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     Volume 4 Issue 26 | December 24, 2004 |

   Cover Story
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Waiting for a Chocolate Sundae Turns it Tastier
Waiting for the delivery of your new dress from the showroom or that tempting chocolate sundae you wish to eat post dinner, may seem to be a torture but it is actually a blessing in disguise, say researchers from Arizona State University and the University of Arizona. The findings reveal that the effects on consumers of delayed enjoyment of a product can cause both good and bad effects, depending on the nature of the wait. Stephen Nowlis, professor of marketing at Arizona State University and his colleagues summarise three studies that sought to fill a research void with regard to consumer wait and found that waiting for a product only enhances the consumption pleasures. "Delay increases consumption enjoyment for pleasurable products when actual consumption occurs but decreases enjoyment for imagined consumption. This was made salivatingly sure when study subjects were forced to wait a half-hour between choosing a chocolate candy and actually being able to eat it-even though they could see it. The subsequent enjoyment was pretty significant," the authors write.

A Spectacle that can Adjust to the Eye Power
A professor from Oxford University has devised a new kind of eye glass that has the adaptability of changing itself to the change in the visual power of the eyes. Dr Joshua Silver has invented a pair of glasses that range from powers of +12 dioptre to -12 dioptre and can be adjusted according to the visual power of the eye. Although not available in the market, it is expected to be affordable to even the weaker sections of the society. The spectacles are based on the principle of fluid filled lenses. The spectacles comprise of two concave membranes with a gap in between. It has a small cylinder replete with silicon oil. When this oil is filled into the gap in between the two membranes by the help of the pump attached to the cylinder, the lens slowly becomes convex, thus adjusting itself to the visual power of the eye.

Some Video Games are Harmful for Kids!!!
With the increase in the negative influence of video games on kids, it has become imperative for the games industry to ensure that parents know which video games are suitable for children. Children all over the world may be playing games aimed at adults, which include high levels of violence. Parents spend millions on video games and consoles. Violent games have been hit by controversy after the game Manhunt was blamed by the parents of 14-year-old Stefan Pakeerah, who was stabbed to death in Leicester in February. His mother claimed that the teenager who murdered her son had mimicked behaviour in the game. The issue of warnings on games for adults was raised by British Trade and Industry Secretary Patricia Hewitt. Adults can make informed choices about what games to play. Children can't and they deserve to be protected. The Industry will consider how to make sure parents know what games their children should and shouldn't play said Culture Secretary Tessa Jowell. Formulation of proposals to promote greater understanding, recognition and awareness of the games rating system should be made to ensure that young people are not exposed to inappropriate contents.

Safest Car on the Road
Silver cars are much less likely to be involved in a serious crash than cars of other colours, suggests a new study of over 1000 cars. People driving in silver cars were 50 per cent less likely to suffer serious injury in a crash compared with drivers of white cars. White, yellow, grey, red and blue cars carried about the same risk of injury. But those taking to the roads in black, brown or green cars were twice as likely to suffer a crash with serious injury. Sue Furness, at the University of Auckland, led the study but says the team does not know why silver cars appear safer. "We think it may be due to a combination of light colour and high reflectivity," she speculates. She suggests that increasing the proportion of silver cars on the road might provide a "passive strategy" to cut car crash injuries. "If there's proof that certain colours are safer and easier to see in all road conditions that might be useful to people in terms of purchasing a car," says Roger Vincent, of the UK Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents. But he adds: "A lot of people will buy things purely on fashion."

Sound Processing in an Alternate Way
A new study conducted by scientists at the University of California, San Francisco suggests that the brains of rats can be trained to learn an alternate way of processing changes in the loudness of sound. This discovery according to them has potential for the treatment of hearing loss, autism and other sensory disabilities in humans. It also gives clues, they say, about the process of learning and the way we perceive the world. The team led by Daniel B. Polley trained two groups of rats to become " experts" at discriminating between very small differences in loudness - an ability that untrained rats do not have. Then they looked at how the expert rats processed changes in loudness compared to two groups of untrained rats and found that the auditory cortex in the expert rats contained groups of neurons that had become selective for specific volume levels. They fired only at those levels and were quiet otherwise. Tests confirmed that the untrained rats' brains were not registering volume increases in this new way; it had been learned by the expert rats as they became better at discriminating changes in volume. "There is still proportionality between response strength in the brain and the stimulus. But now neurons are much more selective, and can represent sound intensity with decreasing firing rates as well as increasing firing rates," Polley added.


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