Technology and Health News
All kinds of interesting tech and health news from around the World!
The nervous system takes a decision ten seconds before the individual is conscious of it: a German study calls into question the concept of free will!
The human brain takes a decision almost ten seconds before the person is aware: the claim comes from researchers of Max Planck Institute for Cognitive Sciences in Leipzig, Germany, led by neuroscientist John-Dylan Haynes. With this claim, the German scientist are taking into question the principle of "free will" during the decision-making process.
The researchers asked 14 volunteers to undergo brain imaging during the course of a task: the experiment was to take a decision: in this case pressing between two buttons, with the right hand or with the left at the choice of the subject. At the same time, on a screen it was shown a stream of letters, at a rate of one every half second, and volunteers had to report the letter on the screen at the time of their decision.
Particles in a confined microscopic space, move in a coordinated manner and can be manipulated and observed with a precision never achieved.
A nano-trap can be imagined as a tube the size of a billionth of a meter in which electrons are closed to study their behavior. Thus, scientists from the centers of the Italian Institute for physics of matter of Cnr "S3", Modena and "Nest" of Pisa in collaboration with Columbia University in New York, were able to observe with great precision the behavior of a quartet of electrons confined in one of these structures. Result: the particles move in a coordinated manner and with precise frequencies and can be manipulated. The study was published in Nature Phisics.
As it is known, the physics of the matter the size of an atom or less follows different laws than those of classical physics. According to these principles, which fall in quantum physics, the behavior of particles such as electrons can not be described as we are used to (for larger bjects),but it is outlined mainly in terms of probabilistic forecasts.
The technique developed by Cnr made it possible to determine the frequency of vibrations of particles through the use of a beam of laser light. The electrons in a nano-trap can only move in a coordinated manner and in accordance with the laws of quantum mechanics, vibrate at frequencies well defined that, thanks to this method, was possible to measure with unprecedented precision.
An improvement in dating techniques with argon-argon allows us to place more correctly the extinction of large reptiles.
When did the dinosaurs become extinct? 65.5 million years ago, more or less 300 thousand years. This is the answer, or at least it was until yesterday. Thanks to a more refined timing technique, researchers from Berkley, California, have reduced by nearly 10 times the range of error, identifying with extreme precision the "moment" in which dinosaurs were extinct, which matches the passage between the era of geological Cretaceous and the Tertiary. The new answer is 65.95 million years ago, with a margin of error of only 40,000 years.
In these monkeys 80 per cent of the neuron cell cortex is multisensory phonetic and also responds to visual stimuli. Thus, all the information is integrated
It is known for some time that monkeys are able to integrate information in various ways to recognize monkeys in the group and their intentions, just like us and like many other other animals. What we did not know until today was how our "cousins" could associate verses and faces, optimising thus the process of individual recognition. The experiment helps to clarify that which was published in Journal of Neuroscience and was conducted by Aif Ghazanfar and collaborators at Princeton (USA) on a kind of macaco. The researchers found that, in these monkeys, many neurons are in fact multi-sensorial and respond differently depending on whether the hearing and visual stimuli are at the same time or not.
For monkeys, which live in social groups and must manage complex relationships - conflicting and friendly - it is crucial to combine auditory stimuli (leading information-type sound, as a sound threat) and images (which provide summary information, such as the color of skin or facial features).
The group Ghazanfar could shed light on the mechanism of integration of different stimuli by measuring the activity of visual and auditory cortex areas of the brain, respectively, for image and sound. Measurements were made under different conditions: in one case the animals could both see fellow companions in the group, listen to their sounds, while in other cases the animals could alternatively listen to the auditory component only or see the companions (only visual component).
For the first time there was a negative charge exactly equal to 25 percent of that unit. Research in Nature magazine.
Since the electricity comes from the transport of electrons, it is logical to expect that the smallest load that can be transported is equal to the charge of a single electron. Under specific conditions, it is possible to observe portions of this fundamental unit. Even in these conditions, however, there have been observed only odd fractions of charge: third, fifth, seventh. In the last issue of Nature it was published the existence of a quasi-particle with a charge corresponding exactly a quarter of that of an electron.
In particular, these unique elementary particles, which have been precisely called "quasi-particles" to their particular nature, are formed when electrons are confined in a two-dimensional system, which forces them to interact strongly with each other. It is known that when a flow of electrons is confined in a two-dimensional plan of a semiconductor and it is applied simultaneously in a strong magnetic field perpendicular to this plane, the electrons have unusual quantum properties. In a research just published in Nature, in an electron gas, two-dimensional and ultra-pure, were detected within the fluid vortexes charges carrying exactly one quarter of the charge of an electron.
Thanks to special steel plates, the University of Utah is implementing a computer that makes use of terahertz radiation instead of electricity
It will be the first computer powered by infrared rays rather than electricity, a super-computer capable of operating at terahertz radiation (far-infrared), the only still unexplored frontier in the electromagnetic spectrum. It is being developed by a group of scientists at the University of Utah. It will probably require ten years of work to be completed. Currently, the group of scientists are making waveguides, the appropriate "channels" that will convey radiation and transmit it from one point to another.
To mark a decisive step forward in research, the good results obtained by the use of special sheets of perforated stainless steel which are proving able to lead effectively terahertz radiation (the portion of the electromagnetic spectrum that is between microwaves and infrared, and whose wavelength is between 1 mm and 100 micrometers). As described in the study of Ajay Nahata (which will be published in Optics Express Friday April 18), these sheets will be "the matrix" on which to build the future of computer circuits. According to the surveys conducted so far, in fact, the number of perforations - arranged on a semi-regular on laminate - would maintain control over radiation, not disperse them over the surface of the material. There is still much to be found, for example, the way to drive rays, making them bend, split and reunited later.
Recognizing the native language of a person after the electrical waves in the brain!
By analyzing brain waves we can reveal the identity of an individual's language. Someone can involuntarily, because of a temporary amnesia or silence, or voluntarily, to try to avoid providing information on their origins. The discovery was made by Italian researchers and published on Biological Psychology. The study, coordinated by Alice Mado Proverb Electrophysiology Laboratory of the Department of cognitive psychology at the University of Milano-Bicocca, in collaboration with Roberta Adorni, and Alberto Zani, a researcher of the Institute of Physiology and Molecular Bioimaging of Cnr-Segrate in Milan , shows that there is a region of the brain, called "area for the visual form of words", which is located in the so-called fusiform cortex in the left occipital / temporal region of the brain. This automatically recognizes the shape of the letters and words, and it is very sensitive to levels of familiarity.
In the blood of alligators and crocodiles proteins were discovered with high antibacterial and antifungal activity.
Unlike men, alligators can combat fungi, viruses and bacteria without the body being previously subjected to these micro-organisms. The researchers have demonstrated the McNeese State University and Louisiana State University who collected the blood from alligators and analyzed the white blood cells, which are the cells appointed to immune defense.
Three studies have demonstrated for the first time a genetic cause for this type of cancer. Perhaps also responsible for nicotine dependence
A gene variation on a region of chromosome 15 is related to the risk of developing lung cancer. At this same result came three independent studies, two published in Nature and one in Nature Genetics, and is the first time that there is a genetic cause for lung cancer, in addition to environmental factors among them, of course, smoking.
Between cancer and smoking is perhaps the most obvious cause-effect relationship in epidemiology. And here lies the point: a region of chromosome contains objected to three genes which in turn contain the instructions to produce a very particular protein: the nicotinic receptor for acetylcholine. As the name implies, this receptor has a strong affinity for nicotine and a change in its structure could cause cancer in itself and, affect dependence on smoking (according to the second one of the three studies)
A study conducted by an Italian and published on Pnas shows that healthy cells, if required to "diet", have an increased resistance to stress caused by the drugs compared with those ill.
Fasting can be a weapon against the heavy effects of chemotherapy. Just as the fight against cancer concentrates its efforts on the so-called magic bullets, drugs capable of selectively target diseased cells from laboratories of the University of Southern California shows a new paradigm: protect healthy cells and then go furiously only against those sick . A team led by biologist Italian Valter Longo, which involved the United States laboratories and the hospital Gaslini of Genoa, has discovered a kind of magic screen that healthy cells (as a result of caloric restriction) have as a defense against chemotherapy. The results of the study appeared on Pnas Early Edition (here
a link to the video.)