SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association) – Cockroach research may provide engineers with the key to search-and-rescue robots that will be more capable of operating in challenging uneven or rocky terrain.
The research team -- led by Shai Revzen, an electrical engineering, computer science, ecology and evolutionary biology professor at the University of Michigan -- revealed that when running cockroaches are shoved sideways, they start to recover their balance and movement before their nervous system directs a response from their legs.
By understanding cockroach movement patterns, the team believes it could improve how machines and their “neurology” work together.
“The fundamental question is, ‘What can you do with a mechanical suspension versus one that requires electronic feedback?’ The animals obviously have much better mechanical designs than anything we know how to build,” Revzen wrote in Biological Cybernetics.
“But if we could learn how they do it, we might be able to reproduce it.”
Approximately 70 percent of Earth’s land surface cannot be traveled using the wheeled or tracked vehicles. Revezen believes a legged approach may open up operations in this terrain.
In 41 trials, his team used a squad of 15 cockroaches running one by one across a small bridge onto a placemat-sized cart. The cart was pulled back, like a slingshot. As the roach ran they unleashed the cart, which hurtled toward the cockroach and slammed it sideways to destabilize it.
“The force was equivalent to a sumo wrestler hitting a jogger with a flying tackle … [but] cockroaches are much more stable than humans,” Rezven said.
In the team’s experiments, the roaches maintained their footing by using their momentum and the biomechanics of their legs. If the cockroaches relied on impulses from their central nervous system instead, it took three times longer than the researchers expected.
“What we see is that the animals’ nervous system is working at a substantial delay… for some reason, the nervous system is waiting and seeing how it shapes out,” Rezven said.
The results of these experiments may mean brains adapt their gait only at a “whole-step interval” rather than at any point in between steps.
In robotics, a computer often guides the machine’s movements by providing continuous feedback from feet sensors.
Rather than using a continuous feedback approach, their research suggests bi-pedal robots may benefit from more stability while using less energy by capitalizing on a periodic feedback approach like cockroaches to execute walking.-www.shfaqna.com/English
Source: Fox News
SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association) – WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange could suffer serious health problems if he stays in London’s Ecuadorian embassy, warned his lawyer. The whistleblower faces immediate arrest and extradition to Sweden should he leave the building.
“Assange is in good health, but the situation is getting steadily worse,” lawyer Baltasar Garzon said during an anti-corruption conference in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. The confined conditions in which Assange is currently living could cause him to “suffer from serious medical problems,” and lead to “psychological issues,” Garzon said.
Assange has been confined tinside Ecuadorian Embassy since June 19 in conditions Garzon described as worse than prison. Assange took refuge there to avoid being extradited to Sweden, where he is wanted for questioning on charges of sex crimes.
According to Garzon, Assange is not seeking to escape questioning in Sweden, as they allegedly have evidence proving his innocence. “We want the trial to go ahead in Sweden, but we want a guarantee of his safety.” Garzon said the whistleblower risked being re-extradited to US jurisdiction should he be taken to Sweden.
Previously, Ecuadorian vice foreign minister Marco Albuja said that he was “very worried” for Assange’s welfare, and that “he had lost a lot of weight.”
The Ecuadorian government has asked the UK for permission to extract Assange from the embassy in London and transfer him to Ecuador. They also called for a guarantee of his safety if he has to be admitted to a London hospital at any time.
The British government has flatly refused to negotiate, maintaining that they are legally obligated to hand him over to Sweden should he set foot outside the embassy.
The WikiLeaks founder has now spent over four months in the embassy after losing his court battle against extradition. He claims the allegations of sexual abuse against him are politically motivated, and part of a US conspiracy to arrest him.
Assange drew Washington's fury after publishing thousands of classified diplomatic cables on the whistleblowing website WikiLeaks in 2010.
The US government has denied claims that there is a secret grand jury case being prepared to prosecute Assange, but has not ruled out the possibility of requesting he be extradited from Sweden to the US.
Despite Washington’s denials, there is evidence that the US government has been monitoring Assange for the last few years. Diplomatic cables released a month ago showed how US and Australian authorities shared information on the whistleblower. One of the wires indicated the most successful route to prosecution “would be to show that Mr. Assange had acted as a co-conspirator – soliciting, encouraging or assisting [US Army private] Bradley Manning, to obtain and provide the documents.”
Bradley Manning, 24, faces a potential life sentence if he is convicted of aiding the enemy after releasing classified military intelligence to WikiLeaks in 2010. Manning’s lawyer said last week that he may plead guilty to some of the lesser charges set against him.— www.shafaqna.com/English
SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association) – If an asteroid were headed toward Earth, with enough advance notice, it’s possible we could send it off course using white paint.
By painting the asteroid bright white, it would reflect more sunlight, causing the sun’s photons to bounce off it and create solar radiation pressure that would eventually push the rock off its trajectory.
This solution was proposed by Sung Wook Paek at Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
Other scientists have put forward ideas like launching a rocket at an asteroid, using a spacecraft’s gravity to pull it off course, or releasing a cloud of pellets, an idea Paek improved on by suggesting they be filled with paint powder.
As an example, he used the asteroid Apophis, which may pass near Earth in 2029 and 2036, and calculated it would need five tons of paint, released from a spacecraft in two separate batches, to cover the asteroid front and back.
He worked out that the pressure on a painted asteroid could take up to 20 years to move its course away from Earth, which means plenty of advance notice would be required.
The paintballs could be made in space, for example on the International Space Station, where a spacecraft would collect a couple of rounds to fire at the asteroid. The payload would probably rupture on takeoff using traditional rockets.
Paek also suggested a couple of modifications, such as filling the pellets with aerosols, to “impart air drag on the incoming asteroid to slow it down.”
“Or you could just paint the asteroid so you can track it more easily with telescopes on Earth,” he said in a press release.
Lindley Johnson, program manager for NASA’s Near Earth Objects Observation Program, described Paek’s method as “an innovative variation” using solar radiation pressure.
“It is very important that we develop and test a few deflection techniques sufficiently so that we know we have a viable ‘toolbox’ of deflection capabilities to implement when we inevitably discover an asteroid on an impact trajectory,” she said in the release.
Paek’s paper detailing his idea won the 2012 Move an Asteroid Technical Paper Competition.— www.shafaqna.com/English
SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association) - If skipping breakfast has ever left you with a craving for some high-calorie mac and cheese or a big, juicy burger, a small new study might explain the reason why.
Researchers at the MRC Clinical Science Centre at Imperial College in London found that there is more brain activation in response to high-calorie items when a person has skipped breakfast, compared with when a person has had their morning meal.
"Through both the participants' MRI results and observations of how much they ate at lunch, we found ample evidence that fasting made people hungrier, and increased the appeal of high-calorie foods and the amount people ate," study researcher Dr. Tony Goldstone, M.D., Ph.D., said in a statement.
The study included 21 male volunteers who were asked not to eat anything before coming in for the study for two visits. On one visit, they were fed a 750-calorie breakfast before undergoing an MRI brain scan where they looked at images of high-calorie foods. They were then fed lunch.
The second visit, they weren't fed any breakfast before undergoing the brain scan where they looked at high-calorie foods. After the brain scans, they were fed lunch.
Researchers found that activity in the orbitofrontal cortex -- the part of the brain that plays a part in reward and pleasantness from food -- was different when the participants were fed breakfast, compared with when they fasted from breakfast.
Specifically, researchers found that the orbitofrontal cortex was more activated when the participants hadn't eaten breakfast.
The study was presented at the annual meeting of the Society of Neuroscience; because it has yet to be published in a peer-reviewed journal, its findings should be regarded as preliminary.
The findings back up prior research on negative ways skipping breakfast can affect your body and brain.— www.shafaqna.com/English
SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association) — One great thing about a fully electric vehicle is this, there is no need to worry about emissions, and it runs smooth and silently. The thing is, the range and power on electric vehicles are not exactly top notch, but what happens when where you want to travel is just limited to a certain geographical area? Then an all-electric ride makes sense, and the Electric Vehicle Taxicab Company intends to possess the largest all-electric fleet of taxis in the US, where they will complement their fleet with 56 DC fast-charging stations in the company’s service area.
According to Electric Vehicle Taxicab founder Malik Khattak, these cabs will serve the dual purpose of reducing elimination while cutting down on repair costs, simply because there would be virtually no oil changes to perform. Nissan Leafs have been shortlisted to be the ride of choice, where it has also been tested as taxis in New York and Mexico City prior.— www.shafaqna.com/English
SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association) — More than 700 years after William Wallace died fighting for Scottish independence, and more than 300 years after Scotland and England came together in a United Kingdom, a new agreement could lead to an independent Scotland.
British Prime Minister David Cameron and his Scottish counterpart, First Minister Alex Salmond, signed a deal in Edinburgh, Scotland, on Monday paving the way for Scots to vote on independence from the United Kingdom, Cameron's office announced on Twitter. The referendum, expected to be held in 2014, would allow Scots a straight yes-or-no vote on staying in the union.
The "Yes Scotland" campaign launched in May, trying to "build a groundswell of support for an independent Scotland," with the backing of several famous Scots, most notably actor Sean Connery. Salmond and his Scottish National Party (SNP), which holds power in the Scottish parliament, have pushed for the vote.
A survey released last week by TNS-BMRB showed that only 28% of Scots favor leaving the United Kingdom.
That's somewhat in line with an Ipsos MORI poll of 1,002 Scots, taken in late August, that showed sharp political differences within Scotland. That survey showed that more than 60% of SNP supporters desire full independence. However, only about a third of all the Scots polled wanted to break away from the United Kingdom.
Some detractors have expressed concern about Scotland's economic viability as an independent state. But oil from the North Sea, off the Scottish coast, has enriched the United Kingdom for decades. And the SNP, on its website, says independence "could create an environment where our existing and new private industries can grow more easily," and the party touts a country that retains the British pound, while its future European Union membership creates the benefits of "open borders, shared rights, free trade and extensive cooperation."
Cameron has vocally opposed Scottish independence. In February, he said he was "100% clear that I will fight with everything I have to keep our United Kingdom together," since an intact United Kingdom, consisting of England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, "is stronger, safer, richer and fairer."
In medieval times, Scotland fought for freedom from England, which Mel Gibson dramatically depicted in his Academy Award-winning movie "Braveheart." Not long after Wallace died in the early 1300s, Robert the Bruce led Scotland to independence, and it remained an autonomous nation until the Act of Union joined Scotland and England in 1707.
The United Kingdom returned some autonomy to Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, and gave them the right to form their own parliaments, in the late 1990s.— www.shafaqna.com/English
SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association) — There are two things that are certain in life: taxes and the next Nexus device being made by LG.
We’ve seen overwhelming evidence over the past few weeks to support this theory, with leaked specs, leaked hardware shots, leaked names and now, ostensibly, an announcement date.
According to a French newspaper, the Nexus 4 will be announced, and potentially go on sale, October 29th. This could mean that Google will sell the phone directly through the Play Store, much like it did with the Nexus One and, eventually, the Galaxy Nexus.
Depending on whether Canadian carriers see fit to carry the Nexus 4, Google may sell it directly to us as well. I see a lot of Galaxy Nexus’ on the streets here in Toronto, which leads me to believe that the heavy marketing back in early 2012 really helped bring Nexus to a wider audience. We’re just cautious about the rollout, the Canadian Galaxy Nexus seems to have a separate update cycle to the rest of the world.— www.shafaqna.com/English
SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association) — Injections of heat-producing cells that can burn off body fat could help dieters lose their double chins and spare tyres, following research by scientists.
It is the curse of every diet – no matter how devoutly they are followed, there always seem to be a few wobbly bits that just refuse to budge.
But scientists have now developed an injection that could target those stubborn spare tyres or double chins without affecting the rest of the body.
The researchers have found they can burn off excess fat in specific areas of the body by injecting tiny capsules filled with a modified type of heat-producing cell commonly found in animals and babies.
The cells release “signals” that alter the surrounding fat tissue so surplus calories are used up by producing body heat rather than being stored as fat.
Tests in animals have shown that injecting the capsules caused obese mice to lose up to 10 per cent of their body weight even when being fed a high calorie diet. The researchers are now planning to begin treating obese dogs later this year. If successful and found to be safe, it is hoped that the treatment could be available for use in humans in around six years.
The researchers believe the capsules, which are around three times the width of a human hair, could be injected into specific fat deposits such as the thighs, buttocks, arms or under the chin to reduce the amount of fat stored there.
It could solve the problem faced by many dieters who find that no matter how much weight they lose or how much they exercise, there are some areas of the body where fat stubbornly refuses to come off.
Dr Ouliana Ziouzenkova, who led the research at the department of human nutrition at Ohio State University, said: “We found the capsules completely remodelled the fat they were put into.
“Our goal was to achieve a way of targeting deleterious visceral fat that increases the risk for diseases like type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease.
“We have to prove that this is safe and effective in humans, but we could think about using it for body sculpturing. So if you wanted to remove a small amount of fat under your face like a double chin, or in their arms or legs, you could target these with a single injection.
“We have a grant now to carry out some work with obese dogs as it could also be of great benefit for veterinary purposes as there is a growing problem with obese pets.”
In a study published in the scientific journal Biomaterials, Dr Ziouzenkova and her colleagues used fatlike cells from mice that had been genetically modified to burn off excess energy as body temperature.
They found that by encasing these cells inside plastic-like microcapsules, they could be transplanted without being destroyed by the recipients immune system. Obese mice that received the capsules lost a tenth of their body fat in a month and after 80 days were 20 per cent less fat than mice that received empty capsules.
The cells are thought to cause this change by releasing signals known as thermogenic factors through pores in the capsules into the surrounding unhealthy body fat. These then changed the fat into heat producing cells known as thermocytes.
Thermocytes, sometimes called brown fat, are abundant in many small animals and in human babies where they help maintain body temperature by burning off energy as heat rather than storing it like normal fat. Humans, however, lose these cells as they grow older.
Dr Ziouzenkova believes that by transplanting cells from animals such as mice into adult humans, known as xenotransplantation, it may be possible to increase the number of thermocytes in adults and so help them reduce the amount of body fat they carry.
“Microcapsules are cost effective as it means the same cells can be used for different patients,” she said. “The capsules are like a plastic bag that have pores in them so the immune system cannot enter but the thermogenic factors can escape.
“The cells essentially become invisible to the immune system and so can start to change the fat around them.
“Xenotransplantation will reduce the cost of treatment and cells could be stored to specifically address patients needs. In our preliminary studies in animals, we observed only minor local inflammation caused by degraded capsules with a xenotransplant.
“If implanted cells from animals do not work in humans, however, we aim to modify human cells so they have the same effect.”— www.shafaqna.com/English
SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association) —The controversial “Defeat Jihad” advertisements that went up in New York last month could soon be coming to the nation’s capital pending a ruling expected in DC District Court this week.
When the American Freedom Defense Initiative attempted to purchase ad-space earlier this year to propagate its mission of defeating the spread of so-called “Islamorealism,”officials in both New York, NY and Washington, DC rushed to put a halt on their plans. The signage, subways ads that read, “In any war between the civilized man and the savage, support the civilized man: Support Israel/Defeat Jihad,” were quick to be condemned by Muslim-Americans who viewed the work as hateful to Muslims.
The group’s plea to put signs up in subways across New York ended up with a fight in District Court, where a Manhattan federal judge eventually sided with the AFDI and the organization’s founder, Pamela Geller, opining that the First Amendment protection of speech allowed for her group to go ahead with their plans there. Now the case will be discussed in a courtroom in DC, where Geller intends on also having the adverts on display.
The Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority had originally agreed to cut a deal with the AFDI, but a wave of anti-American sentiment that swept the Muslim World last month, especially the September 11, 2012 incident in Benghazi that killed US Ambassador Chris Stevens and three others, had them rethinking their contract. The WMATA temporarily pulled the plug on the planned launch date of September 24, insisting that the agency would be required to “re-evaluate” the signage as they feared the anti-Islamic rhetoric would “expose passengers to terrorism and threaten their safety,” court documents obtained by POLITICO reveal.
The AFDI and Geller are arguing that injunction, and say attempts to censor the advertisement campaign “challenges the WMATA’s unconstitutional restriction.”
“My ads can run anytime,” Geller tells POLITICO in an email this week. “Their argument was absurd to begin with, as well as dangerous — it sets the precedent that anyone who doesn’t like some speech can be violent about it and thereby shut it up.”
The WMATA, however, might actually have a reason to hold up Geller’s plans. According to those court documents, WMATA Police Chief Michael Taborn claims both the US Department of Homeland Security and the FBI have warned him of a “potential threat” to transit providers believed link to the film.
“In my opinion, airing the AFDI Ad in the Metrorail system, while many Muslims are agitated as a result of the video, presents a danger to WMATA’s patrons and its employees,” Taborn writes in the documents. “In my opinion, a delay in posting through October 31, 2012, presents a reasonable amount of time for volatile sentiments associated with the video to die down.”
A district judge will weigh in on Thursday and decide if the injunction should stand.
Last month, the Defeat Jihad campaign was unleashed in New York by way of ten subway station adverts across the city. Mona Eltahawy, a 45-year-old Egyptian-American activist, was arrested shortly after the signs went up for defacing them with graffiti.— www.shafaqna.com/English
SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association) — US researchers found patients with gout who ate cherries over a two-day period had a 35% lower risk of attacks compared to those who did not.
The study in Arthritis & Rheumatism said cherries contain anthocyanins, antioxidants which contain anti-inflammatory properties.
UK experts said the research offered "good evidence" of the benefits of eating cherries for people with gout.
Gout is a common type of arthritis that can cause sudden and very severe attacks of pain and swelling in the joints, particularly in the feet.
It is caused by too much uric acid in the bloodstream, which causes urate crystals to start to form in and around the joints and under the skin.
Gout affects about one in 100 people, with men two to three times more likely to be affected than women.
In this study, researchers from Boston University recruited 633 gout patients with an average age of 54, who were followed online for one year. Most were male.
People were asked to record gout attacks including symptoms, the drugs they used and their diet and drinking patterns in the two days prior to the attack, including whether or not they had eaten cherries or cherry extract intake.
Ten to 12 cherries was counted as one serving.
During the period the patients were studied, they had a total of 1,247 gout attacks.
Some 42% of those studied ate cherries or cherry extract.
These patients had a 37% lower risk of gout attacks than those who did not eat the fruit - in any form.
However, the benefit was only seen when eating up to three servings over the two days prior to an attack. Further cherry consumption provided no extra benefit.
But when patients ate cherries or cherry extract and took the common anti-gout drug allopurinol, the risk of attacks was 75% less than if they were doing neither.
Writing in the journal, the team led by Dr Yuqing Zhang, said: "Our findings indicate that consuming cherries or cherry extract lowers the risk of gout attack."
Prof Alan Silman, medical director of Arthritis Research UK welcomed the research: "It has been thought for some time that some fruits, in particular cherries, may have benefits for diseases such as gout and rheumatoid arthritis which are characterised by chronic inflammation.
"It has been suggested that antioxidant compounds found in cherries may be natural inhibitors of enzymes which are targeted by common anti-inflammatory medications such as ibuprofen."
Prof Silman added: "This study provides good evidence to suggest that cherry intake, combined with traditional uric-acid reducing drugs, can significantly reduce the risk of painful gout attacks.
"Eating cherries, in fact, is not dissimilar to taking ibuprofen on a daily basis.
"However, we'd like to see additional clinical trials are necessary to further investigate and provide confirmation of this effect."— www.shafaqna.com/English