Archive by date | October 2010

Mortality research leads to spin-off technology that mines Facebook and Twitter for opinions

The interactive multitouch ‘Magic Wall’ first used by CNN in the 2008 presidential elections will be back for the channel’s election night coverage of the US midterm Congressional elections on 2 November – — but with a difference. As well as using the wall to explore election results coming in, it will also be using software developed by Cambridge, MA, start-up Crimson Hexagon to mine and visualize millions of Twitter tweets and Facebook, to judge the mood of online citizens across the country, and their reaction to the results. CNN first used the software earlier this year to monitor reactions to President Obama’s State of the Union address (see video here). What’s less well known is that Crimson Hexagon’s technology, licensed from Harvard University, had its genesis in epidemiological research.

China piecing together space station

Chinese state media yesterday announced the official launch of the country’s manned space station program. The media report quoted an anonymous spokesman for the program who said the space station, to be completed by 2020—two years earlier than previous plans—would be “relatively large.”

French climate farce

A report on climate change commissioned by the French science ministry from the French Academy of Sciences, and released this morning, is the anti-climax of a long-running clash between French climate scientists and climate sceptics. The report is the summary of a debate held 20th September at the academy where climate scientists and climate sceptics — including prominent sceptic Claude Allègre, a geochemist and former minister of science and higher education – confronted each other.

The debate had been called for in April by Valérie Pécresse, the science minister, in response to an uproar among scientists over the publication in February of Allègre’s book, “L’imposture climatique,” (The climate deception) – they called on the minister to disown Allègre. The book was taken apart by French journalists, who noted what they described as its flagrant errors, and prompting Sylvestre Huet, a science journalist at Libération, to publish his own book, “L’Imposteur C’est Lui: Réponse à Claude Allègre (It’s him the impostor; response to Claude Allègre) . Allègre has stood by his claims and he and his book have enjoyed wide exposure on French TV.

VIDEO: Thought-projection by human neurons

In this week’s Nature, a team from California show how it’s possible to control images on a screen using just the power of thought. Working with patients who had electrodes implanted for surgery, they fed signals from the patients’ brains into a computer, and then watched as they learned how to use these signals to fade in an image of Marilyn Monroe, or fade out Michael Jackson. This video about the work was made by first author Moran Cerf:  … Read more