Archive for the ‘biological’ category: Page 10

Oct 16, 2023

Are We Approaching the Singularity?

Posted by in categories: biological, singularity

Are humans progressing morally as well as materially? What does it mean to be human in the cosmos? On a new episode of ID the Future, we bring you the second half of a stimulating conversation between Dr. David Berlinski and host Eric Metaxas on the subject of Berlinski’s book Human Nature.

In Human Nature, Berlinski argues that the utopian view that humans are progressing toward evolutionary and technological perfection is wishful thinking. Men are not about to become like gods. “I’m a strong believer in original sin,” quips Berlinski in his discussion with Metaxas. In other words, he believes not only that humans are fundamentally distinct from the rest of the biological world, but also that humans are prone to ignorance and depravity as well as wisdom and nobility. During this second half of their discussion, Berlinski and Metaxas compare and contrast the ideas of thinkers like psychologist Steven Pinker, author Christopher Hitchens, and physicist Steven Weinberg. The pair also spar gracefully over the implications of human uniqueness. Berlinski, though candid and self-critical, is unwilling to be pigeonholed. Metaxas, drawing his own conclusions about the role of mind in the universe, challenges Berlinski into moments of clarity with his usual charm. The result is an honest, probing, and wide-ranging conversation about the nature of science and the human condition. Download the podcast or listen to it here.

This is Part 2 of a two-part interview. If you missed it, listen to Part 1.

Oct 15, 2023

Digital Twin Brain: A bridge between biological and artificial intelligence

Posted by in categories: biological, neuroscience, robotics/AI

Recent developments in neuroscience and brain-inspired artificial intelligence have opened up new possibilities in understanding intelligence. Now, a research team led by Tianzi Jiang at the Institute of Automation of the Chinese Academy of Sciences has outlined the key components and properties of an innovative platform called the Digital Twin Brain, which could bridge the gap between biological and artificial intelligence and provide new insights into both. This research was published Sept. 22 in Intelligent Computing, a Science Partner Journal.

Network structure is something that biological and artificial intelligence have in common. Since the brain consists of biological networks, a digital model or “twin” of the brain built using artificial networks would allow researchers to feed knowledge about biological intelligence into the model. The ultimate goal is to “propel the development of artificial general intelligence and facilitate precision mental healthcare,” a feat calling for joint efforts from interdisciplinary scientists worldwide.

Using the Digital Twin Brain, researchers could explore the working mechanisms of the human brain by simulating and modulating the brain in different states for various cognitive tasks. For example, they could simulate how the brain functions properly in a resting state and how it malfunctions in disorders, or develop methods to shift it away from an undesirable state by modulating its activity.

Oct 15, 2023

Assembly theory puts chemistry centre stage to explain molecular complexity and life’s origins

Posted by in categories: biological, chemistry, physics

‘Could the theory be wrong? Possibly. That is the point and the case for all theories,’ says Cronin. ‘But perhaps it is less wrong than our current understanding and it will help us understand the link between physics and biology through chemistry. We have to try and we think we are onto something.’

A Sharma et al, Nature., 2023, DOI: 10.1038/s41586-023–06600-9.

Oct 14, 2023

Ediacaran fossils reveal origins of biomineralization that led to expansion of life on Earth

Posted by in categories: biological, chemistry

Life on Earth began from a single-celled microbe, while the rise to the multicellular world in which we live arose due a vital chemical process known as biomineralization, during which living organisms produce hardened mineralized tissue, such as skeletons. Not only did this phenomenon give rise to the plethora of body plans we see today, but it also had a major impact on the planet’s carbon cycle.

Fossil skeletons of cloudinids (Cloudina), tubular structures comprised of carbonate cones up to ~1.5cm in length, have been found in Tsau Khaeb National Park, Namibia, dating back to 551–550 million years ago in the Ediacaran (~635–538 million years ago). Dr. Fred Bowyer, from the University of Edinburgh, and colleagues aimed to use these fossils to define the location, timing and reason for why biomineralization initiated on Earth and the magnitude of its impact.

New research published in Earth and Planetary Science Letters combines sediment analysis with geochemical data in the form of carbon and (the same element with different atomic masses) from limestones in the Kliphoek Member, Nama Group. The research team suggest this rock was once deposited in a during a lowstand before a period of transition to open marine conditions.

Oct 14, 2023

Abstraction of Reward Context Facilitates Relative Reward Coding in Neural Populations of the Macaque Anterior Cingulate Cortex

Posted by in categories: biological, finance, mapping, neuroscience

The anterior cingulate cortex (ACC) is believed to be involved in many cognitive processes, including linking goals to actions and tracking decision-relevant contextual information. ACC neurons robustly encode expected outcomes, but how this relates to putative functions of ACC remains unknown. Here, we approach this question from the perspective of population codes by analyzing neural spiking data in the ventral and dorsal banks of the ACC in two male monkeys trained to perform a stimulus-motor mapping task to earn rewards or avoid losses. We found that neural populations favor a low dimensional representational geometry that emphasizes the valence of potential outcomes while also facilitating the independent, abstract representation of multiple task-relevant variables. Valence encoding persisted throughout the trial, and realized outcomes were primarily encoded in a relative sense, such that cue valence acted as a context for outcome encoding. This suggests that the population coding we observe could be a mechanism that allows feedback to be interpreted in a context-dependent manner. Together, our results point to a prominent role for ACC in context setting and relative interpretation of outcomes, facilitated by abstract, or untangled, representations of task variables.

SIGNIFICANCE STATEMENT The ability to interpret events in light of the current context is a critical facet of higher-order cognition. The ACC is suggested to be important for tracking contextual information, whereas alternate views hold that its function is more related to the motor system and linking goals to appropriate actions. We evaluated these possibilities by analyzing geometric properties of neural population activity in monkey ACC when contexts were determined by the valence of potential outcomes and found that this information was represented as a dominant, abstract concept. Ensuing outcomes were then coded relative to these contexts, suggesting an important role for these representations in context-dependent evaluation. Such mechanisms may be critical for the abstract reasoning and generalization characteristic of biological intelligence.

Oct 13, 2023

Unraveling Quantum Secrets: Physicists Bridge Two Quantum Worlds

Posted by in categories: biological, chemistry, particle physics, quantum physics

“The surprising thing we found is that in a particular kind of crystal lattice, where electrons become stuck, the strongly coupled behavior of electrons in d atomic orbitals actually act like the f orbital systems of some heavy fermions,” said Qimiao Si, co-author of a study about the research in Science Advances

<em> Science Advances </em> is a peer-reviewed, open-access scientific journal that is published by the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS). It was launched in 2015 and covers a wide range of topics in the natural sciences, including biology, chemistry, earth and environmental sciences, materials science, and physics.

Oct 13, 2023

Hybrid transistors with silk protein set stage for integration of biology and microelectronics

Posted by in categories: biological, computing, mobile phones

Your phone may have more than 15 billion tiny transistors packed into its microprocessor chips. The transistors are made of silicon, metals like gold and copper, and insulators that together take an electric current and convert it to 1s and 0s to communicate information and store it. The transistor materials are inorganic, basically derived from rock and metal.

But what if you could make these fundamental electronic components part biological, able to respond directly to the environment and change like living tissue?

This is what a team at Tufts University Silklab did when they created transistors replacing the insulating material with biological silk. They reported their findings in Advanced Materials.

Oct 13, 2023

Scientists unlock biological secrets of the aging process

Posted by in categories: biological, life extension

How we grow old gracefully—and whether we can do anything to slow down the process—has long been a fascination of humanity. However, despite continued research the answer to how we can successfully combat aging still remains elusive.

Oct 11, 2023

The biological blueprint of arithmetic: Unveiling the connection between evolutionary perception and mathematics

Posted by in categories: biological, mathematics

Arithmetic, rooted in our biological perception, is a natural consequence of how we perceive and organize the world around us. This connection between perception and mathematical truths suggests that mathematics is both a uniquely human invention and a universal discovery, highlighting a profound unity between the mind and the physical universe…

Oct 10, 2023

Darwin or Kimura? Natural selection or pure chance? New literature review aims to clarify a heated debate

Posted by in categories: biological, evolution, genetics

Some of nature’s mysteries have kept scientists busy for decades—for example, the processes that drive evolution. The question of whether certain differences between and within species are caused by natural selection or by chance processes divides evolutionary biologists even today. Now, an international team of researchers has teased apart a scientific debate concerning the evolutionary theories of Darwin and the Japanese geneticist Kimura. Their conclusion: the debate is unnecessarily convoluted by the co-existence of different interpretations.

Due to his contributions to geological and , British naturalist Charles Darwin (1809–1882) is considered one of the most important natural scientists. His influential work “On the Origin of Species” (1859), with its strictly scientific explanation of the diversity of life, forms the basis of modern evolutionary biology. Darwin concluded that species evolve through natural selection: well-adapted organisms survive, others don’t.

However, by the end of the 1960s, the Japanese geneticist Motoo Kimura (1924–1994) proposed that at the genetic level, most changes in the course of evolution do not offer direct advantages or disadvantages to the individual but are simply neutral. According to his “Neutral Theory of Molecular Evolution,” first published in 1968, most of the within and between species arises from random fluctuations of neutral mutations.

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