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Thursday, 1 May 2008

Cool mind reading devices:newsBits-19.03.08

In this post, I offer some absolutely gorgeous technologies about reading of thoughts and other goodies. And of course, my favorite one- To Life Immortal!

  • Genes shared with yeast could help humans fight aging
  • Next generation of video games will be mental
  • Supermarket sensor warns of pre-packed bugs
  • Your height dictates how jealousy strikes

Genes shared with yeast could help humans fight aging

Many of the genes that control the lifespan of roundworms serve the same function in yeast, say researchers. This gives a strong hint that mammals, including humans, may manage longevity in a similar way.

If so, identifying these genes should give scientists new leverage in their quest to slow ageing in people and defer the onset of different age-related diseases.

For nearly two decades, researchers have known that inactivating specific genes can make roundworms and other organisms live much longer than normal. However, until now, no one has known to what extent ageing is regulated by the same genes in different species.

Shared genes

To find out, a team led by Kennedy and Matt Kaeberlein, also of the University of Washington, assembled a list of all 276 genes in the roundworm Caenorhabditis elegans for which inactivating the gene extended the worm's lifespan.

The team then looked to see how many of these genes they could be found in the genome of the yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae as well. They discovered the organisms had 76 of these genes in common.

Further experiments revealed that, for 11 of these 76, deleting the gene also made the yeast live longer.

In other words, nearly 15% of the genes had the same effect on longevity in both worms and yeast, meaning that their biological roles must have been conserved through the 1.5 billion years since the two organisms last shared a common evolutionary ancestor.

Worm cousins

Furthermore, if these gene functions are that ancient – and that important – the same genes are also likely to regulate longevity in mammals, which are much more closely related to worms than yeasts.

Many of the shared longevity genes play a role in sensing and responding to nutrient levels in the environment, the researchers found.

This supports the hypothesis that organisms may have evolved genetic mechanisms that mitigate the effects of aging as a response to famine, because this should increase that organism's ability to reproduce. Indeed, caloric restriction – eating barely enough to survive – is one of the few ways to extend the lifespan of almost any organism, from worms to mice and perhaps also people. source

My comment: I find the last paragraph very interesting! I don't really understand the idea of eating barely to survive that make you last longer. It sounds like rather weak explanation that it prolongs the reproductivity. I mean, why? If there is a scarcity of resources, reproducing isn't the best option for survival, because the more throats to feed, the less food for all. The implication is that famine is the best condition for living. Which quite redefine the word famine if you ask me. Whatever. To life immortal! :)

Next generation of video games will be mental

TWO players sit across a table from one another, staring at a small white ball on a track between them. Both are wearing headbands and concentrating, trying to nudge the ball towards their opponent. All they can use is the power of thought.

This is Mindball, an addictive "mind game" in which the winning strategy is to remain as focused and relaxed as possible in the heat of battle. The ball rolls away from the player with the calmest mind, as measured by sensors on their headbands.

The sensors are similar to those in an electroencephalogram (EEG), which probes brain activity by detecting "brainwaves" - tiny electrical currents playing across the scalp. Because EEGs are a non-invasive and near-instantaneous way to read brain activity, they have long been touted as potentially useful in gaming. It now looks as if that promise will be fulfilled. source
My comment: Well, EEG could be noninvasive, but it looks expensive to me. Anyway, it's nice development of technology. I mean if there is a market, they will make it usable! Which is how progress is happening.

Supermarket sensor warns of pre-packed bugs

A plastic widget that floats around in milk, soup or fruit juice cartons could tell you if it contains food poisoning bacteria - without you having to open them. A scanner at the supermarket checkout would simply sound an alarm if the pathogens are present.

The idea is the brainchild of Craig Grimes at Pennsylvania State University and Qingyun Cai at Hunan University in Changsha, China. The technology uses a novel mechanism to detect the food bug Staphylococcus aureus in milk which has not been properly refrigerated.

The key component of the widget is a strip of iron, nickel, molybdenum and boron alloy that has an unusual property: it vibrates in a magnetic field. The strip's vibrations in turn generate its own magnetic field which can be picked up using a nearby detector coil.

Fresh milk is relatively thick and so the sensor strip is only able to vibrate slowly when exposed to a magnetic field. But S. aureus causes milk to decompose, which lowers its viscosity and allows the sensor to vibrate at a telltale higher frequency, the team found (Biosensors and Bioelectronics, DOI: 10.1016/j.bios.2008.01.036).

Grimes envisages the strip being built into a spherical plastic widget - large enough to avoid becoming a choking hazard - that floats inside the cartons. The strips could be tuned to work with soups and juices, too.

A very cheap detector could be placed at supermarket checkouts to identify contaminated cartons, Grimes says, needing only an electromagnet to induce vibrations in the strip and a coil to detect the widget's response. source

My comment:Lol, that's really cool as long as the sensors are made from safe for humans material. But I find it absolutely lovely to see something so simply do something so ... convenient.

Nerve-tapping neckband used in 'telepathic' chat

A neckband that translates thought into speech by picking up nerve signals has been used to demonstrate a "voiceless" phone call for the first time.

With careful training a person can send nerve signals to their vocal cords without making a sound. These signals are picked up by the neckband and relayed wirelessly to a computer that converts them into words spoken by a computerised voice.

Michael Callahan, co-founder of Ambient Corporation, which developed the neckband, demonstrates the device, called the Audeo.

Users needn't worry about that the system voicing their inner thoughts though. Callahan says producing signals for the Audeo to decipher requires "a level above thinking". Users must think specifically about voicing words for them to be picked up by the equipment.

The Audeo has previously been used to let people control wheelchairs using their thoughts. Watch a video demonstrating thought control of wheelchairs

"I can still talk verbally at the same time," Callahan told New Scientist. "We can differentiate between when you want to talk silently, and when you want to talk out loud." That could be useful in certain situations, he says, for example when making a private call while out in public.

The system demonstrated at the TI conference can recognise only a limited set of about 150 words and phrases, says Callahan, who likens this to the early days of speech recognition software.

At the end of the year Ambient plans to release an improved version, without a vocabulary limit. Instead of recognising whole words or phrases, it should identify the individual phonemes that make up complete words.

This version will be slower, because users will need to build up what they want to say one phoneme at a time, but it will let them say whatever they want. The phoneme-based system will be aimed at people who have lost the ability to speak due to neurological diseases like ALS – also known as motor neurone disease. source

My comment: COOL! So cool! I mean, first, this could help disabled people, which obviously is great. And second, how about thinking to your hands-free "Call Michael" and it's calling Michael. Or while on meeting answering to your phone with your mind, saying "I'm busy, the milk is in the fridge". I mean this really can be useful. If I had the money, I'd certainly invest in all those gadgets, because they might look not useful now, but one day, they will be everywhere. Just like cell phones. Or probably in the cell phones.

Your height dictates how jealousy strikes

JEALOUS lovers will wish they could adjust the height of their heels, for the power of the green-eyed monster depends on how tall you are.

So say researchers from the Universities of Groningen and Valencia who asked 549 men and women in the Netherlands and Spain to rate how jealous they felt and to identify the qualities in a romantic competitor that were most likely to bug them.

Men, who generally felt most nervous about attractive, rich and strong rivals, were increasingly relaxed, the taller they were themselves. Women, on the other hand, were most jealous of others' beauty and charm, but least so if their own height was average.

This makes evolutionary sense, say the researchers, because previous findings suggest that whilst taller men do best with the ladies, it is women of medium height who enjoy the best health, fertility and popularity with men.

But unlike tall men, medium-height women can be more vulnerable to jealousy under some circumstances. Faced with socially or physically powerful rivals they actually felt more jealous than shorter or taller women. According to the study, this may be because tall and strong, or socially well-connected women could well pose a threat to average-height feminine favourites since they might win conflicts, including physical fights. "Taller women are more dominant and have greater fighting abilities than shorter women," write the researchers in Evolution and Human Behavior (vol 29, p 133). source

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