September 13th, 2007

Human Intelligence

Like memory, human intelligence is probably not confined to a single area in the brain, but is instead the result of multiple brain areas working in concert, a new review of research suggests.

The review by Richard Haier of the University of California , Irvine , and Rex Jung of the University of New Mexico proposes a new theory that identifies areas in the brain that work together to determine a person's intelligence.

 

"Genetic research has demonstrated that intelligence levels can be inherited, and since genes work through biology, there must be a biological basis for intelligence," Haier said. 

The review of 37 imaging studies, detailed online in the journal Behavioral and Brain Sciences, suggests that intelligence is related not so much to brain size or a particular brain structure, but to how efficiently information travels through the brain.

 

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Antikythera Mechanism

                                                                   

A highly unusual artifact that was found by divers in 1900, off the coast of an island near Crete. It is now believed that the device was actually used for calculating the motions of stars and planets. The divers had been searching a shipwreck, and had found a number of marble and bronze statues before coming across a large piece of corroded bronze, found to contain a strange mechanism made up of a number of gears and wheels.

 

After an X-ray had been performed on the object, it was found that the internal gearing was far more complex than first realized, consisting of a differential gearing system.

After examining some writing found on the case, it was found that the strange device had been made in 80 BC. This was some one-and-a-half thousand years before mechanisms of such complexity had been invented.

Kemo D. (a.k.a. no.7)

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Quote of the Day

"Nature is not cruel, pitiless, indifferent. This is one of the hardest lessons for humans to learn. We cannot admit that things might be neither good nor evil, neither cruel nor kind, but simply callous -- indifferent to all suffering, lacking all purpose."
 

Richard Dawkins

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Sex in Space

NASA turns a blind eye to the idea of space sex.

According to Richard Williams, chief health and medical officer at NASA, “Sex a sensitive and delicate issue. It’s pretty much left up to individual judgment as to what’s prudent and appropriate.”

When missions lasted no more than a few weeks at a time, discretion was a reasonable policy. But as NASA and other international space agencies plan missions to Mars and beyond lasting more than a year, officials will have to take a position on this. As for now, Williams says it is an open question: “With regard to a sexual code of conduct, where do you draw the line between being invasive in someone’s life and the well-being of the mission?”

The prospect of going on long missions to planets like Mars raises other ethical issues. For example, a burst appendix or a broken leg—conditions easily treated on Earth—can threaten a mission if the injured astronaut requires more oxygen or fluid than has been allocated for the trip. And no policy exists for what to do if an astronaut dies. There may never be. 

“The more specific you are about those things, the less flexibility you end up with,” says Williams. “It’s very much a double-edged sword. We want to let innovative and highly educated people come to the best solution in real time.”

Kemo D. 7 (a.k.a. no.7)

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Image of the Day

Antarctica from Space



History tells us that we are the first technologically advanced civilization to inhabit the earth. We see ourselves as the smartest, toughest, most evolved critter to stake its claim on this planet. But is there evidence that someone was here before us?

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The Ultimate Menu

Just when you thought you'd seen enough Japanese weirdness, something like the so-called "Cannibal Banquet" comes along to shock us anew.



Here's how it works: A pinata-like "body" is carefully crafted, then stuffed with edible goodies in a red sauce. More "sauce" is somehow embedded into the outside covering - "skin" as it were - of the body so that it will appear to bleed when cut into. By this time, most of us would have lost our appetites… Anyway, the prepared body is wheeled into the dining room on a hospital gurney and a courteous host wielding a scalpel begins the operation.

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