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Gamification for behavior change: What is it and how is it useful?

Tue, 11/18/2014 - 21:36
In a world where the majority of children spend hours a day playing computer or console game, researchers are starting to utilize those habits for the better.  The use of gamification -- using game design elements to teach lessons, engage, and motivate -- is starting to increase in popularity. Now gamification concepts and principles have been applied to the development of an online, multiuser, substance abuse, and relationship violence prevention game for youths.

Computerized cognitive training has modest benefits for cognitively healthy older adults

Tue, 11/18/2014 - 20:31
Computerized cognitive training (CCT) has been widely promoted for older adults, but its effectiveness for cognitively health older adults has been unclear in systematic reviews to date. In a new systematic review and meta-analysis scientists found a small overall effect of CCT on performance of cognitive tests that were not included in the training program.

Facebook games may actually do some good in your life

Tue, 11/18/2014 - 17:55
Beyond being a fun distraction, social network games can offer family members a meaningful way to interact and meet social obligations, a new study concludes. Researchers found that some online games offer families a common topic of conversation and enhance the quality of time spent together, despite the fact that most don't necessarily involve any direct communication. The games can also bring together family members who may be only distantly connected, with respondents citing experiences such as connecting with long-lost cousins or bolstering relationships with aging aunts.

First image-recognition software that greatly improves web searches

Tue, 11/18/2014 - 17:54
Researchers have created an artificial intelligence software that uses photos to locate documents on the Internet with far greater accuracy than ever before.

Using science to open way to 'blue economy'

Tue, 11/18/2014 - 17:54
New science and software make Belize coastal zone management plan better for people and the environment. With historic expansion of coastal and ocean development, ecosystems like coral reefs and mangrove forests are put at unprecedented risk. Yet, planners often lack good information about how human activities will impact shoreline and ocean habitats now and in the future. This study developed the information the Belizean government sought to make informed management decisions.

Computer model sets new precedent in drug discovery

Tue, 11/18/2014 - 17:54
Merging expertise from computer science and synthetic drug design, a new model reveals that the drug efficacy of fusion-protein therapies depends on the geometric characteristics of a drug's molecular components. Use of the model could potentially replace the need to physically make and test new biologic drug designs, cutting down timelines and costs associated with drug development.

Risk analysis for a complex world

Tue, 11/18/2014 - 15:55
Developing adaptable systems for finance and international relations could help reduce the risk of major systemic collapses such as the 2008 financial crisis, according to a new analysis.

Software to improve sustainability in horticultural, grape and wine-growing, and sugar beet production

Tue, 11/18/2014 - 12:26
Scientists have developed software for horticultural, grape and wine-growing, and sugar beet production that allows the life-cycle of the products and their carbon and water footprint, among other things, to be analyzed. Its use will contribute towards improving the sustainability of the agricultural and agri-food sector and well as reducing the environmental impact of production to a minimum.

Computer model provides a new portrait of carbon dioxide

Mon, 11/17/2014 - 22:45
An ultra-high-resolution computer model has given scientists a stunning new look at how carbon dioxide in the atmosphere travels around the globe. Plumes of carbon dioxide in the simulation swirl and shift as winds disperse the greenhouse gas away from its sources. The simulation also illustrates differences in carbon dioxide levels in the northern and southern hemispheres and distinct swings in global carbon dioxide concentrations as the growth cycle of plants and trees changes with the seasons.

Physicians prescribe less brand name drugs when electronic health record default settings show generics first

Mon, 11/17/2014 - 22:43
Programming electronic health records to make generic drugs the default choice when physicians write prescriptions may offer one way to reduce unnecessary spending and improve health care value in the face of spiraling U.S. health expenditures, according to a new study.

Credit score can also describe health status

Mon, 11/17/2014 - 21:41
A credit score also says something about a person's health status, according to a new analysis from a long-term study of the physical and mental health of more than 1,000 New Zealanders. An international team of researchers has found a strong relationship between low credit scores and poor cardiovascular health. They conclude that personal attributes leading to poor credit scores can also contribute to poor health.

Social media for social good: Researchers estimate air pollution from online posts

Mon, 11/17/2014 - 21:26
Computer science researchers have developed a method for using social media posts to estimate air pollution levels with significant accuracy.

Engineers efficiently 'mix' light at the nanoscale

Mon, 11/17/2014 - 20:47
Researchers have engineered a nanowire system that could pave the way for photonic computing, combining two light waves to produce a third with a different frequency and using an optical cavity to amplify the intensity of the output to a usable level.

Hiding in plain sight: Elusive dark matter may be detected with GPS satellites

Mon, 11/17/2014 - 20:47
The everyday use of a GPS device might be to find your way around town or even navigate a hiking trail, but for two physicists, the Global Positioning System might be a tool in directly detecting and measuring dark matter, so far an elusive but ubiquitous form of matter responsible for the formation of galaxies.

Recommendations by other customers significantly influence Internet purchasing behavior

Mon, 11/17/2014 - 18:24
The online purchasing behavior of private individuals shopping in their leisure time is heavily influenced by recommendations made by other customers. Customer endorsements, in the form of Facebook 'Likes' for example, have a particularly marked influence on online buying behavior when consumers shop in the afternoon, evening, or at the weekend. There are certain economic theories concerning consumer attitudes to purchasing that, in the view of the researchers, can help explain this phenomenon.

New technique to help produce next generation photonic chips

Mon, 11/17/2014 - 17:58
Researchers have developed a new technique to help produce more reliable and robust next generation photonic chips. Photonic chips made from silicon will play a major role in future optical networks for worldwide data traffic. The high refractive index of silicon makes optical structures the size of a fraction of the diameter of a human hair possible. Squeezing more and more optical structures for light distribution, modulation, detection and routing into smaller chip areas allows for higher data rates at lower fabrication costs.

Engineers develop innovative process to print flexible electronic circuits

Mon, 11/17/2014 - 13:46
Engineers have successfully printed complex electronic circuits using a common t-shirt printer. The electronic circuits are printed using unique materials in layers on top of everyday flexible materials such as plastic, aluminum foil and even paper. Resistors, transistors and capacitors, the key components of a complex electronic circuit, are printed using non-toxic organic materials like silver nanoparticles, carbon and plastics.

Magic tricks created using artificial intelligence for the first time

Mon, 11/17/2014 - 02:10
Researchers working on artificial intelligence have taught a computer to create magic tricks. The researchers gave a computer program the outline of how a magic jigsaw puzzle and a mind reading card trick work, as well the results of experiments into how humans understand magic tricks, and the system created completely new variants on those tricks which can be delivered by a magician.

Poor-quality weight loss advice often appears first in an online search

Fri, 11/14/2014 - 19:09
More than 40 percent of U.S. Internet users use online search engines to seek guidance on weight loss and physical activity. A new study finds that high-quality weight loss information often appears after the first page of search engine results.

Model for evaluating product-recommendation algorithms suggests that trial and error get it right

Fri, 11/14/2014 - 18:11
A model for evaluating product-recommendation algorithms suggests that trial and error get it right. Researchers will present a paper that applies their model to the recommendation engines that are familiar from websites like Amazon and Netflix -- with surprising results.