Archive for May 31, 2016

Extinct family of bizarre snail-eating marsupials discovered

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Malleodectes by Peter Schouten

An international team of palaeontologists which includes Dr Robin Beck of the University of Salford, have identified an entirely new family of extinct marsupial mammals from northern Australia. 

The family has been named Malleodectidae, from the word for “hammer” in Latin and “biter” in Ancient Greek, referring to the presence of an enormous premolar that was clearly used for crushing hard food items.

No other mammal currently known has such an unusual crushing premolar, but similar teeth are seen in Australian lizards that feed on snails, suggesting that malleodectids may have had a similar diet.  Malleodectids, which were about the size of ferret, are known only from 10-15 million year old fossils from the Riversleigh World Heritage Area in far northern Australia.

Very incomplete malleodectid fossils were described in 2011, but the discovery of a new fossil jawbone has now revealed unique features indicating a previously unknown marsupial family.

The research is published today in the Scientific Reports arm of the journal Nature.

Malleodectids were probably related to living Australian carnivorous marsupials such as quolls, the Tasmanian Devil and the marsupial anteater or numbat, as well as the recently extinct thylacine or Tasmanian tiger. However, malleodectids represent a lineage of marsupials that has been distinct since at least 23 million years ago.

 

 

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How to stop your phone from being hacked

­If you’ve ever forgotten your phone or left it at home for the day, you will have realised just how much you use it. On average, we check our mobile phones about 110 times a day. Using them for just about everything, from summoning an Uber car and paying for our latest Amazon purchases, to receiving prescriptions and even tracking shares and trading on the stock market. 

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How safe is your phone? leungchopan/shutterstock

Unsecured mobile phones are among the top seven major causes of security breaches and your mobile number is all a hacker needs to start the attack. Using your number, hackers can send you a text message containing a malicious link, which when clicked allows them to read your texts, listen to your calls and even track your whereabouts.

Smartphones are valuable targets for hackers – more so than laptops or personal computers. This is because they can be used as a “pivot point” to attack heavily protected environments such as banks or critical national infrastructure. Hackers can redirect their malicious traffic through your phone and store collected data on it. This means that all forensics traces would point to you as the hacker rather than the real culprit.

On top of this, most phones are open to attack 24 hours a day, seven days a week, often with only limited security features in place. Combine this lack of security with the fact that most modern phones now contain more processing power than the computers that landed Apollo 11 on the moon, and it’s not hard to see why they are a hacker’s weapon of choice.

 

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Constructing the Science of Social Interaction using Virtual Reality

From 12th-13th July 2016 the second Virtual Social Interaction workshop will be held at MediaCity, Manchester.  Co-organised by University of Salford, Goldsmiths University of London and University College London, the workshop will showcase new methods and theories in social interaction, with talks from 8 international speakers and c. 20 Posters.

Attracting an audience of international researchers from the fields of Psychology, Cognitive Neuroscience Computer Science and Digital Technologies the workshop will highlight work towards a scientific understanding of how people interact.

Early Bird registration ends on 30th May and entry provides access to talks and posters, full catering on both days and an evening wine and poster reception. Register here: http://shop.salford.ac.uk/browse/extra_info.asp?compid=1&modid=1&catid=270&prodvarid=245

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Local universities join forces to fight dementia

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Photo credit: Chris Foster (University of Manchester)

Manchester, Salford and Manchester Metropolitan Universities are teaming up in a new initiative to combat dementia in the region and beyond.

To mark Dementia Awareness Week (May 15-21), leading researchers from the three institutions met at the Whitworth Gallery to open a series of collaborations around a range of dementia issues – from biology to social care.

Natalie Yates-Bolton, Director of the Dementia Institute at the University of Salford, said she believed that Manchester would be a model for the rest of the UK in dementia care. Read more…..


Salford Missing from Home Project

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Kate Parkinson

There is a recognition that any young person who is missing from home is potentially at risk of serious harm or exploitation. Young people who are in the formal care of the LA are recognised as being at particularly increased risk. This has been a significant feature of the widely reported cases of grooming and child sexual exploitation (CSE). Kate Parkinson (University of Salford) has been involved in the initial evaluation of a new approach to tackling these issues. GMP (Salford Division) officers are working closely with Salford Childrens’ Services staff to ensure that there is a clearer focus on the welfare of young people and engage with them more effectively. The pilot has helped to reduce the number of missing from home episodes and there has also been an improvement in the working and organisational relationships between GMP and partner agencies in this field.

Kate presented the initial findings from this research at the College of Policing on the 11th May 2016 to police officers on a strategic leadership course, who are on track to be the chief inspectors of the future.

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No kidding – prosthetics expert helps man live as goat

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Thomas Thwaites with the goats in the Swiss Alps

A Salford University prosthetics expert enabled a man to follow his dream of living as a goat. 

Conceptual designer Thomas Thwaites was so intrigued by the animals he devised an experiment to spend several days studying their behaviour up close by living as part of a herd on the Swiss Alps last year.

Thomas’s research, carried out thanks to an arts award from the Wellcome Trust, saw him transform himself into one the animals, and even attempt to communicate with them.

And to make his experience all the more realistic, he enlisted the help of Dr Glyn Heath from the University’s School of Health Sciences, who he asked to help make him a set of special goat-like artificial limbs enabling him to roam around on all fours and closely mimic the animals’ movements.

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‘Seeing from the South’ an exchange with South-African shelter activists

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Alinah Mofokeng

“We are poor, but we are not hopeless. We know what we are doing”. 

This is Alinah Mofokeng, one of three activists from the South African alliance of community organizations and support NGOs affiliated to Shack / Slum Dwellers International (SDI) who came to visit Manchester last month. The three came to explain their approaches and to exchange knowledge with local organisations through a combination of visits around Manchester and Salford, and a half-day workshop drawing together activists from around the country.

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Envy could make workers less likely to lie

Feelings of envy could make workers and executives less likely to lie, a new study has found. And there could be lessons for managers who want to reduce the likelihood of workplace lying. nose

A series of scandals have rocked the corporate world in recent years, from MG Rover, Lehman Brothers and others, all of which involved lying at a high level. The mechanisms and psychology behind lying are poorly understood. But now a study by a team of academics, including Professor Kirk Chang from The University of Salford, has shed light on some of the mechanisms and motivations behind lying.

In a paper published in the Journal of Strategy and Management the team describes how they have found that envy may not necessarily be an entirely negative emotion in the workplace and that it may bring benefits, surprisingly through a reduction in lying behaviour.

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Annual Scientific Meeting of Medical Imaging and Radiation Therapy: ‘Rise and Shine!’ , Brisbane, 2016

By Professor Peter Hogg

I was invited to present three papers at the Annual Scientific Meeting of Medical Imaging and Radiation Therapy (ASMMIRT) which was held in Brisbane, Australia, from 21st to 24th April 2016. One paper, the conference keynote, considered controversies in mammography and it drew exclusively on research conducted by the University of Salford and its collaborators.

ASMMIRT was attended by approximately 1000 delegates, these included sonographers, diagnostic radiographers, radiation therapists (therapeutic radiographers) and nuclear medicine technologists. Students had a very high profile as they had their own conference which ran in tandem with the rest of the conference. Australian radiographers have a growing appetite for developing radiography research and opportunities exist to for the Directorate of Radiography in the University of Salford link with some Australian universities to develop projects and bid for grant money.

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Health Sciences senior lecturer to work with Team GB

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Lee Herrington

Congratulations to Dr Lee Herrington, who has been selected to work with Team GB in the 2016 Olympic Games in Brazil this summer. 

Dr Lee Herrington, senior lecturer in Sports Rehabilitation for the School of Health Sciences, will be joining the Team’s physiotherapy department, where he will be responsible for the health and wellbeing of Britain’s athletes during the tournament.

Dr Herrington’s role, obtained via a three-stage application process with the British Olympic Association (BOA), also involves facilitating performance, and ensuring that each athlete is prepared both physically and mentally, when competing.

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