Korean Cocktail Celebrates the Lunar New Year (Dog)

Year of the Dog, Cocktail made with Vodka, only available in Korea (ROK); ©Joyce Hays, Target Health Inc.

 

Year of the Dog

Graphic credit: Fanghong – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=473856

 

We bring you a Korean vodka cocktail to celebrate the New Year with! We raise our glasses to The Republic of Korea, the host country for this year’s winter Olympics. We also give a toast to Mr. and Mrs. Yong Joong Kim, who brought the vodka back from Korea. We give Cheers, to all of our wonderful Asian employees who contribute daily to the feeling of community at THI. ©Joyce Hays, Target Health Inc.

 

Ingredients: For two delicious Korean vodka cocktails

3 jiggers of Korean vodka

1 cup of ruby red Tropicana grapefruit juice

3 jiggers of Frangelico

3 jiggers Ginger liqueur

1 teaspoon Campari in each glass, after all else is poured in

2 Martini picks (1 per glass)

6 Cocktail cherries, 3 on each pick (per glass)

1 Cara Cara orange, 1 circle cut in half, half per glass

2 spears watermelon (1 per glass)

2 spears cantaloupe (optional) – 1 per glass

 

This rare vodka, brought back from Korea, enabled us to create an exclusive (with copyright) Korean Cocktail recipe that we share with you. ©Joyce Hays, Target Health Inc.

 

Above are the 4 basic alcoholic ingredients needed for this vodka cocktail: Absolut Korean (spiced) vodka, Canton Ginger Liqueur, Frangelico Liqueur, and after the above mixture is shaken with ice & with gusto, 1 teaspoon of Campari is gently dropped on the surface of the drink. I learned this secret from a friendly Italian master bartender, now Maitre D’ ©Joyce Hays, Target Health Inc.

 

You never want to use those bright red totally chemical cocktail cherries. Instead, shop around for slightly more expensive real cherries in their own syrup or sometimes infused in brandy, cognac or (above) bourbon. ©Joyce Hays, Target Health Inc.

 

After trying out several brands of juice (orange and grapefruit) plus some fizzy citrus, we settled on the above ruby red with pulp. ©Joyce Hays, Target Health Inc.

 

Cut your fruit, before you do anything else. Cara cara oranges were used because they have peak flavor right now and because their color is really beautiful, as you can see above. ©Joyce Hays, Target Health Inc.

 

Directions

1. Decide what fruit you want to use, then do all the cutting and slicing needed. This is a fun chance to be creative, in the shapes and lengths you make of the fruit.

2. Put all the fruit in each cocktail glass, so you’re free to arrange it any way you want. If you do this after the drink is poured, it’s much harder.

3. In a cocktail shaker, add all the ingredients except for the Campari

4. Shake vigorously.

5. Take cover off shaker and add as many ice cubes as will fit. Shake again with gusto

6. Pour the mixture, through the strainer, into each glass, about 1 inch from the top of the glass rim.

7. Pour a small amount of Campari into a small glass or measuring cup.

8. Place the drink in front of the lucky person about to take a sip. Now dip a teaspoon into the Campari, fill it, and carefully drop the Campari onto the surface of the drink. DO NOT STIR. WAIT until the Campari drops through the rest of the drink and falls to the bottom. The result will be remarkable layers of color, this small amount of Campari adds to the already delicious Korean vodka drink

9. Okay, now sip, smile and be happy in the moment, as life’s struts and frets, fade away.

 

Enjoy!! ©Joyce Hays, Target Health Inc.

 

In this photo you can see the layers of color in this delicious Korean cocktail. The Campari is the heaviest liquid, hence, when you carefully drip the one teaspoon, or a tiny bit more of Campari over the top of the mixed cocktail, it finds its way to the very bottom of the glass.

 

Serve cheesy appetizers with this cocktail. Also, crackers and green and red seedless grapes. And try cutting sweet potatoes and butternut squash into cubes, put on rimmed baking sheet, pour some extra virgin olive oil over the veggies and bake at 375 degrees, until crisp. Serve with toothpicks.

 

We wish all of our readers a Happy Lunar New Year.  If you are not familiar with the beautiful crossover voice from Kazakhstan, Dimash Kudaibergenov, here he is singing one of his most popular songs: SOS of an Earthly Being in Distress

 

Dimash Kudaibergenov: Opera 2 

Dimash Kudaibergenov: Adagio

 

Have a great week everyone!

From Our Table to Yours

Bon Appetit!

 

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First glimpse of what Earth-sized exoplanets are made of

Date:
February 5, 2018

Source:
ESO

Summary:
A new study has found that planets orbiting the star TRAPPIST-1 are made mostly of rock, and some could hold more water than Earth. The planets’ densities suggest that some of them could have up to 5 percent of their mass in the form of water. The hotter planets closest to their parent star are likely to have dense steamy atmospheres and the more distant ones probably have icy surfaces.

 

This artist’s impression shows several of the planets orbiting the ultra-cool red dwarf star TRAPPIST-1. New observations, when combined with very sophisticated analysis, have now yielded good estimates of the densities of all seven of the Earth-sized planets and suggest that they are rich in volatile materials, probably water.
Credit: ESO/M. Kornmesser

 

 

Planets around the faint red star TRAPPIST-1, just 40 light-years from Earth, were first detected by the TRAPPIST-South telescope at ESO’s La Silla Observatory in 2016. In the following year further observations from ground-based telescopes, including ESO’s Very Large Telescope and NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope, revealed that there were no fewer than seven planets in the system, each roughly the same size as the Earth. They are named TRAPPIST-1b,c,d,e,f,g and h, with increasing distance from the central star [1].

Further observations have now been made, both from telescopes on the ground, including the nearly-complete SPECULOOS facility at ESO’s Paranal Observatory, and from NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope and the Kepler Space Telescope. A team of scientists led by Simon Grimm at the University of Bern in Switzerland have now applied very complex computer modelling methods to all the available data and have determined the planets’ densities with much better precision than was possible before [2].

Simon Grimm explains how the masses are found: “The TRAPPIST-1 planets are so close together that they interfere with each other gravitationally, so the times when they pass in front of the star shift slightly. These shifts depend on the planets’ masses, their distances and other orbital parameters. With a computer model, we simulate the planets’ orbits until the calculated transits agree with the observed values, and hence derive the planetary masses.”

Team member Eric Agol comments on the significance: “A goal of exoplanet studies for some time has been to probe the composition of planets that are Earth-like in size and temperature. The discovery of TRAPPIST-1 and the capabilities of ESO’s facilities in Chile and the NASA Spitzer Space Telescope in orbit have made this possible — giving us our first glimpse of what Earth-sized exoplanets are made of!”

The measurements of the densities, when combined with models of the planets’ compositions, strongly suggest that the seven TRAPPIST-1 planets are not barren rocky worlds. They seem to contain significant amounts of volatile material, probably water [3], amounting to up to 5% the planet’s mass in some cases — a huge amount; by comparison the Earth has only about 0.02% water by mass!

“Densities, while important clues to the planets’ compositions, do not say anything about habitability. However, our study is an important step forward as we continue to explore whether these planets could support life,” said Brice-Olivier Demory, co-author at the University of Bern.

TRAPPIST-1b and c, the innermost planets, are likely to have rocky cores and be surrounded by atmospheres much thicker than Earth’s. TRAPPIST-1d, meanwhile, is the lightest of the planets at about 30 percent the mass of Earth. Scientists are uncertain whether it has a large atmosphere, an ocean or an ice layer.

Scientists were surprised that TRAPPIST-1e is the only planet in the system slightly denser than Earth, suggesting that it may have a denser iron core and that it does not necessarily have a thick atmosphere, ocean or ice layer. It is mysterious that TRAPPIST-1e appears to be so much rockier in its composition than the rest of the planets. In terms of size, density and the amount of radiation it receives from its star, this is the planet that is most similar to Earth.

TRAPPIST-1f, g and h are far enough from the host star that water could be frozen into ice across their surfaces. If they have thin atmospheres, they would be unlikely to contain the heavy molecules that we find on Earth, such as carbon dioxide.

“It is interesting that the densest planets are not the ones that are the closest to the star, and that the colder planets cannot harbour thick atmospheres,” notes Caroline Dorn, study co-author based at the University of Zurich, Switzerland.

The TRAPPIST-1 system will continue to be a focus for intense scrutiny in the future with many facilities on the ground and in space, including ESO’s Extremely Large Telescope and the NASA/ESA/CSA James Webb Space Telescope.

Astronomers are also working hard to search for further planets around faint red stars like TRAPPIST-1. As team member Michaël Gillon explains [4]: “This result highlights the huge interest of exploring nearby ultracool dwarf stars — like TRAPPIST-1 — for transiting terrestrial planets. This is exactly the goal of SPECULOOS, our new exoplanet search that is about to start operations at ESO’s Paranal Observatory in Chile.”

Notes

[1] The planets were discovered using the ground-based TRAPPIST-South at ESO’s La Silla Observatory in Chile; TRAPPIST-North in Morocco; the orbiting NASA Spitzer Space Telescope; ESO’s HAWK-I instrument on the Very Large Telescope at the Paranal Observatory in Chile; the 3.8-metre UKIRT in Hawaii; the 2-metre Liverpool and 4-metre William Herschel telescopes on La Palma in the Canary Islands; and the 1-metre SAAOtelescope in South Africa.

[2] Measuring the densities of exoplanets is not easy. You need to find out both the size of the planet and its mass. The TRAPPIST-1 planets were found using the transit method — by searching for small dips in the brightness of the star as a planet passes across its disc and blocks some light. This gives a good estimate of the planet’s size. However, measuring a planet’s mass is harder — if no other effects are present planets with different masses have the same orbits and there is no direct way to tell them apart. But there is a way in a multi-planet system — more massive planets disturb the orbits of the other planets more than lighter ones. This in turn affects the timing of transits. The team led by Simon Grimm have used these complicated and very subtle effects to estimate the most likely masses for all seven planets, based on a large body of timing data and very sophisticated data analysis and modelling.

[3] The models used also consider alternative volatiles, such as carbon dioxide. However, they favour water, as vapour, liquid or ice, as the most likely largest component of the planets’ surface material as water is the most abundant source of volatiles for solar abundance protoplanetary discs.

[4] The SPECULOOS survey telescopes facility is nearly complete at ESO’s Paranal Observatory.

Story Source:

Materials provided by ESONote: Content may be edited for style and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. S. Grimm et al. The nature of the TRAPPIST-1 exoplanetsAstronomy & Astrophysics, 2018 DOI: 10.1051/0004-6361/201732233

 

Source: ESO. “TRAPPIST-1 planets probably rich in water: First glimpse of what Earth-sized exoplanets are made of.” ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 5 February 2018. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2018/02/180205134306.htm>.

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Scientists have found a new catalyst that more efficiently converts methane to olefins

Date:
February 5, 2018

Source:
University of Southern California

Summary:
Scientists have unlocked a new, more efficient pathway for converting one of our most potent greenhouse gases directly into basic chemicals for manufacturing plastics, agrochemicals and pharmaceuticals.

 

Rendering of methane molecules.
Credit: © polesnoy / Fotolia

 

 

USC scientists have unlocked a new, more efficient pathway for converting methane — a potent gas contributing to climate change — directly into basic chemicals for manufacturing plastics, agrochemicals and pharmaceuticals.

In research published on Dec. 4 in the Journal of the American Chemical Society, chemists at USC Loker Hydrocarbon Research Institute say they have found a way to help to utilize this abundant and dangerous greenhouse gas, which is generally burnt or flared to produce energy.

Among common greenhouse gases, carbon dioxide is often cited as the largest culprit for trapping heat on earth, contributing to climate change. However, it is not the most potent.

That distinction belongs to methane. According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, methane traps heat and warms the planet 86 times more than carbon dioxide over a 20-year horizon.

More fuel, fewer emissions, reduced energy use

Lead author Patrice T. D. Batamack, senior author G. K. Surya Prakash and Thomas Mathew of the USC Loker Hydrocarbon Research Institute used a catalyst called H-SAPO-34, derived from a class of nanoporous crystals called zeolites.

This simple method of converting methane directly to ethylene and propylene, or olefins, would replace what are traditionally difficult, expensive, and inefficient processes that add greenhouse gases to the atmosphere. The majority of ethylene and propylene is produced from petroleum oil and shale liquid cracking, which consumes enormous amounts of energy.

When USC’s first Nobel Prize winner, George Olah, converted methane to olefins in 1985, the process required three steps. Since then, researchers have reduced it to two steps, but the Loker team is the first to realize the conversion with a single catalyst based on zeolites.

“Contact time is the key for this effective and simple catalyst to produce usable fuel from methane. In real estate, they say, location, location, location. In chemistry, it is all about condition, condition, condition,” said Prakash.

Global methane emissions have surged since 2007 and output is particularly bad in the United States. According to a recent Harvard University study, the United States could be solely responsible for as much as 60 percent of the global growth in human-caused atmospheric methane emissions during this century.

Contributing to the global surge is the increased supply of livestock and rice fields in countries like India and China, the two leaders in total methane output, according to the World Bank.

‘If carbon is the problem, carbon has to be the solution’

While being the most potent of our popular greenhouse gases, and even after the largest methane leak in U.S. history at the Aliso Canyon natural gas storage facility a few years ago, there are no signs that methane’s abundant production will slow down anytime soon.

Shale fracking and other resource extraction techniques are increasing natural gas reserves, and the Loker scientists believe methane may soon become the most popular of all raw materials for producing petrochemical products.

About 30 years ago, Prakash and his mentor Olah first began refining the concept of “The Methanol Economy,” a host of methanol-based solutions mitigating the production cycle of the greenhouse gases that are accelerating climate change.

While similar in structure and name, methane is not directly interchangeable with methanol, although most methanol is synthetically produced from methane. Methane is a naturally occurring gas and the simplest one-carbon compound containing hydrocarbon.

By further reducing the steps necessary to efficiently convert methane to olefins, the scientists at Loker may have brought us that much closer to realizing one of the original steps laid out in “The Methanol Economy.”

“If carbon is the problem, carbon has to be the solution. There is plenty of methane to go around in the world and it is become easier and safer to turn it into products that we can actually use,'” said Prakash.

This research was made possible with the support of the USC Loker Hydrocarbon Research Institute and the U.S. Department of Energy.

Story Source:

Materials provided by University of Southern California. Original written by Ian Chaffee. Note: Content may be edited for style and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Patrice T. D. Batamack, Thomas Mathew, G. K. Surya Prakash. One-Pot Conversion of Methane to Light Olefins or Higher Hydrocarbons through H-SAPO-34-Catalyzed in Situ HalogenationJournal of the American Chemical Society, 2017; 139 (49): 18078 DOI: 10.1021/jacs.7b10725

 

Source: University of Southern California. “Reducing the footprint of a greenhouse gas more potent than carbon dioxide: Scientists have found a new catalyst that more efficiently converts methane to olefins.” ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 5 February 2018. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2018/02/180205141057.htm>.

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When a crystal is broken along certain directions the atoms reorganize in amazing ways.

Date:
February 1, 2018

Source:
Vienna University of Technology

Summary:
Researchers have carefully broken potassium tantalate crystals in specific directions, and imaged the resulting surfaces using a state of the art atomic force microscope. Their data was combined with computations and a series of remarkable phenomena were ultimately explained. The results are potentially useful for technologies such as hydrogen production.

 

These are island structures, visible after breaking the crystal.
Credit: TU Wien

 

 

The remarkable strength of ionic crystals is easily explained at the atomic scale: Positively and negatively charged atoms sit side by side in a periodic arrangement that repeats countless times. The strong electrostatic force in between keeps them together.

But what happens when the periodic pattern comes to an abrupt end? Researchers at the Vienna University of Technology have carefully broken potassium tantalate crystals in specific directions, and imaged the resulting surfaces using a state of the art atomic force microscope. Their data was combined with computations performed at the University of Vienna, and a series of remarkable phenomena were ultimately explained. The results were published in the journal Science, and are potentially useful for technologies such as hydrogen production.

It matters how you break it

Imagine the black and white squares on a chess board: they alternate along the rows and columns, and if one looks at an angle from corner to corner, they appear as black and white rows.

The black and white squares in two dimensions resemble a crystal in three dimensions: “If one splits a cubic crystal along a certain direction, one can end up with only positive or only negative charges at the surface. Such a situation would be highly unstable,” explains Prof. Ulrike Diebold, head of surface physics group at the Institute of Applied Physics of the Vienna University of Technology. A stacking of purely positive and negatively charged layers would result in a potential of millions of volts across the tiny sample — scientists call this the “polar catastrophe.” To avoid this situation, the atoms must reorganize somehow. The question is, how.

“There are different ways in which a surface can react when we split a crystal,” says Martin Setvin, first author of the publication. “Electrons can accumulate at certain locations, the crystal lattice can become distorted, or molecules from the atmosphere can stick to the surface, changing its properties.”

From islands to labyrinth

When looking with a scanning tunneling microscope, it is immediately obvious that a crystal broken at very low temperature has half of the negatively charged layer on one side, and half on the other. Because the negative islands cover exactly fifty percent of each surface, the surface is electrically neutral. “Yet, the island are large, so the polar catastrophe is not completely avoided: the field underneath them changes the physical properties of the material,” says Setvin.

Strangely though, if one raises the temperature of the surface just a little bit, the islands break apart and the atoms form a labyrinth of jagged lines. The “walls” of this labyrinth are just one atom high and four to five atoms wide, and calculations show that this indeed a more stable configuration.

“The labyrinth structures are not only beautiful but also potentially useful,” says Diebold. “That’s exactly what you want: Tiny structures where strong electric fields occur at the atomic scale.” One could use them, for example, to enable chemical reactions that would not proceed by themselves — such as the splitting of water, to produce hydrogen.

“Using these strange crystal surfaces in technology requires that we understand what goes on at the atomic scale,” emphasizes Setvin. “That’s why microscopy is so important to us. In high-resolution images we can directly observe individual atoms, watch how they move, and finally understand what nature tries to do. Maybe then, we can figure out how to use it.”

Story Source:

Materials provided by Vienna University of TechnologyNote: Content may be edited for style and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Martin Setvin et al. Polarity compensation mechanisms on the perovskite surface KTaO3(001)Science, 2018 DOI: 10.1126/science.aar2287

 

Source: Vienna University of Technology. “Strange things happen when a crystal gets split in two: When a crystal is broken along certain directions the atoms reorganize in amazing ways..” ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 1 February 2018. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2018/02/180201141437.htm>.

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Date:
January 31, 2018

Source:
University of Wisconsin-Madison

Summary:
Scientists have sequenced the Colorado potato beetle’s genome, probing its genes for clues to its surprising adaptability to new environments and insecticides. The new information sheds light on how this insect jumps to new plant hosts and handles toxins, and it will help researchers explore more ways to control the beetle.

 

This is a Colorado potato beetle.
Credit: Zach Cohen

 

 

The Colorado potato beetle is notorious for its role in starting the pesticide industry — and for its ability to resist the insecticides developed to stop it.

Managing the beetle costs tens of millions of dollars every year, but this is a welcome alternative to the billions of dollars in damage it could cause if left unchecked.

To better understand this tenacious pest, a team of scientists led by University of Wisconsin-Madison entomologist Sean Schoville sequenced the beetle’s genome, probing its genes for clues to its surprising adaptability to new environments and insecticides. The new information sheds light on how this insect jumps to new plant hosts and handles toxins, and it will help researchers explore more ways to control the beetle.

Schoville and colleagues from 33 other institutes and universities report their findings in the Jan. 31, 2018 issue of Scientific Reports.

The Colorado potato beetle’s rapid spread, hardiness, and recognizable tiger-like stripes have caught global attention since it began infesting potatoes in the 1800s. The beetle was investigated as a potential agricultural weapon by Germany in the 1940s and its postwar spread into the Soviet bloc stoked an anti-American propaganda campaign to pin the invasion on outsiders. More benignly, it has been featured on many countries’ stamps and is used in classrooms to educate about insect lifecycles.

But it’s the beetle’s ability to rapidly develop resistance to insecticides and to spread to climates previously thought inhospitable that has fascinated and frustrated entomologists for decades.

“All that effort of trying to develop new insecticides is just blown out of the water by a pest like this that can just very quickly overcome it,” says Schoville. “That poses a challenge for potato growers and for the agricultural entomologists trying to manage it. And it’s just fascinating from an evolutionary perspective.”

Within the beetle’s genome, Schoville’s team found a diverse and large array of genes used for digesting plant proteins, helping the beetle thrive on its hosts. The beetle also had an expanded number of genes for sensing bitter tastes, likely because of their preference for the bitter nightshade family of plants, of which potatoes are a member.

But when it came to the pest’s infamous ability to overcome insecticides, the researchers were surprised to find that the Colorado potato beetle’s genome looked much like those of its less-hardy cousins. The team did not find new resistance-related genes to explain the insect’s tenaciousness.

“So this is what’s interesting — it wasn’t by diversifying their genome, adding new genes, that would explain rapid pesticide evolution,” says Schoville. “So it leaves us with a whole bunch of new questions to pursue how that works.”

Schoville and his collaborators see their research as a resource for the diverse group of scientists studying how to control the beetle as well as its life history and evolution.

“What this genome will do is enable us to ask all sorts of new questions around insects, why they’re pests and how they’ve evolved,” says Yolanda Chen, a professor at the University of Vermont and another leader of the beetle genome effort. “And that’s why we’re excited about it.”

The genome did provide a clue to the beetle’s known sensitivity to an alternative control system, known as RNA interference, or RNAi for short. The nucleic acid RNA translates the genetic instructions from DNA into proteins, and RNAi uses gene-specific strands of RNA to interfere with and degrade those messages. In the beetle, RNAi can be used to gum up its cellular machinery and act as a kind of insecticide. The Colorado potato beetle has an expanded RNAi processing pathway, meaning it could be particularly amenable to experimental RNAi control methods.

Schoville and Chen are now sequencing another 100 genomes of the Colorado potato beetle and its close relatives to continue investigating the hardiness and adaptability that have captured so many people’s attention for the past 150 years.

Story Source:

Materials provided by University of Wisconsin-MadisonNote: Content may be edited for style and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Sean D. Schoville, Yolanda H. Chen, Martin N. Andersson, Joshua B. Benoit, Anita Bhandari, Julia H. Bowsher, Kristian Brevik, Kaat Cappelle, Mei-Ju M. Chen, Anna K. Childers, Christopher Childers, Olivier Christiaens, Justin Clements, Elise M. Didion, Elena N. Elpidina, Patamarerk Engsontia, Markus Friedrich, Inmaculada García-Robles, Richard A. Gibbs, Chandan Goswami, Alessandro Grapputo, Kristina Gruden, Marcin Grynberg, Bernard Henrissat, Emily C. Jennings, Jeffery W. Jones, Megha Kalsi, Sher A. Khan, Abhishek Kumar, Fei Li, Vincent Lombard, Xingzhou Ma, Alexander Martynov, Nicholas J. Miller, Robert F. Mitchell, Monica Munoz-Torres, Anna Muszewska, Brenda Oppert, Subba Reddy Palli, Kristen A. Panfilio, Yannick Pauchet, Lindsey C. Perkin, Marko Petek, Monica F. Poelchau, Éric Record, Joseph P. Rinehart, Hugh M. Robertson, Andrew J. Rosendale, Victor M. Ruiz-Arroyo, Guy Smagghe, Zsofia Szendrei, Gregg W.C. Thomas, Alex S. Torson, Iris M. Vargas Jentzsch, Matthew T. Weirauch, Ashley D. Yates, George D. Yocum, June-Sun Yoon, Stephen Richards. A model species for agricultural pest genomics: the genome of the Colorado potato beetle, Leptinotarsa decemlineata (Coleoptera: Chrysomelidae)Scientific Reports, 2018; 8 (1) DOI: 10.1038/s41598-018-20154-1

 

Source: University of Wisconsin-Madison. “Colorado potato beetle genome gives insight into major agricultural pest.” ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 31 January 2018. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2018/01/180131090308.htm>.

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Study illustrates how similar neural responses predict friendships

Date:
January 30, 2018

Source:
Dartmouth College

Summary:
You may perceive the world the way your friends do, according to a new study finding that friends have similar neural responses to real-world stimuli and these similarities can be used to predict who your friends are.

 

Social network. The social network of an entire cohort of first-year graduate students was reconstructed based on a survey completed by all students in the cohort (N = 279; 100% response rate). Nodes indicate students; lines indicate mutually reported social ties between them. A subset of students (orange circles; N = 42) participated in the fMRI study.
Credit: Image by Carolyn Parkinson.

 

 

You may perceive the world the way your friends do, according to a Dartmouth study finding that friends have similar neural responses to real-world stimuli and these similarities can be used to predict who your friends are.

The researchers found that you can predict who people are friends with just by looking at how their brains respond to video clips. Friends had the most similar neural activity patterns, followed by friends-of-friends who, in turn, had more similar neural activity than people three degrees removed (friends-of-friends-of-friends).

Published in Nature Communications, the study is the first of its kind to examine the connections between the neural activity of people within a real-world social network, as they responded to real-world stimuli, which in this case was watching the same set of videos.

“Neural responses to dynamic, naturalistic stimuli, like videos, can give us a window into people’s unconstrained, spontaneous thought processes as they unfold. Our results suggest that friends process the world around them in exceptionally similar ways,” says lead author Carolyn Parkinson, who was a postdoctoral fellow in psychological and brain sciences at Dartmouth at the time of the study and is currently an assistant professor of psychology and director of the Computational Social Neuroscience Lab at the University of California, Los Angeles.

The study analyzed the friendships or social ties within a cohort of nearly 280 graduate students. The researchers estimated the social distance between pairs of individuals based on mutually reported social ties. Forty-two of the students were asked to watch a range of videos while their neural activity was recorded in a functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) scanner. The videos spanned a range of topics and genres, including politics, science, comedy and music videos, for which a range of responses was expected. Each participant watched the same videos in the same order, with the same instructions. The researchers then compared the neural responses pairwise across the set of students to determine if pairs of students who were friends had more similar brain activity than pairs further removed from each other in their social network.

The findings revealed that neural response similarity was strongest among friends, and this pattern appeared to manifest across brain regions involved in emotional responding, directing one’s attention and high-level reasoning. Even when the researchers controlled for variables, including left-handed- or right-handedness, age, gender, ethnicity, and nationality, the similarity in neural activity among friends was still evident. The team also found that fMRI response similarities could be used to predict not only if a pair were friends but also the social distance between the two.

“We are a social species and live our lives connected to everybody else. If we want to understand how the human brain works, then we need to understand how brains work in combination — how minds shape each other,” explains senior author Thalia Wheatley, an associate professor of psychological and brain sciences at Dartmouth, and principal investigator of the Dartmouth Social Systems Laboratory.

For the study, the researchers were building on their earlier work, which found that as soon as you see someone you know, your brain immediately tells you how important or influential they are and the position they hold in your social network.

The research team plans to explore if we naturally gravitate toward people who see the world the same way we do, if we become more similar once we share experiences or if both dynamics reinforce each other.

Story Source:

Materials provided by Dartmouth CollegeNote: Content may be edited for style and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Carolyn Parkinson, Adam M. Kleinbaum, Thalia Wheatley. Similar neural responses predict friendshipNature Communications, 2018; 9 (1) DOI: 10.1038/s41467-017-02722-7

 

Source: Dartmouth College. “Your brain reveals who your friends are: Study illustrates how similar neural responses predict friendships.” ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 30 January 2018. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2018/01/180130123643.htm>.

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Date:
January 29, 2018

Source:
Universitaet Tübingen

Summary:
Psychiatrists and neuroscientists have for the very first time succeeded in measuring the readiness potential, outside a laboratory and under extreme conditions, namely prior to a 192-meter bungee jump.

 

Semi-professional cliff diver carrying a wireless EEG system to record his brain waves.
Credit: Surjo Soekadar

 

 

Surjo R. Soekadar, psychiatrist and neuroscientist at the University of Tübingen, and his doctoral candidate Marius Nann have for the very first time succeeded in measuring the readiness potential, outside a laboratory and under extreme conditions, namely prior to a 192-meter bungee jump.

The readiness potential is a characteristic electrical voltage shift in the brain that indicates an upcoming willful act, and that appears even before a person becomes aware of his/her own conscious decision to act. The results of the study will be published in an international journal later this spring but are now available online.

The readiness potential was first described in 1964 by Hans-Helmut Kornhuber and Lüder Deecke, who measured the brain waves of a test person over hundreds of finger movements and under strict laboratory conditions. Despite numerous studies, the readiness potential has never been measured in a real-life situation: Since the voltage shift is in the range of only a few millionths of a volt, only measurements under laboratory conditions were considered possible.

To advance the development of brain-machine interfaces, the researchers from Tübingen wanted to find out whether the readiness potential can be assessed in everyday environments. In addition, they were interested in whether the willpower necessary for initiating an act would influence the characteristics of the brain potential. For the study, two semi-professional cliff divers agreed to have their brain waves recorded before jumping from the second tallest bungee jumping platform in Europe, the 192-meter Europa Bridge near Innsbruck in Austria.

After only a few jumps, the researchers were able to measure the readiness potential beyond any doubt. “Once again, the current experiment shows that the boundaries of the possible are shifting and that neurotechnology might soon be part of our everyday life,” Soekadar says. “The small number of jumps necessary for the experiment shows that the readiness potential prior to a bungee jump is very well expressed”, Nann explains.

Story Source:

Materials provided by Universitaet TübingenNote: Content may be edited for style and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Marius Nann, Leonardo G. Cohen, Lüder Deecke, Surjo R. Soekadar Marius Nann, Leonardo G. Cohen, Lüder Deecke, Surjo R. Soekadar. To jump or not to jump: The Bereitschaftspotential required to jump into 192-meter abyssSubmitted to biorXiv, 2018 [link]

 

Source: Universitaet Tübingen. “One step ahead – What happens in the brain before a bungee jump?.” ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 29 January 2018. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2018/01/180129092926.htm>.

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The Clinical Trials Transformation Initiative 10 Year Anniversary  

The mission of the Clinical Trials Transformation Initiative (CTTI) is “To develop and drive adoption of practices that will increase the quality and efficiency of clinical trials.“ CTTI’s 10th Year Anniversary will be celebrated in Washington on February 5-6, 2018.

 

Target Health Inc. has supported the CTTI Mission since joining CTTI on 8 August 2008, and we congratulate CTTI for its major contribution to the clinical trials enterprise over the past 10 years. When we joined in 2008, our friend and colleague Dr. Judith Kramer wrote this in response to our commitment to join: “Likewise;  I really enjoyed our conversation.  I am very pleased that you decided to join CTTI as I think you will be an extremely valuable participant at the “table”.

 

As part of Target Health commitment to the CTTI Mission, Jules Mitchel, President of Target Health was honored to serve on the Executive Committee of CTTI representing the Steering Committee, and was one of the authors of the 2011 publication on “Monitoring the quality of conduct of clinical trials: a survey of current practices.” This seminal CTTI publication was coauthored by: Briggs W Morrison, Chrissy J Cochran, Jennifer Giangrande White, Joan Harley, Cynthia F Kleppinger, An Liu, Jules T Mitchel, David F Nickerson, Cynthia R Zacharias, Judith M Kramer, James D Neaton. The esteemed Target Health software development team also created the database used to collect the survey information.

 

A major highlight last year was a joint NIH Collaboratory Grand Rounds Webinar presented with John Laschinger, CDRH/FDA and Jules Mitchel: entitled CTTI Registry Trials Project: Evaluation and Design of Registries for Conducting Clinical Trials.

 

Current projects that Target Health is actively involved with include Mobile Devices and Registries. There is an interview of Dr. Mitchel on the CTTI website.

 

Here is what we wrote in ON TARGET in 2008:

 

Target Health is pleased to announce that it has joined the Clinical Trials Transformation Initiative (CTTI).

 

CTTI, a public-private partnership with FDA’s Office of Critical Path Programs and Duke University, is mandated to bring together all interested stakeholders in order to identify practices that, through broad adoption, will increase the quality and efficiency of clinical trials. It is envisioned that this group will seek out new methods and technologies that improve safety, enhance the quality of information from trials, and make the research process more efficient. CTTI will identify best practices, conduct empirical research, and develop new standards for future research efforts. .

 

For more information about Target Health contact Warren Pearlson (212-681-2100 ext. 165). For additional information about software tools for paperless clinical trials, please also feel free to contact Dr. Jules T. Mitchel. The Target Health software tools are designed to partner with both CROs and Sponsors. Please visit the Target Health Website.

 

Joyce Hays, Founder and Editor in Chief of On Target

Jules Mitchel, Editor

 

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Earworms

Anatomy of a multipolar neuron. Graphic credit: BruceBlaus – Own work, CC BY 3.0,https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=28761830

 

Listening to music first involves subcortical structures like cochlear nuclei, the brain stem, and the cerebellum. It then moves up to auditory cortices on both sides of the brain. And when you hear music, listening also involves the memory centers in the brain, such as the hippocampus and lowest parts of the 1) ___ ____. Tapping along with the music gets your cerebellum involved. Reading music involves the visual cortex and listening to or recalling lyrics will involve language centers in the temporal and frontal lobes. If you actually perform music, your frontal lobe for planning, and your motor and sensory cortex will activate as well. Because playing music requires co-ordination of motor control, somatosensory touch and auditory information, most musicians are known to have developed a greater ability than the average person to use both hands. Increased networks between the left and right brain form thick fibers that interconnect the two motor areas, an area that is larger in musicians than in non-2) ___. Because the brain has the capacity to change (called neuroplasticity), music also affects some of the brain’s learning capacities, increasing the size of the auditory and motor 3) ___. A research team from Utrecht University in the Netherlands also found music is associated with an improved ability for auditory imagery. Musically trained groups performed better on both a musical imagery task and a non-musical auditory-imagery task than naive groups.

 

An earworm, sometimes known as a brainworm, sticky music, stuck song syndrome, or Involuntary Musical Imagery (INMI) is a catchy piece of music that continually repeats through a person’s mind after it is no longer 4) ___.  Phrases used to describe an earworm include “musical imagery repetition”, “involuntary musical imagery”, and “stuck song syndrome”. The word earworm is possibly a calque from the German Ohrwurm. Mark Twain chronicled the experience of earworms in his short story “A Literary Nightmare,” published in an 1876 edition of The Atlantic Monthly. This story describes the gradual 5) ___ possession of an entire community by a catchy jingle that gets stuck in a mental groove, over and over again, in all of their imaginations.

 

Researchers who have studied and written about the phenomenon include Theodor Reik, Sean Bennett, Oliver Sacks, Daniel Levitin, James Kellaris, Philip Beaman, Vicky Williamson, and, in a more theoretical perspective, Peter Szendy.  The phenomenon is common and should not be confused with palinacousis, a rare medical condition caused by damage to the temporal 6) ___ of the brain that results in auditory hallucinations. Vicky Williamson at Goldsmiths, University of London, found in an uncontrolled study that earworms correlated with music exposure (having heard the song recently or frequently), but could also be triggered by experiences that trigger the memory of a song (involuntary memory) such as seeing a word that reminds one of the song, hearing a few notes from the song, or feeling an emotion one associates with the 7) ___. The list of songs collected in the study showed no particular pattern, other than popularity. According to James Kellaris, 98% of individuals experience earworms. Women and men experience the phenomenon equally often, but earworms tend to last longer for women and irritate them more. Kellaris produced statistics suggesting that songs with lyrics may account for 73.7% of earworms, whereas instrumental music may cause only 7.7%. In 2010, published data in the British Journal of Psychology directly addressed the subject, and its results support earlier claims that earworms are usually 15 to 30 seconds in length and are more common in those with an interest in music.

 

Scientists at Western Washington University found that engaging working memory in moderately difficult tasks (such as anagrams, Sudoku puzzles, or reading a novel) was an effective way of stopping earworms and of reducing their recurrence.  Another publication points out that melodic music has a tendency to demonstrate repeating rhythm which may lead to endless repetition, unless a climax can be achieved to break the cycle. Research reported in 2015 by the School of Psychology and Clinical Language Sciences at the University of Reading demonstrated that, over the short-term, chewing gum could help by similarly blocking the sub-vocal rehearsal component of auditory short-term or “working” memory associated with generating and manipulating auditory and musical images.

 

Involuntary semantic memories are a new topic in psychology. Initial research has suggested that musical memories are a dominant type of involuntary 8) ___. Interestingly, no comprehensive information exists on the commonality of “earworms“, or repeated involuntary imagery of music (INMI), and its relationship to the engagement with musical activities.  A recent study investigated these, using cross-sectional, retrospective reports from a questionnaire study that was conducted among Finnish internet users (N = 12,519). The analyses of the Finnish data revealed that 89.2% of participants reported experiencing this phenomenon at least once a week. The amount of music practice and listening was positively related to the frequency of involuntary music. Women reported elevated levels of involuntary imagery episodes in contrast to men, who reacted differently. In older age-groups the frequency of the incidents decreased among both sexes. People with extensive, musical practice history, seemed to experience longer musical segments and more often instrumental ones. They were less agitated by involuntary music and reported it less often. The results are discussed in relation to a memory-based hypothesis of involuntary musical imagery. In conclusion, INMI is viewed as an integral part of our musical mind. INMI appears to be a part of disparate cultures around the world.  In episode 20 of season 7 of SpongeBob SquarePants, entitled “Ear Worm” (2010), SpongeBob gets a song stuck in his head called “Musical Doodle”. The episode refers to the 9) ___ as a physical creature that enters one’s head upon one’s listening to a catchy song.

 

In 1943 Henry Kuttner published the short story “Nothing but Gingerbread Left” about a song engineered to damage the Nazi war effort, culminating in Adolf Hitler being unable to continue a speech. In Alfred Bester’s 1953 novel The Demolished Man, the protagonist uses a jingle specifically crafted to be a catchy, irritating nuisance as a tool to block mind readers from reading his mind. In Arthur C. Clarke’s 1957 science fiction short story “The Ultimate Melody”, a scientist, Gilbert Lister, develops the ultimate melody – one that so compels the brain that its listener becomes completely and forever enraptured by it. Lister theorized that a great melody “made its impression on the mind because it fit in with the fundamental electrical rhythms going on in the 10) ___.” Lister attempts to abstract from the hit tunes of the day to a melody that fits in so well with the electrical rhythms that it dominates them completely. He succeeds and is found in a catatonic state from which he never awakens.

Sources: BrainWorldMagazine.com; NIH.gov; Wikipedia

 

The great Oliver Sachs discusses in a short video, earworms or brainworms

 

ANSWERS: 1) frontal lobe; 2) musicians; 3) cortex; 4) playing; 5) musical; 6) lobe; 7) song; 8) memory; 9) earworm; 10) brain

 

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Santiago Ramon y Cajal (1852 – 1934)

Santiago Ramon y Cajal. Spanish Nobel laureate in medicine.

Photo credit: Original photo is anonymous although published by Clark University in 1899. Restoration by Garrondo – Cajal.PNG, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=12334552

  

Santiago Ramon y Cajal was a Spanish neuroscientist and pathologist, specializing in neuroanatomy, particularly the histology of the central nervous system. He won the Nobel prize in 1906, becoming the first person of Spanish origin who won a scientific Nobel prize. His original investigations of the microscopic structure of the brain made him a pioneer of modern neuroscience. Hundreds of his drawings illustrating the delicate arborizations of brain cells are still in use for educational and training purposes.

 

Santiago Ramon y Cajal was born 1 May 1852 in the town of Petilla de Aragon, Navarre, Spain. His father was an anatomy teacher. As a child, he was transferred many times from one school to another because of behavior that was declared poor, rebellious, and showing an anti-authoritarian attitude. An extreme example of his precociousness and rebelliousness at the age of eleven is his 1863 imprisonment for destroying his neighbor’s yard gate with a homemade cannon. He was an avid painter, artist, and gymnast, but his father neither appreciated nor encouraged these abilities, even though these artistic talents would contribute to his success later in life. In order to tame the unruly character of his son, his father apprenticed him to a shoemaker and barber.

 

Ramon y Cajal as a young captain in the Ten Years’ War in Cuba, 1874.

Graphic credit: Izquierdo Vives, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=32562868

 

 

Over the summer of 1868, his father hoped to interest his son in a medical career, and took him to graveyards to find human remains for anatomical study. Sketching bones was a turning point for him and subsequently, he did pursue studies in medicine. Ramon y Cajal attended the medical school of the University of Zaragoza, where his father was an anatomy teacher. He graduated in 1873, aged 21. After a competitive examination, he served as a medical officer in the Spanish Army. He took part in an expedition to Cuba in 1874-75, where he contracted malaria and tuberculosis. In order to heal, he visited the Panticosa spa-town in the Pyrenees. After returning to Spain, he received his doctorate in medicine in Madrid in 1877. In 1879, he became the director of the Zaragoza Museum, and he married Silveria Fananas Garc?a, with whom he had four daughters and three sons. Cajal worked at the University of Zaragoza until 1883, when he was awarded the position of anatomy professor of the University of Valencia. His early work at these two universities focused on the pathology of inflammation, the microbiology of cholera, and the structure of epithelial cells and tissues.

 

In 1887 Cajal moved to Barcelona for a professorship. There he first learned about Golgi’s method, a cell staining method which uses potassium dichromate and silver nitrate to (randomly) stain a few neurons a dark black color, while leaving the surrounding cells transparent. This method, which he improved, was central to his work, allowing him to turn his attention to the central nervous system (brain and spinal cord), in which neurons are so densely intertwined that standard microscopic inspection would be nearly impossible. During this period he made extensive detailed drawings of neural material, covering many species and most major regions of the brain. In 1892, he became a professor in Madrid. In 1899 he became director of the National Institute of Hygiene , and in 1922 founder of the Laboratory of Biological Investigations , later renamed to the Cajal Institute. He died in Madrid on October 17, 1934, at the age of 82, continuing to work even on his deathbed.

 

Ramon y Cajal made several major contributions to neuroanatomy. He discovered the axonal growth cone, and demonstrated experimentally that the relationship between nerve cells was not continuous, but contiguous. This provided definitive evidence for what Heinrich Waldeyer coined the term neuron theory as opposed to the reticular theory This is now widely considered the foundation of modern neuroscience. Cajal was an advocate of the existence of dendritic spines, although he did not recognize them as the site of contact from presynaptic cells. He was a proponent of polarization of nerve cell function and his student, Rafael Lorente de N?, would continue this study of input-output systems into cable theory and some of the earliest circuit analysis of neural structures. By producing excellent depictions of neural structures and their connectivity and providing detailed descriptions of cell types he discovered a new type of cell, which was subsequently named after him, the interstitial cell of Cajal (ICC). This cell is found interleaved among neurons embedded within the smooth muscles lining the gut, serving as the generator and pacemaker of the slow waves of contraction which move material along the gastrointestinal tract, mediating neurotransmission from motor neurons to smooth muscle cells. In his 1894 Croonian Lecture, Ramon y Cajal suggested (in an extended metaphor) that cortical pyramidal cells may become more elaborate with time, as a tree grows and extends its branches.

 

Cajal devoted a considerable amount of time studying hypnosis which he used to help his wife during labor and parapsychological phenomena. A book he had written on these topics was lost during the Spanish Civil War. Cajal received many prizes, distinctions, and societal memberships during his scientific career, including honorary doctorates in medicine from Cambridge University and Wurzburg University and an honorary doctorate in philosophy from Clark University in the United States. The most famous distinction he was awarded was the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 1906, together with the Italian scientist Camillo Golgi “in recognition of their work on the structure of the nervous system“. This caused some controversy because Golgi, a staunch supporter of reticular theory, disagreed with Ramon y Cajal in his view of the neuron doctrine. He published more than 100 scientific works and articles in Spanish, French and German. Among his most notable works were:

 

Rules and advice on scientific investigation

Histology

Degeneration and regeneration of the nervous system

Manual of normal histology and micrographic technique

Elements of histology

 

A list of his books includes:

 

Ramon y Cajal, Santiago (1905) [1890]. Manual de Anatomia Patologica General (Handbook of general Anatomical Pathology) (in Spanish) (fourth ed.).

Ramon y Cajal, Santiago; Richard Greeff (1894). Die Retina der Wirbelthiere: Untersuchungen mit der Golgi-cajal’schen Chromsilbermethode und der ehrlich’schen Methylenblauf?rbung (Retina of vertebrates) (in German). Bergmann.

Ramon y Cajal, Santiago; L. Azoulay (1894). Les nouvelles idees sur la structure du systeme nerveux chez l’homme et chez les vertebres’ (‘New ideas on the fine anatomy of the nerve centres) (in French). C. Reinwald.

Ramon y Cajal, Santiago; Johannes Bresler; E. Mendel (1896). Beitrag zum Studium der Medulla Oblongata: Des Kleinhirns und des Ursprungs der Gehirnnerven (in German). Verlag von Johann Ambrosius Barth.

Ramon y Cajal, Santiago (1898). “Estructura del quiasma optico y teoria general de los entrecruzamientos de las vias nerviosas. (Structure of the Chiasma opticum and general theory of the crossing of nerve tracks)“ [Die Structur des Chiasma opticum nebst einer allgemeine Theorie der Kreuzung der Nervenbahnen (German, 1899, Verlag Joh. A. Barth)]. Rev. Trim. Micrografica (in Spanish). 3: 15-65.

Ramon y Cajal, Santiago (1899). Comparative study of the sensory areas of the human cortex. p. 85. Archived from the original on 10 September 2009.

Ramon y Cajal, Santiago (1899-1904). Textura del sistema nervioso del hombre y los vertebrados (in Spanish). Madrid.

Histologie du systeme nerveux de l’homme & des vertebres (in French) – via Internet Archive.

Texture of the Nervous System of Man and the Vertebrates.

Ramon y Cajal, Santiago (1906). Studien uber die Hirnrinde des Menschen v.5 (Studies about the meninges of man) (in German). Johann Ambrosius Barth.

Ramon y Cajal, Santiago (1999) [1897]. Advice for a Young Investigator. Translated by Neely Swanson and Larry W. Swanson. Cambridge: MIT Press. ISBN 0-262-68150-1.

Ramon y Cajal, Santiago (1937). Recuerdos de mi Vida (in Spanish). Cambridge: MIT Press. ISBN 84-206-2290-7.

 

Other accomplishments and honors:

 

In 1905, he published five science-fiction stories called “Vacation Stories“ under the pen name “Dr. Bacteria“.

The asteroid 117413 Ramonycajal has been named in his honor.

 

In the 21st Century:

In 2014, the National Institutes of Health exhibited original Ramon y Cajal drawings in its Neuroscience Research Center.

 

This year 2018:

An exhibition called The Beautiful Brain: The Drawings of Santiago Ramon y Cajal travelled through the US beginning 2017 at the Weisman Art Museum in Minneapolis ending April 2019 at the Ackland Art Museum in Chapel Hill, North Carolina.

 

A short documentary by REDES is available on YouTube. Spanish public television filmed a biopic series to commemorate his life

 

Take a look at the beauty of the drawings by the great neuroscientist, Santiago Ramon-y-Cajal

 

Review of Cajal’s work

Life of the genius at work

Short biography

NIH discusses the great drawings

Discussion of 21 drawings, with a short pause between each discussion

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