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Artificial intelligence identifies the musical progression of the Beatles

July 24, 2014 - 12:00pm
Music fans and critics know that the music of the Beatles underwent a dramatic transformation in just a few years, but until now there hasn't been a scientific way to measure the progression. That could change now that computer scientists at Lawrence Technological University have developed an artificial intelligence algorithm that can analyze and compare musical styles, enabling research into the musical progression of the Beatles.

North Dakota’s ag commissioner race oughta be on Broadway

July 24, 2014 - 11:54am

In the struggle over North America’s energy boom, some tales are more suitable for Broadway musical treatment than others. But could there be another story more perfect for song and dance than that of the race for North Dakota agricultural commissioner?

The agricultural commissioner does pretty much what you expect — handle permits for agricultural lands, which, in the case of North Dakota, is mostly ranchland. Since part of permitting grazing territory is making sure that said land remains safe for grazing, the agricultural commissioner also has sway over drilling permits and oversight — a lot of sway.

Now that North Dakota is producing more oil than some OPEC members, and oil companies are planning to drill 35,000 new wells across North Dakota in the next 15 years, the race for this relatively homespun political office has suddenly become the stuff of political melodrama.

On one side: Standing agriculture commissioner and Republican Doug Goehring, who has the backing of at least 10 oil companies or their executives — including Continental Resources Inc., Whiting Petroleum, and Marathon Oil — as well as a truly strange-sounding sexual harassment investigation in his recent past. From Reuters:

An investigation last year … found [Goehring] had asked a female staff member to step on his sore back to crack it and labeled women in his office his “harem.”

Goehring apologized, took a sexual harassment course and was cleared of misconduct by the state’s Department of Risk Management.

The “harem” comment was in poor taste and didn’t reflect his true feelings, Goehring said.

On the other side, we have organic rancher, former Democratic state senator, and Whole Foods supplier Randy Ryan Taylor:

“We want the oil, but we also want productive land when it’s all done,” Taylor said in an interview on his 2,900-acre ranch, dotted with scores of quietly grazing cows. He went on to say that if elected, “I’ll probably be looking at things in a more critical eye.”

His cows are quiet because they know he is just about to burst into song. What will he sing about? Perhaps his proposal that would require pipelines to be equipped with flow meters, to enable early leak detection. What rhymes with flow meter? Snow cheater? Crow leader? This is going to be great!

Broadway dreams aside, this story underscores how much the battle over America’s energy policy is being fought at the local level, especially those levels that involve zoning and permits. We’ve seen this play out in New York, in Nebraska and South Dakota, in Richmond, Calif., in Washington state, and in Maine. And we’ll be seeing it more in this next round of elections. Regional political races are becoming the new front lines of environmentalism.


Filed under: Article, Climate & Energy, Politics

Artificial intelligence identifies the musical progression of the Beatles

July 24, 2014 - 11:40am
Computer scientists have developed an artificial intelligence algorithm that can analyze and compare musical styles, which they have used to study the musical progression of the Beatles.

Bird 'backpacks' put wood thrush migration on the map

July 23, 2014 - 12:18pm
Researchers have created the first migratory connectivity map produced for a songbird, using tracking from both breeding and winter sites. They were able to trace the route taken by wood thrushes from North America using bird 'backpacks'. They discovered that wood thrushes from Canada don't migrate to the same areas as their southern neighbors, and actually have a longer migratory route. The map will help identify specific areas for habitat protection.

String Theory: The Physics of Master Guitar Playing

July 23, 2014 - 12:16pm
How do great guitarists bend a string like Eric Clapton or Jimi Hendrix? One scientist sought to figure out how legendary performers make great music.

Researchers use bird 'backpacks' to put wood thrushes migration on the map

July 23, 2014 - 11:10am
Migratory songbirds are disappearing, and though conservationists are examining several possible reasons such as climate change, loss of habitat, acid rain and light pollution, a key piece of the puzzle has remained missing: where do these birds go once they leave their breeding sites, and what threats may they be encountering along the way?

DIY Vaginal Ultrasounds Could Reduce Trips to the Doctor

July 23, 2014 - 9:28am
Women undergoing in vitro fertilization (IVF) may be able to cut down on their trips to the doctor, thanks to a technology that allows them to perform vaginal ultrasounds at home.

Coffee Cup Size Leads to Caffeine Confusion

July 23, 2014 - 6:30am
"One cup" sounds small but can exceed health recommendations for caffeine intake

-- Read more on ScientificAmerican.com

Google made failed bid for Spotify

July 23, 2014 - 1:40am
Internet titan Google tried last year to buy streaming music service Spotify but backed off for reasons including a whopping price tag, the Wall Street Journal reported on Tuesday.

York University researchers use bird 'backpacks' to put wood thrushes migration on the map

July 22, 2014 - 10:00pm
(York University) Researchers from York University have created the first migratory connectivity map produced for a songbird, using tracking from both breeding and winter sites. They were able to trace the route taken by wood thrushes from North America using bird 'backpacks'. They discovered that wood thrushes from Canada don't migrate to the same areas as their southern neighbours, and actually have a longer migratory route. The map will help identify specific areas for habitat protection.

Supersonic Missile Downed Malaysia Airlines Plane, Photos Suggest

July 22, 2014 - 4:51pm
New photographic evidence of the wreckage of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 suggests that a Soviet-era supersonic missile most likely took down the Boeing 777 jetliner over Ukraine last week.

Fly-inspired sound detector: New device based on a fly's freakishly acute hearing for futuristic hearing aids

July 22, 2014 - 9:14am
The fly can pinpoint the location of a chirping cricket with remarkable accuracy because of its freakishly acute hearing, which relies upon a sophisticated sound processing mechanism that really sets it apart from all other known insects. Researchers have now developed a tiny prototype device that mimics the parasitic fly’s hearing mechanism, which may be useful for a new generation of hypersensitive hearing aids.

Law of physics governs airplane evolution

July 22, 2014 - 9:00am
Researchers believe they now know why the supersonic trans-Atlantic Concorde aircraft went the way of the dodo—it hit an evolutionary cul-de-sac.

Neal F. Lane: "Investments in Basic Research Are Just That: <em>Investments</em>"

July 22, 2014 - 7:00am
Written testimony for the U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation hearing "The Federal Research Portfolio: Capitalizing on Investments in R&D" held on July 17, 2014

-- Read more on ScientificAmerican.com

Stephen E. Fienberg: "Innovation Is a Process That Itself Requires Investment"

July 22, 2014 - 6:45am
Written testimony for the U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation hearing "The Federal Research Portfolio: Capitalizing on Investments in R&D" held on July 17, 2014

-- Read more on ScientificAmerican.com

Mariette DiChristina: "Science Is an Engine of Human Prosperity"

July 22, 2014 - 6:30am
Written testimony for the U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation hearing "The Federal Research Portfolio: Capitalizing on Investments in R&D" held on July 17, 2014

-- Read more on ScientificAmerican.com

Vinton G. Cerf: "The Value of Investment by the U.S. Government Cannot Be Overstated"

July 22, 2014 - 6:15am
Written testimony for the U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation hearing "The Federal Research Portfolio: Capitalizing on Investments in R&D" held on July 17, 2014

-- Read more on ScientificAmerican.com

Music Might Boost Self-Awareness in Alzheimer's Patients

July 22, 2014 - 6:00am
Many studies have found that familiar songs enhance mood, relieve stress and reduce anxiety in patients with Alzheimer's, perhaps because musical memory is often spared even when a patient has...

-- Read more on ScientificAmerican.com

For a 3-year-old boy, a risky operation may mean a chance to hear

July 22, 2014 - 4:00am
Auguste is 3 years old, a charmer with big blue eyes, long lashes and a playful smile. He's wearing a T-shirt that says "Make some noise" and fiddling with his Etch A Sketch in a hospital exam room.

Fly-inspired sound detector

July 21, 2014 - 10:00pm
(American Institute of Physics) The fly can pinpoint the location of a chirping cricket with remarkable accuracy because of its freakishly acute hearing, which relies upon a sophisticated sound processing mechanism that really sets it apart from all other known insects. A team of researchers has developed a tiny prototype device that mimics the parasitic fly's hearing mechanism, which may be useful for a new generation of hypersensitive hearing aids.