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Mourning also goes virtual!

first_imgSenior-most member in my family, my Radhechi (her name is Radha) passed away peacefully in the early morning hours of October 2 at her residence in Cheruvathur (Kerala). She was 98, her husband predeceased her and they had no children. Ok, what’s special about her? Quite a lot.Radhechi is the eldest daughter of my mother’s eldest sister and was the last surviving member from her/our generation in that branch. Her brother and two younger sisters had left this world much earlier aggravating her lifelong loneliness. She was spending her last days with her nephew and family who looked after her giving excellent care. She was happy when we met her a couple of years ago.Born in the early 1920s, Radhechi was a widow in her late 20s by the time I was in school. She was married to a person in an interior village Iritty. He died of a snake bite.After my marriage when I visited Iritty side, during the 1970s I met one elderly person who was present in the house where Radhechi’s husband was declared dead after the snake bite. Eyewitness descriptions of such sad situations linger on in one’s mind, though one hasn’t met any of the Dramatis Personae and long years have passed after the event.Radhechi remained a widow for more than a decade during which period her only brother and two younger sisters got married. Then there was a twist in her life. A High School teacher married her. Though without any children, the couple lived happily for two or three decades. When Radhechi’s husband died, she started living with her sister’s children.That was the beginning of a new active segment in her life. They were living near a temple. Radhechi started actively involving in the cultural and social activities around the temple.She became part of different social groups enjoying poetry (Aksharashloka Group), spirituality (Reading Narayaneeyam) and so on. Cheruvathur area will remember Radhechi for a long time to come.Very few members of the family could attend Radhechi’s last rites. Many exchanged messages sharing memories and photographs.Had a taste of “Virtual Mourning”.last_img read more

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UK and Russia agree historic energy pact

first_img“The UK’s relationship with Russia is one of our most important international partnerships,” said Mr Blair. UK and Russia agree historic energy pact Linkedin Vietnam: scaling back coal-fired plans toward gas, renewables Facebook EmissionsAir Pollution Control Equipment ServicesOn-Site PowerPolicy & Regulation RELATED ARTICLESMORE FROM AUTHOR Speaking at the opening of the Russia-UK energy summit at Lancaster House, UK Prime Minister Tony Blair celebrated the long established and growing partnership with Russia, which has helped bring security and prosperity to both countries. Twitter Russia’s growing importance in international fora – and particularly its involvement in the Kyoto process also featured prominently in discussions. – The signing of the memorandum of co-operation on a North- European gas pipeline between the Russian Federation and the UK by UK Energy Minister Stephen Timms, and Russian Energy Minister Igor Yusufov; Linkedin Today’s summit, jointly hosted by the UK Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) and the Ministry of Energy of the Russian Federation, provided the forum for commercial and diplomatic agreements between the two countries including: Previous articleContracts awarded for world’s largest gas turbine combined cycle power plant from Taiwan Power Co.Next articleFitch U.S. utility briefing: ‘Daylight, but not much sunshine’ chloecox The growing importance of Russia as a key energy partner, was also underlined by Trade and Industry Secretary Patricia Hewitt. She said:”While this summit has provided an opportunity for us to cement our relations in energy markets, we also share a common commitment to reducing carbon emissions. Facebook New Jersey utility regulators extend zero-carbon breaks for PSEG nuclear power plants 26 June 2003 – The growing economic ties between the UK and the Russian Federation were strengthened today as the countries’ leaders agreed to work together on increasing investment and development in energy. Mississippi Power cutting stakes in coal-fired, gas-fired stations to reduce excess MW, emissions TAGSComEd Twitter Mr Blair hailed the recent reforms in Russia’s energy sector, overseen by President Putin, as a “concrete testament to the UK’s long-term confidence in Russia”. He noted the growing involvement of British companies. Recent investments in the energy sector – particularly by BP and Shell – have made the UK the largest overseas investor in Russia, with trade last year worth £3billion. – Agreement on closer energy co-operation on energy at government level, particularly with a view to increasing energy security; improving the climate for investment; preserving the environment; and tackling climate change. “Working together we can achieve our mutual goals of global stability, economic growth, and international development as well as helping each other to reach our own goals – the sure sign of a true partnership.” “We have just published a new energy policy, that, for the first time, puts the creation of low carbon economy at its heart, and I am very keen for us to work together further to achieve this aim”. By chloecox – 6.26.2003 With its huge reserves and proximity to the UK, Russia will play an important part in guaranteeing secure and stable energy supplies. The proposals to create a North European gas pipeline from Russia to the UK were welcomed by the UK today, with the signing of a formal agreement on co-operation by UK Energy Minister Stephen Timms and Russian Energy Minister Igor Yusofov. No posts to displaylast_img read more

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Putin’s way of war

first_imgThis week, cybersecurity researchers produced compelling new evidence linking Russia’s GRU military intelligence service to the hacks of Democrats during the 2016 campaign.The findings, released in an 11-page report by the firm CrowdStrike, showed that the same group of hackers who broke into the Democratic National Committee and Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta’s inbox had also backdoored a mobile app used by Ukrainian soldiers to target artillery, with devastating results.Democrats, looking for proof that the Kremlin had indeed hacked the DNC, saw the report as partisan ammunition. The researchers were able to identify shared digital fingerprints to show that the same culprits were behind both set of intrusions, and thus connect the hacks to the GRU, Russia’s top military intel arm. But that wasn’t the most interesting, or surprising, aspect of CrowdStrike’s report. What was stunning was how it revealed a level of detail into modern warfare that we have rarely, if ever seen before.Welcome to war’s new normal.***The story of the Ukraine hacks begins in 2013, a full year before the country’s corrupt and widely despised president, Viktor Yanukovych, was ousted in a popular uprising, and the subsequent annexation of Crimea and invasion of Eastern Ukraine by Russia.Yaroslav Shershuk, an officer attached to Ukraine’s 55th Artillery Brigade, was writing an app for his phone.His unit still used aging Soviet-era D-30 howitzers, and entering targeting data into it was a manual process. It would take minutes, and it was prone to error. But with his new app Поправки-Д30, (“Correction D-30”), computing the correct inputs for the howitzer could be done accurately in just seconds and with just a few taps of a smartphone. CrowdStrike’s investigation gives rare insight into a category of cyber-warfare that is little known, and operates entirely in the shadows: the use of hacking to provide tactical battlefield intelligence, rather than foreign intelligence espionage or malware-based sabotage, such as destroying centrifuges (as in the case of Stuxnet) or remotely wiping entire computer networks (Saudi Aramco).Russia is not alone in its use of cyber-enabled military operations. The United States undoubtedly uses many of the same techniques for tactical battlefield advantage, as former CIA director Michael Hayden hinted when he said during a symposium in April 2014: “We kill people based on metadata.” On the battlefield, the smartphone in your pocket might be convenient, but it might also be working against you, exposing your position for opposition forces to target and engage you.It’s also a hard category of cyber-attacks to investigate. After all, when many computers all stop working suddenly, it’s not unreasonable to infer a cyber-attack took place. A thorough forensic investigation is an obvious next step. But it’s much less intuitive to begin a forensic investigation for malware in the remains of a smartphone when investigating a smoking crater in, say, Waziristan, Yemen or Eastern Ukraine.It might not be possible in any case. The smartphone may be destroyed, and, by definition, the remains of the phone are in the middle of a warzone. Often, only the hackers and their military superiors will ever know of the pivotal role they played in a military campaign; a fact kept secret to preserve the hackers’ continued access and their effectiveness.This is cyber-enabled hybrid warfare. Simple, but effective.Like the Podesta and DNC hacks, the attack on Ukraine’s artillery personnel wasn’t especially sophisticated. Tricking Ukrainian officers into downloading the wrong app didn’t take some great feat of technical engineering to pull off. But like the DNC and Podesta hacks, it was a feat of social engineering: exploiting a desire for convenience to achieve a strategic goal. The unofficial app was so useful that Shershuk decided to share it online with his fellow officers, and it got some attention. According to Shershuk, eventually more than 9,000 artillery personnel were using it, and it was widely used by Ukrainian forces in training, and by artillery units deployed in Eastern Ukraine.But Russia’s GRU military intelligence agency was paying attention, too.In November, the world watched as Yanukovych walked away from a long-negotiated landmark agreement to bring Ukraine closer to the European Union, launching the so-called Euromaidan protests that would eventually oust him.But away from the television cameras, someone was sharing a variant of Shershuk’s app on Ukrainian military forums that was harboring a dark secret. On its surface, the app acted as before, reducing the time to target and fire the howitzers. But hidden inside was the X-Agent malware — one of the primary malware families used by Russia’s GRU military intelligence agency — a variant of which would be later used in the hack of the DNC in the United States in 2016.Officers using the backdoored version of Shershuk’s app would see no difference between it and the original, but in the modified edition, the hidden malware would secretly steal text messages, contacts lists, call-logs, and — most devastatingly — location data from the phone and broadcast it to Moscow’s spies, allowing Russia to spy from a distance, or expose and engage them militarily.The operation was lethally successful. In the two years of war since, Ukraine’s artillery forces have taken heavy damage; more than 80 percent of the country’s D-30 howitzers were wiped out. Downloading the wrong app had led to real deaths. The Democrats’ emails weren’t stolen so that Russia’s intelligence agencies could read them secretly in their heavily guarded headquarters; they were published to affect election media coverage and drive an outcome. In the hack of Ukrainian officers, the stolen location data was fed into a different domain as well: It was passed to the Russian military so that they could target and engage Ukrainian artillery positions.For the Democrats, the consequence of being socially engineered was having to watch an election campaign derailed by wall-to-wall coverage of their private emails.For officers in Ukraine, the consequences of their mistake were more final.Matt Tait is CEO and founder of Capital Alpha Security, a UK-based cyber-security consultancy. Previously he has worked for Google’s Project Zero, U.S. cybersecurity firm iSEC Partners, and as an information security specialist at British Intelligence Agency GCHQ. Also On POLITICO Putin on Trump: ‘Nobody believed he would win except for us’ By POLITICOlast_img read more

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Senate passes short-term spending bill to avert shutdown

first_imgHer statement came after White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said Tuesday that the president had instructed his Cabinet secretaries to search for spare money within their agencies that could be repurposed for a border wall — a move that is unlikely to produce funds amounting to the $5 billion Trump is seeking.Schumer and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) rejected an offer from McConnell on Tuesday because it provided $1 billion more than they were willing to accept for border security, deeming it a “slush fund.” With effective veto power over any deal and no appetite to hand Trump a political win, Democrats have not budged in recent days in their demands that Homeland Security funding stay flat, and in their insistence that they will give no more than $1.3 billion for border fencing.Pelosi declared support for the short-term package on Wednesday, calling the failed talks a “missed opportunity.”McConnell attributed Democrats’ refusal to agree to a permanent funding measure to malevolence.“It seems like political spite for the president may be winning out over sensible policy, even sensible policies that are more modest than border security allocations which many Democrats supported themselves, in the recent past,” McConnell said, needling Democrats for their “allergy to sensible immigration policies.”When the latest funding bill is approved, Congress will have delayed the border wall fight three times since September. But the House is expected to vote on the package Thursday — a full day ahead of the deadline — and there it will likely have broad support from both parties, according to multiple aides.With Trump softening his demands for $5 billion for the wall in the waning days of the GOP Congress, McConnell (R-Ky.) worked to avoid a political blunder four days before Christmas. Democrats and some Republicans had advocated for longer-term deals on all the government departments except for the Department of Homeland Security, but Trump’s demands for $5 billion in border wall funding have made broad funding deals difficult.Instead the chamber decided to defer the fight until next year, when Democrats will take over the House.“It’s good that our Republican colleagues in the Senate finally realized that they should not shut down the government over a wall that does not have enough support to pass the House or Senate,” said Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.).Still the night was not without drama. Several Western senators held up the spending bill until late Wednesday evening trying to get a public lands bill passed, but Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah) blocked passage of it over a dispute over his state’s treatment under the measure. Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) said she had commitments to bring the bill up next year, but Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Colo.) said he was “doggone upset” that Lee didn’t allow the bill to pass on Wednesday as senators prepared to pack it in for the year.But eventually, the spending bill passed without any dissent by voice vote. The quick vote was evidence that few in the Senate wanted to fight about the border wall late into the holiday season with the president sending mixed messages about what he would sign and if he was still “proud” to shut the government down. The punt sets up yet another confrontation for early next year, when Pelosi is expected to take over the House majority as speaker and will start with yet another immediate funding deadline upon her. But there’s no reason to expect Democrats to give in next year: In fact, without a GOP Congress there’s almost no chance Trump will get more border funding, absent a broader deal on immigration.Pelosi will take the mantle in January with a fresh chance to unite her caucus around defying Trump. She and her lieutenants have repeatedly said they will try to jam Senate Republicans with funding bills stripped of new wall funding, pressuring McConnell to put them on the floor or risk a funding lapse on the GOP’s terms.Rep. Steny Hoyer (D-Md.), who will become House majority leader in January, suggested the House would pass a bipartisan six-bill package early next year that also freezes funding for the Department of Homeland Security — yet another punt on a broader immigration fight.“We’re not going to get Homeland done,” Hoyer told reporters Tuesday when asked about next year. “The wall’s not going to be resolved.”This week’s bill will not include any emergency disaster relief for communities ravaged by wildfires in California or struck by Hurricane Michael in Florida, according to multiple aides.Lawmakers from both California and Florida had been pushing hard for billions of dollars for disaster aid in a year-end spending deal, something that GOP spending leaders in both the House and Senate had vowed to deliver. Money was also expected to go to Indonesia, where an earthquake and tsunami killed more than 2,100 people this fall. The short-term funding bill will also postpone into the next Congress a monthslong fight over reauthorizing the Violence Against Women Act. The domestic violence law will be renewed until Feb. 8, without the dramatic overhaul that many House Democrats have sought.The National Flood Insurance Program — a debt-ridden program drained by a string of natural disasters in recent years — will also be extended through that date. Also On POLITICO Trump threatens government shutdown By Jake Sherman and Anna Palmercenter_img It has been a week of about-faces for the White House that have induced whiplash on Capitol Hill. Though Trump declared he would absorb the blame if he didn’t get the wall funding he has been demanding, it now appears he is willing to sign a short-term funding measure.Leaving lunch with Vice President Mike Pence on Wednesday, Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn (R-Texas) said the president would sign the bill if it remained clean.“He’s not happy about having to do this, but he’d be especially unhappy if there were other things people were asking for,” he said.Kellyanne Conway, an adviser to the president, told Fox News on Wednesday morning that the “president is not going to back down” from his fight for border security, but she declined to rule out Trump signing the stopgap spending bill. “We’ll see what the Senate and the House present to the president,” she said.Though White House aides insist the president is not backing down, their public statements appear to be easing the way for him to keep the government open even if he doesn’t get the money he wants for a border wall.Conway gave the latest indication of that on Wednesday. “The [continuing resolution] to keep the government going until Feb. 8 is what they’re looking at now, but that does not change whatsoever two important facts. One, that this president believes his first and solemn duty is to keep us safe, and that includes enhanced border security,” she said. “And second, it does not change the fact that this border is so porous that all it’s done is gotten worse since those Democrats voted for border security 12 years ago. So this president is not going to back down from that.” The Senate passed a short-term spending bill on Wednesday night to avoid a partial government shutdown, kicking a fight with President Donald Trump over border wall funding until next year.The legislation was passed by voice vote and will keep the government open until Feb. 8, provided the House will pass it. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said the Senate will remain in session on Thursday pending House action on the spending bill; on Wednesday evening conservatives in the House urged the rejection of the legislation because it shorts the border wall.“We have to see what the House does with what we just sent them,” McConnell said. Senators have been urged to stay in D.C. on Thursday by party leaders.last_img read more

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Listen To STS9’s Brand New Original, ‘To The World’ [Full Show Video]

first_imgSTS9 is dominating their winter tour! The premiere jamtronica outfit has making waves on the West Coast, and took it to the next level for their show at the Belly Up in Aspen, CO earlier this week. Not only did they play two killer sets, but the group took the time to debut a brand new original, “To The World,” as the first song of the encore.Thanks to YouTube user JMar, who has been cataloging a majority of the band’s live performances, we have quality footage of the entire Aspen show. The new song comes in at around the 2:15:00 mark. Tune in below:Setlist: STS9 at Belly Up, Aspen, CO – 2/3/16Set I: 20-12%, Wika Chikana, New Dawn, New Day, The Rabble – Gobnugget – Unquestionable Jam – Abcees Ending, Aimlessly, MarchSet II: Equinox, Love Don’t Terrorize – Grow, F. Word, Blu Mood, Crystal Instrument, Vapors, Ramone & EmiglioEncore: To The World***, King Pharaoh’s Tomb% – Stream issue. Didn’t come back in ’til Wika.*** – first time played (new song)[H/T JamBase]last_img read more

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Cash for carbon: Raleigh Bicycles USA consumer rebate program

first_imgRaleigh Bicycles USA is issuing a US$100 prepaid rebate card to everyone who purchases any Raleigh carbon bike now through to 31 March 2013.“Putting a Benjamin back in the coffers of consumers is our way of helping grow the sport and thanking people for supporting Raleigh,” said Matt Millen, Marketing and Communications Manager at Raleigh Bicycles.“Our line of carbon bikes are fit for all types of riders – from novice to seasoned – and this is a great opportunity to get the bike you want for the coming season and have a little extra cash to spend on groceries, beer or whatever.”Eligible carbon bikes in the rebate program include: three road race-ready steeds in the Militis series, bikes in the high-performance Revenio and Capri Carbon endurance race series, the singletrack, all-terrain rocket Talus 29 Carbon and the professional cyclocross-proven RXC Pro and Pro Disc.Raleigh offers a broad spectrum of bicycles including road, mountain, cyclocross and commuter for all ages and abilities. Across North America, the brand focuses on supporting the commuter, the family and local cycling, and partners with numerous non-profits around the US each year to help in advancing sport.At the conclusion of the carbon bike rebate program, Raleigh will unveil its aluminium bike rebate program in April.www.RaleighUSA.com Relatedlast_img read more

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Trial Lawyers Section honors Shaw, Fant

first_img July 15, 2017 Regular News Trial Lawyers Section honors Shaw, Fantlast_img

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Rushing to complete work on deadline could mean lower quality outcomes

first_imgLinkedIn Share Email Pinterest New management research from the Martin J. Whitman School of Management at Syracuse University shows that when deadlines are in place workers, tend to complete their tasks at the last minute, often leading to lower quality outcomes.In “Deadlines, work flows, task sorting, and work quality,” Natarajan Balasubramanian, associate professor of management at the Whitman School of Management, and his co-authors, Jeongsik Lee (Drexel University) and Jagadeesh Sivadasan (University of Michigan, Ann Arbor), examine the impact of deadlines using large-scale patent data. They find that patent applications tend to cluster around the end of the month and those month-end applications are, on average. more complex. What’s more, the work quality is lower for tasks completed at month-end.“Our study is valuable because it examined work flows, task complexity and work quality across thousands of firms for several decades,” said Professor Balasubramanian. “We now have novel, large-scale evidence for the effect of deadlines on job-flows and have quantifiably demonstrated the negative effects deadlines can have on work quality.”center_img Professor Balasubramanian added that these findings suggest managers need to be vigilant about understanding the negative work quality effects of using deadlines, and should review to fully discern if the benefit of accelerating projects outweighs the possible negative effects on work quality.“Further, to the extent that the use of deadlines leads to poorer-quality and ‘fuzzier’ patents, deadlines have broader implications for the process of technological innovation,” said Professor Balasubramanian.The study is forthcoming in Management Science. Share on Twitter Share on Facebooklast_img read more

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Study: About half the population faces considerable difficulties in attracting and retaining mates

first_img“The evolutionary framework is extremely powerful in enabling us to understand mating and the challenges it involves, and should be used to comprehend and address the problem of poor mating performance, which apparently many people face.”The study, which surveyed 1,116 women and 780 men from Cyprus, found that about one in five participants found intimate relationships difficult and about half faced difficulties in either starting or keeping a relationship. Men and women were very close in their mating performance.“The take home message is that if you face considerable difficulties in attracting and retaining mates, you are not an exception as about one in two adult individuals are in a similar situation,” Apostolou told PsyPost. The researchers believe dating troubles are so common because there is a mismatch between the social environment humans evolved in and the current social environment in the post-industrialized world.“In addition, your difficulties most likely are not because there is something wrong with you,” Apostolou said, “but because the mechanisms that you rely on in order to attract and retain mates evolved in a different context than the one you are in now. Simply put, they are not broken but their range of functioning is not optimal for modern conditions.”The researchers also found that sexual functioning, self-esteem, self-perceived mate value, choosiness, personality, attention to looks, and mating effort were significant predictors of difficulties in starting and keeping a relationship.“I would say that, at least to my knowledge, this is the first study that has attempted to measure mating performance and its predictors, so considerable more work is needed if we are to gain a better understanding of the phenomenon,” Apostolou said.“A good start would be to attempt to replicate the findings of this study to different cultural settings. In addition, much more work is necessary in order to understand the predictors of poor mating performance. Subsequently we need to answer the following question: How can we address the underlying causes of poor mating performance so that people do better in the domain of mating?”The study, “The challenge of starting and keeping a relationship: Prevalence rates and predictors of poor mating performance“, was published in the journal Personality and Individual Differences. The research was co-authored by Marios Shialos, Elli Kyrou, Artemis Demetriou, and Anthi Papamichael. Share Email LinkedIn A new study on mating performance in humans suggests it is common for people to face difficulties in intimate relationships.“The current literature on the difficulties of human mating is thin, while many psychologist hold false beliefs about what causes people to perform poorly,” said study author Menelaos Apostolou, an associate professor of evolutionary psychology at the University of Nicosia“For instance, psychoanalysts are likely to tell a man that he has difficulties with women because of his poor relationship with his mother when he was 5 years old. Such approaches are totally unfounded, and thus not useful in helping people who face difficulties in mating.” center_img Share on Twitter Pinterest Share on Facebooklast_img read more

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Scientists are unraveling the secrets of what happens in the human brain during an orgasm by studying lab rats

first_imgRats have similar physiological reactions to humans when it comes to sex, and perhaps also to orgasm. In fact, a good deal of what we know about what happens in our brains during orgasm comes from the laboratory rat.While much of what happens in the brain during human orgasm remains a mystery, decades of research by scientists has helped unravel some of the secrets.One of the main reason why some aspects of research have advanced so much so far is the use of animals in research. In our lab, lead by James Pfaus at the Centro De Investigaciones Cerebrales and Concordia University, animals are helping us understand what orgasms are all about. LinkedIn Share on Twitter Share on Facebook Pinterestcenter_img Email Share By conducting this research we hope to better understand human sexual interactions and the reason we might be attracted to certain people, scents and places. How do we get aroused? And how can this happen without us noticing it? Do the sounds we make during sex mean anything?What is an orgasm?The biggest difficulty in studying orgasms in animals is the subjective nature of the experience. Clearly, we can’t ask animals if they had an orgasm after a certain amount or type of sexual stimulation.When it comes to orgasms, it’s simple: you know it when you have one.But how might we scientifically define an orgasm? Most definitions refer to the physiological sensations and emotional attributes that converge to a period of relaxation and ecstasy. More specifically, an orgasm can be defined as the release of the “sexual tension” from the build-up of stimulation before orgasm.It’s a frequent mistake to assume that orgasms coincide with ejaculation. The two coincide rather consistently in men (although some men do not ejaculate during orgasm). This is not typically the case with women, though some women “ejaculate” during orgasm.To date, however, there is only one way to know if someone is having an orgasm: pelvic muscle contractions.But subjectivity matters. One person’s best orgasm might be just average to another person. Also, the stimulation required to induce an orgasm can vary hugely across people.This makes controlled experiments difficult to conduct in humans. Genetic and environmental differences likely cause a lot of variation in perceiving and reporting sexual stimulation, and the tipping point at which this “sexual tension” is released.Standardized questionnaires aiming to assess the intensity and frequency of orgasm carry the same issues that plague all self-reporting studies, such as lying or the lack of proper understanding of your own subjective states.Currently, with only one orgasm marker, no imaging technique to reliably uncover the biochemical mechanisms and the ever-changing territory of the subjective experiences on the orgasm research in humans, we neuroscientists hit a roadblock.Animal modelsIn males of different species, ejaculation is synonymous for sexual climax. Likewise, their female counterparts can experience rhythmic uterine and muscle contractions or tension. While we cannot assume animals experience orgasms, perhaps we could triangulate whether the animal physiologically had an one.What if we could find analogues of behaviours that occur in both humans and animals as a method to infer orgasms in animals?Researchers who are trying to bridge this gap between humans and animals have suggested three broad characteristics of human orgasm that we could assess in animals and compare to humans:»Physiological changes»Short-term behaviours»Long-term behavioursSo, how can these criteria be applied to rats?Rats and humans are alike in some waysPhysiological changes: fight, flight or fornicateBoth humans and rats experience many physiological changes before, during and after sex. In response, our bodies prepare to fight, flight or fornicate.Rats have similar physiological reactions to humans when it comes to orgasms. When the stimulation is sexual, physiologically speaking, humans react pretty much the same way as rats, with increased physiological arousal and blood-flow to the genitalia and muscle contraction.In the rat’s sexual world, females proactively solicit males. The female chooses which male to attract and when. She actively encourages the male to chase her by running towards the male and then abruptly turning and running away. She arches her back when the male touches her flanks to invite consummation.This cycle repeats until the male ejaculates. Sometimes males fall asleep afterwards. To reignite the game, the female hops around the male showing her interest to resume.Throughout this sex marathon, both male and female rats emit sounds or “calls” in a sound range we cannot hear. Using special recording equipment, we can record and analyze these calls in their frequency range.Male calls are long and distinctive when they ejaculate; this connects the male calls to ejaculation, and possibly orgasms. Female calls are different: they are more varied and come at different times. Nothing in the calls indicate a connection to orgasms.Long-term changes: Sexual patternsMale and female rats possess learning mechanisms. For instance, after repetitive sexual experiences with partners bearing an almond odor, both male and female rats tend to prefer almond-smelling rats over other potential sexual partners.Rats and other animals are aware of sexual stimuli directed at them and behave in ways to maximize reward.But once we jump into the world of subjective experiences, scientists navigate through somewhat dodgy waters.Lessons for humans from animalsDuring an orgasm, a highly rewarding state, humans are likely to associate the environment as positive; we take cues from our environment and surrounding features and are susceptible to having our orgasms associated with those feelings. We quickly ingest the information around us that are present when we have sex and an orgasm: the places, people and other contextual cues.For example, when you smell someone’s perfume that is familiar or sexually reminiscent, it will quickly trigger your memories and get you to “rev up,” sometimes without you even noticing.These learning mechanisms can shape our sexual preferences for partners, places and objects, influencing with whom and where we choose to have sex.An animal model of orgasm may allow scientists to explore the reasons why some people have difficulties achieving orgasm, and identify potentially behavioural and pharmacological interventions that may alleviate these difficulties. At a more fundamental level, understanding animal orgasms can shine some light on what happens in the human brain during an orgasm.With our current research techniques we will never truly be able to objectively assess a subjective state in a rat. But by combining the study of physiological responses, short-term changes in sexual motivation and states indicative of sexual reward, as well as stable long-term sexual preferences, we are able to find some clues related to orgasms, and we are starting to note these sexual patterns in rats.And that is a good start!By Gonzalo R. Quintana Zunino, Dr. Behavioral Neuroscience and Public Scholar, Concordia University and Conall Eoghan Mac Cionnaith, Ph.D Candidate, Concordia UniversityThis article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.last_img read more

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