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Your Brain Hums While Idling

Your brain is 100% occupied when watching and concentrating on things, and still processing at 80% in the dark when idle, say researchers at University of Rochester.  Opening your eyes only adds 20% more brain activity to the 80% while in neutral.  The amount of neural processing going on in idle mode surprised the researchers.  […]

Burnt Bridges, Brownian Ratchets, and Self-Propelled Motors Keep Skin Young Looking

Rock climbers and cavers are familiar with mechanical devices called ascenders that enable them to climb ropes safely and easily.  Ascenders slide up the rope in one direction, but latch onto it tightly when pulled the other direction.  Now imagine the ascender by itself, hanging on the rope, in a flurry of winds blowing in […]

Your Eyes Have Automatic Light Meters

Every pupil knows that pupils constrict in bright light and dilate in dim light, but how?  Physiologists had assumed the retina signalled the iris muscles, but now it appears there is an independent mechanism in the iris itself, at least in birds, and probably in mammals, too.  A report in EurekAlert summarizes a finding from […]

New Treatment for Hyperactivity: Nature Walks

Hiking in the woods seems to alleviate ADHD, say two researchers from University of Illinois, in two studies mentioned briefly in Science News.1  The article begins, “Does spending more playtime amid greenery improve behavior in children with attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder?” (emphasis added).  Apparently, yes.  The setting, not just the activity, is part of the equation, […]

Bless Your Heart: Exercise for Senior Vitality

A study from UT Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas confirms what we all should know but need to be reminded of frequently: that prolonged, sustained exercise can build up the heart at any age, and provide insurance against heart failure.  The summary on EurekAlert warns, “a sedentary lifestyle, in addition to aging, puts older people […]

Natural Selection Demonstrated in European Heart-Disease Gene?

Stephen Wooding (U. of Utah) is elated.  He sees an “exciting trend” in genetic research that might, finally, demonstrate positive natural selection acting on a gene with a clear phenotypic effect (measurable outward benefit).  Writing in the Sept. 7 Current Biology,1 he mentions a few recent papers suggesting this connection, but focuses particularly on one […]

What Would a Man Born Blind See With New Eyes?

The Bible records an instance of a man born blind miraculously healed, who was immediately able to walk and recognize things.  Scientists had doubted whether a blind person suddenly able to see would understand the world of vision at all, or be able to make any sense of his new sense.  Then a real world […]

Germs and Venoms Can Heal

Three recent stories indicate that “nasty” things can be good, under the right circumstances: Germs and Aging:  Science Now reported that germs may prolong life.  A study on fruit flies showed that flies whose embryos were exposed to bacteria lived longer than those grown under sterile conditions.  Apparently the germs provide services in regulating genes […]

Humans Lose Some, Win Some in Animal Olympics

Imagine humans competing in Olympic events with animals.  Astrobiology Magazine predicts we would lose many events, but excel in others: “In most cases of physical competition, the animals beat us at our own games,” says the website’s staff writer, Dr. David Noever. 100 Meter Sprint:  Cheetah wins the gold at 3 seconds.  Silver goes to […]

Inner Ear Hairs Provide Optimum Sensitivity

The inner ear cochlea is lined with hair cells that transduce mechanical vibrations into electrical signals for the auditory nerve.  European scientists publishing in PNAS1 measured the sensitivity of inner ear hair cells to mechanical motion, and considering the noise caused by thermal motion, calculated that the ear operates at the optimum level.  The ear […]

Your Brain Learned Physics and Calculus Before You Did

Tilt your head to the right while moving to the left.  The neurons in your brain just solved Newton’s equations of motion, and performed complex vector calculus equations almost instantaneously.  That’s what four neurologists Washington University of Medicine (St. Louis, MO) essentially claimed in Nature July 29,1 describing how your brain interprets the information coming […]

Think Before You Speak

Children are capable of thoughts before they have the words to vocalize them, according to a study published in Nature July 221 (see also summary by Paul Bloom in the same issue2 and report on Science Now).  This contradicts the postmodernist view that thought is conditioned by language, and instead suggests that humans are innately […]

You Have Motorized Sunscreens in Your Eyeballs

The pain of walking suddenly into a bright light sets up an amazing reaction, according to EurekAlert.  An alarm is sent to the fire station in the retinal cell.  There, protein firefighters hop onto a motorized shuttle on the molecular railway, and once firmly attached, are ferried swiftly to the scene of danger.  There, they […]

Blame Evolution

Men can’t help themselves.  Evolution made them that way.  That’s the gist of a science story on ABC news.  Accompanied with a picture of rebel without a cause James Dean, it begins, “Research shows that simply being male means you’re more likely to die as a young adult.  Why?  Blame evolution…and pursuit of the opposite […]

Haemoglobin More Complex than Thought: Regulates Blood Flow

Physiologists have long known that haemoglobin, the molecule that adds the redness to red blood cells and carries oxygen to the tissues, releases its oxygen as the blood vessels constrict.  Now, increasing evidence shows that haemoglobin (composed of four complex proteins that surround a central iron atom) is not just a passive oxygen carrier.  It […]
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