Technology

A big push is under way in higher education to measure how students are learning and how good lecturers are at teaching them. Universities can track how much time a student spent on a learning module or how often they accessed a journal article or online book.

By Vikram Jandhyala&Nitin Baliga, Inside Science - We recently met with a host of biotechnology leaders and were struck by their infatuation with Big Data and machine learning. In fact, upon reflection, it was amazing how often the word "algorithm" came up in the course of our conversations with these accomplished scientists.

Don't get us wrong. The boom in software and computing has achieved powerful and profound results in our society. And, yes, the world is a better place, thanks to data analytics.

If I said I was a licensed architect helping to fight dementia, you’d probably assume I was designing a care home or some similar building. Actually, I’ve been working alongside neuroscientists, psychologists, doctors and programmers to produce a computer game that could lead to better diagnoses for the condition.

Researchers have created a programmable DNA thermometer that 20,000 times smaller than a human hair, using a discovery made 60 years ago - that DNA molecules that encode our genetic information can unfold when heated.

"In recent years, biochemists also discovered that biomolecules such as proteins or RNA (a molecule similar to DNA) are employed as nanothermometers in living organisms and report temperature variation by folding or unfolding," says senior author Prof. Alexis Vallée-Bélisle of the University of Montreal. "Inspired by those natural nanothermometers, which are typically 20,000x smaller than a human hair, we have created various DNA structures that can fold and unfold at specifically defined temperatures."


HANOVER, N.H. - Virtual and augmented reality have the potential to profoundly impact our society, but the technologies have a few bugs to work out to better simulate realistic visual experience. Now, researchers at Dartmouth College and Stanford University have discovered that "monovision" -- a simple technique borrowed from ophthalmology that dates to the monocle of the Victorian Age - can improve user performance in virtual reality environments.


A computer can probably beat you at chess and no one goes anywhere without a GPS. Transhumanist prophet Ray Kurzweil says we will ascend into being computers in a few years (though he also claims solar power will out-produce fossil fuels in a decade, so use caution when he is selling books) but some think it's the other way around, and that humans will instead be the ultimate supercomputers.


Are millennials going deaf because of high music volumes? That certainly seems to be the concern, because of ubiquitous ear buds and .mp3 players. A company named Puro Sound Labs says they have a solution; bluetooth headphones that block out ambient sound, which means lower volumes are needed, and they protect ears in a more direct way, with an 85 dBA sound limit, which is the equivalent sound level that workers remain should exposed below during an eight hour work day, according to the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health.

Researchers have demonstrated for the first time that nanoscale electronic components can be made from single DNA molecules.

For two decades, the search has been on to replace the silicon chip in order to keep the hope of Moore's Law alive.  To find a solution to this challenge, the group turned to DNA, whose predictability, diversity and programmability make it a leading candidate for the design of functional electronic devices using single molecules.


When "The Polar Express" film came out, it was creepy to a lot of people. It was a cartoon with faces modeled after the real actors, but still a digital creation. The same response happens when people are around a robot that veers closer to being human in appearance.

It's called The Uncanny Valley - robots have an upward curve of fascination and then suddenly plummet into a valley of repulsion. But it's getting uncanny as we get more comfortable with robots, according to a new study. So much so that touching a robot's intimate areas elicited physiological arousal in humans.


While there is no Hubble telescope gathering data about the universe of human development, projects to make large amounts of information -- big data -- more accessible to developmental researchers could bring behavioral science's biggest questions into focus, according to a Penn State psychologist.

"Many people, when they think about big data, think about astronomy, or physics, or biology and cancer research, but, in fact, there are big data approaches to studying human development," said Rick Gilmore, associate professor of psychology. "It's exciting that we now have the opportunity to learn how people emerge through the developmental process by taking empirical work from large numbers of investigators and aggregating that data."