Sci/Tech briefs

Sleeping helps memory storage

In a new study published in Science, researchers from Northwestern University indicated that sleeping is an important aid in memory development. This is different from the strategy of learning in one’s sleep, which has been generally disproven in scientific studies. Participants were told to remember the location of 50 separate objects on a screen, each accompanied by a sound. Those who took naps shortly after learning were better able to recall the association than the control group which did not nap. The sleeping group had the sound linked to the association played to them while asleep.
While the study provides interesting results, it raises more questions than it resolves. Applications such as studying while listening to music and then listening to the music while sleeping are intriguing, but John Rudoy, the author of the paper, explained that more work is needed.

Source: ABC News

California limits television energy usage

This past Wednesday, California became the first state in the nation to impose limits on how much energy television sets can consume. The new California Energy Commission regulation aims to reduce TV power drain by 33 percent by 2011 and 50 percent by 2013. The rules apply to all televisions sold in California except those larger than 58 inches. Because California represents such a large segment of consumers, these regulations will have widespread effects.
With flat-screen sets replacing older cathode ray tube televisions, the energy drain has increased in recent years and is estimated at 10 percent of household electricity usage in California. Environmental advocates hope that the reduction in television energy consumption, along with other energy reforms, will reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 3 million metric tons in the next 10 years.

Source: Reuters

Mammogram report creates controversy

A report released Monday by the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force, an independent company, stating that women should not get routine mammograms until age 50 has come under fire over the past week. The report justifies its decision not to recommend screenings between age 40 and 50 by claiming that false positives cause unnecessary stress given the number of actual positive cases.
A number of organizations have opposed the report, saying that traditional recommendations of regular mammograms after age 40 are important for early detection of breast cancer. The American Cancer Society and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) both opposed the findings. HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius and the White House noted that the report does not reflect government policy and that government programs will continue to support regular screenings.