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R emarkable e s e a r c h 34

Medicine

Psychology

History

Vaccine protects macaques from monkey AIDS

Speaking too fast makes you sound fake

Neanderthals Much Older Than Expected

A new vaccine contains genes stitched into the cytomegalovirus (CMV), a genetically modified and almost harmless version of SIV; the ‘monkey version’ of HIV. The modified virus produces antibodies, which protects the monkeys from getting infected with SIV.

Do you have a pitch or presentation coming up? Try to use 3,5 words per second, pause every once in a while and speak in a flat voice.

According to new research, Neanderthals became extinct about 10,000 years earlier than was previously presumed. This means that modern humans and Neanderthals probably didn’t mingle much.

During an experiment, 24 macaques were vaccinated with the modified virus. One year later, 12 of them were still protected from SIV. According to leading researcher Louis Picker, these results can be very useful in the process of developing a vaccine against HIV. The vaccine also works over a longer period of time, because it stimulates the production of the central memory T cells. Upon a real infection, these white blood cells expand and mount an attack. Currently, Picker’s team is not ready to move the vaccine into human studies because of safety concerns about . The virus causes no harm in healthy people, but it can hurt a fetus, leading to vision and hearing loss as well as mental retardation, and can even cause blindness in immune-deficient children and adults who have diseases like HIV. Picker and his colleagues are now trying to make a weakened CMV that cannot cause disease under any circumstances. “We’re fairly far along on it,” he says. “But we’re going to have to prove that it’s safe and still protective.”

American scientists from the University of Michigan studied almost 1400 telephone conversations, held by 100 male and female telemarketers. During the calls, telemarkets attempted to persuade people to participate in a telephone survey. The researchers analysed the speaking rate, the tone of voice and the number of times the telemarketers inserted small pauses. The results showed that interviewers who spoke moderately fast, at a rate of about 3.5 words per second, were much more successful at getting people to agree than either interviewers who spoke very quickly or very slowly. Speaking too fast was perceived as ‘artificial’ and ‘pushy’, while speaking too slowly signals slow-wittedness. More surprisingly, ‘flat’ voices proved to be more trustworthy than animated voices. “We assumed that interviewers who sounded animated and lively, with a lot of variation in the pitch of their voices, would be more successful,” said Benki, leading author, “But in fact we found only a marginal effect of variation in pitch by interviewers on success rates. It could be that variation in pitch could be helpful for some interviewers but for others, too much pitch variation sounds artificial, like people are trying too hard. So it backfires and puts people off.”

Thanks to a new and improved method of carbon dating, researchers discovered that the ‘youngest’ Neanderthal bones ever found, are actually 39,000 years old. Modern humans started migrating from the Near East to Europe 44,000 years ago, so the overlap is not as extensive as most archaeologists believed it to be. “There was a degree of contemporaneity, but it may not have been very long,” said Thomas Higham, who supervised the study. However, this does not answer the question why 2,5 % of the human genome is derived from Neanderthals. Higham believes that humans and Neanderthals did not interbreed 40,000 years ago, but rather 100,000 years ago when the two species met in the Near East. Empirical evidence for this theory, however, has not yet been found. Modern humans and Neanderthals occupied the same sites in what is now Israel, but it is not clear that the populations overlapped.

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Remarkable research June  

Remarkable research June

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