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Brian Dodson

Science

Electric "thinking cap" helps people learn from their mistakes

Transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS) has become a widely used technique for reaching into a person's brain and altering the way in which it functions. Vanderbilt psychology Professor Geoffrey Woodman and graduate student Robert Reinhart have just published the results of a new study in the Journal of Neuroscience in which they found that tDCS stimulation of the mediofrontal cortex for a period of minutes can change one's ability to recognize and learn from error for a period of several hours. Read More

Science

Scientists observe cosmic inflation and quantum gravity in the Big Bang

In a discovery that has profound implications for our understanding about the beginnings of the universe, the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics this morning announced evidence of so-called primordial B-modes in the cosmic microwave background (CMB). These B-modes directly show quantum gravitational waves originating during the inflationary period of cosmic evolution, from about 10-36 sec to 10-32 sec after the Big Bang, and give us a direct view of physical processes taking place at 1016 GeV – a trillion times more energetic than particle collisions at the Large Hadron Collider.Read More

Space

Lockheed-Martin introduces 100 percent refund or refly program for ATLAS payloads

Lockheed-Martin (LM) has a problem. Their Atlas V orbital launch system, while very popular with the US military, at around US$225M per launch is too expensive to compete effectively for commercial missions, whose launch costs are generally about half that amount. As part of an effort to reposition their services, LM is now offering a 100 percent money-back or reflight guarantee if the launch vehicle causes mission failure. The guarantee covers the cost of the vehicle launch, but not the cost of the satellite. Read More

Good Thinking Feature

Pros and cons of a mature Bitcoin economy

Bitcoin, the digital cryptocurrency designed to enable anonymous peer-to-peer financial exchanges without the involvement of third parties, is having serious teething problems. However, most such problems are associated with bitcoin storage or conversion, and should settle down as the currency is more widely accepted. Assuming this happens, let's look at the strengths and weaknesses of a mature Bitcoin currency in a modern economy. Read More
Science

X-ray observations shed new light on dark matter

New analyses of the x-ray and gamma-ray emissions from the center of the Milky Way galaxy, the Andromeda galaxy, and the Perseus galaxy cluster have detected significant signs of two possible dark matter particles. One is likely a 7.1 keV sterile neutrino, and the other appears to be a 35 GeV WIMP (Weakly Interacting Massive Particle). Read More

Science

Caught on video: Asteroid impacts on Moon's surface

A meter-wide (3 ft) asteroid impacted the Moon's surface September 11, 2013, producing a bright explosion and digging a new crater about 40 meters (130 ft) in diameter. The video of the event shows a bright flash of light against the stark blackness of the Moon's dark side. Similar in brilliance to the brightest stars in the Big Dipper, the asteroid impact is the largest confirmed impact on the Moon since continuous monitoring started some 15 years ago.Read More

Military

Three-year pizza to join US Army MRE delicacies

Pizza with a three-year shelf life will soon be joining the US Army's field rations menu. These infamous MREs (Meal, Ready to Eat) have a long and checkered history, acquiring such sobriquets over the years as "Meals Rejected by Everyone" and "Materials Resembling Edibles." Pizza has long topped the list of requested meals, but the task of providing a palatable slice of this complex food that will survive the required three-year shelf life has foiled all attempts. Now, the folks at Natick's Combat Feeding Directorate have achieved a minor miracle in food technology: stopping time for a slice of pizza.Read More

Space

Bad moon rising: Astronomers explain "full moon curse"

The full moon has long been associated with any number of superstitions. While links with lunacy, violence, fertility, disasters, and the stock market have been thoroughly debunked, the possibility of a causative role in some arenas still remains a possibility. A lunar ranging study carried out using reflectors has long contended with the "Full-Moon Curse," a near-total fading of reflected signals during the full Moon. This Curse is real, and has now been explained.Read More

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