Varibel: glasses that aid in hearing

A recent innovation from Delft University of Technology in the Netherlands unveiled a new hearing aid called Varibel on Friday. The device, which resembles a pair of glasses instead of a traditional in-ear aid, has a directional sensitivity of +8.2 decibels, versus regular hearing aids’ maximum sensitivity of +4 dB. Each leg of the glasses’ frame has a row of four tiny, interconnected microphones that intensify selected sounds coming from the front while simultaneously inhibiting the magnitude of the surrounding noise. This allows people with hearing deficiencies to hear things from the direction in which they are looking. More research needs to be done before the glasses are fully marketable.


Evolution of fish into animals explained

In Canada’s Arctic region, about 900 kilometers from the North Pole, scientists have discovered the fossils of an ancient fish, a predator with sharp teeth and a crocodile-like head that they say is the missing link between fish and limbed animals. The fossil fish, named Tiktaalik roseae, had a skull, neck, ribs and part of a fin that have been found in the earliest limbed animals. Tiktaalik also resembled a fish due to its fins and scales. The fish fossils support the idea that the evolution from life in water to life on land occurred gradually in fish living in shallow water.

Scientists have known for nearly a century that fish evolved over millions of years into limbed animals called the tetrapods. However, there was a clear gap on the evolutionary tree between finned fish and tetrapods that, until now, had not been filled.

Source: The Telegraph

Medication gives unanticipated results

According to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), 15 million Americans suffer from depression each year. Estimates have the disease costing the nation $83 billion yearly due to treatment costs as well as lost productivity due to absenteeism and suicide. NIMH has funded a study examining the effectiveness of different treatment strategies for depression. The study focused on patients who did not become symptom-free after the initial medication was taken. The data revealed that half of the patients did not respond to any antidepressant, while two-thirds of the patients did not respond to the initial medication. However, one-third of these patients did respond to a second round of medication, and one-quarter responded to another type of antidepressant.


Telescopes search for extraterrestrial life

The Planetary Society has dedicated a brand new telescope at an observatory in Harvard, Mass., to search for light signals from alien civilizations. Such a search is known as Optical Search for Extraterrestrial Intellignce (OSETI). The telescope will conduct a year-long survey in which it will use a custom-made camera to scan the portion of the Milky Way galaxy visible from the northern hemisphere. It will use a range of detectors that are sensitive to a billionth-of-a-second flash of light. Scientists will analyze the various pictures and may be able to find evidence of extraterrestrial life on other planets and solar systems.