The News – 11 June 2014

Overview

  • Dr Michio Kaku: past, present and future. World-renowned futurist and physicist Dr Kaku is in Australia talking about life in 50 years time.
  • Scientists have done an experiment using food treats to entice rats into a food station where they could either wait for a meal or go to the next stop.
  • Federal Labor says $42 million promised to James Cook University (JCU) during the election – and delivered in the budget – to study tropical diseases is just pork barrelling.


Stories Discussed
News on Health Professional Radio. Today is the 11th June 2014. Read by Rebecca Foster.

http://www.abc.net.au/local/photos/2014/06/06/4020008.htm

World-renowned futurist and physicist Dr Kaku is in Australia talking about life in 50 years time.

Science has given us options that our grandparents could have only dreamed of, so try imagine a world where self-driving cars are commonplace and the internet is available on your contact lenses.

“In 20 years the computer will basically disappear, we’ll simply walk into a room and think and mobilise all the chips hidden in the room to turn on the lights, turn on the television, get on the internet,” Dr Michio Kaku said.

“The mind is the next huge frontier of science.”

These technological advances, all of which sound like they’re straight out of Hollywood’s latest sci-fi flick, are not visions for the future, but technology that is available today.

Dr Kaku has devoted his life to science; he is recognised as the co-creator of string field theory and is continuing Einstein’s search for the “Theory of Everything”, which unifies the four fundamental forces of nature.

With three New York Times Best Sellers on physics to his name and a scientific media career dating back to the 1980s it’s hard to imagine that Dr Kaku is still surprised by technological advancements.

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2014-06-09/study-proves-rats-feel-regret/5510710

Regret, that most corrosive of emotions, turns out to be common to men and rodents.

Scientists have done an experiment using food treats to entice rats into a food station where they could either wait for a meal or go to the next stop.

The ones that decided to move on, and then had to wait even longer, showed signs of regretting their hasty decision to move to an even worse deal.

It is the first time it has been shown that mammals other than humans experience regret.

Dr David Redish, a professor in the department of neuroscience at the University of Minnesota, says scientists are beginning to understand the emotions of rats.

“Regret is a recognition that you’ve made a mistake; it’s an error in your agency,” he said.

“We were trying to understand how rats make decisions, because rats make decisions very much like humans do. Under certain conditions, rats looked like they were showing regret over mistakes they made.”

A test was developed for the rats which would allow the researchers to separate the emotion of regret from disappointment.

Often the human experience of regret is not the things you did not get but rather the things you did not do. The study goes some way in showing a rat’s experience of regret is much the same.

Dr Redish says his study, published in Nature Neuroscience, opens up further questions about rodents’ emotions.

http://www.theaustralian.com.au/news/latest-news/labor-criticises-tropical-research-fund/story-fn3dxiwe-1226944233645

CAN only a university in the tropics research tropical medicine?

Federal Labor says $42 million promised to James Cook University (JCU) during the election – and delivered in the budget – to study tropical diseases is just pork barrelling.

A senate committee heard on Thursday THAT the north Queensland university effectively tendered against itself to get the funds from the Australian Research Council (ARC).

Labor higher education spokesman Kim Carr said JCU was evaluated as below world standards for medical research, and suggested there were more appropriate candidates for the cash.

Senator Carr said the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine was one of the UK’s top research institutions.

The JCU website says the Australian Institute of Tropical Health and Medicine is about to be launched as the latest incarnation of a centre established in 1913.

It will be based in Townsville, Cairns, the Torres Strait and Mackay – all in coalition-held marginal electorates.

Coalition MP Warren Entsch, whose seat of Leichhardt is one of those containing a JCU campus, lashed out at Senator Carr and defended the university.

JCU had a renowned mosquito research facility because the tropics were on its doorstep, he said.

Also the UK’s main research on tropical medicine was now done in Liverpool, not London.

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