Science2.0

Color Them Stupid: Environmental Working Group Goes After Crayons

Science2.0 - July 11, 2015 - 6:07am
It must be nice to have a job with so much free time on your hands that you can do just about anything, regardless of merit, and not only get away with it, but, rather, be rewarded for it.

Our dear friends, the Environmental Working Group (EWG), perhaps the most scientifically flawed organization out there (and this is no small accomplishment) have decided to take on the (all of a sudden) life and death issue of children drawing with crayons.

Hope you were sitting down when you heard about this.

This non-issue arises from a report, entitled “EWG Tests Find Asbestos in Kids’ crayons, Crime Scene Kits— Even trace exposures to lethal asbestos fibers can cause cancer, other diseases.”
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The Carbohydrate Hypothesis

Science2.0 - July 11, 2015 - 2:48am
Any discussion of carbohydrates in the diet must deal with the Atkins conception of weight loss, because it is so commonly used and it rests in the middle of the debate about the causes of weight gain. Anyone trying to figure out why we've become obese needs to decide, at some point, whether Atkins had the cause and effect of obesity and diabetes correct.

It's easy to dismiss Dr. Atkins. His books are self-promoting (he named the diet, which pre-existed him by 150 years, after himself) and full of hyperbole:
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Climate Change Put Mussels Off The Menu?

Science2.0 - July 11, 2015 - 12:11am

Climate change models predict that sea temperatures will rise significantly, including in the tropics. In these areas, rainfall is also predicted to increase, reducing the salt concentration of the surface layer of the sea. Together, these changes would dramatically affect the microscopic communities of bacteria and plankton that inhabit the oceans, impacting species higher up the food chain. Worryingly, future conditions may favour disease-causing bacteria and plankton species which produce toxins, such as the lethal PST (paralytic shellfish toxin). These can accumulate in shellfish such as mussels and oysters, putting human consumers at risk.


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Not Pesticides, Climate Change Is Putting The Squeeze On Bumblebees

Science2.0 - July 11, 2015 - 12:09am

Though pesticides are getting all of the attention from environmental groups when it comes to concern about bees, the science community instead knows it is mites and climate - were it as simple as pesticides, places like Australia and the United States, where the neonicotinoids often blamed by activists are common, would show losses, but instead they were limited to one section of Europe. 


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Gene Therapy Restores Hearing In Deaf Mice

Science2.0 - July 10, 2015 - 7:37pm

Using gene therapy, researchers at Boston Children's Hospital and Harvard Medical School have restored hearing in mice with a genetic form of deafness. Their work, published online July 8 by the journal Science Translational Medicine, could pave the way for gene therapy in people with hearing loss caused by genetic mutations.

"Our gene therapy protocol is not yet ready for clinical trials--we need to tweak it a bit more--but in the not-too-distant future we think it could be developed for therapeutic use in humans," says Jeffrey Holt, PhD, a scientist in the Department of Otolaryngology and F.M. Kirby Neurobiology Center at Boston Children's and an associate professor of Otolaryngology at Harvard Medical School.


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I've Been Named The New President Of The American Council On Science And Health

Science2.0 - July 10, 2015 - 12:30pm
Science 2.0 family, it is with great pride that I announce I have been named the president of the American Council on Science and Health (ACSH). 
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Grey Squirrels Are Quick Learners

Science2.0 - July 9, 2015 - 11:41pm

They may be viewed by some as an invasive species or a commonplace pest of public parks, but a new study from the University of Exeter has shown that grey squirrels are actually quick learners capable of adapting tactics to improve efficiency and reap the best rewards.

To test the animals' intelligence and mental flexibility researchers invented a task involving a box with 12 sunken wells, four of which were hollow. Of the four, two contained hidden hazelnuts.

The five squirrels observed in the study (named Simon, Arnold, Sarah, Leonard and Suzy) were all given training prior to the task so they were proficient at using their paws or teeth to peel back the layer of paper hiding a nut inside the wells.


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We're Not Alone, But The Universe May Be Less Crowded Than We Think

Science2.0 - July 9, 2015 - 7:31pm

There may be far fewer galaxies further out in the Universe then might be expected, suggests a new study based on simulations and published this week in the Astrophysical Journal Letters.

The simulations show the first results from the Renaissance Simulations, a suite of extremely high-resolution adaptive mesh refinement (AMR) calculations of high redshift galaxy formation and hundreds of well-resolved galaxies. 

"Most critically, we show that the ultraviolet luminosity function of our simulated galaxies is consistent with observations of redshift galaxy populations at the bright end of the luminosity function, but at lower luminosities is essentially flat rather than rising steeply," wrote researchers in their paper. 


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Probiotics, Now For Plants

Science2.0 - July 9, 2015 - 3:57pm

Television commercials assure us that probiotic products are good for our health, with claims ranging from improved digestion to managing allergies and colds,

If so, why wouldn't plants also benefit from certain microbes?


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The Ins And Outs Of QCD

Science2.0 - July 9, 2015 - 2:00pm

Quarks and antiquarks are the teeny, tiny building blocks with which all matter is built, binding together to form protons and neutrons in a process explained by quantum chromodynamics (QCD).

According to QCD, quarks possess one of three charges that allow them to pair in various combinations, such as mesons--elementary particles composed of one quark and its corresponding antiquark. Force carrier particles, known as gluons, hold the quarks together by exchanging and mediating the strong forc e, one of the four fundamental forces.

This structure is the foundation of all matter in the universe, but much is still unknown about why QCD works the way it does.


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Treating Girls-Only Epilepsy

Science2.0 - July 9, 2015 - 1:30pm

A research group has made a breakthrough discovery which could help thousands of young girls worldwide who are suffering from a rare yet debilitating form of epilepsy. The United States pharmaceutical company Marinus Pharmaceuticals is now recruiting affected girls as part of the world's first clinical trial to test the therapy. 

Professor Jozef Gecz, from the University of Adelaide's Robinson Research Institute, was a key player in identifying the responsible gene and mutations in this female-only epileptic syndrome, in 2008 and has now found a treatment for this disorder.


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Previous Claims Of Interbreeding Due To Climate Change Exaggerated

Science2.0 - July 9, 2015 - 1:00pm

One of the questions raised by the prospect of climate change is whether it could cause more species of animals to interbreed. Two species of flying squirrel have already produced mixed offspring and those have somehow been blamed on climate change, along with a hybrid polar bear and grizzly bear cub (known as a grolar bear, or a pizzly). 

A paper in Nature Climate Change tallies the potential number of such pairings and across North and South America it estimates that only about 6 percent of closely related species whose ranges do not currently overlap are likely to come into contact by the end of this century. 


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High Fat Diets Linked To Gut Microbe Changes

Science2.0 - July 9, 2015 - 12:30pm

One Shake Shack French fry may lead you to eat a whole batch, and don't even get started on the power of Doritos. According to a new study using rats, that high-fat indulgence literally changes the populations of bacteria residing inside the gut and also alters the signaling to the brain.

The result? The brain no longer senses signals for fullness, which can cause overeating--a leading cause of obesity. 

The findings presented this week at the Annual Meeting of the Society for the Study of Ingestive Behavior liken a high fat diet to how a sudden significant shift in temperature might impact the people who live in the affected area: Some people will be fine. Others will become ill.


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Genomics - The Biggest Of Big Data

Science2.0 - July 9, 2015 - 11:56am

Each cell in the body contains a whole genome, 3 billion of "letters" known as bases, so the data packed into a few DNA molecules could fill an entire hard drive.

Instead of having one reference genome for study, more and more people are having their DNA sequenced, and that is a truly massive amount of data that will require massive computational and storage capabilities beyond anything previously anticipated, says a new assessment from computational biologists and computer scientists at the University of Illinois and Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory.


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Large Volcanic Eruptions Linked To Climate Variability Since Roman Times

Science2.0 - July 8, 2015 - 6:21pm
It is well established that volcanic eruptions contribute to climate variability but quantifying those impacts has proven challenging due to inconsistencies in historic atmospheric data observed in ice cores and corresponding temperature variations seen in climate proxies such as tree rings.

A new study in Nature resolves those inconsistencies with a new reconstruction of the timing and associated radiative forcing of nearly 300 individual volcanic eruptions extending as far back as the early Roman period.
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Melanoma Mutation Rewires Cell Metabolism

Science2.0 - July 8, 2015 - 2:32pm

A mutation found in most melanomas rewires cancer cells' metabolism, making them dependent on a ketogenesis enzyme, researchers at Winship Cancer Institute of Emory University have discovered. The finding points to possible strategies for countering resistance to existing drugs that target the B-raf V600E mutation, or potential alternatives to those drugs. It may also explain why the V600E mutation in particular is so common in melanomas.

The growth-promoting V600E mutation in the gene B-raf is present in most melanomas, and also in some cases of colon and thyroid cancer. Drugs such as vemurafenib are available that target this mutation, but in clinical trials, after a period of apparent remission, cancers carrying the V600E mutation invariably develop drug resistance.


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Reusable Shopping Bags Encourage Shoppers To Buy Produce -- And Junk Food

Science2.0 - July 8, 2015 - 12:30pm

Bringing reusable bags to the grocery store brings self-identification as an environmentally friendly shopper, but it also influences the things you buy, according to a new paper in the Journal of Marketing.

Reusable bags were correlated to organic food - no surprise there - but also junk food. 


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So You Think You're A Foodie

Science2.0 - July 8, 2015 - 10:42am

Think you're a foodie? Adventurous eaters, known as "foodies," are often associated with indulgence and excess. However, a new Cornell Food and Brand Lab study shows just the opposite -adventurous eaters weigh less and may be healthier than their less-adventurous counterparts.


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$4,200 And Up: Millions Of Children's Lives Saved Through Government Programs

Science2.0 - July 8, 2015 - 1:28am

More than 34 million children's lives have been saved since 2000 because of investments in child health programs at a cost of as little as $4,205 per child, according to a new analysis in The Lancet.

This analysis builds off the work of an international collaboration of researchers and, for the first time, creates a scorecard that allows governments, policymakers, and donors to track investments in child health and to link those investments to child deaths averted across countries in a comparable manner.  


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Arthritis Drug May Be Cheaper Way To Treat Blood Cancers - At 1/1000th The Cost

Science2.0 - July 7, 2015 - 5:00pm
A common arthritis drug may also be an effective way to help treat patients with blood cancers—at one thousandth the cost of another drug that works the same way.

Myeloproliferative neoplasms (MPN) cause an overproduction of blood cells resulting in symptoms that include night sweats, itching, and tiredness. MPNs are most often diagnosed in people in their 50s and 60s. Current treatment is limited to aspirin, removal of excess blood, and mild chemotherapy. 
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