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Eyesight: More Reasons to Be Thankful

first_imgSo much is going on in your body when you look at that sliced turkey and raise it to your salivating mouth, a human mind can only fathom bits and pieces of the story.  Everyone knows the eye is the quintessential example of a complex organ, but Current Biology1 focused on one of the wonders that occurs after the signal leaves the optic nerve.    Alexander Thiele (U of Newcastle upon Tyne) started by saying that we move our eyes more often than our heart beats.  Our eyes constantly jerk from side to side, without our even noticing.  This means the brain has to constantly stabilize a shaky input.  How does our brain cope with the constantly changing scene?When you watch a music video you are inundated with a seemingly incoherent and rapid stream of visual scenes, changing on average every 2.3 seconds.  Such a rate of change may appear fast to an old fashioned television consumer, but it is still about seven times slower than the rate of scene change imposed by rapid eye movements on the visual system.  While the former may be tiring, the latter goes seemingly unnoticed.   (Emphasis added in all quotes.)Why does the eye make these constant movements, called saccades?  “Saccades ensure that an attended object is foveated for high acuity processing,” Thiele writes.  But how does the visual center in the brain, like a digital screen made of neurons, give us the impression that our field of view is steady?  There are two possibilities.  The conventional view is that the brain has enough processing overhead to constantly interpret the scene.  Another, newer view is that the neurons compensate for the shifts in a pre-processing step.  Neurons may be synchronized to the eye muscles so that they are prepared for the changes, kind of like a screen synchronized to move in step with a vibrating projector.  Here it is in scientific jargon:Of particular importance for such adjustments may be neurons in the lateral intraparietal, frontal, and even early visual areas which shift their receptive fields shortly before the occurrence of a saccadic eye movement, causing an internal re-mapping of visual space.  These neurons signal that a saccade will bring an object into their field of view, even if that object has been removed from sight just before or during the saccade.  Such a re-mapping could result in predictive adjustments in early cortical areas that prepare for scene changes, thereby minimizing their negative impact, and maximizing rapid information processing following a saccade.  This requires a substantial amount of trans-saccadic integration.Experimental tests so far have been unable to determine which method the brain uses.  Either way, it’s amazing; these adjustments are made in fractions of a second.  “Psychophysical studies have shown that human perceptual abilities are exquisite and extraordinarily fast when extracting information during rapid serial visual presentation of natural scenes,” Thiele said.  His only mention of evolution was after noting the “surprising” evidence that our brain can detect and classify images even in the near absence of attention.  “This suggests that the human visual system has evolved to rapidly extract information from highly variable natural scenes….” 1Alexander Thiele, “Vision: A Brake on the Speed of Sight,” Current Biology, Volume 15, Issue 22, 22 November 2005, Pages R917-R919, doi:10.1016/j.cub.2005.10.057Just set aside that little piece of evolutionary fat, so you won’t lose your appetite.  As you visually scan that plate full of colorful, fragrant, tasty food, think about this one of all those senses taking in those cues.  You have a high-tech, integrated, super-fast, high-resolution video recording, processing, and display system, and it even has image stabilization.  “The hearing ear, and the seeing eye, the Lord has made them both” (Proverbs 20:12).  Give thanks, and enjoy.(Visited 6 times, 1 visits today)FacebookTwitterPinterestSave分享0last_img read more

Chinese herbal tea for Africa

first_img21 June 2007A Chinese beverage company has struck a US$20-million agreement with a South African firm to produce, bottle and market herbal tea in the country and the southern African region.Hutchinson Whampoa Guangzhou Baiyunshan Chinese Medicine Company’s general manager, Li Chuyuan, told Chinese news agency Xinhua last week that his company had signed the deal with South Africa’s FHC Group to set up a bottling plant and promote the drink.Guangzhou municipality reports that the same Chinese-South African partners have signed a $120-million deal on developing artemisinin, which is use as a treatment for malaria. However, no further details were given.Chuyuan told the agency his company was optimistic that herbal tea sales would take off in Africa.Guangzhou is the capital of Guangdong province, China’s powerhouse for herbal tea products. The director of Guangdong’s food and drug industry association, Zhang Junxiu, told Xinhua that production of bottled herbal tea surpassed production of Coca-Cola in China in 2006.With the domestic industry booming, and further incentives in the form of national recognition, China’s herbal tea makers are now taking aim at markets beyond the Pearl River Delta.National intangible treasureAccording to the People’s Daily Online website, residents in China’s Pearl River Delta, including Hong Kong and Macao, believe herbal tea is healthy because it cools the body.The drink has a history of over 100 years in the area. In 2005 the governments of Guangdong, Hong Kong and Macao successfully applied to have herbal teas named as part of China’s national “intangible cultural heritage”.According to the website, a total of 18 brands from 21 herbal tea companies, and 54 secret recipes, are now under the protection of both an international cultural heritage protection convention and China’s own laws.“The recognition will definitely enhance herbal tea brands across the country and the rest of the world,” Guangzhou-based Wong Chun Loong Traditional Herbal Tea Company’s general manager, Huang Changwei, told People’s Daily OnlineSouthAfrica.info reporter Want to use this article in your publication or on your website?See: Using SAinfo materiallast_img read more

New homes for low-income families

first_imgHabitat For Humanity in South Africa hasmade new homes available to more than3 000 families over the past 15 years.(Image: Habitat For Humanity) The Mashile family in Orange Farm receivethe keys to their new home from Eugene Drotskie, GM of Nedbank Home Loans.(Image: Jenni Newman PR) MEDIA CONTACTS • Adrienne Burke  Communications, Habitat For Humanity SA  +27 21 657 5640 RELATED ARTICLES • Drive to help clear housing backlog • SA’s housing drive ‘taking shape’ • New technologies for social housing • SA housing innovation on show in US • Housing projects to curb SA slumsJanine ErasmusHabitat for Humanity’s annual Corporate Blitz Build week has resulted in new homes for 44 families in poor communities around South Africa.The Blitz Build is a joint project of the South African chapter of the global humanitarian NGO Habitat for Humanity (HFH), the national Department of Human Settlements and a number of private companies.With an initial target of 50 houses in total, the building project took place from 3 to 7 October in Orange Farm in Gauteng province, Mfuleni in the Western Cape and Umbumbulu in Kwa-Zulu Natal.Volunteers from the Industrial Development Corporation, Nedbank Home Loans, Microsoft South Africa, 3M, the Deutsche Bank Africa Foundation, ArcelorMittal South Africa and others, gave five days of their time to build brand new houses for needy families.They were assisted by professional builders, who ensured that the houses went up within the allotted time, and were of an acceptable standard.The event coincided with World Habitat Day, which this year fell on 3 October. In 1985 the UN declared that the first Monday of October each year should be set aside as a day of reflection on the need for adequate housing for all.In recognition of the work done by HFH in South Africa, the UN awarded its 2009 Habitat Scroll of Honour to the Gauteng project, which in that year took place in Alexandra, east of Johannesburg.To date the housing organisation, which began its local operations in 1996, has helped 3 143 families in 34 communities across Gauteng, KwaZulu-Natal and the Western Cape.This year will also see the completion of the 500 000th HFH home worldwide – this achievement will be celebrated in Kenya.The wait is overThe bulk of the building took place in Orange Farm, a large informal settlement located between Johannesburg and Vereeniging on Gauteng province’s southern border.Here, 34 houses, of the 39 originally planned for the community, took shape within the five days, while the balance was constructed in the two other provinces.Jethro Mashile and his family were the beneficiaries of the Nedbank Home Loans initiative in Orange Farm. Having lived for 12 years in a tiny two-roomed house, the family were delighted to have more space.“We are happy, happy, happy,” said Mashile’s wife Wendy.Both are unemployed, with a meagre social grant as their only regular income. To support themselves and their two children, they take whatever temporary employment they can find, such as collecting metal cans, which brings in a small sum of money when the cans are handed in for recycling.The Mashile family has been on the government’s low-cost housing list for six years. Now, with a brand new four-roomed house with electricity and running water, the parents feel they can offer their children a better future in a decent home.“We’ve been involved with Habitat for Humanity since 2004,” said Eugene Drotskie, the GM of Nedbank Home Loans. “We consider this exercise to be a natural extension of our day-to-day work of helping people to acquire a home, and we find that it contributes to team-building as well.”Nedbank Home Loans staff participated in all three building initiatives in 2011.“People in our Cape Town and Durban branches were beginning to complain about being left out,” said Drotskie.The project also falls in line with the banking group’s corporate social investment policy, which is led by the Nedbank Foundation and focuses on challenges such as health, job creation, community development and education.last_img read more

Lexus in India: What lies ahead for Toyota’s premium brand?

first_imgIt has been quite some time since news spread of the Lexus brand coming to India. But now after many years of contemplating, Lexus is officially here in India. So what is Lexus and how is it any special from the plethora of other brands existing around the world? Lexus, to start with, is the luxury car division of the Toyota.The Lexus marque is marketed in more than 70 countries worldwide and has become Japan’s largest-selling make of premium cars. Lexus originated from a corporate project to develop a new premium sedan, which began in 1983 and culminated in the launch of the Lexus LS in 1989. Lexus did not exist as a brand in its home market until 2005 and all vehicles marketed internationally as Lexus from 1989 to 2005 were released in Japan under the Toyota brand name.Lexus vehicles are largely produced in Japan but Canada got an assembly plant lately as well. So now that we are done with the history lesson, let’s tell you about the models which have been launched here in India and those which are coming soon.Price:At a recent event Lexus announced that they are entering the Indian market with three models. This includes the RX 450h SUV, the ES 300h sedan and the LX 450d SUV. While the RX 450h is priced at Rs 1.07 crore, the F-Sport variant of the RX will cost 1.10 crore. The ES 300h is priced at Rs 55.3 lakh. The third model in the pipeline, the LX 450d is expected to cost in upwards of Rs 2 crore (all prices ex-showroom). So the one thing which is pretty clear is that the Lexus brand will cater to a very niche audience. Now let’s get to the cars one by one.advertisementLexus RX 450hThe RX 450h is a hybrid SUV which measures in at under five meters and in general should compete with the Audi Q5. However looking at the price tag, the only viable competition here in India will be the Porsche Macan. The RX 450h uses a 3.5-litre V6 petrol engine which churns out 308bhp and 335Nm of torque.Lexus RX 450hLexus RX 450hIn addition there are multiple permanent magnet motors which take care of propulsion as well. Power is fed to these motors using a 37kW battery pack. This AWD hybrid SUV therefore can sprint to 100kmph in 7.9 seconds and has a top speed of 180kmph. The RX 450h comes loaded with luxury features which justify the price as well.Lexus RX 450hLexus ES 300hThe second car launched is the ES 300h. As most of you might have guessed that the ‘h’ at the end of the name means that it is a hybrid and you are right. The ES300h features the brand’s razor sharp styling which gives it a unique look. But to be honest under all that fancy bodywork hides a Toyota Camry hybrid. All that flash and especially the Lexus badge slot it right below the existing BMW 5-Series sedan.Lexus ES 300hSurprisingly the powertrain is also identical to the Camry hybrid which sells in India. So under the bonnet resides a 2.5-litre, four-cylinder petrol engine and an electric motor, mated to a CVT gearbox, for a combined output of 200bhp.Lexus LX450dThe third entrant will be the LX450d which is not a hybrid. It is actually a re-skinned Toyota Land Cruiser and the price is expected to be over Rs 2 crore.Lexus LX450dSo what does this ultra-expensive SUV offer? The LX will be available as a diesel-only model and will use the same 269bhp, 4.5-litre twin-turbo V8 diesel motor found on the Land Cruiser LC200. The engine is mated to a six-speed automatic and Lexus claims a 0-100kph sprint time of 8.6 seconds.Sales and ServiceMoving onto the sales and service bit of Lexus. The company will start CBU operations here in India with four dealers in four metros. Additionally four service centres will also be operational in Chandigarh, Kochi, Hyderabad and Chennai.ALSO READ:Lexus enters India in style; launches ES300h, RX Luxury and RX F-Sport ALSO READ:Lexus range in India: Everything you need to knowlast_img read more

Is Oklahoma State Going to Have Anything in the Tank for Bedlam?

first_imgGlenn Spencer has defended the OSU defense against critics by pointing out that playing defense in the Big 12 forces teams to play more snaps than is required in other conferences. While true, you have to wonder at what point fatigue begins to set in. In fact, Porter wrote a little bit about this earlier on Monday. Entering this year’s bedlam game, the OSU defense has defended 368 plays over the past four games. I ran the numbers. This is the 2nd highest number of plays over a 4-game span in the Gundy era.Here are the top 10 games in the Gundy era regardless of the number of days rest:Screen Shot 2015-11-23 at 3.31.34 PMAdChoices广告An 8-2 record in these games. Not bad. But let’s see how we’ve fared when you face the same conditions that this team is facing…four consecutive games with no bye week:Screen Shot 2015-11-23 at 3.31.45 PMIt’s not pretty. 6-4 when given no rest and a bunch of plays defended over the last four. Of course, there are a ton of other variables that go into play in each of these games but it’s not an ideal set of circumstances to bring tired legs into a big matchup. Spencer has his work cut out for him. While you’re here, we’d like you to consider subscribing to Pistols Firing and becoming a PFB+ member. It’s a big ask from us to you, but it also comes with a load of benefits like ad-free browsing (ads stink!), access to our premium room in The Chamber and monthly giveaways.The other thing it does is help stabilize our business into the future. As it turns out, sending folks on the road to cover games and provide 24/7 Pokes coverage like the excellent article you just read costs money. Because of our subscribers, we’ve been able to improve our work and provide the best OSU news and community anywhere online. Help us keep that up.last_img read more