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Solving puzzles without a picture: New algorithm assembles chromosomes from next generation sequencing data

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Jan. 10, 2013 — One of the most difficult problems in the field of genomics is assembling relatively short "reads" of DNA into complete chromosomes. In a new paper published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences an interdisciplinary group of genome and computer scientists has solved this problem, creating an algorithm that can rapidly create "virtual chromosomes" with no prior information about how the genome is organized.

The powerful DNA sequencing methods developed about 15 years ago, known as next generation sequencing (NGS) technologies, create thousands of short fragments. In species whose genetics has already been extensively studied, existing information can be used to organize and order the NGS...

Smartphone app helps children with autism communicate better

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The MySocius app is now available for download on iTunes and other app services.

Jan. 10, 2013 — A smartphone application that has potential to help children with autism communicate more effectively is now available for download.

Developed by Keith Allen, Ph.D., professor of pediatrics at the University of Nebraska Medical Center and a child psychologist at UNMC's Munroe-Meyer Institute, the app uses evidence-based naturalistic teaching procedures to foster...

Machine perception lab shows robotic one year old on video

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Different faces of Diego-san: video of robo-toddler shows him demonstrating different facial expressions, using 27 moving parts in the head alone.

Jan. 9, 2013 — The world is getting a long-awaited first glimpse at a new humanoid robot in action mimicking the expressions of a one-year-old child. The robot will be used in studies on sensory-motor and social development – how babies “learn” to control their bodies and to interact with other...

Online message boards provide outlets for mothers' concerns, researcher says

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Jan. 9, 2013 — Parenting infants and toddlers can be challenging, and for generations, mothers have turned to other moms for advice. Now, with the availability of the Internet, mothers are consulting each other using modern venues: online message boards. Research from the University of Missouri indicates online discussion boards provide safe environments for mothers to anonymously express child-rearing concerns and receive support from other moms.

"Mothers have feelings that...

Study examines how news spreads on Twitter

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he Twitter Activity Network for The New York Times shows a high number of users participating in long chains of tweeting and retweeting. (Credit: Image courtesy of University of Arizona)

Jan. 9, 2013 — Nearly every major news organization has a Twitter account these days, but just how effective is the microblogging website at spreading news? That's the question University of Arizona professor Sudha Ram set out to answer in a recent study of a dozen major news...

A history lesson from genes: Using DNA to tell us how populations change

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A TreeMix graph showing inferred human population splits and mixtures. (Credit: Image courtesy of University of Chicago Medical Center)

Jan. 9, 2013 — When Charles Darwin first sketched how species evolved by natural selection, he drew what looked like a tree. The diagram started at a central point with a common ancestor, then the lines spread apart as organisms evolved and separated into distinct species.

In the 175 years since, scientists have come to...

How does your garden glow?

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Jan. 9, 2013 — Nature's ability to create iridescent flowers has been recreated by mathematicians at The University of Nottingham. The team of researchers have collaborated with experimentalists at the University of Cambridge to create a mathematical model of a plant's petals to help us learn more about iridescence in flowering plants and the role it may play in attracting pollinators.

An iridescent surface appears to change colour as you alter the angle you view it from. It is...

News from the world of quantum physics: A non-causal quantum eraser

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This is a long time exposure photography viewing from Tenerife to La Palma. A green laser beam indicates the free-space link between the two laboratories. (Credit: IQOQI Vienna)

Jan. 9, 2013 — Whether a quantum object behaves like a wave or like a particle depends (according to the Copenhagen interpretation) on the choice of measurement apparatus used for observing the system, and therefore on the type of measurement performed.

Anton Zeilinger's team of...

E-games boost physical activity in children; Might be a weapon in the battle against obesity

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Jan. 9, 2013 — Video games have been blamed for contributing to the epidemic of childhood obesity in the United States. But a new study by researchers at the George Washington University School of Public Health and Health Services (SPHHS) suggests that certain blood-pumping video games can actually boost energy expenditures among inner city children, a group that is at high risk for unhealthy weight gain.

The study, "Can E-gaming be Useful for Achieving Recommended Levels of...