Insects are conscious, egocentric beings, argue Australian scientists in a new paper that suggests basic consciousness may have first evolved in insects in the Cambrian Period.
- Insects have capacity for basic consciousness known as subjective experience
- Insect brain works in a similar way to human midbrain, which is responsible for subjective experience
- Cambrian insects would have needed core brain systems to support foraging and hunting argue researchers
Recent neuroimaging suggests insects are fully hardwired for both consciousness and egocentric behaviour, providing strong evidence that organisms from flies to fleas exhibit both.
Consciousness comes in many levels, and insects have the capacity for at least one basic form: subjective experience, the researchers argue in paper published today in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
“When you and I are hungry, we don’t just move towards food; our hunger also has a particular feeling associated with it,” said the paper’s co-author Dr Colin Klein a philosopher at Macquarie University.
“An organism has subjective experience if its mental states feel like something when they happen.”
When organisms began to move freely in their environment, they faced many new challenges … that required a new kind of integrated modelling, and that’s where we think consciousness arose.Dr Colin Klein
Dr Klein and his colleague biological scientist Associate Professor Andrew Barron, also of Macquarie University, studied detailed neuroimaging reports concerning insect brains.
They then compared the structure of such brains with those of humans and other animals.
Their work focused on the midbrain, a set of evolutionarily ancient structures that are surrounded by the grey folds of the cortex. The arrangement, they said, looks a bit like the flesh of a peach surrounding the pit.
“In humans and other vertebrates (animals with a backbone and/or spinal column) there is good evidence that the midbrain is responsible for the basic capacity for subjective experience,” said Dr Klein.
“The cortex determines much about what we are aware of, but the midbrain is what makes us capable of being aware in the first place. It does so, very crudely, by forming a single integrated picture of the world from a single point of view.”
Portions of insect brains work in a similar way to the midbrain in humans, performing the same sort of modelling of the world, said the authors.
As for being egocentric, there is now compelling evidence that insects display selective attention to their processing of the world, said Dr Barron.
“They don’t pay attention to all sensory input equally,” he explained. “The insect selectively pays attention to what is most relevant to it at the moment, hence [it is] egocentric.”
The term “insect” is a broad one, generally referring to any small animal that has six legs, a body formed of three parts, and may have wings. Since diverse species under this umbrella term have widely varying sensory systems and ways of life, the authors expect that to be reflected in their conscious lives.
Not all living things are thought to have consciousness, though. Plants, for example, do not have the necessary structures for it. Jellyfish and nematodes (certain unsegmented worms, such as roundworms) do not have such hardwiring either.
Origins of consciousness traced back to Cambrian
Dr Barron and Dr Klein believe the origins of consciousness date to at least the Cambrian, which began around 540 million years ago.
“When organisms began to move freely in their environment, they faced many new challenges,” Dr Klein explained.
“They had to decide where to go next. They had to prioritise their needs. They had to interpret sensory information that changed as a consequence of their motion. That required a new kind of integrated modelling, and that’s where we think consciousness arose.”
Bruno van Swinderen is an associate professor at the University of Queensland and is a leader in the field of insect neurobiology.
Dr Van Swinderen believes one of the most important points of the new paper is the realisation that understanding the evolution of consciousness will not come from looking for intelligent behaviour in other animals, but rather from understanding the fundamental mechanisms that support subjective awareness and selective attention, which he said “we now know insects have.”
“Insects have traditionally been viewed as mini robots, responding to environmental stimuli in a rather inflexible way,” said Dr Van Swinderen.
“In contrast, Barron and Klein suggest that it is likely that some of the fundamental underpinnings of consciousness have already been solved in even the smallest brains.”
Completely understanding what’s on the mind of an insect is still impossible, however.
As Dr Klein said: “In some sense it’s very hard to understand what other people experience, much less animals! But we think that research can reveal much about the contents of insects’ experience, as well as the similarities and differences in the way that these experiences are structured.”
All eyes should be on the Ring of Fire as trenches activate tectonic plates at exponential levels.
44,000 plus people have evacuated the Japanese town of Mashiki on the southern portion of the Land of The Rising Sun following a 7.4 magnitude earthquake that has killed at least 9 and injured 858.
If you have been paying attention, you may have noticed the frequency of earthquakes being reported in 2016 has been unyielding.
Watch the video.URL:https://youtu.be/AMLFLO4opfE
Liquid crystals, discovered more than 125 years ago, are at work behind the screens of TV and computer monitors, clocks, watches and most other electronics displays, and scientists are still discovering new twists—and bends—in their molecular makeup.
Liquid crystals are an exotic state of matter that flows like a fluid but in which the molecules may be oriented in a crystal-like way. At the microscopic scale, liquid crystals come in several different configurations, including a naturally spiraling “twist-bend” molecular arrangement, discovered in 2013, that has excited a flurry of new research.
Now, using a pioneering X-ray technique developed at the U.S. Department of Energy’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab), a research team has recorded the first direct measurements confirming a tightly wound spiral molecular arrangement that could help unravel the mysteries of its formation and possibly improve liquid-crystal display (LCD) performance, such as the speed at which they selectively switch light on or off in tiny screen areas.
The findings could also help explain how so-called “chiral” structure—molecules can exhibit wildly different properties based on their left- or right-handedness (chirality), which is of interest in biology, materials science and chemistry—can form from organic molecules that do not exhibit such handedness.
“This newly discovered ‘twist-bend’ phase of liquid crystals is one of the hottest topics in liquid crystal research,” said Chenhui Zhu, a research scientist at Berkeley Lab’s Advanced Light Source (ALS), where the X-ray studies were performed.
“Now, we have provided the first definitive evidence for the twist-bend structure. The determination of this structure will without question advance our understanding of its properties, such as its response to temperature and to stress, which may help improve how we operate the current generation of LCDs.”
Zhu was the lead author on a related research paper published in the April 7 edition of Physical Review Letters.
While there are now several competing screen technologies to standard LCDs, the standard LCD market is still huge, representing more than one-third of the revenue in the electronic display market. The overall display market is expected to top $150 billion in revenue this year.
The individual molecules in the structure determined at Berkeley Lab are constructed like flexible, nanoscale boomerangs, just a few nanometers, or billionths of a meter, in length and with rigid ends and flexible middles. In the twist-bend phase, the spiraling structure they form resembles a bunch of snakes lined up and then wound snugly around the length of an invisible pole.
Zhu tuned low-energy or “soft” X-rays at the ALS to examine carbon atoms in the liquid crystal molecules, which provided details about the molecular orientation of their chemical bonds and the structure they formed. The technique he used for the study is known as soft X-ray scattering. The spiraling, helical molecular arrangement of the liquid crystal samples would have been undetectable by conventional X-ray scattering techniques.
The measurements show that the liquid crystals complete a 360-degree twist-bend over a distance of just 8 nanometers at room temperature, which Zhu said is an “amazingly short” distance given that each molecule is 3 nanometers long, and such a strongly coiled structure is very rare.
The driving force for the formation of the tight spiral in the twist-bend arrangement is still unclear, and the structure exhibits unusual optical properties that also warrant further study, Zhu said.
Researchers found that the spiral “pitch,” or width of one complete spiral turn, becomes a little longer with increasing temperature, and the spiral abruptly disappears at sufficiently high temperature as the material adopts a different configuration.
“Currently, this experiment can’t be done anywhere else,” Zhu said. “We are the first team to use this soft X-ray scattering technique to study this liquid-crystal phase.”
Standard LCDs often use nematic liquid crystals, a phase of liquid crystals that naturally align in the same direction—like a group of compass needles that are parallel to one another, pointing in one direction.
In these standard LCD devices, rod-like liquid crystal molecules are sandwiched between specially treated plates of glass that cause the molecules to “lie down” rather than point toward the glass. The glass is typically treated to induce a 90-degree twist in the molecular arrangement, so that the molecules closest to one glass plate are perpendicular to those closest to the other glass plate.
It’s like a series of compass needles made to face north at the top, smoothly reorienting to the northeast in the middle, and pointing east at the bottom. This molecularly twisted state is then electrically distorted to allow polarized light to pass through at varying brightness, for example, or to block light (by straightening the twist completely).
Future experiments will explore how the spirals depend on molecular shape and respond to variations in temperature, electric field, ultraviolet light, and stress, Zhu added.
He also hopes to explore similar spiraling structures, such as a liquid crystal phase known as the helical nanofilament, which shows promise for solar energy applications. Studies of DNA, synthetic proteins, and amyloid fibrils such as those associated with Alzheimer’s disease, might help explain the role of handedness in how organic molecules self-assemble.
With brighter, more laser-like X-ray sources and faster X-ray detectors, it may be possible to see details in how the spiraling twist-bend structure forms and fluctuates in real time in materials, Zhu also said.
“I am hoping our ongoing experiments can provide unique information to benefit other theories and experiments in this field,” he noted.
Patients at one of Australia’s most popular cosmetic surgery clinics are being knocked out without their consent, an explosive leaked report has revealed.
Report’s key findings:
- Patients given high levels of anaesthetic without their consent
- Drugs given in excess of the safe limits
- Patients suffered rapid heart beat, seizure, cardiac arrest
- Clinics placed the health and safety of the public at risk
The ABC can reveal women getting breast implants at The Cosmetic Institute (TCI) were given dangerously high doses of drugs that can cause cardiac arrests.
According to the NSW Health Care Complaints Commission (HCCC) report, in the last 12 months six patients suffered potentially life-threatening complications while getting breast implants, including rapid heartbeat, seizures and cardiac arrest.
High doses of anaesthetics used at the clinic appear to be to blame.
“Adrenaline was used routinely (in combination with local anaesthetic agents) … at well above the accepted upper limit of safe dosage,” the report found.
It found the clinics “placed the health and safety of members of the public at risk”.
Merrilyn Walton, a professor of Medical Education, Patient Safety at the University of Sydney, said the findings were “extremely worrying”.
The Cosmetic Institute is Australia’s largest provider of cosmetic surgery.
It has clinics in Sydney and the Gold Coast with plans to open in Victoria.
The company’s annual projected turnover for 2014-15 was $35 million to $40 million.
The highly critical report found patients were being given high doses of anaesthetic cocktails, to the point where they were “under a general anaesthetic”.
But the clinics are only licensed to provide “conscious sedation”.
Patients had not given their consent to be put under a general anaesthetic.
“TCI’s consent procedures were inadequate — as patients are being placed under either deeper sedation or general anaesthetic with no consent provided for this,” the report found.
Patients not aware of TCI procedure’s risk
Professor Walton said she was very concerned that patients had not given proper, informed consent.
“If doctors are honest about the level of drugs they’re using, they would have to expose the serious risk these women face during this procedure,” she said.
“I can’t imagine anyone would consent to having these procedures done in such circumstances.”
Doses were not being adjusted for individual patients’ size and body weight.
“Local anaesthetic drugs were used at TCI in excess of safe doses and dose calculations were not individualised according to patients’ weight,” experts said.
Media player: “Space” to play, “M” to mute, “left” and “right” to seek.
“All of these unlawful anaesthetics, all of these dangerous complications occurred at the hands of medical practitioners, anaesthetists and surgeons. We would like to know if the HCCC is taking action against those doctors who have acted unlawfully, misled patients and put their lives at risk,” Dr Fleming said.
The ABC first raised concerns about The Cosmetic Institute last year, when it was revealed TCI was under investigation for alleged inappropriate use of anaesthetic.
The company now performs procedures at Concord Private Hospital in Sydney and another private hospital in Southport, Queensland.
Patients tell of botched breast implant surgery
Narelle Bayon has been in constant pain since getting breast implants at The Cosmetic Institute in Sydney.
“In my arm, there’s constant pain, it’s like a burning. As soon as I elevate my arm, my arm goes numb and I have to shake my arm because it goes numb. It just tingles,” she said.
Plastic surgeons have told Ms Bayon the pocket her surgeon cut for the implant in her left breast was too small and narrow.
“The pain is permanent. It’s the result of basically the implant, because it’s pushing on the nerves in my arm. It’s probably going to be there for life,” she said.
The experience has had a devastating impact on the young mother.
I wish I never went to The Cosmetic Institute.Narelle Bayon
“I’ve actually had to see a psychiatrist because it’s just too much to deal with. You do this for yourself, thinking you might be able to feel better for yourself,” Ms Bayon said.
“I get sore and I get tired, and it just burns around my neck.”
She regrets having surgery at the cut-price cosmetic clinic.
“I wish I never went there. Simple as that. I wish I never went to The Cosmetic Institute,” she said.
Dr Fleming said patients should be wary of clinics offering cut-price or cheap surgery.
“Cosmetic surgery is no different to anything else. You usually get what you pay for. The problem with surgical procedures is that when you find out the true cost of the procedure, you may have paid for it with your health and safety, or even your life,” he said.
TCI has taken action to address concerns
The Cosmetic Institute general manager Andrew Gill said the clinics had already taken action to address the issues investigated by the HCCC.
“Effective from last year, all TCI surgeries in NSW are now carried out at licensed premises at Concord Private Hospital,” he said.
Mr Gill said the procedures were done under deep sedation or general anaesthetic.
“TCI is also reviewing consent procedures and documentation to ensure that patients are fully aware of the level of sedation under which they will placed,” he said.
Mr Gill said the clinics had reviewed their procedures to ensure safe upper limits for adrenaline and local anaesthetic usage.
He said TCI had performed more than 15,000 breast augmentation procedures since 2012.
Reform of cosmetic surgery stalls
In Australia, doctors do not need to be experienced as a surgeon to perform cosmetic surgery.
The NSW Government is considering whether there should be a new class of “cosmetic surgery”, so that cosmetic procedures could only be undertaken in a licensed private health facility or hospital.
The HCCC report recommended a major overhaul of procedures including the clinic only perform breast augmentation at “licensed facilities”.
Growing complaints about cosmetic surgery have also prompted the Medical Board to conduct a widespread review of the cosmetic surgery industry in Australia.
Changes could include mandatory cooling-off periods for all patients before cosmetic surgery procedures, with a three-month cooling off period for patients younger than 18, and mandatory assessment by a registered psychologist or psychiatrist.
Are you still thirsty? Or just addicted to this toxic chemical? Well, here’s another reason why you ought to refuse to pour this poison cocktail down your esophagus.
According to an article in Collective Evolution, researchers at the University of Iowa have been taking another look at aspartame, although I really don’t know why they need any more proof of it’s toxicity. It was kept off the market until 1981, thanks to the consumer advocate and lawyer James Turner.
60,000 women took part in the research and here’s what they found:
“… Women who consumed two or more diet drinks a day are 30 percent more likely to experience a cardiovascular event, and 50 percent more likely to die from a related disease.”
Of course the folks who created this study have merely called for more research:
“‘It’s too soon to tell people to change their behaviour based on this study; however, based on these and other findings we have a responsibility to do more research to see what is going on and further define the relationship, if one truly exists,’ says Dr. Ankur Vyas, because ‘This could have major public health implications.’”
Hmmm. The major health implication of these neurotoxins were pointed out over four decades ago. Since it was ole Donald Rumsfeld who commandeered this poison into the food supply, a quote from the liar himself might be appropriate.
Watch the video discussion. URL:https://youtu.be/M7vV0XpK3Pw
Before Chicxulub, people had some odd theories about what caused the demise of the dinos, including low libido and caterpillars run amok.
Earlier this month on the Gulf coast of Mexico, an international team began drilling into a vast scar on Earth’s surface. The enormous pockmark, which stretches 110 miles (177 kilometers) wide, was created when a chunk of space rock slammed into the planet about 66 million years ago.
The cosmic smashup isn’t even one of the top five largest hits in Earth’s history, but it holds a special place in our imaginations. That’s because the site, known as the Chicxulub crater, was ground zero for the mass extinction that brought the age of dinosaurs to a close.
While the giant impact is the most likely weapon in this ancient murder case, we know surprisingly little about how the strike translated into widespread death and destruction. Paleontologists have debated aspects of the impact’s ecological fallout ranging from blazing wildfires to an impenetrable cloud of debris in the atmosphere.
But exactly what happened and how such environmental shocks would have killed some species while sparing others is still up for debate.
That’s part of what the crater drilling team hopes to figure out—and it’s just the latest effort in a long history of research trying to figure out what happened to the world’s “terrible lizards.”
Cataracts to Caterpillars
When the first dinosaur fossils were described in the early 19th century, paleontologists saw them as just another group of animals slowly lost to time. Species evolved and went extinct as life shuffled on through the ages.
By the 1920s, however, enough fossils had turned up that scientists began to wonder how so many of the animals had vanished so completely. Aschronicled by University of Bristol paleontologist Michael Benton, the scientific literature of the time saw a dramatic spike in the number of published papers proposing dino death theories.
Not that the interest was all academically sound. This was a boom time for crazy conjectures about the catastrophe, and seemingly everyone who had a wild idea about what killed the dinosaurs spouted off about it.
Early ideas included the concept that dinosaurs put too much of their bodily energy into growing big and spiky, and this made them incapable of adapting to changes in climate or other alterations to the global environment. Others thought dinosaurs and additional fossil species had a set lifetime, with some kind of “racial senescence” ushering them off the evolutionary stage at the appointed time.
The far-fetched ideas didn’t stop there. Slipped discs, out-of-control hormones, low sex drives, disease, cataracts, and even just plain dino stupidity were all implicated.
In 1962, one entomologist even suggested that ancient Earth was overrun by caterpillars, and the insects ate so much plant life that there was nothing left for the dinosaurs. The resulting ecological crash saw butterflies flitting over the starved bodies of dead Triceratops. Nevermind how caterpillars would have driven species to extinction in the skies or the seas.
The puzzle wasn’t just about the dinosaurs, though. By the 1970s paleontologists could see that a real, mysterious event had affected a great proportion of life on Earth. One estimate puts the death toll at 75 percent of known fossil species, from the total loss of pterosaurs in the skies to the end of coil-shelled ammonites in the seas. The period is also marked by severe reductions in the numbers of ancient birds, lizards, and mammals.
But even with the mounting evidence, no one had any solid, serious idea for what caused the turmoil.
Then in 1980, geologist Walter Alvarez and his colleagues proposed something dramatically different. The rock layer marking the end of the Cretaceous period was rich in iridium, a metal that is rare in Earth’s crust but more common in meteorites and asteroids. Could the dinosaurs and other forms of life have been killed off by a shock from space?
While the concept spurred years of debate, over time it has become the favored theory for the dinosaurs’ demise. The 1991 discovery of the Chicxulub crater off Mexico’s Yucatán Peninsula provided the smoking gun. Research since then has only further implicated the ancient asteroid. In 2010, a group of 41 researchers published a position paper in Scienceasserting that the impact was the most important factor in tipping the world into its fifth mass extinction.
Hunt for Triggers
Not that debate has ceased. Even now, a handful of experts prefer the idea that massive volcanic eruptions in India, changing sea levels, and other causes were more important for the extinction event.
And that’s not to mention ongoing arguments about the dinosaurs themselves. Just this week, Benton and his colleagues published their support for the notion that the dinosaurs were already in decline during the 24 million years leading up to the impact, making them especially vulnerable and unable to bounce back. This contradicts earlier researchthat found dinosaurs were doing just fine up to the day of the impact, indicating that there’s much that remains unknown about what caused all dinosaurs except birds to disappear.
To help bring more resolution to the dinosaur’s apocalyptic moment, the new drilling project aims to draw up cores from various levels of the crater between now and June. In addition to providing new geologic details about how impact craters form, the researchers hope to scrape up new information about the triggers for the sweeping environmental changes, as well as how life recovered once the worst was over.
The Chicxulub crater holds secrets of death, to be sure, but it may also give us a new appreciation for life’s resilience.
This could change everything.
Less than half a second after the first direct evidence of gravitational waves was recorded on 14 September 2015, a very short, faint signal was registered by NASA’s Fermi Telescope from the same region in space.
High-energy light particles called gamma rays were caught emanating from a black hole merger in the area, and the discovery will not only help physicists pinpoint the exact source of the gravitational wave – if confirmed, it has huge implications for our understanding of the fundamental physics that govern our Universe.
“Gamma-rays arising from a black hole merger would be a landmark finding because black holes are expected to merge ‘cleanly’, without producing any sort of light,” NASA explains.
First off, here’s what we know. On September 14, the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory (LIGO) facilities in Washington and Louisiana picked up the first direct evidence of Einstein’s gravitational waves, traced to the merging of two black holes (called binary black holes) around 1.3 billion years ago.
The discovery was significant for two reasons, as Fiona MacDonald reported for us earlier this year:
“This event – which in itself is a big deal, seeing as no one had ever spotted a binary black hole merger before – was so massive that it significantly warped the fabric of space time, creating ripples that spread out across the Universe… finally reaching us last year.”
Now, researchers at NASA have just announced that they too picked up on something strange on September 14 – a very faint burst of gamma rays that occurred less than half a second after the gravitational waves, and in the same region of space.
Coincidence? We can’t discount it just yet, but NASA says there’s a 0.2 percent chance of these two events randomly occurring in the same place at the same time.
At the very least, the discovery – which was picked up by the Gamma-ray Burst Monitor (GBM) on NASA’s Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope – will help scientists figure out exactly where this black hole merger occurred 1.3 billion years ago.
“Currently, gravitational wave observatories possess relatively blurry vision. For the September event, dubbed GW150914 after the date, LIGO scientists could only trace the source to an arc of sky spanning an area of about 600 square degrees, comparable to the angular area on Earth occupied by the United States.
Assuming the GBM burst is connected to this event, the GBM localisation and Fermi’s view of Earth combine to reduce the LIGO search area by about two-thirds, to 200 square degrees.”
But the fact that light appears to have been emitted from a black hole merger could also prompt a massive rethink of one of the most violent, high-energy events in the known Universe.
Why? Well, simply put, gas is needed in order to generate light, and there should be no gas around two soon-to-merge black holes, because it should have been swallowed up by one of them long before the pair collide.
There are now two possibilities. The first is the gamma ray burst really was a coincidence and wasn’t related to the GW150914 black hole merger that produced the September 14 gravitational waves. The second is that black hole mergers really can produce an observable gamma-ray emission, and that means we’re going to have to rethink the laws that govern what black holes can swallow and when.
“This is a tantalising discovery with a low chance of being a false alarm, but before we can start rewriting the textbooks we’ll need to see more bursts associated with gravitational waves from black hole mergers,” one of the the GBM team, Valerie Connaughton, told Francis Reddy at Phys.org.
We’re now going to need more data to figure out which, but gas particles escaping the pull of black holes? That would be pretty damn amazing.
Watch the video. URL:https://youtu.be/9W9GInWeFcM
he appearance of these symptoms does not have to mean that you are infected by HIV, but why to risk your precious life.
You are constantly tired
The tiredness and the temperature are the most common signs that you are exposed to this virus. If the tiredness and the temperature are followed by throat inflammation, swollen lymph organs, you should start worrying.
Infections caused by Candida
This is a very common fungal infection. It appears on the mouth and makes the chewing difficult as well as the swallowing of food and water. If you suffered this infection more than 2 times, then you have to make a HIV testing.
The HIV makes our immune system very weak, so the rashes are something that happens often. If the rash intensifies, it could be a clear sign of HIV.
Vomiting and diarrhea
About 40% of the infected people are having short lasting nausea, diarrhea and vomiting. Fluctuate losing weight and tiredness are usually visible on the persons infected by HIV.
The dry cough is one of the most dangerous symptoms of the HIV. In many times, it could be an allergy, but it the cough is followed by tiredness, fiver and big weight loss, you should visit the doctor immediately!