Saturday, 8 August 2015

AUDIO: Schizophrenia assumptions challenged

A report published on Thursday challenges received wisdom about the nature of schizophrenia. 
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I love the characters created by +Paul Stickland and have made a small but perfectly formed...

I love the characters created by +Paul Stickland and have made a small but perfectly formed boutique dedicated to gifts and cards featuring them. This mousepad shows one of his cute robots - click to see more of his whimsy...

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The 5 biggest scientific breakthroughs of 2014

New hope for the paralyzed
A pioneering surgical procedure enabled a paralyzed man to walk again. Bulgarian firefighter Darek Fidyka, 40, was paralyzed from the chest down when a knife attack severed his spinal cord. Doctors bridged the tear with nerve tissues from his ankle and injected the area with cells from his nasal cavity that help the sense of smell return after nasal damage. The theory was that the cells' regenerative function would help the "bridge" reconnect the spinal cord. Within five months, Fidyka regained some feeling in his legs; two years later, he could walk. "It's like you were born again," says Fidyka.

Stem cell breakthroughs
It was a huge year for stem cell technology. In August, scientists revealed that infusing stem cells into the brains of stroke victims dramatically improved their recovery. Severe strokes usually result in death or serious disability, but all the patients treated with stem cells showed signs of recovery after six months. A second breakthrough came in October, when Harvard University scientists cured type 1 diabetes in mice by injecting them with insulin-secreting cells derived from stem cells. If the procedure works in humans, people with the disorder could potentially be cured with a single injection. "We are now just one pre-clinical step away from the finish line," says lead researcher Douglas Melton.

Touchdown on a comet
For millennia, mankind has wondered at the appearance of comets in the night sky. This year, earthlings finally reached up and touched one. A European Space Agency probe landed on comet 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko, an icy rock streaking through the solar system at 41,000 mph 311 million miles from Earth. Launched from the ESA's Rosetta spacecraft, which began orbiting the comet in August, the refrigerator-size probe drilled into the space rock's surface to examine its chemical makeup. Composed of ice, dust, rocks, and other organic materials, comets are leftovers from the formation of the solar system 4.5 billion years ago and may have played a crucial role in the development of life on Earth.

The biggest dinosaur found yet
This September, fossil hunters in Patagonia announced they had unearthed the remains of the largest dinosaur ever to walk the Earth. Paleontologists estimate that the herbivorous Dreadnoughtus schrani was as long as a basketball court and weighed nearly 65 tons, equivalent to a dozen African elephants. The creature's neck vertebrae were almost a meter wide, while the bones at the end of its 9-meter tail appear to have been covered with powerful muscles. "It's time the herbivores get their due," says paleontologist Kenneth Lacovara.

Preserving donated hearts
New methods for treating donated organs promise to shorten the long wait times endured by patients in need of transplants. Doctors at St. Vincent's Hospital in Sydney were able to revive a heart that had stopped beating by placing it in a machine that bathed the organ in warm, oxygenated blood and other nutrients, preventing deterioration of its muscle cells. Similar methods were also used to treat livers, lungs, and kidneys before transplantation. "This breakthrough represents a major inroad to reducing the shortage of donor organs," said Peter MacDonald, head of St. Vincent's heart transplant unit. Some 2,000 patients receive heart transplants in the U.S. every year. Doctors hope this new method will increase that figure 30 percent.

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Greenhouse gas reductions on the cheap: Solar-aided coal plants

Though we’ve made great strides with renewable energy, widespread implementation has proven to be economically challenging, in part due to the existing fossil fuel infrastructure. One promising renewable technology is solar-thermal energy, which harnesses solar energy to generate either heat or electricity. When coupled with a cost-effective thermal storage strategy, it promises to deliver baseload electricity through the existing power grid. Unfortunately, to be an economically attractive option, solar-thermal energy generation requires rather large installs, at tens of megawatts of capacity, which can be quite expensive.

But there’s an intriguing approach that solves both the issues of size and existing infrastructure: integrating solar thermal into existing fossil fuel power plants. A new analysis suggests it’s both economical and less harmful to the environment. Instead of trying to completely replace what’s already up and running, this strategy provides time for an incremental shift in the power supply and gives the engineers running the plants a chance to familiarize themselves with a stream of technological changes.

From an engineering perspective, these changes would have a major impact on several aspects of the energy and material flow of the plant, which the analysis addresses. The authors demonstrate that solar-aided plants can achieve enhanced solar-to-electric conversion efficiencies without running into issues that limit other solar-powered technologies. Critically, they could cut the use of fossil fuels in half.

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Miami Swim Week: Luli Fama Swimwear 2016

fringe sleeve
luli fama miami swim
Of all the different family businesses in the fashion industry, Luli Fama has one of the most original. The design duo consists of Lourdes "Luli" Hanimian with partner and brother-in-law Augusto Hanimian. Their Miami Swim Week Show was a big party. Those of us in the media always look forward to their show because we know it will be fun.

Their 2016 resort show opened with native dancers and drummers to set the festive tone. The high fashion swimwear that followed has a gorgeous display of prints. There was a group of digitally manipulated geometrics that also worked in Aztec motifs. There was a beautiful group of paisleys in feminine color palettes. There were animal prints that recolored into other-worldly hues. Think leopard and snakeskin as interpreted by aliens (but sexy!).

Luli Fama Resort 2016 was also about fringe fringe fringe. They were on hems, full skirts, sleeves and necklines. When you have very little on, why not enhance the movement of the body parts as they move?
photos by David TW Leung
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Artist James Merry Embellishes Sportswear Logos with Embroidered Plants





As part of a recent series of embroideries, artist James Merry softened the bold logos of sportswear companies by adding stitched flora to vintage clothing. For instance a glacier flower and moss grow from an old Nike sweatshirt, and a FILA logo is topped by a mushroom cap. Merry is a longtime collaborator with Björk and creates many of her extravagant costumes for stage and music videos, and you can read a recent interview with him over on i-D. (via Quipsologies, Booooooom)

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New 3-D camera technology to uncover hidden landmines

The research funding was awarded via a competition organised by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC)

The post New 3-D camera technology to uncover hidden landmines has been published on Technology Org.

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No, scientists aren’t predicting 10ft higher sea level by 2050

You may have seen the headlines last week: “Former Top NASA Scientist Predicts Catastrophic Rise In Sea Levels,” “Earth’s Most Famous Climate Scientist Issues Bombshell Sea Level Warning,” “Climate Seer James Hansen Issues His Direst Forecast Yet." Facebook even told me it was trending. The problem is, all those headlines describe a study, and that study doesn’t predict anything. It certainly doesn’t predict 10 feet of sea level rise by 2100 (or even 2050) as a number of stories have claimed.

So what happened here? A few things. The circumstances surrounding the paper are unusual. First, the paper has not yet been peer-reviewed. (Many stories did make that clear.) It is currently undergoing a transparent review process for the journal Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics. Rather than the traditional, behind-closed-doors review where nothing is revealed until the final paper is accepted and published, the journal posts manuscripts immediately as “discussion papers.” As peer reviews are submitted, those will also be posted, as will the authors’ responses and their revisions.

Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics isn’t the only journal doing this, but these papers aren’t normally publicized until the process runs its course. In this case, a press release initiated by the authors went out immediately. In fact, due to a delay getting the manuscript proofread and posted, news stories began running several days before the manuscript was available on the journal’s website. Only those journalists to whom a draft had been circulated knew what was in it.

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Miami Swim Week: San Lorenzo Bikinis 2016

san lorenzo bikinis 2016
miami swim san lorenzo

 San Lorenzo Bikinis brought serenity from Hawaii. Designer Lisseth Figueroa started in Peru before moving to the South Pacific. Like many of the top swimwear labels, Figueroa found the market was missing the South American silhouettes with a Hawaiian sensibility.

The San Lorenzo Bikinis runway at Miami Swim Week was a display of zen. The theme was "Mind, Bali and Soul". The models strolled down the runway with tropical flowers entwined in their hair or carried in baskets for a message of hospitality. The opening look emulated a multi-limbed deity, while other looks carried spiritual symbols.

The suits themselves naturally included many bikinis. Some were barely there, held together with a creative arrangement of ties. My favorite style was the wrap bikini with cutouts on the side offered in solid colors and prints. The prints were a mix of pastel watercolor textures that the zen of rippling water. The star one-piece suit however, was the majestic lion's head print.

The collection was designed for versatility. Tops and bottoms were intended to be interchangeable and fabrics used were often reversible. It's no surprise that San Lorenzo Bikinis has fans in celebrities like Chrissy Teigen, Behati Prinsloo and Kate Hudson.

san lorenzo swimwear
photos by David TW Leung
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Hundreds of Colorful Café Chairs Take the Form of a Winding Roller Coaster in the Middle of a French Square


All images via Baptiste Debombourg


Baptiste Debombourg (previously here and here) has transformed a public square using the very objects that typically occupy it—taking 1,200 café chairs and forming them into an elaborate roller coaster. Although the installation is static, Debombourg created movement within the sculpture by incorporating six bright colors and four sky-high loops that twist and turn far from the ground.

The installation, titled Stellarwas built as a part of Le Voyage à Nantes, and will be located within the Place du Bouffay in Nantes, France until August 20th. Its inspiration stems from addressing the great presence of outdoor cafés and restaurants within the city center, as well as an artwork Robert Delaunay produced for the Paris World’s Fair in 1937. (via Junk Culture)







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Physicists discover long-sought ‘pentaquark’ particle

CERN’s Large Hadron Collider announced Tuesday that researchers discovered a remarkable class of particles known as pentaquarks that

The post Physicists discover long-sought ‘pentaquark’ particle has been published on Technology Org.

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