MovieBob Reviews Aquaman

first_img Want to feel old? Entourage spending its entire second season on a joke about how dumb spending blockbuster-millions on an Aquaman movie was in 2005. That was 13 years ago.Want to feel even older? Entourage existed, at one point, and was somewhat popular and highly regarded for a hot second.By any reasonable traditional metric, Aquaman should be a complete disaster: Its plot is needlessly overcomplicated while its storyline is embarrassingly simplistic, the thematic throughline running between the two is utterly confused as to what it seems to think it’s about, the actual narrative doesn’t make a lick of sense and the whole of it has to be carried by Jason Momoa who, as an actor is… a very strong swimmer with a ton of charisma. It has about five Lord of The Rings, three The Mummies and a Dune’s worth of backstory and mythology, all to set up a plot that breaks down to “bad man want do thing, find magic weapon – stop him!,” changes tone and speed almost at random between “Very Expensive Pirate Movie,” “Very Expensive Kamen Rider Movie,” “Very Expensive Stephen Chow Comedy,” “Bizarrely Self-Serious and also Very Expensive Underwater Masters of The Universe complete with Dolph Lundgren For Some Reason,” “Very Expensive Gender-Flipped Little Mermaid” “Even More Expensive Star Wars Prequel” but mostly settles on trying to smash Moana, Thor and “Black Panther but where Killmonger is the good guy” (“Fishmonger?”) into one thing – but actually plays significantly less coherently than any of that would indicate that it does.It’s the sort of movie where the Very Dramatic Buildup to the one-on-one brother against brother gladiatorial battle to the death for the fate of everything… cuts away to make sure that you know the “march to the stadium” war-drums are being played by giant octopus.  Where multiple award-winning actors of stage and screen repeat (very) long paragraphs of “as you know, BUT, for the benefit of the audience…” dialogue in shiny armor while riding CGI sharks. Where scenes of domestic idle are interrupted by Nicole Kidman fighting goons in plastic Power Ranger armor with a giant fork. No less than two characters demonstrate their powers by punching submarines. Villains wield rifles that convert water into lasers as primary weapons. The kind of movie where you find yourself gradually, during a very important scene: “Okay, so… are those jellyfish just like holding up her big elaborate princess dress or – oh. Oh, okay, she’s, just… wearing a giant jellyfish… possible several… shaped like a dress. Alright.”For the record, our story goes something like this: “The Seven Seas” – which actually used to be ancient kingdoms on land that Did a Hubris, sank underwater and evolved into fish-people, some of whom just look like regular people but underwater whereas others are more like mermaids, crab-people, etc – are being manipulated into uniting under the evil Atlantean King Orm (Patrick Wilson) into uniting in a war against the surface because pollution. Pirate-fighting superhero and sometime Justice Leaguer Aquaman, also first born son of Orm’s mother (Nicole Kidman) and a human lighthouse keeper (Temuera Morrison), can stop this; but only if he can work through his resentment over being rejected by the elitist and (implied) more-than-sort-of-racist Atlanteans, can stop the war – but only if he and Orm’s would-be bride Mera (Amber Heard) can undertake a quest and find the magical Trident that will mark him as the One True King of Atlantis and prevent Orm from becoming “The Ocean Master.” However, because Aquaman is kind of dumb and impulsively tries to solve things with his fists first, Orm becomes aware of their quest and sends Aquaman-hating high-tech pirate Black Manta (Yahya Abdul-Mateen II) to hunt them down.No, really.And yet, being this much of an absurd, ridiculous, occasionally very dumb mess of a thing kind of works for it, both in a “go big or go home” way and in a more general “Well, what the hell else were they supposed to do with it – it’s AQUAMAN?” way. The best comparison I can really think of is the 80s version of Flash Gordon, in that they both represent attempts to keep as much of the weird old-fashioned pop-art nonsense aspect of a long-in-the-tooth property preserved as possible while also totally reinventing the main character for a present-day sensibility; i.e. Momoa’s Aquaman (aka “Arthur Curry”) is ostensibly a regular down-to-Earth biker-surfer “let’s pound some beers” bro who wants no part of the royal lineage his half-Atlantean heritage entitles him to but must reluctantly embrace in his own way to stop King Orm from doing The Badness. It’s a decent enough angle, and probably the best workaround for the franchise being saddled with having to start from Zack Snyder and Joss Whedon’s seemingly now-aborted Justice League/DCEU conception of the character and Momoa being something of a limited but enthusiastic instrument as a performer; and a lot of the time it works in his favor. Other times (too many, truth be told) it ends up undercut by jarring changes in tone and style that mostly feel like the amount of pre-visualization involved in a movie with so many absurdly massive CGI sequences resulted in things being done too much out of order without communication: Sometimes Arthur is a funny dumb guy who makes impulsive decisions to move the plot one way, other times he’s really smart and knows how to solve puzzles about obscure ancient historical figures because THAT needs to happen, that kind of thing.It’s also (weirdly, for a project with so much swing-for-the-fences confidence otherwise) low-key “insecure” about its source material, like a lot of it was clearly built around pushing back against the jokes people usually tell about Aquaman: “Oh, you think talking to fish is a dumb power? We’re gonna have him talk to BADASS fish! You think swimming isn’t cool? He’s gonna swim like a BADASS! Yeah, he rides a seahorse – he rides the SHIT OUT OF IT!!!” Which is… a choice, but at least Momoa seems game for it and they wisely give Amber Heard a lot more to do than tag along and be exasperated at his antics.When the plot and the character are leaning hard on the personal stuff about him resenting this magical kingdom of shiny aristocrat fish-people who think they’re better than him and all the implicit thematic stuff that carries with it, he and the film are at their best dramatically. When it’s about anything else… well, they’re not, and it’s back to relying on the spectacle, which is still pretty spectacular. There’s nothing in here that packs the instantly-iconic “people will remember this for a long time” wallop or thematic ressonnance of the beach battle or No Man’s Land sequence from Wonder Woman, but on balance Aquaman is far and away the best looking DC movie and most unabashedly unashamed of itself (at least visually) comic book movie in a long time – well, live-action, anyway, obviously Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse is eating everyone else’s lunch in that department.But Aquaman works, even when it doesn’t. It’s incredibly well-directed by James Wan so it all looks gorgeous and the action is coherent and engaging, Momoa has charisma to burn, the film mostly knows what to do with him (i.e. always have Amber Heard, Willem Dafoe, Morrison, Wilson or someone else with significantly greater range in the scene to do the heavier lifting.) And even if it’s all patently absurd and frequently stupid – magic water-lasers and giant sea monsters and fish people and seven different overdesigned high-tech fish-people cities, gigantic undersea dogfights between submarines and people riding armored seahorses are  and all – it’s fearlessly nutty in the way this stuff should be. If they do another one and find a story worth telling in this world (or just more than two notes for Momoa to play as Aquaman himself) they might really have something.More on Geek.com:Black Manta Can Save The DCEUHappy Birthday to Aquaman, King of the Seven Seas‘Aquaman’ Movie Posters Are So Extra for a Superhero Flick Stay on target Vintage Shelf: Spike Lee Brings the Heat in ‘Do The Right Thing…Top Movie and TV Trailers You Might Have Missed This Week last_img read more

The 10 best upcoming indie games you should be most excited about

first_imgAfter three manic days of gaming, queuing, drinking, chatting and even more queuing, the Australian edition of PAX has come to a close. This year’s show was more popular than ever, and occupied the enormous Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre. This cavernous space was filled with massive booths showing off this holiday season’s blockbusters, but we sidestepped the big bling, instead spending our time in the heaving PAX Rising area. Devoted solely to indie game developers, over 50 different games vied for our attention. What follows is our pick for the best 10 indie games of the show. Apologies if we miss any obvious inclusions off the list, but with so many games on show, it’s bound to happen. One thing is for sure — the quality of indie games continues to skyrocket, exhibiting a level of sheen and polish that used to be reserved for B-grade games from major publishers.10) Defect: Space Destruction KitThis spaceship-building and combat game looks much like many other games in the same genre, though the gorgeous art style immediately caught our eye. Each ship module has been built in 3D, which is then converted to 2D, lending them a depth and realism that hand-drawn art struggles to replicate. Hundreds of parts are available in the construction of your craft, which you then have to take out into a 2D battle. But here’s the catchL once you win the battle, your crew defects with your ship, and you have to build a new one to beat them. Hence the name of the game — building a defect into your ship, so that you can take out the defectors, is crucial to winning.9) The Time ProjectDescribed as a narrative-driven adventure game, The Time Project has some of the simplest controls we’ve ever seen in a game. Swiping right moves time forward, left moves it backwards, and that’s it. The goal is to align specific objects in the environment based on timing, so it’s basically a bit of a puzzler. What really helps this game stand out though is the stunning art and music. The developers have turned outside of the game industry, leveraging the talents of the Soft Science Illustration Studio to create the water-painting style of art. When combined with the peaceful, idyllic soundtrack, The Time Project evokes a dream-like atmosphere that is sure to prove popular for those looking for a more relaxing experience.8) BearzerkersIf there was one trend that we noticed at PAX, it’s that indie developers just love couch-based co-op. Bearzerkers is designed for four pals to battle it out together, either in adversarial or co-op mode. It’s basically a bunch of mini-games where players have to avoid the death-snappy jaws of roving bears, and it looked like a right royal hoot. The arena action is fast and frenetic, with each round over in a matter of minutes, leaving you no time to get bored with each mode. Throw in a few beers and we reckon this will prove to be a massive party hit.7) KieruA first person sword-fighting game might not sound too unique, but it’s the way Kieru shades its world that makes all the difference. The entire environment is comprised of black and white textures, and each character falls into one of those colors. A white ninja standing against a white wall is invisible, and the same is true of black on black. Slashing an enemy sees them sprout a gushing trail of red blood, making them easier to spot. Thus ensues one of the coolest stealth FPS games we’ve ever played.6) HacknetWe feel a little bad promoting a game that has already proven to be a smash hit, but Hacknet deserves to be celebrated as an Aussie Indie. Built by a lone developer in Adelaide, South Australia, Hacknet has proven to be a smash hits since its August release date. Put simply, it’s a hacking simulator, but it’s the style of the thing that has fans so addicted. Forget Hollywood’s laughable 3D GUIs, it’s all about text-based command prompts here baby. Add a wicked techno sound track, and Hacknet is a glowing success story for the Aussie indie scene.5) Vector 36It’s hard to believe that this stunning 3D physics-based racer has been built by one man, given how incredibly complete and complex that it already appears to be. Using an intricate physics model, players have to build and tweak skimmers to complete courses on the terraformed surface of Mars. We played Vector 36 with the optional Oculus Rift support, and were transfixed by the weightiness of the vehicles within. Transfixed is our humble way of saying we got our butts handed to us on a platter; our skimmer didn’t even make it around a single pass of the track without exploding from damage. Hit Steam’s Early Access to check this slick racer out asap.4) DesyncSay hello to the unholy-but-most-awesome love child of Tron and Doom. Dripping in neon, this old-school first-person shooter has the rapid-fire speed that shooters used to be known for. Forget crouching or ADS, here it’s all about Attack Sequences (combos by another name), Overkills, and Streaks. And that side weapon you’re carrying isn’t just for those times your primary is out of ammo — it has certain effects that must be used to open enemies up to attack. With stunning visuals and adrenaline-raising gameplay, we can only hope that the team uses more banging techno tunes from Daniel Deluxe, who supplied the music for the Desync YouTube video.3) Objects in SpaceThese guys have to get the nod for coolest booth at the show, as they’d built a physical cockpit that replicated many of the in-game features. This space simulator uses an art-style termed as modem-punk, and looks like one of the PC sims from the late 80s. Borrowing heavily from the sub sim craze of the era, it plays kind of like 688i Hunter Killer, but in space. It’s all about ensuring your ship isn’t firing off noisy engines or reactors when enemies are around, and ducking into nearby nebulae when necessary. The Ceres spaceship we flew had dedicated rooms for the Bridge, Power, Engine, Comms, Airlock and Cabin, each giving access to numerous systems. Throw in a lengthy text story discussing the politics of each region, and this is looking to be a killer nod to the sims of old.2) Assault Android CactusThrow together three ex-Sega veterans, remove the pressure of triple-A publishing, and Assault Android Cactus is the end result. This joyous celebration of 4-player twin-stick shooters was one of the most professional games at the show, dripping in high production values, rock-solid 60fps gameplay and twitch-tastic controls. Designed to be approachable to genre novices, the player has infinite lives to complete the campaign. Serious competitors will strive to do it as efficiently as possible though, lest their names not shine brightly in the online leaderboards.1) FortsStill with us? Good, as the wait has been worth it. The idea for Forts came to the creator over a decade ago, back when he was working at Ratbag. Fast forward to today, and after three solid years of development Forts is looking primed for release. This real-time physics-based game plays out a little like Bridge Builder, but the player has to build a giant honking fort instead of a boring river-crossing device. Build it too high and it’ll collapse, forget to pad it out and the enemy AI or multiplayer opponents will blow your fort to high heaven and back. We’re amazed nobody has released this type of game before, given how many gamers doodled blueprints of giant forts as kids. Well now you can build them, with hundreds of components and weapons, and then face them off against your friend’s fort. Indie Game of PAX, ’nuff said.last_img read more

UPS Delivers Parcels in Pittsburgh With Threewheeled eBikes

first_img You recognize their drivers and delivery vehicles because of their distinctive brown uniforms and paint jobs, but UPS wants you to know they’re focused on being green. That’s why the company is trying out some ultra-eco-friendly new wheels.This compact three-wheeled number is part of a pilot project UPS kicked off last year in (where else) Portland. Now their electric cargo bikes are replacing vans on some routes in Pittsburgh, too. Next on the expansion list could be Pasadena, Phoenix, Philadelphia, or Pueblo, because clearly UPS is trying to check off all the Ps first.Whatever the real reason UPS chose Pittsburgh, city mobility and infrastructure chief Karina Ricksis excited about being second on the company’s list. “We’re happy to see this technology deployed in our downtown, where we have very narrow streets, where we struggle with traffic congestion,” she told reporters as the first bike rolled out of a UPS warehouse.UPS says the bikes have room for between 15 and 20 packages. That’s a lot less capacity than one of their vans, but that’s something they can counter by setting up centralized storage facilities that riders can circle back to easily.Riders can move the bikes with muscle power alone, but 300-or-so pounds of cargo in the back can make that challenging. That’s where the e-assist comes in. The bike’s battery supplies enough juice to keep the wheels turning for about 18 hours. Pedaling will recharge the battery on-the-go, too.They’ll be used throughout the winter in Pittsburgh — weather permitting, of course. That windscreen doesn’t offer a whole lot of protection from the elements.UPS has actually been using the bikes in Hamburg, Germany since 2012. They’ve been a big hit in Europe, and UPS is confident that they can replicate that success back here in North America. This Clever Seat Post Is Also a Bike LockThe Netherlands Now Has The World’s First Recycled Plastic Bike Path Let us know what you like about Geek by taking our survey.center_img Stay on targetlast_img read more

Worlds Longest 3DPrinted Bridge Unveiled in China

first_imgStay on target People Got High on Cannabis At Funerals 2,500 Years AgoDoctors Find Over 100 Undigested Bubble Tea Balls Inside Teen Don’t let the humble appearance of this new pedestrian bridge fool you. It’s actually kind of a big deal. This is now the world’s longest 3D-printed bridge.The 86-foot long pedestrian bridge, located in Shanghai, was created by a team from the Tsinghua University School of Architecture in Beijing. Its design was inspired by China’s longest-standing bridge, the 1,400-year-old Anji Bridge in Hebei Province.Thanks to the marvel of 3D-printed concrete, this new structure took just 450 hours to complete. The bridge wasn’t printed a single, continuous mass. It was assembled from 112 separate sections: 44 that make up the deck and 34 for each of the undulating sides.Building the bridge from pre-printed sections didn’t just save time. It also saved money. According to its designers, building the bridge from 3d-printed sections reduced construction costs by more than 30 percent.A 1/4 scale model was created first to test the strength of the design. It passed with flying colors, with a yield strength of 9,425psi.In the past few years, China has completed several other significant bridges.One, of course, is the glass-bottomed marvel that spans two peaks in the Avatar mountains. The 300-meter bridge hangs 180 meters above the ground.Its laminated glass deck is sturdy enough to support a car full of people and can withstand multiple blows from a sledgehammer, but authorities have enforced a daily limit of 8,000 visitors. You know, just to be safe.Then there’s the massive Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau Bridge in China’s Greater Bay Area. Planning for the Bridge began way back in 2003. Fifteen years later, the bridge was finally completed at a total construction cost of just over $7.5 billion.At 34 miles long, it’s the world’s sixth longest bridge (trailing four others in China and one in Taiwan). And one interesting note about the bridge is that vehicles drive on the right while traveling through the Chinese portion of the bridge and on left when driving in Hong Kong and Macau.More on Geek.com:Chinese Company Debuts ‘World’s Cheapest Electric Car’World’s First Underground Luxury Hotel Opens in ChinaChina Preps 5G Coverage for World’s Longest Sea Bridgelast_img read more

Sperm whales have individual personalities

first_img Sperm whales return to Mediterranean Sperm whale. Image credit: Ocean Footage Explore further (PhysOrg.com) — In a recent study published in Animal Behaviour by Dalhousie University biologists Hal Whitehead and Shane Gero, the concept that sperm whales (Physeter macrocephalus) are individuals is being learned. Researchers have known for years that other cetacean species use vocalizations for communication, however they have only been studied in bottlenose dolphins and humpback whales, and even that research is still in its infancy. Because sperm whales usually travel in large groups and over great areas, researchers have had difficulty studying and distinguishing their vocalizations. Researchers in the latest study were able to focus on a sperm whale family located in the waters around Dominique. These particular whales tend to stay in this local area enabled the researchers to conduct a long term study on their communication, as well as isolate individual whales and their distinct sounds. These researchers studied the pattern of clicks, or “codas” (this is the technical name given to a distinctive series of clicks), that the whales use for communication. These high-frequency clicks are created by air that gets pushed through the skull of the whale. It is the difference in skull size between each whale that seems to create the different reverberation rates in the clicks, thus enabling researchers to distinguish which whales are making which sounds.While the study of these codas is just beginning, researchers have discovered that they seem to fall into one of two different patterns, with the exception of the one mother whale within the group who had a separate set of vocalizations researchers believed to be a form of communication designed solely for the calf.The first pattern that researchers have distinguished is that of two slow-paced and consecutive clicks, followed by three rapid clicks. This distinct pattern has only been reported within the groups of sperm whales in the Caribbean. The belief of the researchers is that this pattern may be used to identify a particular family, or group of sperm whales, letting the others know that they are part of the family.The second pattern is heard from sperm whales all over the world and is composed of five regularly spaced clicks. It is this pattern that researchers believe could eventually point to way of individuality for each whale; in essence an individual name.While this study is preliminary, it does show the possibility of these sperm whales having a more complex knowledge and understanding, as well as a method of real communication. In other studies we have seen the social behaviors that show more background n culture rather than instinct, so this continuing research may open the doors to a better understanding of these large animals. Researcher Shane Gero believes that the research is just beginning and their understanding of these whales and their communication is nowhere near complete, but that the assumption that these whales have a sense of self can be made. More information: Individually distinctive acoustic features in sperm whale codas, Animal Behaviour, by Ricardo Antunesa, Tyler Schulzb, Shane Gerob, Hal Whiteheadb, Jonathan Gordona and Luke Rendell, dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.anbehav.2010.12.019via Wired Citation: Sperm whales have individual personalities (2011, March 16) retrieved 18 August 2019 from https://phys.org/news/2011-03-sperm-whales-individual-personalities.html (c) 2011 PhysOrg.com This document is subject to copyright. Apart from any fair dealing for the purpose of private study or research, no part may be reproduced without the written permission. The content is provided for information purposes only.last_img read more

Elliptic Labs develops ultrasonic gesture control for handheld devices

first_img This document is subject to copyright. Apart from any fair dealing for the purpose of private study or research, no part may be reproduced without the written permission. The content is provided for information purposes only. Explore further The next interface: Electrical fields, MGC3130, and your hand (w/ Video) To date, the vast majority of gesture control devices use infrared light, a system that has worked very well for gadgets such as Microsoft’s Kinect. But as owners of such devices can attest, they all have one major drawback—limited range. The chip by Ellipitc solves that problem by using sound waves instead of light. That means, as the company demonstrates in a video on its website, that users can control the device within a 180-degree field. The chip allows a device to “see” a hand held higher or lower than the screen, for example, or off to the left or right. Even more remarkably, it can do so from as far away as three feet. Company CEO Lila Danielson, says that the biggest advantage of using ultrasound over infrared is that it uses just a small fraction of the amount of power. And because the chip is tiny, that makes it a perfect fit for tablet computers or smartphones.Gesture control with hand-held devices would most likely be used by users to turn pages (when hands are dirtied from cooking, etc.) or to move through slides or songs in a playlist. Being able to swipe a screen from a distance offers users an additional degree of control.Elliptic Labs won the CEATEC 2013 Innovation Award in the Computing and Networking category this year for its innovative chip, because of its ease of portability to multiple devices and extremely small size allowing for embedding in virtually any device. It was at that ceremony that the company wowed an audience by demonstrating the chips capabilities by connecting it to an Android enabled smartphone. The company also notes that the chip can be easily integrated with new or current features of a device. One example is of a person using a smartphone snapping a photograph, then using a simple flinging gesture in the air, to send it over to a person holding another enabled device. © 2013 Phys.orgcenter_img Citation: Elliptic Labs develops ultrasonic gesture control for hand-held devices (2013, October 11) retrieved 18 August 2019 from https://phys.org/news/2013-10-elliptic-labs-ultrasonic-gesture-hand-held.html More information: www.ellipticlabs.com/ (Phys.org) —Norwegian based Elliptic Labs has revealed that the company has not only developed an ultrasonic gesture control chip for hand-held devices, but that it is already in talks with Asian hand-held hardware makers to embed the new technology. Representatives from Elliptic Labs have told reporters that they believe their chip technology will be available to consumers inside main-stream devices, as early as next year.last_img read more

Spiders found able to custom build webs to trap best food source

first_imgDew on a spider’s web in the morning. Credit: Wikipedia/Luc Viatour/Lucnix.be Spiders partial to a side order of pollen with their flies Citation: Spiders found able to custom build webs to trap best food source (2015, March 19) retrieved 18 August 2019 from https://phys.org/news/2015-03-spiders-custom-webs-food-source.html Explore further Spiders spin webs of sticky silk to capture prey as it flies by—the stickiness keeps the prey in place and the bounciness of the web alerts the spider that something has been caught—the spider than zips over to the prey and kills and eats it. It seems like a simple enough process, but now the researchers with this new effort have found that it is actually more complicated than it looks—because the spiders are noting how effective their webs are at trapping different types of prey, and are adjusting their web to increase its efficiency at capturing the kind of food it wants most.In their lab, the researchers set up four types of experiments involving the spiders along with crickets and flies (the two most common type of prey for the spiders) and the spiders’ web: live crickets, live flies, dead crickets with fly stimulation and dead flies with cricket stimulation. Crickets, the researchers note, create a lot of web action when they hit, and then they jab at the web as they try to hop out. Flies create very little shaking when they hit, and tend to vibrate the web in buzzing fashion due to wing action. The researchers also noted that crickets offer a lot more protein per meal than do flies, which makes them a preferable prey. But, flies can be more abundant, offering a more regular feast.In watching the spiders in action, the researchers found that the spiders would fortify their web if crickets were caught regularly, making sure it could stand up to the pounding it took, but if crickets were scarce, the spiders would increase the overall size of the web and decrease the mesh size, increasing the chances of capturing more flies.The researchers suggest that the protein the spiders find in their prey is the main driver of web construction, the more available in a meal, the more desirable it is. But, they also note that the spider has to calculate risks, because creating web strands uses up protein—if the spider miscalculates, it could wind up with a useless web. © 2015 Phys.orgcenter_img More information: Can differential nutrient extraction explain property variations in a predatory trap? DOI: 10.1098/rsos.140479AbstractPredators exhibit flexible foraging to facilitate taking prey that offer important nutrients. Because trap-building predators have limited control over the prey they encounter, differential nutrient extraction and trap architectural flexibility may be used as a means of prey selection. Here, we tested whether differential nutrient extraction induces flexibility in architecture and stickiness of a spider’s web by feeding Nephila pilipes live crickets (CC), live flies (FF), dead crickets with the web stimulated by flies (CD) or dead flies with the web stimulated by crickets (FD). Spiders in the CD group consumed less protein per mass of lipid or carbohydrate, and spiders in the FF group consumed less carbohydrates per mass of protein. Spiders from the CD group built stickier webs that used less silk, whereas spiders in the FF group built webs with more radii, greater catching areas and more silk, compared with other treatments. Our results suggest that differential nutrient extraction is a likely explanation for prey-induced spider web architecture and stickiness variations. Journal information: Royal Society Open Science (Phys.org)—A small team of researchers with affiliations in China, Taiwan, Australia and Denmark has found that orb-web spiders are able to customize their webs to help ensure they capture the most nutritious prey around. In their paper published in the journal Royal Society Open Science, the team describes how they set up several experiments to test spider web customization and what they found by doing so. This document is subject to copyright. Apart from any fair dealing for the purpose of private study or research, no part may be reproduced without the written permission. The content is provided for information purposes only.last_img read more

Scientists explore the origins of energy in chemical reactions using experimental quantum

first_img This document is subject to copyright. Apart from any fair dealing for the purpose of private study or research, no part may be reproduced without the written permission. The content is provided for information purposes only. In a new study, Cornell University chemists Dr. Martin Rahm and Prof. Roald Hoffmann (who received the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 1981 for theories on the course of chemical reactions) have explored a new way of understanding the origins of energy in chemical reactions at the quantum level. Their paper is published in the Journal of the American Chemical Society. Energy breakdownAt the heart of the paper is the idea—which is generally widely accepted in chemistry—that all of the interactions between the molecules, atoms, and the electrons that bind atoms together can collectively be understood in terms of energy. However, the origins of this energy, and how the energy changes during a chemical reaction, remains an open question. Over the years, researchers have proposed various “energy decomposition analyses,” or interpretations of how this energy can be broken down.In their paper, Rahm and Hoffmann propose a new energy decomposition analysis in which the total changing energy of any chemical reaction can be broken down into three components: nuclear-nuclear repulsion (the repulsive energy between the positively charged nuclei of different atoms), the average electron binding energy (the average energy required to remove one electron from an atom), and electron-electron interactions (the repulsive energy between negatively charged electrons).To paint a picture of how this works, the scientists explain in their paper what happens when any two atoms are brought closer together. First, the repulsion between the two nuclei increases, which causes the electrons to move in between the nuclei in an attempt to shield some of this repulsion. In the presence of the two nuclei, the average binding energy of the electrons changes due to differences in electron-nuclear attraction. As the electrons move closer together, they also begin to interact more strongly with each other. Quantifying these electron-electron interactions is one of the greatest challenges in computational chemistry. One thing that this work demonstrates is that it is possible to estimate these electron-electron interactions (the third term) from experimental data. As the scientists explain, this is one area where chemistry becomes “quantum,” and has not been measurable before now. “Traditionally, knowledge of electron-electron interaction energies has only been attainable by first mathematically constructing a wave function and then approximating a solution to the so-called Schrödinger equation, i.e., by doing quantum mechanics,” Rahm told Phys.org. “This work demonstrates that such information can actually be extracted from sufficiently accurate experimental data. There are caveats and inherent approximations, but it is in principle possible.” Citation: Scientists explore the origins of energy in chemical reactions using experimental quantum chemistry (2015, August 21) retrieved 18 August 2019 from https://phys.org/news/2015-08-scientists-explore-energy-chemical-reactions.html More information: Martin Rahm and Roald Hoffmann. “Toward an Experimental Quantum Chemistry: Exploring a New Energy Partitioning.” Journal of the American Chemical Society. DOI: 10.1021/jacs.5b05600 (Left) The alternative definition of electronegativity (y-axis) proposed by Allen as the “average electron binding energy” produces experimental values that correlate linearly with values determined by the traditional Pauling definition (x-axis). (Right) (A) Experimental and (B) calculated values of Allen electronegativity for selected atoms and molecules. (C) Estimated values of Allen electronegativity for the valence bands of graphene. All values come from previous research. Credit: Rahm and Hoffmann ©2015 American Chemical Society Measuring electronegativityOther new possibilities arise from understanding the second term—the average electron binding energy—as an alternative interpretation of one of the most fundamental concepts of chemistry, that of electronegativity. As the scientists explain, electronegativity was traditionally defined by Linus Pauling in 1932 as “the power of an atom to attract electrons to itself,” and in this way it tells where electrons move when two or more atoms come together, which is the basis of bond formation. This is still the most widely used definition today. An alternative definition, proposed in 1989 by Lee Allen, is that electronegativity is the average binding energy of valence electrons (however, Rahm and Hoffmann use all of the electrons, not just the valence ones, in their energy partitioning proposal). Electronegativity values obtained using Allen’s definition correlate strongly with those obtained using Pauling’s, but the main advantage of Allen’s definition is that electronegativity defined in this way can be experimentally measured (such as by using photoelectron spectroscopy), while electronegativity using the Pauling definition cannot be. From fundamental understanding to practical useThe ability to experimentally measure the average electron binding energy, along with the fact that experimental data can be used to determine nuclear-nuclear repulsion and electron-electron interactions, provides some unprecedented abilities. Most importantly, it makes it possible to experimentally measure what percentage of the total energy change that each of the three components is responsible for. With this information, the scientists explain that all chemical reactions and physical transformations can be classified into eight types based on whether the reaction is energy-consuming or energy-releasing, and on whether it is favored or resisted by the nuclear, multielectron, and/or binding energy components. This information can provide valuable information about the nature of a chemical bond. The researchers also showed that, in four of the eight classes of reactions, knowledge of the binding energy alone (and by extension, either definition of electronegativity) is enough to predict whether or not the reaction is likely to proceed. In other words, as the scientists explain, “it allows researchers to predict when simple and intuitive rationales using the time-honored concept of electronegativity will work in predicting trends in energy, and when it will fail.”This paper is the first in a series in which the researchers plan to explore these ideas further, especially in regard to the potential usefulness of this new perspective of energy in chemical reactions. They note that one “tantalizing” prospect is the possibility to measure absolute energies, whereas most of chemistry relates to the measure of relative energies. An experiment would begin with the known measured absolute energy of a one-electron system (such as C5+, which is a carbon atom with all but one of its electrons removed), which can easily be measured since, with only one electron, there is zero electron-electron repulsion. Then the absolute energy of the carbon atom, and the electron-electron interactions within it, could be measured as electrons are added back one by one. This feat should be possible since it’s in principle possible to experimentally measure the average electron binding energy for each step. In this way, an alternative understanding of the fundamentals of chemistry may provide useful new tools and applications.”This paper has three important outcomes,” Rahm said. “It connects the central chemical concept of electronegativity with the total energy, whose changes govern most of chemistry. It tells us how we can estimate the importance of electron-electron interactions in governing chemical reactions, from experimental data. It is also the first energy decomposition scheme that can be interchangeably applied using either or both computed and experimental data. This should allow for quite some interdisciplinary bridging.”In the future, the scientists plan to apply this theoretical understanding to studying a variety of chemical reactions.”The next step will be to analyze the nature of the chemical bonds in larger diatomic molecules, such as molecular nitrogen (N2), carbon monoxide (CO) and fluorine (F2),” Rahm said. “After this, more complex reaction mechanisms and physical transformations will follow. Such work will show us the limits of our approach. Hopefully useful predictions will emerge that could, ultimately, help us understand and design different molecular and material properties.” Findings on how electrons are solvated in water widen the range of potential influences on chemical reactions © 2015 Phys.org Journal information: Journal of the American Chemical Society Explore further (Phys.org)—One thing that all chemical reactions have in common—whether they are the reactions that take place inside a battery, the metabolic reactions inside a living organism, or the combustion reactions that cause an explosion—is that they all involve some kind of change in energy. On a large scale, the changes in energy of a reaction can usually be measured in various ways for practical purposes, but attempting to understand the fundamental origins of this energy at smaller and smaller scales becomes more complicated, especially as chemistry enters the quantum realm. Chemists propose that the energy, E, in all chemical reactions can be broken down into three components, as shown in this equation. The “X-bar” represents the average binding energy of electrons (the Allen definition of electronegativity), VNN represents nuclear-nuclear repulsion, and w represents electron-electron interactions. Credit: Rahm and Hoffmann ©2015 American Chemical Societylast_img read more

ScarTrace helps understand how multicellular organisms develop from embryonic progenitors

first_imgA team of researchers with Oncode Institute, Hubrecht Institute-KNAW and University Medical Center Utrecht in The Netherlands has developed a new method to conduct whole-organism clone tracing using single-cell sequencing. In their paper published in the journal Nature, the group describes how they used their new method to conduct research on barcoded zebrafish cells. As the researchers note, embryonic development is an important stage for highly complicated organisms such as humans—only a very limited number of embryonic progenitors somehow manage to produce all of the cells that wind up in the adult body. To understand how this process works, the researchers further note, methods are required to measure the clonal history that occurs, and at the same time, perform cell identification at single-cell resolution. In this new effort, the researchers developed such a technique called ScarTrace. The name comes from a part of the technique that involves adding tandem copies of a fluorescent protein transgene that makes it possible to identify “scars” left behind in a transcription caused by CRISPR-Cas9 gene editing.Using the technique, the researchers were able to track the clonal roots and cell outcomes of coded zebrafish cells. More specifically, they were able to trace back adult cells from several sites such as the kidneys, eyes and fins to specific progenitors. They note that the technique was sensitive enough to study the process that occurs when a progenitor commits to producing a left or right eye. They also found that cells in the skin and the caudal fin arose from the same progenitors. They report the identification of immune cells in fish fins with a distinct clonal origin from other kinds of blood cells.The researchers suggest methods like theirs will help with the ultimate goal of tracing all the events that lead from a single cell to a fully developed body. Bolstering that claim was work by another team with members from China, the U.K. and the U.S.—they published a paper in the same Nature issue detailing their own work with a single-cell sequencing method they had developed called MAP-seq. Journal information: Nature Explore further Using CRISPR to create a cell ‘black box’ to record cell life events More information: Anna Alemany et al. Whole-organism clone tracing using single-cell sequencing, Nature (2018). DOI: 10.1038/nature25969AbstractEmbryonic development is a crucial period in the life of a multicellular organism, during which limited sets of embryonic progenitors produce all cells in the adult body. Determining which fate these progenitors acquire in adult tissues requires the simultaneous measurement of clonal history and cell identity at single-cell resolution, which has been a major challenge. Clonal history has traditionally been investigated by microscopically tracking cells during development, monitoring the heritable expression of genetically encoded fluorescent proteins and, more recently, using next-generation sequencing technologies that exploit somatic mutations4, microsatellite instability, transposon tagging, viral barcoding, CRISPR–Cas9 genome editing and Cre–loxP recombination. Single-cell transcriptomics provides a powerful platform for unbiased cell-type classification. Here we present ScarTrace, a single-cell sequencing strategy that enables the simultaneous quantification of clonal history and cell type for thousands of cells obtained from different organs of the adult zebrafish. Using ScarTrace, we show that a small set of multipotent embryonic progenitors generate all haematopoietic cells in the kidney marrow, and that many progenitors produce specific cell types in the eyes and brain. In addition, we study when embryonic progenitors commit to the left or right eye. ScarTrace reveals that epidermal and mesenchymal cells in the caudal fin arise from the same progenitors, and that osteoblast-restricted precursors can produce mesenchymal cells during regeneration. Furthermore, we identify resident immune cells in the fin with a distinct clonal origin from other blood cell types. We envision that similar approaches will have major applications in other experimental systems, in which the matching of embryonic clonal origin to adult cell type will ultimately allow reconstruction of how the adult body is built from a single cell. Citation: ScarTrace helps understand how multicellular organisms develop from embryonic progenitors (2018, March 29) retrieved 18 August 2019 from https://phys.org/news/2018-03-scartrace-multicellular-embryonic-progenitors.html This document is subject to copyright. Apart from any fair dealing for the purpose of private study or research, no part may be reproduced without the written permission. The content is provided for information purposes only. © 2018 Phys.orglast_img read more

Study shows people rarely express gratitude to those closest to them

first_img Journal information: Royal Society Open Science More information: Simeon Floyd et al. Universals and cultural diversity in the expression of gratitude, Royal Society Open Science (2018). DOI: 10.1098/rsos.180391AbstractGratitude is argued to have evolved to motivate and maintain social reciprocity among people, and to be linked to a wide range of positive effects—social, psychological and even physical. But is socially reciprocal behaviour dependent on the expression of gratitude, for example by saying ‘thank you’ as in English? Current research has not included cross-cultural elements, and has tended to conflate gratitude as an emotion with gratitude as a linguistic practice, as might appear to be the case in English. Here, we ask to what extent people express gratitude in different societies by focusing on episodes of everyday life where someone seeks and obtains a good, service or support from another, comparing these episodes across eight languages from five continents. We find that expressions of gratitude in these episodes are remarkably rare, suggesting that social reciprocity in everyday life relies on tacit understandings of rights and duties surrounding mutual assistance and collaboration. At the same time, we also find minor cross-cultural variation, with slightly higher rates in Western European languages English and Italian, showing that universal tendencies of social reciprocity should not be equated with more culturally variable practices of expressing gratitude. Our study complements previous experimental and culture-specific research on gratitude with a systematic comparison of audiovisual corpora of naturally occurring social interaction from different cultures from around the world. Explore further Frequency of expressions of gratitude after successful requests (928 cases). Credit: Royal Society Open Science (2018). DOI: 10.1098/rsos.180391 © 2018 Phys.org Citation: Study shows people rarely express gratitude to those closest to them (2018, May 23) retrieved 18 August 2019 from https://phys.org/news/2018-05-people-rarely-gratitude-closest.htmlcenter_img Saying “thank you” when someone does something for you is a way of expressing gratitude. It is also generally considered the polite thing to do—but mostly only in public conversations, the researchers with this new effort found.To learn more about expressions of gratitude as part of social interactions, the researchers installed microphones in the homes and community gathering places of volunteers. In all, the team recorded 1,057 conversations from which they counted instances when someone offered thanks to the other. They did this for people living on five continents using eight languages.In analyzing their tallies, the researchers found that people say “thank you” far less than might be assumed—at least when talking with family or close friends. They also found that there were differences among different groups. Those speaking English, for example, tended to offer thanks approximately 14.5 percent of the time. Those speaking Italian were close behind at 13.5 percent. But in other countries, it was much lower, such as just 2 percent for Polish speakers. Overall, the average was just 5.5 percent. The researchers suggest what they found is not an example of people feeling freer to be rude to family, but an example of a basic standard of reciprocity. This suggests, they note, that the default answer is “yes” when asked for something in a family situation. The expectation is that the person receiving the request will do it. And it happens a lot more than most might think. The researchers found that during normal conversation, people make requests of others approximately every 1.5 minutes, on average. They also noted that when thanks were not expressed, the other person was not upset—and, indeed, rarely even noticed it. It was only when the other person said “no” that the person asking responded in a meaningful way. And it was the same for the person being asked—they only felt the need to explain themselves when turning down a request. An international team of researchers has found that people around the world rarely say “thank you” to those closest to them. In their paper published in the journal Royal Society Open Science, the group describes their study of expressing gratitude and what they found. What we mean when we ask for the milk This document is subject to copyright. Apart from any fair dealing for the purpose of private study or research, no part may be reproduced without the written permission. The content is provided for information purposes only.last_img read more