Exercise Alters Brain Chemistry to Protect Aging Synapses

When elderly people stay active, their brains have more of a class of proteins that enhances the connections between neurons to maintain healthy cognition, a new study has found. This protective impact was found even in people whose brains at autopsy were riddled with toxic proteins associated with Alzheimer’s and other neurodegenerative diseases.

Credit: Harvard Medical School

Casaletto, a neuropsychologist and member of the UCSF Weill Institute for Neurosciences, worked with William Honer, MD, a professor of psychiatry at the University of British Columbia and senior author of the study, to leverage data from the Memory and Aging Project at Rush University in Chicago. That project tracked the late-life physical activity of elderly participants, who also agreed to donate their brains when they died.

Honer and Casaletto found that elderly people who remained active had higher levels of proteins that facilitate the exchange of information between neurons. This result dovetailed with Honer’s earlier finding that people who had more of these proteins in their brains when they died were better able to maintain their cognition late in life. To their surprise, Honer said, the researchers found that the effects ranged beyond the hippocampus, the brain’s seat of memory, to encompass other brain regions associated with cognitive function.

Source (University of California San Francisco, Robin Marks, Exercise Alters Brain Chemistry to Protect Aging Synapses, 7 January 2022.)

Paper: Casaletto, K., Ramos‐Miguel, A., VandeBunte, A., Memel, M., Buchman, A., Bennett, D. and Honer, W., 2022. Late‐life physical activity relates to brain tissue synaptic integrity markers in older adults. Alzheimer’s & Dementia.

Image source: Carapeto, P.V. and Aguayo-Mazzucato, C., 2021. Effects of exercise on cellular and tissue aging. Aging (Albany NY)13(10), p.14522.

Razer’s Project Sophia

At the CES 2022 (Consumer Electronics Show), Razer presented Project Sophia, a concept for a computer that is a desk with embedded modular components. This concept would allow users to swap parts and modules like displays, USB hubs or wireless chargers. It’s not the first time the company’s tried to make the PC more modular—last year, it showed off a more practical design using Intel’s miniature NUC, essentially a tiny CPU and motherboard combo. And its 2014 PC concept, Project Christine, gave us a glimpse at a possible PC future that made upgrading major components very easy.

What ultimately makes Project Sophia different than the best PC case desks are its modules. Users will have up to 13 different modules available when reconfiguring their Project Sophia machine, and these modules are compatible with everything from touchscreen digitizers and tablets to advanced speakers and monitors. Some other components and peripherals that the modules will work with include cameras, microphones, wireless chargers, and even cup warmers. Project Sophia is also lined with Chroma RGB lighting and comes with a built-in OLED display that’s available at either 65 inches or 77 inches.

Source 1 (Time, Patrick Lucas Austin, The 10 Best Gadgets of CES 2022, 7 January 2022)

Source 2 (Windows Central, Brendan Lowry, Razer’s ‘Project Sophia’ is a must-see concept desk for gaming in the future, 5 January 2022)

Microscopic camera the size of a grain of salt

Despite being the size of a grain of salt, a new microscopic camera can capture crisp, full-colour images on par with normal lenses that are 500,000 times larger. The ultra-compact optical device was developed by a team of researchers from Princeton University and the University of Washington.

The tiny camera relies on a special ‘metasurface’ studded with 1.6 million cylindrical posts — each the size of a single HIV virus — which can modulate the behaviour of light. Each of the posts on the 0.5-millimetre-wide surface has a unique shape that allows it to operate like an antenna. Machine-learning based signal processing algorithms then interpret the post’s interaction with light, transforming it into an image. The photographs that the tiny device takes offer the highest-quality images with the widest field of view for any full-colour metasurface camera developed to date.

According to the researchers, the camera could be used in small-scale robots, where size and weight constraints make traditional cameras difficult to implement. The optical metasurface could also be used to improve minimally-invasive endoscopic devices, allowing doctors to better see inside of patients in order to diagnose and treat diseases. Felix Heide, an author of the study, also suggests the camera could be used to turn surfaces into sensors with ultra-high resolution.  ‘You wouldn’t need three cameras on the back of your phone anymore, but the whole back of your phone would become one giant camera,’ he explained.

Source (Ian Randall, DailyMail, Say cheese! Microscopic camera the size of a grain of SALT is developed that can produce crisp, full-colour images ‘on par with lenses 500,000 times larger’)

James Webb Space Telescope

NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope launched at 7:20 a.m. EST Saturday on an Ariane 5 rocket from Europe’s Spaceport in French Guiana, South America. A joint effort with ESA (European Space Agency) and the Canadian Space Agency, the Webb observatory is NASA’s revolutionary flagship mission to seek the light from the first galaxies in the early universe and to explore our own solar system, as well as planets orbiting other stars, called exoplanets. 

Ground teams began receiving telemetry data from Webb about five minutes after launch. The Arianespace Ariane 5 rocket performed as expected, separating from the observatory 27 minutes into the flight. The observatory was released at an altitude of approximately 1,400 kilometers. Approximately 30 minutes after launch, Webb unfolded its solar array, and mission managers confirmed that the solar array was providing power to the observatory. After solar array deployment, mission operators will establish a communications link with the observatory via the Malindi ground station in Kenya, and ground control at the Space Telescope Science Institute in Baltimore will send the first commands to the spacecraft.

Source (NASA, NASA’s Webb Telescope Launches to See First Galaxies, Distant Worlds)

A Shorter Letter

Video description: Check out this awesome CGI 3D Animated Short/Spot “A Shorter Letter” – by The Frank Barton Company – Tom, a seven-year-old boy who, with Santa’s help, realizes that he doesn’t need to have all the toys he asked for to be happy. With this film, DDB wants to raise awareness of the need to start consuming in a more sensible way; especially in a time of excess like Christmas.