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Which war to fight first

  • vi vs emacs
  • tabs vs spaces
  • static vs dynamic typing
  • gui vs text
  • functional vs OOP
  • Light vs Dark theme
  • Other (please specify)

[ Results | Polls ]
Comments:128 | Votes:217

posted by janrinok on Monday June 20, @11:40PM   Printer-friendly [Skip to comment(s)]
from the go-go-gadget-copter dept.

NASA's next Mars copter to have rotors tested in Japan:

As the search for life beyond Earth heats up, Japan's Tohoku University is working with NASA to test whether the American space agency's next-generation Mars helicopter can take flight in the red planet's extremely thin atmosphere.

NASA's Ingenuity helicopter was landed on Mars in February 2021. That April, it became the first aircraft to make a powered, controlled flight on a planet other than Earth. A wind tunnel at Tohoku University will be used to test the blades of Ingenuity's successor, according to a Tuesday release.

Mars has an atmosphere less than 1% as thin as Earth's, as well as roughly a third of the gravity. This means that an aircraft on Mars needs to produce around 33 times as much lift as a counterpart on Earth in order to fly.

Tohoku University's wind tunnel can create atmospheric conditions similar to Mars. The university will work with NASA to check whether the blades for the next-generation helicopter can produce enough lift when subjected to winds at a hundredth of Earth's standard air pressure.

[...] Japan plans to launch its Martian Moons Exploration mission in fiscal 2024 to collect a sample from the Martian moon of Phobos and bring it back to Earth, leveraging experience from the Hayabusa and Hayabusa-2 asteroid probes. Separately, researchers from the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency and elsewhere are working on their own Martian aircraft.

Terminology translation problems?

Original Submission

posted by janrinok on Monday June 20, @08:56PM   Printer-friendly [Skip to comment(s)]

Arthur T Knackerbracket has processed the following story:

According to a new research study, your brain can send out a burst of norepinephrine when it needs you to pay attention to something important.

When your brain needs you to pay attention to something important, one way it can do that is to send out a burst of noradrenaline, according to a new MIT study.

This neuromodulator, produced by a structure deep in the brain called the locus coeruleus, can have widespread effects throughout the brain. In a study of mice, the MIT team found that one key role of noradrenaline, also known as norepinephrine, is to help the brain learn from surprising outcomes.

“What this work shows is that the locus coeruleus encodes unexpected events, and paying attention to those surprising events is crucial for the brain to take stock of its environment,” says Mriganka Sur, the Newton Professor of Neuroscience in MIT’s Department of Brain and Cognitive Sciences, a member of MIT’s Picower Institute for Learning and Memory, and director of the Simons Center for the Social Brain.

In addition to its role in signaling surprise, the researchers also discovered that noradrenaline helps to stimulate behavior that leads to a reward, particularly in situations where there is uncertainty over whether a reward will be offered.

[...] Previous studies of the locus coeruleus, the brain’s primary source of noradrenaline, have shown that it receives input from many parts of the brain and also sends its signals far and wide. In the new study, the MIT team set out to study its role in a specific type of learning called reinforcement learning, or learning by trial and error.

For this study, the researchers trained mice to push a lever when they heard a high-frequency tone, but not when they heard a low-frequency tone. When the mice responded correctly to the high-frequency tone, they received water, but if they pushed the lever when they heard a low-frequency tone, they received an unpleasant puff of air.

The mice also learned to push the lever harder when the tones were louder. When the volume was lower, they were more uncertain about whether they should push or not. And, when the researchers inhibited activity of the locus coeruleus, the mice became much more hesitant to push the lever when they heard low volume tones, suggesting that noradrenaline promotes taking a chance on getting a reward in situations where the payoff is uncertain.

“The animal is pushing because it wants a reward, and the locus coeruleus provides critical signals to say, push now, because the reward will come,” Sur says.

The researchers also found that the neurons that generate this noradrenaline signal appear to send most of their output to the motor cortex, which offers more evidence that this signal stimulates the animals to take action.

[...] The researchers now plan to explore the possible synergy between noradrenaline and other neuromodulators, especially dopamine, which also responds to unexpected rewards. They also hope to learn more about how the prefrontal cortex stores the short-term memory of the input from the locus coeruleus to help the animals improve their performance in future trials.

Reference: “Spatiotemporal dynamics of noradrenaline during learned behaviour” by Vincent Breton-Provencher, Gabrielle T. Drummond, Jiesi Feng, Yulong Li and Mriganka Sur, 1 June 2022, Nature.
DOI: 10.1038/s41586-022-04782-2

Original Submission

posted by hubie on Monday June 20, @06:08PM   Printer-friendly [Skip to comment(s)]
from the Mark-Zuckerberg,-M.D. dept.

Experts say some hospitals' use of an ad tracking tool may violate a federal law protecting health information :

A tracking tool installed on many hospitals' websites has been collecting patients' sensitive health information—including details about their medical conditions, prescriptions, and doctor's appointments—and sending it to Facebook. The Markup tested the websites of Newsweek's top 100 hospitals in America. On 33 of them we found the tracker, called the Meta Pixel, sending Facebook a packet of data whenever a person clicked a button to schedule a doctor's appointment. The data is connected to an IP address—an identifier that's like a computer's mailing address and can generally be linked to a specific individual or household—creating an intimate receipt of the appointment request for Facebook.

[...] The Meta Pixel sends information to Facebook via scripts running in a person's internet browser, so each data packet comes labeled with an IP address that can be used in combination with other data to identify an individual or household.

HIPAA lists IP addresses as one of the 18 identifiers that, when linked to information about a person's health conditions, care, or payment, can qualify the data as protected health information. Unlike anonymized or aggregate health data, hospitals can't share protected health information with third parties except under the strict terms of business associate agreements that restrict how the data can be used.

In addition, if a patient is logged in to Facebook when they visit a hospital's website where a Meta Pixel is installed, some browsers will attach third-party cookies—another tracking mechanism—that allow Meta to link pixel data to specific Facebook accounts.

[...] Houston Methodist Hospital, in Texas, was the only institution to provide detailed responses to The Markup's questions. The hospital began using the pixel in 2017, spokesperson Stefanie Asin wrote, and is "confident" in Facebook's safeguards and that the data being shared isn't protected health information.

[...] Asin added that Houston Methodist believes Facebook "uses tools to detect and reject any health information, providing a barrier that prevents passage of [protected health information]."

[...] "The evil genius of Facebook's system is they create this little piece of code that does the snooping for them and then they just put it out into the universe and Facebook can try to claim plausible deniability," said Alan Butler, executive director of the Electronic Privacy Information Center. "The fact that this is out there in the wild on the websites of hospitals is evidence of how broken the rules are."

Original Submission

posted by hubie on Monday June 20, @03:24PM   Printer-friendly [Skip to comment(s)]
from the just-a-tad-outside-the-habitable-zone dept.

NASA's TESS Finds Buzzing Cosmic Neighborhood With Two Super-Earths:

Here's your friendly reminder that our solar system is but a molecule of water in the universe's ocean.  

NASA's Transiting Exoplanet Satellite Survey, better known as TESS, has spotted a buzzing galactic neighborhood only 33 light-years away from our planet. It has a central star, a couple of planets circling that star, and according to the scientists behind this alternate reality discovery, there are at least two terrestrial, Earth-size worlds in the pack.

[...] What we know so far is that the system's host star is dubbed HD 260655 and is relatively small, cool and categorized as an M-dwarf. M-dwarves are significantly less massive than our sun, a G-type main sequence star, yet are 10 times as numerous throughout the universe.

[...] The inner planet orbits its star every 2.8 Earth days and is about 1.2 times the size of Earth and twice as massive. The other foreign world orbits every 5.7 Earth days and is 1.5 times the size of Earth and three times as massive. They're both considered "rocky."

"Both planets in this system are each considered among the best targets for atmospheric study because of the brightness of their star," Michelle Kunimoto of MIT's Kavli Institute for Astrophysics and Space Research and one of the discovery's lead scientists, said in a statement.

That includes studies that aim to answer questions like, "Is there a volatile-rich atmosphere around these planets? And are there signs of water or carbon-based species?" Kunimoto said -- in other words, a protective layer like the Earth's ozone layer, and living beings like ... humans. "These planets are fantastic test beds for those explorations."

OK, but before you get too excited, the team emphasized that the newly unveiled rocky worlds of interest probably aren't habitable -- they tread really (really) close to their host star, so they're likely too hot to host water. The inner planet, per the study, roasts at an estimated 818 degrees Fahrenheit, and the other runs a balmy temperature of 548 degrees Fahrenheit.

"We consider that range outside the habitable zone," Kunimoto said.

Still, these worlds could prove invaluable for the overall quest to find habitable exoplanets. In short, they could inform how scientists conduct future studies that might come across planets which are in a habitable zone.

"But there might be more planets in the system," Shporer added. "There are many multiplanet systems hosting five or six planets, especially around small stars like this one. Hopefully we will find more." And if the team does find more, "maybe one might be in the habitable zone.

"That's optimistic thinking."

Original Submission

posted by janrinok on Monday June 20, @12:41PM   Printer-friendly [Skip to comment(s)]
from the always-shrinking dept.

TSMC Reveals 2nm Node: 30% More Performance by 2025:

Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. today officially introduced its N2 (2nm class) manufacturing technology, its first node that will use gate-all-around field-effect transistors (GAAFETs), at its 2022 TSMC Technology Symposium. The new fabrication process will offer a [full node's] performance and power benefits, but when it comes to transistor density, it will barely impress in 2025 when it comes online.

Being an all-new process technology platform, TSMC's N2 brings in two essential innovations: nanosheet transistors (which is what TSMC calls its GAAFETs) and backside power rail that both serve the same goal of increasing performance-per-watt characteristics of the node. GAA nanosheet transistors feature channels surrounded by gates on all four sides, which reduces leakage; furthermore, their channels can be widened to increase drive current and boost performance or shrunken to minimize power consumption and cost. To feed these nanosheet transistors with enough power and now waste any of it, TSMC's N2 uses backside power delivery, which the foundry considers to be among the best solutions to fight resistances in the back-end-of-line (BEOL).

Indeed, when it comes to performance and power consumption, TSMC's nanosheet-based N2 node can boast of a 10% to 15% higher performance at the same power and complexity as well as a 25% to 30% lower power consumption at the same frequency and transistor count when compared to TSMC's N3E. However, the new node increases chip density by only around 1.1X compared to N3E.

  N2 vs N3E N3E vs N5 N3 vs N5 N5 vs N7
Speed Improvement @ Same Power 10% ~ 15% +18% +10% ~ 15% +15%
Power Reduction @ Same Speed -23% ~ -30% -34% -25% ~ -30% -30%
Chip Density >1.1X1.3X??
HVM StartH2 2025Q2/Q3 2023H2 2022Q2 2022

I'll wait until takyon does a review - he has a knack of sorting out useful figures from manufacturer's hype.

Original Submission

posted by janrinok on Monday June 20, @09:55AM   Printer-friendly [Skip to comment(s)]
from the say-goodnight-elon dept.

While it may not be all that surprising to SN readers, some data on "self driving" cars has now hit the big time, WaPo reports:

Tesla vehicles running its Autopilot software have been involved in 273 reported crashes over roughly the past year, according to regulators, far more than previously known and providing concrete evidence regarding the real-world performance of its futuristic features.

The numbers, which were published by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration for the first time Wednesday, show that Tesla vehicles made up nearly 70 percent of the 392 crashes involving advanced driver-assistance systems reported since last July, and a majority of the fatalities and serious injuries — some of which date back further than a year. Eight of the Tesla crashes took place before June 2021, according to data released by NHTSA on Wednesday morning.

And 5 of 6 fatalities were linked with Tesla cars, the other was one of the competing Level 2 systems offered by other automakers.

WaPo continues,

The new data set stems from a federal order last summer requiring automakers to report crashes involving driver assistance to assess whether the technology presented safety risks. Tesla's vehicles have been found to shut off the advanced driver-assistance system, Autopilot, around one second before impact, according to the regulators.

The NHTSA order required manufacturers to disclose crashes where the software was in use within 30 seconds of the crash, in part to mitigate the concern that manufacturers would hide crashes by claiming the software wasn't in use at the time of the impact. [Ed: Emphasis provided by the submitter.]

Original Submission

posted by janrinok on Monday June 20, @07:13AM   Printer-friendly [Skip to comment(s)]
from the it's-only-wafer-thin dept.

Atomically thin semiconductors for nanophotonics:

Atomically thin semiconductors such as molybdenum disulfide and tungsten disulfide are promising materials for nanoscale photonic devices. These approximately 2D semiconductors support so-called excitons, which are bound electron-hole pairs, that can align vertically along the thin plane of the materials.

Excitons are bound electron-hole pairs that can interact with electrical charges, spins, and phonons. This range of interactions indicates that excitons could herald a new wave of devices based on nanoscale photonics and optoelectronics.

For his Ph.D. thesis, Rasmus Godiksen investigated the exciton behavior in atomically thin semiconductors, focusing on emitted light, by exploring the potential of excitons in ultra-thin semiconductors such as molybdenum disulfide (MoS2) and tungsten disulfide (WS2). The semiconductors are so thin that can be approximated as 2D materials. So, in effect, Godiksen studied excitons in 2D materials.

First, Godiksen and his collaborators showed that the 2D excitons are very sensitive to their nanoscopic environment. Using photoluminescence (PL) imaging techniques, they measured fluorescence fluctuations due to charge transfer to the semiconductor. Such fluctuations are spatially correlated over tens of micrometers in WS2 monolayers on metal films.

Due to charge fluctuations from trap states (which are states that trap excited carriers such as electrons, holes, and excitons), they follow power-law statistics with simultaneous changes in emission intensity, lifetime, and exciton-trion ratios. Power-law statistics is an indicator of trapping and de-trapping of excitons, so this provides evidence of trapped states.

Excitons in WS2 also have a degree of freedom with regard to valleys, which couples spin polarization to momentum direction. Valleys in the band structure can be explored using circularly polarized light. Exciting or detecting an exciton in one valley can be used in information technologies, for example.

[...] Single-photon sources are interesting for quantum computing, molecular sensors could increase sensitivity down to the single molecule level, and valleytronic devices could pave the way for a new generation of electronic devices based on valley polarization.

Godiksen, R. H. (2022). Atomically Thin Semiconductors For Nanophotonics. Ph.D. Thesis. Eindhoven University of Technology.

Original Submission

posted by janrinok on Monday June 20, @04:27AM   Printer-friendly [Skip to comment(s)]

Julian Assange's extradition from UK to US approved by home secretary

Priti Patel has approved the extradition of the WikiLeaks co-founder Julian Assange to the US, a decision the organisation immediately said it would appeal against in the high court.

The case passed to the home secretary last month after the supreme court ruled there were no legal questions over assurances given by US authorities over how Assange was likely to be treated.

While Patel has given a green light, WikiLeaks immediately released a statement to say it would appeal against the decision.

"Today is not the end of fight," it said. "It is only the beginning of a new legal battle. We will appeal through the legal system; the next appeal will be before the high court."

Also at NYT.

Original Submission

posted by hubie on Monday June 20, @01:39AM   Printer-friendly [Skip to comment(s)]
from the I-spy-with-my-little-camera dept.

Marseille's battle against the surveillance state

Across the world, video cameras have become an accepted feature of urban life. Many cities in China now have dense networks of them. London and New Delhi aren't far behind.

Now France is playing catch-up. Since 2015, the year of the Bataclan terrorist attacks, the number of cameras in Paris has increased fourfold. The police have used such cameras to enforce pandemic lockdown measures and monitor protests like those of the Gilets Jaunes. And a new nationwide security law, adopted last year, allows for video surveillance by police drones during events like protests and marches.

[...] Concerns have been raised throughout the country. But the surveillance rollout has met special resistance in Marseille, France's second-biggest city. The boisterous, rebellious Mediterranean town sits on some of the fault lines that run through modern France. Known for hip bars, artist studios, and startup hubs, it is also notorious for drugs, poverty, and criminal activity. It has one of the most ethnically diverse populations in Europe but is stranded in Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur, a region that leans far right. The city pushes back. Its attitude could be summed up by graffiti you might pass as you drive in on the A7 motorway: "La vie est (re)belle."

Big brother is watching you. The cameras are there for your protection. To prevent crime. But apparently they are only used in about 1-2% of investigations according to reviews. So what is the other 98-99% for? Security theater? Politicians being hard on crime, or having a hard on for crime. Panopticon for the masses that are not involved in crime? It's very hard to measure the effect of prevention in that regard.

But I guess people are starting to get a tad tired of being watched all the time like we are there for the entertainment of some big brother peeping Tom.

Original Submission

posted by janrinok on Sunday June 19, @10:45PM   Printer-friendly [Skip to comment(s)]
from the one-little-two-little-three-little-rocket-launches dept.

SpaceX launches three rockets in 36 hours:

SpaceX launched three missions in just over 36 hours, including two from Florida's Space Coast with most recent a two-stage Falcon 9 early Sunday.

The third rocket lifted off from Florida's Cape Canaveral Space Force Station at 12:27 a.m. carrying a communications satellite for Louisiana-based Globalstar.

Earlier, the company founded by billionaire Elon Musk launched 53 Starlink internet satellites at 12:09 p.m. Friday Eastern time from NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida and then sent into space a radar satellite for the German military from Vandenberg Space Force Base in California at 7:19 a.m. Saturday Pacific.

Sunday morning's launch was Space X's 26th this year and ninth for this particular Falcon 9 first stage.

Ten minutes after liftoff, the first stage went back to Earth, landiing vertically on the SpaceX droneship "Just Read The Instructions" in the Atlantic Ocean off the Florida coast.

Globalstar did give details about the launch of its spare satellite before liftoff, and SpaceX also didn't mention the payload.

In the other flight from Florida, the Falcon 9's first stage landed on the "A Shortfall of Gravitas" droneship.

Original Submission

posted by Fnord666 on Sunday June 19, @06:08PM   Printer-friendly [Skip to comment(s)]
from the I-love-the-java-jive-and-it-loves-me dept.

If you're trying to scale back on impulse purchases, then you may want to hold off on drinking that coffee:

An international study led by the University of South Florida (USF) found that caffeine impacts what you buy and how much you spend when shopping.

The research team ran three experiments in retail stores – an industry that's increasingly been adding coffee bars near their entrances. In their study published in the Journal of Marketing, they found that shoppers who drank a cup of complimentary caffeinated coffee prior to roaming the stores spent about 50% more money and bought nearly 30% more items than shoppers who drank decaf or water.

"Caffeine, as a powerful stimulant, releases dopamine in the brain, which excites the mind and the body. This leads to a higher energetic state, which in turn enhances impulsivity and decreases self-control," said lead author Dipayan Biswas, the Frank Harvey Endowed Professor of Marketing at USF. "As a result, caffeine intake leads to shopping impulsivity in terms of higher number of items purchased and greater spending."

[...] Researchers found that caffeine also impacted what types of items they bought. Those who drank caffeinated coffee bought more non-essential items than the other shoppers, such as scented candles and fragrances. However, there was a minimal difference between the two groups when it came to utilitarian purchases, such as kitchen utensils and storage baskets.

[...] "While moderate amounts of caffeine intake can have positive health benefits, there can be unintended consequences of being caffeinated while shopping. That is, consumers trying to control impulsive spending should avoid consuming caffeinated beverages before shopping," Biswas said.

Journal Reference:
Dipayan Biswas, Patrick Hartmann, Martin Eisend, et al., EXPRESS: Caffeine's Effects on Consumer Spending, Journal of Marketing, 2022. DOI: 10.1177/00222429221109247

Original Submission

posted by hubie on Sunday June 19, @01:23PM   Printer-friendly [Skip to comment(s)]
from the sweet-smell-of-the-country dept.

The growing field of sensory urbanism is changing the way we assess neighborhoods and projects:

When David Howes thinks of his home city of Montreal, he thinks of the harmonious tones of carillon bells and the smell of bagels being cooked over wood fires. But when he stopped in at his local tourism office to ask where they recommend that visitors go to smell, taste, and listen to the city, he just received blank stares.

"They only know about things to see, not about the city's other sensory attractions, its soundmarks and smellmarks," says Howes, the author of the forthcoming book The Sensory Studies Manifesto and director of Concordia University's Centre for Sensory Studies, a hub for the growing field often referred to as "sensory urbanism."

Around the world, researchers like Howes are investigating how nonvisual information defines the character of a city and affects its livability. Using methods ranging from low-tech sound walks and smell maps to data scraping, wearables, and virtual reality, they're fighting what they see as a limiting visual bias in urban planning.

[...] The best way to determine how people react to different sensory environments is a subject of some debate within the field. Howes and his colleagues are taking a more ethnographic approach, using observation and interviews to develop a set of best practices for good sensory design in public spaces. Other researchers are going more high-tech, using wearables to track biometric data like heart-rate variability as a proxy for emotional responses to different sensory experiences. The EU-funded GoGreenRoutes project is looking to that approach as it studies how nature can be integrated into urban spaces in a way that improves both human and environmental health.

[...] "Sensory perceptions are not neutral, or simply biological; whether we find something pleasant or not has been shaped culturally and socially," says Monica Montserrat Degen, an urban cultural sociologist at Brunel University London. Civic planners in both London and Barcelona are using her research on public-space perceptions and how "sensory hierarchies," as she refers to them, include or exclude different groups of people.

Degen cites the example of a London neighborhood where inexpensive eateries that served as hangouts for local youth were displaced by trendy cafes. "It used to smell like fried chicken," she says, but newer residents found that aroma off-­putting rather than welcoming. "Now it smells like cappuccinos."

Original Submission

posted by hubie on Sunday June 19, @08:41AM   Printer-friendly [Skip to comment(s)]
from the big-things-in-little-packages dept.

Hackers just launched the largest HTTPS DDoS attack in history:

The largest ​​HTTPS distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attack in history materialized last week, Cloudflare has confirmed.

As reported by Bleeping Computer, the company revealed that it recorded a 26 million requests per second distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attack.

It should be stressed that this is an HTTPS-based DDoS attempt as opposed to the more traditional, standard DDoS attacks. In any case, the intended target was a Cloudflare client utilizing the service's Free plan.

[...] Interestingly, ​​whoever was behind the attack managed to concentrate all its firepower with a botnet of 5,067 devices, which is a relatively small number considering the scale of the assault. Every single device was capable of delivering around 5,200 requests per second (rps) at its peak.

[...] Specifically, the botnet that was put to work in the unprecedented 26 million rps DDoS attack managed to deliver over an astronomical 212 million HTTPS requests within a period of just 30 seconds. This was achieved due to requests stemming from more than 1,500 networks located in 121 countries around the globe.

Tsunami of junk traffic that broke DDoS records delivered by tiniest of botnets:

The DDoS delivered 26 million HTTPS requests per second, breaking the previous record of 15.3 million requests for that protocol set only seven weeks ago, Cloudflare Product Manager ​​Omer Yoachimik reported. Unlike more common DDoS payloads such as HTTP, SYN, or SYN-ACK packets, malicious HTTPS requests require considerably more computing resources for the attacker to deliver and for the defender or victim to absorb.

[Cloudflare Product Manager ​​Omer] Yoachimik wrote:

The 26M rps DDoS attack originated from a small but powerful botnet of 5,067 devices. On average, each node generated approximately 5,200 rps at peak. To contrast the size of this botnet, we've been tracking another much larger but less powerful botnet of over 730,000 devices. The latter, larger botnet wasn't able to generate more than one million requests per second, i.e. roughly 1.3 requests per second on average per device. Putting it plainly, this botnet was, on average, 4,000 times stronger due to its use of virtual machines and servers.

[...] The Cloudflare product manager said that his company automatically detected and mitigated the attack against the customer, which was using Cloudflare's free service.

See also:
    Cloudflare Just Mitigated One of the Most Powerful DDoS Attacks Ever
    Microsoft Azure Customer Hit by Largest 3.47 Tbps DDoS Attack
    Microsoft Azure Fends Off Huge DDoS Attack

Original Submission #1Original Submission #2

posted by hubie on Sunday June 19, @03:57AM   Printer-friendly [Skip to comment(s)]
from the certain-kinds-of-weed-is-catnip-for-humans dept.

Why do cats lick and chew catnip? Researchers find an answer

Anyone who has seen a cat experience catnip knows that it makes them go a bit wild—they rub in it, roll on it, chew it, and lick it aggressively. It is widely accepted that this plant, and its Asian counterpart, silvervine, have intoxicative properties, but this might not be the only reason that cats rub on and chew the plants so enthusiastically. Researchers in Japan have found that when cats damage catnip, much higher amounts of strong insect repellents are released, indicating that the cats' behavior protects them from pests. This study appears in the journal iScience on June 14.

Catnip and silvervine leaves contain the compounds nepetalactol and nepetalactone, iridoids that protect the plants from pests. To see how cats' behavior was affecting the chemicals released by the plants, Miyazaki worked with chemists at Nagoya University. "We found that physical damage of silvervine by cats promoted the immediate emission of total iridoids, which was 10-fold higher than from intact leaves," says Miyazaki.

Embedded Video in article

[....] To test if the felines were reacting to these compounds specifically, the cats were given dishes with pure nepetalactone and nepetalactol. "Cats show the same response to iridoid cocktails and natural plants except for chewing," says Miyazaki. They lick the chemicals on the plastic dish and rub against and roll over on the dish."

"When iridoid cocktails were applied on the bottom of dishes that were then covered by a punctured plastic cover, cats still exhibited licking and chewing even though they couldn't contact the chemicals directly," says Miyazaki. "This means that licking and chewing is an instinctive behavior elicited by olfactory stimulation of iridoids."

A form of catnip for Chinese bears would cause pandamoanium.

Original Submission

posted by janrinok on Saturday June 18, @11:11PM   Printer-friendly [Skip to comment(s)]
from the was-Betteridge-born-with-a-moral-compass? dept.

Researchers from Osaka University find that infants can make moral judgments on behalf of others:

For millennia, philosophers have pondered the question of whether humans are inherently good. But now, researchers from Japan have found that young infants can make and act on moral judgments, shedding light on the origin of morality.

[...] Punishment of antisocial behavior is found in only humans, and is universal across cultures. However, the development of moral behavior is not well understood. Further, it can be very difficult to examine decision-making and agency in infants, which the researchers at Osaka University aimed to address.

"Morality is an important but mysterious part of what makes us human," says lead author of the study Yasuhiro Kanakogi. "We wanted to know whether third-party punishment of antisocial others is present at a very young age, because this would help to signal whether morality is learned."

To tackle this problem, the researchers developed a new research paradigm. First, they familiarized infants with a computer system in which animations were displayed on a screen. The infants could control the actions on the screen using a gaze-tracking system such that looking at an object for a sufficient period of time led to the destruction of the object. The researchers then showed a video in which one geometric agent appeared to "hurt" another geometric agent, and watched whether the infants "punished" the antisocial geometric agent by gazing at it.

"The results were surprising," says Kanakogi. "We found that preverbal infants chose to punish the antisocial aggressor by increasing their gaze towards the aggressor."

Accompanying video.

Journal Reference:
Kanakogi, Y., Miyazaki, M., Takahashi, H. et al. Third-party punishment by preverbal infants. Nat Hum Behav (2022). DOI: 10.1038/s41562-022-01354-2

Original Submission