 comments)

This news item and the gizmag.com link both confuse the study's method of tricking the body into being confused about where the body is and the near-death experience of being outside the body completely.

about a year ago
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Why We Should Build a Supercomputer Replica of the Human Brain

wherrera Simulating completely or partially? (393 comments)

What exactly are "the functions of all 86 billion neurons"? I sense massive oversimplification here. Neurons have lots and lots of functions we have no idea how to simulate exactly, such as all the details of the thousands of networked internal metabolic mechanisms of any large mammalian cell, which most neural network simulations simply neglect.

Furthermore, we have plenty of evidence that the non-neuronal components of the brain (glia and oligodendroglia) massively influence brain functioning, and may be required for adequate cognition. Furthermore we have no way of knowing if a brain-in-a-vat will work the way a brain in the body, with all its connections, works. The above issues are just a start to the limitations of the scheme.

about a year ago
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"Lazarus Project" Clones Extinct Frog

wherrera Have you ever hiked around bison? Thought not. (154 comments)

Herding bison? Bison are not endangered in at least past of the American West. Bison are not afraid of people or mountain cyclists, and are quite willing to trample and gore them if annoyed, and are annoyed fairly easily. They can run 40 mph for over a mile, can jump 5 vertical feet, and can walk right through and over most ordinary fences.

I very much doubt the older DNA has more placid traits.

about a year ago
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Most Doctors Don't Think Patients Need Full Access To Med Records

wherrera It is usually what the patient puts in and regrets (659 comments)

In my experience, drug use information and review of systems symptoms are the things patients most often want to remove later, for legal and insurance reasons, and it is those bits that (in our system and many others) they put in directly themselves. Curious.

about a year ago
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The Pirate Bay Claims It Is Now Hosting From North Korea

wherrera Hackers check in.... (309 comments)

but they don't check out.

Ask the Japanese and Americans who provided translation assistance in past decades.

about a year ago
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Amazing Video of a Brain Perceiving the External World

wherrera Re:Can't use - don't have optic rectum (25 comments)

Kidding right? That's Tectum, and in humans it is a structure in the midbrain (the human midbrain, part of the brainstem, is shaped a lot like the zebrafish organ in the video, by the way) that processes vision in a mostly pre-conscious way. So,in the zebrafish, we probably have to say that the tectum signaling in that video may not be the fish thinking, in the same way we do, at least. Google for blindsight.

about a year and a half ago
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Scientist Seeks 'Adventurous Human Woman' For Neanderthal Baby

wherrera Make sure any throwback is fully immunized (697 comments)

There's been a lot of mutual adaptation of humans to their pathogens the last 10k years that Neandethals would lack. Might mean they'd die easily of common benign infections, of less likely not get them at all.

about a year and a half ago
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Nintendo Puts a Bedtime On Wii U Content In Europe

wherrera Set time zone.... (190 comments)

Need I say more?

about a year and a half ago

Submissions

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Biologists Demonstrate Inheritance of Traumatic Memories in Mice

wherrera wherrera writes  |  about 7 months ago

wherrera (235520) writes "One of the implications of the current Mendelian synthesis in molecular genetics is the idea that natural selection operates via selecting on random variations in the gene pool, which themselves are not influenced by the environmental experiences of the reproducing organisms. Changes of a given organism's body due to experience, such as conditioning, trauma, and memory, are usually assumed to only affect the gene pool of the next generation by influencing how many progeny are produced and raised by the prior generation. This is, however, not the whole story.

Epigenetics is the study of how gene expression changes during the growth and development of an organism. For example, the fertilized egg will divide and grow, not just into a clump of egg cells, but a fully differentiated organism containing many different kinds of specialized cells and tissues. Most of these calls contain the same genetic information as the original fertilized ovum, but the DNA has been subtly modified to make specialized groups of RNA and thus proteins.

The biology of epigenetics thus explains how the same DNA information produces different effects in different cells. Can such changes be inherited? Certainly in plants, they can be. It can be shown that sprouting root tissue from a tree often produces a differently shaped plant than sprouting a branch from the same tree. One way that this occurs is via methylation of the cytosine of a DNA region to make it into nonfunctional, mutation-promoting 5-methycytosine. When such changes in DNA--either in its cytosine or its associated histones--are passed to offspring, this has been called genetic imprinting.

In the journal Nature Neuroscience, Brian Dias and Kerry Ressler seem to have found a way that rodents use such genetic imprinting to create a survival advantage: via inheritance of fear of a certain smell. The researches seem to have found that conditioning an olfactory stimulus as adversive makes that stimulus' adversiveness inheritable in the offspring, and that this information is passed via a decreased methylation of the mouse's sperm DNA encoding those particular smell receptors as adversive to the mouse.

A future question is how a signal given to the nose can actually change the methylation of DNA in produced sperm. But we may have here an explanation for the rapid development of innate fear of a predator (including man) in the offspring of animals newly exposed to such.

Will Lamark score a partial comeback in biology? Time will tell."

Journals

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Biologists Demonstrate Inheritance of Traumatic "Memories" in Mice

wherrera wherrera writes  |  about 7 months ago

"One of the implications of the current Mendelian synthesis in molecular genetics is the idea that natural selection operates via selecting on random variations in the gene pool, which themselves are not influenced by the environmental experiences of the reproducing organisms. Changes of a given organism's body due to experience, such as conditioning, trauma, and memory, are usually assumed to only affect the gene pool of the next generation by influencing how many progeny are produced and raised by the prior generation. This is, however, not the whole story.

Epigenetics is the study of how gene expression changes during the growth and development of an organism. For example, the fertilized egg will divide and grow, not just into a clump of egg cells, but a fully differentiated organism containing many different kinds of specialized cells and tissues. Most of these calls contain the same genetic information as the original fertilized ovum, but the DNA has been subtly modified to make specialized groups of RNA and thus proteins.

The biology of epigenetics thus explains how the same DNA information produces different effects in different cells. Can such changes be inherited? It appears that they can be, for at least a couple of generations. One way that this occurs is via methylation of the cytosine of a DNA region to make it into nonfunctional, mutation-promoting 5-methycytosine. When such changes in DNA--either in its cytosine or its associated histones--are passed to offspring, this has been called genetic imprinting.

In the journal Nature Neuroscience, Brian Dias and Kerry Ressler seem to have found a way that rodents use such genetic imprinting to create a survival advantage: via inheritance of fear of a certain smell. The researches seem to have found that conditioning an olfactory stimulus as adversive makes that stimulus' adversiveness inheritable in the offspring, and that this information is passed via a decreased methylation of the mouse's sperm DNA encoding those particular smell receptors as adversive to the mouse.

A future question is how a signal given to the nose can actually change the methylation of DNA in produced sperm. But we may have here an explanation for the rapid development of innate fear of a predator (including man) in the offspring of animals newly exposed to such.

Are these changes a kind of primitive genetic memory? It would seem so, though they are not stored the way ordinary memories would be.

Will Lamark score a partial comeback in biology? Time will tell.

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