Get Psyched: Cognitive bias
THE LATEST DISCOVERIES, INVENTIONS & SCIENCE NEWS HELPING TO SHAPE THE WORLD OF TOMORROW.
Sir David Attenborough warns climate change will lead to the “collapse of civilisation” PLANET EARTH AND BLUE PLANET IN JEOPARDY.
Speaking at the United Nations Climate Summit in Katowice, Poland, in December 2018, Sir David Attenborough’s iconic narrative took a dramatic turn. Calling climate change “a manmade disaster of global scale”, he warned that if something wasn’t done, it would lead to the “collapse of civilisation” and “the extinction of much of the natural world”. He urged world leaders to take action, saying, “The continuation of our civilisations and the natural world upon which we depend is in your hands.” As per a recent report released by the UN, even a 1.5 degree increase in global temperature this century will result in catastrophic consequences, including floods, the loss of 90% of the world’s coral reefs, mass extinctions, and famine.
RESEARCHERS HAVE FOUND BIOLOGICAL MEANS TO SPEED UP OUR COMPUTERS BY USING GENETICALLY ENGINEERED VIRUSES.
A collaboration between researchers from MIT and the Singapore University of Technology and Design has helped devise a ground-breaking method to enhance computer speed and efficiency. By “genetically” engineering a virus, the team has been able to create a phase-change memory which can match the speeds of a RAM chip and contain more storage than a hard drive. This type of memory requires a material that can switch between amorphous and crystalline states. While such materials exist, using them to make tiny wires used in RAM chips causes extreme heat generation which destroys the material itself. However, using M13 bacteriophages (a type of virus that infects bacteria), these wires can be constructed without raising temperatures, this building speedier and more efficient RAM.
Limiting social media use to 30 minutes a day can stave off mental health issues TOO MUCH OF SOMETHING IS ALWAYS BAD.
A new study – conducted by researchers at the University of Pennsylvania and published in the journal Journal of Social and Clinical Psychology – has found that keeping social media usage limited to 30 minutes a day can significantly improve one’s well-being. 143 undergraduate students were tested in two separate groups – one group was limited to using social media platforms to just 30 minutes, while the other was allowed to carry on as per normal. Both groups were then assessed for mental health issues. The study found that scrolling through others photos is the main cause of mental health issues, and spending less time doing that can lower the risk of depression and feelings of loneliness. While most studies so far have proven there is a correlation between social media and mental health, this is the first time a cause-and-effect relationship has been demonstrated. However, it is important to keep in mind that these studies can never take into account every single factor that affects mental health.
There might be a way to store solar and wind energy for future needs IT’S TIME TO START STOCKPILING.
While we do produce electricity from solar and wind power, storing this form of energy is an expensive affair. However, a new conceptual design from MIT engineers could solve that problem for us. The system is able to store heat generated by excess electricity from the sun and wind in large tanks of white-hot molten silicon. The light from the molten metal then gets converted back to electricity when required. This design is able to power a small city not just when solar and wind power is directly available, but also on cloudy or still days – meaning around the clock. The researchers estimate that this process would be more affordable than using lithium-ion batteries to store the electricity for future use, as well as cost half as much as we currently spend on pumping stored hydroelectricity into the grid – currently the cheapest form of energy storage.
There’s evidence to suggest our brains have a living microbiome JUST LIKE THE BACTERIA IN OUR GUT.
We all know that the bacteria in our stomach are important to our well-being, but a startling discovery suggests there’s a similar bacterial ecosystem in our heads. Researchers from the University of Alabama took brain samples from 34 deceased persons – half of whom suffered from schizophrenia while the other half were considered healthy at the time of death. They found rod-shaped bacteria “in varying amounts” in each case, with thriving colonies in the substantia nigra, hippocampus, and prefrontal cortex. Bacteria were also found in cells responsible for neural communications. The researchers aren’t sure how the bacteria got to the brain, although it has been hypothesised that they made their way through blood vessels. It should be noted that the results of this study are preliminary, but could provide a different perspective to how our brains function.
DOLPHINS ARE BEING FORCED TO CHANGE THEIR CALLS DUE TO INCREASING NOISE POLLUTION NOISY HUMANS TRULY ARE A NUISANCE.
Dolphins are known for their vocal chittering, a language they use to communicate under water. This language has been studied for years by wildlife biologists, who have proved that its as complex as our own spoken languages. However, dolphins are now being forced to simplify their calls due to a variety of noises from human activity, according to new research from the University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science. And it’s not just dolphins — noise pollution is affecting many underwater creatures that employ vocal communication. According to the study, the change in dolphin language is similar to us shouting simple sentences or single words over a mighty din in a noisy bar or party. Simplification of language isn’t the only detrimental effect of noise pollution; previous studies have shown that sonar testing force whales to beach or suffer from decompression sickness when rising to the surface too quickly.
MULTITASKING CAN IMPACT MEMORY AND ATTENTION SPAN ONE THING AT A TIME, PEOPLE, ONE THING AT A TIME.
In today’s always-switched on world, being able to multitask is essential. However, new research suggests that might not be good for your brain, affecting your memory and attention. The effects are even more pronounced if you happen to be a “heavy” multitasker. A paper entitled “Minds and brains of media multitaskers: Current findings and future directions” states that while heavy multitaskers might get more done in a short period of time, they “exhibit poorer performance in a number of cognitive domains” as compared to those who juggle only a couple of things at a time. The authors of the paper explain that the low performance could be due to attention lapses that occur when there aren’t too many things to concentrate on – meaning multitasking could be exacting a “mental penalty” which is potentially detrimental.
THIS DESIGN IS ABLE TO POWER A SMALL CITY NOT JUST WHEN SOLAR AND WIND POWER IS DIRECTLY AVAILABLE, BUT ALSO ON CLOUDY OR STILL DAYS — MEANING AROUND THE CLOCK.