Science2.0

Junk Food Rats Ditch Balanced Diet To Eat Just Like Obese People

Science2.0 - August 29, 2014 - 2:22pm


Supersize me: buffet edition. Joanna Servaes, CC BY-NC

By Aaron Blaisdell, University of California, Los Angeles

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3 Papers Discuss The Molecular Toolkits We Share With Flies And Worms

Science2.0 - August 29, 2014 - 2:14pm

Although separated by hundreds of millions of years of evolution, flies, worms, and humans share ancient patterns of gene expression and it's all in our genomic data.

Three related studies in Nature, tell a similar story: even though humans, worms, and flies bear little obvious similarity to each other, evolution used remarkably similar molecular toolkits to shape them.

There are dramatic differences between species in genomic regions populated by pseudogenes, molecular fossils of working genes, according to Yale authors in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.


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Learning New Skills: It's All About Flexing The Brain

Science2.0 - August 29, 2014 - 2:05pm

Learning a new skill is easier when it is related to an ability we already have. For example, a trained pianist can learn a new melody easier than learning how to hit a tennis serve.

Scientists from the Center for the Neural Basis of Cognition (CNBC) have discovered a fundamental constraint in the brain that may explain why this happens. Writing in Nature, they say that there are limitations on how adaptable the brain is during learning and that these restrictions are a key determinant for whether a new skill will be easy or difficult to learn. Understanding the ways in which the brain's activity can be "flexed" during learning could eventually be used to develop better treatments for stroke and other brain injuries.


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Anger Face Is Universal, And It Evolved Because Of Psychology

Science2.0 - August 29, 2014 - 3:00am

The next time you get really mad, take a look in the mirror. See that lowered brow, the thinned lips and the flared nostrils? That's what social scientists call the "anger face," and they believe it is part of our basic biology as humans.


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Aconite: Chinese Herbal Medicine Turns Deadly

Science2.0 - August 29, 2014 - 2:00am

There is a reason alternative medicine has an adjective in front of it - it can't survive double-blind clinical trials the way medicine has.

But at least it isn't harmful. In most cases. However, aconite, a class of plant that is also known as wolfsbane or devil's helmet and is in a poisonous genus of the buttercup family, recently led to facial tingling and numbness within minutes of ingesting, followed by nausea, vomiting, diarrhea and abdominal pain 30 minutes later. 

The herbal preparation by a Chinese herbal medication practitioner in Melbourne for back pain resulted in life-threatening heart changes, lead to new calls to educated the public and warn practitioners who prescribe "complementary" treatments instead of medication.


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Stuck Fermentation In Wine Triggered By Prions

Science2.0 - August 29, 2014 - 1:30am

A chronic problem in wine making is when yeast that should be busily converting grape sugar into alcohol and carbon dioxide prematurely shuts down, leaving the remaining sugar to instead be consumed by bacteria that can spoil the wine.


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Malaise: 70 Percent Of Americans Believe Recession Is Permanent

Science2.0 - August 29, 2014 - 1:00am

Though the rich get richer and the stock market is booming, which has led to claims by the administration that things are fine, the American public hasn't been this pessimistic about the future since Jimmy Carter was president. Pessimism has instead leaped 40% higher since 2009, when the Great Recession was in full swing.


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Old Dope, New Tricks: The New Science Of Medical Cannabis

Science2.0 - August 28, 2014 - 9:31pm


Somewhere in this much-incinerated plant lies valuable medicine: perhaps a treatment for cancer or an antidote to obesity.Prensa 420/Flickr, CC BY-NC

By David J. Allsop, University of Sydney and Iain S. McGregor, University of Sydney

Medicinal cannabis is back in the news again after a planned trial to grow it in Norfolk Island was blocked by the federal government last week. The media is ablaze with political rumblings and tales of public woe, but what does science have to say on the subject?

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Mom Was Almost Right: Junk Food Will Spoil Your Appetite, Except Permanently

Science2.0 - August 28, 2014 - 9:01pm

A diet of junk food not only makes rats fat, but also reduces their appetite for novel foods, a preference that normally drives them to seek a balanced diet, according to a study in Frontiers in Psychology which helps to explain how excessive consumption of junk food can change behavior, weaken self-control and lead to overeating and obesity.


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Old Tires Lead To Better Anodes In Lithium-Ion Batteries

Science2.0 - August 28, 2014 - 9:01pm

In the 1970s, Florida environmentalists who had invented the notion that landfills were going to overrun America came up with the idea of making coral reefs out of tires. A few short decades later, the clean-up costs when those all came loose were 100X the supposed savings and tires have fallen out of favor as clever quick fixes since then.

Leave it to people in Tennessee to find a new use for old tires.  Oak Ridge National Laboratory
researchers have found a way to use them to make better lithium-ion batteries.


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Oxidized Lipids: Protein In HDL May Be Key To Treating Pulmonary Hypertension

Science2.0 - August 28, 2014 - 8:00pm

Oxidized lipids are known to play a key role in inflaming blood vessels and hardening arteries, which causes diseases like atherosclerosis. A new study at UCLA demonstrates that they may also contribute to pulmonary hypertension, a serious lung disease that narrows the small blood vessels in the lungs.

Using a rodent model, the researchers showed that a peptide mimicking part of the main protein in high-density lipoprotein (HDL), the so-called "good" cholesterol, may help reduce the production of oxidized lipids in pulmonary hypertension. They also found that reducing the amount of oxidized lipids improved the rodents' heart and lung function.


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E-Cigarettes Versus Cigarettes: 10X Decrease In Second-Hand Smoke

Science2.0 - August 28, 2014 - 7:30pm

In the culture war on cigarette smoking that lingered long after the science and health issues were settled, nothing spoke to the fuzzy, non-evidence-based nature of arguments than claims that second-hand smoke would give someone lung cancer.

Cigarette smoking is annoying and smelly, to be sure, and asthmatics can't be happy in a smoke-filled room any more than non-smokers are, but there are no instances where second-hand smoke has caused cancer. The American Heart Association recently went to war on electronic-cigarettes, a nicotine vapor device, after embracing nicotine patches and lozenges, and some of the claims they made in their policy recommendation defied belief, like that second-hand smoke from e-cigarettes could be just as harmful.


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Zombie Bacteria Invasion? Nothing To Worry About

Science2.0 - August 28, 2014 - 7:30pm

Cellular reproduction seems simple but the ability to faithfully copy genetic material and distribute it equally to daughter cells is fundamental to all forms of life - and complex. Even seemingly simple single-celled organisms must have the means to meticulously duplicate their DNA, carefully separate the newly copied genetic material, and delicately divide in two to ensure their offspring survive.


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How To Save Brazil’s Atlantic Forest On A Shoestring Budget

Science2.0 - August 28, 2014 - 7:01pm


The Brazilian Atlantic forest is home to animals, birds, plants, and tourist trains. Credit: EPA

By Cristina Banks-Leite, Imperial College London

Brazil’s Atlantic forest – Mata Atlântica – is one of the world’s great biodiversity hotspots, rivalling even the Amazon. Running on and off for several thousand kilometres along the coast, the forest is home to 10,000 plant species that don’t exist anywhere else, more bird species than the whole of Europe, and more than half of the country’s threatened animal species.

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Non-Adaptive Evolution In Cicada Gut: 2 Genomes Function As 1

Science2.0 - August 28, 2014 - 6:36pm

Organisms in a symbiotic relationship will often shed genes as they come to rely on the other organism for crucial functions but researchers have uncovered an unusual event in which a bacterium that lives in a type of cicada split into two species - doubling the number of organisms required for the symbiosis to survive.


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New Solutions To Recycle Fracking Water

Science2.0 - August 28, 2014 - 6:30pm

Rice University scientists have produced a detailed analysis of water produced by hydraulic fracturing of three gas reservoirs and suggest environmentally friendly remedies - advanced recycling rather than disposal of "produced" water pumped back out of wells - could calm fears of accidental spillage and save millions of gallons of fresh water a year.


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The Saddam Tapes: Hussein Was A Mass-Murdering Despot, But A Sincere One

Science2.0 - August 28, 2014 - 6:00pm

Politicians often say one thing in public and other things in private. That is no surprise, people in all jobs do the same thing.

Saddam Hussein, the genocidal former dictator of Iraq, has left a legacy most despots do not; he recorded so many of his private conversations that political scientists can analyze what he said in private and compare those to his public statements. Their conclusion; he believed what he said.


Very bad man, but he believed in his badness. 
Credit: Mid-East Wire


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Better At Computer Games? You Probably Have A Better Vocabulary

Science2.0 - August 28, 2014 - 6:00pm

It is not a "All your base are belong to us" world in video games any more.

Today, if you want to make a mark in the world of computer games you had better have a good English vocabulary, according to a study by the University of Gothenburg and Karlstad University, Sweden. And games do.

The study confirms what many parents and teachers already suspected: young people who play a lot of interactive English computer games gain an advantage in terms of their English vocabulary compared with those who do not play or only play a little.


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Ontario Is A Worldwide Inflammatory Bowel Disease Hub

Science2.0 - August 28, 2014 - 6:00pm

Why do so many people in Ontario have inflammatory bowel disease? One in every 200 Ontarians has been diagnosed with IBD, an increase by 64 percent between 1999 and 2008, according to a study by researchers at the Institute for Clinical Evaluative Sciences (ICES), the Children's Hospital of Eastern Ontario (CHEO), and the Ottawa Hospital Research Institute.

That puts Ontario in the 90th percentile for IBD prevalence in the world.

The study in Inflammatory Bowel Diseases is the first and largest Canadian study of IBD – including Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis ─ to demonstrate trends in incidence over time, and the first to review the rate of IBD in different age groups.


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