SpaceX plans to send its Dragon spacecraft to Mars.

SpaceX announced Wednesday that it intends to begin sending uncrewed Dragon spacecraft to Mars as early as 2018. This is the first step in the company’s plan to one day land humans on Mars, which is the goal founder Elon Musk set for SpaceX when he created the company in 2002.

According to the company, these initial test missions will help demonstrate the technologies needed to land large payloads propulsively on Mars. This series of missions, to be launched on the company’s not-yet-completed Falcon Heavy rocket, will provide key data for SpaceX as the company develops an overall plan to send humans to the Red Planet to colonize Mars.

One of the biggest challenges in landing on Mars is the fact that its atmosphere is so thin it provides little braking capacity. To land the 900kg Curiosity rover on Mars, NASA had to devise the complicated sky crane system that led to its “Seven Minutes of Terror.” A Dragon would weigh much more, perhaps about 6,000kg. To solve this problem, SpaceX plans to use an upgraded spacecraft, a Dragon2 powered by eight SuperDraco engines, to land using propulsion.

As can be seen in the video below, SpaceX demonstrated this propulsive capability at its rocket development facility in McGregor, Texas, in January:

To date SpaceX has revealed almost no specifics about its ambitious plans to send humans to Mars, something NASA acknowledges it cannot do itself before the late 2030s—with more than $100 billion, to boot. It is therefore safe to say there is a fair amount of skepticism in the traditional aerospace community about SpaceX’s technical and financial wherewithal to pull off the colonization of Mars during the next couple of decades. But Musk has said human missions could begin by about 2025.

The founder of SpaceX has promised to reveal more details about the company’s much-anticipated Mars architecture at this year’s International Astronautical Conference, which will be held in Guadalajara, Mexico, from September 26 to 30.

Watch the video. URL:

9 Ways To Make Your Sperm Stronger, Faster And More Fertile

Healthy sperms translate into healthy babies. Maintaining a healthy lifestyle and improving the quality of nutrition is essential to improve your chances of conception.

Most men are advised a medication course to solve problems with poor sperm count or quality, when pervent attempts at conceiving come to nought. But there are many natural ways to prepare yourself physically and mentally to become a dad. Here are some valuable tips to get you on your way:

Sperm Facts That You Didn’t Know About


Although there is a large amount that leaves from time to time, studies show that healthy and strong sperm takes over 2 months to develop. The head of a sperm is topped with acrosome, the chemical which helps break down the external surface of the egg and enter. Sperm cells actually only transport the DNA that is required to create an offspring, they are not exactly what helps.

Sperm Facts

Here is list of male sperm facts.

1. High Rate of Abnormality:

Over 90% of an ejaculation contains abnormal sperm. Although this doesn’t matter as just one of the million is required for fertilization.

2. Sperm Machine:

Although there is a large amount that leaves from time to time, studies show that healthy and strong sperm takes over 2 months to develop.

3. The Attack Helmet:

The head of a sperm is topped with acrosome, this chemical helps break down the external surface of the egg and enter.

4. One is Still Two:

Its ok if you don’t have one testicle, one is as good as two. It doesn’t actually change your potency level.

5. Y Chromosome:

The Y chromosome is directly inherited from your father. Every other chromosome is a fusion of the mother and father but the Y stays the same through generations sometimes.

6. Forever Fertile:

Women have a fixed number of eggs and run out by the time they are 50 but men can father a son for as long as they are alive.

7. Immune and Safe:

Sperm cells could be attacked by our own immune system, but that doesn’t happen because they have a external layer of cells that prevents this damage.

8. Mode of Transport:

Sperm cells actually only transport the DNA that is required to create an offspring, they are not exactly what helps.

9. Keep it Cool:

For sake of the sperm the testicles have to be around 7 degrees cooler than the normal body temperature.

10: Population:

Although every ejaculation may only be around half a teaspoon, it contains 200 million sperms. That is two-thirds the population of the United States.


Iconic Psychiatrist Carl Jung on Human Personality in Rare BBC Interview.

Legendary Swiss psychiatrist Carl Gustav Jung (July 26, 1875–June 6, 1961), along with his frenemy Freud, is considered the founding father of modern analytical psychology. He coined the concepts of collective consciousness and introverted vs. extroverted personality, providing the foundation for the popular Myers-Briggs Type Indicator. Though famously accused of having lost his soul, Jung had a much more heartening view of human nature than Freud and memorably wrote that “the sole purpose of human existence is to kindle a light in the darkness of mere being.” On October 22 of 1959, BBC’s Face to Face — an unusual series of pointed, almost interrogative interviews seeking to “unmask public figures” — aired a segment on Jung, included in the 1977 anthology C.G. Jung Speaking: Interviews and Encounters (public library). Eighty-four at the time and still working, he talks to New Statesman editor John Freeman about education, religion, consciousness, human nature, and his temperamental differences with Freud, which sparked his study of personality types. Transcript highlights below.

Watch the rare interview. URL:
Echoing Anaïs Nin’s meditation on the fluid self from a decade earlier, Jung confirms that fixed personality is a myth:

Psychological type is nothing static — it changes in the course of life.

He advocates for psychology as the most potent tool for understanding human nature and thus saving humanity from itself:

We need more understanding of human nature, because the only danger that exists is man himself — he is the great danger, and we are pitifully unaware of it. We know nothing of man — far too little.

But perhaps most timeless and timely of all is the interview’s concluding question, the answer to which arrives at the same conclusion that Viktor Frankl famously did:

FREEMAN: As the world becomes more technically efficient, it seems increasingly necessary for people to behave communally and collectively, now do you think it’s possible that the highest development of man may be to submerge his own individuality in a kind of collective consciousness?

JUNG: That’s hardly possible. I think there will be a reaction — a reaction will set in against this communal dissociation. You know, man doesn’t stand forever, his nullification. Once, there will be a reaction, and I see it setting in, you know, when I think of my patients, they all seek their own existence and to assure their existence against that complete atomization into nothingness or into meaninglessness. Man cannot stand a meaningless life.

This interview, writes editor R. F. C. Hull in C.G. Jung Speaking, “undoubtedly brought Jung to more people than any other piece of journalism and any of Jung’s own writings.” Complement it with Jung’s fantastic catalog of the unconscious, The Book of Symbols, and his timelessly captivating Memories, Dreams, Reflection.

5 daily 20-minute habits that will make you a happier person.

Happiness. Such a simple word. Such an important word. Happiness matters for everyone, even if what it means varies from person to person.

smiling woman with camera

Despite the differences in what defines happiness for each person, there is consistency in actions you can take to increase your happiness.

In the guest post below from my friend and colleague Neil Pasricha, he shares 5 simple but powerful actions you can take to get started right now.

Neil is the New York Times best selling author of “The Book of Awesome,” and what follows is a sampling from his exciting new book, “The Happiness Equation: Want Nothing + Do Anything = Have Everything.”

Not only does Neil incorporate scientific research in an easy to read manner, he began this inspirational journey based on his own process of self-discovery .

As I travel around the US on tour for my new book “The Happiness Equation,” I can’t help but notice how happiness is really lacking right now.

When I studied the US Declaration of Independence back in high school, I remember being really struck by the phrase:

“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness.”

I remember thinking that it was interesting the rights being promised weren’t life, liberty, and happiness. They were life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. It was the pursuit itself, not necessarily the achievement that was being held up as worth protecting at all costs.

But how do we get there?

Well, research by positive psychology leaders such as Sonja Lyubimorsky show that happiness really is a choice. Our intentional activities have four times the effect on our happiness as what happens to us. Put another way? If your candidate doesn’t win the election, a great percentage of your happiness can still come from within.

But if you’re staying put then let me leave you with five simple exercises that can help you be happier. They’re all scientifically proven and any of these can be done in less than twenty minutes a day. Do it for a few weeks and you’ll quickly develop a new happiness habit:

1. Three walks a week
Researchers found that the more physically active people are, the greater their general feelings of excitement and enthusiasm. Just a half an hour of brisk walking three times a week improves happiness.

Another recent study showed how three thirty-minute brisk walks or jogs can even improve recovery from clinical depression. Yes, clinical depression. Results were stronger than studies using medication or studies using exercise and medication combined.

2. The 20-minute replay
Writing for twenty minutes about a positive experience dramatically improves happiness. Why? Because you actually relive the experience as you’re writing it and then relive it every time you read it.

Your brain sends you back. In a University of Texas study called “How Do I Love Thee? Let Me Count the Words,” researchers had one member of a couple write about their relationship for twenty minutes three times a day. Compared to the test group, the couple was more likely to engage in intimate dialogue afterward, and the relationship was more likely to last.
3. Five random acts of kindness
Carrying out five random acts of kindness a week dramatically improves your happiness. We don’t naturally think about paying for someone’s coffee, mowing our neighbor’s lawn, or writing a thank-you note to our apartment building security guard at Christmas. But Sonja Lyubomirsky did a study asking Stanford students to perform five random acts of kindness over a week.

Not surprisingly, they reported much higher happiness levels than the test group. Why? They felt good about themselves! People appreciated them. In his book “Flourish,” Professor Martin Seligman says that “we scientists have found that doing a kindness produces the single most reliable momentary increase in well-being of any exercise we have tested
4. Two-minute meditations
A research team looked at brain scans of people before and after they participated in a course on mindfulness meditation and published the results in Psychiatry Research. What happened?

After the course, parts of the brain associated with compassion and self-awareness grew while parts associated with stress shrank. Studies report that meditation can “permanently rewire” your brain to raise levels of happiness.
5. Five gratitudes
If you can be happy with simple things, then it will be simple to be happy. Find a book or a journal, or even start a website, and write down three to five things you’re grateful for from the past week. I wrote five a week on my blog

Some people write in a notebook by their bedside. Back in 2003, researchers Robert Emmons and Michael McCullough asked groups of students to write down five gratitudes, five hassles, or five events that happened over the past week for ten straight weeks.

Guess what happened? The students who wrote five gratitudes were happier and physically healthier. Charles Dickens puts this well: “Reflect upon your present blessings, of which every man has many, not your past misfortunes, of which all men have some.”

This Is Exactly Why Nikola Tesla Told Us To Study The ‘Non Physical’.

If you google “parapsychology,” the first thing that will probably pop up is a Wikipedia entry loosely (and, in my opinion, rather offensively) defining it as a “pseudoscience.” This is unfortunate, because it distracts the reader from realizing that psychical research, also known as ‘psi’ (or parapsychology), is practiced by various scientists and reputable institutions all over the world. This includes the study of paranormal activity and extended human human capacities like precognition and telepathy, among other things. As the University of Calgary points out, parapsychology is an interdisciplinary field which has attracted physicists, engineers, biologists, psychologists, and researchers in other sciences as well.

The Princeton Engineering Anomalies Research (PEAR) project is a great example of this comprehensive approach to the subject — a project that ran from 1979 until 2007, it aimed to examine if there was factual basis for theories in mind/matter interaction, or extrasensory perception (ESP). Highly significant statistical deviation, far beyond what one could expect from chance, was seen there. Another example would be the University of Virginia’s Division of Perceptual Studies, in which they explore such phenomena as reincarnation, near death experiences (NDEs), and out of body experiences (OBEs).

“Studies of the so-called ‘psi phenomena’ indicate that we can sometimes receive meaningful information without the use of ordinary senses, and in ways that transcend the habitual space and time constraints. Furthermore, psi research demonstrates that we can mentally influence—at a distance—physical devices and living organisms (including other human beings). Psi research also shows that distant minds may behave in ways that are nonlocally correlated, i.e. the correlations between distant minds are hypothesized to be unmediated (they are not linked to any known energetic signal), unmitigated (they do not degrade with increasing distance), and immediate (they appear to be simultaneous). These events are so common that they cannot be viewed as anomalous nor as exceptions to natural laws, but as indications of the need for a broader explanatory framework that cannot be predicated exclusively on materialism.” – Manifesto for a Post-Materialist Science


The examination of these types of phenomena is vital to increasing our understanding about the nature of our reality. A lot of new science is revealing how many, and how diverse, are the factors are which influence the so-called ‘physical material world that we see around us. So what can we learn from this information? To keep an open mind, to know that not everything we believe to be true, is, and that maybe there are components of our reality that we have yet to understand. We can learn that it’s okay to take topics like this seriously, because there is a wealth of very compelling statistical data and observation that has many scientists interested in it… and perplexed.


“There are claims in the parapsychology field which, in my opinion, deserve serious study, [with one being] that young children sometimes report details of a previous life, which upon checking turn out to be accurate and which they could not have known about in any other way than reincarnation.” – Carl Sagan

This topic has been studied by numerous scientists who belong to various academic institutions from all over the world.

One great example comes from University of Virginia psychiatrist Jim Tucker, who in 2008 published a review of cases suggestive of reincarnation in the journal Explore.

In the article, he describes a typical reincarnation case, where subjects start reporting a past life experience. One common denominator of these cases is that they all involve children, with the average age being 35 months when subjects begin to report their experiences. The experiences described are often detailed and extensive, and Tucker points out that many of these children show strong emotional involvement when speaking about their claims; some cry and beg to be taken to what they say is their previous family. Others show intense anger.

“The subjects usually stop making their past-life statements by the age of six to seven, and most seem to lose the purported memories. That is the age when children start school and begin having more experiences in the current life, as well as when they tend to lose their early childhood memories.” 

One example Tucker describes, an American case, is of a child named Sam Taylor, who was a year and a half old when he started revealing some remarkable information:

“He looked up as his father was changing his diaper and said, “When I was your age, I used to change your diapers.” He began talking more about having been his grandfather. He eventually told details of his grandfather’s life that his parents felt certain he could not have learned through normal means, such as the fact that his grandfather’s sister had been murdered and that his grandmother had used a food processor to make milkshakes for his grandfather every day at the end of his life.” 

Again, this is one of hundreds of cases. Children have also been taken to their previous families, describing the qualities and characteristics of the families, and their own past lives, about which there is no possible way the child could know.Here is another specific case that was examined by Dr. Tucker, which we wrote about a couple of months ago. And there are plenty more to choose from.

These are cases involving very young children and they offer little reason to suspect a hoax. From a scientific standpoint, however, even though these cases are intriguing, they still leave us with a problem that plagues most parapsychological research today. As Tucker points out, “the processes that would be involved in such a transfer of consciousness are completely unknown, and they await further elucidation.” 


For a selected list of downloadable peer-reviewed journal articles reporting studies of psychic phenomena, mostly published in the 21st century, you can click HERE. At this link, you will find a select group of articles under the “precognition & presentiment” tab and more than enough scientific analyses to see why this topic is taken very seriously by some scientists.

A recently published study (meta analysis) in the journal Frontiers in Human Neuroscience titled “Predicting the unpredictable: critical analysis and practical implications of predictive anticipatory activity” examined a number of experiments, conducted by several different laboratories, regarding this phenomenon.

These experiments indicate that the human body can actually detect randomly delivered stimuli that occur 1-10 seconds in advance. In other words, the human body seems able to know of an event and react to it before it actually occurs. This reaction takes the form of physiological changes in the skin and in the cardiopulmonary and nervous systems.

Quite fascinating, isn’t it?


HERE is an article outlining 5 classic experiments that showed extremely significant results for human telepathy.

Some of the most interesting results come from something called “dream telepathy,” where human beings have the ability to communicate telepathically with another person while they are dreaming.

According to Stanley Krippner, Ph.D. and professor of psychology at Saybrook University in California:

A wealth of anecdotal and clinical material exist which supports the possibility of telepathic effects occurring in dreams (Krippner, 1974). However, an experimental approach to the topic did not become possible until psycho physiological laboratory technology became available. It was discovered that sleeping research participants awakened from periods of rapid eye movement (REM) activity were frequently able to recall dream episodes. As a result, it was possible to request a “telepathic receiver” to attempt dreaming about a target stimulus that was being focused on in a distant location from a “telepathic sender.”

The ‘Star Gate’ Project

The “Star Gate” project was a Defence Intelligence Agency (DIA) program that examined parapsychological phenomena for more than twenty years before it was unexpectedly shut down.

One of the most interesting revelations (imo) when it comes to science and the paranormal comes from its remote viewing program.

Remote viewing is the ability of a person to describe a remote geographical location up to several hundred thousand kilometers from their actual physical location. It’s not just one person who can do this — many people have been shown to have this ability, and this is a verified fact. The CIA and NSA, in conjunction with Stanford University, were involved in the scientific study of parapsychological phenomena that lasted more than two decades; they delved into remote viewing as part of this project.

In these experiments, multiple individuals were able to describe distinct objects that were located in a separate room and at other remote physical locations.

As reported by a publication in the journal Scientific Exploration (linked above), one of the study’s participants, Ingo Swann, was able to successfully describe and view a ring around Jupiter that scientists had no idea existed at the time.

Quantum Double Slit Experiment

In this experiment, a double-slit optical system was used to test the possible role of consciousness in the collapse of the quantum wave-function. The ratio of the interference pattern’s double slit spectral power to its single slit spectral power was predicted to decrease when attention was focused toward the double slit as compared to away from it. The study found that factors associated with consciousness “significantly” correlated in predicted ways with perturbations in the double slit interference pattern.

“Observations not only disturb what has to be measured, they produce it….We compel [the electron] to assume a definite position…. We ourselves produce the results of measurement.”

“It was not possible to formulate the laws of quantum mechanics in a fully consistent way without reference to consciousness.” – Eugene Wigner, theoretical physicist and mathematician who received a share of the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1963

“A fundamental conclusion of the new physics also acknowledges that the observer creates the reality. As observers, we are personally involved with the creation of our own reality. Physicists are being forced to admit that the universe is a ‘mental’ construction. Pioneering physicist Sir James Jeans wrote: ‘The stream of knowledge is heading toward a non-mechanical reality; the universe begins to look more like a great thought than like a great machine. Mind no longer appears to be an accidental intruder into the realm of matter, we ought rather hail it as the creator and governor of the realm of matter. Get over it, and accept the inarguable conclusion. The universe is immaterial-mental and spiritual.’ ” – R.C. Henry, Professor of Physics and Astronomy at Johns Hopkins University , “The Mental Universe”; Nature 436:29,2005)

This is a great experiment to show the connection between consciousness and our physical material world.

Out of Body Experiences & Near Death Experiences

Below is a video of Dr. Bruce Greyson speaking at a conference that was held by the United Nations. He is considered to be one of the fathers of near death studies. He is Professor Emeritus of Psychiatry and Neurobehavioral Science at the University of Virginia.

In the video he describes documented cases of individuals who were clinically dead (showing no brain activity) but observing everything that was happening to them on the medical table below at the same time. He describes how there have been many instances of this – where individuals are able to describe things that should have been impossible for them to have knowledge of. Another significant statement by Dr. Greyson posits that this type of study has been discouraged due to our tendency to view science as completely materialistic. Seeing is believing, so to speak, in the scientific community. It’s unfortunate that just because we cannot explain something through materialistic means, it must be instantly discredited. The simple fact that “consciousness” itself is a non-physical “thing” is troubling for some scientists; as a result of it being non material, they believe it cannot be studied by science.

In 2001, international medical journal The Lancet published a 13 year study on Near Death Experiences (NDEs). Their findings were remarkable, to say the least:

“Our results show that medical factors cannot account for the occurrence of NDE. All patients had a cardiac arrest, and were clinically dead with unconsciousness resulting from insufficient blood supply to the brain. In those circumstances, the EEG (a measure of brain electrical activity) becomes flat, and if CPR is not started within 5-10 minutes, irreparable damage is done to the brain and the patient will die.”

Another study comes out of the University of Southampton, where scientists found evidence that awareness can continue for at least several minutes after death. In the scientific world this was thought to be impossible. The study, published in the journal Resuscitation, is the world’s largest of its kind.

Healing At A Distance

“Over the past thirty years, significant scientific research has been conducted on the potential effectiveness and value of distant healing practices. The practice of distant healing is drawing increased attention as an important component of integral medicine models that blend a range of approaches to health and healing. Many leading health professionals and spiritual leaders believe distant healing practices may significantly expand the capacity to facilitate healing.” (source) Marilyn Schlitz, PhD, President of the Institute for Noetic Sciences (IONS)

Another great example of this is the placebo effect, which you can read more about here.

Another study  published in the journal Explore in 2008, examined the effects of human intention on the autonomic nervous system of a human “sender” and the distant “receiver” of those intentions.

The design of the study went as follows:

Skin conductance level was measured in each member of a couple, both of whom were asked to feel the presence of the other. While the receiving person relaxed in a distant shielded room for 30 minutes, the sending person directed intention toward the receiver during repeated 10-second epochs separated by random interepoch periods. Thirty-six couples participated in 38 test sessions. In 22 couples, one of the pair was a cancer patient. In 12 of those couples, the healthy person was trained to direct intention toward the patient and asked to practice that intention daily for three months prior to the experiment (trained group). In the other 10 couples, the pair was tested before the partner was trained (wait group). Fourteen healthy couples re- ceived no training (control group). (source)

The study concluded that a strong motivation to heal another, and for one to be healed themselves, may enhance this phenomenon. It concluded that directing intention toward a distant person is associated with the activation of that person’s autonomic nervous system — in this case, using measurements of skin conductance.

The Cosmic Scientist inspires people to open their minds up to a broader view of reality. Examination of information and news both on and off planet Earth is the focus of study here, and this is done by creating awareness and shedding light on a number of different topics. The Cosmic Scientist encourages and inspires all beings to follow their heart, and make positive changes in their own life and on their home planet.

Scientists unlock how breast cancer cells spread.

Cancer cells spread by migrating along protein fibers that serve as a path out of the original tumour.

breast cancer, cancer, breast cancer cells, cancer cells, how cancer cells spread, how do breast cancer cells spread, tumour, cancer tumour, breast cancer tumour, proteing fibres, metastasis,



Scientists have found how breast cancer cells spread to other parts of the body, enabling development of potential strategies to curb the spread. A team of researchers — including an Indian-origin scientist — has found that breast cancer cells spread to other parts of the body by sliding around other cells, blocking their escape route out of the original tumour.

Metastasis — the spreading of cancer cells from one part of the body to another — is the leading cause of death among cancer patients. To invade other tissues in the body, cancer cells migrate along protein fibers that serve as a path out of the original tumour.

 The researchers demonstrated a quantitative ruler for measuring how well a cell is able to slide. “By putting numbers to this cellular behaviour, we can not only discern which pathways regulate sliding, but also how much. This opens the door to finding the most powerful drivers of sliding behaviour and strategies to curb this invasive behaviour,” said one of the researchers, Anand Asthagiri of Boston’s Northeastern University.

The findings demonstrated the key role of cell sliding in supporting metastasis and the molecular pathways that allow this to happen, the researchers stated. The results provide a ruler to measure the extent to which genetic perturbations enable sliding — it offers a way to rank order molecular pathways and to identify combinations of genes that have synergistic effect on sliding potential.

“Sliding — and we believe invasiveness more broadly — is a property that’s progressively accrued, with each cancer-promoting event measurably shifting the degree of invasiveness. Having a ruler allows us to quantify how far cells have transformed and how effective one therapy is versus another,” Asthagiri noted.

For the study — published in Biophysical Journal — the team stamped a glass surface with micropatterned lines of fibronectin protein and then used time-lapse microscopy to study collisions between pairs of cells deposited on the adhesive fibers.

On micropatterns, they mimicked conditions in the tumour environment. 99 per cent of normal breast cells stopped and reversed direction upon physical contact with another cell. By contrast, about half of metastatic breast cancer cells responded to collisions by sliding past the other cell, maintaining their migratory path along the protein track.


Russia’s brand new cosmodrome launches first-ever rocket.

Russia’s new Vostochny Cosmodrome has conducted its first space launch on Thursday. A Soyuz rocket boosted three scientific and distance viewing satellites into orbit.

Vostochny is located in a desolate area of the Amur Region in Russia’s Far East, which allows spent stages to safely land in the taiga or neutral waters. Its construction was launched in 2012, as Russia saw the need for a domestic launch site for civilian rockets.

Russia has the large military launch facilities Plesetsk and Kapustin Yar, but for civilian launches has to rely primarily on the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan.

Vostochny is located in a desolate area of the Amur Region in Russia’s Far East, which allows spent stages to safely land in the taiga or neutral waters. Its construction was launched in 2012, as Russia saw the need for a domestic launch site for civilian rockets.

Russia has the large military launch facilities Plesetsk and Kapustin Yar, but for civilian launches has to rely primarily on the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan.

Watch the video. URL:

Experimental cancer drug reverses intellectual disability in mice.

Laboratory mouse

When the drug was given to mice it could reverse the damage of a genetic mutation which prevents the formation of new neurons.

An experimental cancer drug may help reverse the effects of an intellectual disability known as fragile X syndrome, which is commonly found in people with autism, researchers said.

The study in the journal Science Translational Medicine was done on lab mice, so any potential application for humans remains far off, cautioned the authors.

But the findings point to a pathway for further research on an inherited disability that has no cure and affects about one in 4,000 males and one in 8,000 females.

Those with fragile X syndrome display a range of cognitive problems and learning disabilities, may have unusually long faces and large ears, and about 30 per cent are also on the autism spectrum.

“We are a long way from declaring a cure for fragile X, but these results are promising,” said lead author Xinyu Zhao, a professor of neuroscience at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

The drug, known as Nutlin-3, is currently in phase one trials for the eye cancer retinoblastoma, and has not been approved for widespread use.

Researchers found when they gave the drug to mice, it could reverse damage from a genetic mutation that causes fragile X syndrome.

This mutation means mice fail to make a protein known as FMRP, which prevents the formation of new neurons, so they cannot remember things, like a toy or object they might have recently been checking out.

When mice with this defect were given Nutlin-3 for two weeks, they “regained the ability to remember what they had seen — and smelled — in their first visit to a test chamber”, said the study.

A small dose of the drug — about 10 per cent of the amount being tested currently in human trials — appeared to block the last stage of the chain reaction set off by a mutation in the FMRP gene.

“There are many hurdles,” said Professor Zhao. “Among the many questions that need to be answered is how often the treatment would be needed. Still, we’ve drawn back the curtain on fragile X a bit, and that makes me optimistic.”

One minute of exercise per day is all you need, say researchers.

There are many demands on our time. And even though we know we should do it, it is often very hard to stick to a consistent exercise routine. But not having enough time may no longer be a viable excuse. Just 1 minute of very intense exercise can give you the same health benefits as 45 minutes of moderate working out. That’s the conclusion drawn by researchers at McMaster University in Canada.

a multiracial group of athletes doing intense cycling

”This is a very time-efficient workout strategy,” says the author of the study, professor Martin Gabala.  “Brief bursts of intense exercise are remarkably effective.”

The study involved 27 out-of-shape men who performed three weekly sessions of either intense or moderate training for 12 weeks, while some of them were in a non-exercising control group.  The scientists examined key health indicators such as cardiorespiratory fitness and insulin sensitivity (which speaks to how the blood sugar is regulated by the body).

After the 12 weeks, results were remarkably similar between the group involved in intense “all-out” cycle sprints and those who cycled at a moderate pace, even though the moderate group involved five times as much exercise and time.

The sprinters first warmed up for 2 minutes, then went through a few intervals of pedaling as hard as they could for 20 seconds, followed by 2 minutes of slower riding.

”Most people cite ‘lack of time’ as the main reason for not being active,” pointed out Gibala, who has been studying interval training for over a decade.  “Our study shows that an interval-based approach can be more efficient – you can get health and fitness benefits comparable to the traditional approach, in less time.”

He says that “the basic principles apply to many forms of exercise.” You can climb a few flights of stairs on your lunch break and get quick and significant health benefits. Of course, use some common sense. Intense training may not be suitable for everyone’s physical condition (especially if you have heart trouble).

Meet the man behind Google’s doodles

As a kid, Ryan Germick liked to draw – a lot.

But unlike most other kids: “I never stopped,” the 35-year-old said.

And it’s paid off — turning into a career that’s at the forefront of where artists intersect with the code-filled, left-brain world of tech giants. The two sides are coming together at a rapid pace – and the need for more creative types in tech is only expected to grow.

 Germick’s audience has grown as well, from just his parents and four siblings to the millions of people who visit the Google homepage. Germick is the Google Doodle guy. As the chief doodler, he leads a team of about a dozen, serving as the creative and technical force behind the changing Google logos, better known as “doodles,” that inhabit Google’s otherwise static search homepage.

For Germick, it was a winding route from sketching into the world of technology. “I had no clear path to Google,” he said. “It never crossed my mind that I would work on Doodles.”

The outcome is digital, but the process starts simple. (Credit: Google)

Harnessing the power of the internet

Google was the first – and only – place he applied. The year was 2006. He was hired as a web graphic specialist, said Germick.

 I had learned the power of the internet, and then I learned the power of internet commenters.

“I was exactly the opposite of a specialist. I was a generalist and I would do a lot of icons,” he said. But it was the start of a change in the way images as simple as logos could impact how people used, felt, and talked about the internet.

Germick’s best known icon is the Google Maps’ Pegman, the little yellow figure that still pops up today when you use Google’s Street View setting on its maps. He even put on an orangey-red unitard with yellow appendages to star as Pegman in a cheesy YouTube video made for Street View’s launch. It was Google’s first viral video, watched nearly 13 million times. Nearly nine years later, Germick still winces a little when he talks about it.

“It was horrible. I had learned the power of the internet, and then I learned the power of internet commenters shortly thereafter,” he said. “You just kind of have to roll with it. You’ve just got to do your thing and be thick-skinned about it.”

Design thinking goes way beyond the visuals.

Germick eventually landed a position on the Doodle team and worked under the tutelage of Dennis Hwang, considered the father of Google’s doodles. It was the internet that really honed Germick’s ambitions as an artist. “If you make a painting, only one person can own it. It inherently becomes something for the wealthy,’ he said. “It got me thinking. I want to communicate with everybody. It really made me think first about printmaking, then digital work, because it could easily be distributed. And then suddenly the internet was available.”

And that’s where the crux of the opportunity between creativity and technology comes in. “Design thinking goes way beyond the visuals. It is as much problem-solving and creativity from a functional and usability perspective as it is aesthetic,” said Melissa Simson, director of ad product for Kargo, a New York-based mobile advertising company. And the demand for those skills is constantly growing.

“The next generation of tech will place a higher regard on design capabilities at the centre of innovation,” she said.

The doodle life

Being a successful Google doodler requires a number of cross-functional skills, said Germick. Among them: a strong work ethic, a willingness to learn, a sense of humour, an appreciation of the creative process, and at least one expressive talent. The job really is about a melding of art and technology.

What’s your favourite?

Tell us your favourite Google doodle!

Is it the Pac-Man game doodle? The infamous April Fool’s doodles?  The celebration of William Shakespeare?

“Since our medium allows for both visual expressions and technological interactions… the stronger your skills are in either discipline, the more effectively you can communicate with the end output,” he said. “Understanding a bit about the other makes for better collaborations.”

Now, Germick oversees a staff of a dozen or so designers and engineers at Google headquarters in Mountain View, California, and the team works with hundreds of other Doodle staffers in Google offices around the globe. Google doodles have gained notoriety for their ability to slow down worker productivity (people spent a total of 4.8 million hours playing the PAC-MAN 30th anniversary doodle in the two days it was up back in 2010, according to time management firm, RescueTime) and to teach people a thing or two about an unknown hero or heroine (the Italian mathematician Marie Gaytana Agnesi, anyone?) as well as their ability to anger some people (when they chose civil rights’ activist Cesar Chavez’s 86th birthday rather than Easter in 2013).

 People spent a total of 4.8 million hours playing the PAC-MAN 30th anniversary Doodle.

Doodles are not just good for visitors to the site, according to Tampa, Florida-based branding expert Karen Post. They are a “brilliant” move for the company, she said. The first Google doodle ran in the late summer of 1998 when founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin wanted a fun way to let people know that they were out of the office while they headed to the Burning Man Festival. They posted the simple festival stick figure behind the second “o” on the Google logo.

A brand asset for tech

“What started as being a purposeful notification has morphed into a signature brand asset,” said Post. “Allowing the logo to change the way it does keeps the brand in the news.”

 The doodle and Google accomplish this without feeling gimmicky, said Asher Feldman, a New York-based digital strategist with digital consultancy Centric Design and former social media analyst. “Especially today, when every person or company is looking to inject themselves into the ‘conversation’ one way or another, the Google Doodle kind of endures as an effective way to accomplish exactly that without appearing to pander,” he said. “I think a lot of companies get stuck desperately trying to get in on the newest or latest hashtag or trend on social media.”

It’s really exciting to see ones that push the technology.

Germick says he doesn’t have a favourite doodle, but that “it’s really exciting to see ones that push the technology”. For example, giving users the opportunity to play a virtual guitar in honour of guitarist Les Paul’s 96th birthday or create their own tunes with a Robert Moog-inspired synthesizer and then share them with friends. Plus, he enjoys watching the power of the web take the interactive doodles further. “You get to feel like Robert Moog must have felt: ‘I made this tool and people can be really creative with it’,” he said.

Some doodles do make a statement – like the one Germick helped create for the 2014 winter Olympics in Sochi, where controversy surrounded the Games due to host country Russia’s anti-homosexual laws. “It’s also about doing doodles that just feel like they’re the right thing to do,” he said.

The Sochi doodle featured rainbow colours over images of winter athletes and an Olympic Charter quote about how there should be no discrimination against athletes. “We were able to celebrate sports and everyone coming together for the Olympics but also [that we] stand behind LGBTQ athletes,” said Germick.

 Getting hired

In order to be hired for a creative job in tech, you have to be thinking about this bigger picture, said Simson, of Kargo. “Show your ability to solve problems creatively and know the industry or the technology from a consumer point of view and have an opinion on it,” she said. “Don’t forgo the details. Tech is a very detail-oriented field, and we look for clean design above all. So when you present us with your portfolio, make sure there is intent behind every design decision.”

At the the Rhode Island School of Design, where a number of Google’s Doodle staff gained degrees, Kevin Jankowski, director of the school’s career centre, is constantly reminding students to think beyond the direct application of their art and design skills and to “realise their role in the development of the company’s systems, structure, management and business strategies,” he said.

Companies are often unaware that design students have these skills, and it is up to the students to show them, Jankowski said.