Dec 08, 2016

An AI wrote a Christmas song

posted by Larra Morris

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It's not bad. In fact, this is a triumph: a Christmas song written entirely by an artificial intelligence at the University of Toronto. Yet it has that uncanny neural network je ne sais quoi in spades.
via Boing Boing

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Dec 08, 2016

Pavlov's plants? Research suggests animal learning in veggies

posted by Larra Morris

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Pavlov's conditioning experiments with dogs are one of the most well-known studies in scientific history, and now research from the University of Western Australia (UWA) has shown that plants can learn similar associations. Putting seedings into the bottom of a Y-shaped maze, the scientists conditioned the plants to associate light with the wind from a fan, and found that the majority of the plants learned to use the fan to predict where light would next appear.
via New Atlas

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Dec 07, 2016

Brave bird wears goggles and flies through a laser for science

posted by Larra Morris

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To the brave bird willing to wear goggles and fly through a laser sheet: we salute you. Thanks to you, we know a little more about how you and your kind fly.

When birds lift off, their wings generate tiny, circular currents of air called wingtip vortices. Think of them like tiny tornadoes under the wings. The movement of the vortices can tell us a lot about how flapping wings help birds fly, but we weren’t able to measure the currents until now. In a study published today in the journal Bioinspiration & Biomimetics, researchers at Stanford University used four cameras to record a small parrotlet flying through the laser. (Sadly, no word on the bird’s name.) This let them visualize the wingtip vortices — and they found that the actual way the air moves is different from what we thought based on theoretical calculations. The results might help us build better planes.
via The Verge

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Dec 07, 2016

3D-printing software reshapes musical instrument design

posted by Larra Morris

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When most of us think of a musical wind instrument, we generally picture what is essentially a tube with a mouthpiece at one end – something like a flute, recorder or saxophone. And while that's a tried and trusted design, the fact is that wind instruments can take almost any form. Weirdly-shaped instruments are more difficult to design, however, which is where a new computer program called Printone comes in.

Developed by a team from Autodesk and Dartmouth College, Printone starts with a user-supplied three-dimensional shape, along with the target notes that the user wants the instrument to be able to play. Based on that information, the software creates a hollow acoustic resonance cavity within the shape.
via Gizmag

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Dec 06, 2016

Disney can digitally recreate your teeth

posted by Larra Morris

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Digital models of humans can be uncannily accurate these days, but there's at least one area where they fall short: teeth. Unless you're willing to scan the inside of someone's mouth, you aren't going to get a very faithful representation of someone's pearly whites. Disney Research and ETH Zurich, however, have a far easier solution. They've just developed a technique to digitally recreate teeth beyond the gum line using little more than source data and everyday imagery. The team used 86 3D scans to create a model for an "average" set of teeth, and wrote an algorithm that adapts that model based on what it sees in the contours of teeth in photos and videos.
via Engadget

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Dec 06, 2016

Young toddlers know when you’re lying, say scientists

posted by Larra Morris

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Psychologists working with young toddlers say the kids are capable of recognizing when someone else is pretending, cheating, or straight-up lying. The research is published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Psychologists use a test called the false-belief task to gauge whether a person knows that other people’s thoughts are different from their own. 
via Mental Floss

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Dec 05, 2016

We just found out there are 'bees' in the sea

posted by Larra Morris

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In case you thought we’d figured out life in the oceans even a little bit, a new study published in Nature Communications sets the record straight. For the first time, scientists have found experimental evidence of underwater pollination. There are bees in the sea—or at least creatures that perform the same kind of work. 

Microscopic crustaceans and tiny marine worms help pollinate a tropical seagrass called turtle grass (Thalassia testudinum), according to research led by Brigitta van Tussenbroek at the National Autonomous University of Mexico.
via Gizmodo

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