Friday, 30 March 2012

Space is bad for your eyesight - New Scientist latest

Mr M's summary of the 17 March issue of NS:

·       Space is bad for your eyesight. Astronauts returning from long periods in space displayed some deformation in their optic nerves.
·       Low fat diet boosts sperm count.
·       Researchers on animal behaviour are using virtual worlds for testing. This allows them to carry out investigation in a more controlled and precise manner, focusing down to the role of specific neurons.
·       Primitive nerve clusters, predecessors to our brains, have been found in worms living 600m years ago.
·       Gene loading may be the next method of cheating at sport. Tests on mice have shown that those with a injected with a virus containing gene IGG-1 could swim 3 times further than control. Current testing methods would not detect this.
·       A study testing impact of alcohol on creative problem solving showed a small amount of vodka improved performance on a test linking words to an underlying concept.
·       A fibre optic cable is being laid from between Tokyo and London. It will cross the Arctic Ocean the first time this route has been followed. It should reduce latency between these cities by around 30%.
·       Most of the energy usage for free Android apps is used to power advertising. 
·       One or more of the following fundamental particles may be the next Higgs: Stringballs, Tetraquarks, Glueballs, Inflatons, Pomerons, Leptoquarks, Winos, Anyons, Galileons, Majorana particles, Wimpzillas. 
·       Religion has been shown to predate agriculture in terms of human evolution. This had led to speculation that religion was a key enabler in allowing the co-operative behaviour that agricultural societies need to succeed. Large groups require shared rules in order to remain stable but the larger the group the easier it is for people to cheat. (studies show that feelings of anonymity, even just wearing dark glasses, promote selfishness and cheating) . Coalescing around a shared belief, enforced by an all seeing entity, makes this cheating behaviour less likely.

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