Dec. 14 Weekly News

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Addressing dramatic rise of dementia cases

A new report released by Alzheimer’s Disease International estimates that the number of people with dementia will rise from 44 million to 135 million by 2050. Today 38% of dementia patients are in rich countries; however, by 2050 71% of people with the condition are expected to be in poor and middle-income regions such as South East Asia and Africa. As life expectancies rise, the numbers of seniors will grow dramatically; however, most countries aren’t prepared for this global epidemic. G8 Dementia Summit in London provides a wonderful opportunity to develop action plans to overcome this serious issue. Research is crucial to the effort to cut dementia cases, and 50% reduction of cases of people dying with the disease can be achieved through intervention to delay the onset of Alzheimer’s by five years, according to Rebecca Wood, the chief executive of Alzheimer’s Research UK.

 

Shanghai teenagers distinguish themselves in PISA 2012

Young students in Shanghai, aged 15 and 16, outperformed their peers around the world in mathematics, reading, and science, according to Program for International Student Assessment (PISA), a leading survey conducted every three years by a Paris-based Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development.

According to the global education survey, over half a million students from 65 nations participated in the two-hour exam last year, and students in East Asia occupied seven of the top ten places in all three subjects.  Singapore ranked second in math, followed by Hong Kong, Taiwan, South Korea, and Macau. Japan ranked 7th overall.

The United States of America ranked 36th, performing below average in math. The United Kingdom ranked 26th, equivalent to average in math and reading. Part of the reason why Shanghai students outshone their peers in other countries in the exam is that they have the motivation and confidence to fulfill their potential.

PISA has not published the test results of other Chinese cities because not enough regions participated in the exam; nevertheless, data on China as a whole is expected to be available in the next survey in 2015.

 

Violence in capital of Ukraine

Protests in Kiev, the capital of Ukraine, met with riot police crackdowns. As tension escalated due to the government's unwillingness to sign a deal with the EU, the opposition took to the street. Weeks of demonstrations had disrupted the daily lives of the people of Ukraine. Nonetheless, such drastic measure by the government to curb protests has met with harsh words from the United States Department of State.

 

Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych urged all parties, including the opposition, to sit down for talks to resolve the political crisis. He further added that the authorities would "never use force against peaceful protests."

 

Give me "Sympathize"!

During Facebook hackathons, engineers from the renowned company would brainstorm ideas to implement in the company's products. The idea of changing "like" button to "sympathize" button would suit certain messages, such as when  somebody's family member died.

 

The idea is currently internal and not yet to be publicly launched.

 

 

Using tongue piercing to drive wheelchair more efficiently

Scientists found that a new device of a tiny magnetic tongue piercing could help people living with paralysis drive their wheelchairs more efficiently. Movements of the tongue is detected by sensors on the cheeks and transformed into commands to a wheelchair. The tongue is a unique body part; it is very deft, controlled by a great portion of the brain and not affected by spinal injuries. Researchers at the Georgia Institute of Technology studied the effectiveness of the tongue’s movements in generating instructions to a wheelchair. The result shows that the new device is three times more efficient than the old sip-and-puff system, which requires a tetraplegic patient to inhale or exhale on a straw, tube, or wand. The researchers plan to make the expensive device accessible to patients after it is approved by the US regulator.