Tuesday, 31 May 2011

The Sun at Night

The image below was taken at the University's Bayfordbury Observatory in January by David Campbell  using the Chris Kitchin Telescope and a special filter to emphasis a particular transition of hydrogen.

It's a mosaic of nine images taken with the Tele Vue 102 (4-inch refractor piggybacked in the CKT) and the Lumenera SKYnyx2-1 from the video dome, using the solar H-alpha filter.

It was first broadcast on the Sky at Night on 1st May.

Tuesday, 24 May 2011

KASPAR appears on 'Fern' show

A robot which was developed by researchers at the University to help children with autism to learn about social interaction has recently appeared in over 800 news articles nationally and internationally. KASPAR the robot can be controlled and tailored to an individual child’s development needs. While obviously non-human, it has simple human features, minimal expressions and predictable movements.

The robot acts as a mediator, encouraging children to communicate with people, at first indirectly and then directly. Dr Ben Robins, senior research fellow and Kasper also featured on a high profile national programme, the ‘Fern’ show last month, which can be viewed here:


Tuesday, 10 May 2011

Can people with Parkinson's Disease dance their way to better health?

Dr Peter Lovatt at the University's School of Psychology, is conducting a study that will look at the types of dance that may alleviate the symptoms of Parkinson’s Disease, which will start next month (June) and needs volunteers.

The study is the first UK study to look at the effects on both physical and psychological responses to dance for people with Parkinson’s. View an interview with Dr Lovatt about the study on You Tube today.

This study will take place in both London and Manchester from early June and needs 15 people who have Parkinson's in each location and 15 who do not have the disease and are willing to act as a control group.

Dr Lovatt and his team will draw on the published research evidence that claims dance can help people with Parkinson's. Participants will do 10 dance classes over six weeks and the research team will measure progress at the beginning and end of the study.

According to Dr Lovatt, existing research indicates that when people dance, their balance and the way they walk improves. In addition early research from the University’s Dance Psychology Lab suggests that dancing can influence the way people think. The challenge now is to find out what kind of dance may help people with Parkinson's.

"We have always known that dance has a positive impact on people's health," said Dr Lovatt. "Dance may be a fun way for people with Parkinson’s to exercise and this study will look at whether this brings physical and psychological benefits.”

Thursday, 5 May 2011

Police hand gestures can influence witness testimony

Hand gestures of police interviewers can make eyewitnesses believe they saw something they didn’t, new research presented at the British Psychological Society Annual Conference this week (Wednesday 4 May) shows.

Seventy-two participants were shown mock-up CCTV footage of a theft by Dr Daniel Gurney and Professor Karen Pine from the University of Hertfordshire. An on-screen 'police officer' then asked questions about the theft. All participants were asked the same questions, but the questioner varied the hand gestures he performed as he spoke. For example, when asking, 'Did you notice any jewellery?’ he performed a gesture that could ‘implant’ information (e.g. a 'ring' gesture to the finger or 'watch' gesture on the wrist).

A significant number of people reported information that was consistent with the hand gesture they saw. “We were investigating whether interviewers can influence witnesses through nonverbal means”, said Dr Gurney. “By subtle manipulation of simple hand gestures we showed it was possible to make people believe they had seen something that wasn’t there.”

The study ‘Can misleading hand gestures influence eyewitness testimony?’ is the first to examine whether hand gestures can influence witness reports and it adds to the wealth of research on susceptibility of eyewitnesses to misleading verbal questions. “It has long been known that the wording of questions can be misleading,” said Dr Gurney, “but this is the first study to show that gestures, which are often hardly noticed can also mislead.”

“We are aware of the power of nonverbal behaviour in all kinds of human interactions, and this one is no exception”, Professor Pine added. “These findings have considerable implications for interview techniques of witnesses in criminal justice settings and beyond.”

Tuesday, 3 May 2011

Do Men and Women Use Twitter Differently?

An analysis of tweets from the Royal Wedding reports that 10,600 UK tweets referred to ‘that dress’ from which an easy assumption could be that most are from women. A study at the University of Hertfordshire throws new light into how men and women use Twitter.

Male entrepreneurs are using social networking sites to compete and dominate whilst women are using them to build networks according to the new research.

Following a study into how male and women entrepreneurs interact using Twitter, the research has shown that men ‘tweet’ about business 46 per cent more than women, showing even their more casual conversations involve business

The study analysed nearly 5,000 tweets from twelve influential entrepreneurs over one-month and found that male users sent 61 per cent more self-promotional tweets than their female counterparts.

Professor Karen Pine, University of Hertfordshire, said: “It’s been interesting to see how men are using social media as an extension of the board room or playing field where they typically have to lead the competition and dominate.

“Women use social media far less aggressively, they tend to use it more socially to build contacts and network with people, as is often the case in the ‘real world’.”

The top 5 entrepreneurs by how much they tweeted in the month (January to February 2011) of the study are below. They have an estimated combined wealth of £1.28billion according to the Sunday Times Rich List 2010.

  1. Michelle Mone 1,030 tweets
  2. Lord Sugar 965 tweets
  3. Duncan Bannatyne 660 tweets
  4. Theo Paphitis 505 tweets
  5. Martha Lane Fox 275 tweets

Germ Genie Kills Keyboard Germs Even C.difficile

Our scientists have found that the new Germ Genie keyboard can even kill C. difficile.

C. difficule (Clostridium difficile) is a bacterium found in the environment, but it is most common in hospitals and areas where symptomatic patients have been present.

C. difficile infection is often hospital-acquired and is more common than infections caused by MRSA.

Germ Genie which was developed by Falcon Innovations and tested at the University of Hertfordshire’s Biodet laboratory was launched in October 2010 at which point the results of the University of Hertfordshire’s tests on E.Coli, Staphylococcus Aureus and Bacillus Subtillis, revealed that it kills ninety-nine percent of germs across most of the keyboard in just two minutes, and across the whole keyboard in ten minutes.

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