News Article | February 15, 2017
An Australian-based educational services company, Edalex Solutions will provide business development, account management, consulting and client support services for the ilos platform within the Australian and New Zealand markets. A Minnesota-based company, ilos provides an easy-to-use video capture and playback platform that seamlessly integrates with popular LMSes, whilst also solving common accessibility issues by providing market-leading one-click captioning. “The market has been looking for a cost-effective, enterprise video platform that is easy-to-use. We believe ilos is that solution.” said Dan McFadyen, Managing Director, Edalex Solutions. “In addition, the seamless integration of closed captioning - completed in under 24 hours via a single click - greatly increases the accessibility and the utility of the videos.” In addition to the range of services that will be delivered as part of the partnership, Edalex and ilos will also collaborate on creating an integration with the EQUELLA digital repository, enabling existing users to benefit from ilos’s expansive capabilities. “We are thrilled to introduce ilos to the Australian and New Zealand market through our partnership with Edalex Solutions,” said Sean Higgins, Co-Founder and Head of Business Development at ilos. “Much like our clients in other markets, we recognize the need for a video capture tool that has a strong focus on emerging accessibility needs. Local support provided by Edalex Solutions will provide the rapid engagement prized by our clients elsewhere in the world.” ilos provides a powerful suite of tools to capture, edit, caption, manage, discover and share videos. Built from the ground-up with cloud technologies, ilos is designed to scale with the needs of any institution in a cost-effective manner. Academics can begin creating, captioning, and sharing videos in under 3 minutes. For more information about ilos, or to arrange a demonstration, please contact info(at)edalexsolutions(dot)com. About Edalex Solutions Edalex Solutions is an educational services company supporting educational institutions across Australia and New Zealand, with a mission of "Helping put innovation into education." Core services include: account management, professional services (consulting and training), hosting, software development (integrations, custom software), and client support. Edalex has an existing partnership with Pearson to deliver all services for their EQUELLA repository platform for clients across Australia and New Zealand. More information can be found at: http://www.edalexsolutions.com. About ilos ilos helps institutions like University of California Berkeley, IT University of Denmark, and the University of Nebraska Lincoln drive faculty adoption and increase video use in course content with the growing wave of blended and online learning. Here's how it works: https://ilos.video/0NLbJu. More information can be found at: http://www.ilosvideos.com
News Article | April 4, 2016
Mexico City has found a way to tackle with the escalating problem of smog and air pollution: a stricter car ban from April 5 to June 30. However, past studies and policies have shown that it might not work. In the city of 20 million, considered one of the worst polluted in the world by the United Nations, the previous measure is to ban vehicles on the road on certain days of the week, unless they present an exempt sticker, which shows the car has undergone testing for smog and obtained a low emission score. The new car ban, announced by the country’s environmental commission, covers even sticker-carrying vehicles once a week and a Saturday every month. It will prevail until late June or the start of the rainy season. Added measures include policy changes that will potentially lower the maximum pollution level, as air contaminants are believed to continue accumulating during the dry season. However, is the new “no circulation” policy limiting the number of cars on the road bound to work or fail? Mexico City has implemented similar laws in place since the 1980s, all deemed by experts as a failure. Moreover, previous studies have already taken a look at why ordering cars off the road are not guaranteed to work. Lucas Davis, an energy researcher at the University of California Berkeley who has analyzed the city’s similar attempts in the past, found that these programs actually increased air pollution in the long term. One reason is the hassle factor: people are forced to take public transportation more often, which is slow, inconvenient, and a not-so-tempting prospect given the city buses’ reputation of being dangerous. So what they do is to find other ways to ride cars: investing in second family cars with a different license plate number, taking taxis, or booking an Uber or Lyft service. “I just think that once people become drivers in Mexico City they don’t go back,” says Davis. He adds that the inconvenience could reach more than $300 million a year or $130 for every vehicle owner. While the current “no circulation” rule, too, addressed some loopholes in preceding ones through technology, the city has to get to a point where it is politically ready, added Davis. Just two weeks ago, Mexico City announced emergency ozone status after it suffered the highest air pollution levels since the 1980s. The World Air Quality Index has also identified parts of the city with unhealthy air quality, which can lead to health consequences comprising a range of respiratory conditions. In 2010, studies highlighted savings of more than $760 million annually through slashing pollution by a mere 10 percent. These gains include preventing about 33,000 emergency room cases due to respiratory disease.
News Article | February 15, 2017
Arizona State University astronomer Adam Schneider and his colleagues are hunting for an elusive object lost in space between our Sun and the nearest stars. They are asking for your help in the search, using a new citizen-science website called Backyard Worlds: Planet 9. Astronomers have found evidence for a ninth planet in our solar system. The evidence comes from studying the orbits of objects in the solar system's Kuiper Belt. This is a zone of comet-like bodies orbiting the Sun out beyond the orbit of Neptune. The Kuiper Belt is similar to the asteroid belt that circles the Sun between Mars and Jupiter, but it lies dozens of times farther out. This hypothetical Planet 9 could be similar in size to Neptune, but it may orbit up to a thousand times farther away from the Sun than the Earth does. So while astronomers can see its effects on the Kuiper Belt objects, no one has yet observed Planet 9 directly. "If it exists, Planet 9 could be large -- maybe 10 times the mass of Earth but orbiting far out beyond the Kuiper Belt," says Schneider. "Yet it must be extremely dim and hard to find." A postdoctoral researcher in ASU's School of Earth and Space Exploration, Schneider is particularly interested in studying objects smaller than fully fledged stars and ranging down in size to planets. In addition to searching for a distant planet orbiting the Sun, this new project will help astronomers identify the Sun's nearest neighbors outside of our solar system. "There are just over four light-years between Neptune and Proxima Centauri, the nearest star, and much of this vast territory is unexplored," says the lead researcher for Backyard Worlds: Planet 9, Marc Kuchner, an astrophysicist at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center. Astronomers expect the Sun's neighborhood will contain many low-mass objects called brown dwarfs. These emit very little light at visible wavelengths, but instead glow dimly with infrared -- heat -- radiation. "Brown dwarfs are somewhat mysterious," says Schneider. "They have masses of less than 80 times that of Jupiter, because that's the point at which nuclear fusion begins and an object becomes by definition a star." But there's no real lower limit to how small a brown dwarf could be, he says. "If we find one that's, say, five times the mass of Jupiter and it's orbiting a star, we'd call it a planet," Schneider explains. "But an identical object could also be floating freely in space, unattached to any star, and we'd call it a brown dwarf." So how do astronomers find such objects in space? That's where you can contribute using a website that enlists the help of citizen scientists. It's called Backyard Worlds: Planet 9 and it uses images taken by NASA's WISE space telescope. WISE, which stands for Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer, was launched in late 2009 and it has mapped the entire sky several times during the last seven years. WISE detects infrared light, the kind of light emitted by objects at room temperature, like planets and brown dwarfs. This sensitivity to infrared light makes WISE uniquely suited for discovering Planet 9, if it exists. But there's a snag: Images from WISE have captured nearly 750 million individual sources in the sky. Doubtlessly among these lurk the elusive brown dwarfs and possibly Planet 9. The question is how to sift through the data and identify them. The trick to finding these needles in haystacks of WISE data is to look for something in motion. Planetary objects and brown dwarfs roaming near the Sun can appear to move across the sky, leaving other celestial objects such as background stars and galaxies, which lie immensely far away, apparently fixed in place. So the best hope for discovering these worlds is to systematically scan infrared images of the sky, searching for objects that move. Automated searches for moving objects in the WISE data have already proven successful, but computerized searches are often overwhelmed by image artifacts -- visual noise -- especially in crowded parts of the sky. As Schneider explains, "People who join in the Backyard Worlds search bring a unique skill to the search: the human ability to recognize movement." The search method is a 21st-century version of the same technique used at Arizona's Lowell Observatory by astronomer Clyde Tombaugh. He discovered dwarf planet Pluto 87 years ago this week, on February 18, 1930. Back then, Tombaugh compared two photographs taken a couple weeks apart, looking for a tiny dot of light that shifted position. The Backyard Worlds search works similarly, but by electronically serving up flipbooks of WISE images taken at different times. As each flipbook plays, objects in the field move or change appearance, making it easy for volunteer observers to flag suspicious objects for later follow-up. Participants will share credit for their discoveries in any scientific publications that results from the project. The discovery of a ninth planet in our solar system or a new nearest neighbor to the Sun would mark a major event in the history of astronomy. Such objects could already be present within the vast WISE dataset, just waiting to be found. "This program offers an excellent opportunity for citizen scientists to help astronomers with an edge-of-discovery search," says Schneider. Besides Arizona State University, Backyard Worlds: Planet 9 is a collaboration between NASA, University of California Berkeley, American Museum of Natural History in New York, the Space Telescope Science Institute in Baltimore, and the Zooniverse, a collaboration of scientists, software developers and educators who collectively develop and manage citizen science projects on the internet.
News Article | February 28, 2017
Is there ever a bad time for brunch? The answer, of course, is no. Brunch is a meal to be enjoyed and savored by everyone; anytime, anywhere. Bob Evans Restaurants, the breakfast expert and Market Force’s Best Breakfast Chain* for the second year in a row, announced today the launch of a new all day, every day brunch menu at all 523 locations. Brunch used to be a more formal affair reserved for the weekends but, today, brunch has become an American tradition, a time to eat comforting food and connect with loved ones. Brunch can be enjoyed any time of day, anywhere. Bob Evans Restaurants is freeing brunch from the constraints of time and place, from the formal settings of the past and making it accessible to all. “Brunch is a perfect marriage of what Bob Evans does best: breakfast and lunch,” said John Fisher, president of Bob Evans Restaurants. “With our introduction of brunch, we are combining our amazing breakfast expertise with the innovative taste offerings that are at the heart of the Bob Evans menu.” That’s why Bob Evans and Lizzie Post, from The Emily Post Institute, have teamed up to create Guidelines for the NEW Brunch. The Emily Post Institute was founded by American etiquette and manners expert Emily Post more than half a century ago and is still acknowledged as the premier authority on polite manners, a sensitive awareness to the feelings of others. Lizzie Post is an expert in taking traditional etiquette and applying it to today’s society. “People can make brunch fancy if they wish, but brunch was always intended as a casual meal where friends and family can relax and connect,” said Lizzie Post, spokesperson of The Emily Post Institute. “The etiquette around brunch has always been to make guests feel comfortable and at ease.” Below are the guidelines for the new Brunch: 1. Brunch…not just for weekends Why let weekends have all the fun? Today, individuals don’t have to just eat brunch at traditional times. According to the 2014 Technomic Breakfast Consumer Trend Report, 68 percent of consumers eat brunch on Sundays, 49 percent on Saturdays, and 24 percent are weekday brunchers. 2. Casual is cool The days of formal brunch are over. Cloth napkins are not required. All that is needed is some delicious sweet/savory dishes and the company of friends and family. 3. All about connecting with family and friends Brunch can actually make individuals happier. According to the University of California Berkeley, a feeling of belonging and strong social connectedness is the single most consistent factor associated with happiness. 4. It’s okay to share Brunch is a time to indulge and the more options, the better. While spending time catching up with family and friends, individuals can also connect over the food by sharing a bunch of different dishes so they don’t have to stick with either sweet or savory; they can have both. 5. Alcohol is not a necessity The popularity of brunch in the United States really began during Prohibition as an excuse by the upper classes to covertly drink alcohol. However, as time passed, the tie between alcohol and brunch has weakened thanks to the amazing food that has become the center of the meal. Today, guests can indulge in food without needing to add alcohol to the mix. About Bob Evans Farms, Inc. Bob Evans Restaurants is a chain of family style restaurants founded and headquartered in Columbus, Ohio, which owns and operates 523 family restaurants in 18 states, primarily in the Midwest, mid-Atlantic and Southeast regions of the United States. Bob Evans believed in treating strangers like friends and friends like family; and those principles are alive today at every Bob Evans Restaurant. Bob Evans Restaurants is focused on providing quality food and hospitality to every guest at every meal, each and every day. For more information about Bob Evans Restaurants, visit http://www.bobevans.com. About The Emily Post Institute The Emily Post Institute has been America’s go-to source for etiquette advice for almost 100 years! They have acted as a social barometer for American etiquette tracking evolving standards in behavior, etiquette, and manners. The experts at The Emily Post Institute regularly speak on a variety of etiquette topics, including business, weddings, parenting, technology, social situations, grieving, holidays, politics, pop culture, and, of course, essential manners. The Post family has authored a 25-plus book collection and held columns in Good Housekeeping, The Boston Globe, The Huffington Post, Inside Weddings, and Houzz.com, host a podcast with American Public Media called “Awesome Etiquette,” and offer trainings in business, wedding, and children’s etiquette. The Emily Post Institute also partners with businesses and non-profit organizations to bring etiquette and manners to a wide audience through media and events. There are currently two generations and three direct descendants and their immediate family involved with The Emily Post Institute.
News Article | January 25, 2017
Forests around the world, widely deemed the lungs of the planet, “held their breath” during the most recent episode of a so-called climate change hiatus, a new study has revealed. The findings are considered significant in predicting how ecosystems will react to rising global temperatures. A team from the University of Exeter in the United Kingdom showed that the global carbon sink — a forest, ocean, or another natural environment that can absorb carbon dioxide from the atmosphere — was specifically strong from 1998 to 2012, a period of 14 years deemed as a warming pause. During this time when slower warming occurred, forests worldwide “breathed in” CO2 through the process of photosynthesis, but exhibited a reduced rate of “breathing out” or releasing the gas back into the atmosphere. “In this study, we analyzed what happened during the recent period of reduced warming, the so-called hiatus, highlighting the importance of ecosystem respiration as a key control of land carbon sinks,” explained professor and lead researcher Pierre Friedlingstein in a statement. Earth’s natural ecosystems, including these forests, are believed to counter the adverse impacts of fossil fuel use through removing CO2 from the atmosphere and serving as a carbon sink. It remains uncertain, though, how they will act on future climate change: will they consume more carbon or release more volumes of it back into the environment? In the study, the total CO2 amount gobbled up by forests slowed during times when warming is rapid, and accelerated during slower warming periods. Photosynthesis also remained constant during slower warming, but the forests emitted less carbon back into the surroundings. This means the planet stores much more carbon during these periods of hiatus, the team concluded. The carbon sink of the world emerged as “surprisingly strong,” as if forests held their breath. The findings were discussed in the journal Nature Climate Change. Speculations of a warming pause are fueled by data showing that from 1998 to 2012, global temperature rise appeared to plateau, based on NOAA’s Extended Reconstruction Sea Surface Temperature dataset. This hiatus has divided scientists and promoted skeptics to believe that man-made climate change is a hoax. A study earlier this month concluded that no actual hiatus likely occurred, with the oceans steadily warming over the past 50 years. The team led by University of California Berkeley’s Zeke Hausfather saw further evidence that confirmed ocean temperatures’ stable warming without any pronounced slowdown. They pointed to issues in ocean measurements — including a cooling bias in a previous dataset version that lowered global temperatures than actual — and not a slowdown. Whatever pause took place in the 2000s, it seems to have ended by now, with the years 2014 to 2016 breaking records as the warmest years on modern temperature record. In the United States alone, 2016 ranked second hottest in record since 1895, with every single state and city within the Lower 48 states logging higher temperatures than usual last year. The NOAA dubbed 2016 “a year of temperature and precipitation extremes” in the country. © 2017 Tech Times, All rights reserved. Do not reproduce without permission.
News Article | July 4, 2016
Evolution appears to follow the path of least resistance, which can lead to suboptimal physical characteristics that do not typically match functional needs, a new analysis has revealed. Anthropologist Peter Ungar from the University of Arkansas — who did the research with co-author Leslea Hlusko of the University of California Berkeley — said that paleontology usually reconstructs previous behavior based on the assumption that function follows form. "We need to look at things in a different way and consider the number of genetic steps it takes to get from one anatomy to another,” he said in a press release. “There can be more than one function for a given form and different forms can serve the same function." Studying teeth from two human ancestors — eastern Africa’s Paranthropus boisei and southern Africa’s Paranthropus robustus — with similar jaw and dental structure, the researchers found that the dental anatomy usually linked to a hard food diet was used to consume mainly plant-derived diets. The two species maintained similar teeth and anatomies, but their diets were not the same. The two species date back 4.2 million to 1.3 million years ago, and share similar head and tooth anatomy — marked by flat and large teeth, thick enamel, and jaw structures indicating robust chewing muscles. These traits are usually thought adaptive for eating hard foods, but using existing data on carbon isotopes, the team concluded that the P. robustus focused on a plant-based diet and only occasionally ate hard items like roots or nuts. The findings on the P. boisei’s teeth, on the other hand, showed that it ate softer, tougher and potentially more abrasive edibles such as grass. Despite similar anatomy, the traces of the food they consumed suggest that the two species had marked differences in their diets, Ungar said. Neither diet, too, matched earlier beliefs that their facial structure and large muscles indicate diets filled with hard and crunchy foods. These findings suggest that evolution went for suboptimal but still functional workarounds if fewer genetic mutations were entailed. This is dubbed the path of least resistance in the evolutionary process. An example: flatter molars marked by thicker enamel, such as those sported by modern humans, progressed through the genetic data, unlike more crested molars seen in gorillas that would better tear fibrous plant items. The jaw and tooth anatomy, Ungar said, is ideal for hominin diets in this case — the less complicated tooth architecture adapted more to a number of dietary challenges with time, which carried on alongside human species development. The findings are detailed in the journal Science. Just last month, a Swiss study discovered clues pointing to how different skin appendages — the fur on dogs, scales on snakes and feathers on creatures such as peacocks — may have come from a common ancestor. © 2017 Tech Times, All rights reserved. Do not reproduce without permission.
News Article | April 20, 2016
Imagine a baseball game in which the pitcher throws balls in all directions, not just over home plate. Today's solar panels are like batters in that baseball game: patiently waiting until a ball comes their direction at the right speed to make a hit. This is because normally light, and heat*, radiate in all different directions. So the first solar panel to bat at the game where the pitcher always throws the ball straight over home plate, and even at exactly the same speed each time, will be a superstar. This vision could be part of our energy future thanks to scientists at Australian National University, especially Dr. Sergey Kruk, who predicted a material that would have the amazing properties the team was seeking. The ANU team turned to the University of California Berkeley, where the technical facilities to build Dr. Kruk's metamaterial could be found. At UC Berkeley, they built up alternating thin layers of gold and magnesium fluoride on a silicon nitride membrane, then milled these with a focused ion beam into the "multilayer fishnets" depicted in the image. This metamaterial is so small that 12,000 building blocks fit on the cross-section of a human hair. Tests proved what Dr. Kruk predicted: this metamaterial can interact with the magnetic component of light (or heat waves which are just another form of light that is outside of the range our eyes evolved to detect), to radiate the waves in a specific direction, and even in a limited range of wavelengths. This makes the material ideal for pairing with thermophotovoltaic cells, which convert heat into electricity. With the metamaterial serving up light, or even heat (so it works in the dark!), and thermophotovoltaics optimized to receive the appropriate specific wavelengths, efficiency breakthoughs are bound to follow. Build it and they will come. The open access article, Magnetic hyperbolic optical metamaterials, can be read in Nature Communications.
News Article | January 5, 2017
Fueling speculations of a climate change hiatus are data showing that from about 1998 to 2012, global temperature rise appeared to plateau, based on NOAA’s Extended Reconstruction Sea Surface Temperature dataset. This so-called pause has been puzzling scientists as well as prompting skeptics to say that human-induced global warming, after all, is a mere hoax. Now a new study has surfaced to say that, no, that data isn’t proof of a hiatus. Across Earth, the oceans have been warming at a relatively steady clip over the last 50 years. Lead author Dr. Zeke Hausfather, a data scientist from the University of California Berkeley, clarifies that warming appears in both datasets in practically the same way — confirming the integrity of the NOAA dataset. However, further evidence showed that ocean temperatures have warmed steadily without a pronounced slowdown. “A fair bit of the apparent hiatus seems to be due to problems in our ocean measurements, and not a real thing," Hausfather told The Christian Science Monitor over the phone. Detailing their findings in the journal Science Advances last Wednesday, Hausfather’s team revisited the data after political chaos erupted in 2015, when the errors were first identified. They discovered that NOAA was right despite the flak they received. In June that year, NOAA updated its dataset, with National Centers for Environmental Information Director Thomas Karl and his NOAA colleagues pointing to a critical flaw in the old database. ERSST version 3b, the said previous version, had a cooling bias over the 15-year period and showed global temperatures as lower than actual. In that controversial research, Karl’s team called the hiatus “an illusion.” “[Scientists at the NOAA] weren’t cooking the books. They weren’t bowing to any political pressure to find results that show extra warming,” Hausfather said, adding that the scientists tried their best to “work with messy data.” Hausfather and the NOAA team agreed that changing technology caused the skewed data. Sea surface temperatures, for long decades, were tracked on ships. This changed in the mid-1990s when researchers started to use thermometers on buoys as a new strategy. The buoys, however, take colder measurements than the previous technique, and scientists in the previous dataset version did not adjust for the difference. When this problem surfaced, the NOAA scientists calculated the difference and weighted the numbers differently to come up with version 4, which revealed that warming was actually more than twice as that on version 3b. The results triggered great controversy, with some politicians suggesting that the team manipulated data out of political motives. What Hausfather’s team did is to do things a little differently, studying trends in data from various sources independently rather than putting composite datasets together as other agencies do. The trends are tracked in sources that include data from buoys, ships, and satellites. Indeed, from 1998 to 2012, temperatures did show some slow rising than predicted in climate models. The slowdown has been attributed to different factors, including the El Niño cycle, multiyear ocean cycles, and even the post-Soviet reforestation in Russia. A massive El Niño event that occurred before that 15-year timeframe, for instance, would have made the following years appear relatively cold, while La Niña could have also helped drive the temperature reading slow. Certain small volcanoes too that were excluded in models could have had their share in the cooling effect, Hausfather explained. For Karl — the lead scientist in the controversy-rocked 2015 paper — the recent findings emphasize the need for independent measurements in order to tackle observational uncertainties, he noted in his email to the Monitor. Whatever slowdown occurred in the 2000s, it also appears to have stopped by now, with the last three years, from 2014 to 2016, breaking all records as the hottest year ever in the modern temperature data. © 2017 Tech Times, All rights reserved. Do not reproduce without permission.
News Article | February 15, 2017
When starting to learn to play the piano, there is much hesitation and hitting the wrong keys. But with training, the movements of the player become more fluid and accurate. This motor improvement begins in the brain, but how do the involved neurons manage to organize themselves in order to identify and consolidate the neural circuits that best allow for such a fine motor control? An international team of neuroscientists, from the Champalimaud Centre for the Unknown (CCU), in Lisbon, Portugal, and the University of California Berkeley, USA, has begun "dissecting" the evolution of the patterns of neural activity associated with the learning of motor tasks by animals. Their results, which are published in the journal Neuron, could make it possible to improve the performance of brain-machine interfaces (BMI), the devices that can allow paralyzed patients to literally control robotic arms with the "power of the mind". Motor learning goes through an initial phase of trial and error and a final phase of movement consolidation. "When learning a novel motor skill, animals initially have to explore different movements" says Vivek Athalye, first author of the study, who divides his time between Berkeley and the CCU. "And, as they observe the consequences of their movements, they shape those movements and consolidate the ones that lead to rewarding outcomes." But Athalye wants to know more. "We want to know how the brain explores and consolidates the neural activity patterns which underlie these behavioral changes", he emphasizes. To do that, together with Rui Costa - a neuroscientist at Champalimaud Research -, Athalye used, in the present study, data obtained in 2009 by the two other co-authors of the paper, José Carmena and Karunesh Ganguly, at Berkeley. "The data was already available", says Rui Costa. And he adds, as an aside: "Which goes to show that, in this era of Big Data, new insight does not always come from doing new experiments". Carmena and Ganguly had performed their experiments on two animals, each of them with electrodes implanted in their motor cortex and connected to a BMI. The electrodes simultaneously recorded the activity of about a dozen motor cortex neurons, and the animals had learned to move a cursor on a computer screen through the activity of those few neurons. "The animals quickly realize, in about one day, that they can move the cursor with their brain activity", explains Costa. And again, after an initial exploration phase, the animals' behavior evolved towards a consolidation of the cursor movements. "At the end of 15 training sessions, the animals became proficient", he says. For their part, Athalye and Costa - and various other independent teams - had observed changes in motor cortex neural activity during animal learning of other motor tasks. "In the motor cortex, activity is highly variable at the beginning and then becomes consistent, not so variable - it crystallizes", says Costa. "So Vivek wanted to know: 'Can we devise a way to see how the brain does this?'" One of the aspects that were unclear was whether neurons varied their activity independently from each other (the authors call this activity "private") or jointly (shared activity). "How do the neurons coordinate over learning? Does each neuron explore and acquire activity patterns independently, or do the neurons coordinate to search for and acquire activity patterns?", asks Athalye. To answer this question, we developed statistical models" based on the animal experimental data. "Vivek developed an algorithm to separate the two components - the private and the shared", Costa further explains. "And he found that, early on in the learning process, the activity of the animal neurons is mainly private, while at the end, when the animals have become very skillful at the motor task, the activity becomes mainly coordinated. Like musical instruments that start by playing separately and end up forming an orchestra." "We found that, in the beginning, as the cursor explored the computer screen, each neuron explored independently. This suggests that the brain has a lot of flexibility in finding activity patterns to produce behavior", adds Athalye. "Then, over learning, the neurons began to coordinate to skillfully control the cursor." An implication of these results, Carmena says, is that they make it possible to develop, in the future, better BMIs for medical applications such as the use of robotic arms by paralyzed patients. In theory, this could be done by extracting, from the "noise" made by countless neurons, the activity of only those neurons which are relevant to the skillful performance of the motor task at hand - and then sending only those relevant signals to the robotic arm. The experimental settings of this study are obviously much simpler than natural motor learning, in which the muscles are the ones making the movements under the control of the brain. But, as Costa says, "in natural movement, we don't know which exact neurons control the muscles". In the experiments with the animals, on the other hand, only the neurons that are connected to the BMI can be doing the job. This doesn't prevent the authors to speculate by saying that a similar process might also be at work in natural motor learning. "As crazy hypotheses go, I think our results could explain many learning processes", says Costa with a smile.
News Article | February 21, 2017
DALLAS, TX--(Marketwired - February 21, 2017) - Thompson & Knight LLP today announced Partner Luis F. Moreno Treviño and Associate Roxana Burciaga Contreras have joined the Firm's Mexico City office in the International Energy and Real Estate and Banking Practice Groups. "Luis has nearly 20 years of expertise counseling clients in the energy, hospitality, and real estate industries, and Roxana brings experience in international corporate, real estate, and energy transactional law," said Luis F. Gomar, Thompson & Knight's Mexico City Office Leader and a Partner in the Firm's International Energy Practice Group. "Their experience will benefit an array of clients across a variety of industries. Both are welcomed additions to our team of lawyers in Mexico as we continue to expand to meet our clients' growing demands in Mexico." Mr. Moreno's breadth of experience involves roles in both the private and public sectors. In the public arena, he worked with the Mexican Ministry of Finance and the International Legal Department of PEMEX. In private practice, he has worked with law firms in New York City and Mexico City. Most recently, Mr. Moreno has been actively and successfully involved in representing oil and gas companies in connection with their potential investment in Mexico as a result of Mexico's energy reform in all bids of Round 1 and the ongoing Round 2. Additionally, he has extensive expertise in structuring and planning various bi-national mortgage programs for U.S. major non-bank banks and mortgage companies; long-term lease agreements with multinational corporations on build-to-suit industrial buildings in Mexico, and off-balance sheet financing; acquisition and development of major hotel projects in many of Mexico's most renowned beach resorts; preparation and negotiation of hotel operation agreements; structuring and planning of fractional programs for various hotel developers and operators; financing of industrial real estate portfolios and mortgage securitization programs; development, construction, and financing of golf courses and high-end residential projects in major Mexican beach resorts; restructuring and workouts of major hotel development financing; sale-leaseback transactions involving top industrial and commercial building facilities in Mexico; and global fund acquisition of a multibillion-dollar industrial portfolio in Mexico. Mr. Moreno's general corporate and finance practice includes bank loan syndications, debt restructuring of Mexican companies, mergers and acquisitions, and the privatization of government-controlled companies. Consistently recognized for his legal work, Mr. Moreno has been selected for inclusion in Chambers USA (2013) and Chambers Latin America (2010, 2014 and 2016-2017) both by Chambers & Partners; Latin Lawyer 250 by Law Business Research Ltd. (2010; 2016); and The Best Lawyers in Mexico® by Woodward/White, Inc. (2015-2016). Mr. Moreno is actively involved in various professional organizations, including currently serving as the Vice Chair of the North American Forum of the International Bar Association, and formerly as Council Member of the Legal Practice Division and Immediate Past Chair of the Real Estate Law Section for the International Bar Association. He also is the former Group Vice Chair of the Special Investors and Investment Structure Group and Past Chair of the Committee on International Investment in Real Estate of the RPPT Section for the American Bar Association. Mr. Moreno is an Active Member of the Mexican and Texas-Mexico Bar Associations. He received his law degree, with high honors, from Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México in 1991 and received an LL.M., magna cum laude, from the University of Houston in 1993. Immediately prior to joining Thompson & Knight, Mr. Moreno served as Administrative Partner of Haynes and Boone, LLP's Mexico City office and led its real estate and hospitality practices. He is licensed to practice in Mexico and New York. Ms. Burciaga focuses her practice on oil and gas transactional, real estate, and corporate governance. She represents buyers, sellers, owners, lenders, servicers, investors, and developers in a variety of real estate and corporate transactions. Ms. Burciaga works with clients on real estate acquisitions and dispositions of all types of commercial real estate, and assists international oil and gas companies in public bidding processes. Her experience also includes international corporate transactions. She received her law degree from Instituto Tecnológico Autónomo de México ("ITAM") in 2014 and an LL.M., Business Law Certification, and Advanced Certificate in Energy Law from the University of California Berkeley School of Law in 2015. While Spanish is her native language, she is also fluent in English and conversational in French and Portuguese. Immediately prior to joining Thompson & Knight, Ms. Burciaga was an Associate in Haynes and Boone, LLP's Mexico City office. She is licensed to practice in Mexico. About Thompson & Knight Established in 1887, Thompson & Knight is a full-service law firm with more than 300 attorneys. The Firm provides legal solutions to clients and communities around the world and is particularly recognized for its depth of experience and capabilities on behalf of the energy industry. Thompson & Knight has been named "Law Firm of the Year" in Oil & Gas Law in U.S. News-Best Lawyers® "Best Law Firms" for 2011-2013, 2015, and 2017. This year, Thompson & Knight proudly celebrates 130 years of service. For more information, visit www.tklaw.com.