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New Study Explains How Human Brain Developed Differently Than Neanderthals

Experiments on mice have helped scientists identify some key differences in the development of brains in modern humans and our closest relative, Neanderthals. After our ancestors split from the Neanderthals, some one hundred amino acids underwent changes and spread to almost all modern humans. The reason behind this change had puzzled scientists all this while. However, six of the amino acid changes were found to have occurred in the three proteins that are instrumental in distributing chromosomes or the carriers of genetic material to the daughter cells during cell division in our body.

To dig deeper into the cause, researchers from the Max Planck Institute of Molecular Cell Biology and Genetics in Germany and the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology have introduced modern human variants in mice. The six amino acid positions are the same in both mice and Neanderthals.

Hence, the mice provided the scientists with a model to study human brain development. “We found that three modern human amino acids in two of the proteins cause a longer metaphase, a phase where chromosomes are prepared for cell division, and this results in fewer errors when the chromosomes are distributed to the daughter cells of the neural stem cells, just like in modern humans,” explained geneticist Felipe Mora-Bermúdez. He is the lead author of the study published in Science Advances.

Investigating if the set of amino acids in Neanderthals had the opposite effect, researchers introduced ancestral amino acids in brain organoids. These are small organ-like structures that can be grown in cell culture dishes in the lab using human stem cells. Brain organoids mimic the aspects of early human brain development.

In this case, the team noted that the metaphase was shorter while the number of errors in chromosome distribution was also more. Mora-Bermúdez described that the amino acids in modern humans were responsible for fewer mistakes in chromosome distribution. “Having mistakes in the number of chromosomes is usually not a good idea for cells, as can be seen in disorders like trisomies and cancer,” said Mora-Bermudez.

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Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 4 Colour, Integrated Storage Options Spotted on Official Site

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Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 4 Colour, Integrated Storage Options Spotted on Official Site

Samsung is gearing up to host the Galaxy Unpacked launch event on August 10. The South Korean tech giant is expected to unveil the Galaxy Z Fold 4 and Galaxy Z Flip 4 foldable smartphones at this upcoming event. Numerous rumours surrounding the specifications and design of these handsets have surfaced while Samsung continues to keep the information under wraps for now. However, it appears that Samsung has let slip the colour and storage options of the Galaxy Z Flip 4.

The various colour options and storage configuration choices were initially spotted by Reddit users u/AlexQuakeZ (via 9to5Google) on the Samsung Care+ insurance. We were also able to confirm the existence of these listings. The Galaxy Z Flip 4 is listed to offer 128GB and 256GB onboard storage options. Recent rumours had suggested that this foldable Samsung smartphone might also have a 512GB storage variant. But, this option is not listed on the insurance site yet.

The Galaxy Z Flip 4 is listed to come in Blue, Bora Purple, Graphite, and Pink Gold. These options were also depicted in the recently leaked design renders of the handset. The frame colour options, possibly for the Bespoke Edition variant, are also mentioned — Black, Silver, and Gold. Samsung will seemingly offer Green, Navy, Red, Yellow, and White colours for this variant which brings the total number of combinations to over 70.

A recent report suggested that the Galaxy Z Flip 4 might offer over 1,000 colour combinations. However, this appears to be not the case now. To recall, Samsung had unveiled the Galaxy Z Flip 3 Bespoke Edition last year in October. This variant allows Samsung customers to manually select the colours for the frame, and top and bottom panels from available options.

The Galaxy Unpacked event will be held on August 10 at 9am ET/ 6:30pm IST. Samsung is expected to unveil the Galaxy Z Fold 4 and the Galaxy Z Flip 4 along with the Galaxy Watch 5 and Galaxy Buds 2 Pro at the event.

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Eyes Offer Biomarkers for ADHD and ASD Disorders, Study Reveals

Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) and Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) are the most common neurodevelopmental disorders that are diagnosed in early childhood. While both are separate conditions, their symptoms tend to overlap which makes it quite tricky to differentiate between them. Now, in a novel study, researchers from the University of South Australia and Flinders University have found that recordings from the human retina can offer distinct signals for both disorders.

“ASD and ADHD are the most common neurodevelopmental disorders diagnosed in childhood. But as they often share similar traits, making diagnoses for both conditions can be lengthy and complicated. Our research aims to improve this. By exploring how signals in the retina react to light stimuli, we hope to develop more accurate and earlier diagnoses for different neurodevelopmental conditions,” said Dr Paul Constable, a research optometrist at Flinders University. Dr Constable is also an author of the study published in Frontiers in Neuroscience.

The team used an electroretinogram (ERG), which is a diagnostic test for measuring the electrical activity of the retina in response to a light stimulus. In their study, they noted that children, who had ADHD, showed an overall higher level of ERG energy while those with ASD were found to have shown low ERG energy.

Dr Constable explained that the retinal signals are generated by specific nerves and identifying the difference in them can help them shed light on the differences between children with ADHD and those with ASD. He added that their study offers preliminary evidence for neurophysiological changes that not only help distinguish ADHD from ASD but also that it can be done using ERG diagnostics.

“Ultimately, we’re looking at how the eyes can help us understand the brain,” said Dr Fernando Marmolejo-Ramos, an expert in human and artificial cognition at the University of South Australia. He is also the co-researcher in the study.

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AI Program Helps Identify Variables in Physical Concepts

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AI Program Helps Identify Variables in Physical Concepts

To understand any physical phenomenon, one must identify the variables that are responsible for it. While scientists are familiar with the variables for most physical connects, some have remained to be elusive. Now, researchers from Columbia University have used artificial intelligence (AI) to develop a program that observes such physical phenomena and detects the relevant variables. The program uses a video camera to observe the dynamics and then processes the information to tell the minimal set of fundamental variables required to describe it.

In the study, published in Nature Computational Science, researchers began by processing raw video in the system whose answer they already knew. They then matched the result of the AI system with their own which turned out to be close. “We thought this answer was close enough. Where the work was primarily done. Especially since all the AI had access to what was raw video footage, without any knowledge of physics or geometry. But we wanted to know what the variables actually were, not just their number,” said Hod Lipson, director of the Creative Machines Lab in the Department of Mechanical Engineering. Lipson is also the author of the study.

Following this, the team tried to visualise the variables that the program identified. While they found two variables corresponding to the angles of the arms, the other two could not be described. “We tried correlating the other variables with anything and everything we could think of: angular and linear velocities, kinetic and potential energy, and various combinations of known quantities. But nothing seemed to match perfectly,” explained Boyuan Chen PhD ’22, assistant professor at Duke University and lead author of the study.

Researchers continued testing the system and fed videos in the system for which they had no answer. These included videos of an air dancer and of a lava lamp. The system gave eight variables for both of them. Meanwhile, for a video of flames from a holiday fireplace loop, the system returned 24 variables.

The team now hopes that such an AI program can help scientists decipher complex phenomena in areas ranging from biology to cosmology.

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Google Pixel 7 Could Feature Hall Sensor, May Bring Back Support for Flip Covers

Google Pixel 6a recently went on sale for the first time in India on Thursday. The company could now shift its focus towards the Pixel 7 lineup, which is expected to include the vanilla Pixel 7 and the Pixel 7 Pro. This lineup is believed to include the second-generation Google Tensor SoC. The lineup has been a part of the rumour mill, with more and more alleged specifications surfacing every now and then. Recently, a debug code has been spotted that suggests the Pixel 7 could feature a hall sensor.

The mentioned piece of code was spotted by tech editor Mishaal Rahman (@MishaalRahman). The debug documentation in reference to the Pixel 7 mentions the existence of hall sensors. Reportedly, these sensors were last included by Google on the Pixel 2.

Rahman further speculated that Google Pixel 6a could also feature a hall sensor, even though it has not been mentioned in the specifications sheet. The handset supposedly comes with the drivers for the sensor. Hall sensors are designed to detect the magnetic field of the magnets that are usually placed in flip covers. It allows the smartphone to identify when the flip cover is open or closed.

Google might come up with flip covers of their own, considering that the Pixel 7 lineup might feature them and the Pixel 6a could already have this sensor.

According to a recent report, the Pixel 7 could feature a 50-megapixel Samsung GN1 primary sensor and a Sony IMX381 ultra-wide angle sensor. On the other hand, the Pixel 7 Pro is expected to pack a 48-megapixel Samsung GM1 telephoto sensor. Alleged live images of this smartphone has also been leaked recently. This supposed test build of the Pixel 7 Pro ran on Android 13 and was codenamed ‘Cheetah’. A past report mentions that it could also feature a Samsung S6E3HC4 display with a 1,440×3,120 pixels resolution.

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Distant Dwarf Galaxy Formation Spotted by Research Team With Indian Scholar

A first-of-its-kind study has found new stars forming beyond the visible boundaries about 1.5 to 3.9 billion light years away from the Earth, according to an article by a research scholar of Tezpur University. Anshuman Borgohain, the research scholar was a member of the team of astronomers from India, the USA and France which conducted the study. He is the lead author of the article. “It is still unclear how dwarf galaxies of the past have evolved into the ones in the present day. Hence, capturing their assembly process over the cosmic ages is considered as one of the important links to complete the picture of galaxy formation and evolution,” said the research article which was published in the multidisciplinary science journal ‘Nature’ this month.

Bruce Elmegreen, a principal research staff in USA’s IBM research division who too was involved in the study, said that it has been a mystery how some small galaxies like these can have such active star formation.

The study was conceived using the ultraviolet imaging telescope (UVIT) onboard AstroSat, India’s first dedicated multi-wavelength space observatory, a release issued by Tezpur University said. The AstroSat/UVIT’s imaging capabilities have opened up promising avenues in the field of extragalactic astronomy, it added.

Borgohain works under the joint supervision of Rupjyoti Gogoi of Tezpur University and Prof Kanak Saha of Pune-based Inter University Centre for Astronomy and Astrophysics who are co-authors of the article.

The resolving power of the ultraviolet imaging telescope onboard AstroSat, India’s first dedicated multi-wavelength space observatory and UV deep field imaging techniques have been the key to spotting these very young, faint and large star-forming clumps, Saha said.

The current work is an inspiration for young researchers of the country as this utilizes data from India’s indigenous satellite AstroSat, Gogoi said.

“The discovery of such unseen phenomena in these distant dwarf galaxies is just another piece of the puzzle and a glimpse of the unknown that new state-of-the-art observatories are starting to show and have to offer in near future,’ the university vice-chancellor Vinod K Jain said.

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NASA Studies Formation of Ice Crystals in Atmosphere That Pose Danger to Aircrafts

With an aim to improve aircraft jet engine designs and bolster aviation safety, NASA is studying the formation of ice crystals at high altitudes through its DC-8 airborne laboratory. The study is part of NASA’s High Ice Water Content (HIWC) research activity. The team of researchers is conducting a flight campaign where they flew through the heart of large thunderstorms to understand how ice crystals affect the performance of aircraft engines. They flew off the southeast coasts of the United States and the Gulf of Mexico in the month of July.

NASA has conducted such research campaigns earlier too. But, this time, the researchers focussed on human-made aerosols. “For this campaign, we are doing something a little different. Our priority is to conduct flights in regions with human-made aerosols to better understand what effect they have on the development of high concentrations of ice crystals,” said Thomas Ratvasky, HIWC’s principal investigator from NASA’s Glenn Research Center in Cleveland.

Aerosols can form both naturally or due to human-made sources. Industrial emissions, burning of fossil fuels, and agricultural activity are some sources of aerosols. Once they are released into the atmosphere, aerosols can get carried over the ocean. They tend to interact with connective systems and it has been theorised that aerosols can increase the concentration of ice crystals in thunderstorms.

These ice crystals pose danger to the aircraft that fly through the thunderstorms by hampering the performance and power of the jet engines. In addition, they can also affect the instruments equipped on the aircraft and can result in erroneous and inaccurate readings.

Researchers thus want to study aerosols and gather more data that would come in handy for improving flight safety standards.

“We want to make sure that high-aerosol environments are represented in this dataset. Many of today’s engines were not required to demonstrate capability in flying in these ice crystal conditions, but future ones will,” said Ratvasky.

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Redmi 10 2022 Spotted on Xiaomi India Website, Expected to Launch Soon

Redmi 10A Sport was launched in India on Thursday. Now, it is being speculated that Xiaomi could be lining up another Redmi-branded smartphone in the country. A reliable tipster seemingly spotted the Redmi 10 2022 handset listed on the Xiaomi India site. The supposed listing does not reveal any specifications of this model. The Chinese tech giant launched this handset globally earlier this year in February. The Redmi 10 2022 is an affordable smartphone that is powered by a MediaTek Helio G88 SoC.

The alleged Xiaomi India listing of the Redmi 10 2022 was spotted by tipster Mukul Sharma (@stufflistings). As previously mentioned, the listing does not reveal any specifications or expected launch date of this smartphone in India.

To recall, the Redmi 10 2022 was launched in the global markets in February. The smartphone comes in Carbon Grey, Pebble White, and Sea Blue colours. It is a budget-oriented smartphone that offers 4GB RAM + 64GB storage and 4GB RAM + 128GB storage configuration options.

Redmi 10 2022 specifications, features

The globally launched Redmi 10 2022 features a 6.5-inch full-HD+ DotDisplay with an AdaptiveSync refresh rate of up to 90Hz. The display is also protected by Corning Gorilla Glass 3. Under the hood, the smartphone packs a MediaTek Helio G88 paired with Mali-G52 GPU. The smartphone runs on Android 11-based MIUI 12.5.

In terms of cameras, the smartphone is equipped with a 50-megapixel quad rear camera setup. The Redmi 10 2022 also sports an 8-megapixel selfie camera placed in a central hole-punch slot. Both camera setups are capable of recording full-HD videos at 30fps.

The handset is equipped with a 5,000mAh battery that supports 18W fast charging as well as 9W reverse wired charging. It supports 2.4GHz + 5GHz dual-band Wi-Fi and Bluetooth v5.1 wireless connectivity. The Redmi 10 2022 features dual speakers and a 3.5mm headphone jack.

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Yahoo, Paypal Blocked in Indonesia Over Failure to Comply With License Rules

Indonesia has blocked search engine website Yahoo, payments firm Paypal, and several gaming websites due to failure to comply with licensing rules, an official said on Saturday, sparking a backlash on social media.

Registration is required under rules released in late November 2020 and will give authorities broad powers to compel platforms to disclose data of certain users, and take down content deemed unlawful or that “disturbs public order” within four hours if urgent and 24 hours if not.

Several tech companies had rushed to register in days leading to the deadline, which had been extended until Friday, including Alphabet, Meta’s Facebook, Instagram, and WhatsApp, and Amazon.

Semuel Abrijani Pangerapan, a senior official at Indonesia’s Communications Ministry, said in a text message websites that have been blocked include Yahoo, Paypal, and gaming sites like Steam, Dota 2, Counter-Strike, and Epic Games, among others.

Paypal, Yahoo’s parent private equity firm Apollo Global Management, and US game developer Valve, which runs Steam, Dota, and Counter-Strike, did not immediately respond to requests for comment. Epic Games could not be reached for comment.

Hashtags like “BlokirKominfo” (block Communication Ministry), Epic Games, and Paypal trended on Indonesian Twitter, with many writing messages criticising the government’s move as hurting Indonesia’s online gaming industry and freelance workers who use Paypal.

Pangerapan did not respond to a request for comment.

With an estimated 191 million internet users and a young, social-media savvy population, the Southeast Asian nation is a significant market for a host of tech platforms.

© Thomson Reuters 2022

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Climate Change Is Intensifying the Water Cycle, Bringing More Powerful Storms and Flooding – Here’s What the Science Shows

Powerful storm systems triggered flash flooding across the US in late July, inundating St. Louis neighbourhoods with record rainfall and setting off mudslides in eastern Kentucky, where at least 16 people died in the flooding. Another deluge in Nevada flooded the Las Vegas strip. The impact of climate change on extreme water-related events like this is becoming increasingly evident. The storms in the US followed extreme flooding this summer in India and Australia and last year in Western Europe.

Studies by scientists around the world show that the water cycle has been intensifying and will continue to intensify as the planet warms. An international climate assessment I coauthored in 2021 for the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change lays out the details.

It documented an increase in both wet extremes, including more intense rainfall over most regions, and dry extremes, including drying in the Mediterranean, southwestern Australia, southwestern South America, South Africa and western North America. It also shows that both wet and dry extremes will continue to increase with future warming.

Water cycles through the environment, moving between the atmosphere, ocean, land, and reservoirs of frozen water. It might fall as rain or snow, seep into the ground, run into a waterway, join the ocean, freeze or evaporate back into the atmosphere. Plants also take up water from the ground and release it through transpiration from their leaves. In recent decades, there has been an overall increase in the rates of precipitation and evaporation.

A number of factors are intensifying the water cycle, but one of the most important is that warming temperatures raise the upper limit on the amount of moisture in the air. That increases the potential for more rain.

This aspect of climate change is confirmed across all of our lines of evidence discussed in the IPCC report. It is expected from basic physics, projected by computer models, and it already shows up in the observational data as a general increase in rainfall intensity with warming temperatures.

Understanding this and other changes in the water cycle is important for more than preparing for disasters. Water is an essential resource for all ecosystems and human societies, and particularly agriculture.

An intensifying water cycle means that both wet and dry extremes and the general variability of the water cycle will increase, although not uniformly around the globe.

Rainfall intensity is expected to increase for most land areas, but the largest increases in dryness are expected in the Mediterranean, southwestern South America and western North America.

Globally, daily extreme precipitation events will likely intensify by about 7 percent for every 1 degree Celsius that global temperatures rise.

Many other important aspects of the water cycle will also change in addition to extremes as global temperatures increase, the report shows, including reductions in mountain glaciers, decreasing duration of seasonal snow cover, earlier snowmelt and contrasting changes in monsoon rains across different regions, which will impact the water resources of billions of people.

One common theme across these aspects of the water cycle is that higher greenhouse gas emissions lead to bigger impacts.

The IPCC does not make policy recommendations. Instead, it provides the scientific information needed to carefully evaluate policy choices. The results show what the implications of different choices are likely to be.

One thing the scientific evidence in the report clearly tells world leaders is that limiting global warming to the Paris Agreement target of 1.5 degrees Celsius will require immediate, rapid and large-scale reductions in greenhouse gas emissions.

Regardless of any specific target, it is clear that the severity of climate change impacts are closely linked to greenhouse gas emissions: Reducing emissions will reduce impacts. Every fraction of a degree matters.

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