Innovations in Science: Passing the ‘Turing Test’

With the release of the feature film The Imitation Game starring Benedict Cumberbatch, a long overdue spotlight is being shone on Alan Turing, arguably one of the most unsung heroes in scientific research.

Alan Turing was a British mathematician and a principal architect of the team of code-breakers at Bletchley Park during World War II. Turing and his team faced the seemingly impossible task of analyzing the big data of their day, that is, the billions of possible combinations of codes generated by Nazi Germany’s Enigma. Turing helped develop the “Bombe,” an electro-mechanical machine that was able to decipher these codes. A key part of Turing’s brilliance was effectively using the information that the Bombe yielded to thwart the enemy’s plans, without revealing that the Enigma codes had been broken, thus hastening the Allied victory. Although primitive by today’s standards — High Performance Computer Cluster (HPCC) Systems, for example, is an open source, big data processing platform that can handle 30 million transactions per hour — the Bombe was revolutionary in its day and it is still regarded as a breakthrough technological achievement.

Turing’s World War II work and his 1937 —> Read More Here

Science Proves That Hugs Can Boost Your Immune System

We know that hugs make us feel warm and fuzzy inside. And this feeling, it turns out, could actually ward off stress and protect the immune system, according to new research from Carnegie Mellon University.

It’s a well-known fact that stress can weaken the immune system. In this study, the researchers sought to determine whether hugs — like social support more broadly — could protect individuals from the increased susceptibility to illness brought on by the particular stress that comes with interpersonal conflict.

“We know that people experiencing ongoing conflicts with others are less able to fight off cold viruses. We also know that people who report having social support are partly protected from the effects of stress on psychological states, such as depression and anxiety,” the study’s lead author, psychologist Dr. Sheldon Cohen, said in a statement. “We tested whether perceptions of social support are equally effective in protecting us from stress-induced susceptibility to infection and also whether receiving hugs might partially account for those feelings of support and themselves protect a person against infection.”

In the experiment, over 400 healthy adults who filled out a questionnaire about their perceived social support and —> Read More Here

Weekly Space Hangout – Dec. 19, 2014: Methane on Mars!

Host: Fraser Cain (@fcain)

Guests:
Morgan Rehnberg (cosmicchatter.org / @cosmic_chatter)
Ramin Skibba (@raminskibba)
Alessondra Springmann (@sondy)
(…)
Read the rest of Weekly Space Hangout – Dec. 19, 2014: Methane on Mars! (292 words)


© Fraser for Universe Today, 2014. |
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