Posts tagged Science
2:59 pm - Thu, Aug 23, 2012
107 notes
ikenbot:

A Red Rainbow
The rainbow was red because the raindrops were illuminated by a reddened Sun. The Sun, in turn, was red because absorption by atmospheric particles and water vapor extinguished the blues and greens (shorter wavelengths of light), leaving only the orange and red colors to penetrate the air.

ikenbot:

A Red Rainbow

The rainbow was red because the raindrops were illuminated by a reddened Sun. The Sun, in turn, was red because absorption by atmospheric particles and water vapor extinguished the blues and greens (shorter wavelengths of light), leaving only the orange and red colors to penetrate the air.

11:05 pm - Fri, Aug 17, 2012
1,217 notes

jtotheizzoe:

Van Gogh - Altered Visionary

Dichromatic paintings?

I recently stumbled across a rather stunning idea. After visiting a design exhibit that modeled the visual experience of people with colorblindness, Kazunori Asada noticed that the paintings of Vincent Van Gogh on display had entered a new light, so to speak. Under the chromatically filtered light, Van Gogh’s more striking and curious color choices suddenly became natural and warm. It was if this was how they were meant to be viewed, Asada thought.

Did Vincent Van Gogh have a color vision deficiency?

Those of us with normal vision are able to differentiate the full range of visible wavelengths thanks to three different types of cone cell photoreceptors that, together, cover the range of the spectrum we are accustomed to seeing. Although they are most sensitive to blue, green and yellow-green light, they are termed “blue”, “green” and “red” receptors. This is known as “trichromacy”.

We probably all know someone who is colorblind, right? My dad is. There are three main classes of common “color-blindness”. These are termed “dichromacy”, since they are due to the lack of one photoreceptor. Protanopia is the lack of red receptors (their ROYGBIV rainbow looks like the one above), deuteranopia is the lack of green receptors, and tritanopia (the rarest) is the lack of blue receptors. What’s important is that these aren’t all-or-nothing situations. Someone’s vision can land on a very wide range of those deficiencies.

Asada developed a color vision simulation program that can convert any image to a close approximation of what colorblind people would see. You can play with it here, which I STRONGLY suggest you do. He also developed a free iOS and Android app that can take your photos through the eyes of the colorblind. I’ve played with it, and it’s awesome.

When you look at Van Gogh’s “Starry Night” above, the left side is the unchanged painting and the right side is moderate red receptor loss. Some of the more reddish and orange hues in the “normal” lefthand version become even yellows on the right, as we may expect for stars and moonlight. I think the contrast between the shadows and sky becomes more striking in the filtered version, too.

It’s definitely a matter of opinion, to some degree. Who knows what Van Gogh saw or intended us to see? But some paintings, like his sunflowers series, are even more striking in their differences. SImply put, they look more like actual sunflowers. Go and read Asada’s full analysis, complete with a bunch of side-by-side comparisons, and see for yourself.

Here’s the colorblindness simulator for you to play with your own images at home. Either way it’s the most interesting look at art through the lens of vision science since Monet’s ultraviolet eye.

5:00 pm - Tue, Jul 24, 2012
386 notes
ikenbot:

Celestial Artwork
11:06 am - Fri, Jul 20, 2012
2,545 notes
In fact, you could argue that the reason that we haven’t been visited is that [aliens] have already observed us and concluded there’s no sign of intelligent life here. I mean, if you have a spaceship that can cross the galaxy, you’re way smarter than us, because we have nothing that remotely approximates that. So why would we assume that we would be interesting enough that they would want to study us? That’s just humorous. How interested are you when you walk past a worm crawling on the ground? Do you ever say, “Hey, I wonder what that worm is thinking?” I’m sure you’ve never had that thought in your life. You might have even just stepped on the worm. So, imagine a species with that intelligence gap interacting with us. They could not come up with a stupid enough thought that could stoop as low as to fit inside of our brains.
10:24 am - Sun, Jul 15, 2012
1,234 notes
ikenbot:

Marijuana Reveals Memory Mechanism

Glial cells, not neurons, are responsible for marijuana-induced forgetfulness

Until recently, most scientists believed that neurons were the all-important brain cells controlling mental functions and that the surrounding glial cells were little more than neuron supporters and “glue.” Now research published in March in Cell reveals that astrocytes, a type of glia, have a principal role in working memory. And the scientists made the discovery by getting mice stoned.

Marijuana impairs working memory—the short-term memory we use to hold on to and process thoughts. Think of the classic stoner who, midsentence, forgets the point he was making. Although such stupor might give recreational users the giggles, people using the drug for medical reasons might prefer to maintain their cognitive capacity.

To study how marijuana impairs working memory, Giovanni Marsicano of the University of Bordeaux in France and his colleagues removed cannabinoid receptors—proteins that respond to marijuana’s psychoactive ingredient THC—from neurons in mice. These mice, it turned out, were just as forgetful as regular mice when given THC: they were equally poor at memorizing the position of a hidden platform in a water pool. When the receptors were removed from astrocytes, however, the mice could find the platform just fine while on THC.

The results suggest that the role of glia in mental activity has been overlooked. Although research in recent years has revealed that glia are implicated in many unconscious processes and diseases [see “The Hidden Brain,” by R. Douglas Fields; Scientific American Mind, May/June 2011], this is one of the first studies to suggest that glia play a key role in conscious thought. “It’s very likely that astrocytes have many more functions than we thought,” Marsicano says. “Certainly their role in cognition is now being revealed.”

Unlike THC’s effect on memory, its pain-relieving property appears to work through neurons. In theory, therefore, it might be possible to design THC-type drugs that target neurons—but not glia—and offer pain relief without the forgetfulness.

ikenbot:

Marijuana Reveals Memory Mechanism

Glial cells, not neurons, are responsible for marijuana-induced forgetfulness

Until recently, most scientists believed that neurons were the all-important brain cells controlling mental functions and that the surrounding glial cells were little more than neuron supporters and “glue.” Now research published in March in Cell reveals that astrocytes, a type of glia, have a principal role in working memory. And the scientists made the discovery by getting mice stoned.

Marijuana impairs working memory—the short-term memory we use to hold on to and process thoughts. Think of the classic stoner who, midsentence, forgets the point he was making. Although such stupor might give recreational users the giggles, people using the drug for medical reasons might prefer to maintain their cognitive capacity.

To study how marijuana impairs working memory, Giovanni Marsicano of the University of Bordeaux in France and his colleagues removed cannabinoid receptors—proteins that respond to marijuana’s psychoactive ingredient THC—from neurons in mice. These mice, it turned out, were just as forgetful as regular mice when given THC: they were equally poor at memorizing the position of a hidden platform in a water pool. When the receptors were removed from astrocytes, however, the mice could find the platform just fine while on THC.

The results suggest that the role of glia in mental activity has been overlooked. Although research in recent years has revealed that glia are implicated in many unconscious processes and diseases [see “The Hidden Brain,” by R. Douglas Fields; Scientific American Mind, May/June 2011], this is one of the first studies to suggest that glia play a key role in conscious thought. “It’s very likely that astrocytes have many more functions than we thought,” Marsicano says. “Certainly their role in cognition is now being revealed.”

Unlike THC’s effect on memory, its pain-relieving property appears to work through neurons. In theory, therefore, it might be possible to design THC-type drugs that target neurons—but not glia—and offer pain relief without the forgetfulness.

(via afro-dominicano)

1:34 am - Sat, Jul 14, 2012
5,565 notes
8bitfuture:

Image: Black hole tearing apart a star.
This computer-simulated image from NASA recreates an actual event studied with help from NASA’s orbiting Galaxy Evolution Explorer (GALEX) and the Pan-STARRS1 telescope on the summit of Haleakala in Hawaii. It took place about 2.7 billion light years from Earth in a galaxy known as PS1-10jh.

A flare in ultraviolet and optical light revealed gas falling into the black hole as well as helium-rich gas that was expelled from the system. When the star is torn apart, some of the material falls into the black hole, while the rest is ejected at high speeds. The flare and its properties provide a signature of this scenario and give unprecedented details about the stellar victim.

8bitfuture:

Image: Black hole tearing apart a star.

This computer-simulated image from NASA recreates an actual event studied with help from NASA’s orbiting Galaxy Evolution Explorer (GALEX) and the Pan-STARRS1 telescope on the summit of Haleakala in Hawaii. It took place about 2.7 billion light years from Earth in a galaxy known as PS1-10jh.

A flare in ultraviolet and optical light revealed gas falling into the black hole as well as helium-rich gas that was expelled from the system. When the star is torn apart, some of the material falls into the black hole, while the rest is ejected at high speeds. The flare and its properties provide a signature of this scenario and give unprecedented details about the stellar victim.

(via 8bitfuture)

11:41 am - Mon, Jul 2, 2012
375 notes
4:38 pm - Wed, Jun 27, 2012
997 notes
Science sells itself. It needs no polish or varnish or manufactured appeal to be attractive to women. To imply otherwise is an insult. To science and to women.
11:45 pm - Tue, Jun 26, 2012
298 notes

jtotheizzoe:

explore-blog:

Utterly mesmerizing: Water droplets colliding at 5,000 frames per second, a fine addition to this collection of mesmerizing footage of everyday things in ultra-slow-motion.

( Coudal)

Ahh, soothing fluid dynamics.

(Source: explore-blog)

10:04 am - Fri, Jun 15, 2012
9 notes

Toddler Spatial Knowledge Boosts Understanding of Numbers

neurosciencestuff:

ScienceDaily (June 13, 2012) — Children who are skilled in understanding how shapes fit together to make recognizable objects also have an advantage when it comes to learning the number line and solving math problems, research at the University of Chicago shows.

The work is further evidence of the value of providing young children with early opportunities in spatial learning, which contributes to their ability to mentally manipulate objects and understand spatial relationships, which are important in a wide range of tasks, including reading maps and graphs and understanding diagrams showing how to put things together. Those skills also have been shown to be important in Science Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) fields.

Scholars at UChicago have shown, for instance, that working with puzzles and learning to identify shapes are connected to improved spatial understanding and better achievement, particularly in geometry. A new paper, however, is the first to connect robust spatial learning with better comprehension of other aspects of mathematics, such as arithmetic.

“We found that children’s spatial skills at the beginning of first and second grades predicted improvements in linear number line knowledge over the course of the school year,” said Elizabeth Gunderson, a UChicago postdoctoral scholar who is lead author of the paper, “The Relation Between Spatial Skill and Early Number Knowledge: The Role of the Linear Number Line,” published in the current issue of the journal Development Psychology.

In addition to finding the importance of spatial learning to improving understanding of the number line, the team also showed that better understanding of the number line boosted mathematics performance on a calculation task.

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