Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Scientists Develop IQ Test for Dogs

How smart is your dog? Researchers have created a test to answer that question.

In a study published in February in the journal Intelligence, scientists Rosalind Arden and Mark Adam tested the intelligence of 68 border collies from working farms in Wales. They found that, like humans, dogs that did well on one test tended to do well on others. It’s the first time that this similarity between human and canine intelligence has been demonstrated, and suggests the test can also be used to accurately gauge dog smarts in the future. The researchers also noted that the more quickly a dog responded to prompts in a test, the more accurate the dog’s responses tended to be. 

These finding are “consistent with the prediction made by the many experts in the ‘dog world’—trainers, veterinarians, members of dog societies, and farmers—who were consulted in the early stages of this study,” the authors write. “Those experts said that in their experience some dogs were more likely to catch on, learn and solve problems more quickly than others,” which the study confirmed.

The paper argues that a better measure of smarts in “other species will constitute a major advance in understanding the evolution of intelligence.” Particularly since dogs don’t engage in human behaviors like drinking and smoking and aren’t generally affected by socio-economic factors in the same way as humans (all of which can affect IQ), they represent a good model for understanding the link between genetics and intelligence, the researchers note.

To evaluate the animals’ intelligence, they gave them a number of tests, which included such tasks as choosing which of two plates had a larger portion of food and navigating a maze-like entryway to figure out how best to reach a treat hidden behind a barrier.

Cancer Took His Wife. Now He's CEO Of One Of The Most Audacious Cancer Startups In Years

Jeff Huber, who helped lead the development of Google’s ad software and its iconic maps application will be the chief executive of Grail, a startup that raised $100 million last month to create a blood test to detect cancer early, when it is treatable.

His reasons are scientific, but also personal. On November 10, Huber’s wife Laura, died of colon cancer. She left behind two children, ages 12 and 14. “That’s a big part of why I’m taking this up,” Huber says.

Before Laura became sick, Huber was already turning his focus toward biology. He missed the energy of his early days at Google GOOGL +2.09%, the early days of ads, of Google Apps, of Google Maps. Rather than jumping back into building a big system at Google, it felt to him that biology was going through a “phase change,” like the transition from analog to digital. The ability to get huge amounts of data–like DNA sequence–would allow researchers to understand complex biological systems. And he had the expertise to help with that revolution.

He joined the board of directors at Illumina ILMN +2.44%, the company that has pushed forward dramatic increase in scientists’ ability to read DNA code. He focused his own projects on life science.
Then cancer crept up on Laura. She was 46, super-healthy, super-fit and full of energy. She had no family history of cancer. She felt her energy ebb, he says, and at first the doctor just told her she was going through menopause. But the diagnosis didn’t seem to fit, and they decided on more tests. And endoscopy and colonoscopy were expected to turn up irritable bowel syndrome, or perhaps, at worst, Crohn’s disease, the inflammatory bowel disorder.

Instead, they found a two-centimeter colorectal cancer tumor. Still, the news seemed good. The tumor was small, and the chances that surgery would cure her seemed high. But before performing surgery, doctors did a standard test: they gave her a bit of radioactive glucose. Cancer loves glucose, the body’s main form of sugar, and as a result the radioactive form makes tumors light up on a PET scan. Laura had cancer in her liver, throughout her abdomen, through her chest, and all they way up to her neck.
They attacked the cancer with every drug they could, all sorts of chemotherapy and, toward the end, new drugs that boost the immune system. “By the time she was diagnosed, by the time she was in treatment, the cancer had spread extensively, was attacking other systems in the body, had evolved further and it was just too aggressive,” Huber says. Laura died three months ago today.

As his family had its personal battle with cancer, Huber had been watching a new idea for fighting the disease take root from his board seat at Illumina. The company had been looking for new uses for its DNA sequencing machines, and its scientists thought that they had found clues that they could detect cancer early with a blood test.

Daily Inspirational Quote - February 10, 2016

“When life puts you in tough situations don’t say “Why me?” just say “Try me!”

There are times when all of us are faced with difficult situations and I guess we have two choices. We can either, feel sorry for ourselves and go into total “poor me” mode, or we can “man…or woman up” and think of ways to resolve whatever it is. Perhaps the tough situations presented to us are life’s way of testing us, just to see how we cope and hopefully overcome our difficulties. It would then be to our credit to adopt a brave, confident outlook and deal with them.


What If Schools Taught Kindness?

"The school environment can be very stressful; in addition to any issues they bring from home, many students struggle to make friends and perform well in class. Being excluded, ignored, or teased is very painful for a young child, and we thought it could be impactful to teach empathy and compassion. When other kids are suffering-- like that boy who split his chin-- can we understand how they might be feeling? Kindness bridges those gaps and helps build a sense of connection among the students, the teachers, and even the parents. Learning to strengthen their attention and regulate their emotions are foundational skills that could benefit kids in school and throughout their whole lives."

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Ten Do-It-Yourself Valentine’s Day Card Ideas

Valentine’s Day is Sunday, and stores all across the United States have stocked their shelves with pink and red cards, chocolates, flowers and teddy bears. Whoever your Valentine is this year—whether it’s your boyfriend, girlfriend, husband, wife, best friend, mom or dad—below are some creative homemade Valentine’s Day card ideas that are sure to impress.

Chipotle to Invest Up to $10 Million to Help Suppliers Grow Safer Food

Chipotle will spend up to $10 million on an initiative to help its smaller suppliers produce safer meat and vegetables, company founder, chairman and co-CEO Steve Ells said.

Ells made the announcement during Chipotle's companywide meeting Monday morning, parts of which were broadcast on live video streaming service Periscope.

The money will be used to provide help with education and the implementation of Chipotle's new food safety standards, he said. Those new standards include DNA testing on all ingredients before they are shipped to restaurants.

"It's important for us to support small and medium-sized farmers whenever we can. However, it may be difficult for some of our small suppliers to meet our new food safety standards," Ells said.

Chipotle restaurants nationwide were closed until 3 p.m. in local time zones for the meeting, where executives talked to staff about food safety outbreaks, including cases of E. coli, salmonella and norovirus that have hit Chipotle in the last several months. Stores typically open at 11 a.m.

Chipotle offered a coupon for a free burrito, bowl, salad or tacos to those who went for lunch on Monday when the restaurants were closed.

Daily Inspirational Quote - February 9, 2016

“Ask for what you want and be prepared to get it!”

My wonderful Scottish Grannie had a favorite saying, “If you don’t ask, you don’t get!” It’s my mantra for life. I am such a great believer in always asking for what you want, because if you never ask, how will you know if you would have got it? If you know what I mean? Usually, when we put our request “out there” we consign it to the ether and, if nothing happens in the following five minutes, (for us impatient souls), we tend to push it to the back of our minds as day to day matters take over. I believe that every time we remember our wish it gives it a little push nearer to becoming reality.


The Anatomy of Gratitude

Brother David Steindl-Rast, Benedictine monk, teacher and author, speaks with Krista Tippett about gratitude -- a practice increasingly recognized as a key to human well-being. An early pioneer, along with Thomas Merton, of dialogue between Christian and Buddhist monastics, he sees mysticism as the birthright of every human being. And his anatomy of gratitude is full-blooded, reality-based, and redeeming.