Month: June, 2018

Study Reveals The Cheese Triggers The Same Part Of The Brain As Drugs

There’s a good reason why you just can’t resist reaching for another slice of Stilton.

Scientists claim that cheese is as addictive as drugs because of a chemical called casein.

This is found in dairy products and can trigger the brain’s opioid receptors, which are responsible for addiction.

The study, by the University of Michigan, took a look at which items act as the “drugs of the food world“.

The researchers discovered pizza was one of the world’s most addictive foods, largely because of its cheesy topping.

Fat seemed to be equally predictive of problematic eating for everyone, regardless of whether they experience symptoms of ‘food addiction,” Erica Schulte, one of the study’s authors, told Mic.




Dr. Neal Barnard of the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine said that casein ‘breaks apart during digestion to release a whole host of opiates called casomorphins.’

Some scientists believe the influence of cheese is so potent that they refer to it as “dairy crack“.

A number of studies have revealed that casomorphins lock with opioid receptors, which are linked with the control of pain, reward and addiction in the brain.

[Casomorphins] really play with the dopamine receptors and trigger that addictive element,” registered dietitian Cameron Wells told Mic .

Milk contains a tiny amount of casein in milk, but producing a pound of cheese requires about 10 pounds of milk, so the chemical is ingested in high amounts.

According to the University of Illinois Extension Program, caseins makes up 80 per cent of the proteins in cow milk.

The average person is estimated to eat around 35 pounds of cheese – suggesting that it really as addictive as research claims.

The problem is particularly bad when it comes to highly-processed cheese such as ‘plastic cheese’.

Studies in animals have found that highly processed foods, or foods with added fat or refined carbohydrates, may be capable of triggering addictive eating behaviour.

And people with symptoms of food addiction or with higher body mass indexes have reported greater problems with highly processed foods.

This suggests some may be particularly sensitive to the possible “rewarding” properties of these foods, said Erica Schulte, a U-M psychology doctoral student and the study’s lead author.

If properties of some foods are associated with addictive eating for some people, this may impact nutrition guidelines, as well as public policy initiatives such as marketing these foods to children,” Schulte said.

Nicole Avena, assistant professor of pharmacology and systems therapeutics at Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York City, and a co-author on the study, explained the significance of the findings.

This is a first step towards identifying specific foods, and properties of foods, which can trigger this addictive response,” she said.

This could help change the way we approach obesity treatment. It may not be a simple matter of ‘cutting back’ on certain foods, but rather, adopting methods used to curtail smoking, drinking and drug use.”

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Gaming Addiction Classified As Disorder By WHO

Its 11th International Classification of Diseases (ICD) will include the condition “gaming disorder“.

The draft document describes it as a pattern of persistent or recurrent gaming behaviour so severe that it takes “precedence over other life interests“.

Some countries had already identified it as a major public health issue.

Many, including the UK, have private addiction clinics to “treat” the condition.

The last version of the ICD was completed in 1992, with the new guide due to be published in 2018.




The guide contains codes for diseases, signs and symptoms and is used by doctors and researchers to track and diagnose disease.

It will suggest that abnormal gaming behaviour should be in evidence over a period of at least 12 months “for a diagnosis to be assigned” but added that period might be shortened “if symptoms are severe“.

Symptoms include:

  • impaired control over gaming (frequency, intensity, duration)
  • increased priority given to gaming
  • continuation or escalation of gaming despite negative consequences

Dr Richard Graham, lead technology addiction specialist at the Nightingale Hospital in London, welcomed the decision to recognise the condition.

It is significant because it creates the opportunity for more specialised services. It puts it on the map as something to take seriously.

But he added that he would have sympathy for those who do not think the condition should be medicalised.

It could lead to confused parents whose children are just enthusiastic gamers.

He said he sees about 50 new cases of digital addiction each year and his criteria is based on whether the activity is affecting basic things such as sleep, eating, socialising and education.

He said one question he asked himself was: “Is the addiction taking up neurological real-estate, dominating thinking and preoccupation?

Many psychiatrists refer to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM), the fifth edition of which was published in 2013.

In that, internet gaming disorder is listed as a “condition for further study“, meaning it is not officially recognised.

Lots of countries are grappling with the issue and in South Korea the government has introduced a law banning access for children under 16 from online games between midnight and 06:00.

In Japan, players are alerted if they spend more than a certain amount of time each month playing games and in China, internet giant Tencent has limited the hours that children can play its most popular games.

A recent study from the University of Oxford suggested that, although children spend a lot of time on their screens, they generally managed to intertwine their digital pastimes with daily life.

The research – looking at children aged eight to 18 – found that boys spent longer playing video games than girls.

Researcher Killian Mullan said: “People think that children are addicted to technology and in front of these screens 24/7, to the exclusion of other activities – and we now know that is not the case.

Our findings show that technology is being used with and in some cases perhaps to support other activities, like homework for instance, and not pushing them out,” he added.

Just like we adults do, children spread their digital tech use throughout the day, while doing other things.

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ISRO – India’s Record-Breaking Space Agency

You can get a free quote at lumerit.com/answerswithjoe. It’s the easy way to find out how much college will cost you, and what earning your degree will look like.

ISRO, the Indian Space Research Organization, has been making waves with their highly-functional and modular workhorse launch vehicle, the PSLV, which has maintained an amazing track record and even pioneered new advancements by launching 104 satellites on flight PSLV-C37 in 2017.

Check out Planet Labs’ website here: https://www.planet.com/ 

Other notable missions include Chandrayaan-1, their mission to the moon and Mangalyaan-1, or the Mars Orbiter Mission, which they pulled off for only $73 million dollars.

Tiny Prehistoric Frogs Trapped In Amber Show That Death Comes At You Fast

Four pieces of amber found in Myanmar contain ancient fossilized frogs.

Life’s too short. By the time you’ve figured a few things out, the years have slipped away. All you can do is love others, let yourself be loved, and try to leave the world a better place.

Unfortunately, the same can’t necessarily be said for a group of Cretaceous frogs that got trapped in tree sap and preserved in amber, which a team of scientists described in the journal Scientific Reports on Thursday.

It’s impossible to say whether these 99-million-year-old frogs loved each other, but as the oldest frogs to be found preserved in amber and the oldest evidence of frogs inhabiting wet tropical forests, they definitely died before they got a chance to see the legacy they left the world.

These days, we’re used to picturing frogs in wet, hot climates, but we don’t know for sure when they began to occupy their preferred ecosystem.

Scientists believe that frogs emerged over 200 million years ago, but as with many animals, there exist major gaps in that fossil record, large swaths of evolutionary time for which we have no direct evidence.




In this new paper, researchers write that four small pieces of amber found in Myanmar contain evidence that could help fill in the frog’s evolutionary timeline.

These amber fossils provide direct evidence that frogs inhabited wet tropical forests before the mass extinction event at the end of the Cretaceous,” Lida Xing, an associate professor at China University of Geosciences in Beijing and first author on the paper.

By studying the remains of these four frogs, which are each about 22 millimeters long — as well as the plant, insect, and spider remains trapped in the amber with them — Xing and his colleagues established that about 99 million years ago frogs lived in an environment similar to ones that they currently inhabit.

The study’s authors dubbed the species Electrorana limoae, from the Latin words for “amber” (electrum) and “frog” (rana), as well as Mrs. Mo Li, “who purchased and provided these specimens for study,” they write.

These four pieces of amber (specimen B and D are each shown from multiple angles) are the oldest amber-preserved frogs ever found.

And while the researchers were fortunate to come into possession of the specimens, the quality of the remains did pose issues.

As you can see, the frog remains are either ripped apart or curled up, and not one of them remained intact.

Fortunately, micro-CT scans allowed the researchers to penetrate the amber to get a better look at the frogs’ anatomies and figure out where they sit in the evolutionary tree.

They determined that E. limoae is likely an ancestor of these existing species, as well as some that have been long extinct.

Living in a wet environment, most frog specimens from E. limoae’s home environment had no chance of being preserved as fossils, so this amber from Myanmar gave scientists a rare opportunity to glimpse into the tree of life and add one more piece to the puzzle of evolution.

I can only hope that there are more spectacular fossils to come,” Blackburn tells National Geographic. “In today’s tropical forests, there is a rich diversity of living frog species.

“So, there might be many more species to discover still in the Cretaceous amber from Myanmar.”

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Apple Is Partnering With Pixar As Part Of Its Big Push Into Augmented Reality

Apple announced that it’s partnering with computer animation studio Pixar to boost the company’s augmented reality initiative, the company announced Monday during its annual WWDC conference for app developers.

In iOS 12, we wanted to make an easy way to experience AR across the [eco]system, and to do that we got together with some of the greatest minds in 3D, at Pixar,” Apple senior vice president Craig Federighi said.

Together, Apple and Pixar developed a new file format for AR called “USDZ.” It’s a compact and simple format that’s designed to let people share AR content “while retaining great 3D graphics and even animations.”

The USDZ format is addressing the typically large storage size of AR content, which can make it harder to share information easily and quickly.




 

Companies like Adobe are adopting the USDZ format to work with its Creative Cloud platform, which includes apps like Photoshop and Dimension.

Once iOS 12 is released in the fall, AR content can be shared in the USDZ format in apps like Safari, Messages, and Mail, and can be managed in the Files app.

ARKit 2

Federighi also announced Apple’s latest version of its AR platform, called ARKit 2.

ARKit 2 will offer improved face tracking, more realistic rendering, support for 3D object detection, and the ability to start an AR experience based on a real-world physical object or space.

ARKit 2 will also support shared experiences, where two or more people can play AR games together.

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MIT’s New AI Can See Through Walls

MIT has given a computer x-ray vision, but it didn’t need x-rays to do it. The system, known as RF-Pose, uses a neural network and radio signals to track people through an environment and generate wireframe models in real time.

It doesn’t even need to have a direct line of sight to know how someone is walking, sitting, or waving their arms on the other side of a wall.

Neural networks have shown up in a lot of research lately when researchers need to create a better speech synthesis model, smarter computer vision, or an AI psychopath.

To train a neural network to do any of these things, you need an extensive data set of pre-labeled items.

That usually means using humans to do the labeling, which is simple enough when you’re trying to make an AI that can identify images of cats.




RF-Pose is based on radio waves, and those are much harder for humans to label in a way that makes sense to computers.

The MIT researchers decided to collect examples of people walking with both wireless signal pings and cameras.

The camera footage was processed to generate stick figures in place of the people, and the team matched that data up with the radio waves.

That combined data is what researchers used to train the neural network. With a strong association between the stick figures and RF data, the system is able to create stick figures based on radio wave reflections.

Interestingly, the camera can’t see through walls. So, the system was never explicitly trained in identifying people on the other side of a barrier.

It just works because the radio waves bounce off a person on the other side of a wall just like they do in the same room. This even works with multiple people crossing paths.

The team noted that all subjects in the study consented to have their movements tracked by the AI.

In the real world, there are clear privacy implications. It’s possible a future version of the technology could be configured only to track someone after they perform a specific movement to activate the system and “opt-in.”

As for applications, it’s not just about spying on you through walls. The MIT team suggests RF-Pose could be of use in the medical field where it could track and analyze the way patients with muscle and nerve disorders get around.

It could also enable motion capture in video games — like Kinect but good.

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The World’s Fastest Supercomputer Is Back In America

Last week, the US Department of Energy and IBM unveiled Summit, America’s latest supercomputer, which is expected to bring the title of the world’s most powerful computer back to America from China, which currently holds the mantle with its Sunway TaihuLight supercomputer.

With a peak performance of 200 petaflops, or 200,000 trillion calculations per second, Summit more than doubles the top speeds of TaihuLight, which can reach 93 petaflops.

Summit is also capable of over 3 billion billion mixed precision calculations per second, or 3.3 exaops, and more than 10 petabytes of memory, which has allowed researchers to run the world’s first exascale scientific calculation.

The $200 million supercomputer is an IBM AC922 system utilizing 4,608 compute servers containing two 22-core IBM Power9 processors and six Nvidia Tesla V100 graphics processing unit accelerators each.




Summit is also (relatively) energy-efficient, drawing just 13 megawatts of power, compared to the 15 megawatts TaihuLight pulls in.

Top500, the organization that ranks supercomputers around the world, is expected to place Summit atop its list when it releases its new rankings later this month.

Once it does — with these specs — Summit should remain the king of supercomputers for the immediate future.

Oak Ridge National Laboratory — the birthplace of the Manhattan Project — is also home to Titan, another supercomputer that was once the fastest in the world and now holds the title for fifth fastest supercomputer in the world.

Taking up 5,600 square-feet of floor space and weighing in at over 340 tons — which is more than a commercial aircraft — Summit is a truly massive system that would easily fill two tennis courts.

Summit will allow researchers to apply machine learning to areas like high-energy physics and human health, according to ORNL.

Summit’s AI-optimized hardware also gives researchers an incredible platform for analyzing massive datasets and creating intelligent software to accelerate the pace of discovery,” Jeff Nichols, ORNL associate laboratory director for computing and computational sciences, said.

The system is connected by 185 miles of fiber-optic cables and can store 250 petabytes of data, which is equal to 74 years of HD video.

To keep Summit from overheating, more than 4,000 gallons of water are pumped through the system every minute, carrying away nearly 13 megawatts of heat from the system.

While Summit may be the fastest supercomputer in the world, for now, it is expected to be passed by Frontier, a new supercomputer slated to be delivered to ORNL in 2021 with an expected peak performance of 1 exaflop, or 1,000 petaflops.
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Kodak Brings Ektachrome Back to Life

Kodak announced Thursday it will bring back its Ektachrome film, better known as color reversal film.

In 2012, Kodak discontinued its line of color reversal films, which stand out for its fine grain, clean colors, sharp tones and contrasts. At the time, Kodak blamed declining demand for such film.

A year later, Kodak divested its film business to Kodak Alaris, the UK-based company behind Ektachrome’s revival.




Over the next 12 months, Kodak Alaris will be remanufacturing the film at Kodak’s factory in Rochester, N.Y., with the revived film available for both motion picture and photography.

Color reversal film is quite complicated as its recipe is concerned,” says Diane Carroll-Yacoby, Kodak’s world wide portfolio manager for motion picture films says.

A tall tale.

It’s very unique and quite different than a black-and-white film or a color negative film.

“We’re in the process right now of procuring the components that are needed for this special film and in addition to that we are setting up a color reversal processing capability again, which we have to have in order to test the film as we manufacture it.

Into the light.

She adds: “It is a complicated project for us to bring it back but because our customers are telling us that they want it, we’re very excited to do this again. It’s kind of a really special time for us.

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Flash Recovery Of Ammonoids After Most Massive Extinction Of All Time

The study, conducted by a Franco-Swiss collaboration involving the laboratories Biogéosciences (Université de Bourgogne / CNRS), Paléoenvironnements & Paléobiosphère (Université Claude Bernard / CNRS) and the Universities of Zurich and Lausanne (Switzerland), appears in the August 28 issue of Science.

The history of life on Earth has been punctuated by a number of mass extinctions, brief periods of extreme loss of biodiversity. These extinctions are followed by phases during which surviving species recover and diversify.

The End-Permian extinction, which took place between the Permian (299 – 252.6 MY) and Triassic (252.6 – 201.6 MY), is the greatest mass extinction on record, resulting in the loss of 90% of existing species.

It is associated with intensive volcanic activity in China and Siberia. It marks the boundary between the Paleozoic and Mesozoic Eras.




Until now, studies had shown that the biosphere took between 10 and 30 million years to recover the levels of biodiversity seen before the extinction.

Ammonoids are cephalopod swimmers related the nautilus and squid. They had a shell, and disappeared from the oceans at the same time as the dinosaurs, 65 million years ago, after being a major part of marine fauna for 400 MY.

The Franco-Swiss team of paleontologists has shown that ammonoids needed only one million years after the End-Permian extinction to diversify to the same levels as before.

The cephalopods, which were abundant during the Permian, narrowly missed being eradicated during the extinction: only two or three species survived and a single species seems to have been the basis for the extraordinary diversification of the group after the extinction.

It took researchers seven years to gather new fossils and analyze databases in order to determine the rate of diversification of the ammonoids.

In all, 860 genera from 77 regions around the world were recorded at 25 successive time intervals from the Late Carboniferous to the Late Triassic, a period of over 100 million years.

The discovery of this explosive growth over a million years takes a heated debate in a new direction.

Indeed, it suggests that earlier estimates for the End-Permian extinction were based on truncated data and imprecise or incorrect dating.

Furthermore, the duration for estimated recovery after other lesser extinctions all vary between 5 and 15 million years.

The result obtained here suggests that these estimates should probably be revised downwards.

The biosphere is most likely headed towards a sixth mass extinction, and this discovery reminds us that the recovery of existing species after an extinction is a very long process, taking several tens of thousands of human generations at the very least.

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