Friday, 22 May 2015

Should research animals get names?

You may have heard of Koko the gorilla or Alex the parrot, but what about Pia, Splinter, Oprah, and Persimmon the rats? Or Nixon the octopus? Or breeder pairs of mice named Tom and Katie or Brad and Angelina? It's not only the animals with good communication skills and long-term relationships with human researchers that get names. As Michael Erard explains in Science, "for many researchers naming is a practice whose time has come."

It hasn't always been that way. In the past, naming was frowned upon because it had the potential to introduce bias. A name might make a researcher ascribe personality traits to an animal on the basis of connotations carried by the name. It also introduced a personal connection to the animal that researchers strove to avoid. In a 1980s study of lab practices, researchers said that "they didn't name because they dealt with so many animals and were interested in them as sources of enzymes or data points, not as individuals."

But it turns out that naming can lead to better science. One lab that used names for monkeys was led to start looking at individual differences between them which "led to the discovery of the genetics and epigenetics of personality in monkeys." On a more general level,

Naming improves animals' lives, argues Brenda McCowan, a scientist at the California National Primate Research Center at the University of California, Davis, who manages the behavioral enrichment program for 5000 rhesus and titi monkeys. "Naming helps create positive human-animal interaction, which is better for the welfare of those animals," she says. Buckmaster adds that naming has become more accepted because "people realized the scientific value of the stress-free animal. … We have to make sure these are really happy animals, or none of the information that we get from them will be valid."

Read more about the history of research animal naming and its effect on science at Science Magazine.

 » see original post

Three Pennsylvania wells likely contaminated by fracking

Public arguments about fracking (at least among those who have heard of the natural gas production technique) have become contentious—a situation not helped by the technical and complicated topic. Lots of information and claims fly around, but there's little in the way of an established framework to help make sense of them.

Claims that fracking has contaminated water can be difficult to resolve, and some turn out to be unrelated to fracking. Geology differs from place to place in important ways that have to be taken into consideration when analyzing water. Regulations governing fracking vary from state to state, too. And the practice has been scrutinized at a level we haven’t subjected conventional oil and gas production to, meaning we might be discovering problems that are common to other techniques.

The illusion of simplicity

Still, we occasionally get a relatively simple case, even if its broader implications are minimal. In the summer of 2010, three nearby homes in northeast Pennsylvania started having disturbing problems with their water wells. Methane was seeping up—in one case accumulating to levels that necessitated evacuating a home due to the explosion risk—and the wells were muddy and foaming. (A nearby river even began bubbling a few months later.)

Read 13 remaining paragraphs | Comments

 » see original post

ZazMySite V4 Released!

ZazMySite V4 Released!
Major feature addition in V4 release - Must-haves Filter
All license types upgraded: Perpetual, MonthlyPlus and Free Trial

A huge revamp to ZazMySite Explained has been made to cover it. Also, a terminology section has been added at the end.

On the free trial version of ZazMySite, you'll be asked once if you if you want to sign up for my Zaps and Zaplets newsletter. It's very occasional and has promotion tips, news and deals on my tools. I'll be sending out the next one tomorrow with some great discount codes you won't want to miss out on. Just visit:
You'll only get one chance, so make sure you sign up before you close it!

In summary this is what happens to your product grid with the new Must-haves Filter:
ZazmySite uses your puling criteria to pull from zazzle->it applies your exclusions->it keeps only those that pass the must-haves filter

Must-haves can be any phrase or single-word term. To get into your product grid, a product has to have at least one of those terms / phrases.

The must-haves filter now opens the door to pulling just from the set of stores you name.
So if you know stores that are regular hot sellers, this lets you get products from any of them in the same product grid.

Don't worry, it's all explained with examples on ZazMySite Explained:

ZMS is now the most flexible of all the product grid tools and has the most sophisticated filtering available - if you need to use it. Niche product promotion has never been easier!

It's also one of the easiest to use - just copy and paste!
So why not give it a try?

 » see original post

Blogger Love: Met Ball Mania

The Met Gala dominated fashion news this week, and my fellow bloggers took full advantage of the opportunity for great content. From best-of looks to illustrations of red carpet moments, the ball of the year was covered. We also had some interesting designer interviews, and musings on fashion and ethics. Read them all below, you’ll find we have an exceptional collection of posts this week!

 » see original post

NIST-led Research Group Creates First Whispering Gallery for Graphene Electrons

An international research group led by scientists at the U.S. Commerce Department’s National Institute of Standards and Technology

The post NIST-led Research Group Creates First Whispering Gallery for Graphene Electrons has been published on Technology Org.

 » see original post

In humans vs. AI poker competition, AI middle of the pack

For the last week, a poker-playing computer algorithm has been putting money on the line against four human players. The software, called Claudico, was developed by a team led by Carnegie Mellon computer scientist Tuomas Sandholm. After a week of games at a Pittsburgh casino, the program is currently down, but it's far from out.

An earlier version of Claudico managed to come in first at an all-algorithm poker tournament, so its creators were interested in seeing how it would do against top human players. To attract those, Microsoft Research put up a $100,000 purse. To provide some scientific value, the tournament has unusual rules: each hand the computer receives will also be given to a human player, so their actions and results can be compared. The tournament will also go on for another week to ensure that enough hands are dealt to get some statistically significant results.

Computers have solved Limit Texas Hold'em (in that they've generated an optimal strategy for every hand), but the tournament will use the no-limit form, which is significantly more complicated. To try to optimize Claudico's performance, the team used a supercomputing cluster with 16TB of RAM, which is needed to help hold as many of the possible outcomes of a given hand as possible.

Read 1 remaining paragraphs | Comments

 » see original post

Partnership for finding particles

A new agreement between the United States and the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN) will pave the

The post Partnership for finding particles has been published on Technology Org.

 » see original post