We study fifteen months of human mobility data for one and a half million individuals and find that human mobility traces are highly unique. In fact, in a dataset where the location of an individual is specified hourly, and with a spatial resolution equal to that given by the carrier's antennas, four spatio-temporal points are enough to uniquely identify 95% of the individuals. We coarsen the data spatially and temporally to find a formula for the uniqueness of human mobility traces given their resolution and the available outside information. This formula shows that the uniqueness of mobility traces decays approximately as the 1/10 power of their resolution. Hence, even coarse datasets provide little anonymity. These findings represent fundamental constraints to an individual's privacy and have important implications for the design of frameworks and institutions dedicated to protect the privacy of individuals.

The levels of exposure to radiation following the leaks and explosions at the earthquake-damaged Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power station in 2011 were so low that they led today to this important conclusion from experts convened in Vienna by the United Nations Scientific Committee on the Effect of Atomic Radiation: It is unlikely to be able to attribute any health effects in the future among the general public and the vast majority of workers.

ETT travel timeSeating a maximum of six passengers per tube plus a baggage compartment, the ETT can travel at a speed of approximately 4,000 miles per hour while remaining airless and frictionless. Thanks to magnetic levitation, the vacuum speed means you can go from New York to Los Angeles in a mere 45 minutes, New York to Beijing in two hours, or around the world in only six hours. Despite the high velocity, passengers will not experience discomfort because the tube apparently only produce 1G of force at top speed, comparable to riding in a normal car on a highway.

Cognitive neuroscientist Sid Kouider of CNRS, the French national research agency, in Paris watched for swings in electrical activity, called event-related potentials (ERPs), in the babies' brains. In babies who were at least 1 year old, Kouider saw an ERP pattern similar to an adult's, but it was about three times slower. The team was surprised to see that the 5-month-olds also showed a late slow wave, although it was weaker and more drawn out than in the older babies. Kouider speculates that the late slow wave may be present in babies as young as 2 months.

Using nuclear power in place of fossil-fuel energy sources, such as coal, has prevented some 1.8 million air pollution-related deaths globally and could save millions of more lives in coming decades, concludes a study. The researchers also find that nuclear energy prevents emissions of huge quantities of greenhouse gases. These estimates help make the case that policymakers should continue to rely on and expand nuclear power in place of fossil fuels to mitigate climate change, the authors say (Environ. Sci. Technol., DOI: 10.1021/es3051197).

There’s no comfort in the statistics for missions to Mars. To date over 60% of the missions have failed. The scientists and engineers of these undertakings use phrases like “Six Minutes of Terror,” and “The Great Galactic Ghoul” to illustrate their experiences, evidence of the anxiety that’s evoked by sending a robotic spacecraft to Mars — even among those who have devoted their careers to the task. But mention sending a human mission to land on the Red Planet, with payloads several factors larger than an unmanned spacecraft and the trepidation among that same group grows even larger. Why? Nobody knows how to do it.

The headline isn't really backed up in the article, but interesting nonetheless:] For our study, recently published in Urban Design International, we analyzed a dozen historically dense, small cities from around the country in which the shares of residents getting to work by automobile range from 43 to 91 percent. We compared the rates of automobile use to the number residents and employees per square mile. We found that cities with higher rates of driving have fewer people – a difference of more than 4,000 people per square mile for each 10 percent change in automobile use. As the Penn model suggests, this has to do with the amount of land used to move and store all those cars. [As I'm always saying to people who complain that Swedish cities aren't sufficiently accessible by car: building more roads makes things worse, not better.

There are plenty of myths floating around Silicon Valley, augmented by the legends of hot-headed young Turks such as Steve Jobs or Mark Zuckerberg, that you need to be in your 20s with a rigid mindset and a hefty ego. But they're the outliers, according to an extensive survey conducted by one startup incubator. [...] The results? As you can see in the infographic below, the young Turk thing is a myth. The best entrepreneurs are ones who work in their field first, gaining valuable real-world knowledge and experience for a decade or more. (We heard exactly the same thing from Google's startup acquisition guy).

Look, I am in fact a career academic. I know exactly what's attractive about it, I've made considerable financial and personal sacrifices to get myself to a position where I can work in a university environment and spend my time doing groundbreaking research. And yet. The gateway into this life is a PhD, and the PhD system is deeply, deeply fucked up when it isn't actively abusive. Doing a PhD will break you. It's pretty much designed to break you.


If you have every admirable personal quality you can think of, if you have every advantage in life, still, getting through a PhD will grind you down, will come terrifyingly close to killing your soul and might well succeed. It will do horrible things to your mental and physical health and test to breaking point every significant relationship in your life.

Vocabularies of babies under age two are slightly smaller when parents mix elements from two different languages in the same sentence, a new study from Concordia University found.

But growing up bilingual does not confuse a baby and make learning to speak more difficult, rather it gives them an edge, a growing body of research suggests. They may be slower in picking up each language than children raised speaking just one, but that temporary drawback is offset by the benefits of bilingualism, said Concordia University psychology professor Krista Byers-Heinlein.

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