Sci/Tech briefs

Emotions conveyed in five-second touch

A new study conducted by scientists at DePauw University has found that emotions can be
conveyed through a five-second touch.

Participants were not told the sex of the person with whom they were paired, and they were
unable to see the other person. Instructions were given to try to convey a particular emotion,
and the other person had to guess the emotion. Participants were able to vary the location
touched, and the defi nition of “touch” included such variations as squeeze, shake, and
rub.While the study may not have much practical use, as touching is an intimate gesture, it is important for the study of psychology and science.

Source: The New York Times

DNA reading made quicker with machine

A Stanford scientist has sequenced his DNA in one week using a machine and only
$50,000. Just six years ago, the Human Genome Project completed a similar task, but it took
them 13 years and over $300 million.

This advance, which is faster and cheaper than previous methods, may make it possible
for more people to sequence their DNA. While the costs are significantly cheaper, they still remain inaccessible for many. The machine used costs over $1 million, and a $50,000 price tag, which is based upon the cost of the machine and the number of
times it is estimated to run, is not affordable for many people.
In terms of science, however, it is a major advance that will allow scientists to study DNA
more closely and in a much less costly manner.

Source: Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Alice 3.0 now available online

Alice, the programming software best known for being the brainchild of Randy Pausch, has
released a new version and is available for download online.

The Alice software is used primarily to provide an introduction to programming for people who have never had any exposure to programming and is often used to teach middle
school students. Alice 3.0 can be used to create videos and, at the same time, teach students
the basics of Java.

Source: Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Galapagos wildlife threatened by mosquitoes

The wildlife in the Galapagos Islands is being threatened by mosquitoes brought by tourists,
according to researchers.

The southern house mosquito, which is a carrier of such diseases as malaria and West
Nile fever, has been carried to the islands, and researchers have found that the mosquitoes
are able to reproduce and survive in their new environment, which is bad news for the indigenous wildlife.

Despite attempted regulations requiring airplanes to be sprayed with pesticide before
arriving at the islands, mosquitoes have managed to find a way there. Mosquitoes have
been present in the Galapagos since the 1980s and have continued to arrive throughout the
islands since.

Source: Reuters