What's the buzz.

What's the buzz.

‘Super rice’ to meet daily iron needs 

Scientists from Adelaide have pioneered a super rice breakthrough to provide a solution to the iron and zinc deficiency disorders for the world’s under-nourished. Dr Alex Johnson, from the Australian Centre for Plant Functional Genomics, says the genetically modified rice has up to four times more iron than conventional rice and twice as much zinc.
“We just tricked the plant into thinking it doesn’t have enough iron,” Adelaide Now quoted him as saying.

“By making the plant think it doesn’t have enough iron, it takes up more iron and it puts more iron into the grain,” he added. Conventional breeding techniques have failed to achieve even half the level of nutrients required, so the scientists turned to biotechnology. They used a plant virus to boost the activity of a gene that naturally occurs in rice.

The team - including researchers from all three universities in South Australia and the University of Melbourne - is the first to raise rice plants in the greenhouse with the desired level of iron and zinc.

Dr Johnson expects the entire process will take about a decade, so it will be a while before iron-rich rice appears on supermarket shelves.

Video gaming device detects illness in older adults

 Researchers at the University of Missouri have found that two devices commonly used for video gaming and security systems are effective in detecting the early onset of illness and fall risk in seniors. Marjorie Skubic, professor of electrical and computer engineering in the MU College of Engineering, is working with doctoral student, Erik Stone, to use the Microsoft Kinect, a new motion-sensing camera generally used as a video gaming device, to monitor behaviour and routine changes in patients at TigerPlace, an independent living community.

These changes can indicate increased risk for falls or early symptoms of illnesses.
“The Kinect uses infrared light to create a depth image that produces data in the form of a silhouette, instead of a video or photograph,” said Stone.

“This alleviates many seniors’ concerns about privacy when traditional web camera-based monitoring systems are used,” he stated.

Another doctoral student, Liang Liu, is collaborating with Mihail Popescu, assistant professor in the College of Engineering and the Department of Health Management and Informatics in the MU School of Medicine, to develop a fall detection system that uses Doppler radar to recognize changes in walking, bending and other movements that may indicate a heightened risk for falls.

Different human body parts create unique images, or “signatures,” on Doppler radar. Since falls combine a series of body part motions, the radar system can recognize a fall based on its distinct “signature.”

Both motion-sensing systems provide automated data that alert care providers when patients need assistance or a medical intervention.
Why time seems to fly when you are driving fast

Australian researchers have discovered why it seems as though time is flying when you are driving fast.

Psychologists Dr Derek Arnold and Dr Welber Marinovic at the University of Queensland studied the mechanism by which the body perceives speed and duration, which are important in our experience of driving, reports ABC Science.

They wanted to see if they could confirm suggestions from previous research that the body uses a different clock to judge the passage of time as opposed to the distance we have travelled over time. For their investigation, Arnold and Marinovic showed study participants various screen images of dots moving in a circle.

Participants were given time to adapt to the dots and then asked to judge how fast a particular test dot was moving over time.

The participants judged that the test dot was moving slower than normal, confirming previous findings that once people are adapted to fast motion, things appear to move slower.

For drivers, this means the relative movement of trees, traffic lights and white road markings will appear to slow down after they have been driving fast for a while.

Arnold says that the body having more than one clock for time perception can explain the speeding up of duration perception while perception of speed slows down.
The body clock that tells us how long something is taking is different to the one that tells us how fast we’re going, he says.

Evidence suggests we could have “millions” of different body clocks, depending on the mechanism being used by the body to perceive time in different circumstances, he added.

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