Thursday, 10 October 2019

Honeybees are math stars

Start thinking about numbers and they can become large very quickly. The diameter of the universe is about 8.8×1023 km and the largest known number—googolplex, 1010100—outranks it enormously. Although that colossal concept was dreamt up by brilliant mathematicians, we're still pretty limited when it comes to assessing quantities at a glance. 'Humans have a threshold limit for instantly processing one to four elements accurately', says Adrian Dyer from RMIT University, Australia; and it seems that we are not alone. Scarlett Howard from RMIT and the UniversitĂ© de Toulouse, France, explains that guppies, angelfish and even honeybees are capable of distinguishing between quantities of three and four, although the trusty insects come unstuck at finer differences; they fail to differentiate between four and five, which made her wonder. According to Howard, honeybees are quite accomplished mathematicians. 'Recently, honeybees were shown to learn the rules of "less than" and "greater than" and apply these rules to evaluate numbers from zero to six', she says. Maybe numeracy wasn't the bees' problem; was it how the question was posed? The duo publishes their discovery that bees can discriminate between four and five if the training procedure is correct in Journal of Experimental Biology.

2 Nobel literature prizes to be awarded after 2018 scandal

Two Nobel Prizes in literature will be announced Thursday after the 2018 literature award was postponed following sex abuse allegations that rocked the Swedish Academy.

Social networks face quandary on politics in misinformation fight

As social media firms ramp up their fight against misinformation, politicians have been largely left exempt. To some, that's a huge problem.

Auto suppliers hit as GM strike in US grinds on

As the General Motors strike grinds on, more auto suppliers and contractors are sending workers home, adding to the economic drag on Michigan and other US midwestern car manufacturing hubs.

Apple removes Hong Kong map app after Chinese criticism

Apple removed a smartphone app that allows Hong Kong activists to report police movements from its online store Thursday after an official Chinese newspaper accused the company of facilitating illegal behavior.

Super typhoon on track to drench Japan's main island

Japan is bracing for a super typhoon on track to hit central and eastern regions over the three-day weekend with potential damage from torrential rains and strong winds.

'Flash drought' brings dust and dread to southern farmers

In a vast expanse of the South stretching from Texas to Maryland, there are growing concerns for the cattle, cotton and corn amid a worsening drought fueled this past summer by record high temperatures.

Illegal urban off-road vehicles as risky as motorcycles in cities

People who illegally ride off-road vehicles, such as dirt bikes and all-terrain vehicles, on city streets suffer similar crash injuries as motorcyclists, but are less likely to die even though many riders don't wear helmets, according to a Rutgers researcher.

Political parties with less interest in an issue more likely to take radical stance

Political parties who care less about an issue will take more extreme stances on it when drawing up policies to appeal to the electorate—and it can pay off at the ballot box.

New science on cracking leads to self-healing materials

Cracks in the desert floor appear random to the untrained eye, even beautifully so, but the mathematics governing patterns of dried clay turn out to be predictable—and useful in designing advanced materials.

Study shows brain mechanisms have potential to block arthritis pain

Millions of people around the world are affected by pain, a multidimensional experience characterized by interactions between our emotional, cognitive, sensory and motor functions. Because pain is a complex condition, treating it efficiently continues to pose challenge for physicians.

System can minimize damage when self-driving vehicles crash

Engineers have developed decision-making and motion-planning technology to limit injuries and damage when self-driving vehicles are involved in unavoidable crashes.

New study supports nervous system's role in age-related weakness

A study recently published by researchers from the Ohio Musculoskeletal and Neurological Institute (OMNI) at the Ohio University Heritage College of Osteopathic Medicine, in collaboration with a colleague from outside Ohio University, finds new evidence to support the belief that the nervous system plays an important role in age-related weakness.

For sea creatures, baseline shows disease as sentinel of change

The health of Earth's oceans is rapidly worsening, and newly published Cornell-led research has examined changes in reported diseases across undersea species at a global scale over a 44-year period.

More patients with cardiovascular disease now die at home than in the hospital

Despite their wishes, many patients die in hospitals or other facilities. Cardiovascular disease (CVD) is the leading cause of death both globally and in the U.S., yet little is known about where patients with CVD die. In a new study, Haider Warraich, MD, of Brigham and Women's Hospital, and colleagues assessed place of death for CVD patients from 2003 to 2017, finding that home has surpassed the hospital as the most common place of death for these patients. The results of their analysis are published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology.

Social determinant screening useful for families with pediatric sickle cell disease

Individuals with sickle cell disease (SCD) face the burdens of chronic illness and often racial disparities, both of which may increase vulnerability to adverse social determinants of health (SDoH). For children with SCD, living in poverty is associated with lower quality of life, higher healthcare utilization and higher complication rates. However, a new study from Boston Medical Center (BMC) demonstrates that hematologists can uncover the needs of families and connect them to local resources within a clinic visit with the hope of improving quality of life and clinical outcomes for their patients.

Children associate white, but not black, men with 'brilliant' stereotype, new study finds

The stereotype that associates being "brilliant" with White men more than White women is shared by children regardless of their own race, finds a team of psychology researchers. By contrast, its study shows, children do not apply this stereotype to Black men and women.

One in five cardiac rehab patients are depressed, anxious, or stressed

Patients with depression, anxiety or stress are more likely to drop out of cardiac rehabilitation, reports a study published on World Mental Health Day in the European Journal of Preventive Cardiology, a journal of the European Society of Cardiology (ESC).