In terms of corrective vision technology, nothing has ever quite matched the invention of the eyeglasses way back in the thirteenth century when it comes to helping people deal with eyesight issues. Researchers at MIT Media Media Lab and Berkeley University are hoping that their latest development may help to change this. They have managed to create display technology that automatically corrects vision defects with no need for glasses or contact lenses. Effectively what it does is correct the human eye by laying a glasses-like lens over a display, such as a mobile phone.
The research team started by building a low-cost printed transparent prototype that can be clipped straight onto an existing phone. The display is covered in an array of pinholes that manipulate the on-screen image for a human observer according to a software algorithm, which draws its formula from an optician’s prescription.
So far the team has found that the display can successfully correct for a range of conditions that are difficult to correct with glasses. These include myopia (near-sightedness), hyperopia (far-sightedness), astigmatism (blurred vision due to an inability to focus) and higher order aura aberrations.
It’s possible that in future the technology could simply be integrated into phones, laptops, tablets, ebook readers or in-car displays, rather than sitting on top of them. Far-sighted people who would usually need glasses for reading could use the technology built into their ebook reader screen, or wouldn’t need to put on glasses while driving in order to see the GPS or speedometer. “It will not be able to help you see the rest of the world more sharply, but today, we spend a huge portion of our time interacting with the digital world,” points out the display’s co-creator Gordon Wetzstein of his creation.
Researchers at Inserm, led by Claude Gronfier (Inserm Unit 846: Stem Cell and Brain Institute), have, for the first time, conducted a study under real conditions on the body clocks of members of the international polar research station Concordia. The researchers have shown that a particular kind of artificial light is capable of ensuring that their biological rhythms are correctly synchronised despite the absence of sunlight. The full significance of this result can be appreciated with the knowledge that disturbance to this biological clock causes problems with sleep, alertness, cardiovascular problems and even depression.
These results, published in PLoS ONE, could be rapidly transformed into practical applications for working environments that are dimly to moderately lighted (polar research stations, thermal and nuclear power stations, space missions, offices with no windows, etc.). They could enable the design of lighting strategies intended to maintain the health, productivity and safety of staff.
The system that allows our body to regulate a certain number of vital functions over a period of about 24 hours is called the body clock (or circadian rhythm). Located deep within the brain, it consists of 20,000 neurons whose pulsatile activity controls the sleep/wake cycle, body temperature, heart rate, the release of hormones, etc. The cycle determined by the internal clock lasts spontaneously between 23.5 to 24.5 hours, depending on the individual. In order to function correctly, it refers to the signals that it receives from the external world and that it interprets as indicators for the purpose of constantly resynchronising itself every 24 hours. This is why the intake of food, physical exercise and the external temperature, for example, are said to be ‘time setters’. The most important ‘time setter’, however, is light. After inappropriate exposure to light, your entire body clock is thrown out of order with consequences for cognitive functions, sleep, alertness, memory, cardiovascular functions, etc.
On a general level, the study shows that an optimised light spectrum enriched with short wavelengths (blue) can enable the circadian system to synchronise correctly and non-visual functions to be activated in extreme situations where sunlight is not available for long stretches of time.
The effectiveness of such lighting is due to the activation of melanopsin-containing ganglion cells discovered in 2002 in the retina. These photoreceptor cells are basically essential to the transmission of light information to a large number of so-called ‘non-visual’ centres in the brain.
'Although the benefits of “blue light” for the biological clock have already been demonstrated in the past, all the studies were conducted under conditions that are difficult to reproduce under real conditions', explained Claude Gronfier, the main author of this work.
These results could quickly lead to practical applications. In working environments where the intensity of the light is not sufficient (polar research stations, thermal and nuclear power stations, space missions, offices with no windows, etc.), they could enable the design of lighting strategies intended to maintain the health, productivity and safety of staff.
White light enriched with blue is more effective than the standard white light that is found in offices and homes for the purpose of synchronizing the biological clock and activating the non-visual functions that are essential to the correct functioning of the body. It is thus not necessary to use blue lights or even LEDs to obtain positive effects.
The effectiveness of this light does not require high levels of illumination as is the case in the photic approaches to the treatment of problems with the circadian rhythms of sleep or seasonal affective disorder (5,000 to 10,000 lux are recommended in these approaches.)
Due to its effectiveness, this light does not require sessions of exposure to it (between 30 minutes and two hours are recommended in the photic approaches previously mentioned). In this study, the light comes from the lighting of the rooms being used.
The effects of this lighting approach do not disappear with the passage of time. This study shows that the effects are the same from the first to the ninth week of observation.
Running for only a few minutes a day or at slow speeds may significantly reduce a person’s risk of death from cardiovascular disease compared to someone who does not run, according to a study published today in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology.
Compared with non-runners, the runners had a 30 percent lower risk of death from all causes and a 45 percent lower risk of death from heart disease or stroke. Runners on average lived three years longer compared to non-runners. Also, to reduce mortality risk at a population level from a public health perspective, the authors concluded that promoting running is as important as preventing smoking, obesity or hypertension. The benefits were the same no matter how long, far, frequently or fast participants reported running. Benefits were also the same regardless of sex, age, body mass index, health conditions, smoking status or alcohol use.
The study showed that participants who ran less than 51 minutes, fewer than 6 miles, slower than 6 miles per hour, or only one to two times per week had a lower risk of dying compared to those who did not run. DC (Duck-chul) Lee, Ph.D., lead author of the study and an assistant professor in the Iowa State University Kinesiology Department in Ames, Iowa, said they found that runners who ran less than an hour per week have the same mortality benefits compared to runners who ran more than three hours per week. Thus, it is possible that the more may not be the better in relation to running and longevity.
Researchers also looked at running behavior patterns and found that those who persistently ran over a period of six years on average had the most significant benefits, with a 29 percent lower risk of death for any reason and 50 percent lower risk of death from heart disease or stroke.
For psychologists, there’s no question that human cognition — the way we process information — has dramatically improved over the last century thanks to improvements in nutrition, health care, sanitation, and social equality. But what if improvements in society over time — the same kinds of improvements that increase life expectancies and lower infant mortality rates — benefitted about half the population more than it did the other? Those are the findings of a new study, published today in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, which stipulates that women’s cognitive abilities benefit far more from improvements in social conditions than men’s do. And, in some cases, women surpass men altogether.
"Our result show that women in these European countries have a slight advantage in episodic memory," Herlitz explains. They also found that improving social conditions eliminated differences in category fluency between men and women.
"We don’t know why" women excelled more than men in these tasks when social conditions improved, Herlitz says, but researchers think it might have to do with the fact that women, generally, are "treated more badly," so they "start from a lower level," and may subsequently get a bigger boost from improvements that also benefit men.
Has it ever struck you … that life is all memory, except for the one present moment that goes by you so quickly you hardly catch it going? It’s really all memory … except for each passing moment.