All posts tagged “researchers”

Temporary Tattoo-Based Glucose Monitoring: UCSD researchers develop a wearable that painlessly detects dangerous blood sugar levels

Temporary Tattoo-Based Glucose Monitoring

Living with diabetes comes with a plethora of difficulties, and drawing blood to test glucose levels every day is certainly not the least of them. Fortunately, nanoengineers at UC San Diego are paving the way toward the painful technique’s obsolescence……

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Cool Hunting

Highly-complex malware has secretly spied on computers for years, say researchers

Security researchers have discovered one of the most advanced pieces of malware ever created — and it’s been in use since at least 2008. Symantec researchers published their findings today on a new Trojan they’re calling “Regin.”

The researchers say the tool is “a complex piece of malware whose structure displays a degree of technical competence rarely seen.” It’s been cleverly designed to spy on computer systems around the world while leaving hardly a trace behind. The software’s “authors have gone to great lengths to cover its tracks,” reports Symantec, by using multiple layers of complex encryption to mask spying activities. Even when Symantec’s researchers did discover the presence of malware on clients’ machines, they had to…

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Google researchers reveal new Poodle bug, putting the web on alert

A trio of Google researchers published a troubling bug today, sending much of the web into panic mode to ensure systems were adequately secure. The report describes a POODLE attack (short for “Padding Oracle On Downgraded Legacy Encryption”) that would effectively circumvent SSL protections, the same protocol targeted by Heartbleed earlier this year. This bug, also known as “Poodlebleed,” is not as serious or as far-reaching as Heartbleed, but has still raised alarms in the research community.

Also known as “Poodlebleed”

SSL protects data in transit between a website and a user, usually indicated by a green padlock icon and an HTTPS url. If SSL is compromised, a sophisticated attacker could intercept and replace data in transit,…

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Twitter gives MIT researchers access to every single public tweet

Twitter is opening up its vault for researchers at MIT’s Media Lab, and it’s giving them $ 10 million to try and glean some insights from the deluge of tweets. The team of researchers, working under the title “Laboratory of Social Machines,” will have access to Twitter’s highly valuable “fire hose” of live public tweets, as well as archives of every public 140-character-or-less utterance posted to the service since its founding in 2006. With the raw data, the group intends to “create new platforms for both individuals and institutions to identify, discuss, and act on pressing societal problems,” according to a statement from MIT.

The group’s goals are fairly vague at this point, but the researchers appear to be focusing on magnifying…

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8 Things Researchers Learned From Your Facebook Use

Facebook is a treasure mine of data and has been a hot bed of studies on online social behavior. The social media giant even has a team of data analyst (aka the Data Science Team) looking at all the data we have put up on Facebook. Whether it is information on ourselves in the About section or a simple Like, Facebook knows all.

Now if this isn’t bordering creepy, I don’t know what is. It is also perhaps why users were outraged when it was announced that a recent study had manipulated their News Feeds to show that their moods can be affected, based on whether the posts are positive or negative.

One can’t help but think what else does Facebook know about us and what other studies were done with or without our knowledge. Well, we did some digging, and here are 8 studies researchers and Facebook have done that reveal things about ourselves.

1. Facebook plays With Our Emotions

We will begin with the one that has been making headlines recently: 689,003 users were shown either primarily positive or negative posts for 1 week on January 2012. The results showed that our emotions can be influenced by what we see on our feed. Those who were exposed to more negative posts are more likely to come back with a negative status on their own, while those who were exposed to positive feeds will post positive statuses.

The problem however was not in the research, it was in how it was conducted – no one was informed nor had asked for their consent to be part of the experiment. As usual, Facebook and the researchers defended the study by stating that consent had been given via their Data Use Policy (which they know no one reads) which included being part of studies that Facebook wants to conduct on their users. Didn’t really matter that the term "Research" was added only in May 2012.


2. You are what you like

A study conducted in 2013 by the University of Cambridge revealed that the things we like on Facebook reveal our personality. That doesn’t sound like groundbreaking results, it’s pretty obvious that if my favorite book is the Bible, then there is a high possibility that I am a Christian. But this study goes beyond that. Apparently, your likes reveal your ethnicity, sex, age, political leanings, sexual orientation, IQ level, emotional state of being and whether you abuse drug substances (whoa).

At least this time, the 58,000 users volunteered to have their Facebook likes examined, with an app the researchers came up with. After looking at all your likes, the researchers can deduce who you are from there. The method was reported to have a high accuracy rate, although there were some odd findings, like how if you are smart, you prefer curly fries and Morgan Freeman’s voice. Have a look at the study here.


3. Facebook knows your close friends

Unless you actively stalk someone via Facebook, it’s probably safe to say that you prefer to indulge yourself in liking or commenting on the statuses (and hence, lives) of your close friends. This is the basis of this study conducted by San Diego’s University of California which involved 789 Facebook users.

The participants were asked to list the people they were closest to. The researchers then examined the Facebook activity of the participants and were able to accurately predict who the participants’ closest friends were, 84% of the time. This may not seem impressive but it definitely disproves the notion that your IRL relationships are separate from your online relationships.

(Image source: PLUS One)

4. We Actively Censor Ourselves

If you have ever wondered if Facebook could see what you typed into your status box but didn’t publish, then the politically correct answer is No. And yet, Facebook’s data scientist Adam Kramer and Facebook intern Sauvik Das tracked the unpublished status updates of 3.9 million users over the course of 17 days in 2012 and came to the conclusion that we actively self-censor when we are on Facebook.

By matching their findings with user demographics, social circles and ideological leanings, the researchers found that people will censor opposing views unless they know their views can be tolerated by their social circles.

But if they don’t track our unpublished statuses, and the content of the statuses as well as the keystrokes are not studied, just what metrics do they base this study on? Or are they being less than truthful when it comes to the methodology used in the study?

(Image source: Ars Technica)

5. Teens May Be Leaving Facebook

So media outlets were having a field day with that headline about teenagers abandoning the 10-year old social network. Our own Azzief Khaliq took a look at the situation in his own post here and where he argued that in truth, teens are fickle-minded and teens may hate Facebook but weren’t actually leaving it by the droves.

Then again, reports later resurfaced about teens making the move from Facebook to messaging apps. Digital agency iStrategyLabs also published that there are now 3 million fewer teens aged 13 to 17 on Facebook as compared to 2011 but as this article pointed out, the data may be flawed because these teens could be lying about their age. Perhaps it could just be due to the simple fact that these teens basically outgrew their teen status.

(Image source: iStrategyLabs)

6. Facebook Will Die In 3 Years

All the hullabaloo about teens leaving Facebook led to reports about teens deeming Facebook as "dead to them". Then, there is that study predicting the rapid decline of the social network giant and eventual death within 3 years. The study conducted by a couple of Princeton researchers modeled their research on the social media network off epidemiological models – the study of infectious diseases, which spreads quickly, and dies, suddenly.

The researchers tested this model on MySpace then made the prediction that Facebook’s peak user base will decline by 80% by 2017, like how MySpace lost its users. As much as we all love Facebook to die (guilty!), a Slate article tells us why this study is flawed (hint: the eclectic combination of aerospace engineering researchers studying about online social behavior in social networks based on infectious disease models was pretty hard to miss).

About the only useful thing this research revealed is that everyone loves a dying Facebook story.

7. Facebook Is Depressing

Well before this negative statuses begets negative responses, a 2013 study by the University of Michigan has already come to the conclusion that Facebook makes people depressed. Researchers texted 82 college participants 5 times a day for 2 weeks to garner their emotional levels whilst using the social network. The study found that the more often you use Facebook, the less happy you are, a finding that other similar research have previously revealed.

An extended study by Michigan’s researcher Ethan Kross however revealed that this may be because we are using Facebook wrong: you shouldn’t just read your Facebook feed like a spectator, either actively participate and engage with your friends socially, or get yourself off the social network.

sad study
(Image source: PLOS One)

8. Facebook Motivates Voting

Did you know that Facebook will be releasing “I’m a Voter” buttons across the world? India was the first to get the button during its elections which saw Narendra Modi as its new prime minister. The reasoning behind this is that the Voter button will generate more voter turnout. In fact, a 2012 study by the San Diego’s University of California found something similar during the 2010 US congressional elections.

On election day, Facebook released a banner which reminded users that it is indeed election day, accompanied by polling info, as well as a button that lets them know which of their friends have voted. A direct effect from the exposure spurred 60,000 more people, who would otherwise would not have voted, to vote. The research also suggested that 280,000 other users were indirectly influenced to vote, a 0.6% hike from the previous election in 2008.

The graphics were non-partisan, but one can’t help but consider this scary thought: Can Facebook eventually influence who we vote for?

(Image source: Nature)

Bitcoin miner’s control over minting new coins creates security risks, researchers say

A single bitcoin mining network has repeatedly supplied more than half the computational power necessary to mint new bitcoins, undermining the decentralized nature of the digital currency and creating new security concerns. Ars Technica reports on new research from Cornell University showing that GHash, a top mining pool whose leaders are unknown, performed more than 51 percent of all cryptographic hashing on at least five separate occasions beginning June 3rd. One of those periods lasted for 12 hours, according to the researchers.

GHash’s computational feat is significant because an entity with majority control over bitcoin creation — a so-called “51 percenter” — gains powers over the network that could undermine its security and…

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MIT researchers want to develop robots that you bake to build

MIT researchers are currently working what they see as the next phase of robotics: bakable robots. In two recently released papers, the scientists outline how specially designed, self-folding components could be produced using 3D printers, which could then be baked in order to form working robot parts.

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Researchers say they’ve found the biggest dinosaur ever

Three years ago, a family of rural farmers stumbled across an incredible archaeological site on their land in the Patagonia region of Argentina. The family notified nearby Museum of Paleontology Egidio Feruglio (MEF), and now researchers at the site have unearthed the largest dinosaur ever. It’s estimated that the massive beast weighed almost 80 tons (80,000 kg) and stood 65 feet tall (20 meters) when it walked the earth some 95 million years ago during the Late Cretaceous period. Measurements suggest it was over 130 feet (40 meters) from its head to the tip of its tail. That means it was roughly as long as a 13-story building.

But this truly gigantic dinosaur was a herbivore. The specimens found in Argentina’s Chubut province (which is…

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Researchers dub 66 million-year-old dinosaur discovery the ‘chicken from hell’

The Tyrannosaurus rex, Stegosaurus, and Brontosaurus are the celebrities of the dinosaur world, though none of those have come attached to nicknames quite as memorable as the “chicken from hell.” That’s the moniker for the Anzu wyliei, a newly-classified dinosaur that lived some 66 million years ago, and whose fossilized remains were dug up from a section of the Hell Creek Formation between North and South Dakota (hence the name). Details about the creature were detailed in a paper published today, and co-authored by researchers from the Smithsonian, the University of Utah, and the Carnegie Museum of Natural History, which currently houses the fossils.

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Researchers create ‘thinnest possible’ LEDs only three-atoms thick

LEDs are already pretty tiny, but they just got a whole lot smaller. Researchers at the University of Washington have built what they say are the “thinnest-possible LEDs” — tiny lights that measure just three atoms thick. “Such thin and foldable LEDs are critical for future portable and integrated electronic devices,” Xiaodong Xu, co-author of a paper on the research that was published over the weekend in Nature Nanotechnology, says in a statement. At three atoms thick, the researchers’ LEDs are said to be 10 to 20 times thinner than conventional LEDs, opening up a number of potential new uses for them.

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