Memories May Be Stored In DNA

Memories may be stored on your DNA

REMEMBER
your first kiss? Experiments in mice suggest that patterns of chemical
“caps” on our DNA may be responsible for preserving such memories.

To
remember a particular event, a specific sequence of neurons must fire
at just the right time. For this to happen, neurons must be connected
in a certain way by chemical junctions called synapses. But how they
last over decades, given that proteins in the brain, including those
that form synapses, are destroyed and replaced constantly, is a mystery.

Now Courtney Miller and David Sweatt
of the University of Alabama in Birmingham say that long-term memories
may be preserved by a process called DNA methylation – the addition of
chemical caps called methyl groups onto our DNA.

Many
genes are already coated with methyl groups. When a cell divides, this
“cellular memory” is passed on and tells the new cell what type it is –
a kidney cell, for example. Miller and Sweatt argue that in neurons,
methyl groups also help to control the exact pattern of protein
expression needed to maintain the synapses that make up memories.

They
started by looking at short-term memories. When caged mice are given a
small electric shock, they normally freeze in fear when returned to the
cage. However, then injecting them with a drug to inhibit methylation
seemed to erase any memory of the shock. The researchers also showed
that in untreated mice, gene methylation changed rapidly in the
hippocampus region of the brain for an hour following the shock. But a
day later, it had returned to normal, suggesting that methylation was
involved in creating short-term memories in the hippocampus (Neuron, DOI: 10.1016/j.neuron.2007.02.022).

To
see whether methylation plays a part in the formation of long-term
memories, Miller and Sweatt repeated the experiment, this time looking
at the uppermost layers of the brain, called the cortex.

They found that a day after the shock, methyl groups were being removed from a gene called calcineurin
and added to another gene. Because the exact pattern of methylation
eventually stabilised and then stayed constant for seven days, when the
experiment ended, the researchers say the methyl changes may be
anchoring the memory of the shock into long-term memory, not just
controlling a process involved in memory formation.

“We
think we’re seeing short-term memories forming in the hippocampus and
slowly turning into long-term memories in the cortex,” says Miller, who
presented the results last week at the Society for Neuroscience meeting in Washington DC.

“The
cool idea here is that the brain could be borrowing a form of cellular
memory from developmental biology to use for what we think of as
memory,” says Marcelo Wood, who researches long-term memory at the
University of California, Irvine.

Posted by email from darklight’s posterous

8 More Firefox Hacks

Make Firefox ridiculously fast

Firefox has been outperforming IE in every department for years, and version 3 is speedier than ever.

But tweak the right settings and you could make it faster still, more than doubling your speed in some situations, all for about five minutes work and for the cost of precisely nothing at all. Here’s what you need to do.

1. Enable pipelining

Browsers are normally very polite, sending a request to a server then waiting for a response before continuing. Pipelining is a more aggressive technique that lets them send multiple requests before any responses are received, often reducing page download times. To enable it, type about:config in the address bar, double-click network.http.pipelining and network.http.proxy.pipelining so their values are set to true, then double-click network.http.pipelining.maxrequests and set this to 8.

Keep in mind that some servers don’t support pipelining, though, and if you regularly visit a lot of these then the tweak can actually reduce performance. Set network.http.pipelining and network.http.proxy.pipelining to false again if you have any problems.

2. Render quickly

Large, complex web pages can take a while to download. Firefox doesn’t want to keep you waiting, so by default will display what it’s received so far every 0.12 seconds (the “content notify interval”). While this helps the browser feel snappy, frequent redraws increase the total page load time, so a longer content notify interval will improve performance.

Type about:config and press [Enter], then right-click (Apple users ctrl-click) somewhere in the window and select New > Integer. Type content.notify.interval as your preference name, click OK, enter 500000 (that’s five hundred thousand, not fifty thousand) and click OK again.

Right-click again in the window and select New > Boolean. This time create a value called content.notify.ontimer and set it to True to finish the job.

3. Faster loading

If you haven’t moved your mouse or touched the keyboard for 0.75 seconds (the content switch threshold) then Firefox enters a low frequency interrupt mode, which means its interface becomes less responsive but your page loads more quickly. Reducing the content switch threshold can improve performance, then, and it only takes a moment.

Type about:config and press [Enter], right-click in the window and select New > Integer. Type content.switch.threshold, click OK, enter 250000 (a quarter of a second) and click OK to finish.

4. No interruptions

You can take the last step even further by telling Firefox to ignore user interface events altogether until the current page has been downloaded. This is a little drastic as Firefox could remain unresponsive for quite some time, but try this and see how it works for you.

Type about:config, press [Enter], right-click in the window and select New > Boolean. Type content.interrupt.parsing, click OK, set the value to False and click OK.

5. Block Flash

Intrusive Flash animations are everywhere, popping up over the content you actually want to read and slowing down your browsing. Fortunately there’s a very easy solution. Install the Flashblock extension (flashblock.mozdev.org) and it’ll block all Flash applets from loading, so web pages will display much more quickly. And if you discover some Flash content that isn’t entirely useless, just click its placeholder to download and view the applet as normal.

6. Increase the cache size

As you browse the web so Firefox stores site images and scripts in a local memory cache, where they can be speedily retrieved if you revisit the same page. If you have plenty of RAM (2 GB of more), leave Firefox running all the time and regularly return to pages then you can improve performance by increasing this cache size. Type about:config and press [Enter], then right-click anywhere in the window and select New > Integer. Type browser.cache.memory.capacity, click OK, enter 65536 and click OK, then restart your browser to get the new, larger cache.

7. Enable TraceMonkey

TraceMonkey is a new Firefox feature that converts slow Javascript into super-speedy x86 code, and so lets it run some functions anything up to 20 times faster than the current version. It’s still buggy so isn’t available in the regular Firefox download yet, but if you’re willing to risk the odd crash or two then there’s an easy way to try it out.

Install the latest nightly build (ftp://ftp.mozilla.org/pub/firefox/nightly/latest-trunk/), launch it, type about:config in the address bar and press Enter. Type JIT in the filter box, then double-click javascript.options.jit.chrome and javascript.options.jit.content to change their values to true, and that’s it – you’re running the fastest Firefox Javascript engine ever.

8. Compress data

If you’ve a slow internet connection then it may feel like you’ll never get Firefox to perform properly, but that’s not necessarily true. Install toonel.net (toonel.net) and this clever Java applet will re-route your web traffic through its own server, compressing it at the same time, so there’s much less to download. And it can even compress JPEGs by allowing you to reduce their quality. This all helps to cut your data transfer, useful if you’re on a limited 1 GB-per-month account, and can at best double your browsing performance.

Thanks to PCAnswers

A New Neutrino Hunt

Fermilab Looks for Visitors from Another Dimension
A prototype liquid-argon detector called ArgoNeuT will pave the way for the MicroBooNE facility at Fermilab

By Mark Alpert – SCIAM

Neutrino Hunters Bonnie Fleming and Mitchell Soderberg inspect a prototype liquid-argon detector called ArgoNeuT that will pave the way for the MicroBooNE facility at Fermilab.

The detection of extra dimensions beyond the familiar four—the three dimensions of space and one of time—would be among the most earth-shattering discoveries in the history of physics. Now scientists at the Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory in Batavia, Ill., are designing a new experiment that would investigate tantalizing hints that extra dimensions may indeed exist.

Last year researchers involved in Fermilab’s MiniBooNE study, which detects elusive subatomic particles called neutrinos, announced that they had found a surprising anomaly. Neutrinos, which have no charge and very little mass, form out of nuclear reactions and particle decays. They come in three types, called flavors—electron, muon and tau—and oscillate wildly from one flavor to another as they travel along. While observing a beam of muon neutrinos generated by one of Fermilab’s particle accelerators, the MiniBooNE researchers found that an unexpectedly high number of the particles in the low-energy range (below 475 million electron volts) had transformed into electron neutrinos. After a year of analysis, the investigators have failed to come up with a conventional explanation for this so-called low-energy excess. The mystery has focused attention on an intriguing and very unconventional hypothesis: a fourth kind of neutrino may be bouncing in and out of extra dimensions.

String theorists, who seek to unify the laws of gravity with those of quantum mechanics, have long predicted the existence of extra dimensions. Some physicists have proposed that nearly all the particles in our universe may be confined to a four-dimensional “brane” embedded within a 10-dimensional “bulk.” But a putative particle called the sterile neutrino, which interacts with other particles only through gravity, would be able to travel in and out of the brane, taking shortcuts through the extra dimensions. In 2005 Heinrich Päs, now at the University of Dortmund in Germany, Sandip Pakvasa of the University of Hawaii and Thomas J. Weiler of Vanderbilt University predicted that the extradimensional peregrinations of sterile neutrinos would increase the probability of flavor oscillations at low energies—exactly the result found at MiniBooNE two years later.

Energized by the prospect of discovering new laws of physics, the MiniBooNE team soon proposed a follow-up experiment called MicroBooNE that could test the sterile neutrino hypothesis. The new detector, a cryogenic tank filled with 170 tons of liquid argon, would be able to detect low-energy particles with much greater precision than its predecessor could. A particle emerging from a neutrino interaction would ionize the argon atoms in its path, inducing currents in arrays of wires at the perimeter of the tank. Scientists could then pinpoint the trajectory of the particle, allowing them to better distinguish between electron neutrino interactions and other events and thus determine whether there really is an excess of oscillations at low energies.

Estimated to cost about $15 million, the MicroBooNE tank would be located near the MiniBooNE detector at Fermilab so that it could observe the same beam of neutrinos. This past June the lab’s physics advisory committee approved the design phase for the project; if all goes well, the detector could begin operating as soon as 2011.

Researchers hope that MicroBooNE will lead to the development of much larger detectors, containing hundreds of thousands of tons of liquid argon in tanks as big as sports arenas. Such facilities could search for other hypothesized phenomena such as the extremely rare decay of protons. “It’s a fantastic new technology,” says Bonnie Fleming, a physicist at Yale University and spokesperson for MicroBooNE. “And it’s crucial for taking the next step in physics.”

Note: This article was originally printed with the title, “A New Neutrino Hunt”.

Hotkeys & Shortcuts

General Keyboard Shortcuts:

#
Windows Logo+D (Display the desktop)
#
Windows Logo+M (Minimize all of the windows )
#
Windows Logo+SHIFT+M (Restore the minimized windows )
#
Windows Logo+E (Open My Computer)
#
Windows Logo+F (Search for a file or a folder)
#
CTRL+Windows Logo+F (Search for computers)
#
Windows Logo+F1 (Display Windows Help)
#
Windows Logo+ L (Lock the keyboard)

*
CTRL+C (Copy)
*
CTRL+X (Cut)
*
CTRL+V (Paste)
*
CTRL+Z (Undo)
*
DELETE (Delete)
*
SHIFT+DELETE (Delete the selected item permanently without placing the item in the Recycle Bin)
*
CTRL while dragging an item (Copy the selected item)
*
CTRL+SHIFT while dragging an item (Create a shortcut to the selected item)
*
F2 key (Rename the selected item)
*
CTRL+RIGHT ARROW (Move the insertion point to the beginning of the next word)
*
CTRL+LEFT ARROW (Move the insertion point to the beginning of the previous word)
*
CTRL+DOWN ARROW (Move the insertion point to the beginning of the next paragraph)
*
CTRL+UP ARROW (Move the insertion point to the beginning of the previous paragraph)
*
CTRL+SHIFT with any of the arrow keys (Highlight a block of text)
*
SHIFT with any of the arrow keys (Select more than one item in a window or on the desktop, or select text in a document)
*
CTRL+A (Select all) F3 key (Search for a file or a folder)
*
ALT+ENTER (View the properties for the selected item)
*
ALT+F4 (Close the active item, or quit the active program)
*
ALT+ENTER (Display the properties of the selected object)
*
ALT+SPACEBAR (Open the shortcut menu for the active window)
*
CTRL+F4 (Close the active document in programs that enable you to have multiple documents open simultaneously)
*
ALT+TAB (Switch between the open items)
*
ALT+ESC (Cycle through items in the order that they had been opened)
*
F6 key (Cycle through the screen elements in a window or on the desktop)
*
F4 key (Display the Address bar list in My Computer or Windows Explorer)
*
SHIFT+F10 (Display the shortcut menu for the selected item)
*
ALT+SPACEBAR (Display the System menu for the active window)
*
CTRL+ESC (Display the Start menu)
*
ALT+Underlined letter in a menu name (Display the corresponding menu)
*
Underlined letter in a command name on an open menu (Perform the corresponding command)
*
F10 key (Activate the menu bar in the active program)
*
RIGHT ARROW (Open the next menu to the right, or open a submenu)
*
LEFT ARROW (Open the next menu to the left, or close a submenu)
*
F5 key (Update the active window)
*
BACKSPACE (View the folder one level up in My Computer or Windows Explorer)
*
ESC (Cancel the current task)
*
SHIFT when you insert a CD-ROM into the CD-ROM drive (Prevent the CD-ROM from automatically playing)
Microsoft Internet Explorer 7.0 Keyboard Shortcuts:

*
CTRL+click (Open links in a new tab in the background)
*
CTRL+SHIFT+click (Open links in a new tab in the foreground)
*
CTRL+T (Open a new tab in the foreground)
*
ALT+ENTER (Open a new tab from the Address bar)
*
ALT+ENTER (Open a new tab from the search box)
*
CTRL+Q (Open Quick Tabs – thumbnail view)
*
CTRL+TAB/CTRL+SHIFT+TAB (Switch between tabs)
*
CTRL+n (n can be 1-8) (Switch to a specific tab number)
*
CTRL+9 (Switch to the last tab)
*
CTRL+W (Close current tab)
*
ALT+F4 (Close all tabs)
*
CTRL+ALT+F4 (Close other tabs)

For more information, visit: http://www.microsoft.com
Dialog Box Keyboard Shortcuts:

If you press SHIFT+F8 in extended selection list boxes, you enable extended selection mode. In this mode, you can use an arrow key to move a cursor without changing the selection. You can press CTRL+SPACEBAR or SHIFT+SPACEBAR to adjust the selection. To cancel extended selection mode, press SHIFT+F8 again. Extended selection mode cancels itself when you move the focus to another control.

*
CTRL+TAB (Move forward through the tabs)
*
CTRL+SHIFT+TAB (Move backward through the tabs)
*
TAB (Move forward through the options)
*
SHIFT+TAB (Move backward through the options)
*
ALT+Underlined letter (Perform the corresponding command or select the corresponding option)
*
ENTER (Perform the command for the active option or button)
*
SPACEBAR (Select or clear the check box if the active option is a check box)
*
Arrow keys (Select a button if the active option is a group of option buttons)
*
F1 key (Display Help)
*
F4 key (Display the items in the active list)
*
BACKSPACE (Open a folder one level up if a folder is selected in the Save As or Open dialog box)
Windows Explorer Keyboard Shortcuts:

*
END (Display the bottom of the active window)
*
HOME (Display the top of the active window)
*
NUM LOCK+Asterisk sign (*) (Display all of the subfolders that are under the selected folder)
*
NUM LOCK+Plus sign (+) (Display the contents of the selected folder)
*
NUM LOCK+Minus sign (-) (Collapse the selected folder)
*
LEFT ARROW (Collapse the current selection if it is expanded, or select the parent folder)
*
RIGHT ARROW (Display the current selection if it is collapsed, or select the first subfolder)
Microsoft Natural Keyboard Shortcuts:

*
Windows Logo (Display or hide the Start menu)
*
Windows Logo+BREAK (Display the System Properties dialog box)
*
Windows Logo+D (Display the desktop)
*
Windows Logo+M (Minimize all of the windows )
*
Windows Logo+SHIFT+M (Restore the minimized windows )
*
Windows Logo+E (Open My Computer)
*
Windows Logo+F (Search for a file or a folder)
*
CTRL+Windows Logo+F (Search for computers)
*
Windows Logo+F1 (Display Windows Help)
*
Windows Logo+ L (Lock the keyboard)
*
Windows Logo+R (Open the Run dialog box)
*
Windows Logo+U (Open Utility Manager)
Accessibility Keyboard Shortcuts:

*
Right SHIFT for eight seconds (Switch FilterKeys either on or off)
*
Left ALT+left SHIFT+PRINT SCREEN (Switch High Contrast either on or off)
*
Left ALT+left SHIFT+NUM LOCK (Switch the MouseKeys either on or off)
*
SHIFT five times (Switch the StickyKeys either on or off)
*
NUM LOCK for five seconds (Switch the ToggleKeys either on or off)
*
Windows Logo +U (Open Utility Manager)
Remote Desktop Connection Navigation:

*
CTRL+ALT+END (Open the Microsoft Windows NT Security dialog box)
*
ALT+PAGE UP (Switch between programs from left to right)
*
ALT+PAGE DOWN (Switch between programs from right to left)
*
ALT+INSERT (Cycle through the programs in most recently used order)
*
ALT+HOME (Display the Start menu)
*
CTRL+ALT+BREAK (Switch the client computer between a window and a full screen)
*
ALT+DELETE (Display the Windows menu)
*
CTRL+ALT+Minus sign (-) (Place a snapshot of the entire client window area on the Terminal server clipboard and provide the same functionality as pressing ALT+PRINT SCREEN on a local computer.)
*
CTRL+ALT+Plus sign (+) (Place a snapshot of the active window in the client on the Terminal server clipboard and provide the same functionality as pressing PRINT SCREEN on a local computer.)


((\(\o/)/))

Save CPU and RAM: Disable Indexing on XP

Save CPU and RAM: Disable the Indexing Service on Windows XP

If there is one bloated and unnecessary service that you should immediately disable, it’s definitely the Indexing Service built into Windows XP. The idea behind it is that you can search for files more quickly if it is enabled….  but you are using Google Desktop for that, right?

The indexing service seems to eat up a lot of CPU on every machine I’ve used, especially when you have the amount of files that I’ve got. Let’s disable it.

  1. Navigate to the Services console via Administrative Tools.
  2. Double-click on the Indexing Service and change the startup type to disabled.
  3. Hit the stop button if it is started, which is likely, and then hit OK.

Yet another unnecessary service stopped!

Fix for Firefox memory leak on Windows

Fix for Firefox memory leak on Windows

This seems to help out with the memory usage quite a bit. Generally, when you minimize a window the memory usage goes way down because that application isn’t active. Unfortunately, Firefox by default doesn’t adhere to this behavior. Here’s how to force it to.

Type the following into your address bar in Firefox:

about:config

You will see a window that looks similar to this:

You will want to right click anywhere in the window, choose New, Boolean, and enter in the following text:

config.trim_on_minimize

To change the value you can either doubleclick, or right-click and choose Toggle. You will have to restart Firefox, but after you do, you should notice the memory usage go way down whenever you have Firefox minimized.

Update: You will want the value to be set to True in order for this to work.

PlaceHolder: Re-Entry

This area is not yet complete, but please feel free to explore the rest of this site using the navigation menus, or by clicking here for a random surprise.  You can also click the image above to enter the main site directly.

Thanks for visiting!

(\o/) : Omni/DarkLight

Coming Soon
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