Weird World 

How the brain decides to make an effort

From deciding to quit hitting the snooze button and get out of bed in the morning to opting to switch off the TV and prepare for sleep at night, the mind weighs the costs versus benefits of each choice we make. A new study reveals the mechanics of how the brain makes such effortful decisions, calculating whether it is worth expending effort in exchange for potential rewards.

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Fossils & Ruins 

Researchers use LiDAR to locate invasive fish and preserve a national treasure

For decades the National Park Service has been locked in a battle against lake trout, an invasive fish with a voracious appetite that has overtaken Yellowstone Lake and upended its formerly thriving ecosystem. According to new research, an aircraft-mounted instrument could offer a faster way to locate and capture the non-native fish during the brief weeks each year when they come into shallow water to spawn.

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Matter & Energy 

Astonishing effect enables better palladium catalysts

The taste of the chocolate cake´s icing should not depend on whether it is served on a porcelain or a silver plate. Similarly, for chemical reactions on the surface of large precious metal grains, the substrate (the so-called support) should not play a crucial role. The catalytic grains often have a diameter spanning many thousands of atoms, and the support on which they rest should thus not affect chemical reactions on the other side far away from the interface — at least this was believed to date.

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Tiny satellite’s first global map of ice clouds

Looking at Earth from the International Space Station, astronauts see big, white clouds spreading across the planet. They cannot distinguish a gray rain cloud from a puffy white cloud. While satellites can see through many clouds and estimate the liquid precipitation they hold, they can’t see the smaller ice particles that create enormous rain clouds.

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Magnetic stimulation dampens brain response to drug cues in addiction

In a study investigating the use of transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) for drug addiction, researchers at Medical University of South Carolina are the first to demonstrate that the noninvasive brain stimulation technique can dampen brain activity in response to drug cues in chronic alcohol users and chronic cocaine users. The findings are published in Biological Psychiatry: Cognitive Neuroscience and Neuroimaging.

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Matter & Energy 

Flowing cells in a wavy microchannel for effective size-based cell sorting

Nearly half a century ago scientists have noticed an interesting phenomenon that small particles flowing through a long tube can stay at a specific position along the cross-section of a tube. This is known as inertial focusing. Later, along with the development of microfluidic technology in recent decades, inertial focusing (one type of passive microfluidic manipulation technology) has emerged as one of the most powerful and precise cell manipulation techniques, exhibiting immense commercial potentials in the bioengineering and pharmaceutical industries. Assistant Professor Dr Ye Ai’s research team from the Singapore University of Technology and Design (SUTD) recently developed a novel, credit card sized inertial cell focusing and sorting microfluidic device with a channel of 125 μm wide (roughly half of a single fingernail’s thickness), providing the potential of rare cell isolation from complex clinical samples.

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