By samzenpus from Slashdot's filled-to-the-briim department
Hugh Pickens DOT Com writes "Benedict Carey writes in the NYT that the idea that the brain slows with age is one of the strongest in all of psychology but a new paper suggests that older adults'; performance on cognitive tests reflects the predictable consequences of learning on information-processing, and not cognitive decline. A team of linguistic researchers from the University of Tübingen in Germany used advanced learning models to search enormous databases of words and phrases. Since educated older people generally know more words than younger people, simply by virtue of having been around longer, the experiment simulates what an older brain has to do to retrieve a word. When the researchers incorporated that difference into the models, the aging 'deficits' largely disappeared. That is to say, the larger the library you have in your head, the longer it usually takes to find a particular word (or pair). 'What shocked me, to be honest, is that for the first half of the time we were doing this project, I totally bought into the idea of age-related cognitive decline in healthy adults,' says lead author Michael Ramscar but the simulations 'fit so well to human data that it slowly forced me to entertain this idea that I didn't need to invoke decline at all.' The new report will very likely add to a growing skepticism about how steep age-related decline really is. Scientists who study thinking and memory often make a broad distinction between 'fluid' and 'crystallized' intelligence. The former includes short-term memory, like holding a phone number in mind, analytical reasoning, and the ability to tune out distractions, like ambient conversation. The latter is accumulated knowledge, vocabulary and expertise. 'In essence, what Ramscar's group is arguing is that an increase in crystallized intelligence can account for a decrease in fluid intelligence,' says Zach Hambrick, In the meantime the new digital-era challenge to 'cognitive decline' can serve as a ready-made explanation for blank moments, whether senior or otherwise (PDF). 'It's not that you're slow.,' says Carey. 'It's that you know so much.'"Read Replies (0)
By timothy from Slashdot's but-frogs-love-warm-water department
An anonymous reader writes with this excerpt from the Washington Examiner: "Officials at the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau are conducting a massive, NSA-esque data-mining project collecting account information on an estimated 991 million American credit card accounts. It was also learned at a Congressional hearing Tuesday that CFPB officials are working with the Federal Housing Finance Agency on a second data-mining effort, this one focused on the 53 million residential mortgages taken out by Americans since 1998. ...Later in the hearing, [Rep. Randy Neugebauer, R-Texas] remarked that CFPB 'and NSA are in a contest of who can collect the most information,' ... although the CFPB disagreed with that statement. In previous testimony before Rep. Jeb Hensarling's panel, Antonakes said 'the combined data represents approximately 85-90 percent of outstanding card balances.' The Argus contract specifies that the company must collect 96 'data points' from each of the participating card issuers for each credit card account on a monthly basis. The 96 data points include a unique card-account identification reference number, ZIP code, monthly ending balance, borrower's income, FICO score, credit limit, monthly payment amount, and days past due. 'Would you object to getting permission from consumers, those people who you work for, before you collect and monitor their information?' Rep. Sean Duffy, R-Wis., asked Cordray. 'That would make it impossible to get the data,' Cordray replied."Read Replies (0)
By timothy from Slashdot's next-step-is-the-optic-nerve department
MojoKid writes "AMD has a new set of drivers coming in a couple of days that are poised to resolve a number of longstanding issues and enable a handful of new features as well, most notably support for Mantle. AMD's new Catalyst 14.1 beta driver is going to be the first publicly available driver from AMD that will support Mantle, AMD's "close to the metal" API that will let developers wring additional performance from GCN-based GPUs. However, the new drivers will also add support for the HSA-related features introduced with the recently released Kaveri APU, and will reportedly fix the frame pacing issues associated with Radeon HD 7000 series CrossFire configurations. A patch for Battlefield 4 is due to arrive soon as well and AMD is claiming performance gains in excess of 40 percent in CPU limited scenarios but smaller gains in GPU-limited conditions, with average gains of 11 — 13 percent over all."
First time accepted submitter Spottywot adds some details about the Battlefield 4
improvements, writing that Johan Andersson, one of the Technical Directors in the Frostbite team, says that the best performance gains are observed when a game is bottlenecked by the CPU, "which can be quite common even on high-end machines." "With an AMD A10-7850K 'Kaveri' APU Mantle provides a 14 per cent improvement, on a system with an AMD FX-8350 and Radeon 7970 Mantle provides a 25 per cent boost, while on an Intel Core i7-3970x Extreme system with 2x AMD Radeon R9 290x cards a huge 58 per cent performance increase was observed."Read Replies (0)
By timothy from Slashdot's can-we-call-them-dirac's-revenge? department
An anonymous reader writes "Nearly 85 years after pioneering theoretical physicist Paul Dirac predicted the possibility of their existence, an international collaboration led by Amherst College Physics Professor David S. Hall '91 and Aalto University (Finland) Academy Research Fellow Mikko Möttönen has created, identified and photographed synthetic magnetic monopoles in Hall's laboratory on the Amherst campus. The groundbreaking accomplishment paves the way for the detection of the particles in nature, which would be a revolutionary development comparable to the discovery of the electron."
That's quite a step beyond detecting monopoles
is online, but the full paper is paywalled.Read Replies (0)