Links for 12th March 2009

Fresh from the clogged tubes of teh intarwubs…

  1. Hyperactivity helps ADHD boys with memorization

    "In all of the tasks, boys with ADHD were more physically active than the control children. However, both groups showed the same pattern when it came to performing tasks that challenged working memory. Relative to their level of activity in using Microsoft Paint, both groups displayed more than a two-fold increase in hyperactivity during the memory tasks. They fidgeted more and often swiveled around in their chairs. Rapport and his colleagues propose that their findings suggest that "activity may serve a purposeful function in all children to the extent that arousal is necessary for central executive processing and becomes excessive in some children to compensate for chronic cortical under-arousal," which is common in ADHD. Thus, it might be counterproductive to tell children to stop fidgeting when they’re doing tasks that require a lot of focus, provided that their actions aren’t destructive." In other words, don't treat it as a disease? Well, who'd have thought.

    Tagged with: ADHDcognitionhyperactivitychildbehaviour

  2. Chimps use geometry to navigate the jungle

    "After analysing all this data, he and Normand found good evidence that the animals chose their routes using a mental map built around geometric coordinates, as opposed to a navigation style based on landmarks for well-travelled routes. While darting from fruit tree to fruit tree, individuals tended to move in straight lines, slowing only once they neared their destination. Chimps also visited trees from an angle that depended on current location. This suggests the chimpanzees do not rely exclusively on landmarks such as specific trees and streams to navigate. These markers could come in handy once a chimp nears its destination."

    Tagged with: biologyintelligencechimpsprimatesnavigationmappingcartographymental

  3. Suzanne Goldenberg meets the climate change sceptics

    "Unlike Obama, who owed his victory to millions of supporters and donors, the climate change deniers operate within narrow bands of support: the conservative wing of the Republican party and the extreme end of the Christian Right. According to DeSmogblog, an environmentalist website, the 50 or so thinktanks linked to this conference between them have received $47m in funds over the years from Exxon and the Koch and Scaife families, who are the leading patrons of conservative causes in America. Both families made their first fortunes in the oil business." Offered without commentary.

    Tagged with: climatechangeenvironmentdeniallobbyenergyscepticismconservatism

  4. Second Genesis: Making new life

    "Many of the components of this minimal cell already work well together. Biotechnology companies routinely sell commercial kits to synthesise DNA, RNA or proteins to order in a test tube. But these kits only work for a few hours or days before the components are used up and the reaction grinds to a halt. To create a system that runs indefinitely, Forster and Church will also need to add a DNA molecule that encodes all 151 components, so that the system can make new ones as needed. Once they have combined this DNA with a starting set of components, they should in theory end up with a replicating, evolving – in short, living – system."

    Tagged with: biologysciencebiotechnologybioengineeringartificialliferesearch

  5. From AC to DC: Going green with supergrids

    "Some engineers are thinking big. Their calculations suggest that continent-wide HVDC "supergrids" could help smooth out the variable levels of power created by many far-flung renewable generators to make a fully dependable supply. Supporters say this will eventually mean that coal, gas and nuclear power could be ditched, with renewables replacing them within a couple of decades."

    Tagged with: energygridDCpowertransmissioninfrastructuresustainability

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