The Scientific Reason You Should Take a Brief Walk Every Day



Walking, good exercise for your legs and your brain!

Walking, good exercise for your legs and your brain!



First-ever human head transplant is now possible, says neuroscientist



If Louis Pasteur were to come out of his grave because he heard that the cure for cancer still had not been found, NIH would tell him, “Of course we’ll give you assistance. Now write up exactly what you will be doing during the three years of your grant.” Pasteur would say, “Thank you very much,” and would go back to his grave. Why? Because research means going into the unknown. If you know what you are going to do in science, then you are stupid! This is like telling Michelangelo or Renoir that he must tell you in advance how many reds and how many blues he will buy, and exactly how he will put those colors together.


Influenza: How the Great War helped create the greatest pandemic ever known

It almost as if the virus was engineered to wipe out mankind killing 100 million people in 18 months time. The 1918 influenza virus’s style of killing was unlike that seen for most other influenza strains known. It was highly infectious, causing illness in 50 percent or more of those exposed to it, and its morbidity and mortality rates were peculiar, too: it had an estimated mortality rate of 20 percent, whereas other strains of influenza normally kill just 0.1 percent of their victims. Its patterns of lethality were unique, preferentially killing healthy young people between 20 and 40 years of age whilst leaving older people relatively unharmed. Additionally, it was an especially efficient killer of pregnant women, whose mortality rate ranged between 23 and 71 percent.



Astronomers Detect Mysterious Signal 240 Million Light-Years From Earth

Astronomers have detected a mysterious signal in X-ray data from a study of galaxy clusters, and they think the X-rays could have been produced by the decay of sterile neutrinos, a type of particle proposed as a candidate for dark matter… 

Astronomers Detect Mysterious Signal 240 Million Light-Years From Earth

Astronomers have detected a mysterious signal in X-ray data from a study of galaxy clusters, and they think the X-rays could have been produced by the decay of sterile neutrinos, a type of particle proposed as a candidate for dark matter… 



Using geometry, researchers coax human embryonic stem cells to organize themselves
June 30, 2014 | SCIENCE NEWS


About seven days after conception, something remarkable occurs in the clump of cells that will eventually become a new human being. They start to specialize. They take on characteristics that begin to hint at their ultimate fate as part of the skin, brain, muscle or any of the roughly 200 cell types that exist in people, and they start to form distinct layers.
Although scientists have studied this process in animals, and have tried to coax human embryonic stem cells into taking shape by flooding them with chemical signals, until now the process has not been successfully replicated in the lab. But researchers led by Ali Brivanlou, Robert and Harriet Heilbrunn Professor and head of the Laboratory of Stem Cell Biology and Molecular Embryology at The Rockefeller University, have done it, and it turns out that the missing ingredient is geometrical, not chemical.
[Click image to read on…]

Using geometry, researchers coax human embryonic stem cells to organize themselves

About seven days after conception, something remarkable occurs in the clump of cells that will eventually become a new human being. They start to specialize. They take on characteristics that begin to hint at their ultimate fate as part of the skin, brain, muscle or any of the roughly 200 cell types that exist in people, and they start to form distinct layers.

Although scientists have studied this process in animals, and have tried to coax human embryonic stem cells into taking shape by flooding them with chemical signals, until now the process has not been successfully replicated in the lab. But researchers led by Ali Brivanlou, Robert and Harriet Heilbrunn Professor and head of the Laboratory of Stem Cell Biology and Molecular Embryology at The Rockefeller University, have done it, and it turns out that the missing ingredient is geometrical, not chemical.

[Click image to read on…]



mothernaturenetwork:

Why some chimpanzees are smarter than othersIs it nature? Is it nurture? Scientists think intelligence in chimps may mostly be nature, and it may help gain insight into human intelligence as well.

Researchers measured how well 99 captive chimpanzees performed on a series of cognitive tests, finding that genes determined as much as 50 percent of the animals’ performance… In the new study, Hopkins and his colleagues gave chimpanzees at the Yerkes Primate Center, in Atlanta, a battery of cognitive tests adapted from ones developed by German researchers for comparing humans and great apes. The tests measured a range of abilities in physical cognition, such as the ability to discriminate quantity, spatial memory and tool use. The tests also examined aspects of social cognition, such as communication ability….
About half of the variability in the chimps’ performance on the cognitive tests could be attributed to their relatedness, the results showed…
In addition, neither the sex of the animals nor their rearing history (whether they were raised by their mother or by humans) seemed to affect cognitive performance, the researchers found…


But while the results suggest that “nature” matters a bit more than “nurture” for intelligence, Hopkins said other findings don’t support that interpretation. Environment and experience still have an influence on cognitive performance. For example, if you compare chimps that have been trained to use sign language to ones that haven’t, the trained animals do much better on cognitive tests, he said. “So there’s a case where nurture really matters.”
Curiously, the results of the study support the idea of general intelligence, rather than the theory of multiple intelligences — such as mathematical, verbal or musical ability — that American psychologist Howard Gardner developed. General intelligence suggests that individuals posses a general learning ability that makes it likely that a person who possesses one form of intelligence will posses others.

mothernaturenetwork:

Why some chimpanzees are smarter than others
Is it nature? Is it nurture? Scientists think intelligence in chimps may mostly be nature, and it may help gain insight into human intelligence as well.

Researchers measured how well 99 captive chimpanzees performed on a series of cognitive tests, finding that genes determined as much as 50 percent of the animals’ performance… 

In the new study, Hopkins and his colleagues gave chimpanzees at the Yerkes Primate Center, in Atlanta, a battery of cognitive tests adapted from ones developed by German researchers for comparing humans and great apes. The tests measured a range of abilities in physical cognition, such as the ability to discriminate quantity, spatial memory and tool use. The tests also examined aspects of social cognition, such as communication ability….

About half of the variability in the chimps’ performance on the cognitive tests could be attributed to their relatedness, the results showed…

In addition, neither the sex of the animals nor their rearing history (whether they were raised by their mother or by humans) seemed to affect cognitive performance, the researchers found…
But while the results suggest that “nature” matters a bit more than “nurture” for intelligence, Hopkins said other findings don’t support that interpretation. Environment and experience still have an influence on cognitive performance. For example, if you compare chimps that have been trained to use sign language to ones that haven’t, the trained animals do much better on cognitive tests, he said. “So there’s a case where nurture really matters.”

Curiously, the results of the study support the idea of general intelligence, rather than the theory of multiple intelligences — such as mathematical, verbal or musical ability — that American psychologist Howard Gardner developed. General intelligence suggests that individuals posses a general learning ability that makes it likely that a person who possesses one form of intelligence will posses others.


Why whale poo could be the secret to reversing the effects of climate change

A new scientific report from the University of Vermont, which gathers together several decades of research, shows that the great whales which nearly became extinct in the 20th century – and are now recovering in number due to the 1983 ban on whaling – may be the enablers of massive carbon sinks via their prodigious production of faeces.

Not only do the nutrients in whale poo feed other organisms, from phytoplankton upwards – and thereby absorb the carbon we humans are pumping into the atmosphere – even in death the sinking bodies of these massive animals create new resources on the sea bed, where entire species exist solely to graze on rotting whale. There’s an additional and direct benefit for humans, too. Contrary to the suspicions of fishermen that whales take their catch, cetacean recovery could “lead to higher rates of productivity in locations where whales aggregate to feed and give birth”. Their fertilizing faeces here, too, would encourage phytoplankton which in turn would encourage healthier fisheries.
(Read more…)

Why whale poo could be the secret to reversing the effects of climate change

new scientific report from the University of Vermont, which gathers together several decades of research, shows that the great whales which nearly became extinct in the 20th century – and are now recovering in number due to the 1983 ban on whaling – may be the enablers of massive carbon sinks via their prodigious production of faeces.

Not only do the nutrients in whale poo feed other organisms, from phytoplankton upwards – and thereby absorb the carbon we humans are pumping into the atmosphere – even in death the sinking bodies of these massive animals create new resources on the sea bed, where entire species exist solely to graze on rotting whale. There’s an additional and direct benefit for humans, too. Contrary to the suspicions of fishermen that whales take their catch, cetacean recovery could “lead to higher rates of productivity in locations where whales aggregate to feed and give birth”. Their fertilizing faeces here, too, would encourage phytoplankton which in turn would encourage healthier fisheries.

(Read more…)



Plants Can Hear Themselves Being Eaten

A small, flowering plant called Arabidopsis thaliana can hear the vibrations that caterpillars trigger when they chew on its leaves. According to a new study, the plants can hear danger loud and clear, and they respond by launching a chemical defense. 
From anecdotes and previous studies, we know that plants respond to wind, touch, and acoustic energy. “The field is somewhat haunted by its history of playing music to plants. That sort of stimulus is so divorced from the natural ecology of plants that it’s very difficult to interpret any plant responses,” says Rex Cocroft from the University of Missouri, Columbia. “We’re trying to think about the plant’s acoustical environment and what it might be listening for.”
In this first example of plants responding to ecologically relevant vibrational sounds (i.e. predation), Cocroft and Mizzou’s Heidi Appel combined audio and chemical analyses. First, they placed a tiny piece of reflective tape on a leaf; that way, using a laser beam, they can measure the leaf’s movements as the caterpillar munches. 
After they recorded the seemingly inaudible vibrational sounds of caterpillar chewing, they played the recordings back to one set of Arabidopsis plants, while silence was played to another set. To mimic the acoustic signature of feeding, they used piezoelectric actuators, tiny speakers that play vibrations instead of airborne sound. “It’s a delicate process to vibrate leaves the way a caterpillar does while feeding, because the leaf surface is only vibrated up and down by about 1/10,000 of an inch,” Cocroft explains in an university blog post. “But we can attach an actuator to the leaf with wax and very precisely play back a segment of caterpillar feeding to recreate a typical 2-hour feeding session.”
Then, they let cabbage butterfly caterpillars eat about a third of three leaves on each plant from both sets. They gave the plants 24 to 48 hours to respond to the attack, after which the leaves were harvested. “We looked at glucosinolates that make mustards spicy and have anticancer properties and anthocyanins that give red wine its color and provide some of the health benefits to chocolate,” Appel says. “When the levels of these are higher, the insects walk away or just don’t start feeding.”

Plants Can Hear Themselves Being Eaten

A small, flowering plant called Arabidopsis thaliana can hear the vibrations that caterpillars trigger when they chew on its leaves. According to a new study, the plants can hear danger loud and clear, and they respond by launching a chemical defense. 

From anecdotes and previous studies, we know that plants respond to wind, touch, and acoustic energy. “The field is somewhat haunted by its history of playing music to plants. That sort of stimulus is so divorced from the natural ecology of plants that it’s very difficult to interpret any plant responses,” says Rex Cocroft from the University of Missouri, Columbia. “We’re trying to think about the plant’s acoustical environment and what it might be listening for.”

In this first example of plants responding to ecologically relevant vibrational sounds (i.e. predation), Cocroft and Mizzou’s Heidi Appel combined audio and chemical analyses. First, they placed a tiny piece of reflective tape on a leaf; that way, using a laser beam, they can measure the leaf’s movements as the caterpillar munches. 

After they recorded the seemingly inaudible vibrational sounds of caterpillar chewing, they played the recordings back to one set of Arabidopsis plants, while silence was played to another set. To mimic the acoustic signature of feeding, they used piezoelectric actuators, tiny speakers that play vibrations instead of airborne sound. “It’s a delicate process to vibrate leaves the way a caterpillar does while feeding, because the leaf surface is only vibrated up and down by about 1/10,000 of an inch,” Cocroft explains in an university blog post. “But we can attach an actuator to the leaf with wax and very precisely play back a segment of caterpillar feeding to recreate a typical 2-hour feeding session.”

Then, they let cabbage butterfly caterpillars eat about a third of three leaves on each plant from both sets. They gave the plants 24 to 48 hours to respond to the attack, after which the leaves were harvested. “We looked at glucosinolates that make mustards spicy and have anticancer properties and anthocyanins that give red wine its color and provide some of the health benefits to chocolate,” Appel says. “When the levels of these are higher, the insects walk away or just don’t start feeding.”



An Oculus Rift For Chickens Gives Animals The Freedom To Roam Without The Roaming

…
It sounds absurd because it is, in part; Stewart’s so-called Second Livestock project is actually more of a social experiment than a genuine project aiming to bring virtual reality to farm flocks. He’s pitching it via a website with a deadpan seriousness that is fairly convincing, right down to the description of what are essentially high density livestock condominium complexes that purport to generate as little waste as possible by recycling waste and using animal body heat as the source for facility environment controls.
Stewart’s MO is to create tech-based projects that shed light on our relationship with gadgets and the world, however, and the way in which we can sometimes lean too heavily on tech in pursuit of relatively simple ends without stopping to consider how we might do it better without the bells and whistles. But in the end, the project isn’t designed to purely deride tech, its users or the people he claims to be selling to. Instead, Stewart hopes to spark discussion among even audiences that normally gloss over tech pitches about what we’re creating with digital environments.

An Oculus Rift For Chickens Gives Animals The Freedom To Roam Without The Roaming

It sounds absurd because it is, in part; Stewart’s so-called Second Livestock project is actually more of a social experiment than a genuine project aiming to bring virtual reality to farm flocks. He’s pitching it via a website with a deadpan seriousness that is fairly convincing, right down to the description of what are essentially high density livestock condominium complexes that purport to generate as little waste as possible by recycling waste and using animal body heat as the source for facility environment controls.
Stewart’s MO is to create tech-based projects that shed light on our relationship with gadgets and the world, however, and the way in which we can sometimes lean too heavily on tech in pursuit of relatively simple ends without stopping to consider how we might do it better without the bells and whistles. But in the end, the project isn’t designed to purely deride tech, its users or the people he claims to be selling to. Instead, Stewart hopes to spark discussion among even audiences that normally gloss over tech pitches about what we’re creating with digital environments.


Tiny Bubbles Explain Puzzle about Light from Sound


Sonoluminescence¿the physical phenomenon by which sound turns into light¿is as mystifying as a magic trick. Despite 70 years of trying, scientists still cannot fully explain how a bubble of air in water focuses acoustic energy a trillionfold to spit out picosecond bursts of ultraviolet radiation. Initially physicists attributed the flashes to friction. In the late 1980s, though, they came to see that bubbles in a sound wave’s path expanded and rapidly collapsed¿heating the gas inside them to temperatures hotter than the sun’s surface. This collapse and heat, they determined, created a glowing plasma.
In this week’s issue of Physical Review Letters, Gary A. Williams and his colleagues from the University of California at Los Angeles present evidence that lends further support to that theory. The researchers set out to explain earlier observations that the spectra of light from a single bubble lacked an emission line¿for the molecule OH¿seen from multiple bubbles. Because of the discrepancy, some had suggested that different physical mechanisms were at work and that there were, in essence, two kinds of sonoluminescence. But Williams’s group proved that isn’t the case, creating larger-than-usual single bubbles whose spectra included the missing emission.
Although they don’t know why, the researchers say that bubble size alone seems to predict the OH line and suggest that, compared with smaller single bubbles that collapse symmetrically (top right), larger bubbles in multibubble systems are unstable (bottom right). The team further fitted the spectra to a blackbody radiation curve and showed that it corresponded to plasma at a temperature of about 8,000 degrees Kelvin. “It’s a nice connecting together of the underlying physical phenomena,” Ken Suslick of the University of Illinois in Urbana-Champaign toldPhysical Review Focus. “And the ability to recognize the OH emission line is pretty cool.”

Tiny Bubbles Explain Puzzle about Light from Sound

Sonoluminescence¿the physical phenomenon by which sound turns into light¿is as mystifying as a magic trick. Despite 70 years of trying, scientists still cannot fully explain how a bubble of air in water focuses acoustic energy a trillionfold to spit out picosecond bursts of ultraviolet radiation. Initially physicists attributed the flashes to friction. In the late 1980s, though, they came to see that bubbles in a sound wave’s path expanded and rapidly collapsed¿heating the gas inside them to temperatures hotter than the sun’s surface. This collapse and heat, they determined, created a glowing plasma.

In this week’s issue of Physical Review Letters, Gary A. Williams and his colleagues from the University of California at Los Angeles present evidence that lends further support to that theory. The researchers set out to explain earlier observations that the spectra of light from a single bubble lacked an emission line¿for the molecule OH¿seen from multiple bubbles. Because of the discrepancy, some had suggested that different physical mechanisms were at work and that there were, in essence, two kinds of sonoluminescence. But Williams’s group proved that isn’t the case, creating larger-than-usual single bubbles whose spectra included the missing emission.

Although they don’t know why, the researchers say that bubble size alone seems to predict the OH line and suggest that, compared with smaller single bubbles that collapse symmetrically (top right), larger bubbles in multibubble systems are unstable (bottom right). The team further fitted the spectra to a blackbody radiation curve and showed that it corresponded to plasma at a temperature of about 8,000 degrees Kelvin. “It’s a nice connecting together of the underlying physical phenomena,” Ken Suslick of the University of Illinois in Urbana-Champaign toldPhysical Review Focus. “And the ability to recognize the OH emission line is pretty cool.”



Scientists Have Simulated Time Travel With Photons
June 20, 2014
Looks like time travel is possible… for particles of light. 
Using a photon, physicists have managed to simulate quantum particles traveling through time. Studying the photon’s behavior could help scientists understand some inexplicable aspects of modern physics.  
"The question of time travel features at the interface between two of our most successful yet incompatible physical theories — Einstein’s general relativity and quantum mechanics," University of Queensland’s Martin Ringbauer says in a news release. “Einstein’s theory describes the world at the very large scale of stars and galaxies, while quantum mechanics is an excellent description of the world at the very small scale of atoms and molecules.”
Time slows down or speeds up depending on how fast you move relative to another object. Einstein’s theory suggests the possibility of traveling backwards in time by following a space-time path that returns to the starting point in space — but at an earlier time. This is called a closed timelike curve (pictured above). It’s a traversable wormhole. 
In a quantum regime, the authors say, the paradox of time travel can be resolved, leaving closed timelike curves consistent with relativity. Near a black hole, for example, the extreme effects of general relativity play a role. 
Pictured above, a space-time structure exhibiting closed paths in space (horizontal) and time (vertical). A quantum particle travels through a wormhole back in time and returns to the same location in space and time.
"The properties of quantum particles are ‘fuzzy’ or uncertain to start with, so this gives them enough wiggle room to avoid inconsistent time travel situations," UQ’s Tim Ralph explains. “Our study provides insights into where and how nature might behave differently from what our theories predict.” These include the violation of Heisenberg’s uncertainty principle, cracking of quantum cryptography, and perfect cloning of quantum states. 
The work was published in Nature Communications this week. 
Read more at http://www.iflscience.com/physics/scientists-have-simulated-time-travel-photons#YvtzusYZdHfFPmvk.99

Scientists Have Simulated Time Travel With Photons

June 20, 2014

Looks like time travel is possible… for particles of light. 

Using a photon, physicists have managed to simulate quantum particles traveling through time. Studying the photon’s behavior could help scientists understand some inexplicable aspects of modern physics.  

"The question of time travel features at the interface between two of our most successful yet incompatible physical theories — Einstein’s general relativity and quantum mechanics," University of Queensland’s Martin Ringbauer says in a news release. “Einstein’s theory describes the world at the very large scale of stars and galaxies, while quantum mechanics is an excellent description of the world at the very small scale of atoms and molecules.”

Time slows down or speeds up depending on how fast you move relative to another object. Einstein’s theory suggests the possibility of traveling backwards in time by following a space-time path that returns to the starting point in space — but at an earlier time. This is called a closed timelike curve (pictured above). It’s a traversable wormhole. 

In a quantum regime, the authors say, the paradox of time travel can be resolved, leaving closed timelike curves consistent with relativity. Near a black hole, for example, the extreme effects of general relativity play a role. 

Pictured above, a space-time structure exhibiting closed paths in space (horizontal) and time (vertical). A quantum particle travels through a wormhole back in time and returns to the same location in space and time.

"The properties of quantum particles are ‘fuzzy’ or uncertain to start with, so this gives them enough wiggle room to avoid inconsistent time travel situations," UQ’s Tim Ralph explains. “Our study provides insights into where and how nature might behave differently from what our theories predict.” These include the violation of Heisenberg’s uncertainty principle, cracking of quantum cryptography, and perfect cloning of quantum states. 

The work was published in Nature Communications this week. 


Read more at http://www.iflscience.com/physics/scientists-have-simulated-time-travel-photons#YvtzusYZdHfFPmvk.99



pbsdigitalstudios:

"Time Flies When You Have No Idea Why It Exists" … or something like that. Learn about time: http://youtu.be/-LZq_w-tIl8

"The universe fits our expectations because our expectations were written by the universe." 

pbsdigitalstudios:

"Time Flies When You Have No Idea Why It Exists" … or something like that. Learn about time: http://youtu.be/-LZq_w-tIl8

"The universe fits our expectations because our expectations were written by the universe." 



Ginkgo doesn't work: Are there better ways to save your brain?

…In the new study, the largest of its kind to date, DeKosky and his colleagues followed more than 3,000 people between the ages of 72 and 96 for an average of six years. Half of the participants took two 120-milligram capsules of ginkgo a day during the study period, and the other half took a placebo.

The people who took ginkgo showed no differences in attention, memory, and other cognitive measures compared to those who took the placebo, according to the study, which was published in this week’s Journal of the American Medical Association.

…DeKosky says he and his colleagues were surprised to find that ginkgo failed to produce any benefit, given how long the herb has been used and how many people swear by it. “We figured that if [ginkgo] was still in use and still endorsed by people — even if it’s only your grandmother — it probably does have some basis to it,” he says…

Ginkgo may not be effective, but there are many other healthy habits you can try to help keep your brain healthy:

Exercise your mind. Activities that stimulate the brain — such as learning a new language, playing brain-teasing games, or doing crossword puzzles — appear to delay the onset of dementia, says Steinerman, although it’s still unclear if they can actually prevent or slow down cognitive decline. These activities can’t hurt, however, and many new brain games for computers and video-game consoles (such as Brain Age and Brain Challenge) provide more options than ever before.

Exercise your body. The evidence linking physical activity with slower cognitive decline is convincing, says Steinerman. Animal studies have shown that exercise targets a part of the brain directly related to memory and aging, and other research suggests that even moderate exercise — a weekly bike ride, say — is associated with maintaining cognitive function.

Manage stress. Staying as stress-free as possible is essential for maintaining your sanity in the short term, but it may also be important to your long-term brain function. “High levels of stress can kill nerve cells in the most important areas of the brain for memory,” says Steinerman. “Stress can actually accelerate cognitive decline and increase the risk for Alzheimer’s.”

Eat right. Diets that are good for the heart are also believed to have beneficial effects on the brain, says Steinerman. Research suggests that a diet rich in fish, fruits, vegetables, and healthy fats may promote brain health. A 2009 study in the Archives of Neurology, for instance, found that people who adhered most closely to the Mediterranean Diet had a 28 percent lower risk for mild cognitive decline than those who didn’t stick to the diet.

Make friends. Having a rich social life may help delay cognitive decline (although it may not reverse it). Studies have shown that “more social contacts and more social interactions [appear] to be present in people who [don’t] develop dementia,” says DeKosky. “Your number of social contacts [translates] into some kind of brain change” that affects your risk of developing dementia, he says.

None of these habits is a silver bullet, however, and they are probably most effective in combination, says Steinerman.