Space Oddity … SpaceX’s live feed of the Tesla launch to Mars
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Summary: Neurons found to be abnormal in psychosis play an important role in our ability to distinguish between what is real and what is perceived, researchers say.
Source: University of Western Ontario.
New Western University research shows that neurons in the part of the brain found to be abnormal in psychosis are also important in helping people distinguish between reality and imagination.
The researchers, Dr. Julio Martinez-Trujillo, principal investigator and professor at Western University’s Schulich School of Medicine & Dentistry and Dr. Diego Mendoza-Halliday, postdoctoral researcher at M.I.T., investigated how the brain codes visual information in reality versus abstract information in our working memory and how those differences are distributed across neurons in the lateral prefrontal cortex region of the brain. The results were published today in Nature Communications.
“You can look at my shirt, and then if I move out of your vision, even with your eyes open you can still see the colour of my shirt in your mind,” explained Martinez-Trujillo, based at the Brain and Mind Institute and Robarts Research Institute at Western University. “That is what we call working memory representations or short-term memory representations – they are abstract, they are imaginary and they don’t exist in reality, but in our minds. Real objects in our visual field, we call perceptual representations. We are trying to determine whether there are neurons in the brain that can signal to a person whether a representation is real or imaginary.”
“The huge, red star Betelgeuse , which marks the hunter’s shoulder in the constellation Orion, may have swallowed up a companion star not long ago, a new study suggests.
Betelgeuse is a “red supergiant” that will soon die in a supernova explosion. As the name of its stellar class indicates, Betelgeuse has bloated immensely as the end of its life has neared. Although Betelgeuse’s mass is just 15 to 25 times that of the sun, the star is currently about 860 million miles across, or 1,000 times wider than Earth’s star. (If you put Betelgeuse in the sun’s location, the red star’s surface would extend past the orbit of Mars and into the asteroid belt.)
Such an enormous star should be spinning slowly, since rotation rate decreases as size increases. (Think about how ice-skaters control their spin speed by bringing their arms in close to their body or extending them.) But that’s not the case with Betelgeuse, which is rotating at a blazing 33,500 mph, astronomers said.
“We cannot account for the rotation of Betelgeuse,” study lead author J. Craig Wheeler, an astronomer at the University of Texas at Austin, said in a statement. “It’s spinning 150 times faster than any plausible single star just rotating and doing its thing.”
But Wheeler and his colleagues may have an answer. Their computer models suggest that Betelgeuse’s puzzling spin could be explained if the giant gobbled up a companion roughly the same mass as the sun 100,000 years or so ago. (The angular momentum of the companion’s orbit would be transferred to Betelgeuse, speeding up the giant’s rotation to its current rate.)
This act of cannibalism likely would have spurred a cosmic belch of sorts, causing Betelgeuse to blast a cloud of material out into space at about 22,400 mph, Wheeler said. Indeed, astronomers have spotted a shell of matter at roughly the distance from Betelgeuse that this scenario predicts, he added.
Although there are other possible explanations for this space cloud, “the fact is, there is evidence that Betelgeuse had some kind of commotion on roughly this timescale,” Wheeler said.
Betelgeuse lies about 640 light-years from the sun. Like other supergiants, it will die young; the star is only about 10 million years old. The sun, by contrast, is nearly 4.6 billion years old and is only about halfway through its life.
The new study was published on Dec. 19 in the journal Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society.”