Science 2.0

Machine Learning For Jet Physics: New, Or Just Cool, Ideas

Science 2.0 - Nov 15 2018 - 15:11
As I mentioned in yesterday's post, there is a workshop going on this week at Fermilab, where 110 attendees - mostly particle physicists, but some computer scientists are also present - discuss how to push for more effective use of machine learning tools in the extraction of information on particle collisions. 

Also one goal is to understand what new ideas from the world of machine learning could find ideal applications in the typical use cases of research in fundamental physics. Here I wish to mention a few interesting things that I heard at the workshop so far, in random order. I will rarely make direct reference to the talks, to encourage you to dig into the pdf files available here.

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California Fires: Where There's Smoke There's PM 2.5 Junk Science

Science 2.0 - Nov 15 2018 - 15:11
As I write this, our local school is closed due to concern about smoke inhalation. Other parts of the nation may not realize it but two severe wildfires broke out recently, in northern and southern California. If this had happened anywhere near New York City or Washington, D.C. it would be called Smokemageddon, or a Particulate Vortex, or something else clever, but because it's California we won't get Lester Holt in a facemask and 24 hour coverage on CNN.

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Machine Learning For Jet Physics At Fermilab

Science 2.0 - Nov 14 2018 - 12:11
I flew to the US yesterday to get to Fermilab, where I am following a workshop titled Machine learning for jet physics". My goal of this post is to explain what this is about, and to give a few examples of the status of this interesting research activity, which encompasses particle physics and computer science and can provide spin-offs in a number of related areas of fundamental research.
First of all, machine learning. This is a booming field of research, which employs computer programs to create models of the way the human mind learns from examples, to then apply the learned structures to a number of different tasks of big relevance in today's society and to advance human knowledge. 

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Brains Of Teenage Girls Who Engage In Cutting Are Similar To Those With Borderline Personality Disorder

Science 2.0 - Nov 14 2018 - 12:11
A pilot study in Development and Psychopathology concluded that teenage girls who engage in self-harm like cutting often have brain features like adults with borderline personality disorder. Often is relative, since this was only 40 individuals.

Cutting and other forms of self-harm are warning signs for suicide, which data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention say increased 300 percent among 10- to 14-year-old girls from 1999 to 2014, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. During that same time, along with a 53 percent increase in suicide in older teen girls and young women.

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Why Activists Changed Their Tunes On Dams And Reservoirs

Science 2.0 - Nov 14 2018 - 08:11
Dams keep the boom and bust of flooding from being too severe, they prevent water shortages, they make human existence better. But they clearly change nature.

Why is a human building a dam unnatural but a beaver building a dam natural? Only an environmentalist can figure that out, but what was a great idea 10 years ago - hydroelectric power and storing water - is now the enemy of the paid activism community, and politically sympathetic researchers have increasingly begun to curry media attention by writing papers to prove them right, as has happened again in Nature Sustainability, a journal which, like something might be called Nature UFOs, was created to make money legitimizing the beliefs of the activism community inside academia.

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RIP Dr. Herb London: A Fine Conservative, A Great Man

Science 2.0 - Nov 13 2018 - 12:11

In late 2014 I came downstairs from my home office and said to my wife, "Herb London just left me a message."

"Is he any relation to Stacy London?" she asked in her offhand humor way. Well, yeah, she is his daughter, if you are from California, but if you are of my generation and from anywhere near the orbit of New York, you know who Herb London is. And Herb London was getting a return phone call.

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Global Warming May Be Damaging Sperm

Science 2.0 - Nov 13 2018 - 05:11
A new study in Nature Communications suggests that climate change could pose a threat to male fertility by increasing the number and severity of heat waves which damage sperm.

The authors contend that climate change is already having an impact on species populations, including climate-related extinctions in recent years. The authors suggest that sperm function is an especially sensitive trait. Sperm function is essential for reproduction and population viability, and so they sound a warning that biodiversity is already collapsing.

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Compounds From Coffee Offer Hope For Alzheimer's And Parkinson's Diseases.

Science 2.0 - Nov 12 2018 - 14:11
An exciting new class of potential inhibitors of both Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s disease has been isolated from coffee. Dr. Donald Weaver, co-director of the Kembril Brain Institute in Toronto, Canada explains: “The consumption of coffee seems to have a correlation to a decreased risk of developing Alzeimer’s disease and/or Parkinson’s disease”. Their investigations have recently been reported in the journal Frontiers in Neuroscience. Among the results: Three types of coffee were investigated: caffeinated dark roast, caffeinated light roast, and decaffeinated dark roast. The results, according to Dr.

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If You Hate Trump Thank...1960s Canadian Urban Planning Policy?

Science 2.0 - Nov 12 2018 - 14:11

A new analysis links urban planning decisions - the freeways and local schools outside cities that made the suburbs possible - from decades past as why right-wing populism exists. 

They created their correlation by looking at voting trends up to 2010 in in the Toronto area and matched them to people moving out of the city. As the desire for a yard and a house increased, politicians began to consider people who want more comfort and convenience. And now a humanities scholar contends those people are now right-wing populists, in a creepy kind of left-wing frame, but the reason progressive demands for more "sustainability" have failed.

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To Make Better Translation Algorithms, Look To The Bible

Science 2.0 - Nov 11 2018 - 12:11
Medicine uses Latin because it is a 'dead' language - the meanings of the words will not change over time. But if you want to modernize translations to different languages, an ancient book may help: The Bible.

Tools to translate text between languages are widely available - and rather awful. While they can create literal translations, style is hard to bring across without human intervention. If you tried to read a translation of China's Liu Cixin using a computer, you would miss everything, most importantly a great example of the best science-fiction culture since America of the 1950s.

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You, 50 Years Later - New Study Says Your Personality Does Change

Science 2.0 - Nov 11 2018 - 09:11
Is your personality set in stone at a young age? If you were a jerk in high school will you still be a jerk at 60? Not necessarily. And what changes there are may not be defining. The only time you might see a big disparity could be when comparing yourself to others.

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Former NRC Head Gregory Jaczko Says Union Of Concerned Scientists Is Wrong On Nuclear

Science 2.0 - Nov 10 2018 - 09:11
Gregory Jaczko, Ph.D., has a degree in theoretical physics, a hatred for nuclear power, and a love for his former boss Senator Harry Reid of Nevada - which is why Reid lobbied so heavily to get him placed as Chairman of the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC). 

The Chair of the NRC, tasked with managing nuclear energy in America, hated nuclear energy? Yes and he still does, but despite that he got the job because, well, that's politics. President George W. Bush was a dealmaker and Senator Harry Reid wanted the Bush administration to ignore two decades of studies showing that America needed one modern nuclear waste storage facility, rather than over 100 that exist now, and the perfect place was under a mountain in Nevada, Reid's state.

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Ancient Andeans Modified Wild Tubers Into Potatoes, Then The Potatoes Modified Them Back

Science 2.0 - Nov 09 2018 - 12:11
Recent DNA analyses show that ancient populations in the Peruvian highlands adapted wild tubers into potatoes - and then those potatoes in turn modified them in ways distinct from other global populations.

Potatoes are native to South America and became an agricultural crop in the Andean highlands of what is now Peru. But wild tubers genetically modified into potatoes did something interesting in return; they altered the genomes of the Andeans who made it a staple of their diet. Co-evolution. This co-evolution between agriculture and human is evident in the configuration of a gene associated with starch digestion in the small intestine - MGAM - in the agricultural ancient Andean genome samples, but not in hunter-gatherers down the coast.

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There Was No Blue Wave In The Mid-terms, Nor Was There A Green One, But There Was A Youth One

Science 2.0 - Nov 09 2018 - 07:11
Many trial lawyers hoping for new revenue streams suing over increased regulations woke up disappointed Wednesday morning, as were politicos and journalists hoping for a stern rebuke of President Trump.  There was no Green Wave, nor was there a Blue one.

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NanoFlu And ResVax: Make Or Break For Novavax

Science 2.0 - Nov 08 2018 - 17:11
In 2016, a Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV) vaccine candidate named the RSV F Vaccine failed in Phase III trials, which could have been a crippling blow for Novavax, but they may be on the road to recovery.

Companies have to have Phase III trials before they can get approval. Phase I proves safety and dosing while Phase II shows it is better than a placebo and Phase III is intended to show it either works better than existing treatments or has fewer side effects. That's all after numerical models and animal studies. Since FDA essentially doubled the costs to get drug approval in the early 2000s only the most promising drug advances to Phase III. perhaps 1 in 5,000 that look good on a computer. It simply isn't worth the cost otherwise.  

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How My Research On Ancient Egyptian Poetry Led To An Amazing Great Pyramid Discovery

Science 2.0 - Nov 08 2018 - 14:11

What began as an expedition to record the inscriptions of ancient Egyptian quarry workers produced a remarkable discovery about the Great Pyramid at Giza. My colleagues and I in the Anglo-French joint archaeological mission to the ancient quarry site of Hatnub recently revealed the existence of a well-preserved haulage ramp dating to the time of the Great Pyramid, roughly 4,500 years ago.

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How AMPK, Thought To Suppress Cancer, Actually Helps It Survive

Science 2.0 - Nov 08 2018 - 13:11
The protein complex AMPK is thought to suppress cancer, by slowing cellular metabolism, but it can also help some tumors grow.

But why? A new study says it has solved the mystery.

AMPK acts as a fuel gauge for the cell, overseeing energy input and output to keep the cell running smoothly. Similar to a car sensor flashing a low-gas signal or turning off a vehicle’s AC to save energy, AMPK slows down cell growth and changes the cell’s metabolism if the cell’s fuel (nutrients) is low.

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One Great Pyramids Mystery Solved

Science 2.0 - Nov 08 2018 - 12:11
The Great Pyramids have long been held up as the pinnacle of ancient engineering. Over 100 structures, some as high as were constructed of huge alabaster blocks, many quarried from Hatnub - the site of an new interesting discovery.

Given the challenges in building such huge structures, it is no surprised the Great Pyramid of Khufu is one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. It and others were built thanks to quarries connected to the Nile by Bronze Age roads. The blocks were transported by sleds. But what about construction? Huge ramps? Were they poured? Some even speculated about aliens.

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Organic Certification Is Not A Food Safety Standard

Science 2.0 - Nov 08 2018 - 10:11
When Miles McEvoy became Deputy Administrator of the USDA’s National Organic Program (NOP) he set out to do something in the Obama administration that Science 2.0 long had called for, and Consumers Union had been calling for a decade before us; spot field testing of organic food so their customers could be certain that the prohibited substances and excluded methods that marketers advertise in their process were actually not being used.

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New Molecules Similar To Carbohydrates Can Inhibit Enzymes In Infectious Diseases

Science 2.0 - Nov 08 2018 - 08:11
New molecules similar to carbohydrates have showed the capacity to inhibit the activity of a specific type of glycoside enzymes - and that means inhibiting infectious diseases.

Glycosides are essential enzymes to digest carbohydrates but they are also key players in infections caused by pathogens, in anti-bacterial defense and many other vital cellular processes. Because these small molecules that are able to bond with and inhibit the activity of enzymes in infectious diseases, it opens up the basis for new medicines. 

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