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Humans would be ‘pretty upbeat’ to news of alien life: Study

The findings were presented at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science in Austin, Texas

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The positive effect was stronger in response to reading about extraterrestrial life than human-made synthetic life.
The positive effect was stronger in response to reading about extraterrestrial life than human-made synthetic life. Wikimedia Commons
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  • Existence of alien life is always been a subject of curiosity
  • Language in the coverage of these events showed significantly more positive than negative emotions
  • Participants’ responses showed significantly more positive than negative emotions, both when contemplating their own reactions and those of humanity as a whole

Have you wondered how would people react if scientists ever detect alien life in the universe? Humans would be “pretty upbeat” and welcome the news, finds a study.

Various studies have in the past speculated about how humans might respond to this kind of news, but until now, there has been almost no systematic empirical research.

In a pilot study, scientists at the Arizona State University analysed various media reports of “alien announcements”, including the appearance of the “alien” interstellar asteroid Oumuamua, that suggest the potential for alien life in our solar system.

Also Read: Are we alone in the Universe or there is Alien life? Astronomers spot nearby Star with seven Earth-size Planets

Language in the coverage of these events showed significantly more positive than negative emotions.

“If we came face to face with life outside of Earth, we would actually be pretty upbeat about it,” said assistant professor Michael Varnum.

Various studies have in the past speculated about how humans might respond to this kind of news.
Various studies have in the past speculated about how humans might respond to this kind of news. Wikimedia Commons

The results are in stark difference to the warnings from scientist Stephen Hawking who thinks aliens will not like being contacted by humans and that if we ever try to contact them they could kill humans.

In another two separate studies, nearly 1,000 people were asked to write about their own hypothetical reactions to an announcement that alien microbial life had been discovered, as well as to write about their reactions on past news coverage of scientific discoveries.

Participants’ responses showed significantly more positive than negative emotions, both when contemplating their own reactions and those of humanity as a whole.

Also Read: Search for alien life got exciting new leads this year

The positive effect was stronger in response to reading about extraterrestrial life than human-made synthetic life.

The studies suggest that “if we find out we’re not alone, we’ll take the news rather well,” Varnum said.

The findings were presented at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science in Austin, Texas. (IANS)

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Scientists Discover A New Method To Fight Alzheimer’s, Dementia

Worldwide, about seven percent of people over 65 suffer from Alzheimer's or some form of dementia, a percentage that rises to 40 percent above the age of 85.

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Alzheimer's
One hemisphere of a healthy brain (L) is pictured next to one hemisphere of a brain of a person suffering from Alzheimer disease. VOA
Eliminating dead-but-toxic cells occurring naturally in the brains of mice designed to mimic Alzheimer’s slowed neuron damage and memory loss associated with the disease, according to a study published Wednesday that could open a new front in the fight against dementia.The accumulation in the body of “zombie cells” that can no longer divide but still cause harm to other healthy cells, a process called senescence, is common to all mammals.

Scientists have long known that these dead-beat cells gather in regions of the brain linked to old age diseases ranging from osteoarthritis and atherosclerosis to Parkinson’s and dementia.

Prior research had also shown that the elimination of senescent cells in ageing mice extended their healthy lifespan.

But the new results, published in Nature, are the first to demonstrate a cause-and-effect link with a specific disease, Alzheimer’s, the scientists said.

Alzheimer's
A lady suffering from Alzheimer’s. Flickr

But any treatments that might emerge from the research are many years down the road, they cautioned.

In experiments, a team led by Tyler Bussian of the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota used mice genetically modified to produce the destructive, cobweb-like tangles of tau protein that form in the neurons of Alzheimer’s patients.

The mice were also programmed to allow for the elimination of “zombie” cells in the same region.

“When senescent cells were removed, we found that the diseased animals retained the ability to form memories, and eliminated signs of inflammation,” said senior author Darren Baker, also from the Mayo Clinic.

The mice likewise failed to develop Alzheimer’s signature protein “tangles”, and retained normal brain mass.

 

Alzheimer's
Alzheimer’s disease patient Isidora Tomaz, 82, sits in an armchair in her house in Lisbon, Portugal. It’s predicted that by 2050, 135 million Americans are going to suffer from mild cognitive impairment, a precursor of Alzheimer’s. VOA

Keeping zombies at bay

A closer look revealed that the “zombies” belonged to a class of cells in the brain and spinal cord, called glia, that provide crucial support and insulation to neurons.

“Preventing the build-up of senescent glia can block the cognitive decline and neuro-degeneration normally experienced by these mice,” Jay Penney and Li-Huei Tsai, both from MIT, wrote in a comment, also in Nature.

Bussian and his team duplicated the results with pharmaceuticals, suggesting that drugs could one day slow or block the emergence of Alzheimer’s by keeping these zombie cells at bay.

“There hasn’t been a new dementia drug in 15 years, so it’s exciting to see the results of this promising study in mice,” said James Pickett, head of research at Alzheimer’s Society in London.

 

Alzheimer's
The accumulation in the body of “zombie cells” that can no longer divide but still cause harm to other healthy cells, a process called senescence, is common to all mammals. IANS

For Lawrence Rajendran, deputy director of the Dementia Research Institute at King’s College London, the findings “open up new vistas for both diagnosis and therapy for neurodegenerative diseases, including Alzheimer’s.”

Up to now, dementia research has been mostly focused on the diseased neurons rather than their neighboring cells.

“It is increasingly becoming clear that other brains cells play a defining role,” Rajendran added.

Several barriers remain before the breakthrough can be translated into a “safe, effective treatment in people,” Pickett and other said.

The elderly often have lots of harmless brain cells that look like the dangerous senescent cells a drug would target, so the molecule would have to be good at telling the two apart.

Also Read: Common Painkillers Triple Harmful Side Effects in Dementia

Worldwide, about seven percent of people over 65 suffer from Alzheimer’s or some form of dementia, a percentage that rises to 40 percent above the age of 85.

The number afflicted is expected to triple by 2050 to 152 million, according to the World Health Organization, posing a huge challenge to healthcare systems. (VOA)