Science2.0

Synthetic Biology: New Method Makes Protein Engineering More Accessible

Science2.0 - March 2, 2015 - 7:00pm
Deep in the heart of synthetic biology are the proteins that make it tick and that is why protein engineering is crucial to the new discipline: Scientists grow, harvest, and reprogram proteins to become new drug therapeutics, environmentally friendly fuels, and vaccines.

But producing proteins quickly and in large quantities has been and remains a major challenge in the field, so Northwestern University synthetic biologist Michael Jewett and colleagues have pioneered a new protein production method that is faster and cheaper than ever before, making synthetic biology research more accessible for laboratories everywhere--even in high schools.
-->

read more

Categories: Science2.0

Are You Cut Out To Be A Teacher? The VAIL Assessment Might Be Able To Tell

Science2.0 - March 2, 2015 - 6:16pm
In America, teachers with tenure can't be fired and so it is more important than ever that the best people get the jobs in the first place. 

Accountability is not going away in the American educational system, and neither are education unions, so new mechanisms for selecting individuals into teacher preparation could boost the quality. A new Video Assessment of Interactions and Learning (VAIL)  tool can inform teacher selection and help stop the ongoing educational reform undertaken by each new administration. 
-->

read more

Categories: Science2.0

Do You Want To Donate Your Genetic Information After Death?

Science2.0 - March 2, 2015 - 5:56pm
After they die, people are happy to donate their hearts, their eyes, even whole skeletons, without knowing anything at all about what will happen to them.

What about genetic information? 

Under current law, your genetic information is not inherited by default, so a child with a heritable form of cancer can't access their parent's genetic information after death if no consent was ever established. Clearly there needs to be a policy in the post-Human Genome Project age.
-->

read more

Categories: Science2.0

Too Much Of A Good Thing: Warning Labels For Licorice Advocated

Science2.0 - March 2, 2015 - 4:36pm
A 10-year-old boy suffered seizures after over-indulging in licorice sweets and that has led to calls for manufacturers to put a warning on the labels of licorice. 

After suffering a 2 minute tonic-clonic seizure, a 10-year-old boy was admitted to hospital in Bologna, Italy.  Three more generalized seizures occurred over the next few hours and so Dr. Davide Tassinari and colleagues used cranial computed tomography (CT) and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), to investigate the possibility of posterior reversible encephalopathy syndrome (PRES), but the major clinical conditions that lead to PRES were all ruled out.
-->

read more

Categories: Science2.0

Young Adult Brains Have Amyloid Clumps Linked To Alzheimer's

Science2.0 - March 2, 2015 - 4:31pm
Amyloid, an abnormal protein whose accumulation in the brain is a hallmark of Alzheimer's disease, starts accumulating inside neurons of people as young as 20, a much younger age than scientists ever imagined, according to a new study based  on brains obtained from the Northwestern University Alzheimer's Disease Center Brain Bank and from pathologists throughout the United States.  
-->

read more

Categories: Science2.0

Francis Halzen On Cosmogenic Neutrinos

Science2.0 - March 2, 2015 - 4:00pm
During the first afternoon session of the XVI Neutrino Telescopes conference (here is the conference blog, which contains a report of most of the lectures and posters as they are presented) Francis Halzen gave a very nice account of the discovery of cosmogenic neutrinos by the IceCube experiment, and its implications. Below I offer a writeup - apologizing to Halzen if I misinterpreted anything.

-->

read more

Categories: Science2.0

Teens At Risk For Synthetic Marijuana Use

Science2.0 - March 2, 2015 - 3:30pm
Synthetic cannabinoids ("synthetic marijuana"), with names like Spice, K2, Scooby Doo and hundreds of others, are often sold as a safe, "legal" alternative to marijuana but that is just marketing by drug dealers. Synthetic marijuana was linked to 11,561 reports of poisonings in the United States between January 2009 and April 2012. 

It's no surprise that it has grown popular among teens, that is why legal businesses like cigarettes and alcohol cannot market to kids. In 2011, synthetic marijuana was used by 11.4% of high school seniors in the US, making it the most commonly used drug - after real marijuana. 
-->

read more

Categories: Science2.0

Epigenetics: Metabolic Disease Due To Your Grandmother

Science2.0 - March 2, 2015 - 3:13pm
Low birth weight is indicative of various problems and fortunately modern science has made it possible for more low-birth weight babies than ever to thrive, survival is over 94 percent for children born in the third trimester of pregnancy.

But low birth weight is being linked to residual effects and in a new paper researchers find that underweight infants may eventually become the grandparents of children at a higher risk for metabolic problems like high cholesterol, diabetes, and obesity, according to a new study.
-->

read more

Categories: Science2.0

Energy-Space Photography Captures Light Behaving As A Wave And A Particle

Science2.0 - March 2, 2015 - 2:45pm
Quantum mechanics tells us that light can behave simultaneously as a particle or a wave, but researchers haven't been able to capture both natures of light at the same time; the closest we have come is seeing either wave or particle at different times.

When UV light hits a metal surface, it causes an emission of electrons. Albert Einstein explained this "photoelectric" effect by proposing that light - thought to only be a wave - is also a stream of particles. Even though a variety of experiments have successfully observed both the particle- and wave-like behaviors of light, they have never been able to observe both at the same time.
-->

read more

Categories: Science2.0

Antipsychotics For Poor Kids Are Booming, It's Time To Look At Prescriber Decision-Making

Science2.0 - March 2, 2015 - 2:33pm

Antipsychotic medications for pediatric patients climbed 62 percent for children on Medicaid between 2002 and 2007, reaching 2.4 percent of those youth. Unless we really believe that poor kids are undergoing an epidemic of bipolar disorder and schizophrenia, it's time to examine prescription practices. 

More kids nationwide are taking medications designed to treat such mental illnesses as schizophrenia and bipolar disorder, and pediatricians and psychiatrists at the University of Vermont want to know why.

David Rettew, M.D., associate professor of psychiatry and pediatrics at University of Vermont, and colleagues conducted a study to find out "whether the right youth are being prescribed the right medications at the proper time in their treatment."

-->

read more

Categories: Science2.0

Pediatricians Under Pressure From Parents To Spread Out Vaccine Schedule

Science2.0 - March 2, 2015 - 2:25pm
In 2008, President Obama suggested vaccines might be causing autism. In 2009, during the H1N1 swine flu pandemic, there was quickly a vaccine shortage, because the government refused to allow adjuvants, to boost vaccine effectiveness and use less raw material, or multi-dose vials, because they contained a preservative anti-vaccine believers claimed caused autism. 274,000 Americans were hospitalized.
-->

read more

Categories: Science2.0

ALDH2 Enzyme Not Working? Beware Beer And Yogurt

Science2.0 - March 2, 2015 - 2:00pm


Researchers have found that by changing the selectivity of an enzyme, a small molecule could potentially be used to decrease the likelihood of alcohol-related cancers in an at-risk population.


read more

Categories: Science2.0

Our Bright UV-Reflecting Wing Patches Will Settle This!

Science2.0 - March 2, 2015 - 1:31pm

Megaloprepus caerulatus. Credit: Andres Hernandez, STRI

By Jyoti Madhusoodanan, Inside Science

(Inside Science) -- In late April, rain begins to pool in the hollows of trees on Barro Colorado Island in Panama. The water-filled tree holes may seem insignificant, but they're prime real estate – and the sites of intense battles – to giant damselflies (Megaloprepus caerulatus) seeking mates.

-->

read more

Categories: Science2.0

New Treatment For The "Iron Overload Disease"

Science2.0 - March 2, 2015 - 10:57am

Hemochromatosis (HH) is the most common genetic disorder in the western world, and yet is barely known outside biology. In the US 1 in 9 people carry the mutation, though not necessarily the disease.

-->

read more

Categories: Science2.0

Cherenkov Effect Improves Radiation Therapy For Patients With Cancer

Science2.0 - March 2, 2015 - 3:22am

The characteristic blue glow from a nuclear reactor is present in radiation therapy, too. Investigators from Dartmouth's Norris Cotton Cancer Center, led by Brian W. Pogue, PhD, and PhD candidates Adam K. Glaser and Rongxiao Zhang, published in Physics in Medicine and Biology how the complex parts of the blue light known as the Cherenkov Effect can be measured and used in dosimetry to make therapies safer and more effective.

"The beauty of using the light from the Cherenkov Effect for dosimetry is that it's the only current method that can reveal dosimetric information completely non-invasively in water or tissue," said Glaser.


read more

Categories: Science2.0

EEGs Predict A Movie's Success Better Than Surveys

Science2.0 - March 2, 2015 - 2:12am

75 percent of movies released to theaters lose money, making the film industry even less able to pick winners in the private sector than the government. Surely there has to be a better method than greenlighting a movie because another studio is doing the same movie, or because someone has heard of M. Night Shyamalan.

A new study finds that brain activity visible through electroencephalography (EEG) could be a better barometer of success, at least if making money is the goal. 


-->

read more

Categories: Science2.0

Why Early Triassic Swimming Reptile Fossil Tracks Preserved So Well

Science2.0 - March 1, 2015 - 10:49pm
Fossil "swim tracks," a type of vertebrate trace fossil gaining recognition in the field of paleontology, is  made by various tetrapods (four-footed land-living vertebrates) as they traveled through water under buoyant or semibuoyant conditions.

They occur in high numbers in deposits from the Early Triassic,  between the Permian and Jurassic 250 to 200 million years ago. Major extinction events mark the start and end of the Triassic but it is a but of a mystery why tracks from the period are so abundant and well preserved.


Tracy J. Thomson next to a block with numerous swim tracks in Capitol Reef National Park, Utah.  -->

read more

Categories: Science2.0

Great Barrier Reef Corals Eat Plastic

Science2.0 - March 1, 2015 - 10:31pm

Researchers in Australia have found that corals commonly found on the Great Barrier Reef will eat micro-plastic pollution - but there are obviously limits.

Microplastics are tiny fragments of plastic in the environment and are a widespread contaminant in marine ecosystems, particularly in inshore coral reefs. Corals are non-selective feeders and a new study shows that they can consume microplastics when the plastics are present in seawater, but obviously if it increases, corals could be negatively affected as their tiny stomach-cavities become full of indigestible plastic.

Despite the proliferation of microplastics, their impact on marine ecosystems is poorly understood.


read more

Categories: Science2.0

Bonobo: The Forgotten Ape Is Getting Some Spotlight

Science2.0 - March 1, 2015 - 10:31pm

Credit: Brill

In some ways, bonobos and chimpanzees are more similar to humans than they are each other and for that reason bonobos can provide an extremely powerful test of ideas about human uniqueness, as well as being crucial to determining the evolutionary processes by which cognitive traits evolve in apes.

A special issue of Behaviour includes twelve empirical studies focusing on the behavior and cognition of both captive and wild bonobos (Pan paniscus). The contributors believe that a renaissance in bonobo research is underway.


read more

Categories: Science2.0