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Study Shows Stronger Brain Activity After Writing on Paper Than on Tablet or Smartphone

By University of Tokyo | Science Daily

A study of Japanese university students and recent graduates has revealed that writing on physical paper can lead to more brain activity when remembering the information an hour later. Researchers say that the unique, complex, spatial, and tactile information associated with writing by hand on physical paper is likely what leads to improved memory.

“Actually, paper is more advanced and useful compared to electronic documents because paper contains more one-of-a-kind information for stronger memory recall,” said Professor Kuniyoshi L. Sakai, a neuroscientist at the University of Tokyo and corresponding author of the research recently published in Frontiers in Behavioral Neuroscience. The research was completed with collaborators from the NTT Data Institute of Management Consulting.

Contrary to the popular belief that digital tools increase efficiency, volunteers who used paper completed the note-taking task about 25% faster than those who used digital tablets or smartphones.

Although volunteers wrote by hand both with pen and paper or stylus and digital tablet, researchers say paper notebooks contain more complex spatial information than digital paper. Physical paper allows for tangible permanence, irregular strokes, and uneven shape, like folded corners. In contrast, digital paper is uniform, has no fixed position when scrolling, and disappears when you close the app.

“Our take-home message is to use paper notebooks for information we need to learn or memorize,” said Sakai.

In the study, a total of 48 volunteers read a fictional conversation between characters discussing their plans for two months in the near future, including 14 different class times, assignment due dates, and personal appointments. Researchers performed pre-test analyses to ensure that the volunteers, all 18-29 years old and recruited from university campuses or NTT offices, were equally sorted into three groups based on memory skills, personal preference for digital or analog methods, gender, age, and other aspects.

Volunteers then recorded the fictional schedule using a paper datebook and pen, a calendar app on a digital tablet and a stylus, or a calendar app on a large smartphone and a touch-screen keyboard. There was no time limit and volunteers were asked to record the fictional events in the same way as they would for their real-life schedules, without spending extra time to memorize the schedule.

After one hour, including a break and an interference task to distract them from thinking about the calendar, volunteers answered a range of simple (When is the assignment due?) and complex (Which is the earlier due date for the assignments?) multiple-choice questions to test their memory of the schedule. While they completed the test, volunteers were inside a magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scanner, which measures blood flow around the brain. This is a technique called functional MRI (fMRI), and increased blood flow observed in a specific region of the brain is a sign of increased neuronal activity in that area.

Participants who used a paper datebook filled in the calendar within about 11 minutes. Tablet users took 14 minutes and smartphone users took about 16 minutes. Volunteers who used analog methods in their personal life were just as slow at using the devices as volunteers who regularly use digital tools, so researchers are confident that the difference in speed was related to memorization or associated encoding in the brain, not just differences in the habitual use of the tools.

Volunteers who used analog methods scored better than other volunteers only on simple test questions. However, researchers say that the brain activation data revealed significant differences.

Volunteers who used paper had more brain activity in areas associated with language, imaginary visualization, and in the hippocampus — an area known to be important for memory and navigation. Researchers say that the activation of the hippocampus indicates that analog methods contain richer spatial details that can be recalled and navigated in the mind’s eye.

“Digital tools have uniform scrolling up and down and standardized arrangement of text and picture size, like on a webpage. But if you remember a physical textbook printed on paper, you can close your eyes and visualize the photo one-third of the way down on the left-side page, as well as the notes you added in the bottom margin,” Sakai explained.

Researchers say that personalizing digital documents by highlighting, underlining, circling, drawing arrows, handwriting color-coded notes in the margins, adding virtual sticky notes, or other types of unique mark-ups can mimic analog-style spatial enrichment that may enhance memory.

Although they have no data from younger volunteers, researchers suspect that the difference in brain activation between analog and digital methods is likely to be stronger in younger people.

“High school students’ brains are still developing and are so much more sensitive than adult brains,” said Sakai.

Although the current research focused on learning and memorization, the researchers encourage using paper for creative pursuits as well.

“It is reasonable that one’s creativity will likely become more fruitful if prior knowledge is stored with stronger learning and more precisely retrieved from memory. For art, composing music, or other creative works, I would emphasize the use of paper instead of digital methods,” said Sakai.


Story Source:

Materials provided by the University of Tokyo.

Institute of Industrial Science (IIS), the University of Tokyo, is a research institute covering almost all the areas of engineering disciplines. It is mainly located in Komaba, Meguro-Ku, Tokyo.

The research field of IIS is very multidisciplinary and covers almost all the areas of engineering disciplines from micro and nano scales such as quantum levels to large scales such as the global level and space. IIS is one of the largest university-attached research institutions in Japan.

Website


Journal Reference:

  1. Keita Umejima, Takuya Ibaraki, Takahiro Yamazaki, Kuniyoshi L. Sakai. Paper Notebooks vs. Mobile Devices: Brain Activation Differences During Memory RetrievalFrontiers in Behavioral Neuroscience, 2021; 15 DOI: 10.3389/fnbeh.2021.634158



From Stardust to Pale Blue Dot: Carbon’s Interstellar Journey to Earth

By University of Michigan | ScienceDaily

We are made of stardust, the saying goes, and a pair of studies including University of Michigan research finds that may be more true than we previously thought.

The first study, led by U-M researcher Jie (Jackie) Li and published in Science Advances, finds that most of the carbon on Earth was likely delivered from the interstellar medium, the material that exists in space between stars in a galaxy. This likely happened well after the protoplanetary disk, the cloud of dust and gas that circled our young sun and contained the building blocks of the planets, formed and warmed up.

Carbon was also likely sequestered into solids within one million years of the sun’s birth — which means that carbon, the backbone of life on earth, survived an interstellar journey to our planet.

Previously, researchers thought carbon in the Earth came from molecules that were initially present in nebular gas, which then accreted into a rocky planet when the gases were cool enough for the molecules to precipitate. Li and her team, which includes U-M astronomer Edwin Bergin, Geoffrey Blake of the California Institute of Technology, Fred Ciesla of the University of Chicago, and Marc Hirschmann of the University of Minnesota, point out in this study that the gas molecules that carry carbon wouldn’t be available to build the Earth because once carbon vaporizes, it does not condense back into a solid.

“The condensation model has been widely used for decades. It assumes that during the formation of the sun, all of the planet’s elements got vaporized, and as the disk cooled, some of these gases condensed and supplied chemical ingredients to solid bodies. But that doesn’t work for carbon,” said Li, a professor in the U-M Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences.

Much of carbon was delivered to the disk in the form of organic molecules. However, when carbon is vaporized, it produces much more volatile species that require very low temperatures to form solids. More importantly, carbon does not condense back again into an organic form. Because of this, Li and her team inferred most of Earth’s carbon was likely inherited directly from the interstellar medium, avoiding vaporization entirely.

To better understand how Earth acquired its carbon, Li estimated the maximum amount of carbon Earth could contain. To do this, she compared how quickly a seismic wave travels through the core to the known sound velocities of the core. This told the researchers that carbon likely makes up less than half a percent of Earth’s mass. Understanding the upper bounds of how much carbon the Earth might contain tells the researchers information about when the carbon might have been delivered here.

“We asked a different question: We asked how much carbon could you stuff in the Earth’s core and still be consistent with all the constraints,” Bergin said, professor and chair of the U-M Department of Astronomy. “There’s uncertainty here. Let’s embrace the uncertainty to ask what are the true upper bounds for how much carbon is very deep in the Earth, and that will tell us the true landscape we’re within.”

A planet’s carbon must exist in the right proportion to support life as we know it. Too much carbon, and the Earth’s atmosphere would be like Venus, trapping heat from the sun and maintaining a temperature of about 880 degrees Fahrenheit. Too little carbon and Earth would resemble Mars: an inhospitable place unable to support water-based life, with temperatures around minus 60.

In a second study by the same group of authors, but led by Hirschmann of the University of Minnesota, the researchers looked at how carbon is processed when the small precursors of planets, known as planetesimals, retain carbon during their early formation. By examining the metallic cores of these bodies, now preserved as iron meteorites, they found that during this key step of planetary origin, much of the carbon must be lost as the planetesimals melt, form cores, and lose gas. This upends previous thinking, Hirschmann says.

“Most models have the carbon and other life-essential materials such as water and nitrogen going from the nebula into primitive rocky bodies, and these are then delivered to growing planets such as Earth or Mars,” said Hirschmann, professor of earth and environmental sciences. “But this skips a key step, in which the planetesimals lose much of their carbon before they accrete to the planets.”

Hirschmann’s study was recently published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

“The planet needs carbon to regulate its climate and allow life to exist, but it’s a very delicate thing,” Bergin said. “You don’t want to have too little, but you don’t want to have too much.”

Bergin says the two studies both describe two different aspects of carbon loss — and suggest that carbon loss appears to be a central aspect in constructing the Earth as a habitable planet.

“Answering whether or not Earth-like planets exist elsewhere can only be achieved by working at the intersection of disciplines like astronomy and geochemistry,” said Ciesla, a U. of C. professor of geophysical sciences. “While approaches and the specific questions that researchers work to answer differ across the fields, building a coherent story requires identifying topics of mutual interest and finding ways to bridge the intellectual gaps between them. Doing so is challenging, but the effort is both stimulating and rewarding.”

Blake, a co-author on both studies and a Caltech professor of cosmochemistry and planetary science, and of chemistry, says this kind of interdisciplinary work is critical.

“Over the history of our galaxy alone, rocky planets like the Earth or a bit larger have been assembled hundreds of millions of times around stars like the Sun,” he said. “Can we extend this work to examine carbon loss in planetary systems more broadly? Such research will take a diverse community of scholars.”

Funding sources for this collaborative research include the National Science Foundation, NASA’s Exoplanets Research Program, NASA’s Emerging Worlds Program, and the NASA Astrobiology Program.


Story Source:

Materials provided by the University of MichiganNote: Content may be edited for style and length.


Journal References:

  1. J. Li, E. A. Bergin, G. A. Blake, F. J. Ciesla, M. M. Hirschmann. Earth’s carbon deficit caused by early loss through irreversible sublimationScience Advances, 2021; 7 (14): eabd3632 DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.abd3632
  2. Marc M. Hirschmann, Edwin A. Bergin, Geoff A. Blake, Fred J. Ciesla, Jie Li. Early volatile depletion on planetesimals inferred from C–S systematics of iron meteorite parent bodiesProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 2021; 118 (13): e2026779118 DOI: 10.1073/pnas.2026779118



Hypnosis Changes the Way Our Brain Processes Information

By University of Turku | Science Daily

During a normal waking state, information is processed and shared by various parts within our brain to enable flexible responses to external stimuli. Researchers from the University of Turku, Finland, found that during hypnosis the brain shifted to a state where individual brain regions acted more independently of each other.

“In a normal waking state, different brain regions share information with each other, but during hypnosis, this process is kind of fractured and the various brain regions are no longer similarly synchronized,” describes researcher Henry Railo from the Department of Clinical Neurophysiology at the University of Turku.

The finding shows that the brain may function quite differently during hypnosis when compared to a normal waking state. Matt Hudson asserts that hypnosis is one of the best ways to overcome the unconscious thoughts that cause anxiety in a person. This is interesting because of the extent to which hypnosis modifies neural processing has been hotly debated in the field. The new findings also help to better understand which types of changes and mechanisms may explain the experiential and behavioral alterations attributed to hypnosis, such as liability to suggestions.

The study focused on a single person who has been extensively studied earlier and been shown to react strongly to hypnotic suggestions. During hypnosis, this person can experience phenomena that are not typically possible in a normal waking state, such as vivid and controlled hallucinations.

“Even though these findings cannot be generalized before a replication has been conducted on a larger sample of participants, we have demonstrated what kind of changes happen in the neural activity of a person who reacts to hypnosis particularly strongly,” clarifies Jarno Tuominen, Senior Researcher at the Department of Psychology and Speech-Language Pathology.

Hypnosis Studied for the First Time with New Method

The study was conducted by tracking how a magnetically-induced electrical current spread throughout the brain during hypnosis and normal waking state. This method has been previously used to measure system-level changes in the brain in various states of consciousness, such as anesthesia, coma, and sleep. This is the first time such a method has been used to assess hypnosis.

During the study, the participant sat still with eyes closed, alternatively either hypnotized or in a normal waking state. Hypnosis was induced via a single-word cue, and the different conditions were identical in every other respect.

“This allowed us to control the possible effects of the experimental setup or other factors, such as alertness,” Tuominen explains.

The study was conducted by researchers Jarno Tuominen from the division of Psychology, Henry Railo from the Department of Clinical Neurophysiology, and Valtteri Kaasinen, Assistant Professor in Neurology at the University of Turku, Finland, together with Assistant Professor in Cognitive Neuroscience Sakari Kallio at the University of Skövde, Sweden.


Story Source:

Materials provided by the University of Turku.

The University of Turku, located in Turku in southwestern Finland, is the second-largest university in the country as measured by student enrollment, after the University of Helsinki. It was established in 1920 and also has faculties at Rauma, Pori, and Salo. The university is a member of the Coimbra Group

Website

Note: Content may be edited for style and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Jarno Tuominen, Sakari Kallio, Valtteri Kaasinen, Henry Railo. Segregated brain state during hypnosisNeuroscience of Consciousness, 2021; 2021 (1) DOI: 10.1093/nc/niab002



Novel Coronavirus Circulated Undetected Months Before First COVID-19 Cases in Wuhan, China

By University of California – San Diego | Science Daily

Using molecular dating tools and epidemiological simulations, researchers at the University of California San Diego School of Medicine, with colleagues at the University of Arizona and Illumina, Inc., estimate that the SARS-CoV-2 virus was likely circulating undetected for at most two months before the first human cases of COVID-19 were described in Wuhan, China in late-December 2019.

Writing in the March 18, 2021, online issue of Science, they also note that their simulations suggest that the mutating virus dies out naturally more than three-quarters of the time without causing an epidemic.

“Our study was designed to answer the question of how long could SARS-CoV-2 have circulated in China before it was discovered,” said senior author Joel O. Wertheim, Ph.D., associate professor in the Division of Infectious Diseases and Global Public Health at UC San Diego School of Medicine.

“To answer this question, we combined three important pieces of information: a detailed understanding of how SARS-CoV-2 spread in Wuhan before the lockdown, the genetic diversity of the virus in China, and reports of the earliest cases of COVID-19 in China. By combining these disparate lines of evidence, we were able to put an upper limit of mid-October 2019 for when SARS-CoV-2 started circulating in Hubei province.”

Cases of COVID-19 were first reported in late-December 2019 in Wuhan, located in the Hubei province of central China. The virus quickly spread beyond Hubei. Chinese authorities cordoned off the region and implemented mitigation measures nationwide. By April 2020, local transmission of the virus was under control but, by then, COVID-19 was pandemic with more than 100 countries reporting cases.

SARS-CoV-2 is a zoonotic coronavirus, believed to have jumped from an unknown animal host to humans. Numerous efforts have been made to identify when the virus first began spreading among humans, based on investigations of early-diagnosed cases of COVID-19. The first cluster of cases — and the earliest sequenced SARS-CoV-2 genomes — were associated with the Huanan Seafood Wholesale Market, but study authors say the market cluster is unlikely to have marked the beginning of the pandemic because the earliest documented COVID-19 cases had no connection to the market.

Regional newspaper reports suggest COVID-19 diagnoses in Hubei date back to at least November 17, 2019, suggesting the virus was already actively circulating when Chinese authorities enacted public health measures.

In the new study, researchers used molecular clock evolutionary analyses to try to home in on when the first, or index, case of SARS-CoV-2 occurred. “Molecular clock” is a term for a technique that uses the mutation rate of genes to deduce when two or more life forms diverged — in this case, when the common ancestor of all variants of SARS-CoV-2 existed, estimated in this study to as early as mid-November 2019.

Molecular dating of the most recent common ancestor is often taken to be synonymous with the index case of an emerging disease. However, said co-author Michael Worobey, Ph.D., professor of ecology and evolutionary biology at the University of Arizona: “The index case can conceivably predate the common ancestor — the actual first case of this outbreak may have occurred days, weeks or even many months before the estimated common ancestor. Determining the length of that ‘phylogenetic fuse’ was at the heart of our investigation.”

Based on this work, the researchers estimate that the median number of persons infected with SARS-CoV-2 in China was less than one until November 4, 2019. Thirteen days later, it was four individuals, and just nine on December 1, 2019. The first hospitalizations in Wuhan with a condition later identified as COVID-19 occurred in mid-December.

Study authors used a variety of analytical tools to model how the SARS-CoV-2 virus may have behaved during the initial outbreak and early days of the pandemic when it was largely an unknown entity and the scope of the public health threat not yet fully realized.

These tools included epidemic simulations based on the virus’s known biology, such as its transmissibility and other factors. In just 29.7 percent of these simulations was the virus able to create self-sustaining epidemics. In the other 70.3 percent, the virus-infected relatively few persons before dying out. The average failed epidemic ended just eight days after the index case.

“Typically, scientists use the viral genetic diversity to get the timing of when a virus started to spread,” said Wertheim. “Our study added a crucial layer on top of this approach by modeling how long the virus could have circulated before giving rise to the observed genetic diversity.

“Our approach yielded some surprising results. We saw that over two-thirds of the epidemics we attempted to simulate went extinct. That means that if we could go back in time and repeat 2019 one hundred times, two out of three times, COVID-19 would have fizzled out on its own without igniting a pandemic. This finding supports the notion that humans are constantly being bombarded with zoonotic pathogens.”

Wertheim noted that even as SARS-CoV-2 was circulating in China in the fall of 2019, the researchers’ model suggests it was doing so at low levels until at least December of that year.

“Given that, it’s hard to reconcile these low levels of virus in China with claims of infections in Europe and the U.S. at the same time,” Wertheim said. “I am quite skeptical of claims of COVID-19 outside China at that time.”

The original strain of SARS-CoV-2 became epidemic, the authors write, because it was widely dispersed, which favors persistence and because it thrived in urban areas where transmission was easier. In simulated epidemics involving less dense rural communities, epidemics went extinct 94.5 to 99.6 percent of the time.

The virus has since mutated multiple times, with a number of variants becoming more transmissible.

“Pandemic surveillance wasn’t prepared for a virus-like SARS-CoV-2,” Wertheim said. “We were looking for the next SARS or MERS, something that killed people at a high rate, but in hindsight, we see how a highly transmissible virus with a modest mortality rate can also lay the world low.”

Co-authors include: Jonathan Pekar and Niema Moshiri, UC San Diego; and Konrad Scheffler, Illumina, Inc.

Funding for this research came, in part, from the National Institutes of Health (grants AI135992, AI136056, T15LM011271), the Google Cloud COVID-19 Research Credits Program, the David and Lucile Packard Foundation, the University of Arizona, and the National Science Foundation (grant 2028040).


Story Source:

Materials provided by University of California – San Diego. Originally written by Scott LaFee. Note: Content may be edited for style and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Jonathan Pekar, Michael Worobey, Niema Moshiri, Konrad Scheffler, Joel O. Wertheim. Timing the SARS-CoV-2 index case in Hubei provinceScience, 2021; eabf8003 DOI: 10.1126/science.abf8003



Study Reveals Substantial Evidence That We Live In a Holographic Universe

A sketch of the timeline of the holographic Universe. Time runs from left to right. The far left denotes the holographic phase and the image is blurry because space and time are not yet well defined. At the end of this phase (denoted by the black fluctuating ellipse), the Universe enters a geometric phase, which can now be described by Einstein’s equations. The cosmic microwave background was emitted about 375,000 years later. Patterns imprinted in it carry information about the very early Universe and seed the development of structures of stars and galaxies in the late time Universe (far right). Credit: Paul McFadden

Source: Phys.org

A UK, Canadian and Italian study has provided what researchers believe is the first observational evidence that our universe could be a vast and complex hologram.

Theoretical physicists and astrophysicists, investigating irregularities in the  (the ‘afterglow’ of the Big Bang), have found there is substantial evidence supporting a holographic explanation of the —in fact, as much as there is for the traditional explanation of these irregularities using the theory of cosmic inflation.

The researchers, from the University of Southampton (UK), University of Waterloo (Canada), Perimeter Institute (Canada), INFN, Lecce (Italy) and the University of Salento (Italy), have published findings in the journal Physical Review Letters.

, an idea first suggested in the 1990s, is one where all the information that makes up our 3-D ‘reality’ (plus time) is contained in a 2-D surface on its boundaries.

Professor Kostas Skenderis of Mathematical Sciences at the University of Southampton explains: “Imagine that everything you see, feel and hear in three dimensions (and your perception of time) in fact emanates from a flat two-dimensional field. The idea is similar to that of ordinary holograms where a three-dimensional image is encoded in a two-dimensional surface, such as in the hologram on a credit card. However, this time, the entire universe is encoded.”

Although not an example with holographic properties, it could be thought of as rather like watching a 3-D film in a cinema. We see the pictures as having height, width and crucially, depth—when in fact it all originates from a flat 2-D screen. The difference, in our 3-D universe, is that we can touch objects and the ‘projection’ is ‘real’ from our perspective.

In recent decades, advances in telescopes and sensing equipment have allowed scientists to detect a vast amount of data hidden in the ‘white noise’ or microwaves (partly responsible for the random black and white dots you see on an un-tuned TV) leftover from the moment the universe was created. Using this information, the team was able to make complex comparisons between networks of features in the data and . They found that some of the simplest quantum field theories could explain nearly all cosmological observations of the early universe.

Professor Skenderis comments: “Holography is a huge leap forward in the way we think about the structure and creation of the universe. Einstein’s theory of general relativity explains almost everything large scale in the universe very well but starts to unravel when examining its origins and mechanisms at a quantum level. Scientists have been working for decades to combine Einstein’s theory of gravity and quantum theory. Some believe the concept of a holographic universe has the potential to reconcile the two. I hope our research takes us another step towards this.”

The scientists now hope their study will open the door to further our understanding of the  and explain how space and time emerged.




Scientists Develop Model for Faster-Than-Light Warp Drive That Bends Spacetime to Send Ships to the Stars

‘A class of subluminal, spherically symmetric warp drive spacetimes, at least in principle, can be constructed based on the physical principles known to humanity today,’ the scientists say

Scientists claim they have developed a physical model for a warp drive – a device that would allow spacecraft to travel at faster-than-light speeds.

“We present the first general model for subliminal positive-energy, spherically symmetric warp drives”, the paper’s abstract states.

“Conceptually, we demonstrate that any warp drive, including the Alcubierre drive, is a shell of regular or exotic material moving inertially with a certain velocity. Therefore, any warp drive requires propulsion. We show that a class of subluminal, spherically symmetric warp drive spacetimes, at least in principle, can be constructed based on the physical principles known to humanity today.”

The scientists’ theories are based on the Alcubierre warp drive, named after theoretical physicist Miguel Alcubierre. In his paper’s abstract, published in 2000, he wrote that the drive world work by modifying spacetime.

“By a purely local expansion of spacetime behind the spaceship and an opposite contraction in front of it, motion faster than the speed of light as seen by observers outside the disturbed region is possible,” Alcubierre wrote.

“The resulting distortion is reminiscent of the ‘warp drive’ of science fiction. However, just as it happens with wormholes, the exotic matter will be needed in order to generate a distortion of spacetime”.

In theory, a warp drive would be able to work within the boundaries of Albert Einstein’s theory of general relativity. Faster-than-light travel would usually require an infinite amount of energy, but that restriction only applies to objects in spacetime rather than spacetime itself – which is how the universe could expand faster than the speed of light after the Big Bang.

The new paper, as Popular Mechanics reports, makes a key distinction between Alcubierre’s notions and its own: rather than using “negative energy”, a substance that does not exist in the universe, bubbles of spacetime could be used to make the drive possible.

The inside of the bubble would contain a passenger area, where the passage of time could operate differently from that outside the craft. “You cannot break the speed of light barrier for the passengers themselves relative to spacetime, so instead you keep them moving normally in the bubble [but] you move the bubble itself superluminally”, Professor and Research Fellow at the Frankfurt Institute for Advanced Studies, Sabine Hossenfelder, explains.

Professor Hossenfelder goes on to say that to move faster than light, the spacecraft itself would require negative energy densities, and acceleration needs energy and momentum – although the paper does not explain how this could be managed, it assumes that it is possible because it fits with the scientific theory.

The paper does go on to explain other designs the craft could take, such as seating passengers next to each other rather than behind each other – in contrast to traditional spacecraft.

This is because the amount of energy required depends on the shape of the bubble, and the flatter it is in the direction of travel (in the design of this warp drive) the less energy is needed.

The development of a warp drive has been a dream of space agencies for many years but is difficult to achieve tangible results. Nasa has been attempting to research novel propulsion methods for space travel but is clear in stating that it is not working on ‘warp drive’ technology.

In 2014 the agency published a design for a craft with a warp-drive, which would be able to travel to the nearest star in four weeks as opposed to the current time of 80,000 years.

By Adam Smith | Independent



Scientists Develop New Magnetic Nanomaterial for Counterfeit Money Prevention

Yuri Konyukhov, Deputy Head of the Department of Functional Nanosystems and High-Temperature Materials at NUST MISIS, and Nguyen Tien Hiep, a postgraduate student at NUST MISIS. Credit: Sergey Gnuskov, NUST MISIS 

An international research team led by NUST MISIS has developed a new iron-cobalt-nickel nanocomposite with tunable magnetic properties. The nanocomposite could be used to protect money and securities from counterfeiting. The study was published in Nanomaterials.

Presently, research on magnetic nanomaterials with controlled magnetic characteristics is one of the most promising fields. Due to their , as well as their excellent magnetic and electric properties these materials have a broad range of potential applications from mobile devices to space technologies.

The new iron-cobalt-nickel  was obtained by chemical precipitation, followed by a reduction process.

“This method is simple and, most importantly, it allows the properties of the product to be controlled at each stage of its production, and chemically pure nanopowders to be produced with a given composition, shape, and dispersion,” noted Yuri Konyukhov, Deputy Head of the Department of Functional Nanosystems and High-Temperature Materials at NUST MISIS.

Konyukhov also stressed that the new composite was observed to possess a high value of coercivity, which makes the technology applicable e.g. to magnetic rubbers and different magnetically coupled devices. Another potential application is protecting money and securities from counterfeiting.

“The efforts of the scientific community have been recently focused on protecting humans and electronic devices from electromagnetic radiation. The development of thin, flexible, and relatively transparent metal-polymer composites for EMI shielding is a promising research direction. The use of the new nanocomposite with controlled  as the magnetic filler could lead to a breakthrough in EMI protection,” added Yuri Konyukhov.




Science Says Silence is Vital for Our Brains

The Proof that Silence Heals

The value of silence is felt by everyone at some point in their life. Silence is comforting, nourishing, and cozy. It opens us up to inspiration and nurtures the mind, body, and soul. Meanwhile, the madness of the noisy world is drowning out our creativity, our inner connection and hampering our resilience. Science is now showing that silence may be just what we need to regenerate our exhausted brains and bodies.

Studies show that noise has a powerful physical effect on our brains, causing elevated levels of stress hormones. Sound travels to the brain as electrical signals via the ear. Even when we are sleeping these sound waves cause the body to react and activate the amygdala, the part of the brain associated with memory and emotion, leading to the release of stress hormones. So, living in a consistently noisy environment will cause you to experience extremely high levels of these harmful hormones.

Interestingly, the word noise is said to come from the Latin word nausea, (disgust or nausea) or the Latin word noxia, meaning hurt, damage, or injury. Noise has been linked to high blood pressure, heart disease, tinnitus, and loss of sleep. We’ve all experienced the detrimental effects of noise pollution. Excessive noise can be a major affront to the physical senses and today, more and more people are identifying as highly sensitive and unable to function in chaotic and noisy environments. But now science has the proof not only that noise hurts, but also that silence heals.

The Effects of Silence

In 2011, the World Health Organisation (WHO) examined and quantified its health burden in Europe. It concluded that the 340 million residents of Western Europe (about the population of the United States), were losing a million years of healthy life every year, due to noise. WHO also said that the root cause of 3,000 heart disease deaths was due to excessive noise. A study by Professor Gary W. Evans from Cornell University, published in Psychological Science, charted the effects of airport noise on school children near Munich’s airport. The study showed that children exposed to noise developed a stress response which actually caused them to ignore the noise. He found that the children ignored both the harmful noise of the airport, along with other more everyday noises, such as speech.

This study is among the strongest, probably the most definitive proof that noise–even at levels that do not produce any hearing damage–causes stress and is harmful to humans. – Professor Gary Evans.

Scientists didn’t actively set out to study the effects of silence but instead discovered its benefits by accident. Silence first began to appear in scientific research as a control or baseline, against which scientists compare the effects of noise or music. Physician Luciano Bernardi studied the physiological effects of noise and music in 2006, making a startling discovery. When the subjects of his study were exposed to the random stretches of silence in between the noise and music, they experienced a powerful effect. The two-minute pauses were far more relaxing for the brain than the relaxing music or the longer silence that was in place before the experiment started. In fact, Bernardi’s ‘irrelevant’ blank pauses became the most important aspect of the study. One of his key findings was that silence is heightened by contrasts.

Many meditation teachers and practitioners can attest to this, and spiritual teachers advise students to take frequent meditative pauses throughout the day. Though we may think of silence as a lack of input, science says otherwise. The brain recognizes silence and responds powerfully. Later research by a Duke University regenerative biologist, Imke Kirste, discovered that two hours of silence per day prompted cell development in the hippocampus, the brain region related to the formation of memory, involving the senses.

Taking Time to Switch Off

According to the Attention Restoration Theory, when you are in an environment with lower levels of sensory input, the brain can ‘recover’ some of its cognitive abilities. With our digital world, our brains get less time to switch off. We are constantly processing enormous amounts of information. Research has shown the constant demands of modern life are placing a lot of stress on our prefrontal cortex–the part of the brain responsible for making decisions, solving problems, and more. When we spend time alone in silence, our brains are able to relax and release this constant focus.

Researchers found that silence helps new cells to differentiate into neurons and integrate into the system and that when we experience silence, our brains are able to work at better understanding our internal and external environments. We can make sense of our lives and gain perspective, something that is vital for our overall wellbeing.

While noise creates stress, silence relieves stress and tension in the brain and body. Silence is replenishing and nourishes our cognitive resources. Noise makes us lose our concentration, cognitive powers and causes decreased motivation and brain functioning (as backed up by research into the effects of noise), but studies show that spending some time in silence can amazingly restore what was lost through exposure to excessive noise. The ancient spiritual masters have known this all along; silence heals, silence takes us deeply into ourselves, and silence balances the body and mind. Now science is saying the same thing.

The healing benefits of nature and stillness are well documented, but now we can add to this quest for health and wellbeing, the nourishment of our brains. The simple yet ancient experience of silence could be just the healing balm we need to quell our crazy modern lifestyle.

Silence is an empty space. Space is the home of the awakened mind. – Buddha

By Azriel ReShel | Uplift Connect

Azriel Re’shel is a Writer, Editor, and Yoga Teacher. A former SBS Radio and BBC World Service Radio and TV News Journalist, Azriel loves words, travel, and people. A skilled writer and editor, and former PR and Events Coordinator, Azriel edits and writes for individuals and businesses working in the healing and creative arts. She has an Arts Degree in Psychology and English, a Journalism Diploma, and has studied Psychotherapy and many other healing modalities as part of her own spiritual path.




Science Meets Folklore: Full Moon Does Affect Our Sleep Patterns

Long dismissed as folk mythology, the idea that the phases of the moon affect our sleep patterns has now been borne out by a study by the University of Washington.

The study looked at whether the availability of light had an effect on the time of onset of sleep and the duration.

Imagine a group of hunter-gatherers with no access to artificial light other than a sputtering camp-fire. When the sun went down it would be time to stop all activities and sleep. Moonlight would allow variations on that pattern, sometimes offering enough light to carry out some practices, other times now.

The coming of artificial light – in other words, the light that Man could provide for himself – flattened out those differences. There are now very few activities we cannot carry out after sundown.

The study, which also involved researchers from the National University of Quilmes in Argentina and Yale University, looked at three communities of the indigenous Toba/Qom people in Argentina. One living in an urban setting with full access to artificial light, one living rurally with some artificial light, and one living rurally with no artificial light.

The subjects were equipped with wrist actimetry – meters measuring motor activity, worn on the wrist like a watch – to test the premise whether periods of brighter moonlight approaching the full moon would lead the subjects to be more active at night, to go to sleep later and to sleep for less time.

Previous studies have already shown that artificial light has the effect of delaying the onset of sleep and reducing the duration. But what the study showed was that there was a clear shifting of sleep timings through the moon cycle, and it was the same in all three communities.

In other words, even if we live in artificial light, we are still affected by the amount of moonlight available.

“We see a clear lunar modulation of sleep, with sleep decreasing and a later onset of sleep in the days preceding a full moon,” said Horacio de la Iglesia, professor of biology at the University of Washington.

“And although the effect is more robust in communities without access to electricity, the effect is present in communities with electricity, including undergraduates at the University of Washington.”

The effect on the 98 Toba/Qom subjects was later replicated by examination of 464 university students in the Seattle area.

“We hypothesize that the patterns we observed are an innate adaptation that allowed our ancestors to take advantage of this natural source of evening light that occurred at a specific time during the lunar cycle,” said the paper’s lead author Leandro Casiraghi, a postdoctoral biology researcher at Washington University.

The paper itself is published in the journal Science Advances.

By Alan Hope | The Brussels Times



Supercomputer Turns Back Cosmic Clock

Source:

National Institutes of Natural Sciences

Summary:

Astronomers have tested a method for reconstructing the state of the early Universe by applying it to 4000 simulated universes using the ATERUI II supercomputer. They found that together with new observations the method can set better constraints on inflation, one of the most enigmatic events in the history of the Universe. The method can shorten the observation time required to distinguish between various inflation theories.

FULL STORY

Astronomers have tested a method for reconstructing the state of the early Universe by applying it to 4000 simulated universes using the ATERUI II supercomputer at the National Astronomical Observatory of Japan (NAOJ). They found that together with new observations the method can set better constraints on inflation, one of the most enigmatic events in the history of the Universe. The method can shorten the observation time required to distinguish between various inflation theories.

Just after the Universe came into existence 13.8 billion years ago, it suddenly increased more than a trillion, trillion times in size, in less than a trillionth of a trillionth of a microsecond; but no one knows how or why. This sudden “inflation,” is one of the most important mysteries in modern astronomy. Inflation should have created primordial density fluctuations which would have affected the distribution of where galaxies developed. Thus, mapping the distribution of galaxies can rule out models for inflation that don’t match the observed data.

However, processes other than inflation also impact galaxy distribution, making it difficult to derive information about inflation directly from observations of the large-scale structure of the Universe, the cosmic web comprised of countless galaxies. In particular, the gravitationally driven growth of groups of galaxies can obscure the primordial density fluctuations.

A research team led by Masato Shirasaki, an assistant professor at NAOJ and the Institute of Statistical Mathematics, thought to apply a “reconstruction method” to turn back the clock and remove the gravitational effects from the large-scale structure. They used ATERUI II, the world’s fastest supercomputer dedicated to astronomy simulations, to create 4000 simulated universes and evolve them through gravitationally driven growth. They then applied this method to see how well it reconstructed the starting state of the simulations. The team found that their method can correct for the gravitational effects and improve the constraints on primordial density fluctuations.

“We found that this method is very effective,” says Shirasaki. “Using this method, we can verify of the inflation theories with roughly one-tenth the amount of data. This method can shorten the required observing time in upcoming galaxy survey missions such as SuMIRe by NAOJ’s Subaru Telescope.”

Journal Reference:

  1. Masato Shirasaki, Naonori S. Sugiyama, Ryuichi Takahashi, Francisco-Shu Kitaura. Constraining primordial non-Gaussianity with post reconstructed galaxy bispectrum in redshift space. Physical Review D, 2021; 103 (2) DOI: 10.1103/PhysRevD.103.023506

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Real-Time Dialogue With A Dreaming Person Is Possible

By Cell Press | Science Daily

Dreams take us to what feels like a different reality. They also happen while we’re fast asleep. So, you might not expect that a person in the midst of a vivid dream would be able to perceive questions and provide answers to them. But a new study reported in the journal Current Biology on February 18 shows that, in fact, they can.

“We found that individuals in REM sleep can interact with an experimenter and engage in real-time communication,” said senior author Ken Paller of Northwestern University. “We also showed that dreamers are capable of comprehending questions, engaging in working-memory operations, and producing answers.

“Most people might predict that this would not be possible — that people would either wake up when asked a question or fail to answer and certainly not comprehend a question without misconstruing it.”

While dreams are a common experience, scientists still haven’t adequately explained them. Relying on a person’s recounting of dreams is also fraught with distortions and forgotten details. So, Paller and colleagues decided to attempt communication with people during lucid dreams.

“Our experimental goal is akin to finding a way to talk with an astronaut who is on another world, but in this case, the world is entirely fabricated on the basis of memories stored in the brain,” the researchers write. They realized finding a means to communicate could open the door in future investigations to learn more about dreams, memory, and how memory storage depends on sleep, the researchers say.

The researchers studied 36 people who aimed to have a lucid dream, in which a person is aware they’re dreaming. The paper is unusual in that it includes four independently conducted experiments using different approaches to achieve a similar goal. In addition to the group at Northwestern University in the U.S., one group conducted studies at Sorbonne University in France, one at Osnabruck University in Germany, and one at Radboud University Medical Center in the Netherlands.

“We put the results together because we felt that the combination of results from four different labs using different approaches most convincingly attests to the reality of this phenomenon of two-way communication,” said Karen Konkoly, a Ph.D. student at Northwestern University and first author of the paper. “In this way, we see that different means can be used to communicate.”

One of the individuals who readily succeeded with two-way communication had narcolepsy and frequent lucid dreams. Among the others, some had lots of experience in lucid dreaming and others did not. Overall, the researchers found that it was possible for people while dreaming to follow instructions, do simple math, answer yes-or-no questions, or tell the difference between different sensory stimuli. They could respond using eye movements or by contracting facial muscles. The researchers refer to it as “interactive dreaming.”

Konkoly says that future studies of dreaming could use these same methods to assess cognitive abilities during dreams versus wake. They also could help verify the accuracy of post-awakening dream reports. Outside of the laboratory, the methods could be used to help people in various ways, such as solving problems during sleep or offering nightmare sufferers novel ways to cope. Follow-up experiments run by members of the four research teams aim to learn more about connections between sleep and memory processing, and about how dreams may shed light on this memory processing.


Story Source:

Materials provided by Cell PressNote: Content may be edited for style and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Konkoly et al. Real-time dialogue between experimenters and dreamers during REM sleepCurrent Biology, 2021 DOI: 10.1016/j.cub.2021.01.026



Scientists Think They Have Found A Portal To The 5th Dimension

By | Collective Evolution

IN BRIEF
  • The Facts: A new study claims to have found an explanation for dark matter but relies on the discovery of a particle that leads to another dimension.
  • Reflect On: How do discoveries shift our understanding of reality and perhaps, who we are? Can a journey down the rabbit hole of non-material science cause understanding of the nature of human consciousness that can shift how we live our lives?

I know, it sounds like science fiction a little bit, but our world is a hell of a lot more mysterious and fascinating than much of our mainstream news and information lets on. A quick tour down the lane of post-material science returns many fascinating discoveries about superhuman abilities, extrasensory perception, remote viewing, non-local consciousness, and more. In short, we are extraordinary, and I believe science has shown this, even though mainstream culture lags behind in opening up to these ideas.

In a new study in The European Physical Journal C scientists are proposing the there exists a particle that can act as a portal to a fifth dimensionWhat exactly is the 5th dimension? Good question. Let’s start with what we know now about dimensions. To scientists, there have been four known dimensions in our universe. Three that makeup space (up and down, left and right, back and forth) this gives you “3D,” and the fourth dimension of time.

To understand the 5th dimension, we have to begin looking into dark matter, which is what scientists believe makes up most of the mass in our universe. Dark matter happens to be something we don’t know too much about as well. We technically can’t see it, and so scientists measure what effects its mass has on other observable matter. In the most recent study the authors – Adrian Carmona, Javier Castellano Ruiz, Matthias Neubert – said their original intention was to “explain the possible origin of fermion (particle) masses in theories with a warped extra dimension”. They sketched out a new scalar associated with the fermion, which they claim is similar to the Higgs field and Higgs boson particle.

“We found that the new scalar field had an interesting, non-trivial behaviour along the extra dimension,” the researchers told VICE. “If this heavy particle exists, it would necessarily connect the visible matter that we know and that we have studied in detail with the constituents of dark matter, assuming the dark matter is composed out of fundamental fermions, which live in the extra dimension.”

In simpler terms, this new study suggests that the particle in question may be able to provide a greater explanation for dark matter, the more we know about dark matter, the more we can understand the finer workings of our unseen universe.

The authors described the particle as “a possible new messenger to the dark sector”.

The hard-working is just beginning, however. Scientists have to now isolate this particle. The Higgs boson particle mentioned above was spotted by the Large Hadron Collider (LHC), the world’s largest and most powerful particle accelerator. However, it is not powerful enough to find this new particle and thus a new device would have to be created.

What intrigued me about this story was one of the statements physicists made about a new study they wrote exploring the potential of a 5th dimension:

“This new particle could play an important role in the cosmological history of the universe, and might produce gravitational waves that can be searched for with future gravitational-wave detectors.”

READ THE REST OF THIS ARTICLE…




AI Can Now Learn to Manipulate Human Behavior

Artificial intelligence (AI) is learning more about how to work with (and on) humans. A recent study has shown how AI can learn to identify vulnerabilities in human habits and behaviors and use them to influence human decision-making.

It may seem cliched to say AI is transforming every aspect of the way we live and work, but it’s true. Various forms of AI are at work in fields as diverse as vaccine development, environmental management, and office administration. And while AI does not possess human-like intelligence and emotions, its capabilities are powerful and rapidly developing.

There’s no need to worry about a machine takeover just yet, but this recent discovery highlights the power of AI and underscores the need for proper governance to prevent misuse.

How AI can learn to influence human behavior

A team of researchers at CSIRO’s Data61, the data and digital arm of Australia’s national science agency, devised a systematic method of finding and exploiting vulnerabilities in the ways people make choices, using a kind of AI system called a recurrent neural network and deep reinforcement-learning. To test their model they carried out three experiments in which human participants played games against a computer.

The first experiment involved participants clicking on red or blue colored boxes to win a fake currency, with the AI learning the participant’s choice patterns and guiding them towards a specific choice. The AI was successful about 70% of the time.

In the second experiment, participants were required to watch a screen and press a button when they are shown a particular symbol (such as an orange triangle) and not press it when they are shown another (say a blue circle). Here, the AI set out to arrange the sequence of symbols so the participants made more mistakes, and achieved an increase of almost 25%.

The third experiment consisted of several rounds in which a participant would pretend to be an investor giving money to a trustee (the AI). The AI would then return an amount of money to the participant, who would then decide how much to invest in the next round. This game was played in two different modes: in one the AI was out to maximize how much money it ended up with, and in the other, the AI aimed for a fair distribution of money between itself and the human investor. The AI was highly successful in each mode.

In each experiment, the machine-learned from participants’ responses and identified and targeted vulnerabilities in people’s decision-making. The end result was the machine learned to steer participants towards particular actions.

What the research means for the future of AI

These findings are still quite abstract and involved limited and unrealistic situations. More research is needed to determine how this approach can be put into action and used to benefit society.

But the research does advance our understanding not only of what AI can do but also of how people make choices. It shows machines can learn to steer human choice-making through their interactions with us.

The research has an enormous range of possible applications, from enhancing behavioral sciences and public policy to improve social welfare to understanding and influencing how people adopt healthy eating habits or renewable energy. AI and machine learning projects could be used to recognize people’s vulnerabilities in certain situations and help them to steer away from poor choices.

The method can also be used to defend against influence attacks. Machines could be taught to alert us when we are being influenced online, for example, and help us shape behavior to disguise our vulnerability (for example, by not clicking on some pages, or clicking on others to lay a false trail).

What’s next?

Like any technology, AI can be used for good or bad, and proper governance is crucial to ensure it is implemented in a responsible way. Last year CSIRO developed an AI Ethics Framework for the Australian government as an early step in this journey.

AI and machine learning are typically very hungry for data, which means it is crucial to ensure we have effective systems in place for data governance and access. Implementing adequate consent processes and privacy protection when gathering data is essential.

Organizations using and developing AI need to ensure they know what these technologies can and cannot do, and be aware of potential risks as well as benefits.

By Jon Whittle | The Conversation




Nassim Haramein’s Quantum Revolution: Science of a Unified Universe

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fMoqNAB2UW4

Video Source: Gregg Braden Official

Nassim Haramein introduces us to a holistic model of the universe that unites all areas of science through a deeper understanding of the foundations of our reality.




A Brief Introduction the Science of Epigenetics | Dr. Bruce Lipton

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r0jOpwpNIjw

Video Source: Gregg Braden Official 

Dr. Bruce Lipton, Ph.D. shares his revolutionary view of our conscious ability to affect gene expression. Throughout the eons of human history, our understanding of our place in the world has changed from a connection with the natural world, to completely separate from it. In modern times, this has led to certain notions that have become recognized as scientific truths, which make us a victim of our environment. With new discoveries in epigenetics, our control over the wellbeing of our bodies is placed back into our own hands, if we are ready to accept it.