Saturday December 16, 2017

Modern technology bad for brain: Phone notifications kill concentration says study

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New York: Mobile phone notifications can ruin your focus even if you do not actually pick up the phone to respond to them, a study says.

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The Florida State University study found that alerts can break concentration, whether or not immediate action is taken on them, Digital Trends reported.

“Although these notifications are generally short in duration, they can prompt task-irrelevant thoughts, or mind wandering, which has been shown to damage task performance,” lead study author Cary Stothart was quoted as saying.

“We found that notifications alone significantly disrupted performance on an attention-demanding task, even when participants did not directly interact with a mobile device during the task,” Stothart said.

Study authors, Ainsley Mitchum, and Courtney Yehnert ran volunteers through an attention-monitoring test to reach their conclusions.

Participants were found to perform significantly worse on a task when their phones were buzzing or ringing. In fact, they were three times more likely to make mistakes.

The level of distraction was comparable to actually answering a phone call or writing a text message.

“If you really want to keep your mind on a task, just ignoring your phone notifications is not enough. You need to disable them altogether,” the researchers said.

An earlier study from Rice University found that phones can be detrimental to learning process.

The research said while users initially believed the mobile devices would improve their ability to perform well with homework and tests and ultimately get better grades, the opposite was reported at the end of the study.

(IANS)

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Apple X Factor: China Consumers Wowed by New iPhone, But Will They Buy?

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Iphone X
Attendees use new iPhone X during a presentation for the media in Beijing, China,

SHANGHAI/BEIJING: Gu Xiaomeng, a 24-year-old primary school teacher in the eastern Chinese city of Suzhou, says she’s excited about the new iPhone X, set to go on sale Friday. The challenge for Apple Inc is to persuade her to actually buy one.

“I’m definitely interested, but don’t currently plan to get one,” said Gu, whose monthly salary of a little over 6,000 yuan ($905.36) is less than the anniversary model’s starting price in China of 8,388 yuan.

For Apple, which is looking to rev up sales in China after several quarters of declining revenue there, the test is that Gu is not alone. While interest in the phone is high, that won’t necessarily translate into sales.

“Price appears to be a major constraint on iPhone X demand, particularly in China,” Bernstein analyst Toni Sacconaghi said in a recent report that showed three-quarters of Chinese respondents were excited by the upcoming launch, but only a quarter said they planned to buy one.

Investors are keen to gauge Chinese demand for the iPhone X, as it is key to reviving Apple’s fortunes in the world’s biggest smartphone market where it has lost some of its sparkle — and market share — as local phone makers have advanced.

The cheaper iPhone 8, which hit the market in September, has faced sluggish sales, but Apple has said that pre-orders for the iPhone X have been “off the charts.”

Apple, due to announce quarterly earnings Thursday, said it had no immediate comment.

Chatter online on popular Chinese social media platform Weibo also signaled high levels of interest in the new model, though still generally behind levels around the 2014 launch of the very successful iPhone 6.

Apple “geeks”

Xiao Ming, 32, who works for a blockchain start-up in Beijing, stayed up half the night when pre-sales of the iPhone X opened last week. He has also bought the iPhone 8.

“I always try to be one of the first to buy any new iPhone,” he said, adding he likes the new phone’s augmented reality and facial recognition features. “I’ll be very disappointed if I don’t get one on the first day.”

While he plans to buy the new phone, he noted many of his friends were less fussed. “Before, I think a lot of people would try to get it somehow, now it’s mostly the geeks,” he said.

“My friends don’t mind so much if they have an iPhone 8 or a 6, for example, because it looks similar and the price [of the iPhone X] makes you feel nervous.”

Re-sellers and iPhone accessory makers generally agreed there was a buzz about the iPhone X, Apple’s first phone to have a full-screen display and functions such as facial recognition security.

“People are really anticipating this phone because it’s the 10th anniversary version and it has more changes and modifications,” said Gary Yiu, manager of the iGeneration smartphone shop at one Hong Kong mall.

Iphone X
An attendee uses a new iPhone X during a presentation for the media in Beijing, China.

Yiu and three other phone re-sellers there said they had seen strong demand for the phone from mainland clients.

A merchant at the Huaqiangbei electronics hub in Shenzhen, who was offering an iPhone look-a-like called the “E-Feng X” from 1,599 yuan, said sales volumes were “very good.”

Some Chinese re-sellers, however, said they already canceled pre-orders for the iPhone X, concerned there wouldn’t be enough of a supply bottleneck to allow them to charge a steep premium — despite some worries about long waits.

“I saw many friends were posting pictures of themselves successfully ordering the iPhone X, so I canceled mine,” said Tony Tong, 29, a product manager at a tech firm in Beijing, who said he had ordered four phones in the hope of re-selling them for a profit. “The environment is bad for scalpers.”

Apple will hope payment plans and easy access to online credit in China will persuade people to buy.

Wang Hao, a 24-year-old engineer in the northeastern port city of Dalian, said he ordered the new phone despite the high price tag. His last phone was an iPhone 6S.

“The cost is about a month’s salary for me,” he told Reuters. “But I’m just used to it now, and there wasn’t really anything to make me choose another brand.” (VOA)

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‘India Won the 1962 War and Gandhiji was not Murdered’: Are New Textbooks in India Misinforming the Youth?

How can the youth know the struggles of the ancestors of the nation if they believe that we have a all-too-glorified past?

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New School Textbooks in India are not telling the real history to youth. Wikimedia

August 25, 2017: Fake news has become the biggest evil to true information. Exaggerated/ altered facts to support an ideological agenda has become increasingly common, combined with photoshopped images and fabricated videos.

But this misinformation when breaches the sacredness of education and knowledge, it takes the form of the most dangerous thing. Such fabricated tales are now available in the new textbooks in India.

History, in particular, has been twisted and told to young students of India. It is unfortunate that the textbooks which are to shape the able youth of the nation and telling outright lies.

ALSO READ: Politics and Education: A Relationship that contributes a lot in shaping our Future

Below are some of the incidents that have been explained differently than the reality:

THE MUGHALS

The Hindus have always hated the Mughal chapter of the Indian History. The Mughal Dynasty came to India for conquest and occupied the majority of the nation. The Dynasty which came from Central Asia ruled over the Indian subcontinent from 1526-1857 after which the White people took over. The slavery of Hindus in their own nation is a sad but true fact. The Mughal rule was also perceived as the authoritarian nature of Islam, although the interests that the dynasty was pursuing were purely political. The people who opposed the Mughal Dynasty in India included Chattrapati Shivaji, the Maratha King, along with Assam Kings Commander Lachit Borphukan, are well respected among the Hindu sect.

There was also an incident involving Mughal King Akbar and Rajput Chieftain Maharana Pratap. Maharana Pratap rejected becoming subordinate to Akbar. Hence, a war was waged which later came to be known as the Battle of Haldighati. Although Maharana’s Rajput forces gave a tough fight, it was outnumbered by Akbar’s huge military.

In July 2017, India Today reported that in the Class X textbooks of history, it is said that it was the Rajput forces that defeated the Mughals in the battle. This change was approved by the Rajasthan Board of Secondary Education during the period of revising state textbooks.

MAHATMA GANDHI

Nowhere in the Class VIII textbooks do the students find the story of Mahatma Gandhi’s assassination. The book does explore Gandhi’s life span, but it does not inform how the father of the nation was killed by Nathuram Godse. The Rajasthan Rajya Pathyapustak Mandal has published the textbook.

JAWAHARLAL NEHRU

The same textbook that has omitted Godse’s name has also forgotten Jawaharlal Nehru, India’s first PM and the longest one at that. While Nehru’s decisions during his leadership are of various debates, the book has not discussed the first PM and his role in reconstructing a newly independent and divided nation. However, the book has extensively mentioned the First President Rajendra Prasad and Sardar Patel. Indian Express reported how the political ideology has played a role here to hide the true picture of history. Nehru, for all his secular ideas and a different idea of the country, which was not so popular among some sects.

1962 WAR BETWEEN INDIA AND CHINA

India was taken off guard by an attack from the Chinese troops in 1962. India, which was still recovering from independence, lost embarrassingly. In the recent Dokhlam standoff, Chinese media has reminded India of the humiliating defeat. Needless to say, the 1962 Indo-Sino war left a mark on Indians.

But in Madhya Pradesh’s Sanskrit Textbooks for Class VIII students, it is claimed that India won the war. The book titled ‘Sukritika’ explicitly states, “What famously came to be known as Sino-India war of 1962 was won by India against China,” reports Times of India. The textbook is published by Kriti Prakashan and is used at CBSE affiliated schools in Madhya Pradesh.

THE UNFORTUNATE REALITY

Indian Express had also reported the dire need for improvement in Maharashtra. Important events of world history (and not just western history) such as the French and American Revolution, Magna Carta, Greek Academia, etc. are all replaced by the glorification of the Maratha dynasty.

These incidents are shameful when viewed from a citizen’s lens. How can one expect to believe knowledge and intellect when information itself is a lie? How can the youth know the struggles of the ancestors of the nation if they believe that we have an all-too-glorified past?


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New Research Suggests Modern Apples Evolved from Kazakhstan 10,000 years ago

The birth of the modern apples ultimately led to 7,500 varieties of the fruit

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Modern Day Apples evolved from Kazakhstan. Wikimedia
  • The latest research suggests that the modern apples originated from Kazakhstan
  • The study was carried out by researchers from Boyce Thompson Institute in the United States
  • It was the genetic exchange from traders who used the Silk Road that the modern apples emerged in Kazakhstan

US, August 17, 2017: A new study suggests that the modern apples that are so crisp, yet so juicy, actually originated from Kazakhstan 10,000 years ago.

The study by researchers at Boyce Thompson Institute (BTI) in the US reveal that during the back and forth traveling by traders on the Silk Road, the genetic exchange occurred that led to the emergence of modern day apples in Kazakhstan’s mountainous regions. Malus Domestica is the scientific name for our modern domesticated apples.

The Silk Road connected the East to the West. Hence, it led to an exposure of knowledge and ideas. Researchers hypothesize that this exchange of ideas resulted in the birth of the tasty Malus Domestica.

Lead Author of the study and Professor at Boyce Thompson Institute, Zhangjun Fei, explains his team’s study which is published in the journal Nature Communications.

ALSO READ: Fruits responsible for larger Brain size in Primates: Researchers

To carry out the study, the team of researchers sequenced 117 different apples and compared their genomes. These included the wild species extracted from Europe, North America, Central and East Asia.

The birth of the modern apples ultimately led to 7,500 varieties of the fruit. Interestingly, the quality of the fruit changed as from region to region as it first traveled from the East to the West. When the apples returned to go back to the west, the dropped seeds on the way helped the growth of trees in wild places.

M Sylvestris was dominant in the Apple’s growth. It’s ancestor, M Sieversii is found predominantly in Kazakhstan.

Our modern day apples have well-balanced sugar and higher organic acid contents. Hence, it is no wonder now that Apple is one of the favorite fruits for many people.

– prepared by Saksham Narula of NewsGram. Twitter: @Saksham2394


NewsGram is a Chicago-based non-profit media organization. We depend upon support from our readers to maintain our objective reporting. Show your support by Donating to NewsGram. Donations to NewsGram are tax-exempt.