Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Research on Bees' Eyes Should Enhance Photo Lenses

A team of Australian scientists has unlocked the mystery of how bees can successfully identify colors across varying light conditions, and it involves three extra eyes on the top of their heads called ocelli. The function of these extra eyes has never been fully understood, but new research discovered each ocelli contains two upwards pointing color receptors that can accurately measure the color of ambient light. This allows bees to better identify the true color of an object and target their flower of choice across a variety of light conditions.
One of the researchers mapped the neural tracings from the ocelli and discovered that these receptors are connected to the parts of a bee's brain responsible for color perception. The only question remaining was how these two particular color receptors could allow the bees to interpret the entire color spectrum from red to ultraviolet?
The team built a mathematical model showing that if the ocelli focused on two specific wavelengths, ultraviolet and blue, they could cover most typical light levels a bee would encounter in their natural environment. This model accurately explains why bees cannot successfully interpret flower colors under yellow artificial light and also why bees with blocked ocelli generally forage only in the middle of the day when light conditions are constant.
This research offers a clever, and simple, solution to achieving color constancy across our camera, robotic and drone systems. By incorporating two small, skyward pointing sensors in a camera to register the color of the ambient light, the researchers suggest that an object's true color could be identified across most light conditions.
As well as having benefits for general photography, the technique could prove extremely useful in industrial applications, bringing improvements in machine vision that would sort colored objects, such as ripe fruits or mineral-rich sands, to be identified easily across a variety of complex illumination conditions.
"The strength of this study lies in the combination of modeling, behavioral analysis, and neuro-anatomy," says Professor Marcello Rosa, one of the authors of the study. "It shows how modern, interdisciplinary neuroscience can point to an elegant solution to classical problems in vision."
The team's study was published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS).

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Colorful Foods Contribute to Prettier, Smoother Skin

If you want a smoother, clearer complexion, Jessica Wu, M.D., assistant clinical professor of dermatology at USC Medical School and a dermatologist in Los Angeles, encourages you to toss all these fortifying Feed Your Face foods into your grocery cart.

Definitely one of your skin’s best defenses, tomatoes contain a powerful antioxidant called lycopene. While studies have not yet been entirely conclusive, many suggest that lycopene may be responsible for helping to protect the skin against sun damage.
Lycopene is best absorbed by the body when it has been cooked or processed, so eating tomato sauce, tomato paste, and ketchup is likely to be more effective than just eating raw tomatoes when trying to safeguard your skin against harmful UV rays. Lycopene is also fat soluble, which means that it is absorbed more easily when consumed with fat, such as eggs, avocado, and olive oil.

Red Meat
Sometimes it gets a bad rap, and even though red meat does contain saturated fat and cholesterol, lean red meat is one of Dr. Wu’s favorite Feed Your Face foods because it’s so high in protein and zinc. In fact, recent studies suggest that red meat may be even better at treating acne than antibiotics.
To produce collagen, your skin needs the amino acids glycine and proline, and the protein in red meat has the highest concentration of these two amino acids. The mineral zinc is also crucial for collagen production. “It’s an essential cofactor,” says Dr. Wu. “Without enough zinc, it’s difficult for the skin to make collagen. Plus, zinc is a natural anti-inflammatory.” And vegetarians don’t need to miss out. Dr. Wu adds that high concentrations of glycine can also be found in seafood, proline in cottage cheese and cabbage, and zinc in lentils, kidney beans, and raw oysters.

Green Tea
It’s no secret that green tea is an antioxidant powerhouse. Its strong anti-inflammatory and anti-aging effects are attributed to its high concentration of catechin compounds. Studies have shown that green tea can be used both orally and topically to help protect the skin from sunburns and UV-associated skin cancers. Research also suggests that drinking one cup of green tea twice a day over the course of six months may actually reverse sun damage and significantly improve any problems you have with redness and broken capillary veins.

Green Beans
As long as we’re going green, let’s talk about how these low-calorie beans can help you grow thicker hair and healthier nails. Green beans are a star Feed Your Face food because they’re one of the richest sources of silicon — not to be confused with silicone, which is found in bad lip jobs and breast implants! The USDA has not yet established recommended daily intakes (RDIs) of silicon, but 10 mg per day seems to be adequate for strengthening hair and nails, according to recent studies. Dr. Wu recommends choosing organic green beans, since they retain more silicon from the soil. Don’t like green beans? You can also get your silicon fix from volcanic mineral waters such as Volvic, which contains 14.5 mg per liter.