Dhaka, June 30 (UNB) - Contrary to popular belief, using social media and the internet regularly could improve mental health among adults and help fend off serious psychological distress, such as depression and anxiety, a study has found, reports The Indian Express.
According to researchers from Michigan State University in the US, communication technologies and social media platforms make it easier to maintain relationships and access health information.
Until now, adults have not been the focus of much research on the mental health impacts of social media use, said Keith Hampton, a professor at Michigan State University.
Most studies on social media have focused on youth and college students, and the effects could be explained by life stages, rather than technology use.
“Taking a snapshot of the anxiety felt by young people today and concluding that a whole generation is at risk because of social media ignores more noteworthy social changes, such as the lingering effects of the Great Recession, the rise in single child families, older and more protective parents, more kids going to college and rising student debt,” Hampton said.
Researchers set out to study more mature populations, analysing data from more than 13,000 relationships from adult participants.
Using 2015 and 2016 data, the team found social media users are 63 per cent less likely to experience serious psychological distress from one year to the next, including major depression or serious anxiety.
Having extended family members on social media further reduced psychological distress, so long as their family member’s mental health was not in decline.
The study, published in the Journal of Computer Mediated-Communication, challenges the notion that social media, mobile technologies and the internet contribute to a mental health crisis.
The researchers found that someone who uses a social networking site is 1.63 times more likely to avoid serious psychological distress.
The extent to which communication technologies affect psychological distress varies according to the type and amount of technologies people and their extended family members use.
Changes to the mental health of family members affect the psychological distress experienced by other family, but only if both family members are connected on a social networking site.
“Today, we have these ongoing, little bits of information popping up on our cell phones and Facebook feeds, and that ongoing contact might matter for things like mental health,” Hampton said.
Chicago, June 29 (Xinhua/UNB) -- Researchers at the University of Michigan (UM) have developed a technology to help clinicians "see" and map patient pain in real-time through special augmented reality glasses.
The portable CLARAi (clinical augmented reality and artificial intelligence) platform combines visualization with brain data using neuroimaging to navigate through a patient's brain while they're in the chair, according to a news release posted on UM's website on Thursday.
In the study, researchers triggered pain by administering cold to the teeth, and then used brain pain data to develop algorithms that, when coupled with new software and neuroimaging hardware, predicted pain or the absence of it about 70 percent of the time.
Participants wore a sensor-outfitted cap that detected changes to blood flow and oxygenation, thus measuring brain activity and responses to pain. That information was transmitted to a computer and interpreted.
Wearing special augmented reality glasses, researchers viewed the subject's brain activity in real time on a reconstructed brain template, while the subjects sat in the clinical chair. The red and blue dots on the image denote location and level of brain activity, and this "pain signature" was mirror-displayed on the augmented reality screen. The more pain signatures the algorithm learns to read, the more accurate the pain assessment.
"It's very hard for us to measure and express our pain, including its expectation and associated anxiety," said Alex DaSilva, associate professor at the UM School of Dentistry and director of the Headache and Orofacial Pain Effort Lab. "Right now, we have a one to 10 rating system, but that's far from a reliable and objective pain measurement."
The technology was tested on 21 volunteer dental patients. It's years away from widespread use in a clinical setting, but the feasibility study is a good first step for dental patients, said DaSilva.
The study has been published in the Journal of Medical Internet Research.
Sydney, June 29 (Xinhua/UNB) -- The fossilized jaw of a diprotodon, a member of Australia’s now extinct megafauna, has been uncovered in a remote location in southern New South Wales State, the Australian Museum said on Friday.
Two council workers happened upon the 50 centimeter long jawbone piece at a location known for producing a significant number of fossil finds but which has been kept a secret from the public.
Australian Museum curator of palaeontology Matthew McCurry told Xinhua that the jawbone likely belonged to a juvenile diprotodon, a member of Australia’s megafauna which roamed the southern continent up until around several tens of thousand of years ago.
“At the same time as mammoths were roaming around in the Northern Hemisphere, Australia had its own unique species of giant marsupial,” McCurry said.
“These were species like giant short-face kangaroos, or in this case, what we call the giant wombat.”
It is not known how closely related to modern wombats diprotodon actually were however due to what they are thought to have looked like, with short brown fur and a large round nose, the comparison has stuck.
McCurry explained that there remains a lot to learn about diprotodon and Australia’s megafauna in general, including what it was which wiped them out.
“The two main ideas about why they went extinct are firstly, they might have been hunted to extinction by humans and secondly, that they might have gone extinct due to fluctuations in the climate,” McCurry said.
The fossil will be kept as part of the Australian Museums research collection for further study.
New Orleans, June 29 (AP/UNB) — Crews are working around the clock at a NASA rocket factory, intent on meeting a new fall 2020 deadline to test launch a mega-rocket designed to propel astronauts to the moon and beyond, a space agency official said Friday.
"I came out here in the middle of the night ... talking to people who were working on the engine section, working hard through the night," NASA Deputy Administrator James Morhard said on a press tour at New Orleans' Michoud Assembly Center .
He said the core rocket assembly __ or Space Launch System __ is 80 percent complete, with one of five sections still under assembly.
If all goes well, the often-delayed Artemis 1 test flight is expected take place in fall 2020, though no launch date has been announced. Plans call for the rocket to carry an uncrewed Orion capsule aloft before the engines are jettisoned 8 minutes and 14 seconds out. The capsule is then to make a double loop around the moon during 25½ days in flight, NASA has said.
Officials said no commercial rocket, current or planned, is as powerful as the Space Launch System, which will carry a load three times as heavy as the space shuttle could handle. They also called it a new approach to reaching the moon, unlike the Apollo missions decades ago.
"The exciting part is this is not going to be done like Apollo ... where we put a flag on the moon and left," said Lionel Dutreix, deputy chief operations manager at Michoud. "We're going to keep returning to the moon and use it as a technical base and knowledge to go on to Mars. We've got to make sure this rocket will meet those needs."
The rocket isn't reusable because, under current plans, it would cost more to recover and refurbish the engine assembly than to build anew, Dutreix said.
In December, the giant rocket is to be transported on the NASA barge Pegasus to Marshall Space Flight Center in Alabama for testing. When topped with the Orion spacecraft and its fuel tank, it will stand 322 feet (98 meters) high — taller than the Statue of Liberty but shorter than the Saturn V rocket that launched the Skylab space station and the Apollo program that carried men to the moon.
The rocket section currently being assembled at Michoud will hold four RS-25 engines of the kind that propelled space shuttles.
The engines were visible at Michoud, with bright red covers marked "THIS SIDE FACES AFT" covering their wide back ends. Officials said NASA has another dozen for further Artemis missions, with six more under contract.
Asked whether $20 billion to $30 billion was an accurate figure for cost overruns on the program, the deputy administrator said, "I'm not going to stand here and give an exact budget."
Morhard also wouldn't say whether he expects NASA to get the $1.6 billion 2020 budget addition requested by President Donald Trump for space exploration.
"The House added $1.3 billion for science programs. The Senate hasn't marked up the bill. I'm waiting to see what the Senate does," he said.
Dhaka, June 29 (UNB) - Shipworms have long been a menace to humankind, sinking ships, undermining piers, and even eating their way through Dutch dikes in the mid-1700s. Now, researchers have found the first shipworm that eschews wood for a very different diet: rock, reports Science Magazine. The new shipworm—a thick, white, wormlike creature that can grow to be more than a meter long—lives in freshwater. Researchers first spotted the species (Lithoredo abatanica) in 2006 in thumb-size burrows in the limestone banks of the Abatan River in the Philippines. But it wasn’t until 2018 that scientists were able to study the organism in detail.
The rock-eating shipworm is quite different from its wood-eating counterpart, the team reports today in the Proceedings of the Royal Society B. Really clams, all shipworms have two shrunken shells that have been modified into drill heads. Hundreds of sharp invisible teeth cover the shells in the wood eater, but the rock-eating shipworm has just dozens of thicker, millimeter-size teeth that scrape away rock.
Marine shipworms store the wood they eat in a special digestive sack, where bacteria degrade it. Like other shipworms, the rock-eating shipworm still ingests what it scrapes away to make its protective burrow, but it lacks both the sack and its bacteria and likely doesn’t get much sustenance from the rock bits. Their ingestion may be a holdover from wood-eating ancestors. Instead, it seems to rely on other bacteria residing in its gills to produce nutrients or food sucked in by a siphon at the clam’s back end for nourishment.