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Teenagers without Internet access at home are educationally disadvantaged, UK study suggests

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Dec. 30, 2012 — A major in-depth study examining how teenagers in the UK are using the internet and other mobile devices says the benefits of using such technologies far outweigh any perceived risks.

The findings are based on a large-scale study of more than 1,000 randomly selected households in the UK, coupled with regular face-to-face interviews with more than 200 teenagers and their families between 2008 and 2011.

While the study reflects a high level of parental anxiety about the potential of social networking sites to distract their offspring, and shows that some parents despair at their children's tendency to multitask on mobile devices, the research by Oxford University's Department of Education concludes that...

Virtual women reveal more skin, regardless of body proportions

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Dec. 26, 2012 — In the virtual world of Second Life, female avatars expose substantially more skin than males, independent of their virtual body proportions, according to research published December 26 in the open access journal PLOS ONE by Matthieu Guitton and colleagues from Laval University, Canada.

The human tendency to cover up stems from climatic, environmental, physical and cultural constraints, so measuring people's propensity to reveal skin can be difficult in the real...

Physicists take photonic topological insulators to the next level

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Dec. 21, 2012 — Researchers at The University of Texas at Austin have designed a simulation that for the first time emulates key properties of electronic topological insulators.

Their simulation, which was described this week in Nature Materials, is part of a rapidly moving scientific race to understand and exploit the potential of topological insulators, which are a state of matter that was only discovered in the past decade. These insulators may enable dramatic advances in...

Armchair science: Bag and tag glowing galactic clouds

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This is a screen shot from the Clouds game, a new addition to the Milky Way Project, where everyone can help astronomers sort and measure our galaxy. (Credit: Copyright 2010-2012 Zooniverse)

Dec. 20, 2012 — A new galactic game launches today that lets citizen scientists identify the glowing clouds where future stars will be born. The online experience, called Clouds, is a new addition to the Milky Way Project, where everyone can help astronomers to sort and measure...

How songbirds learn to sing: Mathematical model explains how birds correct mistakes to stay on key

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A Bengalese finch outfitted with headphones. Research on how the birds learn to sing may lead to better human therapies for vocal rehabilitation. (Credit: Image courtesy of Emory University)

Dec. 20, 2012 — Scientists studying how songbirds stay on key have developed a statistical explanation for why some things are harder for the brain to learn than others.

"We've built the first mathematical model that uses a bird's previous sensorimotor experience to...

On-demand synaptic electronics: Circuits that learn and forget

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(a): Volatile (short-term) memory property of two terminal Pt/WO3-x/Pt device before the forming process. Current change observed by applying sequence of positive voltage pulses at intervals of 40 s and widths of 0.5 s. Read voltage was 0.5 V. (b): Non-volatile (long-term) memory property in the device after forming process following application of sequence of positive and negative pulses with widths of 0.1 ms. Read voltage was 0.1 V. (c): Schematic illustration of the device...

Cardiovascular disease: The mechanics of prosthetic heart valves

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Dec. 20, 2012 — Computer simulations of blood flow through mechanical heart valves could pave the way for more individualized prosthetics.

Every year, over 300,000 heart valve replacement operations are performed worldwide. Diseased valves are often replaced with mechanical heart valves (MHVs), which cannot yet be designed to suit each patient's specific needs. Complications such as blood clots can occur, which can require patients to take blood-thinning medication.


Nanotechnology: Spotting a molecular mix-up

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Dec. 20, 2012 — Information within the bonds of molecules known as super benzene oligomers pave the way for new types of quantum computers.

Scanning tunneling microscopy (STM) is routinely employed by physicists and chemists to capture atomic-scale images of molecules on surfaces. Now, an international team led by Christian Joachim and co-workers from the A*STAR Institute of Materials Research and Engineering has taken STM a step further: using it to identify the quantum states...

Data storage: A fast and loose approach improves memory

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Dec. 20, 2012 — An unconventional design for a nanoscale memory device uses a freely moving mechanical shuttle to improve performance.

A loose and rattling part in your cell phone is generally a cause for concern. Like most other electronic devices, your phone works by moving electrons through fixed circuit pathways. If electrons are not sufficiently contained within these pathways, the efficiency and speed of a device decrease. However, as the miniature components inside...