Science2.0

Silicon Is So 20th Century: Let's Compute With Slime

Science2.0 - March 30, 2014 - 3:00pm

Silicon has been very good to us. It has given us Angry Birds and virtual protests we can participate in from the comfort of our home, but it may be time to enter the Age of the Biological Computer.

Writing in the journal Materials Today,researchers reveal details of logic units built using living slime molds, which might act as the building blocks for computing devices and sensors.


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Liberty Is Why The Public Won't Swallow Soda Tax And Size Restrictions

Science2.0 - March 30, 2014 - 2:53pm

Soda taxes and beverage portion size restrictions mandated by government are the poster children for social authoritarian efforts to control behavior but a recent survey in Preventive Medicine finds that the public is not willing to believe that a 15 ounce soda is okay but banning a 17 ounce soda will cure obesity.


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Four In 10 Infants Lack Strong Parental Attachments

Science2.0 - March 30, 2014 - 3:37am

PRINCETON, N.J.—In a study of 14,000 U.S. children, 40 percent lack strong emotional bonds — what psychologists call "secure attachment" — with their parents that are crucial to success later in life, according to a new report. The researchers found that these children are more likely to face educational and behavioral problems.


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US Clean-air Efforts Stay On Target

Science2.0 - March 30, 2014 - 3:37am

HOUSTON – (March 27, 2014) – National efforts in the last decade to clear the air of dangerous particulate matter have been so successful that most urban areas have already attained the next benchmark, according to new research by Rice University.

Atmospheric researchers at Rice studied the state implementation plans (SIPs) from 23 regions mandated by the Environmental Protection Agency to reduce particulate matter (PM) smaller than 2.5 microns (PM 2.5) to less than 15 micrograms per cubic meter by 2009.

The Rice analysis appears this week in the Journal of the Air and Waste Management Association.


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Genetic Variation Linked To Heart Disease Risk Through RNA Machinery

Science2.0 - March 30, 2014 - 3:37am

Researchers have pinpointed a new mechanism of how natural variation in our DNA alters an individual's risk for developing heart disease by interfering with the ability of a developmental gene to interact with a specialized type of RNA. This work expands on previous work identifying the "hidden" causes of complex disease risk, with the goal of unlocking new pathways and potential drug targets for cardiovascular disease.

This latest study led by Thomas Quertermous, MD at Stanford University and Georg Sczakiel, PhD at the University of Lübeck (Germany) was a joint effort between human geneticists and molecular biologists. Postdoctoral scholar, Clint Miller, PhD was the lead author of the study published online in PLOS Genetics on Mar 27.


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Autoimmune Drug May Help Prevent Kidney Disease Caused By Diabetes

Science2.0 - March 30, 2014 - 3:37am

Washington, DC (March 27, 2014) — A drug currently used to treat autoimmune disease may also help prevent the kidney-damaging effects of diabetes, according to a study appearing in an upcoming issue of the Journal of the American Society of Nephrology (JASN). The findings suggest that clinical trials should be designed to test the drug in diabetic patients.

Kidney disease is one of the most serious complications of diabetes. Diabetics who develop kidney disease, or diabetic nephropathy, due to high blood glucose levels may eventually require dialysis or a kidney transplant.


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Marriage Linked To Lower Heart Risks In Study Of 3.5+ Million Adults

Science2.0 - March 29, 2014 - 9:14pm

WASHINGTON (March 28, 2014) — People who are married have lower rates of several cardiovascular diseases compared with those who are single, divorced or widowed, according to research to be presented at the American College of Cardiology's 63rd Annual Scientific Session. The relationship between marriage and lower odds of vascular diseases is especially pronounced before age 50.

"These findings certainly shouldn't drive people to get married, but it's important to know that decisions regarding who one is with, why, and why not may have important implications for vascular health," said Carlos L. Alviar M.D., cardiology fellow, New York University Langone Medical Center, and the lead investigator of the study.


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Ban Second-Hand Smoking And Premature Births, Birth Defects Will Be Reduced

Science2.0 - March 29, 2014 - 8:35pm

Only about 1/6th of the world bans smoking and a new paper in The Lancet seeks to increase that, and implied causality is the way to do it.

Implied causality is fine, of course. No one knew smoking was bad until there was implied causality and then real causality, but in the culture war that seeks to control choice, population statistics are being used to sillier and sillier effect and it begins to border on pseudoscience, like third-hand smoke, and then sociology, like that banning smoking will cut premature births by 10 percent.


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2010 Chile Earthquakes: Water In Plate Boundary Zone Was Key Factor

Science2.0 - March 29, 2014 - 8:20pm

The largest earthquakes occur where oceanic plates move beneath continents. Obviously, water trapped in the boundary between both plates has a dominant influence on the earthquake rupture process.

Writing in
Nature Geoscience (28.03.2014), a group of scientists from the GFZ German Research Centre for Geosciences and from Liverpool University analyzed the Chile earthquake of February, 27th, 2010 and found that the water pressure in the pores of the rocks making up the plate boundary zone was key. 


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How To Get Millions Off Blood Pressure Medication - Change The Guidelines

Science2.0 - March 29, 2014 - 7:15pm

What is high blood pressure? When do you need medication?

The answer was never clear. What is clear is that a lot of people are on medication that may not need it. In February, the Eighth Joint National Committee relaxed the blood pressure goal in adults 60 years and older to 150/90 from 140/90. The result will be that up to 5.8 million U.S. adults will no longer be told they need hypertension medication. That's good for the federal government, which is going to be increasingly concerned about costs as Obamacare is adopted, and it is good for the parts of culture that believe guidelines are created by pharmaceutical companies who control recommendations. It may actually be fine for patients also.


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How To Get Men To Take Them - Note That Statins Can Lead To More Sex

Science2.0 - March 29, 2014 - 3:00pm

Erectile dysfunction is common among older men with cardiovascular risk factors where cholesterol-lowering statins are frequently prescribed.

Matching curves have suggested a negative association between statin therapy and testosterone levels, leading to concerns about the effects of these medications on the quality of erection. Not so, according to a meta-analysis of previous studies on erectile dysfunction and statins. Instead, the authors find that statins are associated with a significant improvement in erectile function, a fact researchers hope will encourage men who need statins to reduce their risk of heart attack to take them. 


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In Space, Astronaut Hearts Work Less, Shrink, And Become More Spherical

Science2.0 - March 29, 2014 - 2:40pm

The heart becomes more spherical when exposed to long periods of microgravity in space, according to a study of 12 astronauts. The research has implications if any progress toward a trip to Mars ever gets made. NASA already has a zero-risk culture and cute robots don't have heart attacks whereas a spaceflight of 18 months or more that could affect astronauts' heart strength may be a concern.

In space, no one can hear your heartbeats - as easily. The heart works a lot less and that leads to less muscle mass, even over a relatively short duration.


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Daylight Saving Impacts The Timing Of Heart Attacks

Science2.0 - March 29, 2014 - 2:28pm

Still feeling the residual effects of springing ahead for daylight saving time? The hour of sleep lost – or gained – may play a bigger, perhaps more dangerous role in our body's natural rhythm than we think. It seems moving the clock forward or backward may alter the timing of when heart attacks occur in the week following these time changes, according to research to be presented at the American College of Cardiology's 63rd Annual Scientific Session.


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Computer Model Quantifies Health Costs Of Air Pollution From Agriculture

Science2.0 - March 29, 2014 - 6:01am

Ammonia pollution from agricultural sources poses larger health costs than previously estimated, according to a numerical model by Harvard University researchers Fabien Paulot and Daniel Jacob, who estimated chemical reactions in the atmosphere to better represent how ammonia interacts in the atmosphere to form harmful particulate matter. The improved simulation helped the scientists narrow in on the estimated health costs from air pollution associated with food produced for export – a growing sector of agriculture and a source of trade surplus.

"The 'cost' is an economic concept to measure how much people are willing to pay to avoid a risk," Paulot said. "This is used to quantify the cost for society but also to evaluate the benefits of mitigation."


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Whether They Reduce Fat Or Not, Obesity Programs Lower Kids' Blood Pressure

Science2.0 - March 29, 2014 - 5:59am

BUFFALO, N.Y. – One of the serious health consequences of obesity is elevated blood pressure (BP), a particular problem in children because research has found that high BP in children usually follows them into adulthood, carrying with it a wide range of possible negative consequences.

Even modest elevations in the BP of adolescents, according to recent research, can pose cardiovascular problems later in life.

A systematic review and meta-analysis of published studies of the effect of child obesity intervention programs on blood pressure has found that whether such programs prevented obesity or not, many of them reduced BP in children. It also found that the most effective programs in this regard promoted both healthy eating and physical activity.


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4,000 Reasons To Love Chemistry - And That's Just In Whisky

Science2.0 - March 28, 2014 - 9:05pm
If there is a pleasant, chemically-induced but culturally acceptable pastime, someone at U.C. Davis is probably studying it. They have one of my favorite beer scholars, Prof. Charles Bamforth, and are even setting up a coffee science group. Their nutrition department has been generously funded by Mars candy company and, no surprise, a whole 'science of chocolate' panel appeared at an AAAS meeting as a result. 
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What Next In The Saturated Fat, Cholesterol And Statin Controversy

Science2.0 - March 28, 2014 - 6:06pm
For decades, Americans have been told that high blood cholesterol as a result of heavy saturated fat intake causes cardiovascular disease.

As such, Statin drugs are often prescribed to curb cardiovascular disease  risk by lowering cholesterol. That convention was challenged by a recent paper.

So now what?
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Improve Biodiversity And Cost By Increasing The Longevity Of Seeds Using Genetic Engineering

Science2.0 - March 28, 2014 - 5:56pm
Researchers have discovered a new way of improving the longevity of plant seeds using genetic engineering. 

The key is over-expression of the ATHB25 gene. This gene encodes a protein that regulates gene expression, producing a new mutant that gives the seed new properties. Researchers have proven that this mutant has more gibberellin -the hormone that promotes plant growth-, which means the seed coat is reinforced as well.

This mechanism is new, as tolerance to stresses such as aging has always been associated with another hormone, abscisic acid, which regulates defenses based on proteins and small protective molecules, instead of producing the growth of structures like gibberellin does. -->

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Spanish Male Fish 'Feminized' By Pollution

Science2.0 - March 28, 2014 - 5:08pm

The University of the Basque Country Cell Biology in Environmental Toxicology group has conducted research using thick-lipped grey mullet and in six zones and report acquisition of feminine features by male fish in all the estuaries, not only in the characteristics of the gonads of the specimens analyzed but also in various molecular markers. 

According to Miren P. Cajaraville, director of the research group, the results -  Arriluze and Gernika in 2007 and 2008, Santurtzi, Plentzia, Ondarroa, Deba and Pasaia since then  -show that "endocrine disruption is a phenomenon that has spread all over our estuaries, which means that, as has been detected in other countries, we have a problem with pollutants."


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Erectile Dysfunction Can Be Reversed Without Medication - Or Cheating On Your Wife

Science2.0 - March 28, 2014 - 4:55pm

Thanks to a constant stream of commercials advertising pharmaceuticals, men know that if they are not spending enough time sitting in a bathtub in the forest, a pill can cure that. Apparently it works for erectile dysfunction also.

But that last part may be a symptom rather than the disease and something as simple as changing lifestyle factors can fix it. 

A new paper highlights the incidence of erectile dysfunction and lack of sexual desire among Australian men aged 35-80 years. Over a five-year period, 31% of the 810 men involved in the study developed some form of erectile dysfunction.


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