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Posts tagged "Testing"


Gaia’s Instruments Installed and Ready for Testing

The payload module of ESA’s billion-star surveyor Gaia is integrated and ready for the next stage of rigorous testing it must undergo before launch next year.

Once in space, Gaia will make precise measurements of the positions and motions of a billion stars. The information will be used to create a 3D map of stars in our home Galaxy, the Milky Way, revealing information about its composition, formation and evolution.

This latest image shows the payload module in the Astrium cleanroom in Toulouse, France.

The module is covered in grey and silver multilayer insulation fabric that protects the spacecraft’s optics and mirrors from the cold environment of space.

Nearest to the camera, the rear of one of Gaia’s main telescope mirrors and one of the tertiary mirrors are visible. The second main mirror is just visible towards the back left of the image.


Power of Mom’s Voice Silenced by Instant Messages

Side Note: Hate to be the bearer of untimely news for those of you ladies who have long ago left your childhood development stages but for those of you with a growing child or living with one, this study might be quite revealing especially considering our society’s transition into a technologically dominant world. It may be logical to come to the conclusion that perhaps Instant Messaging each other for comfort may not be as effective as actually speaking in comfort to one another but this notion just received some credibility at least for the growing females. I am definitely going to be bringing this up to my sister as my niece has yet to enter her early school stages and this bit of data certainly seems helpful.

Instant messages are ubiquitous and convenient, but something primal may be lost in translation.

When girls stressed by a test talked with their moms, stress hormones dropped and comfort hormones rose. When they used IM, nothing happened. By the study’s neurophysiological measures, IM was barely different than not communicating at all.

“IM isn’t really a substitute for in-person or over-the-phone interaction in terms of the hormones released,” said psychologist Leslie Seltzer of the University of Wisconsin, a co-author of the new study. “People still need to interact the way we evolved to interact.”

In earlier work, Seltzer’s team showed that both phone conversations with mom and face-to-face talks triggered similar hormonal responses: A drop in cortisol, which is generally linked to stress, and a rise in oxytocin, which is linked to pleasure.

For the latest study, published in the January issue of Evolution and Human Behavior, they wanted to identify the source of that comforting. Maybe it’s something mom says, in which case the medium of communication shouldn’t matter at all — or maybe it’s something in the sound of her voice.

“Would this still work if we took out the tone, if we took out the verbal cues, and all we had left over was the content of the message?” said Seltzer.

The researchers recruited 64 girls between the ages of 7 and 12, pre-screened to remove anyone with histories of extreme family difficulties or poor maternal relationships. The girls then underwent a standard routine for inducing stress in the laboratory: They were asked to solve difficult math problems in front of three unknown adults who watched them impassively.

After finishing, the girls were assigned to one of four groups. One didn’t talk at all to their mothers. Another group talked by phone, another had a face-to-face conversation, and another communicated by instant message. The researchers then measured their cortisol and oxytocin levels, and compared them to pre-test measurements.

As expected, girls who heard their mother’s voice, either in person or on the phone, were consoled. But among girls who used IM, hormone levels barely changed. Translated into words on a screen, mom’s words seemingly lost their comforting power.

Read On..

(via afro-dominicano)

Report: Harmful Chimpanzee Research Not Worth the Pain

Human ingenuity and compassion have prevailed in an Institute of Medicine declaration that invasive medical experiments on chimpanzees are largely unnecessary.

Update 2 p.m. ET: 90 minutes after the IOM report’s public release, NIH director Francis Collins announced that “I have considered the report carefully and have decided to accept the IOM committee recommendations.” The report recommended the NIH establish an independent oversight committee to evaluate each study, limiting biomedical experiments only to what is absolutely necessary and ensuring that all research is ethically conducted. No new research funding will be granted until the recommendations are in place.

Though the report’s suggestions are not legally binding, the Institute is widely respected. Its judgments often shape government and academic policy. According to the report, experiments that inflict physical and mental harm to humanity’s closest living relatives are justified only when absolutely indispensable, and when no other alternatives exist.

Hepatitis C: The Last Chimpanzee Research Battleground

When Katrina was nine months old, she was taken from her mother and sent to a laboratory in New York. At an age when young wild chimpanzees receive a level of maternal care not unlike the love provided by human mothers, she lived in a cage and was infected with hepatitis B and hepatitis C. Later she was infected with HIV.

By the time Katrina was 15 years old, she’d been sedated 268 times. During 36 of those episodes, doctors pushed a needle into her abdomen and took samples of her liver, and she didn’t receive so much as an aspirin after waking. Sometimes biopsies were taken from her lymph nodes or rectum. Once she went into respiratory arrest during sedation and had to be revived. Another time she self-mutilated her left thumb while coming out of anesthesia. Delirium is common among patients waking from a ketamine stupor.

When Katrina was 19, doctors observed that she had a tendency to compulsively groom herself, a behavior that — in humans, chimpanzees’ closest relative — often occurs in individuals with post-traumatic stress disorder. That condition also afflicts chimpanzees.

Over the next year, she lost nearly 40 pounds, one-third of her body weight. This was quite possibly due to the progression of her diseases, which now included shigella, rather than psychological distress. In 2002, at the age of 20, she was granted retirement and sent to an Air Force laboratory in Alamogordo, New Mexico — hardly an ideal setting for anyone, including a chimpanzee, but at least she wasn’t being knocked out anymore.

Eight years later, she was sent back into the lab.

The story of Katrina isn’t representative of all chimpanzees used in medical research, but neither is it exceptional. And when it was discovered last year that she and 201 other chimps would be sent from Alamogordo to the Southwest National Primate Research Center, mostly for hepatitis C research duty, the controversy soon went national.