Friday, April 29, 2011

Like humans, Monkeys can remember what they've seen

Monkeys can recollect what they've seen, according to the study which offers some of the first clear evidence that, like humans, they have the capacity for memory.

Scientists found that rhesus monkeys can flexibly recall extremely simple shapes from memory, as evidenced by their ability to reproduce those shapes on a computer touch screen.

They say the findings suggest that human and monkey memory is more similar than scientists knew. Unlike recognition, recall shows an ability to remember things that are not present in the moment, the researchers explained.  Recall is necessary for planning and imagining and can increase the flexibility of navigation, social behaviour, and other cognitive skills.

Benjamin Basile, of Emory University in the United States said: 'The ability of monkeys to recall these shapes flexibly suggests that they might be able to recollect other types of information that would be useful to them in the wild.

'It's exciting to speculate that they may be able to recollect the appearance of monkeys they know, what favourite foods look like, or the path they would have to take to get to a water source.'

He said it's also possible that the monkeys use their recollection in very limited ways Basile added: 'Maybe it's often just easier to recognise the monkey, the food, or the landmark in front of you.

'What we do know is that they do seem to have the ability to recall information in the lab.' Earlier studies had shown that recall and recognition tests given to humans require different types of memory.

However, it had been difficult to devise recall tests suitable for other primates, given that they don't draw or talk.

In the new study, Basile and Robert Hampton trained five rhesus monkeys on a novel recall test in which they had to reproduce a simple figure on a touch screen from memory.

Those shapes included two or three boxes in a grid. After a delay, part of the shape appeared in a different location, and the monkeys had to 'draw' in the rest of the shape by touching where the other boxes should be.

As in humans, the monkeys remembered less in recall than in recognition tests, even under matched conditions, and recall performance deteriorated more slowly over time.

Importantly, the monkeys were able to transfer their memory skill to novel shapes; their recall ability wasn't limited only to the shapes they had seen during training.

The researchers say that the ability of rhesus monkeys to recall what they've seen in the past suggests that the ability to recollect does not depend on language and may have been present in our common ancestor 30 million years ago.

Basile said: 'Recollection and familiarity likely evolved because they solved functionally incompatible problems.

'For example, familiarity does not support detailed memory for context, but it is quick and resistant to distraction. 

'Recollection is slower and more vulnerable to distraction but supports a more detailed and flexible use of memory. 

'Familiarity might better allow rapid responses to foods and predators under distracting conditions, whereas recollection might be necessary to access knowledge of distant food locations or past social interactions for planning future behavior.'

The report was published online in the journal Current Biology.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Science world buzzing over rumors the elusive 'God particle' has finally been found

The world's largest atom smasher is rumoured to have found the Higgs boson, the subatomic particle otherwise known as the 'God particle'.

The speculation is based on a leaked internal note, said to be from physicists at the Large Hadron Collider (LHC), a 17 mile-long particle accelerator near Geneva, Switzerland.

The rumors started when an anonymous post disclosed part of the note on Columbia University mathematician Peter Woit's blog, Not Even Wrong.

While some physicists are dismissing the note as a hoax, others say the find could be a huge particle physics breakthrough in understanding the workings of the universe.

Physicist Sheldon Stone of Syracuse University said: 'If it were to be real, it would be really exciting.'

The Higgs boson is predicted to exist by the particle physics theory known as the Standard Model. The Higgs boson, physicists believe, bestows mass on all the other particles and was crucial to forming the cosmos after the Big Bang.

It has long eluded physicists who believe it could explain why objects have mass.

Huge atom smashers — like the LHC and the Tevatron, at Fermilab in Illinois — have long been searching for the Higgs and other subatomic matter.

These accelerators slam particles together at enormous speeds, generating a shower of other particles.

The leaked note suggests that the LHC's ATLAS particle-detection experiment may have picked up a signature of the elusive Higgs.

The signal is consistent, in mass and other characteristics, with what the Higgs is expected to produce, according to the note.

Some other aspects of the signal, however, don't match predictions.

Mr Stone said: 'Its production rate is much higher than that expected for the Higgs boson in the Standard Model.'

The signal may be evidence of some other particle, Mr Stone said, adding: 'Which in some sense would be even more interesting, or it could be the result of new physics beyond the Standard Model.'

He pointed out that the note is not an official result of the ATLAS research team, so speculation about its validity or implications, therefore, may be a little premature.

Mr Stone said: 'It is actually quite illegitimate and unscientific to talk publicly about internal collaboration material before it is approved.

'So this "result" is not a result until the collaboration officially releases it.'

Other researchers joined Mr Stone in urging patience and caution before getting too excited about the possible discovery, Fox News reports.

Caltech physicist Sean Carroll said: 'Don't worry, Higgs boson! I would never spread scurrilous rumors about you. Unlike some people.'

Some researchers have already been casting doubt on the possible detection.

Tommaso Dorigo, a particle physicist at Fermilab and CERN, which operates the LHC thinks the signal is false and will fade upon closer inspection.

Mr Dorigo points out, for example, that scientists at Fermilab didn't see the Higgs signal in their Tevatron data, which covered similar ground as the ATLAS experiment.

He feels strongly enough to put his money where his mouth is.

Mr Dorigo said: 'I bet $1,000 with whomever has a name and a reputation in particle physics (this is a necessary specification, because I need to be sure that the person taking the bet will honor it) that the signal is not due to Higgs boson decays.

'I am willing to bet that this is no new particle. Clear enough?'

The rumors follow the buzz earlier this month from Tevatron over the discovery of a new elementary particle that caused a stir within the physics community.

Nigel Lockyer, director of Canada's national laboratory for particle and nuclear physics, TRIUMF, said: 'My personal judgement is that this excitement is adding fuel to the fire for the next generation of results and discoveries that will be made at the LHC (in Europe) and elsewhere.

'We are so close to learning something profound.'

The Tevatron was once the most powerful machine in the world for atom smashing until 2008 when the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) became operational at the European Organisation for Nuclear Research, known by the acronym CERN.

The U.S. machine began its work in the mid-1980s, and is scheduled for shutdown later this year when its funding runs dry.

Whether some parts will be used in other experiments or whether it will end up as part of a science exhibition is currently being decided by a committee, according to sources.

The structure of the atom was discovered early in the 20th Century. Scientists found that the atom was made of smaller pieces called subatomic particles -- most notably the proton, neutron, and electron.

However, experiments conducted in the second half of the 20th Century with atom smashers revealed that the subatomic structure of the atom was much more complex.

Particle accelerators can take a particle, such as an electron, speed it up to near the speed of light, collide it with an atom and thereby discover its internal parts.

Friday, April 22, 2011

If you're living in an affluent area means you are more likely to commit suicide

It may come as something of a surprise, but the happiest countries have the highest rates of suicide.

Behavioural scientists found that the more affluent an area then the happier it was, but the more likely its residents are to take their own lives.

They put this down to contrast, with a miserable person in an otherwise happy area likely to feel his lot is comparatively worse.Whereas the same person in an unhappy environment would be less inclined to dwell on his own misery and more able to tolerate it, the study suggests.

Researchers from the University of Warwick and Hamilton College in New York said that previous studies have shown 'happy' nations had high suicide rates, with Denmark often singled out as an example.

The team found the same was true about comparatively happy nations including Canada, the U.S., Iceland, Ireland and Switzerland. To rule out cultural differences and suicide reporting conventions, researchers focused on a single country - the U.S. - to see it the same pattern could be seen across its various states.

They found that states with people who are generally more satisfied with their lives tended to have higher suicide rates than those with lower average levels of life satisfaction.

Utah is ranked first in life satisfaction, but has the ninth highest suicide rate, while New York was ranked 45th in life satisfaction but had the lowest suicide rate in the country. Even after making adjustments for age, gender, race, education and income the link could still clearly be made, the scientists write in the U.S. publication Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization.

After these adjustments, Hawaii would rank second in average life satisfaction, but with the fifth highest suicide rate in the country. New Jersey would rank near the bottom in life satisfaction (47th) but with one of the lowest adjusted suicide risks (also 47th).

Professor Andrew Oswald, of the University of Warwick, co-author on the report Dark Contrasts: The Paradox Of High Rates Of Suicide In Happy Places, said this could come down to how we judge ourselves by other people.

He said: 'Discontented people in a happy place may feel particularly harshly treated by life. Those dark contrasts may in turn increase the risk of suicide. 'If humans are subject to mood swings, the lows of life may thus be most tolerable in an environment in which other humans are unhappy.'

Professor Stephen Wu of Hamilton College added: 'This result is consistent with other research that shows that people judge their well-being in comparison to others around them.

'These types of comparison effects have also been shown with regards to income, unemployment, crime, and obesity.'

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Largest ever fossil of spider found after 165m years | Trends At Glance

Largest ever fossil of spider
The largest ever fossil of a prehistoric spider which was weaving webs when dinosaurs ruled the Earth has been discovered by scientists.

Its fossilized features have been so perfectly preserved from 165 million years ago that experts have identified it down to the exact species and were even able to tell it was an adult female.

The Golden Orb Weaver has been named Nephila jurassica and is the largest fossil of a spider ever found.

It lived in the forests of northern China when the climate was much warmer and more tropical than today.

Its discovery means Golden Orb Weavers, or 'nephilids' - giant spiders that can grow bigger than a human hand and which still thrive today - are the longest ranging spider genus known to man in terms of age.

Palaeontologist Professor Paul Selden, of Kansas University, said the females are the largest web-weaving spiders alive today with a body length of up to two inches and a leg span of six inches. Males are relatively small in comparison.

They are 'common and spectacular' inhabitants of tropical and subtropical regions with females weaving distinctive five foot wide webs of yellow silk that glisten like gold in sunlight.

Prof Selden, who reports his discovery in the Royal Society journal Biology Letters, said: 'Here, we describe the largest known fossil spider: a female Nephila from the Middle Jurassic of China.'

Microscopic examination of the female, with a body length of about an inch and more than half an inch wide, revealed clear details including the brushes of long bristles on the ends of her legs that are characteristic of the Golden Orb Weaver.

The spider was dug up at a site called Daohugou in Inner Mongolia that is filled with fossilized salamanders, small primitive mammals, insects and water crustaceans.

During the Jurassic era, the fossil bed was part of a lake in a volcanic region.
Spider fossils from this period are rare, because the arachnids' soft bodies are easily destroyed.

The pristine Nephila jurassica was probably created when the spider was quickly encased in a tomb of silt and ash during a volcanic eruption to keep it from being scavenged or decaying.

Prof Selden said the find means Golden Orb Weavers must have an unusually ancient lineage, an extremely long range for any animal genus.

Their prized webs were being woven to capture moths and beetles in the days of T Rex, and influencing insect evolution.

The Golden Orb Weaver spins a strong web high in protein because it depends on it to capture large insects for food.

The find also suggests the climate was 'warm and humid at this time'.

Added Prof Selden: 'It is likely that Nephila jurassica wove large, golden orb webs to catch medium to large sized insects in the Daohugou forests.

'Predation by these spiders would have played an important role in the natural selection of contemporaneous insects.'

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Mobile phone can be used with thoughts only

Nokia N73
Everyone looking to save as much time as possible and sometimes dialing a mobile number is become too time consuming for our fast-paced time precious society.

Here a Good news researchers in America have come up with a solution - "Brain Cell Phone" a mobile phone which uses the power of thought to make a call - and you do not have to move a finger. Users wear a specially designed headband which is hooked up to a Blue tooth device that wirelessly sends commands to a Nokia N73 mobile phone.

But for using this device you need some practice so that you can master the technique, this technology works by responding to cues from the brain. It is hoped the break-through will be able to create safer hands free mobile phones to help the disabled and elderly and help out professionals in high pressured working environments.

According to the Huffington Post, developer Tzyy-Ping Jung, a scientist at the Swartz Center for Computational Neuroscience at the University of California, San Diego, said the device relies on electroencephalogram (EEG) electrodes on the scalp to work out what the brain is trying to say. He believes it could be 100 per cent accurate with just a bit of  training.He said: 'From our experience, anyone can do it.'

Users wear an EEG headband, which detects brain signals and a Bluetooth gadget sends instructions to the phone. This uses algorithms to process the signals.

During trials, users were shown digits from zero to nine flashing at different speeds on a screen and this was detected by the electrodes.

Those used in the initial experiments were between 70 per cent 85 per cent accurate when trying to dial a 10 digit phone number. Thought powered computers have been around for a while, however this is the first time it has been adapted for mobile phones.

End of the post

It's very important technique which even disable person can try to perform their work and even normal person can be benefitted as well. Please discuss your take about it.

Do you think this mobile really needed?
How much does this mobile affect our life?
What other benefits do you think we can get from this technique?

Sunday, April 10, 2011

FBI released a memo that proves "aliens landed at Roswell"

Alien that was autopsied at Roswell in 1947
A bizarre memo that appears to prove that aliens did land in New Mexico prior to 1950 has been published by the FBI. The bureau has made thousands of files available in a new online resource called The Vault.

Among them is a memo to the director from Guy Hottel, the special agent in charge of the Washington field office in 1950.

In the memo, whose subject line is 'Flying Saucers', Agent Hottel reveals that an Air Force investigator had stated that 'three so-called flying saucers had been recovered in New Mexico'.

The investigator gave the information to a special agent, he said. The FBI has censored both the agent and the investigator's identity. Agent Hottel went on to write: 'They were described as being circular in shape with raised centers, approximately 50 feet in diameter.

'Each one was occupied by three bodies of human shape but only 3 feet tall,' he stated. The bodies were 'dressed in a metallic cloth of a very fine texture. Each body was bandaged in a manner similar to the blackout suits used by speed flyers and test pilots.'

He said that the informant, whose identity was censored in the memo, claimed the saucers had been found in New Mexico 'due to the fact that the Government has a very high-powered radar set-up in that area and it is believed the radar interferes with teh controlling mechanism of the saucers'.

He then stated that the special agent did not attempt to investigate further.The release of the secret memo is likely to fuel conspiracy theorists' claims of a government cover-up.

Secret memo released online is written to the FBI Director and could confirm the 1947 Roswell UFO incident
The town of Roswell in New Mexico became infamous after reports that a flying saucer had crashed in the desert near a military base there on or around July 2, 1947. The bodies of aliens were said to have been recovered and autopsied by the U.S. military,

but American authorities allegedly covered the incident up Military authorities issued a press release, which began: ‘The many rumours regarding the flying disc became a reality yesterday when the intelligence officer of the 509th Bomb Group of the Eighth Air Force, Roswell Army Air Field, was fortunate enough to gain possession of a disc.’

The headlines screamed: 'Flying Disc captured by Air Force.' Yet, just 24 hours later, the military changed their story and claimed the object they'd first thought was a 'flying disc' was a weather balloon that had crashed on a nearby ranch.

Amazingly, the media and the public accepted the explanation without question. Roswell disappeared from the news until the late Seventies, when some of the military involved began to speak out. Another memo published in The Vault from 1947 claimed that an object 'purporting to be a flying disc' had been recovered near Roswell.
A dead alien is allegedly examined following the landing at Roswell
The disc was 'hexagonal in shape' and 'suspended from a balloon by a cable', according to the memo, marked as 'Urgent', to the FBI director. The memo noted that the disc resembled a weather balloon - but claimed that a telephone conversation between the Air Force and the field office 'had not [word
censored] borne out this belief'.

The disc and balloon were being transported to Wright Field for further inspection, the memo noted.

It added that the information was being flagged up because of 'national interest' in the episode, and noting that both NBC and the AP were set to break the story that day.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Even if you drink just over a unit of beer/alcohol a day "causes cancer"

Drinking a ‘safe’ amount of alcohol below the recommended daily limit increases the risk of developing cancer, with the danger remaining even if you become teetotal, experts say.

New research shows that one in ten cancers in men and one in 33 in women in Britain is caused by drinking – and the figures are on the rise.

Alcohol is blamed for at least 13,000 cases a year, including cancer of the breast, mouth, oesophagus and bowel. Bingeing is responsible for most cases, but some are triggered by drinking at levels below
the suggested daily total, according to the international report.

It found that men who drank more than two standard drinks (or units) a day and women who had more than one were particularly at risk of alcohol-related cancers.

A standard drink is equivalent to a 125ml glass of wine, half a pint of weak beer or a single whisky.

Oxford University researcher Naomi Allen, who helps to compile the ongoing study, said: ‘This supports existing evidence that alcohol causes cancer and that the risk increases even with drinking moderate amounts.’

The study has been tracking volunteers across Europe for years, and Miss Allen said the latest figures understated the risks now.

She added: ‘The results from this study reflect the impact of people’s drinking habits about ten years ago.

‘People are drinking even more now and this could lead to more people developing cancer because of alcohol in the future.’

Figures from eight European countries including Britain were analysed to determine the proportion of cancer cases caused by alcohol, and at what levels of drinking.

NHS guidelines advise that men should drink no more than four units a day while women should not go over three.

Cancers of the pharynx (the cavity behind the nose and mouth), oesophagus and voice box were most commonly caused by alcohol, followed by cancer of the liver.

Overall, in 2008, current and former alcohol consumption caused about 57,600 cases of cancer of the upper digestive tract, bowel and liver in men across Denmark, Greece, Germany, Italy, Spain and the UK, it showed.

More than half of these cases (33,000) were caused by drinking more than two alcoholic drinks per day. Across all eight countries, some 21,500 cases of upper digestive tract, liver, bowel and breast cancer in women were caused by drinking, of which over 80 per cent (17,400) was due to more than one drink of beer, wine, or spirits per day.

Almost 300,000 cases of cancer are diagnosed each year in Britain. Sara Hiom, director of health information at Cancer Research UK, which helped to fund the study, said: ‘Many people just don’t know that drinking alcohol can increase their cancer risk.

‘Keeping alcohol intake to a maximum of one small drink a day for women and two small drinks per day for men can have a real impact.’

The research, published in the British Medical Journal, is part of the European Prospective Investigation of Cancer (Epic), which began in 1992 and is one of the largest studies into the links between cancer and diet.

It tracked 360,000 people, mostly aged 35 to 70 when the study started, who were followed up to see how many developed cancer.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

The best way to find alien life is to search for signs of mining

Scientists have spent 50 years sending radio signals deep into space in an attempt to establish contact with extra-terrestrials. But it now appears there might be a much simpler way of finding alien life - we should look for signs of mining in asteroid belts.

Mining should be easy to spot because it would create lots of dust due to its effect on local temperatures, or so the theory goes. Aliens would also be more likely to mine large objects instead of smaller ones, researchers believe.

The claims were made by Dr Duncan Forgan, of the University of Edinburgh, and Dr Martin Elvis, of the Harvard Smithsonian Center For Astrophysics in Cambridge, Massachusetts. They suggest that as materials such as gold, platinum, iron and silicon are plentiful in asteroids, then intelligent alien life would be likely to exploit this. Any extrasolar mining would produce three effects that should, in theory, be detected from Earth.

Firstly, scientists are aware of the specific ratio of elements found in common debris belts. Therefore, using spectroscopy, they should be able to spot asteroid belts where this ratio is different.

Secondly, aliens would be more likely to mine large asteroid belts due to their having more elements and minerals for harvesting.

Lastly, any large scale mining would result in a great deal of dust that would take heat from the nearby star and generate an identifiable thermal signature.

Dr Forgan and Dr Elvis claim that spotting all of these tell-tale signs raises the likelihood of pinpointing extra-terrestrials. However, they admit that all three also occur naturally and that their recommendations only increase the chance of finding alien life.

In a paper published in, they write: 'We find that individual observational signatures of asteroid mining can be explained by natural phenomena, and as such they cannot provide conclusive detections of extra-terrestrial intelligences.

'They could provide a means of identifying unusual candidate systems for further study using other techniques.'

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Ever wondered why Mars is red? Earth can too become Red

Mars has not always been red. At least that is the theory proposed by a scientist who has discovered a reason as to how the red planet got its rosy color.

According to Dr John Brandednberg, about 180 million years ago, a planet-shattering yet naturally occurring nuclear reaction may have wiped out everything on Mars, sending a 
shock-wave that turned the planet into dry sand.

He told Fox News: 'The Martian surface is covered with a thin layer of radioactive substances including uranium, thorium and radioactive potassium - and this pattern radiates from a hot spot on Mars.

'A nuclear explosion could have sent debris all around the planet. 'Maps of gamma rays on Mars show a big red spot that seems like a radiating debris pattern ... on the opposite side of the planet there is another red spot.' Dr Brandenburg, who is a senior propulsion scientist at Orbital Technologies Corp, said the natural explosion - the equivalent of one million one-megaton hydrogen bombs - occurred in the northern Mare Acidalium region of Mars where there is a heavy concentration of radioactivity.

This explosion also filled the Martian atmosphere with radio-isotopes, which are seen in recent gamma ray spectrometry data taken by NASA, he said. The radioactivity also explains why the planet looks red.

Dr Brandenburg believes that a natural nuclear reaction could have occurred on our own planet - and could happen again. Dr David Beaty, Mars programme science manager at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, told that he finds the idea intriguing and fascinating. 

But he said to prove the science, the agency would need to plan a mission to explore Mare Acidalium on Mars.                                                                                                                                                                      

Friday, April 1, 2011

Do you know Heartbeat can charge your Cellphone??

Scientists have developed a tiny chip that can generate power by using the body's sown movement, a technology which they say could soon enable you to recharge your mobile phone by just holding closer to your heart.

Researchers at Georgia Institute of Technology in the US who were behind the invention hoped that as the nanotechnology used in the chip evolves, it could lead to electronics which don't require batteries or mains power. Hailed as a milestone, it can use tiny movements such as the tip of the finger to generate power, British newspaper the Telegraph reported.

Zhong Lin Wang, who led the research, said, "This development represents a milestone toward producing portable electronics that can be powered by body movements without the use of batteries or electrical outlets."

Wang and his team used the device to power LCD displays and diodes, as well as to transmit a radio signal once its generated power has been stored. The device, they said, is thousands of times more powerful than its predecessors, allowing scientists to take the technology out of the lab for the first time.

The technology works by using zinc oxide nanowires, which generate electricity when strained or flexed. This mean virtually any body movement - from walking to a heartbeat - can generate power, the scientists said. Wang's team worked to capture and combine the power of millions of the nanowires, which are so small that 500 could fit in a human hair.

Five nanogenerators working together produced about one micro ampere output current at 3 volts about the same voltage generated by two regular AA batteries.