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08 Mar

Optical illusions have fascinated people for decades, gaining more attention than ever in the social media era. As you’ve scrolled through your feed, you’ve likely seen a picture of a stationary object that seems to move in either a clockwise or counterclockwise direction, known as an optical illusion. The formal name for this type of image is “Pinna-Brelstaff figure.”

Scientists may be a little closer to understanding how the mind tricks us into believing these still objects are in motion. A team at the Chinese Academy of Sciences had already identified the area of the brain that creates that illusion, so they set out to get to the “why.” Looking at male rhesus macaques, which process the illusion similarly to people, they found cells within that part of the brain that perceive the images as being in motion.

06 Mar

Spraying crops by helicopter comes in handy when needing a precise application to specific areas of a group of plants, such as exists in a vineyard.

But spraying by helicopters can also prove expensive, not to mention noisy and, depending on how close the choppers get to ground level, invasive.

AirBoard has come up with an agro-sprayer that operates in drone fashion at about 50 per cent of the cost of a traditional helicopter service.

The Agro, as it's known, is also said to be 500 per cent more precise than a helicopter; provides better root growth since it does not promote soil compaction; increases worker safety; emits less noise than a helicopter designed for agro-spraying, saves time, so vineyard owners can direct their energies to other priorities; and, since it is 100 per cent powered by electricity, the Agro is also more environmentally friendly than spraying by helicopter.

04 Mar

Researchers from The University of Sydney have discovered that people living with frontotemporal dementia, a younger-onset form of the malady, do not possess the capacity to daydream. This work could lead to new and expanded understanding of changes in behavior associated with dementia -- providing caregivers, researchers, and family members with help in managing the disease.

The majority of healthy people permit their minds to daydream or wander roughly half of the time they spend awake. In the process, people can think about the past, anticipate the future, and also empathize about the behavior of others. Daydreaming has also been linked to acts of creativity, behavioral and emotional regulation, and problem-solving.

02 Mar

Disturbingly, studies have discovered that today’s furniture is far more flammable than furniture built several decades ago, a problem if your home catches on fire. This discovery has led scientists to seek out materials that will possibly slow down a home fire, giving occupants a chance to exit and firefighters more time to extinguish the blaze.

The mechanical engineering department at Texas A&M has come up with a coating that may do the job. The coating has the potential to cut down on the flammability of the polyurethane foam found in much of the furniture sold today. Best of all, the coating is made from natural elements.

28 Feb

By mixing drugs that transform cells next to damaged neurons into working, new ones, a concoction could be produced that could treat Alzheimer’s disease, stroke, and brain injuries.

 

Researchers at Penn State’s Eberly College of Sciencerecently announced that they had zeroed in on a small group of molecules that could do that.

 

In a press release, research team leader Gong Chen, professor of biology and Verne M. Willaman Chair in Life Sciences at Penn State, explained that the major issue with repairing neurons in the brain is the fact that they don’t divide, which means that they can’t regenerate. 

 

Chen added, “In contrast, glial cells, which gather around damaged brain tissue, can proliferate after brain injury. I believe turning glial cells that are the neighbors of dead neurons into new neurons is the best way to restore lost neuronal functions.”

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