Science & Technology
Tue, 21 Mar 2017 20:48 UTC
Scientists studying what satnavs do to the brain have found that people using them effectively switch off parts of the brain that would otherwise be utilized to simulate different routes and boost navigational skills.
Publishing the findings in the journal Nature Communications on Tuesday, the researchers said that when volunteers in an experiment navigated manually, their hippocampus and prefrontal cortex brain regions had spikes of activity. But these were not seen when the volunteers simply followed satnav instructions.
"When we have technology telling us which way to go ... these parts of the brain simply don't respond to the street network," said Hugo Spiers of University College London's (UCL)department of experimental psychology.
"In that sense our brain has switched off its interest in the streets around us."
Comment: Other researchers agree:
When we stop trying to figure out routes for ourselves and instead rely solely on the turn-by-turn directions of our GPS, our ability to work out spatial maps seems to get worse. "One Japanese study," Stromberg wrote, "found that compared with people who were given paper maps and figured out routes for themselves, GPS users later drew maps with less detail and accuracy."
McKinlay frets that this could lead to problems. Lack of navigational skills is how a Belgian bus driver could take 50 tourists 800 miles in the wrong direction because he punched in the wrong address on his GPS device. It means that when our mapping devices stumble, we're completely powerless. "You see increasing stories about people going hiking with their smartphones as their only guide," he says. "Then their phone dies and they're incapable of navigating for themselves" and have to be rescued.
Wed, 22 Mar 2017 20:36 UTC
Physicians have various approaches at hand to treat bone defects: Replacement material can come from a patient's own body, donated tissue, or a synthetic or naturally derived product. All of these methods, however, have limitations. For example, current bioceramics, such as hydroxyapatite, that have been used as scaffolds for bone repair tend to be weak and brittle, which can lead to pieces breaking off. These pieces can then move into adjacent soft tissue, causing inflammation. Recent studies have shown that biological materials, such as sea urchin spines, have promise as bone scaffolds because of their porosity and strength. Xing Zhang, Zheng Guo, Yue Zhu and colleagues wanted to test this idea in more detail.
Using a hydrothermal reaction, the researchers converted sea urchin spines to biodegradable magnesium-substituted tricalcium phosphate scaffolds while maintaining the spines' original interconnected, porous structure. Unlike hydroxyapatite, the scaffolds made from sea urchin spines could be cut and drilled to a specified shape and size. Testing on rabbits and beagles showed that bone cells and nutrients could flow through the pores and promote bone formation. Also, the scaffold degraded easily as it was replaced by the new growth. The researchers say their findings could inspire the design of new lightweight materials for repairing bones.
The Daily Wire
Wed, 22 Mar 2017 18:26 UTC
For the first time, researchers from Northwestern University have now demonstrated that when a human sperm first meets an egg a bright zinc spark can be seen, not only a "remarkable" phenomenon but also one that might be a game-changer for in vitro fertilization.
"It was remarkable," said the study's co-author Professor Teresa Woodruff. "We discovered the zinc spark just five years ago in the mouse, and to see the zinc radiate out in a burst from each human egg was breathtaking. All of biology starts at the time of fertilization, yet we know next to nothing about the events that occur in the human."
The researchers say that the size of the flash of light provides valuable information about the health of the eggs. The brighter the flash, the more viable the egg, and thus the better option for in vitro fertilization, which has a high failure rate (around 50%) and often involves clinicians using imprecise means of testing or simply choosing whichever eggs they think appear to be most viable.
"This means if you can look at the zinc spark at the time of fertilization, you will know immediately which eggs are the good ones to transfer in in vitro fertilization," explained Woodruff. "It's a way of sorting egg quality in a way we've never been able to assess before."
Tue, 21 Mar 2017 13:03 UTC
"It's called an entanglement area law," says Adrian Del Maestro, a physicist at the University of Vermont who co-led the research. That this law appears at both the vast scale of outer space and at the tiny scale of atoms, "is weird," Del Maestro says, "and it points to a deeper understanding of reality."
The new study was published March 13 in the journal Nature Physics—and it may be a step toward a long-sought quantum theory of gravity and new advances in quantum computing.
Tue, 21 Mar 2017 22:19 UTC
"It's not just a gradual sinking. This is boom — it would drop. It's very rapid sinking," Robert Leeper, lead author of a new study published in Nature, carried out with the help of the US Geological Survey, told the LA Times.
Leeper's team took 55 samples at the Seal Beach National Wildlife Refuge in southern Los Angeles, by submerging 20-feet pipes that collected samples of the sediment, initially looking for evidence for a prehistoric tsunami.
Instead, the team from Cal State Fullerton found an identical pattern, of living vegetation suddenly dropping and being buried underneath the ground. "We identified three of these buried layers composed of vegetation or sediment that used to be at the surface," said Leeper.
Wed, 22 Mar 2017 09:09 UTC
The NASA Transition Authorization Act of 2017, or S. 442, provides funding for fiscal year 2018, which begins October 1. It specifically appropriates money for NASA's deep space exploration, including the Space Launch System and the Orion spacecraft, as well as for the ongoing medical monitoring and treatment of astronauts. It builds on the current public-private partnership for space, with commercial companies transporting American astronauts to the International Space Station (ISS) and NASA focusing on deep space and the mission to Mars.
"For almost six decades, NASA's work has inspired millions and millions of Americans to imagine distant worlds and a better future right here on Earth. I'm delighted to sign this bill," Trump said. "With this legislation, we support NASA's scientists, engineers, astronauts and their pursuit of discovery. We support jobs. It's about jobs, also."
Mon, 20 Mar 2017 23:34 UTC
But maybe not for long. In a series of experiments published March 20 in Nature, Stanford researchers show that neurons within the cerebellum respond to and learn to anticipate rewards, a first step toward a much more exciting future for the cerebrum's largely overlooked little brother and one that could open up new avenues of research for neuroscientists interested in the roots of cognition.
Engineers develop inexpensive bio-friendly material that generates electricity through thermoelectric process involving heat and cold air
Mon, 20 Mar 2017 00:00 UTC
The team, led by University of Utah materials science and engineering professor Ashutosh Tiwari, has found that a combination of the chemical elements calcium, cobalt and terbium can create an efficient, inexpensive and bio-friendly material that can generate electricity through a thermoelectric process involving heat and cold air.
Their findings were published in a new paper March 20 in the latest issue of Scientific Reports. The first author on the paper is University of Utah materials science and engineering postdoctoral researcher, Shrikant Saini.
A Lunar Impact Flash - a flash of light when something hits the Moon's surface - was recorded on the southern hemisphere of the Moon and probably caused by a small meteorite the size of a golf ball.
Lasting less that one tenth of a second, the image was caught on New Year's Day 2017 on a remotely operated telescope at Aberystwyth University.
Lunar Impact Flashes are notoriously difficult to record. The meteorite would be travelling at anywhere between 10 to 70 km per second as it hit the surface of the Moon. That is the equivalent of travelling from Aberystwyth to Cardiff in just a few seconds, and the resulting impact would be over in a fraction of a second.Scientists estimate the Moon is hit by similar sized meteorites as often as once every 10 to 20 hours.
A similar meteorite hitting the Earth's atmosphere would produce a beautiful shooting star, but as the Moon has no atmosphere it slams into the surface, causing a crater the size of very large pot hole. Just under 1% of the meteorite's energy is converted into a flash of light, which we were able to record here in Aberystwyth.
- Dr Tony Cook, Aberystwyth University
Tue, 21 Mar 2017 16:30 UTC
The hunter twisted through the air to avoid trees, homed in on its target, fired a Kevlar net to capture it, and then carried the rogue drone back to its base like a bald eagle with a kill.
Airspace is among some 70 companies working on counter-drone systems as small consumer and commercial drones proliferate. But unlike others, it aims to catch drones instead of disabling them or shooting them down.
A demonstration at Airspace headquarters in San Leandro, California, showed a compact aircraft just a few feet wide, yet capable of sophisticated, autonomous navigation and accurate targeting of a drone in motion.
It is still early days in the drone-defense business. Security professionals both public and private worry about dangerous drones at military sites, airports, data centers, and public venues like baseball stadiums. But counter-measures carry risk, too.