A new study has now revealed how knowing beforehand what to look for, helps in our visual search process. Previews – bits of information available in advance, are shown to accelerate our search process as the brain can differentiate and identify the object we are looking for, even among a large set of identical objects. This discovery throws some light on the neurological process responsible for visual search and recognition.
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If you have read Malcolm Gladwell’s ‘Outliers,' then you might be well acquainted with the ‘10,000-hour rule’, which states that to master a new skill, such as playing the piano or knitting, one needs 10,000 hours of practice to become world-class. This long practice, studies show, facilitates ‘motor learning’ - a set of complex processes that occur in the brain in response to practice or experience of a certain skill, resulting in changes in the central nervous system.
1931 - A time when most women were aspiring to become a successful wife, mother or daughter, Dr. E.K. Janaki Ammal was already setting an example by being an early Indian woman doctorate in basic sciences from the University of Michigan. A competent botanist and geneticist, her seminal work on sugarcane varieties and genetics of flowering plants are recognised to this day. She was a fierce environmental activist and taught Botany at the Women’s Christian College, Chennai. In recognition of her contributions to the field of botany, she was elected as a Fellow of the Indian National Science Academy in 1957, was awarded the Padmashri in 1977, and was herself a founding Fellow of the Indian Academy of Sciences in 1935.She also served as the Director General of the Botanical Survey of India, and even has a flower named after her -- Magnolia Kobus Janaki Ammal! She was indeed a symbol of inspiration to many girls and women of her age.
Indian astronomers have detected microstructure emissions from a millisecond pulsar for the first time. Millisecond pulsars (MSP) are highly magnetized, rapidly rotating neutron stars that take as little as one-thousandth to one-hundredth of a second to rotate about its axis once. In a recently published study, scientists from the Department of Physics at the Indian Institute of Science (IISc) and the National Centre for Radio Astrophysics (NCRA), Tata Institute for Fundamental Research (TIFR), have discovered these microstructure emissions using the Giant Metrewave Radio Telescope (GMRT), an array of thirty antennae scanning the sky for radio sources. They are now uncovering the processes that produce these microstructure emissions. While similar emissions had been discovered from more slowly rotating pulsars, this is the first time they have been discovered coming from millisecond pulsars.
Genetic research is at a colossal high today, and although we know a lot about our genes, the roles of more than 30% of the functional genes in the human body are not really understood. This number can be even lower for other members of the biotic world. Studies to determine gene function involve combinations of various experimental methods at biochemical, cellular, and organismal levels. One such method, that is popularly employed, uses temperature-sensitive mutant genes that behave differently at different temperatures. The process of identifying and generating mutated genes, however, is laborious, time-consuming and relies heavily on chance. It is at this juncture that Prof. Raghavan Varadarajan and his team from the Molecular Biophysics Unit, Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore, suggest an innovative, yet fairly straightforward, technique to study gene functionality, which would make one wonder how no one thought of this earlier!
The Centre for Brain Research (CBR) at Indian Institute of Science (IISc), Bengaluru, received a generous endowment from former IAS officer Ms. Sharwaree Gokhale who passed away on 15th January 2016. In her will, Ms. Gokhale donated a major portion of her estate to CBR. Her contribution would help progress our understanding of the most complex organ that we know of - the human brain.
Science has established that the father’s sperm, which fertilizes the mother’s ovum resulting in the formation of an embryo, decides the sex of an individual. So it’s only logical that if the ‘male factor’ of the sperm/ovum relationship is damaged, the product will be too. Now, a recent collaborative study by a team of researchers led by Prof. Hanudatta Atreya of the Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore, and Prof. Satish Kumar Adiga of Kasturba Medical College, Manipal, has found that if the sperm, set to fertilize a particular ovum, has damaged DNA, it affects the metabolism of the embryo that it fathers. The study was conducted using samples of sperm and ova from couples undergoing Intra-Cytoplamic Sperm Injection (ICSI), a popular technique to help infertile couples conceive.
Not many young professors are as driven as Professor Prabeer Barpanda who has been donned with an unbelievable streak of academic awards. A professor at the Materials Research Centre, Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore, Prof. Barpanda is the winner of the Indian National Science Academy Young Scientist Award, 2016. He became the first Indian to receive the Energy Technology Division Supramaniam Srinivasan Young Investigator Award – an annual award given by the Electrochemical Society (ECS), USA, for 2016. In addition, he is also the first Indian to receive the American Ceramics Society’s Ross Coffin Purdy Award, 2016 awarded in October.
Chandan Saha of the Computer Science and Automation department, Indian Institute of Science (IISc), Bengaluru is the winner of two prestigious national awards – the Indian National Science Academy (INSA) Young Scientist Award, 2016, and the Indian National Academy of Engineering (INAE) Young Engineer Award, 2016. He works in the areas of complexity theory and algorithms, and his lab is currently trying to study arithmetic circuits to understand computational efficiency as a function of time and computational memory.
The vivid and myriad colours of the natural world captivate our eyes and benefit life on earth. Learning how nature colours its palette advances our understanding of the world around us and hence scientists ubiquitously are trying to imitate designs inspired by nature, to fabricate better devices. Now, a collaborative study between researchers at the Jawaharlal Nehru Centre for Advanced Scientific Research (JNCASR), Bengaluru, and the Indian Institute of Science (IISc), Bengaluru, has proposed a novel technique to build better display devices that imitate naturally occurring colours.