Software optimized on Mira advances design of mini-proteins for medicines, materials

Scientists are using Mira to virtually design unique, artificial peptides, or short proteins. Peptides have the best properties of two different classes of medical drugs today and could enable future, peptide-based medicines with few side effects. As researchers begin to develop new peptides, they are optimizing their in-house software to test thousands of potential peptide structure designs in tandem, requiring a state-of-the-art supercomputer. —> Read More

Why Ted Cruz’s Facial Expression Makes Me Uneasy

It’s hard to look at Ted Cruz’s face. He’s said to be a brilliant orator with a sharp legal mind. But his expression unsettles me. I realize my reaction is visceral and automatic, but as a neurologist it is my business to notice things out of the ordinary and probe them. The Senator’s atypical expressions leave me uneasy.

It’s surprising how many colleagues and former associates say they “loathe” him. A Bush alumnus told The New York Times’ Frank Bruni, “Why do people take such an instant dislike to Ted Cruz? It just saves time.” Former Senate Majority leader Bob Dole says, “Nobody likes him,” while Rep. Peter King sees “malice.” According to The Washington Post, screenwriter Craig Mazin, Cruz’s former Princeton roommate, has called him a “huge asshole,” and “creepy.” He’s tweeted, “Getting emails blaming me for not smothering Ted Cruz in his sleep in 1988.” The distaste for Cruz even extends beyond the U.S.: Germans say Backpfeifengesicht, meaning a face in need of a good punch.

Humans learn to read faces from the day they are born. Infants readily respond to smiles. They imitate others’ facial expressions and gestures. During the first months of life, brain activity readings trace the development of their body maps. These brain maps allow an infant to recognized similarities between self and other–the foundation on which all social cognition rests, especially trust.


Automatically and more quickly than conscious reflection could ever manage, we weigh whether we like a new face or distrust the person behind it.

Our stone-age ancestors learned to read faces and rapidly tell friend from foe. While we live in a far different environment, we still possess the same stone-age brain as our distant relatives. Like them, we judge instantly. Automatically and more quickly —> Read More

6 Theories Of Why We Seek Romantic Love (Since No One Knows For Sure)

Have you ever wondered why we love? While love itself is a wonderful phenomenon, the journey to get there is full of all sorts of deterrents, from the trauma that comes with ghosting to the pressure people feel after seeing elaborate proposals on Facebook.

While social media and text relationships are contemporary, the question of why we love is one we’ve grappled with forever. As you’ll see in the Ted-Ed video above, science does not have a definitive answer for why romantic love serves us, but humans have spent centuries in search of an explanation — from the ancient Greek philosopher Plato to 18th century Chinese novelist Cao Xueqin to you, reading this now.

There are quite a few theories out there: Is love is a mere illusion that tricks us into confusing sexual desire with connection so that we’ll have babies? Or does love infuse our lives with meaning, fulfilling our fundamental desire to integrate with another person? Watch the video above to hear 6 major unifying theories of love and tell us in the comments: Why do you love?

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On Darwin Day, a Darwin Descendent on Science and the Election

My great-great-grandfather, Charles Darwin, was born on this day 207 years ago. The Origin of Species was published over 150 years ago. Although he had the central ideas in mind long before, Darwin spent 20 years accumulating and marshaling his evidence before publication. Yesterday, it was announced that an idea Einstein proposed 100 years ago, the last prediction of his general theory of relativity, had been confirmed. Most people, myself included, will have some trouble understanding this. Many Americans, as with Darwin’s theory, will refuse to understand it.

That’s okay — science is patient.

The American public, however, should NOT be patient about another extraordinary thing that happened yesterday: at the Democratic Primary debate in Wisconsin, there was not one single science question. Although there were a few vague references to the environment, neither of the candidates revealed any aspect of their science policy agendas. Think about that. Were it not for medical science, at least half of the four people on stage would be dead — they’d either not have survived birth or died several years ago. Were it not for science, our economy would collapse. Were it not for science we would have little understanding of what we are doing to our planet that may make it impossible to live on.

You could take these three areas of science — medicine, science and the economy, and the environment — and give each a debate, and you’d still only scratch the surface. But no debates on literally the most important issues on earth? Not even a single question last night? That’s verging on insane.

The only organization that’s been persistently asking for such a debate is ScienceDebate.org. It wants a couple of science and environment primary debates and another general election debate. The organization —> Read More

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