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Submission + - Number processing mapped onto human brain like sensory processing

TeslaBoy writes: A new study demonstrates that neurons processing numbers of objects are arranged on the human brain as a topographic map, with low numbers at one end and higher numbers at the other. This mirrors the organization of the sensory areas of the brain, where maps of the visual field, auditory frequency, or the skin surface are found. However, the number map does not come from the structure of an external organ but has emerged within the brain. The article can be found paywalled at Science ( and reported for the public at the Guardian ( and (

Comment Re:It really is complicated (Score 3, Interesting) 68

It is indeed complicated. Putting on and taking off an EEG array properly takes a couple of hours, which has made home applications of EEG for communication with paralyzed patients impractical. As such, surgically-implanted (brain surface, called intracranial) EEG is being explored for these patients, but would never be used without a very severe disability. Another technology, functional near-infra-red spectroscopy (fNIRS), is also be explored. This is still at an early stage. The group of Rainer Goebel at Maastricht University (Netherlands), for example, is working on this. This technique uses light to measure changes in blood flow caused by neural activity, so does not require electrical contacts through a conductive gel like EEG does. This would be more practical at home, you could put on a helmet. It is also relatively cheap. The main drawback is that fNIRS can only see activity just under the scalp, so you have to find a brain area to measure from that is in just the right place. This takes some initial setup for each subject, ideally in a hospital using functional MRI. So in short, there is no current technology that can do what you want properly, but fNIRS will probably be the best bet in the medium term. (p.s. I work in brain imaging tech development)

Comment Reasonable surveillance? (Score 2, Insightful) 179

In ten days, a new King of the Netherlands is being crowned near this location. In this case, i think a little surveillance is reasonable. The Netherlands is not a surveillance-heavy country, but this may be just a case of good security practice. That is, watching out for a credible threat, not paranoia.

Google Pledges Not To Sue Any Open Source Projects Using Their Patents 153

sfcrazy writes "Google has announced the Open Patent Non-Assertion (OPN) Pledge. In the pledge Google says that they will not sue any user, distributor, or developer of Open Source software on specified patents, unless first attacked. Under this pledge, Google is starting off with 10 patents relating to MapReduce, a computing model for processing large data sets first developed at Google. Google says that over time they intend to expand the set of Google's patents covered by the pledge to other technologies." This is in addition to the Open Invention Network, and their general work toward reforming the patent system. The patents covered in the OPN will be free to use in Free/Open Source software for the life of the patent, even if Google should transfer ownership to another party. Read the text of the pledge. It appears that interaction with non-copyleft licenses (MIT/BSD/Apache) is a bit weird: if you create a non-free fork it appears you are no longer covered under the pledge.
The Media

What Does It Actually Cost To Publish a Scientific Paper? 166

ananyo writes "Nature has published an investigation into the real costs of publishing research after delving into the secretive, murky world of science publishing. Few publishers (open access or otherwise-including Nature Publishing Group) would reveal their profit margins, but they've pieced together a picture of how much it really costs to publish a paper by talking to analysts and insiders. Quoting from the piece: '"The costs of research publishing can be much lower than people think," agrees Peter Binfield, co-founder of one of the newest open-access journals, PeerJ, and formerly a publisher at PLoS. But publishers of subscription journals insist that such views are misguided — born of a failure to appreciate the value they add to the papers they publish, and to the research community as a whole. They say that their commercial operations are in fact quite efficient, so that if a switch to open-access publishing led scientists to drive down fees by choosing cheaper journals, it would undermine important values such as editorial quality.' There's also a comment piece by three open access advocates setting out what they think needs to happen next to push forward the movement as well as a piece arguing that 'Objections to the Creative Commons attribution license are straw men raised by parties who want open access to be as closed as possible.'"

Comment Re:Germany (Score 4, Interesting) 55

True. This is all a little pointless in a free market zone as we in Holland can just order online from abroad, in the same currency, with nominal delivery fees. Amazon, for example, deliver from Germany for free on orders over 25 euro, which is pretty much any computer component or decent-sized order of blank media.

Comment It's good work, but the nothing like photos (Score 1) 47

The title is really inaccurate. I was at this conference and talked to Kamitani about it. He was able to determine whether the dreams we have when entering sleep (not those we have in deep sleep) contained faces, places, or inanimate objects. Significantly above chance levels. It's good work, but it's nothing like reconstructing a photo of what someone was dreaming. Kamitani also tried to explicitly do this, but so far, it's not possible. The linked article makes all of this really clear.

Comment Lectures are an old technology (Score 2) 212

dating from the 18th century in their current form, except the slide projector/powerpoint. Ever since my college days 10 years ago, many students were recording sound in lectures rather than take notes. The better of our lecturers put their slides on our network before class, as students who are copying the slides from the screen are really not listening to the lecturer. Now I teach my own classes, this approach allows me to talk around the slides, in a much more open style, following the message rather than the words of the slides. In a way, this style goes back to the lecture style before the slide projector. This story describes the next step. If we could do the talking part before the class, we could use class time for more interactive activities and group/seminar work. However, I maintain that we need a teacher or a TA working with the groups, as many small groups get lost without a little leadership. Maybe these guys have found a better feedback system. My one problem with the recorded lecture is that students can't stop to ask the speaker questions in lecture. While most students never do this, those who do really help understanding and moving the class forwards.

Submission + - Gigapixel Royal Wedding picture (

TeslaBoy writes: The BBC have an ultra-high-def composite image of the Royal Wedding procession and crowd, covering 200 degrees of visual angle in front of Buckingham Palace. Photographer Henry Stuart combined 189 shots to produce this amazing image with a resolution of 81,471 x 14,154 pixels.
XBox (Games)

What To Do With a Free Xbox 360 Pro? 416

OzPeter writes "Last week I won an Xbox 360 Pro. However, I am not a gamer, and after looking at the current MS offerings, I am not tempted to become one. But I am in the market for a Media Center PC that I can use for streaming TV shows off the 'net as well as general web browsing and displaying video through the HDMI port. With that in mind, I again looked at MS and saw they seemed to have positioned the Xbox as an adjunct to a separate Windows Media Center PC and not as a stand alone unit (which is not what I want). So, once again, I did some more research into the Xbox homebrew scene and discovered things like Xbox Linux. But after reading that site, it is apparent that MS is trying to beat down the homebrewers, and I am left wondering how much hassle it would be to go down that path. So my question is: how should I re-purpose my Xbox? Is it worthwhile doing the Homebrew/Linux option (and can anyone share any experiences)? Are there other ways of re-purposing the device that I haven't considered? Or should I just keep it boxed up as a Christmas present for a favorite nephew?"

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