Scientists have, for the first time, discovered exactly how memories are formed in the brain.
The US-UK team has managed to pinpoint individual neurons that fire when people file away their experiences.
The ‘spectacular discovery’ may help better explain memory loss and lead to new methods to fight it in Alzheimer’s and other neurological diseases.
- Palaeontologist Professor Simon Conway Morris argues alien life would inevitably become intelligent in a new book under the ‘rules’ of evolution
- He said the theory of convergent evolution means species develop similar traits and physical attributes independently but come to look the same
- Life on other planets would likely resemble the creatures on Earth
- It could even mean human-like aliens are living on Earth-like planets
It’s good to be mixed-up. People whose parents are distantly related are, on average, taller, smarter and better educated than those whose parents are close relatives.
Based on what we know about plants and animals, biologists have long suspected that people of mixed parentage have a genetic advantage. Now an extensive study may have confirmed the hunch.
“It does imply that people who come from very different ancestry would be a bit taller and a bit more cognitively able,” says team member Jim Wilson of the University of Edinburgh, UK.
It has long been known that children are more likely to suffer from genetic diseases if their parents are close relatives, because they may inherit the same harmful gene variants from their mother and father.
The researchers think the body’s own antibodies are to blame in at least a proportion of people with CFS. Relief started four to six months after the first dose of rituximab, approximately the time it would take for existing antibodies to be cleared from the body. Participants relapsed after about a year – roughly how long B-cells take to regrow and start making new antibodies.
“We think the pattern of responses and relapses involves some mechanism with these antibodies,” says Fluge.
An infection may trigger the body to produce antibodies that then turn against a person’s own tissues, he says. His team suspect that these antibodies may stop blood from circulating properly, preventing people from getting enough oxygen, explaining their extreme fatigue.
The researchers caution that their theory is just speculation for now, but they do have some very preliminary evidence. “We think the antibodies target the blood vessel system, because patients have very low anaerobic pressure, and produce waste lactate earlier, which stops muscles working,” says Mella.
If this theory turns out to be true, it would explain why people with CFS suffer muscle fatigue but show no signs of muscular abnormalities.
Certain types of stem cells use microscopic, threadlike nanotubes to communicate with neighboring cells, rather than sending a broadcast signal, researchers at University of Michigan Life Sciences Institute and University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center have discovered.
The fruit-fly research findings, published today (July 1) in Nature, suggest that short-range, cell-to-cell communication may rely on this type of direct connection more than was previously understood, said co-senior author Yukiko Yamashita, a U-M developmental biologist.
“There are trillions of cells in the human body, but nowhere near that number of signaling pathways,” she said. “There’s a lot we don’t know about how the right cells get just the right messages to the right recipients at the right time.”
Enough is enough, say the physicists who have come together to renew respect for experimental evidence and work on alternatives to ever more contrived theory
IT WAS, in many ways, a declaration of war. A group of physicists has launched a rearguard action to restore experimental data to what they see as its rightful place, back on their subject’s throne.
Last week, the Perimeter Institute in Waterloo, Canada, hosted its inaugural Convergence conference at the same time as Strings 2015, the world’s largest string theory conference, was taking place in Bangalore, India. The timing wasn’t entirely accidental, says Perimeter director Neil Turok. Although string theory attempts to describe the universe in one theoretical framework, it makes no attempt to explain experimental results, he says.
“We’ve been given these incredible clues from nature and we’re failing to make sense of them,” he told New Scientist. “In fact, we’re doing the opposite: theory is becoming ever more complex and contrived. We throw in more fields, more dimensions, more symmetry – we’re throwing the kitchen sink at the problem and yet failing to explain the most basic facts.”
Turok’s response: a data buffet. Convergence gave researchers a chance to parade their field’s most puzzling experimental results, in areas from why 96 per cent of the universe appears to be missing and cosmic inflation to quantum entanglement and the fate of information when matter falls into black holes. The ultimate goal is to give young theorists alternative paths to pursue – ones guided by empirical evidence.
Several physicists touted dark matter and dark energy as the best areas to focus on. “Dark matter is the biggest problem in physics today,” said Maria Spiropulu of the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena and CERN’s CMS collaboration. She suggests that gravity might be the thread that links dark matter – the invisible stuff that makes up much of the universe’s mass – with dark energy – the even more mysterious stuff forcing the universe apart – as well as the Higgs boson and the unsolved problem of why neutrinos have mass. That creates fertile ground for new theoretical ideas.
But dark matter has surprised everybody by failing to show up in earthly experiments, not even at the Large Hadron Collider, which was expected to produce it by the bucketload, says Neal Weiner of New York University. Still, there is plenty of scope to devise new ways of looking for it, he said, and theorists shouldn’t give up. “We shouldn’t confuse the fact that things don’t happen as fast as we like with the fact that they won’t happen.”
We may not even need another blockbuster experiment like the LHC to find it. Savas Dimopoulos of Stanford University in California proposed a new kind of institute he calls a “superlab”, to champion small-scale experiments. They are just as likely to give us clues to new fundamental physics as implausible aims like visiting black holes or multibillion-dollar particle accelerators that take decades to build, he said.
The plan is to share resources in an ideas incubator. Researchers in disparate labs are already testing gravity over tiny scales using high-precision instruments called torsion balances, which measure the attraction between two objects. They are also dropping atoms from significant heights to see whether different atoms interact with gravity differently. Bringing such experiments together in a single place could reap large rewards, and even take potshots at string theory by disproving the existence of hypothetical particles it predicts.
“We can go back to the era where theorists not only came up with theories, but also ways to test those theories,” he said. “These small-scale experiments can keep us excited and keep us making discoveries.”
Other physicists presented even more exotic problems for colleagues to chew on. Matthew Fisher of the University of California, Santa Barbara, suggested theorists in search of a challenge could tackle the human brain’s connection to fundamental quantum physics.
“Our ultimate challenge is to understand the conduit through which we understand what is ‘out there’,” he said. “Cognition is the ultimate mystery.”
John Preskill of Caltech spoke on the quantum structure of black holes and posed a challenge to fellow theorists: “Does space-time emerge from quantum entanglement?” he asked. “The evidence is building for this.”
Not everyone was convinced that the meeting would inspire young theorists to defect from string theory. John Moffat, who works on dark matter at the Perimeter Institute, thinks the academic job market offers little incentive to strike out with radical ideas. “This is a straitjacket for them,” he said.
Weiner disagrees. “It is hard to take totally new tacks, but I do see young people doing this,” he said. “It requires encouragement and training, but it is happening.”
A young physicist may have proved Weiner’s point during a talk by the Perimeter Institute’s Kendrick Smith. Smith discussed the implications of the latest measurements by the Planck space telescope for the theory of inflation – the idea that the universe went through an exponential growth spurt in the first sliver of a second after the big bang. The theory has been on a roller coaster of late, with a team claiming to have found observational evidence and then retracting within a matter of months. Smith thinks more data might not even help, as the theory is adaptable enough to fit any observations we can currently do. He said the theory could easily survive the next 30 years without being falsified.
Paul Steinhardt of Princeton University, one of the original architects of inflation but now a vocal critic of how the theory has evolved, went even further, arguing that inflation’s flexibility means it cannot even be called a theory.
But Perimeter’s David Marsh, a 28-year-old postdoctoral researcher, vociferously dissented. He listed observations that would allow the theory to be tested and perhaps disproven, involving the cosmic microwave background’s “tensor modes” and the detection of axions – hypothetical particles originally proposed to solve an unrelated problem.
These kinds of theoretical insights are more necessary than ever, said the Perimeter Institute’s Natalia Toro. “We need to be asking more questions: that’s what the universe is telling us,” she said. “Exploratory experiments are becoming ever more important, but they are ever more difficult to do successfully without theoretical input.”
One positive upshot of that is that the future of physics is wide open for theorists and experimenters, Weiner says. “Ten years ago it was obvious what was going to be an interesting thing to work on in two years. Now, I don’t think I could tell you. It will come from the experimental results between now and then.”
That is why physics must maintain a tenacious grip on experiment. “The most important thing is to have experimentalists talking about real phenomena,” Turok says. “We’re at this wonderful stage: we’ve seen the Higgs boson, we’ve seen the whole universe, our reach is further than ever before… and we’re fundamentally confused. What I think we need now are very simple, radical ideas that will point towards new approaches to the big problems.”
- Overnight hard contact lenses to correct short-sighted in children
- UV protection in hard and soft lenses helps protect the eyes
- Scientists are working on a hassle-free method of checking glucose levels with a contact lens that can measure glucose in tears
- Crops of herbs, salads and mini vegetables are being grown in disused tunnels beneath Clapham in South London
- Michelin-starred chef Michel Roux Jnr has joined two entrepreneurs to launch the ‘Growing Underground’ brand
- Phase one crops include pea shoots, radish, mustard, coriander, Red Amaranth, celery, parsley and rocket
- Scientists suggest new theory for why the countryside makes us feel better
- Phytochemicals released by plants may trigger body’s repair mechanisms
- These biomolecules released in the air can be toxic in high concentrations
- If proven, the theory may force urban planners to rethink green spaces
- Breaking Bad star Aaron Paul tweeted the Siri Easter Egg earlier today
- When Apple users ask Siri to divide zero by zero it has a funny response
- It uses the Cookie Monster to discuss the implications of the sum
Mystery of the celestial sprites solved? Slow motion video reveals how gravity waves may be causing ‘alien’ light shows in Earth’s atmospher
- Researchers studied rare footage of a sprite filmed by high speed cameras
- Sprites found to be caused by disruption due to atmospheric gravity waves
- They produce an eerie halo that lasts for 10 milliseconds in mesosphere
- This proceeds an intense flash of light which lasts less than a millisecond
- Only 24 of the cars will be made by Aston Martin
- Owners will have to complete special course before being allowed to drive
- Smart U shaped steering wheel houses controls
- Researchers used femtosecond lasers to create the safe 3D holograms
- A femtosecond is a quadrillionth of a second and these lasers pulse with bursts that last between 30 and 270 femtoseconds
- These pulses ionise the air to create plasma which can be touched
- Previous research using nanosecond lasers damaged the skin
Swarms of microscopic, magnetic, robotic beads could be used within five years by vascular surgeons to clear blocked arteries. These minimally invasive microrobots, which look and move like corkscrew-shaped bacteria, are being developed by an $18-million, 11-institution research initiative headed by the Korea Evaluation Institute of Industrial Technologies (KEIT).
A team of Tel Aviv University and Harvard Medical School researchers has devised a novel non-invasive tissue-stimulation technique using pulsed electric fields (PEF) to generate new skin tissue growth.
The technique produces scarless skin rejuvenation and may revolutionize the treatment of degenerative skin diseases, according to research team leader Alexander Golberg of TAU’s Porter School of Environmental Studies and the Center for Engineering in Medicine at Massachusetts General Hospital, Harvard Medical School, and Shriners Burns Hospital in Boston.
“Pulsed electrical field technology has many advantages, which have already proved effective — for example, in food preservation, tumor removal, and wound disinfection,” said Golberg. “Our new application may jumpstart the secretion of new collagen and capillaries in problematic skin areas.
Current therapies to rejuvenate skin use various physical and chemical methods to affect cells and the extracellular matrix, but they induce unsightly scarring.
How it works
Pulsed electric fields, however, affect only the cell membrane itself, preserving the extracellular matrix architecture and releasing multiple growth factors to spark new cell and tissue growth, according to the researchers.
By inducing nanoscale defects on the cell membranes, electric fields cause the death of a small number of cells in affected areas, but the released growth factors increase the metabolism of the remaining cells, generating new tissue.
“We have identified in rats the specific pulsed electric field parameters that lead to prominent proliferation of the epidermis, formation of microvasculature, and secretion of new collagen at treated areas without scarring,” said Dr. Golberg. “Our results suggest that pulsed electric fields can improve skin function and potentially serve as a novel non-invasive skin therapy for multiple degenerative skin diseases.”
Gamers over in the US will be pleased to hear that Acer America intends to up the ante in the gaming visuals department with the introduction of the Acer XR341CK, which so happens to be an ultra-wide curved monitor that will boast of a 34″ QHD panel with AMD FreeSync technology – and even better yet is the fact that it will arrive in a zero frame design.
However if you wanted more accurate translations, Google has announced that they have made some updates and improvements to Google Translate in which it will now be able to recognize informal speech, as you can see in the image above where the words are the same, but the translation holds a slightly different meaning.
Getting married really isn’t good for your weight, researchers have found.
They say that married couples have higher body mass index (BMI) than those who are single.
They also say that married couples on average eat better than singles – but that they weigh significantly more and do less sport.
University of California, San Diego electrical engineers have invented a technology that could allow between a two- and fourfold increase in data transmission capacity for the backbone of Internet, cable, wireless, and landline networks over long distances, while reducing cost and latency (delay).
The new system addresses a problem known as the “Kerr effect”: distortion of optical signals that travel on optical fibers over distances, requiring the laser light in fiber-optic wires to be amplified and regenerated at regular distances along the fiber to avoid transmission errors. This process is expensive and limits data transmission rates.
The new findings eliminate the need for electronic regenerators. The breakthrough in this study is the researchers’ invention of custom wideband “frequency combs” that remove “crosstalk” (signal corruption) between multiple streams of information traveling long distances through the optical fiber.
“Crosstalk between communication channels within a fiber optic cable obeys fixed physical laws. It’s not random. We now have a better understanding of the physics of the crosstalk. In this study, we present a method for leveraging the crosstalk to remove the power barrier for optical fiber,” explained Stojan Radic, a professor in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering at UC San Diego and the senior author on the Science paper. “Our approach conditions the information before it is even sent, so the receiver is free of crosstalk caused by the Kerr effect.”
In lab experiments, the researchers at UC San Diego successfully deciphered information after it traveled a record-breaking 12,000 kilometers through fiber optic cables with standard amplifiers and no repeaters.
- Australian research has found a bird that can make up new ‘words’
- The chestnut-crowned babbler combines sounds to convey messages
- Flight calls keep groups together, while prompt calls indicate feeding
- It is the first time this key piece of human speech has been found in birds
- How memories are REALLY made: Scientists see neurons change
- Aliens do exist and they look like HUMANS, claims Cambridge biologist
- Want tall, smart children? Find an exotic stranger
- Antibody wipeout found to relieve chronic fatigue syndrome
- Wait, some stem cells use nanotubes to communicate with other cells? Seriously?
- Physicists launch fight to make data more important than theory
- Hi-tech contacts that do LOTS more than help you see
- WW2 bomb shelters beneath London become world’s first underground farm
- Why a dose of country air is good for you
- See what happens when you ask Siri to divide zero by zero
- Mystery of the celestial sprites solved? Slow motion video reveals how gravity waves may be causing ‘alien’ light shows in Earth’s atmospher
- Aston Martin reveals $2.3m hi-tech ‘Vulcan’ hypercar
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