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Knowledge Update

Introduction & Purpose
Knowledge update and Industry update at Skyline University College (SUC) is an online platform for communicating knowledge with SUC stakeholders, industry, and the outside world about the current trends of business development, technology, and social changes. The platform helps in branding SUC as a leading institution of updated knowledge base and in encouraging faculties, students, and others to create and contribute under different streams of domain and application. The platform also acts as a catalyst for learning and sharing knowledge in various areas.

Learning difficult task can topple brain barriers

London, March 20 (IANS) If an individual has the determination, nothing can stop her or him from achieving the goal, suggests a study.

The study, which showed that a sighted, adult brain is able to recruit when it is sufficiently challenged pointed out that learning a complex task over a long period can challenge the brain and break the barriers that were long thought to be fixed.

"We are all capable of re-tuning our brains if we're prepared to put the work in," said lead author Marcin Szwed from the Jagiellonian University in Poland.

The results revealed that we could supercharge the brain to be more flexible as the brain overcomes the normal division of labour and establishes new connections to boost its power.

"Our findings show that we can establish new connections if we undertake a complex enough task and are given long enough to learn it," Szwed maintained.

The findings, to be published in the journal eLife, could have implications for our power to bend different sections of the brain to our will by learning other demanding skills, such as playing a musical instrument or learning to drive.

Over a period of nine months, 29 volunteers were taught to read Braille while blindfolded.

They achieved reading speeds of up to 17 words per minute.

Before and after the course, they took part in a functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (fMRI) experiment to test the impact of their learning on regions of the brain.

The findings call for a reassessment of our view of the functional organisation of the human brain, which is more flexible than the brains of other primates, the researchers asserted.​

Weak gut may trigger Type 2 diabetes, obesity

New York, March 21 (IANS) A weak ecosystem of bacteria in human gut due to a poor dietary diversity is likely to trigger diseases like Type 2 diabetes and obesity, finds new research, suggesting people to eat a balanced, diversed diet.

Changes in farming practices over the last 50 years have resulted in decreased agricultural diversity, which in turn has resulted in decreased dietary diversity.

The findings, published in the journal Molecular Metabolism, revealed that the reduction has changed the richness of the human gut microbiota and the community of microorganisms living in the gut.

"Healthy individuals posses a diverse gut microbiota but a reduced microbiotic richness gives rise to Type 2 diabetes, obesity and inflammatory bowel disease," said the team from Pennington Biomedical Research Centre in US.

Gut microbiota function as an endocrine organ, metabolising specific nutrients from the diet and producing specific substances that act as metabolic signals in the host. 

Like all healthy ecosystems, richness of microbiota species characterises the gut microbiome in healthy individuals. Conversely, a loss in species diversity is a common finding in several disease states. 

This microbiome is flooded with energy in the form of undigested and partially digested foods, and in some cases drugs and dietary supplements. 

Each microbiotic species in the biome transforms that energy into new molecules, which may signal messages to physiological systems of the host. 

The more diverse the diet, the more diverse the microbiome and the more adaptable it will be to perturbations, the researchers noted.​

Bouncing back after rough patch may take time

New York, March 20 (IANS) Bouncing back when someone goes through a rough period in life -- say a divorce or losing a job, people can struggle considerably and take much longer time to recover back to previous levels of functioning, says a new study.

The new research finds that natural resilience may not be as common as once thought and that when confronted with a major life-altering event many people can struggle considerably and for longer periods of time."Give the person time to heal" has been the common mantra. This often meant that when these people struggled, they would be left to deal with their situation largely on their own.
"We show that contrary to an extensive body of research, when individuals are confronted with major life stressors, such as spousal loss, divorce or unemployment, they are likely to show substantial declines in well-being and these declines can linger for several years," said co-author of the new study Frank Infurna from Arizona State University in the US.

"Whereas when we test these assumptions more thoroughly, we find that most individuals are deeply affected and it can take several years for them to recover and get back to previous levels of functioning," Infurna added in the paper published in the journal of Perspectives on Psychological Science.

Most psychological studies have supported the idea of a person's innate resilience to the struggles of life.The new research questions prior claims that resilience is the "usual" response to major life stressors by looking at longitudinal data in a more nuanced way and making less generalisation about the human response to such dramatic events.he team used existing longitudinal data from Germany (the German socioeconomic panel study), which is an on going survey that began in 1984 and annually assesses participants over a wide range of measures.

The outcome that they focused on was life satisfaction, which assesses how satisfied individuals are with their lives, all things considered, as they pass through years of their lives.The previous research postulated that most people, anywhere from 50 to 70 percent, would show a trajectory characterised by no change.

"We found that it usually took people much longer, several years, to return to their previous levels of functioning," Infurna said.

A finding that means giving a person time alone to deal with the stressor might not be the best approach to getting them back to full functionality, Infurna said.

"It provides some evidence that if most people are affected then interventions certainly should be utilized in terms of helping these individuals in response to these events."​

Marketing, HR officials should coordinate to raise firm's value

New York, March 21 (IANS) Chief of marketing and human resource officers need to better coordinate their activities to maximise a company's value, says a new research.

Customers and employees represent two critical stakeholders of a firm. In most organisations, customer-related activities are under the purview of marketing, while employee-related activities are under the purview of human resource. 

The results of the study showed that the relative consistency with which a company treats its customers and employees could affect the company's long-term value. 

Improving consistency in employee and customer achievements can lead to a big change for a firm both financially and metaphorically.

Also, the customer -- and employee -- related achievements could have a positive impact on a firm's valuation while the lapses can strengthen the negative impact. 

Companies that have consistency in employee and customer achievements on average have 11 percent higher firm valuation than those having inconsistent outcomes. 

"Our results imply that CEOs need to ensure that critical members of the C-suite coordinate their activities to maximize firm value," the researchers maintained.

The findings also revealed that the effect of uniformity in customer and employee related activities are stronger for firms with a narrow than a broad business scope.

"We found these results to be much stronger for firms with a narrow than a broad business focus; that is, competing in fewer than more business segments,” said Yan "Anthea" Zhang, the Fayez Sarofim Vanguard professor of Management at the Rice Jones University in Texas, US.

To achieve this oneness, it is critical for firms to ensure that their marketing and human-resource departments act in unison, the researchers asserted.

The authors found evidence to support their theory using a dataset of 21,447 observations between 1994 and 2010 that represented 4,643 firms. ​

LeEco to display Le Super Car concept at Beijing Auto Show

​New Delhi, March 18 (IANS) Chinese internet conglomerate LeEco on Friday said they would display Le Super Car concept at Beijing Auto Show scheduled from April 25 to May 4. The company formed several partnerships including with luxury sports car brand Aston Martin for RapidE that incorporates the LeEco Internet of the Vehicle (IOV) system, Chinese ride-sharing app Yidao Yongche and Beijing Dianzhuang Technology Ltd. and start-up electric car firm Faraday Future. LeEco also roped in Chinese autonomous driving expert Kai Ni to solidify its positioning in the automotive value chain. The company said the car would be in the market by 2018. Aston Martin and LeEco signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) in January and revealed the first results of their collaboration -- an Aston Martin Rapide S at the Consumer Electronic Show earlier this year. ​

Facebook introduces basketball game in its Messenger service

​New York, March 19 (IANS) Facebook has introduced a secret basketball mini-game into its Messenger service, a media report said on Saturday.

The hoop shooting game can be unlocked by sending a basketball emoji to a friend or group in the latest version of the Messenger app and then simply clicking on it, Tech

Britain records highest ever spending on R&D

London, March 19 (IANS) Annual spending on research and development (R&D) in Britain has reached an all-time high, exceeding more than $44 billion, according to figures released by the Office for National Statistics (ONS).

Singapore museum unveils art-science fusion exhibit

​Singapore, March 19 (IANS) The Singapore ArtScience Museum on Saturday unveiled a new exhibit that merges cutting edge technology with artistic design and creativity in 15 larger-than-life installations mimicking ecosystems, cities and space. "Art is usually static with limited interaction. Now technology has opened new opportunities for artists to stretch their imagination," said Fujiwara Tetsuya, the managing director of Panasonic System Solutions. Panasonic in Asia Pacific partnered with the Singaporean ArtScience Museum and teamLab, a Japanese art and technology collective, to create the earth-inspired exhibit, EFE news reported. The 1,500 square-metre exhibit "FUTURE WORLD: Where Art Meets Science" under the first theme "Nature" invites visitors to explore rooms where flowers bloom and die and butterflies flutter in interweaving pixels on gallery walls. Using teamLab's interactive 4D vision technology "visitors experience the universe from within it, as it surrounds, enfolds them and responds to their presence, thus helping visitors understand themselves as part of the vastness of celestial space", said teamLab. The second concept, "Town", reflects a cityscape that invites visitors to populate towns by inputting digital data, watching cities grow and physically build and construct architecture with fibreglass light cubes. Finally, the crystal universe of "Space" transports viewers into a darkened galaxy with star-studded skies, with over 170,000 LED lights used to light up the re-creation of the universe. "We hope to invoke in visitors a new and imaginative sense of wonder in the world around us," said Honor Hagar, the executive director of the ArtScience Museum.​

Stem cell therapy may reverse age-related bone disease

Toronto, March 18 (IANS) Opening up a whole new paradigm for treating or even indefinitely postponing the onset of osteoporosis, researchers have found that a single injection of stem cells could potentially restore the normal bone structure in those affected by the condition in which bones become brittle as a result of loss of tissue.

With age-related osteoporosis, the inner structure of the bone diminishes, leaving the bone thinner, less dense, and losing its function. 

The disease is responsible for an estimated 8.9 million fractures per year worldwide.

But how can an injection of stem cells reverse the ravages of age in the bones?

The researchers earlier demonstrated a causal effect between mice that developed age-related osteoporosis and low or defective mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) in these animals.

"We reasoned that if defective MSCs are responsible for osteoporosis, transplantation of healthy MSCs should be able to prevent or treat osteoporosis," said senior author of the study William Stanford, professor at the University of Ottawa in Canada.

To test that theory, the researchers injected osteoporotic mice with MSCs from healthy mice.

Stem cells are "progenitor" cells, capable of dividing and changing into all the different cell types in the body. 

Able to become bone cells, MSCs have a second unique feature, ideal for the development of human therapies -- these stem cells can be transplanted from one person to another without the need for matching (needed for blood transfusions, for instance) and without being rejected.

After six months post-injection, a quarter of the life span of these animals, the osteoporotic bone had astonishingly given way to healthy, functional bone.

The findings were published in the journal Stem Cells Translational Medicine.

"We had hoped for a general increase in bone health," study co-author John Davies, professor at the University of Toronto, said. 

"But the huge surprise was to find that the exquisite inner "coral-like" architecture of the bone structure of the injected animals--which is severely compromised in osteoporosis--was restored to normal," Davies noted.

While there are currently no human stem cell trials looking at a systemic treatment for osteoporosis, the long-range results of the study point to the possibility that as little as one dose of stem cells might offer long-term relief.​

Equation accurately predicts calories burned by walking

New York, March 18 (IANS) A new equation developed by scientists can predict more accurately your walking energy expenditure, thus replacing the leading standardised equations used for close to half a century that were based on the assumption that one size fits all.

"Our new equation is formulated to apply regardless of the height, weight and speed of the walker. It's appreciably more accurate," said Lindsay Ludlow, a researcher at the Southern Methodist University (SMU) in Dallas.

The equation developed by SMU scientists, which was recently described in in the Journal of Applied Physiology, is about four times more accurate for adults and children together, and about two to three times more accurate for adults only, Ludlow said.

"The economy of level walking is a lot like shipping packages -- there is an economy of scale," said Peter Weyand, a study co-author. "Big people get better gas mileage when fuel economy is expressed on a per-pound basis," he added.

The research comes at a time when greater accuracy combined with mobile technology, such as wearable sensors, is increasingly being used in real time to monitor the body's status. 

The researchers note that some devices use the old standardised equations, while others use a different method to estimate the calories burned.​