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Comment: Re:Easy solution (Score 1) 348 348

Global warming grants specifically state in the terms that the successful grant recipient will show global warming. So they pay for a pre-conclusion. Its all fraud and its all bogus. But there is simply so much money to be made promoting this AGW myth that no one will be allowed to disagree.

Huh, this isn't how I thought grants worked. Could you share an example with me?

+ - Grand Ayatollah Issues Fatwa Stating High Speed Internet is against Sharia

An anonymous reader writes: What at first instance looks like a hoax turns out to be a real statement from Irans Ayatollah.
A Grand Ayatollah in Iran has determined that access to high-speed and 3G Internet is “against Sharia” and “against moral standards.”
This puts ofcourse the discussion about net neutrality in a different perspective. Is internet throttling by the ISP then allowed? Up till what speed then? Luckily for the Iranians, the Fatwa is not mandatory. Also: once the new network with censorship is in place, the Fatwa will most likely be removed

Comment: Re:The market is getting tighter and tighter (Score 4, Interesting) 203 203

The leap from SNES to N64 controller definitely took some brain rewiring, but the move to analog thumb controlled joysticks is a move that the other game developer consoles made as well. It freed up additional fingers for more buttons. I get what you're saying with regard to the inability to access every button without changing up hand configurations, a problem Xbox and Playstation never had with their models. Newly positioned buttons and motion sensors don't have to be distractions once you've reprogrammed your premotor cortex and cerebellum to deal with them. I think there is an aspect of timing that was integral for many older system games that may be less important for some games now. When you look at the feature space of games in the 8 bit era, there were very limited interactions you could have. You were relegated to 2 dimensional environments and games like side scrolling action were quite common and relied on incredibly precise timing to pull off. How many people made it past the damn rocket sleds on Battletoads consistently? But newer games with immersive 3D sandboxes to explore don't have to rely on tight timing to hook a gamer. These tight timing aspects are probably what attracted many gamers to action games, and continue to make first person shooters so appealing.

As a researcher in brain computer interfaces (BCI), I have to disagree with the more literal interpretation of your statement that the best games link your brain with pure cerebral responses to gameplay. I think you're getting at very quick sensorimotor contingencies, where you get 'in the zone' but there is a huge amount of somatosensory/tactile feedback that goes into these sorts of interactions that are currently missing with direct brainwave interfaces. Let alone the fact that even the best BCI algorithms can classify a handful at most different responses, you have access to more combinations of discrete input with your fingers for now than reading brainwaves.

Comment: Re:It would be cheaper for everyone.... (Score 2) 182 182

This is not a simple solution. There are many sources of pollution, which are amplified in winter by homes burning coal for heat. Automobiles are a large source of airborne particulates, and with many small sources it will take awhile to fix, but at least we've seen it can work in cities like Los Angeles.

Comment: Re:assholes everywhere (Score 4, Informative) 182 182

Wouldn't it be simpler to strap the air filter to the smokestacks where the pollution is emitted? Nah, that'd never work.

part of the problem is that many homes burn coal for heat, so it isn't just industrial pollution, nor from automobiles, the latter two are present during most of the year, with the former being a problem concentrated in winter.

Comment: Re:DEsalination plants should be a priority (Score 1) 377 377

some are already on the way, but this one, which will be the largest in the western hemisphere, will supply San Diego (pop ~ 3 million) with 10% of its water. It currently imports about 90% of its water from Northern California and the Colorado river.

So if one of these $1 billion plants can service about 300k people, should just be algebra to figure out how many more we need to service the west coast....

Comment: Re:less money yes, less time no (Score 1) 41 41

you can use published results to validate your new equipment. if you can find the same trend in the data, same, and at least similar order of magnitude, then you are on the right path.

hahaha remember this is neuroscience we're talking about.

i am a neuroscientist who does electrophysiological recordings. i perform validation tests every time i get a hold of a new piece of equipment.

Comment: Re:less money yes, less time no (Score 4, Interesting) 41 41

True, but imagine how bringing the cost down can lower the entry barrier for things such as teaching labs. My best course by far in undergrad was an electrophysiology course where we recorded action potentials in earthworms with just a couple electrodes and a differential amplifier hooked up to an old macintosh. Getting these technologies lower in cost may not alleviate quality concerns for high throughput research (which is what some of the quoted established company reps are saying in the article). But imagine how cheap the next iteration of these could be? An order of magnitude lower for the openBCI 8 channel EEG system And with scalp potentials and a 512 hz sample rate you can measure muscle potentials too, not just brain. If you could find a way to increase the sample rate you could do things like galvanic skin response too.

Comment: interaction between game designers and soundtrack (Score 2) 66 66

Greetings George, thanks for taking the time to do this. Video games were some of my earliest exposure to types of music that my parents never played and has stayed a consistent influence on the music I create now some 20-30 years later.

I'm curious how much of a back and forth process it is to design music for games. At what stage are you often approached about creating music? Is it when there is a finished product for you to see, or during the early stages are you brought on board to share some sounds to inspire coders? Is there a standard timeline for bringing together visuals and gameplay and sounds, or does it vary from project to project? And if it does vary, has there been a general shift over time in the interaction between gameplay design and music design?

Comment: comparing different brain images (Score 3, Informative) 195 195

Hmm, so we're comparing photographs of a fixed/preserved and sliced brain with those acquired by an MRI. Does anyone know what kind of variance or error these different imaging techniques introduce? There is enough variability in brain size and location of features that normal comparisons of one person's brain via MRI with another person's brain are rather meaningless. The standard procedure is to warp MRI brain scans to a common brain, and then run the comparisons of warped/normalized images....

Comment: scientists on the cheap (Score 1) 192 192

Imagine if the US were to reinvigorate its sciences. Double the current research budget - drop in the box if they passed a tax measure - invest in their trained talent, and pick up some Russians too. Some country would be smart to pick them up before they jump ship to other professions.

Comment: Re:Excellent! There pre-reading tests for dyslexia (Score 4, Informative) 105 105

If you check out the actual reporting from the authors (here for abstract you can see that they tested three predictors for dyslexia on children who had not yet received reading lessons. Without making any claims of observing dyslexia, they noted that the size of the arcurate fasciculus is positively correlated with scores of 'phonological awareness' and no correlation with 'rapid naming' or 'letter knowledge.' Perhaps a linguist or clinician could help elucidate what those tests are actually measuring.

It could be that dyslexia is a grouping of somewhat different brain/processing abnormalities that have similar behaviors. If that is the case, then brain imaging of the size of arcurate fasciculus could predict whether treatment aimed at increasing phonological awareness would have any effect. If you haven't had an intro neuropsych course you may not have heard that the arcurate fasciculus is a primary connection between auditory cortex and motor representations - thought to translate hearing into replying. Folk who have damage to this fiber tract are typically unable to repeat back to you what they just heard. The auditory and visual conduits run in parallel in this part of the brain, so it may have bearing on sequencing of writing, not just spoken words.

Comment: science is noisy (Score 2) 564 564

Many recorded signals and data are filled with noise making it difficult to tell what you are looking at. I guess it depends what level of science education you deal with, but when I teach, students look at the figures and graphs presented in the literature. Some of the effects are easy to see, others are very subtle. A basic understanding of statistics is critical for describing how we come to measure phenomena. From statistical mechanics, to understanding co-morbid disease, or computer vision, probability distributions show just how variable most things in the world actually are. If you tried to stop a stopwatch at the 1 second mark many times in a row, very rarely do you actually hit the goal, but if you plot your responses they will cluster around a mean of more or less 1 second. A large part of forming a scientist is knowing how to play in these distributions of samples.

What about the process of science? Framing a good question is hard. Is the question testable? 'What does the universe look like' is an ill posed question for a scientist. What form could the answer possibly take? If you can whittle it down, say 'what does the universe look like in the infrared spectrum.' Ok, this we can start collecting data to address, but can you still say what the answer might look like? The more specific the question, the better. If you can't clearly say what form the answer will take, then how can you expect to find it in the data?

How long have we been searching through SETI data? How will you know what evidence of communication from an extraplanetary source looks like? Is it more likely that we will find false positives, or let actual alien missives go undetected?

I think with regards to what the humanities can contribute to science education, philosophy and framing of questions is huge. Ultimately the scientist and philosopher are starting the from same place - wanting to answer a question, the difference is in how they go about finding the answer. Communication skills can never hurt scientists either - how many of you have tried to pick up a journal article expecting it to make sense on the first read? Anything that can help frame and communicate uncertainty would benefit scholars of science, but I think it naive to imply that these skills and foci are not already taught in science curricula.

Beware the new TTY code!