Lab gets funding to put 3D goggles on praying mantises

nobel intent - tor, 24/04/2014 - 21:11
Newcastle University

It sounds like the kind of research project that a future a Congressman might hold up as an example of wasteful government spending: gluing a praying mantis to a stick and putting mini-3D goggles on it. But this project is very real and pretty neat, and it should actually tell us something about neurobiology. (Plus, it's all being funded by a private foundation.)

Praying mantises aren't just unusually large insects; they're extremely efficient predators that have even been known to catch and eat birds. This requires both a lightning-quick strike and the visual acuity to direct the strike towards the prey. Researchers at Newcastle University, led by Jennifer Read, want to test out the limits of the mantis' vision. To do that, they'll try to determine how the animals reconstruct a 3D scene.

Right now, as the video below demonstrates, that involves placing a mantis (glued to a stick so it doesn't move around) in front of a television monitor and filming its strikes. But the lab is now attaching the world's smallest 3D goggles to a mantis and attempting to manipulate the 3D scene by sending each of its eyes slightly different images. It may turn out that the insect's brain operates much like a vertebrate's, using the physical separation of the eyes and the difference in perspective it involves to figure out locations in 3D. If so, it would indicate that the amount of neural horsepower needed to do so is much more limited than we might have thought.

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Super-bright supernova might not be so unusual after all

nobel intent - tor, 24/04/2014 - 20:40
The remains of a type Ia supernova. NASA

White dwarf supernovas—also known as type Ia—are both bright enough and consistent enough in their characteristics to be used to measure distances to far-off galaxies. That's why the discovery of an anomalous supernova 400 times brighter than expected gave astronomers indigestion. While researchers have identified other super-bright supernovae that are likely the result of exploding stars, these observations didn't fit easily into any previously described phenomenon.

However, one possibility remained: perhaps the light from this supernova had been magnified by gravitational lensing somewhere between the explosion and Earth. If that's the case, the anomalous explosion could be an ordinary white dwarf supernova that happened to appear much brighter, instead of a fundamentally new type of event. Robert M. Quimby and colleagues found a galaxy that could be doing the lensing by monitoring the supernova as it faded. While lots of gravitational lenses have been identified, this is the first clear example of magnification of a supernova.

The Panoramic Survey Telescope and Rapid Response System 1 (Pan-STARRS1, designed in part to locate transient events) detected the anomalous supernova on August 31, 2010. Based on follow-up observations, astronomers determined that it was more than nine billion light-years away. However, for that to be true, the outburst had to be more than 400 times brighter than a typical exploding star, or 30 times brighter in peak light output than expected from a white dwarf supernova.

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Ber Helse Sør-Øst om 1,9 milliarder ekstra

Dagens Medisin - tor, 24/04/2014 - 15:26
OUS har behov for 1,9 milliarder kroner mer enn det Helse Sør-Øst hadde planlagt å stille med.

Høie: Ulik behandling større problem enn overbehandling

Dagens Medisin - tor, 24/04/2014 - 14:12
Helseminister Bent Høie mener det skjer en overbehandling i Norge, men at ulikheter i helsetilbudet er et enda større problem.

DM-TV: «Leverer et bedre medisinsk produkt»

Dagens Medisin - tor, 24/04/2014 - 13:40
Medisinstudentene i Krakow får mer praksis etter omleggingen av studiet.

Investerer 75 millioner i utvikling av nye kreftmedisiner

Dagens Medisin - tor, 24/04/2014 - 13:10
For første gang investerer Kreftforeningen i utviklingen av kreftlegemidler.

Går inn for medisinutdanning i Finnmark

Dagens Medisin - tor, 24/04/2014 - 11:39
- Vi anbefaler nå at medisinstudentene i Tromsø får mulighet til å ta sjetteåret i Finnmark, sier prodekan Inger Njølstad ved Universitetet i Tromsø.

– Underklassens barn får ADHD-diagnosen

Dagens Medisin - tor, 24/04/2014 - 10:00
– Vi ser en del uheldige koblinger og resultater av at rettigheter utløses av spesielle diagnoser, sier lege Margit Steinholt.

Kvinner i akademia – en trussel mot menn?

Tidsskriftet - tor, 24/04/2014 - 09:59
Medisinhistorien inneholder flere godt dokumenterte tilfeller av diskriminering av kvinnelige søkere ved ansettelse i akademiske posisjoner. Ut fra en gjennomgang av tilgjengelige dokumenter i Riksarkivet, merket «Det medisinske fakultet», kan det argumenteres for at Ardis Storm-Mathisen er en av dem. Hennes doktorgradsarbeid i klinisk nevrologi ble underkjent av fakultetet, til tross for at en enstemmig internasjonal komité gikk inn for godkjenning.

Har nullvisjon for overdosedødsfall

Dagens Medisin - tor, 24/04/2014 - 09:20
Regjeringen tar nå i bruk flere virkemidler, blant annet utdeling av motgift,  for å redusere overdosedødsfallene. På kort sikt er målet færre dødsfall og en langsiktig nullvisjon.

Færre dødsfall med gode arbeidsforhold

Dagens Medisin - tor, 24/04/2014 - 06:00
Færre pasienter dør på sykehus når sykepleierne synes arbeidsvilkårene er gode, viser ny studie.

Preferred method of conveying climate risk doesn’t work

nobel intent - ons, 23/04/2014 - 21:30
Aurich Lawson / Thinkstock

If I told you that something was "very likely," what would you consider the odds of it happening?

The answer isn't just academic. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) reports on climate change use terms like "unlikely" and "virtually certain" to describe very specific degrees of certainty or probabilities of future events—information that informs government policy. And the challenges of conveying that information extend well beyond the climate. Pretty much any risk evaluation, from health to nuclear safety, involves some degree of conveying probability.

The IPCC's approach is to go for readability, using the phrases noted above instead of numerical values; it typically provides the translation between words and numbers in a table near the top of their reports. For example, crack open an IPCC report and you'll see that "very likely" means greater than 90 percent.

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Ex-astronauts plan to launch an asteroid-tracking satellite

nobel intent - ons, 23/04/2014 - 18:43
B612 Foundation representative Bill Anders stands in front of the famed "Earthrise" photo he took during his mission on Apollo 8 while announcing his new group's efforts to launch an asteroid-detecting satellite. He's joined by fellow B612 Foundation leaders and ex-astronauts Thomas Jones (left) and Ed Lu (right). Museum of Flight

On Tuesday, with Earth Day as a backdrop, the B612 Foundation started its presentation about asteroid detection with enough material to fill out an apocalyptic sci-fi film. An introductory video mapped out 26 nuclear-bomb-level impacts recorded on Earth in the last 13 years, a few of which were measured as larger than the one that leveled Hiroshima. After that, a supplementary video showed thousands of dots whirling around the Solar System like fireflies, each dot representing an asteroid that has been tracked by NASA. "There are at least 100 times as many [asteroids] out there," B612 reps said.

Next to the projector's screen sat a cardboard kiosk with a grotesque image: an asteroid about to crash into a giant football stadium. Earth Day? More like Kiss-Earth-Goodbye Day!

“The current strategy to deal with asteroid impacts is blind luck,” former NASA astronaut Dr. Ed Lu said, hinting at a lack of effort from NASA and other space agencies. “But we can change that.”

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Habitable exoplanets are bad news for humanity

nobel intent - ons, 23/04/2014 - 18:06
Let’s hope it’s barren. NASA Ames/SETI Institute/JPL-CalTech

Last week, scientists announced the discovery of Kepler-186f, a planet 492 light years away in the Cygnus constellation. Kepler-186f is special because it marks the first planet almost exactly the same size as Earth orbiting in the “habitable zone,” the distance from a star in which we might expect liquid water—and perhaps life.

What did not make the news, however, is that this discovery also slightly increases how much credence we give to the possibility of our own near-term extinction. This is because of a concept known as the Great Filter.

The Great Filter is an argument that attempts to resolve the Fermi Paradox: why have we not found aliens (or why have they not found us), despite the existence of hundreds of billions of exosolar systems in our galactic neighborhood in which life might evolve? As the namesake physicist Enrico Fermi noted, it seems rather extraordinary that not a single extraterrestrial signal or engineering project has been detected (UFO conspiracy theorists notwithstanding).

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Tiden teller!

Tidsskriftet - ons, 23/04/2014 - 17:34
Det diagnostiseres ti lungekreftpasienter hver arbeidsdag i Norge, og sykdommen tar liv hver fjerde time. Tre av fire har ikke-kurerbar sykdom på diagnosetidspunktet, hovedsakelig fordi sykdommen sjelden gir symptomer før den har kommet langt. Når mistanken er fattet, er det viktig at utredningen går raskt, skriver Odd Terje Brustugun og medarbeidere.

Høygravide sover dårligere enn barselkvinner

Dagens Medisin - ons, 23/04/2014 - 13:02
Nybakte mødre sover mindre og våkner oftere enn høygravide. Likevel er de mer fornøyde med søvnen.

Raskere hjelp til kritisk syke

Dagens Medisin - ons, 23/04/2014 - 11:54
Amerikanske FDA foreslår et nytt program som skal bidra til raskere produktutvikling og klinisk tilgang til medisinsk-teknisk utstyr for behandling av kritisk syke pasienter.

Forskere «bestakk» heroinavhengige

Dagens Medisin - ons, 23/04/2014 - 11:50
Britiske forskere ga heroinavhengige «gavekort» for å se om de ble motiverte til å vaksinere seg mot hepatitt B.

Hvorfor får ikke legene fortelle det de ser?

Tidsskriftet - ons, 23/04/2014 - 08:00
200 år er gått siden 1814, og det blir mange festtaler. Dette er ikke en av dem. Jeg har trodd leger hadde gode ytringsmuligheter, men mer og mer slår det meg at det ikke er tilfellet, skriver turnuslege Ole Kristian Losvik i en kommentarartikkel.

850.000 selvmord på verdensbasis

Dagens Medisin - ons, 23/04/2014 - 07:54
Hvert år tar minst 850.000 mennesker sitt eget liv, og selvmordsraten er økende.