Saturday, October 30, 2010

Geniuses, Dying Sheep and Depression

It is since long known that there is a strong correlation between the human immune system and depression. Depressed people seem to be more susceptible to medical ailments. However, statistical correlations are often misleading. How is it possible to know which one is the cause and which one is the effect, if there is any causal relationship at all? Recent studies have shown that the correlation may also work the other way around, i.e., physical illness may cause depression. The good news is that treating the physical illness may alleviate depressive symptoms in otherwise difficult to treat cases. Click here to read more.

Talking about the immune system, a recent study found that a weak immune system may, oddly enough, confer evolutionary advantages. Sheep with a strong immune system where found to produce less lambs than their more fragile and short-lived counterparts. This might help explain why debilitating characteristics are able to withstand the evolutionary process.

By the way, did you know that there really seems to be a link between depression and creativity?

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Using Nanobots to Kill Cancer Cells

Because there are many types of cancer, it is difficult to find one treatment that fits every case. Nowadays chemotherapy is the most effective way of killing all kinds of cancerous cells. The problem is that it has severe adverse effects.
Depending on the types of medication used, chemotherapy can cause depression of the immune system, nausea, diarrhea, hair loss, fatigue, or damage to the heart, liver or kidneys.
If the technology shown in the video below ever comes to fruition, cancer patients will be spared
the toxicity and inconvenience associated with chemotherapy.
Watch the video and learn how it works.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Why Machines Will not Take Over the World

by Alexandre Couto de Andrade

Yesterday I watched an interesting documentary on the History Channel. It showed how robots are increasingly taking part in warfare. In the future, the ever more intelligent military robots will probably be capable of deciding whether or not to kill. They will also probably be able to repair or make copies of themselves. In the documentary, the movie “The Terminator” was often mentioned to illustrate how things could go terribly wrong. What if the machines became conscious and turned against us?

We should really be concerned about the ethical implications of such technologies. But this is all we should be worried about. Although such scenarios may provide inspiration for great science fiction, it is extremely unlikely that anything like that will happen in a not distant future. First of all, we are light-years away from being able to create machines that are complex enough to sustain consciousness. Secondly, there are gigantic logistical and material limitations that renegade robots would have to overcome in order to successfully take over the world. Complex machines are generally made of thousands of components, manufactured all over the world. The raw materials of which such components are made also come from several different sources (not to mention that some of them are very rare). Each raw material must not only be extracted, but also transported and industrially processed.

If robots were ever to reproduce themselves without human assistance, they would have to somehow control overwhelmingly complex production and supply chains. Unless absolutely everything is automated and controlled by machines, we will never see “Terminators” taking over the world.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Gender Differences and the Psychology of Sex

Why are males generally bigger and more aggressive than females? What makes someone sexually attractive? Why are females more sexually choosy? What are the differences between what men and women expect from a sexual partner? Why are men far more fond of prostitutes and pornography than women?
In the video below you will find answers to these questions and a lot more.

Psychology, Sex, and Evolution
By Paul Bloom

Watch it on Academic Earth

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder: Genetic Roots Found

Attention-deficit hyperactive children can be exasperating. They have trouble concentrating and therefore have a short attention span; they are impulsive, seem incapable of remaining quiet, fail to finish what they start, intrude into conversations or activities, and have trouble following instructions, even when they intend to do so. It is easy to blame the parents or the children for such behavior. However, things are not that simple.

For many years it has been known that there is a strong genetic contribution to ADHD. However, for the first time, direct genetic evidence has been found. Watch the video below to learn more about it.