SciTech Briefs

Dolphins and bats may have similar gene evolution

Scientists have recently discovered a set of genes in bottlenose dolphins and some bats that may contribute to their shared ability of echolocation. The study was led by evolutionary geneticist Joe Parker from Queen Mary University of London. The researchers analyzed the genomes of 22 mammals, which included animals that could and could not echolocate. A computer then analyzed the genomes and compared the mutations that contribute to echolocation. The results indicated that almost 200 genetic regions across the species had evolved together.

However, some colleagues question the results. “The authors are not really being cognizant of the limitations of their methods,” said David Pollock of the University of Colorado School of Medicine.

Source: Science News

Video game shown to sharpen brains in older people

A report published in the journal Nature shows that playing the racing video game NeuroRacer improves the mental acuity of elderly participants. The study was led by Adam Gazzaley of the University of California, San Francisco.

The game has participants drive a car along a narrow and winding path. Throughout the game, distracting signs pop up on the screen. Older patients were initially much worse at the game than their younger counterparts. However, after playing for 12 hours over the course of a month they were able to beat 20-year-olds playing it for the first time. Laboratory tests revealed that the older participants also had an increased working memory and attention span.

Source: Science News

Researchers give access to quantum computing

Users will soon be able to access quantum computing using their own computers. Those interested in running quantum algorithms on their own devices will be able to log in and access a two-qubit chip that is connected to the Internet. Quantum computers run on qubits, which differ from typical bits in that they can be zero and one simultaneously, rather than sequentially. Researchers theorize that qubits will allow for much faster computation. The qubit chip is being provided by the University of Bristol in the United Kingdom.

Quantum computers have previously only been available to a select few academics and laboratories such as NASA. Researchers from Bristol stressed the need for increased public access to quantum computing.

Source: New Scientist