Turkey: Five Industry Bases to Attract Petrochemicals Investments


Ankara- The Turkish government plans to establish mega industry bases in five regions, each of which is expected to have at least 3,000 hectares of land. Giant investments are expected to significantly reduce the country’s current account deficit, while thousands of jobs are expected to be created.

The Science, Industry and Technology Ministry statement mentioned that the industry bases will focus on the petrochemical industry, which accounts for about 20 percent of Turkey’s total current account deficit. While the petrochemical industry has a global trade volume of $2.2 trillion with China being the global leader in the sector with $125 billion in exports of petrochemical products, Turkey comes in the 14th place, added the statement.

According to a study by the Industry Ministry, Turkey needs large industrial areas with ports of at least 3,000 hectares, especially for the petrochemical industry. In light of that, big industrial zones in the Eastern Black Sea, Western Black Sea, South Marmara, North Aegean and Eastern Mediterranean regions are planned to be established to allow new levels of development in industry and technology.

In a related matter, Turkey’s Prime Minister Binali Yildirim asserted that promoting domestic and foreign direct investments in Turkey and providing investment opportunities are both among the government’s priorities.

Further, exports in the Turkish lira soared by 118 percent in the first seven months of the year compared to the same period last year, reaching $8.987 billion, while imports in the same currency rose by 31 percent to $10.282 billion in the same period.

School Students Develop Portable System to Diagnose Eye Diseases

London- High School students have invented a device that can detect signs of degenerative eye disease, especially for patients with diabetes.

The Eyeagnosis system uses a 3D-printed lens and an AI-enabled smartphone app to diagnose diabetic retinopathy.

Kavya Kopparapu and her team—including her brother, Neeyanth, and her high school classmate Justin Zhang developed this system because her grandfather, who lives in a small city on India’s eastern coast, began exhibiting symptoms of diabetic retinopathy in his eye.

The system is expensive and according to “TechCrunch” the “A 3-D-printed mount and lens lets retinal scans be taken with the phone, and a machine learning system using readily available services and trained on thousands of such images does the diagnosis.”

The work was presented at an O’Reilly Artificial Intelligence Conference, and was considered by experts as the first of its kind to be fully equipped and cheap.

Some scientists believe that of 415 million diabetics worldwide, one-third will develop retinopathy, while fifty percent will be undiagnosed.

Why Scientific Consensus Is Worth Taking Seriously

Science- Global Warming Impacts On Australian Antarctic Territory

Yes, collective missteps happen. But if anything, history shows how hard it is to get scientists to agree in the first place.

Following the pack is not part of the scientific method. The point is to follow the evidence. And that leaves room for ambiguity in interpreting the survey results showing that 97 percent of climate scientists agree that global warming is real and that human-generated greenhouse gases are a major cause. The National Academy of Sciences, American Physical Society, American Chemical Society and other relevant scientific organizations all agree, too.

For some, this consensus proves that climate change is real and that humans must take immediate action against it. But others, citing history, say the consensus view has been wrong before. Why should we believe it now? For example, scientists once believed the earth was headed into an ice age. So why should we trust them when they say the globe is warming?

A look at the history books and some chats with historians suggest scientists of the past were not the fickle flip-floppers some make them out to be. There’s nothing contradictory about short-term global warming and a much longer-term cycle of ice ages, for example.

In his book “The Discovery of Global Warming,” the historian Spencer Weart writes that in the 19th century, there was a common folk belief that God would keep a hand on the planet’s thermostat. The growing understanding that there had been long-ago ice ages shook that up, and scientists started to recognize that we might head into another ice age in thousands of years. (Recent estimates put the next one at about 50,000 years in the future.)

People did consider the possibility of global cooling on near-term timescales, too, said Harvard historian of science Naomi Oreskes. Particulate matter in smog can dim the sun enough to cool the globe. In the mid-20th century, free of the belief in God’s hand on the thermostat, scientists debated which would win out: particulate-driven cooling or greenhouse gas-driven warming. As they learned more, scientists realized the warming would dominate. The idea that there was any scientific consensus predicting an impending ice age is a lie, Oreskes said.

Another commonly cited example of the fallibility of science is continental drift. In that case, scientists get blamed for failing to accept the theory, which was proposed way back in 1912 by Alfred Wegener, and in hindsight seems sort of obvious — just look at all those jigsaw relationships on the map. The general concept evolved, became known as plate tectonics, and finally gained widespread acceptance by the 1960s.

But between Wegener’s proposal and the 1960s, scientists held a wide range of views about what was going on with the continents, said Oreskes, who has written two books about the topic. Some thought they moved just vertically or just horizontally, or only a little. “There was debate, but no consensus,” she explained.

Both global warming and plate tectonics were proposed decades before they became part of scientific consensus. Scientists of the early 20th century understood the possibility that coal burning would lead to greenhouse gas warming, but there wasn’t consensus until experiments showed that indeed, carbon dioxide was building up in the atmosphere, and the global temperature was rising close to the predicted rate. Likewise, Wegener didn’t know how the continents moved. Scientists eventually figured out the continents were riding around on massive “plates” of crust, the motion driven by convection of material below them.

If anything, history shows how hard it is to get a new consensus in science. Scientists have proposed plenty of wrong ideas — from cold fusion to the connection between autism and childhood vaccines. But these are not consensus ideas. Wrong ideas that get into the heads of whole scientific communities generally don’t start with the scientists. They are part of the prevailing culture, or they represent holding places before scientists develop better theories.

Take the examples that came up a few years ago when the website The Edge posed this question to a group of scientists and other intellectuals: The flat earth and geocentric world are examples of wrong scientific beliefs that were held for long periods. Can you name your favorite example and for extra credit why it was believed to be true?

The flat earth isn’t an idea that traces back to scientists. Long before there were professional scientists, ancient philosophers realized the planet was spherical. You can get the long version of this in a good history-of-science book, such as the recent “To Explain the World” by Steven Weinberg, or a quick and dirty version on Wikipedia. To call this belief “scientific” is like calling the belief in God scientific because in pre-Darwinian times, many scientists believed in God.

The geocentric universe runs into the same problem. It’s a social belief — a religious belief — and it reflects the way things look from down here to those who haven’t been taught otherwise. Scientists were the ones who finally got it right. It undermines science to label past scientists as “wrong” for not knowing what hadn’t been discovered yet.

Physicists did wrongly believe in an invisible substance called “luminiferous ether” — an idea that dates back to Aristotle and was embraced by Isaac Newton. But that was really just an extension of the status quo belief that to have a wave, you needed a substance to make the wave out of — water, or air for sound, or ether for light. Eventually, experiments indicated the ether didn’t exist, and Einstein’s theory of special relativity showed light waves can travel through empty space. Ether wasn’t a dumb idea — it represented an intermediate step in understanding the nature of light.

One of the more interesting wrong ideas that came up in The Edge discussion was the Great Chain of Being: a philosophical idea that stacks everything — people, animals, plants, objects — in a hierarchy, from lowest to highest. Charles Darwin correctly threw the Great Chain of Being into the dumpster, and proposed instead that all life sprung from a common origin and all creatures have been evolving for the same amount of time. Consensus formed around this idea because the evidence kept piling up.
Similarly, until the 20th century there was a folk belief about the climate, which Weart expresses this way in his book: “Hardly anyone imagined that human actions, so puny among the vast natural powers, could upset the balance that governed the planet as a whole … such was the public belief and scientists are members of the public, sharing most of the assumptions of their culture.” The idea of a benevolent natural balance has emotional appeal — just as creationism did — but if history is any guide, the smart money is on the more science-based view that replaced it.


Science Rallies Take Place around the Globe

Thousands of people rallied in Australia and New Zealand Saturday in support of science, the first of more than 500 marches globally, including events in the United States, triggered by concern over the rise of “alternative facts”.

The March for Science demonstrations come amid growing anxiety over what many see as a mounting political assault on facts and evidence and fears that research is being excluded from policy-making.

Vocal protesters in Sydney wearing white lab coats called on politicians to support the scientific community, carrying banners reading “without science, it’s just fiction” and “we need thinkers not deniers”.

Others held up slogans such as, “What do we want? Evidence-based science. When do we want it? After peer review.”

While American organizers have said the marches planned there are non-partisan, they admit the Republican administration under Donald Trump — who has vowed to slash the research budgets of top US agencies — “catalyzed” the movement.

The march in Washington, timed to coincide with the Earth Day environmental event, will put Trump’s questioning of climate change and proposed cuts to federal science programs at center stage.

Guests at the Washington event will include television personality Bill Nye “the Science Guy,” former White House technology aide Megan Smith and Dr. Mona Hanna-Attisha, a pediatrician who helped expose the lead water crisis in Flint, Michigan.

Fears that science is under political assault in Australia have likewise grown under its current conservative government and demonstrators also turned out in Melbourne, Brisbane, Perth, Adelaide and other cities as well as Wellington and Auckland in New Zealand.

Canberra last year reversed a decision to cut hundreds of jobs from the national science body CSIRO after a public outcry. Others worry that the government is not doing enough to protect the Great Barrier Reef, which is under threat from climate change.

Demonstrations are also scheduled in US cities including San Francisco, along with smaller towns like Dillingham, Alaska. Overseas, Brazil, Canada, many European nations, Japan, Mexico, Nepal, Nigeria and South Korea are all also planning science marches.

Scientists Detect ‘Hallmark of Dreaming’ in the Brain


Geneva, London – A team of scientists from different countries have unpicked the regions of the brain involved in dreaming and acting as the “Hallmark of Dreaming.”

Dreams had long been known to occur during different phases of sleeping, but researchers didn’t know the exact reason behind them. Dreams occur largely during rapid eye-movement (REM) sleep, a period of slumber involving fast brain activity, however, they have also been reported to occur in REM sleep characterized with low brain activity.

In previous studies, participants being woken during the REM sleep didn’t see dreams.

To collect more data on dreams and their characteristics during both phases, researcher Francesca Siclari and colleagues from the US, Switzerland and Italy, carried out a series of experiments involving 46 participants, each of whom had their brain activity recorded while they slept by electroencephalogram (EEG) – a noninvasive technique that involved placing up to 256 electrodes on the scalp and face to monitor the number and size of brainwaves of different speeds.

All involved participants were being woken at various points throughout the night and asked to report whether they had been dreaming. Analysis of the EEG recording revealed that dreaming was linked to a drop in low-frequency activity in a region at the back of the brain dubbed by the researchers the “posterior cortical hot zone.”

Researchers observed the brain’s activity and correctly predicted instances of dreaming and no dreaming 90% of the time.

In another experiment involving seven participants who were trained to describe their dreams in details, the researchers analyzed the brain activity during REM and found that dreaming about faces was linked to increased high-frequency activity in the region of the brain involved in face recognition, with dreams involving language or speech perception similarly linked to regions of the brain that handle such tasks when awake.

New Study: Hair Samples Reveal Exceptional Information for Investigators


London – Scientists said they developed a new technique in hair fiber analysis with a more refined scientific technique that could reveal much about a person’s lifestyle.

According to the scientists, this could potentially provide investigators with vital clues about a person’s age, sex, body mass, diet and exercise habits that could help them hone in on potential suspects.

Researchers of West Virginia University presented their work at the 253rd National Meeting & Exposition of the American Chemical Society (ACS); the largest scientific society with about 14,000 studies and reports presented to yearly.

Glen P. Jackson, Ph.D. of West Virginian University said that the new methods will reveal: “Who you are, where you’ve been, what you eat, what drugs you take — it all shows up in your hair.” He added that the chemical analysis of human hair can provide amazing insights into the life and lifestyle of a person.

Forensic hair analysis was once an important part of criminal investigations and courtrooms. The technique relied on microscopic examination of hair color, thickness and curvature to identify suspects and link them to crime scenes. A lot of this method’s critics argued that hair analysis is subjective and that experts have overstated its reliability.

In a recent review conducted by the US Department of Justice, 90 percent of hair examiners’ testimonies in criminal trials contained erroneous statements. As a result, several people who were convicted based on hair-sample analysis were later found to be not guilty.

Jackson says forensic investigators still collect hair samples but rarely use them anymore. He explained that hairs found at crime scenes often don’t have enough viable DNA in them for analysis. And even if DNA is available, a matching sample might not be found in existing criminal databases.

Researchers decided to use liquid chromatography in conjunction with isotope ratio mass spectrometry (LC-IRMS), to measure the ratio of isotopes within the 21 amino acids found in keratin, the primary constituent of hair. This method is not too difficult for a technician to perform and can be easily performed in crime labs.

How Biased Is Science, Really?

A laboratory researcher in a file photo. REUTERS/Sebastian Derungs

Researchers have been doing a lot of soul-searching lately. In the midst of increasing scrutiny into the world of how academic papers are published a narrative has crystallized that the academic world is broken and must be fixed.

Claims of widespread publication bias have been the most intensely explored issue in recent years. There’s a massive literature suggesting that academic journals provide adverse incentives to publish papers with exciting or counterintuitive findings — leaving the bulk of the less surprising research in university filing cabinets. Critics often worry that this distorts or exaggerates the evidence available to inform scientific debates.

But a new paper out of Stanford University suggests that this narrative might be overblown. The study — published last week in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences — might be the most thorough review of the research on this topic to date. Over three years and with an enormous research team, the authors pored through more than 3,000 papers that examine questions of publication bias, covering 22 scientific disciplines.

Their conclusion? The evidence on widespread publication bias is murky. About 27 percent of the bias effects measured in the reviewed papers can be explained by the fact that meta-analyses — that is, research about research — often include findings from small sample sizes, making it easier to find statistically significant results.

What’s more, much of the evidence on publication bias is itself biased. Peer-reviewed journals are more likely to publish papers reporting large bias problems than more moderate effects, the Stanford team found. Researchers are more likely to cite these papers as well.

The point is not that publication bias doesn’t exist; it’s that we’re not really sure how much of a problem is it. In fact, we’re probably greatly overestimating the amount of bias in the academic world due to the same flaws in research that are causing bias in the first place.

Are there specific fields in which bias is particularly egregious? The Stanford researchers don’t go into detail on this question in their paper, but Daniele Fanelli — senior research scientist at Stanford and lead author of the study — said the most well-established bias appears exactly where you might expect it.

“Many of these biases seem to increase moving from physical sciences to social sciences,” Fanelli said.

In other words, there’s probably much more bias in psychology, economics and sociology than there is in chemistry or molecular biology. For people who follow the controversies of academic research regularly, this should be no surprise. The social end of the science spectrum is notorious for publishing questionable research, even in the most well-respected journals.

But there’s reason to be optimistic. A number of innovative proposals have been floated and tested in the research world to try to overcome bias, such as data sharing and “results-free” peer review. And while some ideas might not work in every field, we might at least consider whether more disciplined research principles borrowed from the physical science realm could help social science and economic fields. The American Enterprise Institute, for example, recently announced that it is pre-registering how it will analyze data on the minimum wage, which is probably a good idea for research institutions to consider doing with other controversial topics more generally.

“We are on the verge of a revolution,” Fanelli said, adding that new computational technology is making it easier for researchers to see their flaws and that the push for greater transparency in research could be an impetus for solutions. “This will bring about new possibilities for science. … We want to be able to share scientific information in a way that was not possible a few years ago.”

The world of academia gets a lot of flak from the general public — oftentimes rightfully so. But no one can say that there isn’t a concerted effort underway to thoroughly analyze and address issues of bias.

(The Washington Post)

Fighting Fake News With Science


People aren’t getting dumber, despite what a prolific writer of fake news told the Washington Post last fall, but something funny is going on with American media. There’s been an apparent surge in fabricated stories, while the president has accused the New York Times and other traditional journalism outlets of producing “fake news.” With facts seemingly up for grabs, scientists are starting to see evidence that both ends of the political spectrum have splintered off into alternative realities.

But it’s not just a matter of social media isolating conservatives and liberals in echo chambers. Instead, researchers who study how people share news via Facebook and Twitter say concerted efforts to misinform the public are becoming a threat. New forms of social media help deceivers reach a far larger audience than they could find using traditional outlets. So behavioral and computer scientists are searching for solutions.

Part of the problem dates back to our evolution as social animals, they say. “We have an innate tendency to copy popular behaviors,” said Filippo Menczer, a professor at the Center for Complex Networks and Systems Research at Indiana University, and one of several speakers at a recent two-day seminar on combating fake news.

That tendency can get people to notice and repeat not just fake news, but fake news from fake people — software creations called bots. Bots, which automatically post messages to social media, get their strength in numbers, making it look like thousands of people are tweeting or retweeting something. Menczer, who has a background in both behavioral and computer science, has studied the way bots can create the illusion that a person or idea is poplar. He and his colleagues estimate that between 9 percent and 15 percent of active Twitter users are bots.

The phenomenon he described reminded me of experiments with animals that engage in a behavior biologists call “mate copying.” In certain bird species, for example, females prefer males who are already getting attention from other females. Such species are prime targets for manipulation with fake birds. In an experiment on a bird called a black grouse, scientists surrounded otherwise unremarkable males with decoy females, after which real females mobbed the popular-looking males like groupies. (The males were also fooled, in that they immediately tried to mate with the decoys.)

In studying how this works with Twitter users, Menczer and his colleagues created a program to distinguish bots from people. What he learned was that ideas being promoted by bots can hit the popularity jackpot if they get retweeted from a well-connected or prominent human. Such people often get a lot of bots vying for their attention for just that reason, Menczer said. Shortly after the November election, he said, Donald Trump was inundated with bots telling him that 3 million illegal aliens voted for his opponent. Trump later tweeted this same information. A human source has been connected to the rumor, but the bots could have made it look like it had the backing of hundreds more people, as well.

Others mapping the social-media landscape see different patterns of deception on the right and left. Yochai Benkler, co-director of the Berkman Klein Center for Internet and Society at Harvard, has seen political asymmetry using an open-source system called Media Cloud, which follows how stories circulate on social media. Mapping the flow of more than a million stories, he found that people who share left-leaning partisan news also tend to share news from the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, CNN and other sources with traditions of accountability. Those who shared items from right-leaning sites such as Breitbart were much less likely to circulate stories from such mainstream news sources.

In a piece Benkler co-authored in the Columbia Journalism Review, he said his data revealed a pattern of deception among many right-leaning sites. “Rather than ‘fake news’ in the sense of wholly fabricated falsities,” he and his co-authors wrote, “many of the most-shared stories can more accurately be understood as disinformation: the purposeful construction of true or partly true bits of information into a message that is, at its core, misleading.”

In an ironic twist of fate, Indiana’s Menczer became the subject of just such a hodgepodge of true and false statements. He’d already received some media attention in the Wall Street Journal and other publications for his work on the way ideas, or “memes,” spread through social media. None of the mainstream stories suggested he was up to anything sinister. But then, in 2014, the Washington Free Beacon published a story headlined Feds Creating Database to Track ‘Hate Speech’ on Twitter.

The problem was that there was no database, and nobody had tried to define either hate speech or misinformation.

Bloomberg View

New Scientific Achievement: Implants Help Paralyzed Man Feed Himself Using His Thoughts


London – In a new scientific achievement, US researchers have succeeded in deploying computer-linked systems to help move the hand and arm of a paralyzed man. The patient underwent an implantation of electrodes in his brain and limbs to stimulate inactive muscles and detect signals sent by the brain.

Bill Kochevar, 53, who was paralyzed below his shoulders in a cycling accident eight years ago, learned to use the system to lift a virtual arm and lift a cup towards his mouth to drink.

Thousands of people around the world suffer from paralysis caused by damages in the vertebral column, 300,000 out of them are from the United States, who might be able to benefit from this new technique which allows their brain and limbs to move without the need of their spine to pass signals.

In the study published in the “the Lancet”, researchers from the Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio, and the Cleveland Functional Electrical Stimulation Center (FES) said the patient succeeded in moving his arm by using his thoughts.

The new method employs the functional electrical stimulation to fill the gap caused by the spine damage between the brain and the muscles. Researchers from Case University implanted electrodes on the surface of Mr. Kochevar’s brain, and developed a computer-linked system to record signals once he imagines moving his own arm and hand.

After the implantation surgery, Kochevar had to spend about four months to train the system to recognize the brain signals that indicated the task he wanted to perform. The researchers later succeeded in transforming the signals emitted by the brain into electrical pulses and used them in delivering orders to the electrodes implanted in the hand, wrist, elbow, and shoulder to motivate their muscles on contraction.

The patient trained on all the systems for over 12 months before he begun performing his daily tasks – like eating and drinking – he also carried around the implanted techniques for two years and survived few negative reactions that happened during the experiments.

Kochevar accomplished 11 out of 12 drinking attempts, and succeeded in eating food with spoons. Researchers said that after 45 weeks of follow-up, the patient seems strong and has maintained serious efforts. They added that his capability in moving his muscles has remarkably improved.

Dr. Bolu Ajiboye said the research is at an early stage, but we believe that this neuro-prosthesis could offer individuals with paralysis the possibility of regaining arm and hand functions to perform day-to-day activities.

Commenting on the paper, Dr. Steve Perlmutter of the University of Washington in the US considered the study was “groundbreaking” but warned that the “treatment is not nearly ready for the use outside the lab.

Study: Spiders Eat Annually More than All Humans Put Together


London – All humans together consume an estimated 400 million tons of meat and fish annually, as reported by researches in Springer’s journal The Science of Nature.

The world’s spiders eat annually: between 400 and 800 million tons of insects, springtails, and other invertebrates, according to the findings of researchers from Switzerland, Sweden, and Germany.

Whales feed on 280 to 500 million tons of seafood, while the world’s total seabird population eats an estimated 70 million tons of fish and other seafood, stated the researchers.

Using data from 65 previous studies, and their own experiments, the researchers first affirmed the important role spiders play as wild predators in nature.

According to the researchers, spiders are not only important predators, but are also valuable sources of prey.

Between 8,000 and 10,000 other predators, parasitoids and parasites feed exclusively on spiders, while spiders at the same time form an important part of the diet of an estimated 3,000 to 5,000 bird species.