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Why are naked mole rats the most long-lived rodents in the world?

(University of Rochester photo / J. Adam Fenster)

All people on our planet want to be healthy and live as long as possible, but the world is full of dangerous diseases. However, despite the efforts of thousands of scientists from all over the world to develop a cure for cancer and other deadly diseases, few today are able to survive at least 100 years. With all this, animals live near us, which can boast of longevity and protection from disease and without any medication. One of them is naked mole rats, which have a record life for rodents of up to 30 years. The study, the results of which were published in a scientific journal Biogerontology, revealed the secret of their longevity.

Naked diggers cannot be called the cutest creatures on the planet.

Naked mole rats (Heterocephalus glaber) are not the most pleasant looking animals, but the features of their body are truly amazing. For example, they are completely fearless of pain from thermal and chemical burns, and also have a strong immunity to cancer. Previously, scientists believed that diggers are completely protected against cancer but in 2016 they still managed to find a couple of individuals with cancerous tumors. However, their cancer incidence rate is extremely low and they survive to the age of 30. For comparison, the lifespan of mice does not exceed two years.

What is the secret of longevity of naked diggers?

According to scientists, the secret of longevity of naked diggers is hidden in their living conditions. As a rule, these unusual animals are found in dry savannahs and semi-deserts. But they do not live on a hot surface, but in underground tunnels at a depth of about 2 meters. The length of the underground passages can reach 5 kilometers, and the width of the tunnels is about 4 centimeters. It is also known that these excavators live in colonies of 70-80 individuals. Perhaps the longevity of these animals is associated with life in cold conditions with a minimum amount of oxygen.

Naked diggers live in narrow tunnels underground

To test this assumption, scientists from Ukraine and Israel decided to conduct a rather serious experiment. Its essence was that they took three groups of young, adult and elderly laboratory mice and placed them in conditions in which naked mole rats live. In the first part of the experiment, the animals were kept for several hours in a vessel with a closed lid. In the second part of the experiment, the mice lived for three months in a cage with 10% oxygen and carbon dioxide.

Is it possible to live without oxygen?

Being closed in a vessel without air, the mice began to inhale three times less oxygen and exhale less carbon dioxide. Also, in individuals of all ages, body temperature dropped. From all this, scientists concluded that the metabolism of animals slowed significantly.

In conditions with insufficient oxygen, rodents began to eat 50% less and lost almost 30% of their weight. But with all this they did not feel stress and behaved almost the same way as under normal conditions. The most surprising discovery for researchers was that mice living in the stuffy stuff heal faster. They checked this by making small cuts on their bodies – they dragged on faster for several days than usual.

Scientists were able to change the metabolic rate of mice

In the end, scientists found that under the new conditions the metabolism of laboratory rats changed and became almost the same as in naked mole rats. At the same time, rodents found the same property to heal more quickly from wounds, so the researchers decided that the secret of longevity of diggers is hidden in their living conditions. Of course, while this is not the final verdict, because they still have to do a lot of research.

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Science & Technology

Scientists have created a robotic eye that is completely similar to human

The developers plan to make it completely autonomous due to power from sunlight.

Scientists have created an artificial eye, the device of which almost completely copies the structure of the human organ of vision. Its diameter is about two centimeters, it has a retina made of nanowires and a lens for focusing light instead of the lens. The article describing the development was published by the scientific journal Nature.

We can see due to the fact that the light that enters the eyes passes inside them through the lens system and enters the photoreceptors in the retina. They convert particles of light into signals that are transmitted to the brain. Scientists have long been trying to reconstruct this complex system to create robots or in order to try to restore lost vision to people.

Another and relatively successful attempt to achieve this was made by scientists led by Zhiyong Fang of Hong Kong University of Science and Technology. The artificial eye that they created looks like a ball about two centimeters in diameter, filled with a fluid that conducts electric current. The eye of an adult is about the same size, inside it is also filled with a jelly-like liquid.

The device can see thanks to an artificial retina made of photosensitive nanowires. They are made on the basis of perovskite – a hybrid material, which due to its unique structure is now widely used in solar panels. Nanowires react to light and transmit a signal about it further like the photoreceptors of the human eye.

To test whether this eye can see, scientists projected images of several letters onto it. The device successfully recognized the letters I, E, and Y. However, while it creates an image of rather poor quality – about 100 pixels, compared with 120-140 megapixels of the human eye.

For operation, the device needs an external power source. However, scientists plan to make the artificial eye self-contained so that the device works like a small solar cell.

Among other plans of scientists – to check whether it is possible to subculture these nanowires to the human optical nerve. In addition, the developers hope to increase the quality of the picture to the level of the human eye and even surpass it by an order of magnitude.

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Is humanity getting dumber?

Shot from the movie "Dumb and Dumberer: When Harry Met Lloyd"

For most of human history, people have become smarter. But now the opposite is true. If in the past the average IQ score increased, now everything is going in the opposite direction and people are getting dumber. 

You just don’t think – this is not a judgment, but a fact: in many leading countries, IQ indicators began to decline. And at this very time, technology is becoming smarter. Creepy, right? But it really gets scary from the fact that there are many scientific studies confirming that humanity is rapidly becoming stupid. Moreover, scientists seriously fear for our common future. Does this really mean that idiocracy – the degradation of the world’s population due to the rapid deterioration of people’s mental abilities – is inevitable?

The film “Dumb and Dumber” shows what life can be like for people of the future. 
No kidding


An IQ test or intelligence test measures parameters such as spatial thinking, vocabulary size, the ability to abstract mind-sets, and classify information.

Were people smarter in the past?

According to the famous psychologist James Flynn, a huge number of factors affect our intellectual abilities – from air quality to choosing a life partner. Also, do not underestimate the influence of random factors – as the BBC Future writes , even a job loss or personal tragedy can negatively affect the level of intelligence. Moreover, researchers agree that in general about 80% of adult intelligence is predetermined by genes.

Flynn, a professor at New Zealand University of Otago, is seriously concerned about the future of mankind. The professor is convinced that the views of the younger generation on current problems are too superficial, which leaves much room for manipulation of their consciousness by politicians and the media. However, in general, the scientist looks at the situation positively. The fact is that in the first half of the twentieth century, Flynn discovered an obvious increase in IQ indicators. This effect is called the Flynn effect. But if we really got smarter half a century ago, then what happens today?

People are getting stupid at the same pace as they used to get smarter

According to the results of an already famous study of scientists from the Norwegian Ragnar Frisch Center for Economic Research, the level of intelligence today drops by an average of seven points in ten years. In the course of their work, the researchers analyzed the 730,000 IQ tests that Norwegian men underwent before compulsory military service from 1970 to 2009.

If this trend continues – and the study has been severely criticized because of the limited sample – after about 10 generations, the IQ level will drop from 130 (“very high”) to 69 (“extremely low”). But there is even more frightening news – experts found that every decade IQ fell by 1.23 points. This means that over the course of a century and a half, the overall decline has already reached 14 points. It is noteworthy that what is happening there are many potential explanations, ranging from environmental issues and the quality of food, ending with the lack of exercise and a long stay at the computer.

Do you alos having problems understand what is written on the board? 
What does that say about you?

The forecast of scientists is not at all comforting: if this continues further, then in the not too distant future, a person in his mental abilities will approach a … developed monkey.

No less exciting are the results of another study, this time larger. A few years ago, an international team of scientists wanted to test the level of education of modern people and residents of the Victorian era from 1837 to 1901. The conclusions were not comforting – about a century and a half ago, people were much more developed and inventive.

Scientists came to such conclusions after evaluating the reaction rate – in 1889, the reaction rate of men was 183 milliseconds, but men of the 21st century react to external stimuli at a speed of 253 milliseconds. For women, everything is about the same – instead of 188 milliseconds in the 19th century, the reaction rate dropped to the 261st millisecond. Such slowness and inhibition, as the researchers note, is a weak coefficient of intelligence in humans.

Unfortunately, Flynn today admits that IQ growth in the 20th century has staggered. A number of studies using a variety of well-established IQ tests and metrics have revealed declines in Scandinavia, the UK, Germany, France and Australia. Details vary from research to research and from place to place. But the overall picture has become much clearer: since the 21st century, many of the most economically developed countries have faced a decline in IQ.

Well, reverse evolution is evolution too!

Are we waiting for idiocy?

As in the film “Idiocracy”, the assumption that the average intelligence of mankind is reduced due to the fact that families with lower IQ have more children (dysgenic fertility) has been repeatedly expressed. However, a study conducted in Norway in 2018 showed that IQ falls not only in different societies, but also in families. Even children born to parents with high IQ roll down the IQ ladder. Some environmental factor — or a combination of factors — causes a decrease in the IQ of parents and their own children, as well as older children and their younger brothers and sisters.

In the end, it will be great if we can determine the exact reason for the decline in IQ before we finally go stupid. By the way, the fact that everyone sets new temperature records – and heat reduces mental abilities by as much as 13% – also does not add optimism. One way or another, the problem really exists and requires the attention of researchers around the world. Especially in view of the threats that climate change poses to the world.

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U.S. Navy laser creates plasma UFOs

The U.S. Navy’s laser is capable of producing two- and three-dimensional plasma images that outsiders can mistake for unidentified flying objects (UFOs), Forbes writes , citing a corresponding U.S. patent.

According to the magazine, a similar Navy technology is designed to trick infrared missile sensors with homing warheads. In particular, the laser is placed in the tail of the aircraft, and the corresponding plasma target is created at almost any distance from the aircraft.

Image: United States Navy

Popular Mechanics were skeptical about this explanation of the nature of UFOs. The publication believes that only some of the disclosed incidents related to unidentified flying objects can be explained by the use of lasers. In particular, according to Popular Mechanics, precisely such plasma images are visible with the AN / ASQ-228 Advanced Targeting Forward-Looking Infrared (ATFLIR) camera of the F / A-18E / F Super Hornet fighter.

In April, the Pentagon officially unveiled and recognized the authenticity of three short UFO videos.

In October 2019, The Drive announced that the U.S. Army had confirmed a contract with To The Stars Academy of Arts & Science (TTSA), created with the participation of former Blink-182 frontman Tom Delong, to study supposedly artificially created physical artifacts of alien origin.

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