And reeeach for the shredded wheat…
Pregnancy suit, meet age suit. Just as scientists in Japan made a suit full of balloons, warm water, and accelerometers to give men a sense of what pregnancy feels like, scientists at MIT have put together a suit that simulates being in one’s mid-70s. But it’s a little easier to see the applications with this one. By 2030, 20% of the American population will be over the age of 65, and if you think these folks are going to willingly weather a world designed by and for hyperactive 26-year-old yoga enthusiasts, well, you’ve got another thing coming. By putting on this suit, architects, store designers, and other professionals preoccupied with how people interact with the physical world can get a sense of what old age is like, and design accordingly.
Sex. Dark chocolate. Nintendo’s Wii. It seems like most anything can be correlated with health and longevity nowadays. Now, some researchers want to add shopping to that list, after they saw a possible link between daily shopping and death age. Not everyone agrees, though, with this “shop so you don’t drop” mentality (surprise!).
In the study, published by the Journal of Epidemiology & Community Health, the researchers followed nearly 2,000, independently living, Taiwanese citizens who were at least 65 years old. The researchers gathered their shopping habits by looking at a 1999-2000 survey that evaluated how often these Taiwanese geriatrics shopped, and then they used national death registries to keep track of the study groups’ deaths until 2008. After correcting for age, gender, health, ethnicity, financial status, and other factors, the researchers discovered that daily shoppers were 27% less likely to kick the bucket than their less shop-happy peers (aka those who shopped only once a week or less). Oddly enough, the best shopping-related survival record goes to the men, who reduced their chances of dying by 28% by shopping; women who shopped daily cut their chances by 23%. The effect was slightly more pronounced in men than women.
After almost twenty years in office and 70 years on earth, Nursultan Nazarbayev, president of Kazakhstan, is hoping his country can come together to overcome one last hurdle. He needs the country’s scientists to find him the fountain of youth.
In a speech to students of the newly dedicated Nazarbayev University, a new education and research institution in the Kazakh capital of Astana, the president made clear that he is looking to the researchers to provide him with eternal life, says The Guardian:
The 70-year-old leader stressed in a speech that a new scientific research institute in the capital Astana should study “rejuvenation of the organism,” as well as “the human genome, production of human tissue and creation of gene-based medicines”.
Of course, who wouldn’t want to live forever when they have a country that they rule–for life. He said back in October that he would be the country’s president until at least 2020 if his old bones can take it, says The Guardian:
“Maybe, then, you’ll offer me an elixir of youth and energy – maybe you have such potions in Korea … I’m willing to go on until 2020, just find me an elixir.”
A team at Georgia Tech is looking to replace your sponge bath nurse with this sexy beast to the right. No, not the girl. The sponge bath robot next to her, named Cody. He’s the one that wants to wipe you down with his delicate towel hands.
The robot was developed by researcher Charles Kemp’s team at the Healthcare Robotics Lab, and was described in a presentation and accompanying paper (pdf) at the International Conference on Intelligent Robots and Systems.
The robot uses cameras and lasers to evaluate the human’s body, identifying dirty spots, then gently wipes with its towel hands, making sure not to apply too much or too little pressure. It has flexible arm joints with low levels of stiffness to make sure that it doesn’t push too hard.
Study coauthor Chih-Hung (Aaron) King put himself in the tester’s spot for the robot’s first rubs. He relived the experience for Hizook:
“As the sole subject in this initial experiment, I’d like to share my impressions of the interaction. In the beginning I felt a bit tense, but never scared. As the experiment progressed, my trust in the robot grew and my tension waned. Throughout the experiment, I suffered little-to-no discomfort.”
Hit the jump for a video of the bot rubbing on King:
By Valerie Ross
You’re squeezed into a middle seat, two rows from the back of the plane. It’s barely two hours into your cross-country flight, though you’d swear it’s been longer. Does it just seem like the minutes of your trip are crawling by — or does time actually pass more slowly for people who are mid-flight than for people on the ground?
Many of us have heard the idea that time doesn’t pass at the same rate for everyone. It’s a common narrative in science fiction, one that has its roots in Einstein’s theory of relativity. The story starts, let’s say, with two twins, one of whom stays on Earth while the other clambers aboard a rocket that’s making a round-trip journey, at a substantial fraction of the speed of light, to a planet in a not-too-distant solar system. When the traveling twin returns to earth, he’s aged more slowly, and now he’s younger than the twin who stayed behind.
This familiar — and paradoxical — plotline comes from a particular tenet of relativity theory known as time dilation. It predicts that a fast-moving clock will tick at a slower rate than a stationary one — or, a man on an interstellar voyage will age more slowly than his twin back on Earth. But time dilation also says that velocity isn’t the only thing that affects the rate at which clocks tick, or people age; gravity does, too. A clock in a stronger gravitational field (the Earth’s surface, let’s say) will have a slower tick rate than a clock subject to weaker gravity (such as a few miles up into the atmosphere).
For the tiny flatworm, regeneration of missing body parts is a piece of cake. Someone chopped its head off? No problem! It grows a brand new one in about seven days, complete with a spanking new brain with all the right circuits and connections. (As for the chopped-off head, it just grows a new body.)
This amazing ability of the flatworm to regrow a missing head and to produce a brain on demand has now been traced back to a key gene, researchers report in a PloS Genetics study. The identification of the gene is exciting news for scientists who wonder if humans, too, can one day learn to regenerate missing body parts.
The Register reports that the discovery of the “smed-prep” gene unlocks the mechanisms by which the hard-to-kill Planarian flatworms grow new muscle, gut, and brain cells:
Even more importantly, it seems that the information contained in smed-prep also makes the new cells appear in the right place and organize themselves into working structures – as opposed to nonfunctional blobs of protoplasm.
Lead researcher Aziz Aboobaker describes the worm’s regenerative superpowers to the BBC:
The microscopic bdelloid rotifer—best known as an all-females species that hasn’t had sex for 100 million years—has thwarted the attempts of Eugene Gladyshev and Matthew Meselson to mutate their genes with blasts of gamma radiation. Although the radiation shattered their genomes—it was a far higher dose than had ever been tolerated by an animal to date—the plucky, resourceful gals sewed their chromosomes back together and not only survived the blasts but continued to reproduce.