Science

Gaming for a cure: Computer gamers tackle protein folding

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Biochemists and computer scientists at the University of Washington two years ago launched an ambitious project harnessing the brainpower of computer gamers to solve medical problems.

Intergalactic idea sex

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In The Rational Optimist, I argue that the human technological and economic take-off derives from the invention of exchange and specialisation some time before 100,000 years ago. When people began to trade things, ideas could meet and mate, with the result that a sort of collective brain could form, far more powerful than individual brains. Cumulative technology could begin to embody this collective intelligence.

Researchers apply computing power to crack egg shell problem

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esearchers at the University of Warwick and the University of Sheffield have applied computing power to crack a problem in egg shell formation. The work may also give a partial answer to the age old question “what came first the chicken or the egg?”

Computer automatically deciphers ancient language

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Regina Barzilay, an associate professor in MIT’s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Lab, Ben Snyder, a grad student in her lab, and the University of Southern California’s Kevin Knight took that claim personally.

Mass Transits: Kepler Mission Releases Data on Hundreds of Possible Exoplanets

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NASA's planet hunter has identified more than 700 candidate extrasolar worlds that have yet to be confirmed, including some that may be Earth-size

Quantum crack in cryptographic armour

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Quantum cryptography isn't as invincible as many researchers thought: a commercial quantum key has been fully hacked for the first time. In theory, quantum cryptography — the use of quantum systems to encrypt information securely — is perfectly secure. It exploits the fact that it is impossible to make measurements of a quantum system without disturbing it in some way.

Cigarette butts could prevent steel corrosion, find scientists

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Cigarettes are not just a health hazard now, for their remnants could prevent steel from decaying, discovers a novel research. Research conducted by scientists from School of Energy and Power Engineering, Xi’an Jiaotong University, China and sponsored by China National Petroleum Corporation (China’s state oil firm) found that remains of used cigarettes may let out environment-harming chemicals but the same are useful in preventing steel from corroding when waterlogged.

Pyramids are the best shape for packing

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If physicists ran candy stores, gumball machines might be filled with pyramids instead of spheres. It seems that tetrahedra, with their four triangular faces, are the most efficient shape for filling a container randomly, as opposed to carefully stacking objects within it.

Roman ingots to shield particle detector

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Around four tonnes of ancient Roman lead was yesterday transferred from a museum on the Italian island of Sardinia to the country's national particle physics laboratory at Gran Sasso on the mainland. Once destined to become water pipes, coins or ammunition for Roman soldiers' slingshots, the metal will instead form part of a cutting-edge experiment to nail down the mass of neutrinos.

Black hole twins spew gravitational waves

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Astronomers could be on the cusp of detecting gravitational waves after four decades of trying, according to a team of Polish astrophysicists. They say that if current gravitational-wave detectors are upgraded to search for binary black-hole systems, gravitational waves would be expected "within the first year of operation". If correct, it would open up a new window to the cosmos, allowing astronomers to see the universe with fresh eyes.

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