Science2.0

Microbicides That Target HIV Don't Work In Presence Of Semen

Science2.0 - November 12, 2014 - 9:30pm

In the fight against HIV, microbicides, which are chemical compounds applied topically to the female genital tract to protect against sexually transmitted infections, are touted as an alternative to condoms.

There's just one problem. They don't work outside a petri dish. Clinical trials using microbicides have failed and a new study from the Gladstone Institutes and the University of Ulm finds that this may be due to the primary mode of transportation of the virus during sexual transmission, semen.


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Supercentenarians - World's Oldest Living People Get Whole-Genome Sequences Published

Science2.0 - November 12, 2014 - 8:38pm

17 genomes of supercentenarians, people living beyond 110 years of age, haven't led us any closer to discovering protein-altering variants significantly associated with extreme longevity, according to a study in PLOS ONE by Hinco Gierman from Stanford University and colleagues.

There are 74 supercentenarians alive worldwide, with 22 in the United States. The authors of this study performed whole-genome sequencing on 17 of them to explore the genetic basis underlying extreme human longevity. 


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Modafinil: If You Believe In 'Smart' Drugs, You Are Dumb

Science2.0 - November 12, 2014 - 8:26pm

If surveys are accurate, up to 20 percent of students have taken Modafinil (Provigil), a psychostimulant embraced by "lifehackers" in the naturalistic crowd, to boost their ability to study and improve their chances of exam success. 

It is claimed, mostly by other students and readers of New York Magazine, that Modafinil is a 'smart' drug. Yet that isn't the case. Just like people without celiac disease are actually damaging their health giving up gluten and replacing it with the extra sugar, extra fat, hydroxypropyl methyl cellulose and xanthan gum found in gluten-free foods, healthy students who take Modafinil instead find their performance impaired by the drug. 


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Fracking Chemicals No More Toxic Than Common Household Substances

Science2.0 - November 12, 2014 - 8:01pm

In hydraulic fracturing - fracking - a mixture of sand, water and chemicals is injected into deep wells to release fossil fuels. This has led to environmental corporation claims that the reduced emissions from natural gas are being offset environmentally by surfactants.

A surfactant is basically a detergent. It reduces the surface tension between water and oil, allowing for more oil to be extracted from porous rock underground. 

 A University of Colorado Boulder study has found there is little to fear. The surfactant chemicals found in samples of fracking fluid collected in five states were no more toxic than substances commonly found in homes - including organic products.


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Homeopathy For Dogs

Science2.0 - November 12, 2014 - 8:00pm
Can homeopathy actually work if someone knows it is a placebo? What if, for example, a skeptical Science 2.0 group was told they got a placebo and that nutritionists were getting medicine? Would we feel better anyway?(1)

Of course it's possible, it just wouldn't be due to magic water. It's a mystery of biology why some people just feel better taking something. That is why homeopathy still exists a few hundred years after its invention even though it has never worked.(2)

Does the placebo effect apply to dogs? Do they understand the concept of medicine? If not, they have a placebo effect.
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New Genetic Engineering Insight Could Curb Need For Fertilizers Even More

Science2.0 - November 12, 2014 - 6:48pm

In the last 30 years, the United States has grown more food using less land and with less environmental strain than ever believed possible. Fertilizers are better, pesticides are better and genetic modification has led to less need for both.

But some scientifically developing nations, including much of Europe, are still using more antiquated approaches, and then means a lot of nitrogen. Nitrogen boosts plant growth and yield even on poor soils, which helps plants avoid the typical characteristics of nitrogen deficiency - stunted growth and pale or yellow leaves - but in environmentally intensive approaches like organic farming, the left over nitrogen can be substantial. 


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Rosetta’s Philae Probe Lands On Comet 67P - Holds On For Dear Life?

Science2.0 - November 12, 2014 - 6:12pm
Hey, does anyone want this comet?

For the first time, mankind has successfully landed on a comet - a journey over 10 years in the making.

After a seven-hour final descent, Rosetta’s Philae probe signaled from the surface of Comet 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko and the message arrived on Earth at 16:03 GMT, completing the longest part of a 4 billion mile journey through the solar system.

The landing site, named Agilkia and located on the head of the bizarre double-lobed object, was chosen based on images and data collected at distances of 30–100 km from the comet. Those first images soon revealed the comet as a world littered with boulders, towering cliffs and daunting precipices and pits, with jets of gas and dust streaming from the surface.
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6 Billion Dollar Man Progress: An Artificial Retina

Science2.0 - November 12, 2014 - 5:50pm

The Six Billion Dollar Man is getting a little bit closer, not just to movie theaters, but in real life. 

A new development toward a prosthetic retina could help counter conditions that result from retinal degeneration, a life-altering health issue for many people, especially as they age.


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Sugary Drink Impact On Adolescent Metabolic Health Overstated

Science2.0 - November 12, 2014 - 5:19pm

Trans fats are bad, they damage metabolic health in kids, according to experts and policy makers. So they were banned. Happy Meals too. And drinks with sugar.

It's fashionable in nutritional circles to demonize sodas but they also embrace a lot of unsubstantiated food fads. How much real prospective fact-finding has gone into their beliefs?
Not much, it is instead epidemiology putting two curves next to each other and declaring causation. 


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Autophagy: Acute And Chronic Effects Of Treatment With Antidepressants

Science2.0 - November 12, 2014 - 5:00pm

FK506 binding protein 51 (FKBP51) is an Hsp90 co-chaperone and regulator of the glucocorticoid receptor, and consequently of stress physiology. It regulates acute and chronic effects of treatment with antidepressants via autophagic pathways (processes by which cells break down and recycle their components) in mice and is linked to the clinical response to antidepressants in humans, according to a new paper. 


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Too Much Self Esteem Harms Kids' Relationships At School

Science2.0 - November 12, 2014 - 4:31pm

Did you spend those pre-school years telling your child how smart and wonderful they are? School is going to be an unwelcome dose of reality.

 While we all want kids to be self-confident, unrealistic perceptions of academic abilities can be harmful, a new study of eighth-graders finds. The more one student feels unrealistically superior to another, the less the two students like each other. 
 


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Tree Disease Helps Forests

Science2.0 - November 12, 2014 - 4:25pm

When it comes to human life, we never think about culling the herd, instead the goal is to keep as many people alive and healthy as possible.

But in nature, that isn't the best approach. Some plant diseases attack trees and crops and can hurt lumber and food production, but pathogens that kill tree seedlings can actually make forests more diverse.


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Opportunity Is Often The Mother Of Invention, Not Necessity

Science2.0 - November 12, 2014 - 4:14pm

Policy makers and amateur psychology pundits think "necessity is the mother of invention" - and sometimes it is, that is why that became a saying, but plain old opportunity matters a lot. Natural gas had been around for 70 years, for example, and the United States has plenty of coal, but hydraulic fracturing, a modern form of extraction, has made natural gas cheaper and led to reduced greenhouse gas emissions, a competitive advantage and a 'win' for the environment - it was developed due to opportunity, not necessity.


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Alzheimer's Costs Are About To Boom

Science2.0 - November 12, 2014 - 3:50pm

As baby boomers, originally the children born in 1946, after soldiers returned home from World War II in 1945 but later extended out to be an entire generation, move into old age, the financial burden of Alzheimer's disease in the United States will skyrocket to $1.5 trillion from current  from $307 billion
estimates, according to health policy scholars at the USC Leonard D. Schaeffer Center for Health Policy and Economics.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, in 2012, 43.1 million Americans were 65 and older, constituting 14 percent of the population. By 2050, that number will more than double to 83.7 million, constituting 21 percent of the population.


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Why Body Image Needs Regulation

Science2.0 - November 12, 2014 - 1:00pm

Blaming 'Jordan syndrome' doesn't really cut it. British celebrity Katie Price (R) on the red carpet before the start of the Vienna State Opera Ball in Vienna, Austria, 11 February 2010. Robert Jaeger/EPA

By Jacqueline Sanchez Taylor, University of Leicester

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KSORT Assay: Genes Identify Transplant Rejection Chances

Science2.0 - November 12, 2014 - 12:50am

Acute rejection after kidney transplantation occurs in about 15% of patients despite immunosuppressive therapy and this rejection is usually heralded by an increase in the patient's serum creatinine, a marker of kidney function. A kidney biopsy is then performed to confirm whether rejection is taking place.

Yet elevated creatinine is not sufficiently sensitive to identify all early rejection or specific enough to prevent some unnecessary kidney biopsies, so a noninvasive means of identifying acute rejection is needed.


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Assertive Female Sexuality Is Often Pathologized

Science2.0 - November 11, 2014 - 11:00pm

Sharon Stone, in Basic Instinct, dramatized the catastrophic actions of a clever yet unhinged woman. EPA/ Peter Foley

By Suzie Gibson

Mental illness and women’s sexuality are frequently aligned – on screen and off. The father of psychoanalysis, Sigmund Freud, pathologized women’s sexuality. Indeed, his definition of a woman as someone lacking a penis has underwritten depictions of women’s sexuality.

Countless novels, films and TV programs continually pathologize women through and because of their sexuality.

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AR2192: Giant Sunspot Returns, Bigger And Badder Than Ever

Science2.0 - November 11, 2014 - 9:41pm

10 Earths could be laid across the diameter of the gigantic sunspot in AR2191 during its previous rotation, captured on October 23, 2014. NASA’s Solar Dynamic Observatory

By Paul Cally, Monash University

The largest sunspot seen in 24 years is rotating back to face the Earth, and it looks to have grown even bigger.

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Why The Rosetta Comet Mission Is Such A Big Deal

Science2.0 - November 11, 2014 - 9:22pm

Rosetta: Firing harpoons in space. ESA/ATG medialab

By Alan Fitzsimmons, Queen's University Belfast

The first attempted landing on the surface of a comet is a huge landmark in the history of space exploration that will not only uncover further details about comets but could unlock further clues about the origins of our solar system and the development of life on Earth.

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Natural Selection And Homeopathy

Science2.0 - November 11, 2014 - 8:38pm
Forget the Higgs Boson, the Landing on Comets, Missions to Mars, the Genome Project, Nanostructures and all that. This start of this new millennium looks like the dark ages to me if I have to gauge it from discussions I overhear in public places. 
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