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CHRISTOPHER HITCHENS VS. TARIQ RAMADAN: IS ISLAM A RELIGION OF PEACE?

Posted in Blog Archive

Posted by abeodbart October 31, 2010 at 10:24 am

Christopher Hitchens and Tariq Ramadan Debate: Is Islam a Religion of Peace? Moderated by Laurie Goodstein.

Via Atheist Media

MOVING ILLUSIONS: IMPOSSIBLE OBJECTS MADE REAL

Posted in Blog Archive

Posted by abeodbart October 31, 2010 at 9:21 am

“The artist M. C. Escher was renowned for creating drawings of imaginary spaces that could not exist in three dimensions. Or could they?

Kokichi Sugihara at Meiji University in Kawasaki, Japan, has been using computer software to bring impossible drawings to life. The video above shows some of the objects he has made moving in ways that appear to defy geometry.

When the models are turned around, however, the trick is revealed: the objects are not what they seem. That’s because we constantly make assumptions about perspective and depth in order to move about in a 3D world, and these models take advantage of those assumptions.

Sugihara used computer software to analyse seemingly impossible drawings and come up with solid shapes that might look like the drawing from one perspective, but not from others.

It’s not the first time Sugihara has tricked New Scientist readers with his illusions. Earlier this year, the engineer won first prize in the 2010 Illusion of the Year contest in Naples, Florida.”

Read more at New Scientist (Thanks @XxLadyClaireXx)

THREE-DIMENSIONAL MAPS OF BRAIN WIRING

Posted in Blog Archive

Posted by abeodbart October 31, 2010 at 9:17 am

A team of researchers at the Eindhoven University of Technology has developed a software tool that physicians can use to easily study the wiring of the brains of their patients. The tool converts MRI scans using special techniques to three-dimensional images. This now makes it possible to view a total picture of the winding roads and their contacts without having to operate. Researcher Vesna Prčkovska defended her PhD thesis on this subject last week.

To know accurately where the main nerve bundles in the brain are located is of immense importance for neurosurgeons, explains Bart ter Haar Romenij (professor of Biomedical Image Analysis, at the Department of Biomedical Engineering). As an example he cites ‘deep brain stimulation’, with which vibration seizures in patients with Parkinson’s disease can be suppressed. “With this new tool, you can determine exactly where to place the stimulation electrode in the brain.

More at Science Daily

LIES, DAMNED LIES, AND MEDICAL SCIENCE

Posted in Blog Archive

Posted by abeodbart October 31, 2010 at 9:00 am

“IN 2001, RUMORS were circulating in Greek hospitals that surgery residents, eager to rack up scalpel time, were falsely diagnosing hapless Albanian immigrants with appendicitis. At the University of Ioannina medical school’s teaching hospital, a newly minted doctor named Athina Tatsioni was discussing the rumors with colleagues when a professor who had overheard asked her if she’d like to try to prove whether they were true—he seemed to be almost daring her. She accepted the challenge and, with the professor’s and other colleagues’ help, eventually produced a formal study showing that, for whatever reason, the appendices removed from patients with Albanian names in six Greek hospitals were more than three times as likely to be perfectly healthy as those removed from patients with Greek names. “It was hard to find a journal willing to publish it, but we did,” recalls Tatsioni. “I also discovered that I really liked research.” Good thing, because the study had actually been a sort of audition. The professor, it turned out, had been putting together a team of exceptionally brash and curious young clinicians and Ph.D.s to join him in tackling an unusual and controversial agenda.

Last spring, I sat in on one of the team’s weekly meetings on the medical school’s campus, which is plunked crazily across a series of sharp hills. The building in which we met, like most at the school, had the look of a barracks and was festooned with political graffiti. But the group convened in a spacious conference room that would have been at home at a Silicon Valley start-up. Sprawled around a large table were Tatsioni and eight other youngish Greek researchers and physicians who, in contrast to the pasty younger staff frequently seen in U.S. hospitals, looked like the casually glamorous cast of a television medical drama. The professor, a dapper and soft-spoken man named John Ioannidis, loosely presided.

One of the researchers, a biostatistician named Georgia Salanti, fired up a laptop and projector and started to take the group through a study she and a few colleagues were completing that asked this question: were drug companies manipulating published research to make their drugs look good? Salanti ticked off data that seemed to indicate they were, but the other team members almost immediately started interrupting. One noted that Salanti’s study didn’t address the fact that drug-company research wasn’t measuring critically important “hard” outcomes for patients, such as survival versus death, and instead tended to measure “softer” outcomes, such as self-reported symptoms (“my chest doesn’t hurt as much today”). Another pointed out that Salanti’s study ignored the fact that when drug-company data seemed to show patients’ health improving, the data often failed to show that the drug was responsible, or that the improvement was more than marginal.”

Read more at The Atlantic (Thanks Elke)

FINGERLESS ROBOTIC HAND CAN PICK ANYTHING

Posted in Blog Archive

Posted by abeodbart October 31, 2010 at 8:34 am

“A small bag filled with coffee grounds is lending robots a fingerless hand. The new kind of gripper, described online the week of October 25 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, is capable of grasping all sorts of different objects with ease.

“This could be game-changing technology,” says mechanical engineer Peko Hosoi of MIT, who was not involved with the new study. “The idea is so simple, yet effective and robust.”

The simple gripper is made of a bag of coffee grounds and a vacuum, though other grains such as couscous and sand also work, says study coauthor Eric Brown of the University of Chicago. To pick something up, the bag of loose grounds first melds around the object. Then, as a vacuum sucks air out of the spaces between grains, the gripper stiffens, packing itself into a hard vice molded to the outline of the object. Reducing the bag’s starting volume by just a teeny amount — less than 1 percent of the total — was enough to make the gripper latch on, the team found.

This transition from fluidlike behavior (such as dry sand flowing out of a bucket) to solid (a hard-packed sand castle) is a physical process called “jamming.” Because the gripper’s bulb conforms to any shape evenly before the vacuum jams it, it’s extremely versatile. “Our goal was to pick up objects where you don’t know what you’re dealing with ahead of time,” Brown says.”

Read more at Wired (Thanks @XxLadyClaireXx)

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Grace
I came to see the Infamous tour in Southampton (April 11). Derren is my biggest hero, and I found myself incredibly lucky enough to be up on stage with him. Derren was as genuine and charming as I'd always hoped (which proved a contrast to my nervous and shaky demeanour). He is a brilliant showman and an all-round pleasure to watch. The show was sensationally mind-blowing - I'll be sure that I never miss another. Thank you Derren, for everything that you do. Sorry I was so shaky! Grace
Kay le poidevin
Really looking forward to tonight in Southaampton, bought tickets for husband, Terry's birthday. It's not today, it was in February.)
Sandra B. Myers
Derren Brown, For my daughter's birthday gift in November of 2013, I gave her a ticket to your show. For Christmas, I gave her a round trip ticket to London from Pensacola, Florida, our home. On my birthday, I flew from the Middle East, where I'm teaching English, to join her. On the 25th of March, you gave us your best. It was the highlight of our First English Spring Tour. No matter how far apart we are in the world or mindset, we both agree...we have no idea how you do it! And we like it that way.
Hannah A
I saw Derren at Leeds on 25th and I am still - 4 days on - utterly blown away by his incredible talent and incredible show! I have never ever had the pleasure of seeing him live before, but I will never miss an opportunity again. Someone as talented as Derren Brown is a MUST SEE. He's mesmerising, spellbinding, inspiring, jaw droppingly amazing. This experience is something I will take away with me forever and a day! Thank you SO much for bringing this show to Leeds! But goin forward, if travel roun te country to see you - you are THAT good :)