Galactic Free Press's picture

What is Real? – Optical Illusions Video from Facebook F8 2015

‘Mind Blown’ was the consensus coming from Facebook’s 2015 F8 Conference. Michael Abrash, chief scientist from virtual reality company Oculus Rift takes the audience through the rabbit hole, quoting Morpheus from The Matrix films, and presenting optical illusions which reveal that our experience of reality is quite virtual already.

What is Real?

As Morpheus put it: “What is ‘real’? How do you define ‘real’? If you are talking about what you can feel, what you can smell, what you can taste and see, then ‘real’ is simply electrical signals interpreted by your brain.”

Abrash continues: “Rich as it seems to be, our visual data (that we receive) is actually astonishingly sparse… We have far too little data to reconstruct the world accurately.”

“Experiences are nothing more than what the mind infers from the (sparse) information it receives… Your brain is taking the very limited signals coming from your senses and trying to infer what the state of the real world is based on an internal model”

“[Our] brain is reverse engineering reality rather than recording it”

“I think it’s fair to say that our experience of the world is an illusion.” – More of a creation in the brain than an accurate representation of reality.

will's picture

Judge rules Navy underestimated threat to marine mammals from sonar

A federal judge has ruled in favor of environmentalists who assert the Navy has vastly underestimated the threat to marine mammals posed by its use of sonar and explosives during training off Southern California and Hawaii.

U.S. District Judge Susan Oki Mollway in Hawaii ruled Tuesday that the National Marine Fisheries Service violated environmental laws when it decided that the Navy's training would have a "negligible impact" on whales, dolphins, other mammals and sea turtles.

The ruling appears to set the stage for an appeal or for the Navy to resubmit its application to the fisheries service for a permit. Other options would be for the Navy to relocate its training or adopt greater safeguards to protect sea creatures.

The ruling was hailed by environmental groups, which have long asserted that the Navy is needlessly harming whales and other animals and has resisted making changes to train in less "biologically sensitive areas."

will's picture

Your Skin Can "Smell" Sandalwood Which Triggers Healing

How does your skin smell? Pretty well, as it turns out, thanks to receptors dotted all over you. What's more, they could help you heal.

There are more than 350 types of olfactory receptors in the nose, tuned to different scents. About 150 are also found in internal tissues such as those of the heart, liver and gut, but they are hard to study.

Hanns Hatt's lab at Ruhr University Bochum in Germany focused on skin, which is easier to study, and tested the response to scents of receptors in keratinocytes, the main skin cell type.

They found that Sandalore – a synthetic sandalwood oil used in aromatherapy, perfumes and skin care products – bound to an olfactory receptor in skin called OR2AT4. Rather than sending a message to the brain, as nose receptors do, the receptor triggered cells to divide and migrate, important processes in repairing damaged skin.

will's picture

Baby Geniuses: How Surprises Help Infants Learn

When babies encounter a new object, their method of making its acquaintance tends to involve banging it against the nearest hard surface or shoving as much of it in their mouths as possible. While this is slightly less adorable when the object in question is, say, a brand-new iPhone, adults can take solace in the fact that it might mean the kid is learning something new.

According to a study published Thursday in Science, babies learn by being surprised by the objects around them.

For this totally cute research endeavor, scientists showed a group of 11-month-olds a series of objects behaving in surprising and predictable ways. For example, the researchers would roll a ball down a ramp and show it being stopped by a wall. Then they would roll the same ball down a similar ramp, but this time they'd make it seem like it had passed through the barrier. They also made an amazing video of the babies watching this happen:

will's picture

Scientists: Psychedelic drugs ‘safe as riding a bike or playing soccer’

Psychedelic drugs like MDMA and magic mushrooms are as safe as riding a bike or playing soccer, and bans against them are “inconsistent with human rights”, according to the authors of a letter published in the Lancet Psychiatry Journal today.

The letter, written by Boston-born Teri Krebs, research fellow within the Department of Neuroscience at the Norway University of Science and Technology and her Norwegian husband Pål-Ørjan Johansen, stresses that national and international policies must respect the rights of individuals who chose to use psychedelics as a spiritual, personal development, or cultural activity.

“Although psychedelics can induce temporary confusion and emotional turmoil, hospitalizations and serious injuries are extremely rare. Overall psychedelics are not particularly dangerous when compared with other common activities,” says Krebs.

will's picture

Space radio waves align in mysterious mathematical pattern, could be produced by alien technology

Telescopes have been seeing unexplained energy bursts for more than a decade, and are starting to learn more about where they come from

Mysterious bursts of energy coming from space align in a mathematical pattern, and so could be emanating from alien technology, according to scientists.

Blitzars, which last only about a millisecond, have been detected by telescopes since about 2001 and have been heard ten times since. And nobody really knows where they come from, or why they happen.

But a new study has found that the bursts line up in a way that is not explained by existing physics, reports the New Scientist.

Scientists tried to work out how far the bursts have travelled through space to get to us, using “dispersion measures”. That looks at how the radiowaves that are being sent get scattered as they travel through space — the higher the dispersion measure, the further that radiowaves seem to have been sent before they arrived.

Galactic Free Press's picture

Scientists Create Crystals That Make Breathing Underwater A Possibility

Danish scientists are a step closer to helping those suffering from respiratory ailments thanks to a revolutionary new absorption crystal. Working out of the University of Southern Denmark the group has uncovered crystalline materials that are capable of pulling oxygen out of both air and water -which could eventually mark the end of the need to carry around large air tanks.

The revolutionary crystalline material can bind and store oxygen in high concentrations, then control its release time depending on what the user needs. This new discovery could even benefit deep sea divers, giving them superhero-like abilities to stay submerged for extended periods of time without an air tank.

will's picture

Large Hadron Collider to search for parallel universes

The particle-smashing Large Hadron Collider (LHC) in Cern, Switzerland, will restart next week and one of its major projects will be to search for tiny black holes, which could be gateways to parallel universes and new dimensions.

The idea that a parallel universe or many universes (multiverses) exist, has been around for a while. There is string theory and the "many-worlds" theory and variations upon these. But nobody has ever been able to carry out an experiment capable of successfully testing this.

However, a new proposal which postulates that tiny black holes connect us to other universes, has been put forward by Mir Faizal, and Mohammed M. Khalil of the University of Waterloo in Canada. Their study has been published in Physics Letters B and scientists at the LHC will now be testing their theory in practice.

will's picture

What Is Blue and How Do We See Color?

This isn't another story about that dress, or at least, not really.

It's about the way that humans see the world and how until we have a way to describe something, even something so fundamental as a color, we may not even notice that it's there.

Until relatively recently in human history, "blue" didn't exist, not in the way we think of it.

As the delightful Radiolab episode "Colors" describes, ancient languages didn't have a word for blue — not Greek, not Chinese, not Japanese, not Hebrew. And without a word for the color, there is evidence that they may not have seen it at all.

will's picture

Strange lights on dwarf planet Ceres have scientists perplexed

A dwarf planet is shining two bright lights at a NASA spacecraft right now, and our smartest scientists are unsure what they are.

As bizarre as that sentence sounds, that's the situation with Ceres — the largest object in the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter, officially designated as a dwarf planet (the same category as Pluto).

NASA's Dawn spacecraft is approaching Ceres ahead of a March 6 rendezvous. The picture above was taken February 19, from a distance of just under 29,000 miles, and shows two very shiny areas on the same basin on Ceres' surface.

Previous Dawn images from further away showed a single light on Ceres, which was just as mysterious. Then, to the amazement of every astronomy geek, the one light turned out to be two — reflecting roughly 40% of the light hitting them.


Subscribe to RSS - Science