This Week in Science: 11/25 -12/01

Supercomputers and Humanoids

With the help of quantum mechanics and supercomputers, scientists are now able to create new materials without having to run experiments first. Materials science allows engineers to turn matter into new and useful forms. Researchers working at the California Institute of Technology and five other institutions plan to use supercomputers to study thousands of chemical compounds at the same time, increasing efficiency.

http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=how-supercomputers-will-yield-a-golden-age-of-materials-science

Nostalgia at its best

A study links nostalgia and boost in optimism for the future. According to Dr. Tim Wildschut, from the University of Southampton, nostalgia for past events invokes self-esteem and maintains self-worth, which helps an individual to foresee the future as optimistic. Optimism seems to be linked with improved health by boosting the immune system. This feeling has also been noted to make people more charitable.

http://www.psychologicalscience.org/index.php/news/nostalgia-for-the-past-boosts-optimism-for-the-future-study-suggests.html

Night vision

According to a study conducted by Kevin Dieter at Vanderbilt University, half of the 129 participants were able to see the motions of their hand even in the dark, suggesting that our brains use sensory signals from our movements to form our visual perceptions.

http://www.psychologicalscience.org/index.php/news/some-people-can-see-in-total-darkness-study-says.html

Electric energy from footsteps and vehicle traffic

Generating electricity from the steps of pedestrians and flow of traffic is a technology entrepreneurs in Mexico are currently working on. Héctor Ricardo Macías Hernández, developer of the system, states that this form of technology can serve as a source of sustainable energy.

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/11/131129101759.htm

 

Phobias explained

Research from Emory University School of Medicine in Atlanta, published in Nature Neuroscience, found a link between our irrational phobias and DNA. Tested on mice, they discovered that memories can be passed down from our ancestors in utero, thus creating some of our irrational phobias. Such information can be inherited by the chemical changes that occur in DNA. Thus, for example, a fear of snakes may actually be a reflection of our ancestors’ defense mechanisms.

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/science/science-news/10486479/Phobias-may-be-memories-passed-down-in-genes-from-ancestors.html

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