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+ - Did Neurons Evolve Twice?->

Submitted by Anonymous Coward
An anonymous reader writes: When Leonid Moroz, a neuroscientist at the Whitney Laboratory for Marine Bioscience in St. Augustine, Fla., first began studying comb jellies, he was puzzled. He knew the primitive sea creatures had nerve cells — responsible, among other things, for orchestrating the darting of their tentacles and the beat of their iridescent cilia. But those neurons appeared to be invisible. The dyes that scientists typically use to stain and study those cells simply didn’t work. The comb jellies’ neural anatomy was like nothing else he had ever encountered.

After years of study, he thinks he knows why. According to traditional evolutionary biology, neurons evolved just once, hundreds of millions of years ago, likely after sea sponges branched off the evolutionary tree. But Moroz thinks it happened twice — once in ancestors of comb jellies, which split off at around the same time as sea sponges, and once in the animals that gave rise to jellyfish and all subsequent animals, including us. He cites as evidence the fact that comb jellies have a relatively alien neural system, employing different chemicals and architecture from our own. “When we look at the genome and other information, we see not only different grammar but a different alphabet,” Moroz said.

Link to Original Source

+ - Shape Shifting Frog Goes From Spiky to Smooth, Poses Problems for Taxonomists

Submitted by HughPickens.com
HughPickens.com writes: Carrie Arnold reports at National Geographic that on a nighttime walk through Reserva Las Gralarias in Ecuador in 2009, Katherine Krynak spotted a well-camouflaged, marble-size amphibian that was covered in spines. The next day, Krynak pulled the frog from the cup and set it on a smooth white sheet of plastic for Tim to photograph. It wasn't "punk "--it was smooth-skinned. She assumed that, much to her dismay, she must have picked up the wrong frog. "I then put the frog back in the cup and added some moss," says Krynak. "The spines came back... we simply couldn't believe our eyes, our frog changed skin texture! I put the frog back on the smooth white background. Its skin became smooth."

Krynak didn't find another punk rocker frog until 2009, three years after the first sighting. The second animal was covered in thorny spines, like the first, but they had disappeared when she took a closer look. The team then took photos of the shape-shifting frog every ten seconds for several minutes, watching the spines form and then slowly disappear. It's unclear how the frog forms these spines so quickly, or what they're actually made of. The discovery of a variable species poses challenges to amphibian taxonomists and field biologists, who have traditionally used skin texture and presence/absence of tubercles as important discrete traits in diagnosing and identifying species. The discovery illustrates the importance of describing the behavior of new species, and bolsters the argument for preserving amphibian habitats, says Krynak. "Amphibians are declining so rapidly that scientists are oftentimes describing new species from museum specimens because the animals have already gone extinct in the wild, and very recently."

+ - Neck Pain Can Be Changed Through Altered Visual Feedback

Submitted by sys64764
sys64764 writes: Using virtual reality to misrepresent how far the neck is turned can actually change pain experiences in individuals who suffer from chronic neck pain, according to research published in Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science.

“Our findings show that the brain does not need danger messages coming from the tissues of the body in order to generate pain in that body part — sensable and reliable cues that predict impending pain are enough to produce the experience of pain,” says researcher G. Lorimer Moseley of the University of South Australia. “These results suggest a new approach to developing treatments for pain that are based on separating the non-danger messages from the danger messages associated with a movement.”

Pretty soon we'll all be going to the gym wearing VR headsets while running appropriate programs and that sore neck or aching back won't mean a thing anymore!

Comment: Re:Anti-advertisement for one particular system (Score 1) 248

by sys64764 (#49051129) Attached to: Smart Homes Often Dumb, Never Simple

I got hue lights in every room and unless I specifically want to go for a mood or setting I most of the time I just use the wall switches, sometimes you have to flick it twice if you dimmed it using the app. The API is straightforward and there's a load of apps I don't use. The first versions of the hue app were lacking functions but now it's pretty much usable. When your phone is on another network the commands can have 10 seconds latency or so but when on the same wifi the control is pretty much instant. I use the WeMo switch also but that's really just to have a gui to configure different timer profiles when to preheat the coffee machine.

+ - DogeCoin to the Moon via a Google Lunar X PRIZE Team->

Submitted by anzha
anzha writes: After sponsoring a NASCAR racer, DogeCoin's community has wondered, "What next?" The answer is literally "To The Moon!" RevUp Render is sponsoring a DogeCoin promoting micro rover challenge, the Lunar Iditarod. The micro rovers, called DogeSleds, are the size of an smart phone and will be first qualified and then raced here on Earth. The top three competitors will be placed on a Google Lunar X PRIZE team's lunar lander to conduct a short, nine meter race on the moon itself. Registration opens on May 21st and closes July 31st for the first race. The first quarterly race will take place September 5th through September 7th. The event will be public and in the San Francisco Bay Area. All teams, international and American, are welcome, but be forewarned, all fees are in...dogecoin!
Link to Original Source

+ - Arduino Reveals It's Latest Board->

Submitted by alancronin
alancronin writes: The Arduino Zero will be on display at the Maker Faire Bay Area 2014 on May 17th and 18th. It will feature Atmel’s SAMD21 MCU which has a 32-bit ARM Cortex® M0+ core running at 48MHz and supports Atmel’s Embedded Debugger (EDBG). This will allow for easier debugging and include a virtual COM port. The Zero will also be compatible with it's predecessor (Arduino UNO) shields.
Link to Original Source

+ - Ask Slashdot: easy alternative to MS Access for an easy-to-use DB for a charity? 5

Submitted by danzvash
danzvash writes: I'm doing some volunteering for a street kids charity in Senegal, West Africa, and they need a new database to store all their information for the kids, and to help the funding organisations like UNICEF. The charity staff have a few computers running Windows 7. Being a die-hard OSS geek I'm more inclined to knock up a MySQL backend with a Django (or similar) frontend and run the whole thing from a reliable VPS. But it needs to be understandable by the non-geeks in the charity — there is no IT expertise here. Is there anything that can allow me to design and edit databases, tables, and forms but doesn't require an MS license?

+ - Fuck beta 1

Submitted by Anonymous Coward
An anonymous reader writes: The beta is bad. It's so bad. The comments are reduced in screen width about 50%. Subject lines are deemphasized, scores are minimized, etc.

The discussions are the reason to come to Slashdot, and the beta trivializes them entirely. It looks like the comment section on a generic news site.

The comments now look like an afterthought, whereas they used to be the primary focus of the site.
Space

ESA Releases Lutetia Flyby Images 48

Posted by Soulskill
from the pretty-pictures dept.
The European Space Agency has released images from yesterday's close approach of asteroid 21 Lutetia by the Rosetta probe. At its closest, the probe was a mere 3,162 km from the asteroid, passing at 15 km/s and snapping photos sharp enough to make out features as small as 60 meters. "Rosetta operated a full suite of sensors at the encounter, including remote sensing and in-situ measurements. Some of the payload of its Philae lander were also switched on. Together they looked for evidence of a highly tenuous atmosphere, magnetic effects, and studied the surface composition as well as the asteroid’s density. ... The flyby marks the attainment of one of Rosetta's main scientific objectives. The spacecraft will now continue to a 2014 rendezvous with its primary target, comet Churyumov-Gerasimenko. It will then accompany the comet for months, from near the orbit of Jupiter down to its closest approach to the Sun. In November 2014, Rosetta will release Philae to land on the comet nucleus." There is also a replay of the media event webcast on the ESA's website.

If it happens once, it's a bug. If it happens twice, it's a feature. If it happens more than twice, it's a design philosophy.

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