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News from a World gone mad

yet there is still so much beauty

Date

February 26, 2016

When technology makes it possible, our brains will be ready to be teleported across space – study

© Chris Helgren

Teleportation may stay in the realm of science fiction for the foreseeable future, but scientists say that our brains already react favorably to instantaneously being transported across space.

In a study published in the journal Neuron on Thursday, neuroscientists from the University of California, Davis studied how the brain would react if it were to be “beamed up” from one place to another using a virtual simulation.

When volunteers entered a virtual teleportation device ‒ similar to the ones made famous in the Star Trek franchise ‒ researchers found that that their brains gave off certain “rhythmic oscillations” of electric signals like the ones that a rat brain creates when the animal navigates a maze.

Arne Ekstrom, associate professor at the UC Davis’ Centre for Neuroscience, conducted the study to learn more about how people memorizes routes and learn to find our way around.

“There is this rhythmic firing in the brain during navigation and while remembering things, but we don’t know if it is triggered by sensory input or by the learning process,” Ekstrom said in a statement.

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Identification Of Animals And Plants Is An Essential Skill Set

photo credit: La Trobe University students learning how to identify plants near Falls Creek. Susan Lawler

I have recently been made abundantly aware of the lack of field skills among biology students, even those who major in ecology. By field skills we mean the ability to identify plants and animals, to recognise invasive species and to observe the impact of processes such as fire on the landscape.

My colleague Mike Clarke calls it “ecological illiteracy”, and identifies it as a risk for nature at large. While people spend more times indoors in front of screens, we become less aware of the birds, plants and bugs in our backyards and neighbourhoods. This leads to an alienation of humans from nature that is harmful to our health, our planet and our spirit.

On a more practical, academic level, I was in a meeting this week where an industry representative complained that biology graduates are no longer able to identify common plants and animals. This limits their employment prospects and hampers the capacity of society to respond to changes in natural ecosystems predicted by climate change.

Field taxonomy vs. Bloom’s taxonomy

So what is going on? Why don’t ecology students get this information during the course of their University degrees?

Practical sessions teaching scientific names of animals or plants can be perceived to be boring and dry. Students may be asked to collect and pin a range of insects or press and identify certain plants as part of their training in biological diversity, but these activities are time consuming and expensive. As we strive to be more flexible and efficient, classes and assessments relying on identification skills are quickly dropped.

ful story IFLScience

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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