Japan scientists can 'read' dreams

 

Scientists in Japan said they had found a way to "read" people's dreams, using MRI scanners to unlock some of the secrets of the unconscious mind.

Researchers have managed what they said was "the world's first decoding" of night-time visions, the subject of centuries of speculation that have captivated humanity since ancient times.

In the study, published in the journal Science, scientists at the ATR Computational Neuroscience Laboratories, in Kyoto, western Japan, used magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans to locate exactly which part of the brain was active during the first moments of sleep.

They then woke up the dreamer and asked him or her what images they had seen, a process that was repeated 200 times.

These answers were compared with the brain maps that had been produced by the MRI scanner.

Researchers were then able to predict what images the volunteers had seen with a 60 percent accuracy rate, rising to more than 70 percent with around 15 specific items including men, words and books, they said.

"We have concluded that we successfully decoded some kinds of dreams with a distinctively high success rate," said Yukiyasu Kamitani, a senior researcher at the laboratories and head of the study team.

"I believe it was a key step towards reading dreams more precisely," Kamitani told AFP.

 

AFP, photo by adam_erlebacher 

Lucky koala Sir Chompsalot gets kiss of life PDF Print E-mail
Written by Administrator   
Sunday, 24 August 2014 17:07

 

 

A lucky koala was recovering Friday after being caught by firefighters when it fell unconscious from a tree before being given mouth-to-mouth resuscitation.

Emergency crews were called to the Melbourne suburb of Langwarrin on Thursday night after reports that an injured animal was lying on the road after being hit by a car.

When officials arrived, they found the furry native marsupial had climbed a tree for shelter and firefighters were brought in to bring it down.

"We believed it had died in the tree, just when we were trying to rescue it," Langwarrin Country Fire Authority's Sean Curtin told Fairfax radio.

"Then it fell out of the tree and the members caught it in a blanket."

A wildlife officer on the scene then performed mouth-to-mouth resuscitation, while another rescuer pumped its chest to revive its heart.

"We put it on O2 oxygen therapy to assist in getting some oxygen into the blood flow of the koala," Curtin added.

The koala -- nicknamed Sir Chompsalot by the firefighters -- was taken to the Animalia Wildlife Shelter where he was "well and eating" Friday.

Thought to number in excess of 10 million before British settlers arrived in 1788, there are now believed to be as few as 43,000 koalas left in the wild, though their existence high in the treetops makes them difficult to count.

 

Last Updated on Sunday, 24 August 2014 17:11
 
Dalai Lama calls inter-faith meeting in India to counter violence PDF Print E-mail
Written by Administrator   
Tuesday, 16 September 2014 18:23

 

 

The Dalai Lama will convene a rare meeting of India's religious leaders to try to tackle rape, communal violence and other issues facing the world's biggest democracy, an aide said Tuesday.

The Nobel Peace Prize winner has invited India's spiritual leaders for the two-day meeting this weekend to seek practical strategies to address "important issues ailing society today", a statement said.

The aide, Gelek Namgyal, said the spiritual leader of Tibetan Buddhism, who has lived in India since 1959, was deeply concerned about levels of violence in the country, along with environmental degradation and poverty.

Namgyal said the Dalai Lama's initiative was not a criticism of India's Hindu nationalist right-wing government, which swept to power in May.

But the meeting in New Delhi, the first such gathering organised by the Dalai Lama, comes at a time of rising communal tensions in India, particularly between majority Hindus and minority Muslims.

"His Holiness has decided to come forward because he is concerned about the problems in India," Namgyal told AFP.

 

Last Updated on Tuesday, 16 September 2014 18:26
 
Champagne confirms he will stand against Blatter PDF Print E-mail
Written by Administrator   
Tuesday, 16 September 2014 18:26

 

 

Long-time FIFA incumbent Sepp Blatter will have at least one rival for next year's presidential election as former senior FIFA executive Jerome Champagne confirmed on Monday he would contest it.

The 56-year-old Frenchman, who worked closely with Blatter between 2002 and 2005 when he was deputy secretary-general, said on Twitter he had sent a letter to FIFA headquarters in Switzerland that he would be a candidate confirming his initial declaration in London back in January.

Champagne had said at the time of the original declaration that he did not think he could beat 77-year-old Blatter, who has been in charge since 1998, if he ran but he had a chance if UEFA chief Michel Platini was a candidate.

Since then, though, Blatter has declared himself as a candidate despite stating beforehand he would not stand again and Platini pulled back from the brink even though he declared in Brazil prior to the World Cup finals in June that he could no longer support Blatter.

Champagne, a former diplomat who worked on France's successful bid for the right to host the 1998 World Cup before joining FIFA as an international advisor, said he was delighted that a debate had begun about the future of FIFA and football and thought more candidates would throw their hat into the ring.

"I have the honor of informing you that I have just written to the FIFA Ad-hoc Electoral Committee and its president, Mr. Domenico Scala, to confirm my intention to run for FIFA president," said Champagne in a letter to football federations posted on his website.

"This confirmation has of course been made in accordance with the current FIFA regulations and in line with the announcement of my candidature of 20 January 2014 in London, in the same location where The Football Association was founded in 1863, the first of the 209 FIFA member associations.

 

Last Updated on Tuesday, 16 September 2014 18:28
 
75 years on, Polish brothers relive Soviet invasion PDF Print E-mail
Written by Administrator   
Wednesday, 17 September 2014 17:17

 

The Soviets rode in on horseback, rifles dangling on rope. Boguslaw Kamola watched in horror from the woods as they occupied his city in eastern Poland. Then the shots rang out.

"This dog was dashing across the field, and one of the soldiers reached for his rifle and fired at him," he recalls.

"They didn't kill him, just wounded him in the rear. And the poor thing dragged his hind legs across the field, howling with fear as he tried to evade the bullets," he told AFP.

Kamola was nine years old when the Soviets invaded in 1939, just weeks after Nazi Germany attacked the country from the west.

It was the onset of World War II, history's bloodiest conflict, and Poland was being crushed by two powerful forces.

"We were horrified by the barbarity of these people. They shot at everything that moved," the now 84-year-old says in Warsaw ahead of the 75th anniversary of the invasion.

 

It had taken the Soviet forces several days to make it over to Kamola's city of Brzesc -- now Brest in Belarus -- after invading Poland on September 17, 1939.

 

 

The surprise assault had been agreed in a secret accord between Germany and the Soviet Union, under which they would divvy up Poland between them.

"It was an agreement between two gangsters," Kamola said of the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact, dubbing it "the famous knife in the back".

His family fled in panic, grabbing random items: a pillow here, some valuables there, a framed picture of the Virgin Mary that has survived until this day -- and an alarm clock.

"It was within reach, so Mom stuffed it in my pocket," he said in an interview alongside his 85-year-old brother Zbigniew.

"And the damn alarm clock started ringing right out there in the open in the middle of the night."

The brothers chuckle as Boguslaw mimes how he frantically tried to silence the alarm.

"This is something you can recount now as an adventure and laugh about 75 years later. But I remember it was a night when every juniper bush looked like a Russian," Zbigniew says.

"The horror, the fear was huge. The stress," the retired geologist told AFP.

The family eventually made their way to Warsaw after a gruelling journey marked by bone-chilling cold and a couple of close calls with the enemy.

 

 

Last Updated on Wednesday, 17 September 2014 17:26
 
Fashion royalty watches as Gucci takes fans on 70s trip PDF Print E-mail
Written by Administrator   
Thursday, 18 September 2014 14:32

 

 

Gucci took an audience sprinkled with fashion royalty on a mind-expanding trip back to the early 1970s on Wednesday as the global style powerhouse unveiled its 2015 spring/summer womenswear collection.

Skirts were cut above the knee, or shorter: always an encouraging sign if you believe the old maxim about global stock markets tending to rise in tandem with hemlines.

Prints had a slight psychedelic edge to them and there was a bit of a nautical/pirate theme running through a set that included plenty of embroidery and gilt-edged, oversized buttons on short-cut jackets featuring a range of exotic materials including python and Mongolian lamb.

There was also a range of three-quarter length, flared trousers and tight-waisted trench coats in an eclectic mix the company itself dubbed "kaleidoscopic glamour".

Gucci's creative director Frida Giannini has long been a fan of the hippy era and she gave full vent to that particular enthusiasm, to the apparent approval of a front-row featuring Kate Moss, US Vogue editor Anna Wintour and glamorous Monaco royal Charlotte Casiraghi.

Casiraghi, who is a top-level showjumper, has long been an ambassador for the company's equestrian line of clothing and she has now become the face of its cosmetics collection, which was making its catwalk debut here.

Elsewhere, there was much interest in the collection presented by Angelos Bratis, the latest young designer to be taken under the fatherly wing of Giorgio Armani.

The 36-year-old Greek's mastery of dresswear is seen by some to be sufficiently impressive for him to be considered a potential successor to the 80-year-old Armani, should the dean of Italian fashion decide to hand over the creative leadership of his global style empire.

Anxious to make the most of the additional interest generated by Armani's sponsorship, Bratis restricted his show to a small selection of sensual evening dresses in featherweight textiles including crepe de Chine and silk twill.

Many of them featured bold geometric patterns and vivid splashes of colour, offsetting the generally understated palate of the materials.

 

Last Updated on Thursday, 18 September 2014 14:45
 
Dreaming of a Dream House PDF Print E-mail
Written by Administrator   
Thursday, 10 July 2014 13:22

Home sweet home. We do love our houses whether it is located in a quiet suburb, center of the city or on top of a hill. It is a comfort zone for most people, a place where you can hide from all the tussles of life. It is not just a mere piece of structure built to protect its owners from the natural elements of the planet. It’s a place where we feel loved, cared, respected and most importantly, one can be freely himself.

Since most of us live in a regular type of abode, I cannot help fantasizing about living in a luxurious mansion, with 10 bedrooms to accommodate all the family members, an infinity pool, a modern home theater system and a gym, a huge one. Well, since I am still dreaming about it, let me share the following most expensive houses bought by those who can afford it.

Last Updated on Friday, 05 November 2010 11:06
 
Scientists conquered old age, but modern society turned out to be unprepared for longevity PDF Print E-mail
Written by Administrator   
Friday, 22 August 2014 09:15

"There is an ancient wisdom: the cause

for every end is hidden in the beginning."

Rigden Djapo (the ALLATRA book)

Millions of dollars have already been invested in the research of anti-aging.

The search for the elixir of longevity fascinated scientists at different times, and now businessmen of various levels are also funding research in the field of gerontology, the extension of human life. Public information sources confirm such financing. Among investors in the development of research laboratories and clusters are:

Sergey Brin and Larry Page, the founders of Google;

Mark Zuckerberg, the founder of Facebook;

Yuri Milner, the founder of DST Global (projects: Odnoklassniki (Classmates), VK social network, Mail.ru and others);

Oleg Deripaska, the founder of the Basic Element holding;

Timur Artemyev, co-founder of Euroset;

Dmitry Zimin, Honorary President of VimpelCom company and many others.

The sums invested in the search for a cure for old age are calculated in tens of millions of dollars. The task that representatives of the scientific community set before themselves is the extension of the active period of life in an elderly person. Research is being done with laboratory mice. An extension of a rodent's life by 10-25% is considered successful. Scientists have proven the fact that a person's potential is estimated at 100-120 years. Only a few make bold statements about the radical extension of human life and significantly going beyond the limit for the species. Among public gerontologists who talk about the possibility of significant prolongation of human life is the British researcher Aubrey de Grey.

Going beyond the limit for the species and extending life up to 250 years is a reality of today.

The bold statement of the famous British scientist is not that fantastic. Today, Ukrainian scientist, natives of the former Soviet Union, has conducted scientific experiment on lab mice in a closed laboratory. At the beginning of the experiment, the biological age of the animals was above average and equalled to 65 years of the human age. A few months later, due to the overall regeneration of the organism, which followed only after three repeated injections of the experimental drug, the biological age of laboratory animals equalled to 35-40 human years. And most importantly, it remained so until the animals were withdrawn from the experiment, which happened when their actual age exceeded the limit for the species by more than two times.

These scientific studies have actually confirmed the possibility of a significant prolongation of the human life and going beyond the conventional ideas about human longevity. When translated into the human world, modern society has a chance to live more than 200 years. In a private conversation, the Ukrainian scientist who made the discovery spoke of the functional capabilities of the human organism and the possibility to live without biological aging up to 1000 years.

Society turned out to be unprepared for the prospect of longevity.

Synthesizing a cure for old age, conducting studies on humans and putting the drug on sale is just a question of time. The knowledge to do it already exists! However, the author of the study states that prolongation of human life by at least two times poses serious risks and threats to humanity. These risks are connected primarily with the domination of the consumerist model of development in society.

Risk #1. Taking possession of the knowledge and limiting access to injections against old age.

Scientist is seriously concerned by the desire of people in power to take hold of the knowledge. Modern science has known many cases in which developments, having fallen into the hands of corporations or people who stand behind them, became classified and withdrawn from public access. The unique discovery in the field of gerontology can be used to build a multibillion-dollar business empire, and access to the drug against old age will be severely limited or the knowledge will be removed. How will society benefit from this discovery then? A narrow circle of priests and politicians will continue to build their empire of power. The social divide will become more pronounced: the rich will continue to get richer and the poor, poorer. We are seeing this now.

Risk #2. Overpopulation of the Earth.

As of today, there exists the problem of constant growth of the world population:

In 1900, the population of the planet was 1.65 billion people;

In 1960 - 3 billion people (despite the fact that humanity survived two world wars);

In 2000 - 6.7 billion people;

On November 1st, 2011 - 7 billion people.

It is obvious that with the advent of the drug against old age and prolongation of human life by at least 200 years, the problem of overpopulation of the Earth will become more acute, which in its turn is connected with three subsequent risks.

Risk #3. Intensification of social inequality.

With the increase of Earth’s population, the number of people in the world who are living below the poverty line is on the rise even today. Among more than 7 billion people on Earth, 2.6 billion people live on less than $2 per day. According to the World Bank, the increase in food prices has contributed to the transition of about 44 million people into poverty since June 2010.

Against the backdrop of about 40% of the population living below the poverty line, according to Forbes magazine, 1,645 of the world's richest people became richer over the past year by 1 trillion US dollars. Their combined capital equals US $6.4 trillion. Interestingly, 268 new people were added to the list of billionaires in 2013. At the same time, according to another source - the analytical data of the World Organization of Creditors (WOC) - 61 million people in the world receive the same income as 3.5 billion people with the lowest income. In other words, for every dollar received by the world's wealthiest, the poorest receive 1.7 cents.

The poverty of Earth’s inhabitants is an artificially created problem that can be solved within just a few years. For this to happen, those 1,645 people on the list of the richest people need only to direct 25% of their capital towards reducing social tensions. But are we seeing this in practice?  The nominal or declarative fight against poverty continues to increase social inequality, much of which is likely to get worse with the prolongation of life. Lives of the poor will be inextricably linked to the constant struggle for survival.

Risk #4. Depletion of natural resources

Consumer attitude toward Earth’s natural resources has already led to serious environmental problems - land, air and water pollution. Deforestation, pumping oil and gas, and greenhouse gas emissions are causing climate change on the planet. What will happen to the ecology if the number of people living on our planet doubles? And if it triples? ..

This being said, modern society possesses technologies which allow us to turn the planet into a blooming garden and put the environment in order. However, people in power prefer to extract super-profit for the sake of economic feasibility and continue to hold power in their hands. If the situation does not change now, it will not change when the anti-aging drug appears, but, on the contrary, it may become worse.

Risk #5. Destruction of civilization: wars and natural disasters

On the one hand, there is a more intense growth in negativity and the brewing of social unrest, which is usually accompanied by demonstrations, protests, local military conflicts and revolutions that often lead to the death of civilians. On the other hand, nature starts responding to people's consumer attitude towards itself in the form of natural disasters, which have become more frequent, awakening volcanoes, hurricanes, earthquakes and other natural phenomena.

The prolongation of people’s lives in this model of development is a ticking time bomb, which can ultimately lead to the death of the entire civilization. Either the society will destroy itself in a war for domination or nature itself will do the trick.

Last Updated on Friday, 22 August 2014 09:23
 
Warnock named Crystal Palace manager PDF Print E-mail
Written by Administrator   
Wednesday, 27 August 2014 20:15

 

Neil Warnock has returned to Crystal Palace as manager to fill the vacancy created by the departure of Tony Pulis, the Premier League club announced on Wednesday.

Warnock, who previously managed Palace between 2007 and 2010, takes over after Pulis abruptly left Selhurst Park on the eve of the season amid reports of a disagreement with co-chairman Steve Parish.

 

 

Last Updated on Tuesday, 09 September 2014 13:23
 
New crackdown on sickness benefits PDF Print E-mail
Written by Administrator   
Tuesday, 06 November 2012 08:41

 

Sickness benefit will be stripped from claimants who refuse to get treatment for their problems under a crackdown to be tested in a £25 million Government trial.

Ministers want to extend the concept of "conditionality" used to force the jobless to seek work to welfare payments for those with health complaints as well.

A series of pilots around the country for what is being touted as a "tough love" approach by Downing Street sources will be announced before Christmas.

Chancellor George Osborne is seeking ways to slash a further £10 billion from the welfare budget by 2016/17 on top of £18 billion of cuts already announced.

Under the proposals claimants would be expected to attend regular sessions with a health care professional who could require them to attend therapy and other treatments to help them recover.

It is unclear exactly what conditions would be caught but No10 suggested drug and alcohol addicts who failed to attend rehab courses would be among them in the initial trials.

Funding for the pilots has been agreed, they said.

Last Updated on Thursday, 04 September 2014 18:19
 
Clooney to wed in Venice in 'couple of weeks' PDF Print E-mail
Written by Administrator   
Tuesday, 09 September 2014 12:58

 

 

Heartthrob actor George Clooney is to marry his British lawyer fiancee Amal Alamuddin in Venice in a "couple of weeks", according to news reports confirmed in part by his spokesman.

The US actor's spokesman confirmed the wedding venue but not the date after Clooney let slip his plans to marry the human rights attorney in the picture-postcard Italian city.

"I met my lovely bride-to-be here in Italy, whom I will be marrying in a couple of weeks, in Venice of all places," People magazine quoted him as saying at an awards ceremony Sunday in Florence.

Reports suggested they could tie the knot on September 26, but the A-list actor's spokesman Stan Rosenfield played this down, telling AFP: "He did not give a specific date.

 

 

"I can only confirm that he is getting married in Venice," he said.

During Sunday's event, the couple appeared very much in love, according to celebrity bible People.

Clooney put his arm around her shoulder and carefully brushed her hair back whenever her "flowing locks" fell out of place as she laughed.

Oscar-winning Clooney, one of Hollywood's most sought-after bachelors, announced in April that he was engaged to his then 36-year-old girlfriend.

News that Alamuddin had stolen 53-year-old Clooney's heart caused a global media frenzy and furious speculation about when they would wed.

They had come out as a couple last October in London, and since have been seen together in New York and on trips to Tanzania and the Seychelles.

Clooney was married to US actress Talia Balsam for four years between 1989 and 1993 but has shown little interest in settling down since, instead going through a string of younger model and actress girlfriends over the years.

 

 

 

Last Updated on Tuesday, 09 September 2014 13:08
 
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British Queen celebrates 

 

World Cup