Sensor helps blind mice navigate maze
A sensor mounted to the heads of blind rats helped the animals navigate a maze as effectively as healthy rats, according to two University of Tokyo scientists who developed the device, which uses the same digital compass found in most smartphones.
The compass was connected to a microstimulator using electrodes, and then implanted in the brains of blind mice. The compass worked with head movements of the mice to create a ‘geomagnetic signal’, which can alert mice as to which direction they’re heading. Researchers hoped this digital exchange of information would help restore the rats’ “allocentric sense,” which is the ability to recognize your body position relative to your surroundings.
Within two to three days of maze training, rats with the sensors were able to find food pellets in a series of “T” shaped, and other mazes just as effectively as mice that can see. The researchers noted the ‘remarkable’ ability of the brain to adapt to new information and settings, even later in life.
They believe this device could be used as an implant on walking sticks, or as an internal implant, to help navigation or restore allocentric sense for humans who are blind.
The study is published in the journal Current Biology.
Bleach exposure may raise infection risk for kids
Exposure to bleach, a common antibacterial ingredient in many cleaning products, may increase a child’s risk of developing respiratory illnesses, such as tonsillitis or the flu, according to a European research team.
The researchers tested the effects of bleach in the homes of 9,102 children who attended one of 19 schools in Utrecht, Netherlands, 18 schools in Barcelona, Spain, or 17 schools in Eastern and Central Finland. Questionnaires were filled out by parents of the children, noting if they use bleach in the home once a week, as well as how many times their child developed certain respiratory infections during the previous year. Parents were asked to report “never,” “once,” “twice,” or “more than three times,” for the rate at which their children developed infections such as bronchitis, tonsillitis, sinusitis and the flu.
The results, published in the journal Occupational and Environmental Medicine, showed that for homes cleaned with bleach, children had a 35 percent higher risk of developing tonsillitis, and a 20 percent higher risk of developing the flu. They also found that bleach increases the risk of a child developing any infection by 18 percent.The results were calculated after adjusting for other environmental factors, such as household mold, passive smoking and bleach use within schools. Researchers found that bleach use varied among the countries, with 72 percent of responders in Spain using bleach, and only 7 percent of those from Finland using bleach. Almost all schools in Spain used bleach to clean, whereas hardly any of the Finnish schools used the cleaning agent.
Researchers say that they cannot make any concrete conclusions based on this study alone, and more detailed studies are needed to determine if there’s a cause and effect link between bleach use and infection.
Most military suicides are after service
Military suicides are more likely to occur after a person leaves the service and not, as conventional wisdom has it, during a deployment, concludes a new study published in JAMA.
To examine the link between deployment and suicide, researchers analyzed military records for more than 3.9 million service members on active or reserve duty for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, using data ranging from October 7, 2001 December 31, 2007, and suicide data from October 7, 2001 to December 31, 2009.
Records revealed a total of 31,962 deaths, 5,041 of which were suicides, by December 31, 2009.
Results showed that deployment was not associated with the rate of suicide, considering that 1,162 suicides were among those who deployed and 3,879 were among those who didn’t. There was, however, an increased rate of suicide linked to leaving the service, regardless of time deployed or not. Suicide rates were also higher for members who left with less than four years of service or were dishonorably discharged.
Feedback from the University of Texas on the study points out that those who have a difficult time with deployment don’t usually go back a second time, which may be an early marker for mental health concerns. Dishonorable discharges may also be related to underlying mental health disorders. Additionally, those contemplating suicide who have access to firearms are at an elevated risk.
The findings indicate that pre-deployment examinations may help screen people with mental health risk factors.
1st batch of Coca-Cola: March 29, 1886
Working over a three-legged brass kettle in his backyard in Atlanta, Georgia, a pharmacist named John Pemberton stirs up a carbonated syrup concoction. His invention is a soda drink, but one that he thinks has curative powers–a “brain tonic” that can ease headaches and calm nerves.
It’s not Pemberton’s first attempt at creating flavorful medicine. Previously, he had mixed wine and coca leaves, resulting in a kind of cocaine cocktail he called “Pemberton’s French Wine Coca.” He had described it as being beneficial to “clergymen, lawyers, literary men, bankers, ladies, and all whose sedentary employment causes nervous prostration, irregularities of the stomach, bowels and kidneys who require a nerve tonic and a pure, delightful diffusable stimulant.”
It had been a big hit at the pharmacy where he worked, but when Atlanta banned alcohol, he had to come up with a non-alcoholic version. The result was the beverage that his bookkeeper suggested they call Coca-Cola after its two main ingredients–coca leaves and kola nuts, which added caffeine. A little more than a month later, on May 8, the first glass of Coca-Cola was sold at Jacob’s Pharmacy in Atlanta for five cents.
In addition to relieving headaches and bad nerves, Pemberton hoped his drink would help fight morphine addiction. Pemberton had been slashed across his chest with a sword when he had been a Confederate Army officer, and like many wounded Civil War veterans, he had become addicted to morphine.
His Coca-Cola was not quite as popular as his wine drink had been–about nine servings were sold each day. Through the rest of 1886, it generated a total of $50 in sales.
The next year Pemberton sold his secret formula to an Atlanta businessman named Ada Candler for a little more than $2,000. When Pemberton died a year later, he had no idea how famous his drink will become.
Within a few years, Candler, a marketing genius, was promoting the soda wherever he could–it’s now-famous script logo could be seen on signs, calendars, clocks, fans, urns, cabinets and newspapers all over town. In 1889, more than 60,000 drinks were sold. While it was promoted mainly as a “delicious and refreshing” soft drink, Candler was also able get doctors to recommend Coca-Cola for mental and physical exhaustion, headaches and depression. Within 10 years, he turned it into a national brand.
Early in the 20th century, the coca leaves were taken out of the formula. The caffeine remained.
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