Posts

March 27, 2015

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12:05 PM | Dark Matter Collisions
The existence of dark matter is one of the coolest science stories of my lifetime. When I was growing up I was in love with pretty much every field of science, but particularly with astronomy, and at that time we had no idea that 85% of the matter in the universe even existed. We now [...]
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10:10 AM | Why it's important that employers let staff personalise their workspaces
The sparring mitt, yellow stitches spelling "SLUGGER" casually lying on the desk. The Mathlete trophy on a high shelf. A Ganesha statue, slightly chipped. Why do people bring these kinds of personal objects into the workplace?Researchers Kris Byron and Gregory Laurence found answers by consulting 28 people in a range of jobs and workplaces. They used the "grounded theory" approach, starting with a clutch of more open-ended interviews and then pursuing the lines of inquiry that emerged, in every […]
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8:59 AM | Inside the mind of the pilot who flies to crash by Raj Persaud and Peter Bruggen
Inside the mind of the pilot who flies to crash   Raj Persaud and Peter Bruggen   BBC News is reporting French investigators concluded that the co-pilot of the Germanwings flight, Andreas Lubitz, appeared to want to “destroy the plane”, intentionally initiating a descent while the pilot was locked out, leading to the crash in […]
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5:24 AM | Soda Bans, Bike Lanes: Which 'natural Experiments' Really Reduce Obesity?
Banning sodas from school vending machines, building walking paths and playgrounds, adding supermarkets to food deserts and requiring nutritional labels on restaurant menus: Such changes to the environments where people live and work are among the growing number of solutions that have been proposed and attempted in efforts to stem the rising obesity epidemic with viable, population-based solutions. But which of these changes actually make an impact?read more
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5:24 AM | Shrinking Habitats Have Adverse Effects On World Ecosystems
An extensive study of global habitat fragmentation - the division of habitats into smaller and more isolated patches - points to major trouble for a number of the world's ecosystems and the plants and animals living in them. The study shows that 70 percent of existing forest lands are within a half-mile of the forest edge, where encroaching urban, suburban or agricultural influences can cause any number of harmful effects - like the losses of plants and animals. The study also tracks seven […]
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5:24 AM | 10 Tips For Choosing An Academic Dean
Clear and realistic expectations are key to successfully hiring heads of departments, say Professor Pierre-Alain Clavien, University of Zurich, and Joseph Deiss, former President of the Swiss Confederation, in a commentary in Nature magazine. Selecting a chair for a position in clinical academic medicine is often problematic, with the diverse demands placed on the position proving a constant source of debate. Today's heads of departments are not only expected to be outstanding physicians, […]
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5:24 AM | Levee Detonations Reduced 2011 Flood Risk On Mississippi River
A controversial decision in 2011 to blow up Mississippi River levees reduced the risk of flooding in a city upstream, lowering the height of the rain-swollen river just before it reached its peak, according to a newly published computer modeling analysis led by UC Irvine scientists. The work focused on a Missouri agricultural area called the New Madrid Floodway that was inundated when the levees were detonated. The researchers found that the region would have flooded anyway if the river had […]
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5:24 AM | Quantum Games And An Atlas Of Human Thoughts
Are humans born with the ability to solve problems or is it something we learn along the way? A research group at the Department of Physics and Astronomy, Aarhus University, is working to find answers to this question. The research group has developed a computer game called Quantum Moves, which has been played 400,000 times by ordinary people. This has provided unique and deep insight into the human brain's ability to solve problems. The game involves moving atoms around on the screen and […]
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5:24 AM | Kidney Cancer Detected Early With Urine Test
If kidney cancer is diagnosed early -- before it spreads -- 80 percent of patients survive. However, finding it early has been among the disease's greatest challenges. Now, researchers at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis have developed a noninvasive method to screen for kidney cancer that involves measuring the presence of proteins in the urine. The findings are reported March 19 in the journal JAMA Oncology. The researchers found that the protein biomarkers were more than […]
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5:24 AM | Opossum-based Antidote To Poisonous Snake Bites
Scientists have turned to the opossum to develop a promising new and inexpensive antidote for poisonous snake bites. They predict it could save thousands of lives worldwide without the side effects of current treatments. Worldwide, an estimated 421,000 cases of poisonous snake bites and 20,000 deaths from these bites occur yearly, according to the International Society on Toxicology. read more
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5:24 AM | Religion And Belief Systems Have A Place In Schools
The place of religions and belief systems, especially Christianity, in the school curriculum is a sensitive issue provoking much discussion and debate in Australia. The issue came to head in Britain last year with what has been titled the “Trojan Horse affair”. A small number of Islamic schools were investigated about the types of values being taught. The investigations led to Prime Minister David Cameron arguing that all schools must teach what it means to be British.read more
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5:24 AM | 'Mini-lungs' Aid The Study Of Cystic Fibrosis
Scientists at the University of Cambridge have successfully created 'mini-lungs' using stem cells derived from skin cells of patients with cystic fibrosis, and have shown that these can be used to test potential new drugs for this debilitating lung disease. The research is one of a number of studies that have used stem cells - the body's master cells - to grow 'organoids', 3D clusters of cells that mimic the behaviour and function of specific organs within the body. Other recent examples have […]
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5:23 AM | Special Microbes Make Anti-obesity Molecule In The Gut
Microbes may just be the next diet craze. Researchers have programmed bacteria to generate a molecule that, through normal metabolism, becomes a hunger-suppressing lipid. Mice that drank water laced with the programmed bacteria ate less, had lower body fat and staved off diabetes -- even when fed a high-fat diet -- offering a potential weight-loss strategy for humans. read more
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5:23 AM | Drinking And Driving? Don't Even Think About It, Your Car Won't Let You
If every new car made in the United States had a built-in blood alcohol level tester that prevented impaired drivers from driving the vehicle, how many lives could be saved, injuries prevented, and injury-related dollars used for something else? read more
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5:22 AM | Autistic And Non-autistic Brain Differences Isolated
The functional differences between autistic and non-autistic brains have been isolated for the first time, following the development of a new methodology for analyzing MRI scans.read more
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5:22 AM | Prevention Beats Cure: Adapting To Climate Change Would Bring New Problems
Adapting to climate change could have profound environmental repercussions, according to a new study from the University of East Anglia. Research in Nature Climate Change reveals that adaptation measures have the potential to generate further pressures and threats for both local and global ecosystems. Lead researcher Dr Carlo Fezzi, from UEA's School of Environmental Sciences, said: "Climate change is a just a little bit more complicated than we previously thought. We need to take into account […]
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5:22 AM | In The Pipeline: First Blood Test For Osteoarthritis
The first blood test for osteoarthritis could soon be developed, thanks to research by the University of Warwick. The research findings could potentially lead to patients being tested for osteoarthritis and diagnosed several years before the onset of physical symptoms. Conducted by the University's Medical School, the research identified a biomarker linked to both rheumatoid and osteoarthritis. Whilst there are established tests for rheumatoid arthritis (RA), the newly identified biomarker […]
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5:22 AM | Can The UN Ensure Open Access To Plant Genomes?
A plant scientist from The Australian National University (ANU) has called for the United Nations to guarantee free and open access to plant DNA sequences to enable scientists to continue work to sustainably intensify world food production. Dr Norman Warthmann, a plant geneticist at the ANU Research School of Biology, has lodged a submission with the UN, which is currently considering issues to include in its 2015 Global Sustainable Development Report. Food security depends on an acceleration […]
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5:22 AM | Sipuleucel-T In Prostate Cancer: Indication Of Added Benefit
Sipuleucel-T (trade name Provenge) has been approved since September 2014 for men with metastatic prostate cancer who have few or no symptoms and do not yet require chemotherapy. In the dossier assessment conducted by the German Institute for Quality and Efficiency in Health Care (IQWiG) in January 2015, no added benefit could be derived for sipuleucel-T. In an addendum, the Institute now examined information subsequently submitted by the manufacturer in the commenting procedure: According to […]
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5:22 AM | International Study Raises Questions About Cause Of Global Ice Ages
A new international study casts doubt on the leading theory of what causes ice ages around the world -- changes in the way the Earth orbits the sun. The researchers found that glacier movement in the Southern Hemisphere is influenced primarily by sea surface temperature and atmospheric carbon dioxide rather than changes in the Earth's orbit, which are thought to drive the advance and retreat of ice sheets in the Northern Hemisphere. The findings appear in the journal Geology. A PDF is available […]
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5:22 AM | Scientists Must Reduce Antibiotic Use In Experiments
Scientists should reduce antibiotic use in lab experiments - according to a researcher at the University of East Anglia. Microbiology, molecular biology and genetic research such as the Human Genome Project use antibiotics in experiments. But it all adds to the global problem of antibiotic resistance according to Dr Laura Bowater, from UEA's Norwich Medical School. A new article published today in the Journal of Antimicrobial Chemotherapy highlights the problem. Dr Bowater said: "The […]
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5:22 AM | Recycling Plastic Works, Additives To Biodegrade Plastics Don't
Recycling plastic works, additives to biodegrade plastic do not, according to a new study from Michigan State University which finds that several additives that claim to break down polyethylene (i.e., plastic bags) and polyethylene terephthalate (i.e., soda bottles) simply don't work in common disposal situations such as landfills or composting. "Making improper or unsubstantiated claims can produce consumer backlash, fill the environment with unwanted polymer debris and expose companies to […]
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5:22 AM | Protons Hog The Momentum In Neutron-rich Nuclei
Like dancers swirling on the dance floor with bystanders looking on, protons and neutrons that have briefly paired up in the nucleus have higher-average momentum, leaving less for non-paired nucleons. Using data from nuclear physics experiments carried out at the Department of Energy's Thomas Jefferson National Accelerator Facility, researchers have now shown for the first time that this phenomenon exists in nuclei heavier than carbon, including aluminum, iron and lead. read more
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4:48 AM | Deal With It - Life Is Full Of Uncertainty
Experiments dating back to the 1960s show people have less of a reaction to viewing an unpleasant image or experiencing an electric shock when they know it’s coming than when they’re not expecting it. read more
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3:36 AM | Memory research using planarians
Planarians are truly experiencing a “Golden Age” of neuroscientific discovery. Here is a link to a very well-written and interesting article by the journalist Arielle Duhaime-Ross. I have the honor of knowing the young scientists who is the subject of the article. Also, one of the scientists who were interviewed for this article is your …
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2:27 AM | Telepathy, possibly?
Imagine a world where our thoughts could be instantly transmitted to machines and other people’s brains. An important application of thought transmission would be creating sophisticated neuroprosthetics for people with a variety of disorders, a goal that has sparked exciting research into connecting brains with machines, computers (BMI/BCI) and other brains (brain-to-brain interfacing, BTBI). Large-scale BTBI would […]

March 26, 2015

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11:41 PM | Pavlov: A Russian Life in Science
My review in "Science" can be found here (paywall). From the summary:The life of Ivan Pavlov was characterized by both sluchainost' (chance and randomness) and pravil'nost' (regularity and lawfulness), two words which appear frequently in Pavlov's own writing. In a new biography, Daniel P. Todes draws on multilingual archival and literary sources to capture the subtleties of the famous physiologist's life and work. The result, according to reviewer Stephen T. Casper, is an exemplary work of […]
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11:38 PM | Our taste in music may age out of harmony
As we get older, our brains may be less able to discriminate between harmony and dissonance ScicuriousNeuroscience by Bethany Brookshire 11:44am, March 27, 2015 In music, some notes ring together in beautiful harmony, while others rattle against each other. Our brains process consonance and dissonance differently, but the differences decrease as we grow older.Vancouver […]
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11:25 PM | Stereotype lowers math performance in women, no one noticed
Originally posted on Lunatic Laboratories:Stereotypes about people can affect how we look at a person, but sometimes it causes other problems. Gender stereotypes about women’s ability in mathematics negatively impact their performance. And in a significant twist, both men…
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10:59 PM | Binding Pollutants In Water Using Adsorber Particles
In January of 2015 the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) lowered the threshold value for bisphenol A in packaging.  The scientific determination behind that is irrelevant at this point, the only times Europe backs off on bizarre science assertions are when it comes to things like making ugly fruit illegal to sell or claiming water does not cure thirst, so companies are stuck with creating dubious alternatives or just using less, but the public is often educated by advertising so they […]
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