The scientists behind the BICEP2 telescope, last year made an extraordinary claim that they had detected gravitational waves, which are ripples in space-time. Initially hailed as the most groundbreaking discovery of the century, it later proved a false alarm: the signal was merely galactic dust. So, are we likely to ever find gravitational waves? And would they really provide irrefutable evidence for the Big Bang?
Trees occupy much of Earth’s land surface. Many of us interact with them on a daily basis, whether driving down a rural country road, back-country skiing, or having a picnic in a city park. Whether large or small, trees play a wide range of roles in our global ecosystem, from sequestering atmospheric carbon to pulling nutrients to the surface from deep in the soil. So, just how many are out there? One billion, 10 billion, 100 billion?
We invariably imagine electronic devices to be made from silicon chips, with which computers store and process information as binary digits (zeros and ones) represented by tiny electrical charges. But it need not be this way: among the alternatives to silicon are organic mediums such as DNA. DNA computing was first demonstrated in 1994 by Leonard Adleman who encoded and solved the traveling salesman problem.
With the challenges posed by architecture and software environments of today’s most powerful supercomputers, and even greater complexity on the horizon from next-generation and exascale systems, there is a critical need for specialized, in-depth training for computational scientists poised to facilitate breakthrough science using these amazing resources. The Argonne Training Program for Extreme-Scale Computing program is designed to...
The one thing everyone knows about quantum mechanics is its legendary weirdness, in which basic tenets of the world it describes seem alien to the world we live in. Superposition, where things can be in two states simultaneously, a switch both on and off, a cat both dead and alive. Or entanglement, what Einstein called spooky action-at-distance, in which objects are invisibly linked. Weird or not, quantum theory is nearly a century old.
I’ve been passionate about increasing women’s participation in computer science for more than 25 years. While the number of undergraduate women pursuing some STEM fields like biology and chemistry has steadily increased over the past couple of decades, women’s participation in computer science has been declining. Indeed, within the last 20 years, the percentage of undergraduate women who received CS degrees plummeted by almost 40%.
Science is catching up to science fiction. Last year, a paralyzed man walked again after cell treatment bridged a gap in his spinal cord. Dozens of people have had bionic eyes implanted, and it may also be possible to augment them to see into the infra-red or ultra-violet. We're witnessing a reshaping of the clinical landscape. Enter the biofabricator, melding technical skills in materials, mechatronics and biology with clinical sciences.
Imagine seeing the lights of cities spreading around the Nile Delta and then in less than an hour gazing down on Mount Everest. Astronauts on the International Space Station are among the lucky few who will have this humbling, once-in-a-lifetime experience of seeing the beauty of Earth from space. ISS doesn’t just offer spectacular and countless views of the natural and man-made landscapes of our planet...
How can cells that contain the same DNA end up so different from each other? That is not only a difficult question for science to answer, but also a challenging one to represent visually. It is also the question I posed at the start of my latest biomedical animation, called Tagging DNA, which visualizes the molecular mechanisms behind epigenetics.
Three weeks and three days before Hurricane Katrina devastated New Orleans 10 years ago, a paper of mine appeared in Nature showing that North Atlantic hurricane power was strongly correlated with temperature of the tropical Atlantic during hurricane season, and that both had been increasing rapidly. Had Katrina not occurred, this paper would merely have contributed to the slowly accumulating literature on climate and hurricanes.
Sport at the elite level has always adopted new technologies to capture data from players during play to better understand their performance and team’s result. Closely aligned with this is the practice of data analytics, and developments here tend to fall into two areas. One is refinement of existing technologies that measure activities. The other is data analysis tools that allow some meaning to be drawn from data collection.
Upon receipt of the book Alan Turing: The Enigma, an amusing anecdote jumped to mind. In high school, one of the more formal teachers advised us not to go on a book hunt with a ruler! He was, of course, referring to choosing the one with the least number of pages. This rather large volume on Alan Turing, the cryptanalysis and mathematical genius who did much to define the modern computer, is certainly the most complete work done to date.
Given that advanced mathematical training is critical for helping to solve some of the most challenging questions about the brain works, why are there so few mathematical neuroscientists? I hated biology when I was a kid. It was too messy, too shallow, too unprincipled for my taste, and I gave up studying it at school almost as fast as I could. Instead, I wanted to be a theoretical physicist...
Scientists are not always as scientific as many suppose. Recent well-publicized cases of scientific fraud prove that scientists can be as susceptible to the allures of wealth, power and fame as politicians, the group that enjoys the lowest public trust. Glaring recent cases have included falsified results in the development of an HIV vaccine and new techniques for producing stem cells.
That’s what Brett Goldstein, a former policeman for the Chicago Police Department and current Urban Science Fellow at the University of Chicago’s School for Public Policy, said about a predictive policing algorithm he deployed at the CPD in 2010. His algorithm tells police where to look for criminals based on where people have been arrested previously. It’s a “heat map” of Chicago, and the CPD claims it helps them allocate resources...