Science2.0

Natural History Got Hijacked - It's Time To Take It Back

Science2.0 - March 26, 2014 - 6:34pm

Natural history, the study of organisms in the environment, is in steep decline and for good reason.

A large part of the modern chemophobia that has undermined science acceptance in America is due to natural history - it became a haven for weak observational studies that got media headlines or, in the case of Rachel Carson and "Silent Spring", a book of anecdotes and observations. Modern scientists prefer experiments rather than observations and so the primary use of natural history has been for 'spray and count' practitioners who need to demonize pesticides or BPA or whatever the scare journalism of the week is.


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When It Comes To Genetically Modified Biofuels, Resistance Is Not Futile

Science2.0 - March 26, 2014 - 6:08pm

Researchers with the U.S. Department of Energy Joint BioEnergy Institute have identified the genetic origins of a microbial resistance to ionic liquids, based on a pair of genes discovered in a bacterium native to a tropical rainforest in Puerto Rico, and successfully introduced this resistance into a strain of E. coli bacteria.

Yes, it's Frankenfuel, but hopefully anti-science zealots won't make creating an abomination of nature that leads to less fossil fuels.


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Asteroid Chariklo Has A Ring System Like Saturn

Science2.0 - March 26, 2014 - 6:00pm
Astronomers have announced the surprise discovery that the asteroid Chariklo is surrounded by two dense and narrow rings, by far the smallest object to have rings. 

The rings of Saturn are, of course, one of the most spectacular sights in the sky. Despite many careful searches, no rings had been found around smaller objects orbiting the Sun in the Solar System. Now observations of the distant minor planet (10199) Chariklo as it passed in front of a star have shown that it is surrounded by two fine rings. Minor planet? Yes, the IAU which demoted Pluto has generally made a mess of things and so asteroid and minor planet are interchangeable in common parlance.
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The Psychology Of Why You Want To Know The Plot Of Star Wars VII

Science2.0 - March 26, 2014 - 5:35pm
You want to know what movies are about - and that is why spoilers related to the upcoming "Star Wars" movie and "Avengers 2" and whatever else are so popular.

Hey, you knew how the RMS Titanic met its demise, and you still watched a movie about it, notes Rich Goldstein in The Daily Beast.  I didn't, but most of you did. And Shakespeare knew you wanted to know, that is why you read The Tragedy of Romeo and Juliet and not The Mystery Of Romeo and Juliet.

I know how The Grapes of Wrath is going to end, I still read it over and over again.
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Weekend Science: Is It Safe To Pee In The Pool?

Science2.0 - March 26, 2014 - 3:23pm

Health officials say that holding in your urine when you really have to go can be harmful. But every public pool has signs that prohibit peeing in the pool.

Yet a lot of Olympic swimmers admit to doing it anyway and if you are visiting a public water park and it's not 20 percent urine, count yourself lucky. 

In season 5 of Seinfeld, George and Jerry had this very discussion:

George Costanza: It's not good to hold it in. I read that in a medical journal.
Jerry: Did the medical journal mention anything about standing in a pool of somebody else's urine?


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Outside Television, Here Is What Gunshot Residue Can Really Tell CSI

Science2.0 - March 26, 2014 - 3:05pm

The popular TV series "CSI" may be fiction but real-life crime scene investigators and forensic scientists have been collecting and analyze evidence to determine what happened at crime scenes almost as long as there have been crime scenes.

There is evidence during the Qin dynasty that the Chinese used handprints as evidence in crimes as far back as 2,200 years ago and by the 1860s the process for lifting fingerprints from evidence was developed. As guns became more common, gunpowder residue became a way to know if a weapon was fired.


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How To Make Grilled Meats Better And Healthier - A Beer Marinade

Science2.0 - March 26, 2014 - 2:46pm

Sausage experts know that the key to perfect meat is simmering in beer first - and in Science 2.0's definitive article on outdoor cooking, The Science Of Grilling, we learned that beer has multiple uses in cuisine, and an article in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry adds to this important body of work, noting that a beer marinade helps reduce the formation of potentially harmful substances in grilled meats.


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Why Calvin's Dad Rocks At Explaining Science To Children

Science2.0 - March 26, 2014 - 12:00pm

Gary Larson tapped into the universal absurd. Charles Schulz helped us identify with the underdog in us all. And Bill Watterson accurately represented a father’s profound and boundless knowledge of the universe, as in Calvin’s dad’s explanation that ice floats because, “It’s cold. Ice wants to get warm, so it goes to the top of liquids in order to be nearer the sun.” Or his explanation of relativity: “It’s because you keep changing time zones. See, if you fly to California you gain three hours on a five-hour flight, right?”

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BICEP2, CMB B-modes And Spinorial Space-time

Science2.0 - March 26, 2014 - 11:30am
Would the existence of B-modes in the cosmic microwave background (CMB) radiation be an evidence for inflation? Many influential colleagues claim that this is indeed the case. But their arguments are based on standard cosmological schemes.

Actually, pre-Big Bang patterns beyond conventional cosmology do not require inflation and can generate CMB B-modes.

Two papers by the BICEP2 Collaboration :

BICEP2 I: Detection Of B-mode Polarization at Degree Angular Scales, arXiv:1403.3985 -->

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Scientists Solve Riddle Of White Dwarf Celestial Archaeology

Science2.0 - March 26, 2014 - 8:48am

A decades old space mystery has been solved by an international team of astronomers who investigated hot, young, white dwarfs — the super-dense remains of Sun-like stars that ran out of fuel and collapsed to about the size of the Earth. 

It has been known that many hot white dwarfs atmospheres, essentially of pure hydrogen or pure helium, are contaminated by other elements – like carbon, silicon and iron. What was not known, however, was the origins of these elements, known in astronomical terms as metals.


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Goats Are Far More Clever Than Previously Thought

Science2.0 - March 26, 2014 - 8:43am

"The speed at which the goats completed the task at 10 months compared to how long it took them to learn indicates excellent long-term memory," said co-author Dr Elodie Briefer, now based at ETH Zurich.

Before each learning session, some of the goats had the opportunity to watch another goat to demonstrate the task.

Dr Briefer added: "We found that those without a demonstrator were just as fast at learning as those that had seen demonstrations. This shows that goats prefer to learn on their own rather than by watching others."


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Your Blood Pressure May Be Up Because You're At The Doctor

Science2.0 - March 26, 2014 - 3:09am

Doctors make people nervous. Most people don't go unless something is wrong so they are already anxious. Thus, it is no surprise doctors routinely record blood pressure levels that are significantly higher than levels recorded by nurses, according to a a systematic review led by the University of Exeter Medical School.

The results show that that recordings taken by doctors are significantly higher (by 7/4mmHg) than when the same patients are tested by nurses.


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Mitochondrial DNA Yields Genghis Khan Of Brown Bears

Science2.0 - March 26, 2014 - 1:59am

Genghis Khan is famous in evolution because a giant chunk of the world carries is DNA. A recent story of brown bears shows that males roam much greater distances than females, and mating is part of the agenda. 


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Occasional Drug Use Shows In The Brain

Science2.0 - March 25, 2014 - 11:07pm

Researchers from the University of California, San Diego School of Medicine say occasional use of stimulant drugs, such as cocaine and amphetamines, and prescription drugs such as Adderall have shown up as impaired neuronal activity in the parts of the brain associated with anticipatory functioning among 18- to 24-year-old users.

Among the study's main implications is the possibility of being able to use brain activity patterns as a means of identifying at-risk youth long before they have any obvious outward signs of addictive behaviors.


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Blood Glucose Doesn't Predict Risk Of Cardiovascular Disease

Science2.0 - March 25, 2014 - 9:42pm

It's hard to find an article on food or metabolism that doesn't imply it has implications for predicting cardiovascular disease (CVD) or diabetes.
Because higher glucose levels have been associated with higher CVD incidence, it has been proposed that information on blood sugar control might improve doctors' ability to predict who will develop CVD, according to background information in the article.

But an analysis of nearly 300,000 adults without a known history of diabetes or cardiovascular disease showed adding information about glycated hemoglobin (HbA1c), a measure of longer-term blood sugar control, to conventional CVD risk factors like smoking and cholesterol didn't do much to predict CVD risk.


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Validation Study Results Show Method Can Replace Live Animals In Skin Allergy Tests

Science2.0 - March 25, 2014 - 9:34pm

Phoenix — Guinea pigs and mice can be replaced with a non-animal skin sensitization method that uses a human-derived skin model, according to a study presented today by the PETA International Science Consortium, Ltd., at the Society of Toxicology's annual meeting.

Recent results show that Cyprotex's in vitro skin sensitization assay SenCeeTox® can correctly identify chemicals that cause an allergic response in humans and, unlike many other methods, can predict the potency of the response. This non-animal method uses a three-dimensional, human-derived skin model that accurately replicates many of the key traits of normal human skin, allowing it to be used to test finished products such as gels and creams.


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Sensing Gravity With Acid

Science2.0 - March 25, 2014 - 9:34pm

WOODS HOLE, Mass.—While probing how organisms sense gravity and acceleration, scientists at the Marine Biological Laboratory (MBL) and the University of Utah uncovered evidence that acid (proton concentration) plays a key role in communication between neurons. The surprising discovery is reported this week in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.


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Peach Extract Found To Inhibit Breast Cancer Metastasis

Science2.0 - March 25, 2014 - 9:33pm

Laboratory tests conducted at Texas A&M AgriLife Research have found that treatments with peach extract inhibit breast cancer metastasis in mice, likely due to the mixture of phenolic compounds present in the peach extract, they write in the Journal of Nutritional Biochemistry.

In the western hemisphere, breast cancer is the most common malignant disease for women, he said. In the U.S. last year, the American Cancer Society estimated about 232,340 new cases of invasive breast cancer among women. Most of the complications and high mortality associated with breast cancer are due to metastasis.


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Living Materials - Bacteria That Conduct Electricity And Emit Light

Science2.0 - March 25, 2014 - 7:49pm

Our bones are a matrix of minerals and other substances, including living cells, though most people don't think of them that way and assume bones are 'natural' —  but nature can be coaxed to do all kinds of things.

MIT engineers have coaxed bacterial cells to produce biofilms that can incorporate nonliving materials, such as gold nanoparticles and quantum dots. These "living materials" combine the advantages of live cells, which respond to their environment, produce complex biological molecules, and span multiple length scales, with the benefits of nonliving materials, but they add functions we don't usually associate with biology.

Self-assembling materials


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Extreme Gray Literature - Famous Paintings As Evidence For Earth's Climate Past

Science2.0 - March 25, 2014 - 4:14pm

Tree rings don't lie but if you trust temperature readings before 1980, you are not using a rational approach to science. There are too many cases where the official reader is a thermometer of unknown quality or a television report that used what a farmer who called in from his house said.

if you can't trust old thermometers, can you trust old paintings?   A paper in Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics used the colors of sunsets painted by famous artists to estimate pollution levels in the Earth's past atmosphere. They found that the paintings reveal that ash and gas released during major volcanic eruptions scatter the different colors of sunlight, making sunsets appear more red. 


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