Japan is dealing with what economists call a “demographic time bomb.”Through a vicious cycle of low fertility and low consumer spending, the country’s economy has gradually shrunk over the last 25 years.
People are living longer, and they’re heaping greater social-security costs onto younger generations who aren’t having kids to replace them – thereby furthering the cycle.
Here are some of the most visible signs in daily life that the time bomb is ticking.
But there are other biological and evolutionary triggers which are constantly drawing us to certain individuals, even if we don’t realise it is happening. Scientists in Geneva discovered that determining whether we are attracted to someone is one of the most complex tasks that the brain undertakes. Here are the scientific secrets of attraction:
Charles Darwin once wrote: “It is certainly not true that there is in the mind of man any universal standards of beauty with respect to the human body.”
Probably the most important is facial symmetry. Having a face which is equal on both sides is a biological advert which tells prospective partners that good genes will be found in this body.
Lopsidedness is thought to reflect how development in the womb has been derailed by general poor health, bad DNA, alcohol or tobacco use.
Facial symmetry is also linked to agreeableness, extraversion and conscientiousness, so good looking people generally find it easier to make friends and hold down jobs.
It is why so many people are choosing plastic surgery to straighten noses, and even-up lopsided grins. However, biologically, they are cheating their partners, as they will still pass on their wonky genes no matter what they look like from the outside.
And the importance of symmetry does not stop at facial features.
Studies have also shown that women partnered to men with symmetrical bodies have the most orgasms, and those with symmetrical breasts are more fertile than those less evenly endowed.
Even female swallows prefer males with symmetrical tail feathers as they hunt for superior genetic quality and developmental stability.
While many women might be looking for the tell-tale signs of a wedding ring, research suggests men’s hands can reveal a whole lot more.
In recent years scientists have discovered that there is an intriguing link between finger length and the levels of testosterone that a man was exposed to while still in the womb.
That’s important because high levels of testosterone are linked to high sperm counts, increased fertility, good cardiovascular health and better genes. People with longer ring fingers are also likely to have symmetrical faces.
This one stumped even Darwin, who tried to discover why gentlemen prefer blondes, and eventually gave up, after finding there was no overall preference for the fairer sex.
The blonde hair and blue eye combination found in Caucasians is thought to have evolved among northern European tribes around 11,000 years ago.
For tribes who were venturing ever further north with the retreating ice sheets, being blonde would have bestowed an evolutionary advantage. The loss of pigmentation in the skin allows deeper penetration of ultraviolet light needed to synthesise vitamins which were essential for good health. So blondes were more likely to be healthier and live longer.
Some archaeologists suggest that it was a time of great rivalry when men were often killed and women had to compete fiercely for partners. It is thought that Palaeolithic hunters chose blondes because they stood out from their rivals and were more likely to be healthy.
Many women who are blonde go darker as they age, so blonde hair is also viewed as an indicator of youth, and sexual vitality.
And, intriguingly, Caucasian blondes usually have slightly higher oestrogen levels than brunettes and are likely to exhibit finer infantile facial features such as a smaller nose, smaller jaw, pointed chin, narrow shoulders, smooth skin and less body hair.
However a recent study which attempted to determine the most beautiful woman in the world picked a brunette. And a 2011 study in the Scandinavian Journal of Psychology, found that brunettes are generally considered more attractive.
Just as there is an ideal ratio for finger length, it seems that humans are programmed to quickly sum up the bodily measurements of a future lover.
Again these are based on genetic clues which we are unconsciously gleaning from bone ratios.
Men prefer a waist-to-hips ratio of 7:10. Hip width and breast size are important factors in fertility, child birth, and rearing, so there’s definitely an evolutionary connection there.
A BMI (Body Mass Index) of 20.85 has been determined as the most attractive weight for a woman. Scarlett Johansson has previously been voted as having the most attractive female figure.
Women are unconsciously looking for a man who has a waist-to-hip ratio of 9:10 and are attracted to a partner with a big jaw, a broad chin, an imposing brow. The angle between their eyes and mouth, cheekbone prominence, and facial length all play a role as well as does facial hair. Most women prefer heavy stubble to either a beard of clean shaven. However men with full beards are viewed as better fathers.
The perfect man should also have body fat of around 12 per cent which is an important indicator of how well the immune system works.
And the limbal ring — the area where the iris meets the white of the eye — is thought to signal youth and health. In a 2011 study, men and women with a dark limbal ring were perceived as more attractive.
Scientists are divided about whether humans actually emit pheromones – the chemical signals secreted by animals to help find a mate – but we certainly use smell to detect how genetically compatible a partner might be.
Studies have found that we can literally sniff out our immune system match, the person whose genes complement ours, which will give us healthier babies.
In fact, the most compatible partner genetically would be the one who is the least like you. In terms of evolutionary biology it is easy to see the benefit of having one partner who is less susceptible to getting colds or flu while another has greater immunity to measles, for example.
When sniffing t-shirts saturated with men’s sweat, women preferred the smells of men with high levels of testosterone, particularly when they were at peak fertility.
However research by Newcastle University has suggested that the Pill could stop women picking up these important genetic clues because it alters hormones which make the body think it is pregnant. While that stops women getting pregnant it also means they would rather be surrounded by close family members, and so are more attracted to people who are genetically similar. And for choosing a partner, that is dreadful.
Although it might seem like a good idea to stand out from the crowd when playing the mating game, new research suggests it actually pays to look average.
People with “mathematically average” features advertise a more diverse set of genes and better reproductive health, evolutionary biologists say.
“Basically what our brain does is we go around in our environment, picking up people’s faces and making the average out of these faces we see on a daily basis,” Dr. Kang Lee, psychologist at the University of Toronto.
“And because of that, then, we actually have in our head… a representation of the average of the face. So there’s something we have genetically that’s driving us to prefer to look at something that’s average.”
Ideally, you want the distance between your eyes and mouth to be about 36 percent of the length of your face.
And, the distance between your eyes should be 46 percent of your face’s width.
The voice and mouth
Men prefer women with high, breathy voices as it signifies youth. Women’s voices tend to get lower as they age. A higher pitched voice is also thought to denote small body size.
Female listeners prefer a male voice that signals a large body size with low pitch.
Men are attracted to women who smile, but it’s not true the other way around.
Research found that smiling females were rated as more attractive, whereas men showing happy emotions were rated as less attractive.
Psychedelic substances like LSD and psilocybin – the active ingredient in magic mushrooms – are powerful, able to transform the way that people who use them perceive the world.
Because of that, after years of prohibition, psychiatric researchers in the US are hoping to take advantage of that power to transform mental health treatment.
And as the new documentary ” A New Understanding: The Science of Psilocybin ” shows, the results we’ve seen so far are powerful. Perhaps most interestingly, the film shows how these substances transform the people who undergo this therapy.
The film follows the researchers and study participants that are at the forefront of this modern era of psychedelic study. Cancer patients facing distress about end of life talk about how their experience helps them overcome that distress and accept their condition. Healthy volunteers who took psilocybin for the first time to help show that it can be used safely in a therapeutic setting describe the way the “trip” changed their perception.
It’s fascinating to see.
On a basic level, a part of the brain that seems to coordinate mood and is very active in cases of depression seems to basically stop acting for a time, allowing connections to form between regions of the brain that rarely communicate with each other. This mimics an effect seen in the minds of long term meditators. Something in this experience seems to cause the “trippy” effects of the drug, which participants in this research undergo while listening to music and sitting with trained observers.
“In terms of whether these agents cause hallucinations, they’re a little bit misclassified, a hallucination is an experience in some sensory phenomenon based on a stimuli that doesn’t exist in reality, it’s internally generated,” says Stephen Ross , an associate professor of psychiatry at NYU School of Medicine, in an interview in the film. “Versus an illusion would be looking at the wall and the wall is melting, that would be an illusion, and these drugs tend to cause more illusions than frank hallucinations, they alter how we perceive real stimuli.”
In order to cause these effects, these drugs activate serotonin 2-A receptors, explains David Nichols, president and co-founder of the Heffter Research Institute.
But something about this experience – the brain activation, illusions, and hallucinations – seems to do something more profound that’s harder to understand. It’s able to reliably cause what researchers call a “mystical experience.” That experience is strongly linked with lasting effects.
“It was like you’re at the top of a roller coaster and you’re about to go down and I remember inside myself saying, ‘I’m taking my mind with me, I don’t know where I’m going but I’m taking my mind with me’ … and I felt okay and off I went,” says Sandy, one of the healthy volunteers who tried psilocybin for the first time, describing her experience.
People return from that journey changed.
“When we came back it was like someone had put on a light bulb inside Annie’s head, she was literally glowing,” says the husband of one terminally ill patient in one of these psilocybin studies at UCLA. “I felt wonderful, I think it’s an incredibly useful tool … what we did, it probably would have taken me years of therapy,” she agrees.
For the past seven years, I’ve been writing articles about food and mood, exploring how different diets and types of foods might create or help mental healthproblems. Despite a great amount of interest in this topic spawning dozens of popular books from Grain Brainto Eat Complete, the data we had was always limited. The vast majority of studies about food and mental health are observational, meaning some form of asking people what they eat and then tracking mental health variables. These data are limited by different types of bias, food studies being particularly prone to bias, as they are often done with “food frequency questionnaires” or FFQs asking about how many hamburgers or vegetables you eat. Even one of the most validated FFQs in the world, the one used for the Nurses’ Health study, has severe limitations. People who lied more about hamburger intake were healthier than those who didn’t, for example. With observational data, you usually find that healthy people who care about their health and listen to health messaging are healthier. Large observational studies are mostly interesting if they have findings that are opposite what is expected (for example, coffee drinkers, despite smoking more and drinking more alcohol, score higher on several measures of good health).
The real meat of science is in the randomized controlled trial. That means taking two groups of people, putting one through an experiment and one through a control, and seeing if there is a difference in outcomes between the groups. When it comes to mental illness, we did have some data for the use of randomized controlled trials of certain diets and some mood outcomes. All of these studies had depression as one of the measured endpoints, but none of these were in a group of depressed people trying different diets to feel better. The measures of depression were just collected along the way of a trial looking at something else (such as heart disease). In these trials, changing diet to various options (such as Mediterranean or lower cholesterol) didn’t worsen symptoms of depressed mood, but only diet trials that didn’t restrict red meat or weren’t described as “low cholesterol” diets were effective in lowering measures of depression by the end of the study. Another randomized therapy trial for early depression in the elderly used a nutritional instruction arm as the control (thinking that food instruction was neutral and wouldn’t help mental health), finding it equal to a type of community-based psychotherapy in preventing worsening of depression.
This year, finally, we have the SMILES trial, the very first dietary trial to look specifically at a dietary treatment in a depressed population in a mental health setting. Participants met criteria for depression and many were already being treated with standard therapy, meds, or both. The designers of this trial took the preponderance of observational and controlled data we already have for general and mental health and decided to train people using dietary advice, nutritional counseling, and motivational interviewing directed at eating a “modified Mediterranean diet” that combined the Australian Dietary Guidelines and the Dietary Guidelines for Adults in Greece. They recommended eating whole grains, vegetables, fruit, legumes, unsweetened dairy, raw nuts, fish, chicken, eggs, red meat (up to three servings per week), and olive oil. Everyone in the study met criteria for a depressive disorder.
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The experimental arm of subjects were instructed to reduce the intake of sweets, refined cereals, fried food, fast food, processed meat, sugary drinks, and any alcohol beyond 1-2 glasses of wine with meals. There were seven hour long nutritional counseling sessions and a sample “food hamper” with some food and recipes. The control group had the same number of sessions in “social support,” which is a type of supportive therapy that is meant to mimic the time and interpersonal engagement of the experimental group without utilizing psychotherapeutic techniques.
A few more interesting tidbits about the design and the study…they randomized a group of people found to be depressed and to eat more like the average Australian (meaning fast food, refined carbohydrates, etc) and excluded people who already ate very healthfully. The researchers also looked at the cost, as many folks have concerns that eating healthy is more expensive and out of reach of many people, and found that the average experimental participant spent $138 on food per week before the trial and $112 per week during the trial. A major limitation to this study is the size: just 33 in the experimental arm and 34 in the control group. The trial was designed for a larger number.
Despite the small size, the results were still statistically significant and better than anticipated. The dietary group had bigger reductions in depression scores at the end of 12 weeks. Remission of depression symptoms occurred in 32.3 percent of the diet group as opposed to 8 percent of the control group. That means that the “NNT” (or number needed to treat) for this study was 4.1, which is similar to and even better than many trials of chemical antidepressants.
The takeaway? Switching from a western style diet to a whole-foods based diet in a Mediterranean pattern can, in fact, treat depression. Given the evidence for this diet in other health conditions, you can also improve many aspects of health along the way while saving money and feeling better. Of course it would be nice to see more studies, but it’s hard to imagine how reasonable healthful dietary instruction could hurt. The major issue with such a therapy is probably related to the trouble recruiting for this study: depression causes a lack of motivation, and it’s hard to take on changing diet (or other lifestyle change) when one is significantly depressed. With such a strong treatment effect seen in this study, it may well be worth the time for the therapist or psychiatrist to talk about eating well with their patients.
Psilocybin is a naturally occurring alkaloid, pharmacologically similar to the classic hallucinogen lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD). Although primarily used as a recreational drug or an entheogen in particular cultural settings, recent population based studies have shown that it does not lead to serious physical or mental health problems or dependent use. In view of recent work demonstrating psilocybin’s potential to increase subjective sense of wellbeing and because of its novel mechanism of 5-HT2A serotonin receptor agonism, it is being explored for possible therapeutic utility in mood and anxiety disorders.
Classical hallucinogens have been categorized into three groups: tryptamines, such as psilocin, the psychoactive metabolite of psilocybin; lysergamines (a subgroup of tryptamines), prominently lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD); and phenethylamines, such as mescaline [Geyer et al. 2009]. Psilocybin is a naturally occurring alkaloid. Though primarily considered a recreational substance, recent population-based studies have shown that it does not lead to serious physical or mental health problems, including dependence [Krebs and Johansen, 2013; Johansen and Krebs, 2015]. The psychopharmacological action of psilocybin is thought to be mediated via binding to serotonergic 5-HT2 receptors, primarily 5-HT2A receptors, although non-5-HT2 receptors are probably also involved [Tylš et al. 2014]. Downregulation of 5-HT2A receptors is purported to mediate antidepressant and antianxiety effects of antidepressants and atypical antipsychotics [Van Oekelen et al. 2003]. Because of the high binding affinity of psilocybin to the 5-HT2A receptor, its effects are thought to be mediated through modulation of 5-HT2A receptors, in addition to second messenger signalling and gene-expression effects [Gonzalez-Maeso et al. 2007].
In view of recent work demonstrating psilocybin’s potential to increase subjective sense of wellbeing [Griffiths et al. 2008] and because of its novel mechanism of 5-HT2A serotonin receptor agonism, it is being explored for therapeutic utility in mood and anxiety disorders [Vollenweider and Kometer, 2010].
A recent study made an attempt to investigate the feasibility, safety and efficacy of psilocybin in treatment-resistant unipolar depression, when administered along with psychological support [Carhart-Harris et al. 2016]. This was the first open-label study in patients with moderate to severe unipolar depression who had not responded to two or more adequate trials of antidepressants from different pharmacological classes. The authors administered 10 mg (low dose) oral psilocybin, followed 1 week later by another dose of 25 mg (high dose). Psilocybin was well tolerated by all patients, and no serious or unexpected adverse events were reported. Relative to baseline, depressive symptoms were markedly reduced at 1 week and at 3 months after treatment. This study paves the way for more rigorous trials in the future to further investigate the therapeutic potential of psilocybin in depression.
The foremost requirement for any pharmacological agent to be used as a medicinal drug is that it should be acceptably safe when administered to humans. The doses of psilocybin used in the present study have been shown to be safe previously when administered to both healthy individuals, and patients with medical and psychiatric illness. A study in 36 healthy individuals who received 30 mg of psilocybin found no sustained deleterious physiological or psychological effects [Griffiths et al. 2006]. Another study exploring the effects of psilocybin on anxiety in 12 patients with advanced-stage cancer reported no clinically significant adverse effects [Grob et al. 2011].
Second, for a psychedelic drug to be feasibly used as a pharmacologic agent in humans, its acute effects themselves should be well tolerated, and easily managed. Psilocybin has been found to have mild, pleasurable and nonthreatening effects in 110 healthy individuals in a pooled analysis of eight double-blind placebo-controlled experimental studies [Studerus et al. 2011]. This study concluded that administration of moderate doses of psilocybin in well-prepared subjects in a carefully monitored environment was associated with an acceptable level of risk.
There is a growing evidence base suggesting a neurobiological basis for the possible efficacy of psilocybin in unipolar depression. A functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) study showed that the medial prefrontal cortex (mPFC) was consistently deactivated by psilocybin [Carhart-Harris et al. 2012a]. Medial PFC has been shown to be hyperactive in fMRI studies in depression, and effective treatment of depression has shown to normalize this hyperactivity [Holtzheimer and Mayberg, 2011]. Thus, the deactivation of mPFC by psilocybin is consistent with its proposed effect in depression. The fact that the magnitude of deactivation of mPFC was found to be correlated with the drug’s subjective effects further supports this assumption [Carhart-Harris et al. 2012a]. Other fMRI studies have found that psilocybin attenuates amygdala activation in response to threat-related visual stimuli [Kraehenmann et al. 2015a], and decreases threat-induced modulation of top-down connectivity from the amygdala to the primary visual cortex [Kraehenmann et al. 2015b]. Both of these mechanisms are proposed to induce positive affect states. Given that the amygdala plays a central role in the perception and generation of emotions, and given that amygdala hyperactivity in response to negative stimuli has consistently been related to negative mood states in depressed patients [DeRubeis et al. 2008], the effect of psilocybin strongly points at a therapeutic mechanism in depression. Though psychedelics have historically been used to assist psychotherapy, recently a neurobiological basis for the same is emerging. Psilocybin has been found to robustly facilitate activation of various areas of the brain, including the limbic system, in response to autobiographical memory cues [Carhart-Harris et al. 2012b]. Such facilitation of the recall of salient memories during psychotherapy may be of significance. In addition, ayahuasca, a naturally occurring hallucinogen with a pharmacological profile similar to psilocybin, has been shown to significantly reduce depressive symptoms [Osório Fde et al. 2015], and increase blood perfusion in brain areas implicated in regulation of mood [Sanches et al. 2016].
The study by Carhart-Harris and colleagues [Carhart-Harris et al. 2012b] suffered from a few methodological issues. As it was an open-label, non-placebo-controlled study, it is not possible to differentiate between pharmacological action and the placebo effect of administering psilocybin, as the placebo effect has been shown to have a significant beneficial effect on depression on its own. However, designing double-blind, controlled studies with agents such as psilocybin is difficult, given the ease with which its psychotropic actions are recognizable. Also, as 5 of the 12 participants reported previous psilocybin use, it is possible that a predisposition towards the pleasurable effects of the substance may have contributed to the improvement in symptoms, thus confounding the results. Adverse effects such as paranoia, as described by one of the participants, may also hamper the effectiveness of such drugs. In addition, patient compensation may influence outcomes in such studies, and this information is not adequately elucidated in the paper in question. Finally, the authors have declared support from one of the many private foundations which finance research into hallucinogens [Dakwar, 2016]. Since detailed information on conflicts of interest has not been provided, skepticism may arise as to the role of such foundations in study design and execution, potentially biasing the results. Such studies also face practical issues, such as procuring supplies of hallucinogens. By overcoming limitations such as unclear information on the conflicts of interest, such studies may gain more acceptance in the medical community.
Thus, although limited, the current evidence base suggests that psilocybin may prove to be a safe, feasible, and efficacious pharmacological agent for depression, at least in patients not responding to conventional therapies.
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Sedentary lifestyles and the physical inactivity lead to serious health issues.
However, you cannot find an excuse for not having at least 15 minutes every single day for exercising.
We recommend a simple form of walking that will provide amazing effects for your health and body. Namely, you need only 15 minutes daily to support your overall health.
Researchers at the University Hospital of Saint-Etienne, the University Hospital of Dijon, the University of Lyon, the Regional Center for Cancer Prevention and Jean Monnet University in France, all confirmed the effectiveness of this exercise.
One of these studies was published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine. It involved participants older than 60.
They had to exercise 15 minutes daily, and this lowered their risk of death by 22%, in comparison to participants who did not exercise at all. The study findings maintained that a 15-minute daily walk ‘will help you live longer’.
Media widely reported the results of these studies. Due to all this, doctors claim that you should do at least 150 minutes of moderate physical activity a week.
The benefits of walking as a low-impact exercise are numerous, including:
It prevents diabetes
Increases the levels of vitamin D
It relieves pain
Helps the prevention of colon cancer, breast cancer, and lung cancer
It supports heart health
It enhances mood
Therefore, give it a try and the effects will be notices really soon!
Biologists have been speculating on the reason why such a complicated process for reproduction, sex, became the most common mode for advanced organisms, particularly when asexual reproduction has so many advantages. It is easier, faster, uses a lot less energy, a mate is not required, and the result is an offspring which is fully matured, and can protect and care for itself. With sexual reproduction, finding a mate can be challenging. Once the risky business of impregnation and birth have taken place, protecting and caring for the baby remains difficult, leaving families open to attack from challengers and predators.
Single celled organisms such as bacteria reproduce asexually. Among complex organisms, many plants and even some animals do too. These include bananas, starfish, and even komodo dragons. Despite this, up to 99% of complex organisms reproduce sexually, at least some of the time. So it must convey some type of advantage.
Dr. Stuart Auld and colleagues at the University of Stirling in Scotland wanted to explore further. Auld is among the Faculty of Natural Sciences at the university. He said that this question is one of the oldest in evolutionary biology. What’s more, sex’s presence is pervasive in nature. “Sex explains the presence of the peacock’s tail, the stag’s antlers and the male bird of paradise’s elaborate dance,” Auld said.
Organisms go through a lot to find a mate and reproduce sexually. How does it benefit them?
German evolutionary biologist August Weismann in 1886 proposed that sex was a way to hasten evolution. Beneficial mutations could be introduced quickly, while those which were harmful would be sloughed off. Sex also allows for different combinations of genes which can help organisms evolve rapidly to fit new situations. A theory, developed by Leigh Van Valen in the late 1980s, called the “Red Queen Hypothesis,” is now the prevailing one. This was taken from the character in Through the Looking Glass, more commonly known as Alice in Wonderland.
When Alice meets the Red Queen, she must take part in a bizarre chess game, where she runs as fast as she can in order to keep up with the other players. This constant running to maintain position is the theme the hypothesis adopts. Organisms react not only to the environment but each other. When one organism develops an adaptation that gives it an advantage, it affects its predator, and prey.
Lions for instance depend on the antelope population. Should antelope develop the ability to run faster through a rapid mutation, the lion population would come under pressure. Only when lions developed the ability to run faster or to pounce farther would a balance be struck. There exists a similar arms race between host organisms and their parasites. But since single cells organisms don’t live too long, pathogens must evolve rapidly or face extinction. Meanwhile, a host organism needs to evolve just as quickly to resist infection.
The water flea is one of those rare species which reproduces both sexually and asexually.
To hasten evolution, the right combination of genes is required. So the more combinations an organism has access to, the better its chances. Though a strong theory, it’s been difficult to test. After all, how do you compare those organisms who reproduce sexually to those who don’t? Auld and colleagues found a way.
Published in the journal Royal Society Proceedings B, researchers found that at the time when sexual reproduction came on the scene, “parasites adapted to infect the previous generations.” Therefore, reproducing sexually meant seriously undermining the parasites’ ability to cause infection. Auld and colleagues selected the water flea, a bizarre creature which reproduces both sexually and asexually. Just a few others organisms do, such as yeast and the snail.
The water fleas used in this experiment were collected from the natural environment, as were their bacterial parasites. After a period, researchers gathered female water flea offspring who were produced either sexually or through cloning. Under controlled conditions, they exposed the offspring to the parasites. Those who reproduced sexually were twice as resistant to infection, researchers found. According to Dr. Auld, these findings suggest that, “The ever-present need to evade disease can explain why sex persists in the natural world in spite of the costs.”
The paper talks about a terahertz (THz) transmitter developed by the National Institute of Information and Communications Technology, Panasonic Corporation, and Hiroshima University. This transmitter operates using a frequency range from 290 GHz to 315 GHz and is capable of transmitting digital data at a rate of 105 gigabits per second — which is a communication speed that’s at least 10 times as fast as 5G networks. The transmitter uses a frequency that falls within a currently unallocated range of 275 GHz to 450 GHz. Its use will be covered in the 2019 World Radiocommunication Conference (WRC) under the International Telecommunication Union Radiocommunication Section (ITU-R).
The researchers were able to reach the speed levels described in the paper by using quadrature amplitude modulation (QAM), which enhances the speed of a wireless link in the 300GHz band. These researchers managed to, for the first time, reach speeds exceeding 100 gigabits per second with an integrated circuit-based transmitter.
DISTANCE COUNTS TOO
Most modern data transfer technologies, especially the fast ones, rely on fiber optics. This is where this new research differs. This development explores the potentials of truly wireless technology that pushes past current sluggish speeds.
Minoru Fujishima from the Department of Semiconductor Electronics and Integration Science at Hiroshima University explained:
Today, we usually talk about wireless data-rates in megabits per second or gigabits per second. But I foresee we’ll soon be talking about terabits per second. That’s what THz wireless technology offers. Such extreme speeds are currently confined in optical fibers. I want to bring fibre optic speeds out into the air, and we have taken an important step towards that goal. We plan to develop receiver circuits for the 300GHz band, as well as modulation and demodulation circuits that are suitable for ultra high-speed communications.
However, as much as this study shows promising speeds, the researchers did not cover just how much distance the technology could reach. It wasn’t also mentioned at what distance they were able to transmit at 105 gigabits per second. Speed matters, of course, but distance is equally important.
Either way, this development is still an incredible achievement and a notable stepping stone to future technologies. Perhaps, while achieving speeds faster than existing fiber optics is a monumental challenge, the future of network communications is in wireless transmission.
Part of my motivation for becoming a climate scientist was my grave worries for our future and my desire to make a positive contribution. In today’s world, this isn’t straightforward.
Earlier this year, I wrote publicly of my qualms around desiring children. I have always loved children and always wanted children in my own life. At the same time, among my friends and colleagues, such ordinary desires are increasingly accompanied by long, complex conversations about the ethics of such aspirations.
Children born today face a dramatically different climate future than their parents did.A child born today is a child of a changing – and extreme – global climate. The decision to have a child is a decision to exacerbate such climate extremes.
We collectively recycle, switch off lights, install LEDs and chose green energy providers. But such measures are more than negated by a decision to have children; having a child in Australia is an ongoing commitment to a high carbon future.
At the same time that I wrangled with the inter- and intra-generational consequence of having children, I also experienced years of infertility. Friends married, bought houses and announced surprise babies. All the while, my partner and I were consumed by tests, injections and surgeries, but mostly by unrelenting grief.
Over these years, I analysed climate data demonstrating an extreme future born of our global policy prevarication. Meanwhile, I was dragged into an undertow of crushing sadness, as miscarriage followed miscarriage and my connections to the world slipped further away from me.
Perhaps this was all for the best, I thought. After all, a child is irreconcilable with my professional dedication to remedying our global challenges.
And then, just as senselessly as our grief began, it ended. For no particular reason, the expected bad baby news never arrived and now the complexity of having an imagined child will become a concrete ethical entanglement.
Older climate scientists speak widely about their worries for their grandchildren and the world they have provided them. While such concerns must weigh on older minds, younger climate scientists’ future concerns require active deliberation. Should we have children? And if we do, how do we raise them in a world of change and inequity? Can I reconcile my care and concern for the future with such an active and deliberate pursuit of a child?
Put simply, I can’t. Nowadays, the pitter-patter of tiny feet is inevitably the pitter-patter of giant carbon footprints. Reusable nappies, a bike trailer and secondhand jumpsuits might make me feel like I’m taking individual action but they will achieve little. A child born today is inevitably a consumer and, most significantly, is a consumer of greenhouse gases.
Our much longed for child will both exacerbate climate change and will have to fix the problems set in motion by its parents and grandparents. In essence, this burden is the choice I have made for my child.
Having made the decision to multiple my own carbon footprint in perpetuity and to inflict an extreme climate future on my daughter, the question becomes – what now?
Living in and starting a family in volatile and uncertain times are not unique experiences. My grandmother fled Europe in the early 1950s for a better life in Australia. A German Jew, her family had been scattered, with herself interned in Britain, her sister lost in Auschwitz and her family’s desperate flight rebuffed by an indifferent world. Years of horror, combined with strict rations and economic uncertainty drove her to strike out bravely for a new life in Australia with her young babies.
Climate change is a critically different problem. In my grandmother’s time of abject horror, good people were empowered – to varying degrees – to do good. After the war ended, the actions of just a few were recognised as having salvaged the honour of all our humanity. Nowadays, the very act of living in Australia, regardless of concern for our climate future, is detrimental.
I do not pretend my motivation for having children was anything other than entirely selfish, but I hope the consequences are not. Just as in my grandmother’s time when horror was countered by hope, the obverse of our climate challenge is opportunity. I hope today’s children, born of a complex admixture of anxiety, guilt and fear, but all the while fiercely desired, can do better than their parents did. I hope they can be more empathetic, more creative and more responsive than we have been.
As for myself, my work thoughts should be punctured by worry. By senseless luck, my forthcoming daughter will have the opportunity to thrive in a warming world. Many, such as the children of our Pacific Island neighbours, will not. This should prompt more sadness, not less.
Nonetheless, in recognising the sadness of our near neighbours, I also feel compelled to recognise the beauty and opportunity of my own life. Despite my uncomfortable internal conflicts, the impending arrival of a much-wanted baby is intensely joyful.
In the evolution of digital communication tech, 5G is just around the corner. Yet, despite its more recent applications in the industry, the technology itself has a surprisingly long history, one rooted in India. And thanks to the critical contributions of Sir Jagadish Chandra Bose, the world will reap the benefits of 5G Internet very soon!
SIR JAGADISH CHANDRA BOSE PIONEERED RESEARCH IN MILLIMETRE WAVE COMMUNICATION EVEN BEFORE THE INVENTION OF THE RADIO IN 1895
Italian inventor Guglielmo Marconi is credited with first inventing the telegraph in 1895, a device that used what we now know as radio waves to send an electromagnetic signal across distance. However, at the same time that Marconi was pioneering the first commercial use of telegraphy as a communication, Indian polymath Sir Jagadish Chandra Bose was working to understand the nature of the phenomenon.
Born on 30 November, 1858, at Mymensingh — which is now in modern day Bangladesh — Sir Jagadish Chandra Bose attended Cambridge after studying physics at Calcutta University. He was the first to demonstrate radio communication with millimetre wavelengths, which fall in the 30GHz to 300GHz spectrum.
Bose’s outstanding contributions in the field are now finally getting him the recognition he deserves, as his studies form the basis of the evolving 5G internet standard.
“I take a lot of inspiration from Bengal and Kolkata because it is here that radio communication was born,” said Ramjee Prasad, professor of Future Technologies for Business Ecosystem Innovation, Aarhus University, Denmark, on the sidelines of the IEEE International 5G Summit in Kolkata last week. “The millimetre wave that J C Bose worked on is the backbone of developing 5G. Marconi and Russian scientists Alexander Stepanovich Popov, who were also conducting similar experiments, were working with much lower frequencies. In fact, the technology that Marconi used was developed by Bose.”
The Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE), the largest international body dedicated to advancement of technology, has recognised Bose’s 1895 experiment demonstrating short-wave communication as a milestone achievement nearly 120 years later. Bose generated 5mm electromagnetic waves, 60GHz, before instruments even evolved to measure frequencies that low.
BOSE INVENTED THE CRYSTAL RADIO DETECTOR, WAVEGUIDE, HORN ANTENNA, AND OTHER APPARATUS USED WITH MICROWAVE FREQUENCIES
“In the scientific community, Bose is now gaining recognition as the father of radio science and semiconductors technology,” remarked Suvra Sekhar Das, associate professor at the GS Sanyal School of Telecommunication at IIT-Kharagpur. “His experiments in the early 1890’s and early 1900’s with millimetre wave radio frequencies were much ahead of his time — so much so that the time has only come now. While advancement in semiconductor technology led to smartphones, millimetre wave communication technology may bring about a more wirelessly connected world tomorrow.”
Bose’s millimetre waves have found applications in a variety of fields since their discovery over a century ago — they’re used in everything from radio telescopes to radar and, more recently, for collision-warning systems and cruise control in modern day cars. “Bose was a giant who worked single-handedly at the Presidency College laboratory, overcoming racial discrimination, lack of funding and equipment,” said Debasish Datta, professor of electronics and electrical communication engineering at IIT-Kharagpur. “Bose’s experiment was proof of concept. The application happened much later. Now, both of them have to happen simultaneously.”