Crows can Perform as Well as 7 to 10-year-olds on cause-and-effect Water Displacement Tasks
Posted on July 25, 2014 Comments (1)
In Aesop’s fable about the crow and the pitcher, a thirsty bird happens upon a vessel of water, but when he tries to drink from it, he finds the water level out of his reach. Not strong enough to knock over the pitcher, the bird drops pebbles into it — one at a time — until the water level rises enough for him to drink his fill.
Highlighting the value of ingenuity, the fable demonstrates that cognitive ability can often be more effective than brute force. It also characterizes crows as pretty resourceful problem solvers. New research conducted by UC Santa Barbara’s Corina Logan, with her collaborators at the University of Auckland in New Zealand, proves the birds’ intellectual prowess may be more fact than fiction. Her findings, supported by the National Geographic Society/Waitt Grants Program, appear today in the scientific journal PLOS ONE: Modifications to the Aesop’s Fable Paradigm Change New Caledonian Crow Performances.
Logan is lead author of the paper, which examines causal cognition using a water displacement paradigm. “We showed that crows can discriminate between different volumes of water and that they can pass a modified test that so far only 7- to 10-year-old children have been able to complete successfully. We provide the strongest evidence so far that the birds attend to cause-and-effect relationships by choosing options that displace more water.”
Logan, a junior research fellow at UCSB’s SAGE Center for the Study of the Mind, worked with New Caledonian crows in a set of small aviaries in New Caledonia run by the University of Auckland. “We caught the crows in the wild and brought them into the aviaries, where they habituated in about five days,” she said. Keeping families together, they housed the birds in separate areas of the aviaries for three to five months before releasing them back to the wild.
iPhone Addition as Alternative to Expensive Ophthalmology Equipment
Posted on July 17, 2014 Comments (1)
Researchers at the Stanford University School of Medicine have developed two inexpensive adapters that enable a smartphone to capture high-quality images of the front and back of the eye. The adapters make it easy for anyone with minimal training to take a picture of the eye and share it securely with other health practitioners or store it in the patient’s electronic record.
The researchers see this technology as an opportunity to increase access to eye-care services as well as to improve the ability to advise on patient care remotely.
The standard equipment used to photograph the eye is expensive — costing up to tens of thousands of dollars — and requires extensive training to use properly. Primary care physicians and emergency department staff often lack this equipment, and although it is readily available in ophthalmologists’ offices, it is sparse in rural areas throughout the world.
“Adapting smartphones for the eye has the potential to enhance the delivery of eye care — in particular, to provide it in places where it’s less accessible,” said Myung. “Whether it’s in the emergency department, where patients often have to wait a long time for a specialist, or during a primary-care physician visit, we hope that we can improve the quality of care for our patients, especially in the developing world where ophthalmologists are few and far between.”
“A picture is truly worth a thousand words,” he added. “Imagine a car accident victim arriving in the emergency department with an eye injury resulting in a hyphema — blood inside the front of her eye. Normally the physician would have to describe this finding in her electronic record with words alone. Smartphones today not only have the camera resolution to supplement those words with a high-resolution photo, but also the data-transfer capability to upload that photo securely to the medical record in a matter of seconds.
Looking Inside Living Cells
Posted on June 21, 2014 Comments (3)
Johns Hopkins’ molecular biologist Jin Zhang explains how she uses light to see where and when within cells specific molecular processes occur and what happens when they go wrong.
Related: How Lysozyme Protein in Our Tear-Drops Kill Bacteria – Science Explained: How Cells React to Invading Viruses – Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine 2012 for Reprogramming Cells to be Pluripotent – Webcast Exploring Eukaryotic Cells
Starting a Career in Science to Fight Cancer
Posted on June 14, 2014 Comments (1)
Keven Stonewall is a student at the University of Wisconsin – Madison working to prevent colon cancer.
Related: I Always Wanted to be Some Sort of Scientist – High School Student Creates Test That is Much More Accurate and 26,000 Times Cheaper Than Existing Pancreatic Cancer Tests – Webcast of a T-cell Killing a Cancerous Cell
A Healthy Lifestyle is More About Health Care than the Sickness Management That We Call Health Care Is
Posted on June 7, 2014 Comments (0)
For people who would benefit from lowering their blood pressure or cholesterol, we recommend 40 minutes of aerobic exercise of moderate to vigorous intensity three to four times a week to lower the risk for heart attack and stroke.
The simplest, positive change you can make to effectively improve your heart health is to start walking. It’s enjoyable, free, easy, social and great exercise. A walking program is flexible and boasts high success rates because people can stick with it.
It really is important for giving yourself the best chance for health by taking sensible steps to exercise based on your own situation (obviously some health conditions may limit your ability to exercise safely, which is something each person has to judge and see a doctor about if necessary).
Doing small things like using a treadmill while you watch TV or taking the stairs instead of the elevator for short trips can help. Another option is to walk instead of driving your car, or if you drive parking a few blocks away (or at the far side of the parking lot) walking, or if you are running several errands walk between those that you can even if you are using your car. Biking to work is another healthy lifestyle choice (if you city has made this safe – too often they fail to do sensible things).
Swimming is good exercise and something I took up several years ago (I was super lame at first but within a month or two it was better. I love hiking through national parks. A standing desk (or treadmill desk) is another option to reduce the damage of our sedentary lives.
Another thing to remember is losing weight is hard. It is better to avoid gaining too much weight in the first place. Avoiding the weight gain may also be a challenge but it is better than the alternative.
Too often we treat “health care” as sickness management. Doing things like creating a healthy lifestyle are are health care. Taking pills and antibiotics is mainly about sickness management.
Related: Better Health Through Exercise, Not Smoking, Low Weight, Healthy Diet and Low Alcohol Intake – Physical Activity for Adults: Inactivity Leads to 5.3 Million Early Deaths a Year – Healthy Diet, Healthy Living, Healthy Weight – Study Finds Obesity as Teen as Deadly as Smoking
Massive Blast of Measles Vaccine Wiped Out Cancer In Study
Posted on May 31, 2014 Comments (0)
Unfortunately these stories are not uncommon but the hoped for follow through of practical solutions that work at all are rare. But we keep learning and while the breakthroughs based on these news stories is rare we do keep finding new and better methods to cope with health issues.
The 50-year-old Pequot Lakes mother is now part of medical history.
The cancer, which had spread widely through her body, went into complete remission and was undetectable in Erholtz’s body after just one dose of the measles vaccine, which has an uncanny affinity for certain kinds of tumors.
Erholtz was one of just two subjects in the experiment and the only one to achieve complete remission. But the experiment provides the “proof of concept” that a single, massive dose of intravenous viral therapy can kill cancer by overwhelming its natural defenses, according to Dr. Stephen Russell, a professor of molecular medicine who spearheaded the research at Mayo.
Researchers have known for decades that viruses can be used to destroy cancer. They bind to tumors and use them as hosts to replicate their own genetic material; the cancer cells eventually explode and release the virus. Antiviral vaccines that have been rendered safe can produce the same effects and can also be modified to carry radioactive molecules to help destroy cancer cells without causing widespread damage to healthy cells around the tumors. The body’s immune system then attacks any remaining cancer that carries remnants of the vaccine’s genetic imprint.
Mayo started out giving patients 1 million infectious units and gradually cranked up the dosage — but it didn’t work until Erholtz and another patient were injected with 100 billion infectious units, he said.
While the treatment worked in Erholtz, whose tumors were primarily in her bone marrow, the results weren’t sustained in the second patient, whose tumors were largely confined to her leg muscles. Russell said researchers need to study how the nature of the tumor affects the lethality of the virus.
One challenge of health research on fatal health conditions is that the experimentation with people is usually limited to people that have no available options left from the approved treatments. So, in general they are very sick. And the great complexity of dealing with human immune systems, the variation in the disease and in people create a very difficult research environment. Thankfully we have many great scientists dedicated to finding new treatments.
Posted on May 24, 2014 Comments (0)
As I have posted before I really love appropriate technology solutions that make a difference in people’s lives. And those that help those that have the largest challenges (the very poor where even water and electricity are challenges).
Wello is a venture to improve people’s lives, they found women spend over 25% of their time each day collecting water. With the WaterWheel, they can now transport 50 liters at once – between 3 and 5 times the amount of water possible as compared to traditional methods: this means more water in less time.
Research shows that when women have extra time, they choose to spend it on activities that boost family income, education, health, and wellbeing.
Segun Oyeyiola Converted a Volkswagen Beetle to Use Renewable Power
Posted on May 17, 2014 Comments (2)
Not only did Oyeyiola install a giant solar panel on top of the Beetle; he also inserted a wind turbine under the hood. As Preston explains, that allows air to flow into the grill while the car is moving, subsequently turning the turbine’s rotors and charging the battery at the back of the car. Oyeyiola also built a strong suspension system to deal with the weight of the battery itself.
It’s not perfect. The battery takes four to five hours to charge, but Oyeyiola says he’s working on that. The biggest challenges, he says, came from finding the best materials to use, and the people telling him he was wasting his time.
My message to my fellow students is that Rome was not built in a day. It is better to start anything you want to do now and don’t never, I repeat, never expect someone to believe in your dreams because they may not understand it as you do. Endeavor to follow your heart and do what will make you happy and that which will not affect your fellow being negatively.
It is so great to read what creative engineers all over the globe are able to accomplish.
Posted on May 12, 2014 Comments (0)
A fun way to start out the week: skateboarding cat.
Science Explained: How Cells React to Invading Viruses
Posted on May 3, 2014 Comments (1)
This illustrated webcast introduces the microscopic arsenal of weapons and warriors that play a role in the battle for your health.
TED education has been putting out some good videos which is a wonderful thing to see. It is wonderful to let people everywhere (kids and adults) that are interested in learning (and that have internet access) can learn about the world around us. Traditional educational institutions have not done much with this opportunity to broaden their impact.
The video looks at the cells reaction to a virus infiltrating the cell.
Related: Cells Alive – Science Explained: Cool Video of ATP Synthase, Which Provides Usable Energy to Us – This webcast is packed with information on the makeup and function of eukaryotic (animal) cells – Cool Animation of a Virus Invading a Person’s Body – Cell Aging and Limits Due to Telomeres – Webcast of a T-cell Killing a Cancerous Cell
Open Source Seeds
Posted on April 26, 2014 Comments (0)
Irwin Goldman, a vegetable breeder at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, helped organize the campaign. It’s an attempt to restore the practice of open sharing that was the rule among plant breeders when he entered the profession more than 20 years ago.
Good for them. This needs to be supported. The crazy practices of seed companies shouldn’t be legal but they pay lots of cash to politicians and the corrupt politicians (which seems to be an awful lot of them) write bad policy and encourage bad regulation.
Even those administrators taking control of universities have subjugated the search for knowledge and improvement to seek monetary gain instead of what the universities used to prioritize. It is a shame and those that have distorted universities so much should be ashamed.
Initial efforts that lead to the bad place we find universities in now were to promote the adoption of university research. To do so they partnered with business in sensible ways. Then administrators saw money was being made and turned the priority into making money and if that meant restricting the benefits to society of university research so be it. This has created universities that have lost ethical foundations and have destroyed a big part of the value universities used to provide society.
Related: Open-Source Biotech (2006) – Scientists Say Biotechnology Seed Companies Prevent Research (2009) – The A to Z Guide to Political Interference in Science – Arduino: Open Source Programmable Hardware – Money Is Corrupting Our Political Process