What is the future of the university? The modern university system, created in the late 19th century and developed across the 20th century, was built upon the notion of disciplinarity. Today the social, epistemological, and technological conditions that supported the disciplinary pursuit of knowledge are coming to an end. Knowledge production has itself become unsustainable: we are drowning in knowledge even as new PhDs cannot find work. Sustainable Knowledge explores these questions and offers a new account of what is at stake in talk about ‘interdisciplinarity’…
Learn more via Sustainable Knowledge by Robert Frodeman
A fungus living in the soils of Nova Scotia could offer new hope in the pressing battle against drug-resistant germs that kill tens of thousands of people every year, including one considered a serious global threat.
via Team unearths what may be secret weapon against antibiotic resistance.
A new invisibility cloak can hide objects in semi-plain sight — sometimes. Unlike earlier cloaking devices, this one can conceal things from light of any color and coming from any direction. But that flexibility comes at a price: This cloak only works under hazy conditions, such as in fog, in a cloud or when viewed through frosted glass.
via Hazing: How to hide in nearly plain sight | Student Science.
Philosophy: you either get it or you don’t. The field has its passionate defenders, but according to its critics, philosophy is irrelevant, unproductive, and right at the height of the ivory towers. And now, the philosophy-bashing camp can count a proud defector from the other side: Peter Unger, Professor of Philosophy at New York University, has come out against the field in his latest book, Empty Ideas: A Critique of Analytic Philosophy.
Unger has written extensively over the course of his career on various philosophical topics, and his best-known writings include Ignorance: A Case for Scepticism 1975 and Living High and Letting Die: Our Illusion of Innocence 1995. As a no-holds-barred critique of mainstream analytic philosophy, Empty Ideas is a continuation of Unger’s signature provocative style.
via 3quarksdaily: Philosophy is a Bunch of Empty Ideas: Interview with Peter Unger.
California’s thirst for water is creating unrest. During the dry season, tiny earthquakes rattle the state. And its mountains have begun creeping higher, bit by bit.
Scientists have just linked the two phenomena to the heavy pumping of water from natural reserves below California’s Central Valley. The groundwater provides drinking water and irrigates some of the country’s most productive farms.
via Thirst for water moves and shakes California | Student Science.
Wrap-around smartphones and roll-up computer tablets could soon be coming to a store near you. A British electronics firm has created a plastic transistor. That could make possible a host of devices with flexible electronic displays.
To illustrate the possibilities, Plastic Logic showed off a flexible smartwatch with its new transistors at the Society for Information Display meeting last week in San Diego, Calif.
via Digital displays get flexible | Student Science.
It converts chemical energy directly into electrical energy. Still, there hadn’t been a market breakthrough for the fuel cell. The systems were too complex. Now, Fraunhofer and Vaillant have developed a simple device for home use.
via The fuel cell for home – Research News June 2014 – Topic 2.
The tracking of the use of research has become central to the measurement of research impact. While historically this tracking has meant using citations to published papers, the results are old, biased, and inaccessible – and stakeholders need current data to make funding decisions. We can do much better. Today’s users of research interact with that research online. This leaves an unprecedented data trail that can provide detailed data on the attention that specific research outputs, institutions, or domains receive.
However, while the promise of real time information is tantalizing, the collection of this data is outstripping our knowledge of how best to use it, our understanding of its utility across differing research domains and our ability to address the privacy and confidentiality issues. This is particularly true in the field of Humanities and Social Sciences, which have historically been under represented in the collection of scientific corpora of citations, and which are now under represented by the tools and analysis approaches being developed to track the use and attention received by STM research outputs.
via Modernising Research Monitoring in Europe | Center for the Science of Science & Innovation Policy.
Nature Physics offers a unique mix of news and reviews alongside top-quality research papers. Published monthly, in print and online, the journal reflects the entire spectrum of physics, pure and applied.
Message found in a gravity wave : Article : Nature Physics.
Astronomers announced today that they have discovered a new type of planet – a rocky world weighing 17 times as much as Earth. Theorists believed such a world couldn’t form because anything so hefty would grab hydrogen gas as it grew and become a Jupiter-like gas giant. This planet, though, is all solids and much bigger than previously discovered “super-Earths,” making it a “mega-Earth.”"We were very surprised when we realized what we had found,” says astronomer Xavier Dumusque of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics CfA, who led the data analysis and made the discovery.
via Astronomers Find a New Type of Planet: The “Mega-Earth” | www.cfa.harvard.edu/.
Spider silk transmits vibrations across a wide range of frequencies so that, when plucked like a guitar string, its sound carries information about prey, mates, and even the structural integrity of a web.The discovery was made by researchers from the Universities of Oxford, Strathclyde, and Sheffield who fired bullets and lasers at spider silk to study how it vibrates. They found that, uniquely, when compared to other materials, spider silk can be tuned to a wide range of harmonics. The findings, to be reported in the journal Advanced Materials, not only reveal more about spiders but could also inspire a wide range of new technologies, such as tiny light-weight sensors.
via Spiders know the meaning of web music | University of Oxford.
Electronic devices that become soft when implanted inside the body and can deploy to grip 3-D objects, such as large tissues, nerves and blood vessels have been created by researchers from The University of Texas at Dallas and the University of Tokyo.
These biologically adaptive, flexible transistors might one day help doctors learn more about what is happening inside the body, and also could be used to stimulate the body for treatments.
via Transistors that wrap around tissues and morph with them | KurzweilAI.
The brain is constantly on the lookout for ways to improve by obtaining new knowledge and skills, even before birth. Unfortunately, retaining information can be challenging, simply because instructors and course designers do not always use methods that facilitate remembering. The following seven points look at key principles from neuroscience research paired with tips that will allow course creators to achieve effective eLearning development.
via Using Brain Research to Design Better eLearning Courses: 7 Tips for Success.
Scientists have unearth credible evidence to confirm a large asteroid was responsible for the extinction of the dinosaurs over 66 million years ago, it has been announced. This particular extinction event, which paved the way for the evolution of our species, has been attributed to several different things over the years. From climate change, a nuclear winter caused by basaltic lava eruptions of massive volcanoes in western India, an influx of radiation from a nearby supernova explosion (or perhaps a gamma-ray burst) to finally, an asteroid impact, which has been a favorite of biologist and paleontologist over the course of the past few decades.
via Confirmed: An Asteroid Killed the Dinosaurs.
There’s a quiet revolution underway in theoretical physics. For as long as the discipline has existed, physicists have been reluctant to discuss consciousness, considering it a topic for quacks and charlatans. Indeed, the mere mention of the ‘c’ word could ruin careers.
That’s finally beginning to change thanks to a fundamentally new way of thinking about consciousness that is spreading like wildfire through the theoretical physics community. And while the problem of consciousness is far from being solved, it is finally being formulated mathematically as a set of problems that researchers can understand, explore and discuss.
Today, Max Tegmark, a theoretical physicist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge, sets out the fundamental problems that this new way of thinking raises. He shows how these problems can be formulated in terms of quantum mechanics and information theory. And he explains how thinking about consciousness in this way leads to precise questions about the nature of reality that the scientific process of experiment might help to tease apart.
Via The Physics ArXiv Blog
According to a 2011 National Science Foundation survey, 35 percent of doctorate recipients — and 43 percent of those in the humanities — had no commitment for employment at the time of completion. Fewer than half of Ph.D.’s are expected to land tenure-track jobs. And many voluntarily choose another path because they want higher pay or more direct engagement with the world than monographs and tenure committees seem to allow.
Though graduates have faced similar conditions for decades, the past few years have seen a surge in efforts to connect Ph.D.’s with gratifying employment outside academia and even to rethink the purpose of doctoral education. “The issue itself is not a new issue,” said Debra Stewart, president of the Council of Graduate Schools. “The response, I would say, is definitely new.”
via Finding Life After Academia — and Not Feeling Bad About It – NYTimes.com.
Imitating nature is not a new idea. When the GE team put Morpho wings under a powerful microscope, they saw a layer of tiny scales just tens of micrometers across. In turn, each of the scales had arrays of ridges a few hundred nanometers wide. This complex structure absorbs and bends light and gives Morfo butterflies their trademark shimmering blue and green coat.
Researchers at GE Global Research discovered that the nanostructures on the wing scales of Morpho butterflies have acute sensing capabilities. This could allow scientist to build sensors that can detect heat and also as many as 1,000 different chemicals.
via Photos of the Day: Butterfly Wings Inspire Better Sensors.
Mr Aksenov, now 21 years old, founded technology company London Brand Management in 2011. The company provides an AI service for big brands who want to outsource customer or staff interactions to computers. Customers send questions in to LBM’s system (nicknamed “The Brain” by developers) via email or text and it responds within five seconds.
via Artificial intelligence ‘will take the place of humans within five years’ – Telegraph.
Three U.K. universities are doing something I doubt their U.S. counterparts have the resources (or the willingness to risk) to duplicate. They have started a process for establishing an Evidence Information Service (EIS) to, as they put it, help put scientists ‘on tap’ for policymakers.
via An (Im)Modest Proposal – The UK Evidence Information Service | Pasco Phronesis.
Half a century ago, the British–Kenyan palaeoanthropologist Louis Leakey and his colleagues made a controversial proposal: a collection of fossils from the Great Rift Valley in Tanzania belonged to a new species within our own genus1. The announcement of Homo habilis was a turning point in palaeoanthropology. It shifted the search for the first humans from Asia to Africa and began a controversy that endures to this day. Even with all the fossil evidence and analytical techniques from the past 50 years, a convincing hypothesis for the origin of Homo remains elusive.
via Human evolution: Fifty years after Homo habilis : Nature News
When the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) released its previous report in 2007, some scientists and many environmentalists were still loath to talk about adapting to climate change. The policy focus was squarely on reducing greenhouse-gas emissions, and even talking about adaptation was often seen as defeatist. Thankfully, that sentiment has faded, and, although reducing emissions remains a paramount issue, climate-adaptation efforts are now under way in the private and public sectors in many countries. But as the latest instalment of the IPCC’s Fifth Assessment Report — covering climate impacts, adaptation and vulnerability — makes all too clear, humanity has a long way to go in preparing for the effects that are already inevitable owing to our history, let alone for a future in which emissions continue to rise.
via Brace for impacts : Nature News & Comment.