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Department of Defense Plans to Use Technology and Brain Implants to Figure Out How Humans Learn

The U.S. Department of Defense is trying to figure out how the human brain works.

As a field agent, it is crucial to learn languages fast. This takes a lot of time and training, and the DoD wants to create a way to make it easier for their agents to do their job.

So, as a means to figure out how the human brain learns foreign languages, the Defense Advance Research Project Agency (DARPA) has just given eight elite teams a combined sum of $50 million to discover how the nervous system can facilitate learning.

Scientists and researchers believe that humans learn through all their senses. Studies show that 83% of human learning occurs visually, 11% through hearing, 3.5% via smell, 1.5% with touch, and 1% through taste. With this in mind, DARPA researchers are looking directly to neurotransmitters to see if they hold the answer to all their questions.

All eight teams will work together on a four-year program known as the Targeted Neuroplasticity Training (TNT) to search and hone in on the optimal levels of neurostimulation methods that will activate synaptic plasticity. Synaptic plasticity is how the brain synapses strengthen or weaken, and how these patterns create memories and learn new things.

DARPA’s target is pretty optimistic, as they are looking to see a 30% improvement in learning rates compared to their existing training methods. They believe that the expertise of their engineers has the potential to even surpass this goal.

“The Defence Department operates in a complex, interconnected world in which human skills such as communication and analysis are vital, and the Department has long pushed the frontiers of training to maximize those skills. DARPA’s goal with TNT is to further enhance the most effective existing training methods so the men and women of our Armed Forces can operate at their full potential,” says bioengineer and manager of the TNT program Doug Weber, to Science Alert.

DARPA’s electronic device will work in three stages. Their neurostimulation device will activate the peripheral nerves, which then stimulates synaptic plasticity, then neuronal connections are refined as a method to improve a person’s communication skills.

According to Slash Gear, the eight different teams will utilize non-invasive techniques, along with an invasive brain implant, on animals and human volunteers. All side effects will be monitored, including the viewpoint on the ethics of artificial learning.

This impressive innovation may be in part due to the numerous advancements within the circuit board industry. Circuit boards are responsible for connecting electrical signals to the component, and due to recent breakthroughs in the industry, these complex boards can now be made in five days or less, at a 75% faster time than the industry average.

DARPA is quick to point out that despite other similar brain research in the area, they are hoping that they can find out how to naturally advance people’s natural capacities of learning.

Why Are So Many Women Suddenly Becoming Plumbers?

Plumbing Components Arranged On House Plans

Plumbing has been a male dominated profession since its inception all the way back in 2500 B.C., but lately, more and more women are eagerly joining this trade.

From an all girls plumbing and construction class in Poway, California to the Middle East, where Jordanian and Syrian women are starting plumbing companies, women plumbers are suddenly everywhere.

This May, Master Plumber Erin Swetland is speaking out about the importance of bringing more women into technical trades. And with a shortage of plumbers here in the United States, it’s an idea that’s gaining traction.
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Wine, Sun, and Denim: How H&M is Slowly But Surely Making the Fashion World More Sustainable

HM-Share-ImageThe world of fashion is changing. Gone are the days where shoppers visit high-end boutiques in order to get custom fitted garments, and in are the days where fast fashion reigns supreme. While the luxury markets and top name brands of Dior, Gucci, Prada, and Hermes, are still going strong for their niche market, more and more Americans are turning to shops that offer fashionable items at a low cost that are meant to be replaced year after year.

Retailer HandM is just one of these fast fashion outlets. However, in an effort to stick out among their cutthroat competitors, HandM has released a new marketing plan for the next 10 plus years.

 

Their idea? To go completely sustainable. Continue reading

Gorillaz Is Hosting A Global Listening Party On Their New AR App

gorillazIf listening to your favorite album isn’t enough, you may now be able to see it right in front of you. This is the experience that the band Gorillaz wants to give to its fans with the release of its upcoming album “Humanz.” Pitchfork reports that the band has released an augmented reality app that superimposes parts of their music videos onto the user’s immediate environment using a smartphone camera.

 
“Fans will be invited – via the app – to the Humanz House Party, an exclusive worldwide listening event which will allow fans to hear the new album in full for the first time,” the band said in a press release. “The Humanz House Party will be the largest ever geo-specific listening experience bringing people together across 500 locations.”
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Soap for Hope On Its Way to Nepal to Provide Assistance Following 2015 Earthquake

Sadly, Americans recycle or donate only 15% of their used clothing, the rest of which, roughly 10.5 million tons a year, ends up going into landfills and causing serious environmental issues. Many of these donated products, however, are given new life in developing nations where struggling individuals can purchase used American goods for pennies, rather than paying full price. On an international scale, more than 14.3 million tons of donated American textiles help clothe struggling families around the world.

In southern Asia, Nepal is one of these struggling nations that was hit so hard in 2015 by a massive earthquake, that they are still in need of major assistance from more developed nations.

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‘Fast Fashion’ Might Be Getting a New Life Through Upcycling Efforts

shirtsApproximately 95% of Americans wear t-shirts, and consumers don’t think much of buying a t-shirt for $5. But when that shirt only lasts four months and ends up in a garbage bin, the environment suffers. Now, a former journalist and dentist has launched a campaign to promote more sustainable fashion through a practice called upcycling.

Christina Dean may have seemed like an unlikely figure to head a sustainable fashion movement, but her Hong Kong-based company, NGO Redress, has taken off. In addition to inspiring people around the globe, Dean’s company is competing for the EcoChic Design Award. This competition is a sustainable fashion design challenge open to designers in the U.S., Europe, and Asia.

This year, the first-place winner will have the opportunity to meet the BYT team in Hong-Kong come September. Michelle Bang, the company’s CEO, will also be there. Bang’s own company rose from the success of Redress as a for-profit expansion of the original business.

The company’s first collection will focus on upcycling fabric scraps from luxury brands like Hugo Boss and Stella McCarthy. The goal behind this project is to help people realize that fashionable, professional attire can be created with these fabrics at an affordable price point for the average consumer.

“We want existing businesses to sit up and watch what we?re doing to make a positive impact, and to hopefully follow suit,” Bang said in an interview with Billionaire.

And the fashion industry isn’t the only sphere where upcycling work is being done. Scientists are also developing upcycling methods to help reduce fabric waste around the world.

“We want to not only recycle garments, but we want to really produce the best possible textiles so that recycled fibers are even better than native fibers,” said Herbert Sixta, Ph.D., who heads the biorefineries research group at Aalto University.

The issue that Sixta and his team ran into was that while ionic liquids can dissolve cellulose in fabrics, the resulting material couldn’t be used to create new textiles. That is, until they discovered another ionic liquid — 1,5-diazabicyclo[4.3.0]non-5-ene acetate — that dissolved cellulose from wood pulp. Unlike previous experiments, the process created a material that could be effectively spun into stronger fibers.

Now, the researchers are working on a way to commercialize their process and create the product on a larger scale. In addition to Dean, Bang, and their respective teams, upcycling clothing is much more real than previously thought.

Washington Researchers Are Working To Preserve Fertility In Young Male Cancer Patients

A team of researchers at Washington State University are working to prevent sperm cell loss in boys undergoing cancer treatment. According to a report by WSU News, the research aims to preserve the fertility of prepubescent boys following chemotherapy and radiation.

Jon Oatley, associate professor at WSU’s School of Molecular Biosciences and director of the Center for Reproductive Biology, are working to fill a hole in current technology, WSU News reports. Currently, adult men can have their sperm frozen before beginning treatment, just in case they become infertile as a result. Boys who have not gone through puberty do not have this option. Since they only have stem cells, not sperm, they run the risk of not producing healthy sperm after treatment. The only option is for physicians to remove the stem cells, freeze them, and wait for technology that allows them to place the stem cells back into the testes after puberty.

This is the technology that Oatley and his team are working to create. Through a series of tests with young mice, the researchers lowered the oxygen in the stem cell cultures. They observed that more of the cells were able to be successfully placed back into the testes. WSU News reports that this increased the number of viable stem cells from 5% to 40%, an eighty-fold improvement, according to Oatley.

“I think it?s going to become the standard by which everybody cultures their cells, including trying to develop conditions for human cells, Oatley said in a statement to WSU News.

While around 80-90% of infertility cases are treated with drug therapy or surgery, cancer survivors might not have this opportunity. According to Cancer.net, infertility in cancer patients is caused by damage to endocrine glands or endocrine-related organs, or changes to the sectors in the brain that control the endocrine system.

While there is not a cure for cancer, data shows that 80% of cases are caused by environmental rather than genetic factors. Despite the cause of their disease, a niche portion of cancer patients could benefit from this study, as fewer than 1% of cases in the United States involve children, according to the American Cancer Society. WSU reports that while over four-fifths of children survive their cancer, boys are susceptible to azoospermia, or lack of visible sperm.

These WSU researchers are one step closer to helping cancer survivors have a better future. WSU News reports that going forward, the team will be working with Marisa Bartolomei at the University of Pennsylvania to investigate whether the technique causes genes are to switch on and off. They will also be testing the culture technique on human tissues.

Bilingual? Your Job Prospects Are Looking A Lot Better, Study Finds

Looking for a job? You may want to consider signing up for a language class. According to a new report published by New American Economy, the demand for bilingual workers is on the rise, more than doubling between 2010 and 2015.

Researchers from Burning Glass Technologies analyzed online job postings and found that in 2010 there were about 240,000 job postings seeking bilingual employees. In 2015, this demand jumped to 630,000 posts. The Boston Globe reports that the most significant rises in demand were for individuals speaking Chinese, Spanish, and Arabic.

Demand for bilingual workers in higher-end jobs, in industries such as finance and engineering, grew the fastest, according to The Boston Globe. The majority of employers, however, were not looking for people with a bachelor’s degree. These job listings sought customer service representatives and medical assistants.

Speaking two languages has proven to pay off. Studies show that bilingual employees earn 20% more money than their monolingual peers. In addition to the financial benefit, bilingualism has career performance benefits as well. Today’s employees need to fit into the global economy, making bilingualism more important than ever, John Feinblatt, chairman of New American Economy, said in a press release.

“In today’s global economy, businesses require employees who can serve customers in a variety of languages,” he said. “This research highlights the growing need to attract and promote a multilingual workforce among both foreign- and U.S.-born talent.”

According to Pew Research, there will be about 38.5 million working-age immigrants living in the United States. As the United States workforce continues to evolve, so will communication expectations. Studies show that 55% of communication happens through facial expressions and body language, 37% through tone of voice, and 8% through words. In a multicultural workforce and client base, this 8% becomes vitally important.

The need for multilingual workplace communicators is especially tricky for less-widely spoken languages. Maria Vertkin, executive director of Found In Translation, a non-profit training low-income immigrants as medical translators, told The Boston Globe that the spike in the need for translators has been palpable.

“The tone has changed over the last five years, from just having open positions to kind of a desperate tone,” she said. “?We really, really need Korean. We really, really, really need Somali.? We?re getting pleading calls and e-mails at this point.”

The study noted that despite this clear demand, fewer students in the United States are taking language classes. Only 7% of college students were taking a language class by 2013, and less than 1% of adults had actually remained proficient in the language that they learned in school.

Language classes, while difficult, mobilize multi-sensory learning to obtain language comprehension in its entirety. Educational researchers show that 83% of learning happens visually, 11% happens through hearing, and the remainder through other senses. The study clearly shows that both employees and employers could benefit from an increase in this visual-auditory learning and communication.

“The data provides us with a comprehensive picture of what today?s employers are looking for?and also how the demand for bilingual workers has changed over the last few years,” the study concludes. “The results of our analysis are clear. In the years since 2010, the United States has experienced strong job growth. During this period, however, workers who could speak a second language fluently faced a distinct advantage.”