is SCIENCE IN THE NEWS in VOA Special English. I’m Bob Doughty.
And I’m Faith Lapidus. This week, we will tell about a study linking
activity on the sun to changes in Earth’s climate. We will also tell about a discovery involving
patients with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. And, we will hear some music written
especially for monkeys.
An American study has shown a link between activity on
the surface of the sun and weather conditions on Earth. Scientists say small changes in the sun’s
brightness can produce effects on Earth similar to two weather events in warm
waters of the Pacific Ocean. The two
events are commonly known as La Nina and El Nino. Reports say the study may lead to better
predictions of temperatures, rainfall and the intensity of weather systems.
Scientists measure solar activity
by counting dark areas on the sun’s surface. These sun spots produce bursts of energy. Other scientists have shown that sun spot activity
can be measured in periods of time that last about eleven years. The total energy reaching Earth from the sun
rises and falls by just one tenth of one percent across this solar cycle.
the new study, scientists examined more than one hundred years of ocean
temperature records. They also used computer
programs designed to reproduce the world’s climate. They found the highest levels of solar
activity cause small, but far-reaching effects on weather systems around the
world. These periods of high activity
are known as solar maximum.
Meehl was the lead writer of a report about the study. He says his team showed the effects of a new
process to understand what happens in the Pacific’s warm waters where there is
a maximum of solar activity. Professor Meehl
works for the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Boulder, Colorado. The center organized and helped to pay for the
study. The findings were published
recently in the Journal of Climate.
report says that, at maximum activity, the small increase in sunshine over several
years causes a small temperature increase in Earth’s atmosphere. This is especially true in cloud-free areas
of the Pacific.
The extra heat is
enough to cause ocean waters to evaporate into the air. This wet air is then carried by trade winds
to the normally rainy areas of the western Pacific, near the Equator. This creates more rainfall.
winds become stronger as the process gets repeated. This keeps the eastern Pacific cooler and
drier than normal. It also creates conditions
similar to the weather event known as La Nina. However, the cooling of about one and one-half to three degrees Celsius
is only about half as strong as a real La Nina.
two years after a solar maximum, the Pacific experiences conditions similar to
El Nino – the opposite of La Nina. These
are also only half as strong as a real El Nino.
Real La Nina events have been linked
with cooler than normal temperatures on the surface waters of the Pacific
Ocean. El Nino events are linked to
warmer than normal temperatures. Both
events can have important effects on weather systems and climates around the
Gerald Meehl says a better understanding
of solar activity and its influence on weather may help researchers predict
long-term weather conditions.
deficit hyperactivity disorder is known by the letters A.D.H.D. Children with A.D.H.D. might have trouble
paying attention. They might not seem to
listen. They might forget things. They might not be able to stay seated or play
Children with A.D.H.D. might talk too much. And they might act and speak without thinking
about the results of their behavior. These
are among the signs named on the web site of America’s Centers for Disease
Control and Prevention.
identify the disorder in children. But
experts say the behaviors often last into adulthood.
have been looking for the cause or causes of attention deficit hyperactivity
disorder. Now, a brain-imaging study
offers more evidence that could lead to new ways to treat it. Researchers say they observed shortages in the brain's
reward system in patients with A.D.H.D. The
study found that levels of some proteins were lower than normal.
Volkow is director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse. She says the lack of attention and
self-control that mark A.D.H.D. could be caused by problems in the flow of
dopamine. She says people might have
difficulty completing an activity if they cannot expect some kind of reward in
Researchers studied the pathways on which dopamine
travels in fifty-three adults with A.D.H.D. Doctor Volkow says the researchers then
compared the pathways to those of forty-four adults without the disorder.
NORA VOLKOW: "There was a lower
concentration of dopamine markers in the brain of individuals with A.D.H.D.,
specifically in the areas of the brain that are involved with reward and
Volkow says the dopamine levels were directly linked to the severity of the
study used brain images taken at Brookhaven National Laboratory in New York
State. Gene-Jack Wang is chairman of the
Brookhaven medical department. He says
the finding might also help explain why people with A.D.H.D. are more likely to
abuse drugs or overeat. He says they
might be attempting to increase their dopamine levels to make up for the
deficits in their reward system.
Brookhaven Lab is part of the United States Department of Energy. The National Institutes of Health supported
the research. The study appeared in the
Journal of the American Medical Association.
Finally, a psychology professor and a musician have
reported that some monkeys can react to music. Or, at least their study shows that music similar to the monkey’s own
sounds can affect their feelings and behavior.
But the animals that were studied appeared to care little for music
written for people. The results of the
experiment were reported in the publication Biology Letters.
Teie is a cellist in the National Symphony in Washington, D.C. He also teaches music at the University of
Maryland. He worked on the study with
Charles Snowdon, a psychology professor at the University of Wisconsin in
As part of the project,
Mister Teie studied recorded calls of cotton-top tamarin monkeys. The animal is native to South American
rainforests. This time, however, the
calls came from a colony of monkeys kept at the University of Wisconsin.
Mister Teie developed short musical pieces containing
sounds similar to the monkeys’ own expressions. The pieces expressed a sense of safety and happiness. Other pieces suggested unease and a feeling
of threat. His thirty-second pieces of
monkey music also used sounds about as long as the monkeys’ calls.
Snowdon played Mister Teie’s music for the monkeys. The professor wanted to see if the animals
could tell the difference between the calming music and the music written to
make them uneasy. And, if so, would
their behavior show their reactions?
That is exactly what happened. The monkeys reacted calmly when they heard
the calming music.
They demonstrated their quieter feelings by eating and
drinking more and moving around less. But
the same animals acted uneasy after they heard Mister Tie’s threatening
demonstrated their fear by moving around more. Their reactions were observed five minutes after they heard the
is known to affect human emotions, often deeply. Naturally enough, the researchers also wanted
to learn if music written for people would interest the monkeys.
Snowdon played calming human music for the animals. They did not seem to show a difference in
behavior. But, strangely enough, the
monkeys calmed when they heard the heavy metal band Metallica.
SCIENCE IN THE NEWS was written by June Simms, Jerilyn Watson and Caty Weaver. Our producer was Brianna Blake. I’m Bob Doughty.
And I’m Faith Lapidus. Listen
again next week for more news about science in Special English on the Voice of