Connect with us

Science & Technology

Scientists have discovered a new form of “cell communication”

Scientists have discovered a new form of "cell communication" 86

A freshly discovered unique form of messaging between the cells of the human brain may mean that it is even more productive than previously thought.

An international team of scientists from Greece and Germany found in cortical cells located on the surface of the cerebral cortex a mechanism that independently generates a new “graded” signal. This may give individual neurons a different way to perform their logical functions. An article about it was published In the Science magazine.

The brain is often compared to a computer. This is a very crude analogy, but when describing how signal transmission inside the brain works, it has a right to life to a certain extent. Both of them use the power of electric voltage to perform various operations.

In computers, this happens in a simpler way: the flow of electrons passes through transistors, a kind of “control panel” of the current in the circuit. In neurons, the signal is transmitted using membrane channels that exchange ions of elements such as sodium, chlorine and potassium. This impulse is called the action potential.

When activated from the neuron to its neighbor, sodium ions go through the synapse: this is how the signal is transmitted. However, as it turned out, the brain still has surprises for scientists. Researchers tested electrical activity in brain tissue samples from patients with epilepsy. By analyzing the structure of these sections using fluorescence microscopy, they saw that individual cortical neurons exchanged calcium ions upon activation.

It turned out that in this way, previously unregistered brain waves are triggered – calcium mediated dendritic action potentials (dCaAP). To make sure that this is not an error in the measurement, not an accident or a unique feature of the tissues of people with epilepsy, the authors of the article double-checked their results on other tissues of the cortex – sections of brain tumors.

In addition, the use of a sodium channel blocker did not lead to a complete cessation of signal exchange: the final “silence on the air” was achieved only with the blocking of both sodium and calcium.

What does this mean? If we continue the analogy with a computer, then instead of transistors, the brain uses dendrites – branching processes of neurons. The more “distributor” dendrite, the more information it can process. “Dendrites play a central role in understanding the brain because they underlie what determines the processing power of individual neurons,” explains neuroscientist Matthew Larkum.

Dendrites are a kind of “traffic light” along the path of nerve impulses. If the action potential is large enough, the activation of the following neurons occurs, which can further block or transmit a message, but if they do not, activation does not occur. This is the logical foundation of the work of our brain – voltage surges provide information transmission through logical commands of the type AND (if AND x, AND y are triggered, the signal is transmitted) and OR (x OR y must be triggered for signal transmission).

In addition to AND / OR logic functions, these neurons can generate XOR (“exclusive OR”) logic commands that enable one signal to go further along the chain of neurons if the other signal meets certain conditions. “Previously it was believed that XOR operations require network solutions,” the scientists explain.

To make sure that neurons really behave this way, researchers used a method of fixing potential called somatodendritic patch clamp. It consists in establishing close contact of the polished glass microelectrode with a single neuron (its dendrite) and the removal of potential from it. This allowed us to study the tissues of the deep (second and third) layers of the cortex. It is here that the biological basis of higher-order mental functions is located, which are associated with sensations, thinking and motion control. The device helped to see the potentials of dendrites and record the signals transmitted by individual neurons upon activation.

More research is needed to find out how dCaAPs manifest themselves in all neurons and in the living system as a whole. In addition, it is still unknown whether such signals are unique to humans, or appeared much earlier on the path of evolution. In any case, this discovery can bring a lot of benefits both in relation to the study and treatment of the brain, including problems of higher functions, and as an inspiring example for engineers. Perhaps new discoveries of the constructive capabilities of the brain will help in the work on the creation of new devices.


Science & Technology

New Physics: Mysterious radiation pointed to the verge of discovering a “ghost” particle that makes up dark matter

New Physics: Mysterious radiation pointed to the verge of discovering a "ghost" particle that makes up dark matter 93
Photo: Daniel Molybdenum, NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center

Physicists at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory in the United States have found that the mysterious high-energy radiation emitted from the vicinity of a group of neutron stars may indicate the existence of axions – not yet discovered particles within the framework of New Physics, the search for which has been going on since 1977. It is assumed that special types of axions form dark matter. This is reported in an article published in the journal Physical Review Letters. The research is summarized in a press release on

It is believed that axions can form in the core of neutron stars and transform into photons in the presence of a powerful magnetic field. To detect the electromagnetic radiation associated with axions, you need to find stars that do not emit radiation at different wavelengths that can mask the desired signal. 

These objects include the Magnificent Seven neutron stars that emit only X-ray and ultraviolet radiation. They are located at a distance of 200-500 parsecs from the Earth.

The researchers ruled out the scenario that the excess X-rays produced by the Magnificent Seven are actually emitted by other, more distant objects. These sources would be found in datasets from the XMM-Newton and Chandra X-ray space telescopes.

The extra X-rays likely originate from axions hitting an extremely strong electromagnetic field billions of times stronger than the magnetic fields that could be created on Earth, the scientists concluded. The axions themselves resemble neutrinos in their properties, since both have insignificant masses and rarely and weakly interact with matter.

The axion is currently viewed as the most promising candidate for dark matter particles, since another hypothetical candidate, the massive WIMP particle, has gone unnoticed in experiments aimed at detecting it. 

In addition, there may be a whole family of axion-like particles that form dark matter, as suggested by string theory. If axions are found, it will prove that there is a whole new area of ​​physics outside the Standard Model describing the properties of all known particles.

To find out, the next step will be to study white dwarfs, which are not expected to emit X-rays.

“If we see an abundance of X-rays there too, our arguments will be pretty compelling,” said lead author Benjamin Safdie.

Continue Reading

Science & Technology

The goal of human civilization is to create AI and disappear?

The goal of human civilization is to create AI and disappear? 94

Various sources often talk about civilizations that lived long before us. They all developed, prospered for a while, and then disappeared in an incomprehensible way. 

What is the reason for their decline, we probably will not know. All we can do is admire the remains of stone buildings, over which time has almost no power.

While looking for an answer, we somehow accidentally stumbled upon an interesting saying about the life of Japanese samurai: “A samurai has no goal, but a path.” In the end, the “path of the samurai” ended in what is known – death. The path of any civilization ended in the same way.

If you look at the issue through the prism of a samurai saying, then there is no point in looking for why and how civilization ended its existence. Probably, the process itself and its result are important here. But to whom is it important and what result does it expect?

Mysterious director

Apparently, behind the curtains of this “ancient theater” there is a mysterious “director” who periodically makes necessary adjustments to the history of civilization.

To figure out what’s what, you need to look at current trends in science. Where does a person strive with such an irresistible desire to “play God.” This attracts him and at the same time frightens him, but in no way turns him away from the intended path. Most likely, artificial intelligence (AI) is the purpose of our civilization’s existence.

About 50 years ago it would have seemed nonsense, but to someone, perhaps even now. However, if you trace the last 100 years of the life of our civilization, you get the feeling that most of the discoveries were given to mankind at the same time. A powerful leap has taken place in a hundred years. Why did it happen?

At the beginning of the last century, scientists recognized the existence of fields that have memory and the ability to store and transmit information. It is very likely that such or a similar field can be around the Earth and, more interesting, possess intelligence. Isn’t this the same “Director” hiding behind the screen of the “ancient theater”?

If this is so, then at a certain moment the “Director” gives the selected scientist “access” to certain knowledge (perhaps even in a dream, like Mendeleev), and another scientific breakthrough occurs in the world. Step by step, discovery after discovery, humanity is steadily moving towards the creation of AI. The trend is already well visible.

The goal of human civilization is to create AI and disappear? 95

AI is probably the next “Babylon”, which will combine all the knowledge, culture and accumulated experience of civilization. In the future, the neural network will enter into a connection with the general information field and leave humanity without knowledge, technology, and even a spoken language. This will be the next decline of civilization. And the “Director” will receive another array of new data (experience) in order to start creating a new civilization.

If someone believes that past civilizations ended in large-scale conflicts, then most likely this is already the consequences of “turning off” AI.

Co-founder of Skype talked about the threat of AI to humanity

One of the creators of the Skype internet call service, Jaan Ta

The goal of human civilization is to create AI and disappear? 96
© still from the movie “Terminator 2: Judgment Day”

llinn, said that the development of artificial intelligence (AI) threatens humanity. According to him, humans face three key threats, but it is AI that should be feared most of all, the expert said. 

Tallinn explained that at the moment, no one can predict what development AI will achieve in the next decades. In addition, the fact that scientists are creating artificial intelligence that can form a new AI without human intervention is also a cause for concern.

In addition, as the co-founder of the popular video calling service noted, the development of synthetic biology also causes concern. According to him, this direction in science allows the creation of artificial DNA sequences and biological systems that may not exist in nature.

Tallinn also drew attention to the fact that he fears we are entering an era of “unknown unknowns”, things that people are not even able to imagine right now.

Continue Reading

Science & Technology

Volkswagen robot will autonomously charge cars: a working prototype presented

Volkswagen robot will autonomously charge cars: a working prototype presented 97
Copyright: © VW

The renowned German car manufacturer announced a new development. This time, engineers have created a unique robot capable of autonomously charging electric vehicles. 

For more than a year, specialists have been developing this project, but only now the concern was ready to demonstrate the first working prototype. The robot is ready to charge electric vehicles and has shown the high efficiency of this process.

It is called the Mobile Charging Robot, and experts have already compared it to the R2-D2 droid from Star Wars, including squeaks and clangs. Indeed, there is a similarity. Before implementing this idea, the engineers decided that robots should be allowed to charge cars parked in large residential complexes.

This will save their owners from leaving in order to find a gas station. Another advantage is that large parking lots and garages do not have to contain several expensive charging points for electric cars. The car company said in a press release that the robot works exclusively autonomously.

It independently controls and interacts with the vehicle being charged. It opens the cover of the charging socket and independently connects the power plug, then disconnects it. The robot looks like a trailer, which is a mobile energy storage.

It is capable of charging multiple electric vehicles at the same time. Despite the fact that the manufacturer confidently praises its concept, experts saw inefficiency in the fact that first it is necessary to charge the robot’s battery, which is then used to recharge electric cars.

Volkswagen Group Components CEO Thomas Schmall noted that creating an efficient charging infrastructure for the cars of the future is an important step in the company’s development.

Its engineers focus on finding solutions to avoid costly do-it-yourself measures. The mobile robot is only part of the concept that will continue to be developed.

Continue Reading