Archive for 'Research News'

Innovative Scientists Talk About Their Childhood (4): David Hu’s Sister Being Born

Monday, June 17th, 2019

Here’s David Hu talking about seeing the birth of his sister—an experience that, when he was a child, excited David in a way that led to his eventual unusual career. David uses math and physics—and experiments—to try to understand some of the seemingly simply, scientifically mystifying things that happen in nature every day.

ABOUT THIS LITTLE VIDEO SERIES—This is part of a series of sessions we (David Hu and I, and a film crew) recorded at Georgia Tech. We assembled a little group of scientists (including David) who are renowned for looking at questions others might overlook, and doing research in inventive, clever ways.

The question we asked them: “What happened when you were a kid that somehow led—much later—to your doing unusual science?

The scientists: David Hu, Suzana Herculano-Houzel, Frans de Waal, Nicole Sharp, Diego Golombek, and Olga Shishkov. Follow the links on their names to begin exploring some of their work!

A FURTHER NOTE ABOUT THIS SERIES: These little videos are not quite as good as they ought to have been, due to curious decisions made by the video editor. The most obvious of those strange decisions was to dose everything with goopy, slightly distracting music. The editor also objected to some of the content of the videos, deeming them somehow too offensive to record. The lesson we learned: choose our video editor more carefully.

The Elephant in the Image [new study]

Thursday, June 13th, 2019

Can state-of -the-art visual analysis software always be relied on to find the elephant in an image? Akshay Raj Dhamija and colleagues at the VAST lab (Vision And Security Technology) at the Department of Computer Science, at University of Colorado, at Colorado Springs, US. have recently investigated the robustness of automated elephant detector systems.

The team point out that whilst object detection research has a long history in computer vision (more than 50 years) it’s not always 100% accurate. Even using the latest versions of large-scale deep-learning neural-networks.

“While current state-of-the-art detectors are trained to handle backgrounds, their designs are not well equipped to address unknown objects, which are often incorrectly detected as the existing classes with a high confidence.”

[ note mis-identified elephants above ]

A recurring problem is that current systems still come across difficulties in deciding which regions in an image are ‘objects’ (of interest) and which are just insignificant backgrounds.

“Therefore, we consider it important that detection systems eventually learn to create a separation between background and unknown objects, enabling new objects to be identified. Currently, there is no such architecture and a design is left for the future work.”

See: Identifying the Elephant in Object Detection

Also see: (from the VAST lab) Detecting and Classifying Scars, Marks, and Tattoos Found in the Wild

[ research research by Martin Gardiner ]

Innovative Scientists Talk About Their Childhood (3): Olga Shishkov’s Bug Pals

Wednesday, June 12th, 2019

Here’s Olga Shishkov talking about some bugs that, when Olga was a child, excited Olga in a way that led to her eventual unusual career. Olga studies how maggots manage to do some of the surprising, impressive things they do.

ABOUT THIS LITTLE VIDEO SERIES—This is part of a series of sessions we (David Hu and I, and a film crew) recorded at Georgia Tech. We assembled a little group of scientists (including David) who are renowned for looking at questions others might overlook, and doing research in inventive, clever ways.

The question we asked them: “What happened when you were a kid that somehow led—much later—to your doing unusual science?

The scientists: David Hu, Suzana Herculano-Houzel, Frans de Waal, Nicole Sharp, Diego Golombek, and Olga Shishkov. Follow the links on their names to begin exploring some of their work!

A FURTHER NOTE ABOUT THIS SERIES: These little videos are not quite as good as they ought to have been, due to curious decisions made by the video editor. The most obvious of those strange decisions was to dose everything with goopy, slightly distracting music. The editor also objected to some of the content of the videos, deeming them somehow too offensive to record. The lesson we learned: choose our video editor more carefully.

Rubbing Pubic Hair with Cocaine-Contaminated Hands [research study]

Tuesday, June 11th, 2019

This hands-on study (hands on pubic hair) suggests that the hunt for illicit drug use may be more interesting than is generally known:

Cocaine Contamination in Pubic Hair: Analysis of the Decontamination Method,” Guido Romano, Francesca Indorato, Giorgio Spadaro, Salvatore Barbera, and Nunziata Barbera, Egyptian Journal of Forensic Sciences, vol. 4, no. 4, 2014, pp. 129–136. The authors, at the University of Catania, Italy, report:

The aim of this study was to verify whether the external contamination of pubic hair with cocaine could influence the discrimination between active users and false positive subjects. The analysis was performed on in vivo and in vitro samples; the contamination was carried out by rubbing pubic hair with cocaine hydrochloride contaminated hands for three consecutive days….

Data from our studies show that all in vivo samples yielded false positives; the in vitro samples were negative only for 10 days and then yielded false positives.

The possibilities of math(s) genes [new study]

Monday, June 10th, 2019

If you experience any difficulties in visualising the implications of equations like these  . . .

– could your genetic makeup be sub-optimal? They’re from a new study published in bioRxiv which examines Genetic Associations with Mathematics Tracking and Persistence in Secondary School 

The research project (from the Department of Psychology and Population Research Center, University of Texas at Austin, Graduate School of Education, Stanford University, Department of Epidemiology, Columbia University School of Medicine, Department of Sociology and Institute of Behavioral Science, University of Colorado at Boulder, Department of Sociology and Population Research Center, University of Texas at Austin, Biological Psychology, VU University Amsterdam, and Department of Sociology and Carolina Population Center, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill) suggests that favourable arrangements of various (i.e. ‘polygenic’) inherited genes, might be contributing towards more accomplished math(s) performance(s).

“Students with higher education polygenic scores were tracked to more advanced math already at the beginning of high school and persisted in math for more years.”

BONUS assignment [optional] If a non-ideal polygenic makeup might negatively affect one’s innate abilities at math(s), then could one’s mathematical talents be improved via gene therapy?

[ research research by Martin Gardiner ]

Do NOT follow this link or you will be banned from the site!