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Love & Math, A Review Of Edward Frenkel’s Bestseller, A Math Planetarium

September 4, 2015 - 3:57pm

Before "Love and Math" I had a bad attitude about pure math. I’m fairly certain that mathematician Morris Kline didn’t like pure mathematicians either. Here’s a quote from his book, “Mathematics, The Loss of Certainty.”

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Isthminia Panamensis: New Species Of Ancient River Dolphin Discovered

September 4, 2015 - 1:00pm

Examination of fossil fragments from Panama has led Smithsonian scientists and colleagues to the discovery of a new genus and species of river dolphin that has been long extinct. The team named it Isthminia panamensis. The specimen not only revealed a new species to science, but also shed new light onto the evolution of today's freshwater river dolphin species.


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Aspartame: Believe Science, Or A Homeopath Like Joe Mercola?

September 4, 2015 - 12:38pm

I’ll be honest, I like Equal. If I had my way, my morning would consist of a kiss from my wife and a cup of Double Black Diamond Extra Bold coffee with a packet of Equal and a little bit of French Vanilla creamer thrown in. Super bold coffee with sweetness added? I like contrasts.

What’s even more of a contrast, and more confusing to people who know me, is that someone who won’t eat store-bought jelly - doesn't even want it in the house - someone who would, given his way, never let his family eat anything that wasn’t grown, killed, processed and cooked by anyone but him, would consume an “artificial” sweetener at all.

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Why Girls Are Less Interested In Computer Science: Classrooms Are Too 'Geeky'

September 4, 2015 - 12:30pm

Despite billions of dollars in outreach programs designed to lure women into computer programming, and companies mandating that more women be hired, most females would rather go into something involving people.

Yet a new survey of 270 high school students concludes that three times as many girls would interested in enrolling in a computer science class if the classroom was redesigned to be less "geeky" and more inviting.

So we can knock Barbie dolls and pink clothes, but they are appealing to the market that is rather than the market some academics would like it to be. The notion that women and men are the same has become passe.


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Fish Oil Diet Versus Gut Microbes

September 4, 2015 - 12:00pm

Diets rich in fish oil versus diets rich in lard produce very different bacteria in the guts of mice, reports a study from Sahlgrenska Academy published in Cell Metabolism.

The researchers transferred these microbes into other mice to see how they affected health. The results suggest that gut bacteria share some of the responsibility for the beneficial effects of fish oil and the harmful effects of lard.


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Relativistic Heavy Ion Collider Confirms Tiny Drops Of Early Universe 'Perfect' Fluid

September 4, 2015 - 11:30am

The Relativistic Heavy Ion Collider (RHIC) at Brookhaven National Laboratory smashes large nuclei together at close to the speed of light to recreate the primordial soup of fundamental particles that existed in the very early universe. Experiments at RHIC have shown that this primordial soup, known as quark-gluon plasma (QGP), flows like a nearly friction free "perfect" liquid. 

New RHIC data just accepted for publication in the journal Physical Review Letters now confirm earlier suspicions that collisions of much smaller particles can also create droplets of this free-flowing primordial soup, albeit on a much smaller scale, when they collide with the large nuclei.


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The Dynamical Origin Of Quantum Mechanics (I)

September 4, 2015 - 1:15am
What can be really said about the physical origin and the ultimate nature of the properties of matter described by Quantum Mechanics? -->

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Study Finds Atrazine Pesticide Doesn't Impact Aquatic Plant Life

September 3, 2015 - 10:57pm
A recent study found that the herbicide atrazine, common for weed control in corn and sorghum crops in large-scale farming operations, does not have any measurable impact on aquatic plant life over the long term.

Atrazine has been used for decades and some studies have contended that it might have an impact in laboratory experiments. It has a “level of concern” as identified by United States Environmental Protection Agency, The study authors say this research is the first to address atrazine levels as they would “naturally occur in agricultural areas during rainfall runoff events.”
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Caffeine Is A Drug - And The FDA Is Right To Crack Down

September 3, 2015 - 4:00pm
It’s about time. The FDA is cracking down on the sale of a natural substance that most of us consume every day. It is the chemical caffeine, and it’s the “energy” in energy drinks. (This is a misnomer. They should be called “drinks that do nothing until a chemical stimulant is added.”)

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We Need A Legal Definition Of Artificial Intelligence

September 3, 2015 - 3:30pm
When we talk about artificial intelligence (AI) – which we have done lot recently, including my outline on The Conversation of liability and regulation issues – what do we actually mean?

AI experts and philosophers are beavering away on the issue. But having a usable definition of AI – and soon – is vital for regulation and governance because laws and policies simply will not operate without one.

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Bt Spray In The Organic Movement: Hypocrisy Or Scientific Illiteracy?

September 3, 2015 - 3:00pm
We’ve been saying for years that the anti-GMO folks haven’t a scientific leg to st -->

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Copters, Drones - Location Data Is Changing The World

September 3, 2015 - 1:30pm
Behind the success of the new wave of location based mobile apps taking hold around the world is digital mapping.

Location data is core to popular ride-sharing services such as Uber and Lyft, but also to companies such as Amazon or Domino’s Pizza, which are testing drones for faster deliveries.

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Thanks For The Wake: Catered Funerals Began In The Mid-east

September 3, 2015 - 12:58pm

By Joel Shurkin, Inside Science - Once upon a time, there lived a people we call the Natufians. They were among the first to quit their nomadic ways and settle on land where they grew crops, lived in complex settlements, put up stone buildings, domesticated dogs, and might have invented cemeteries before their society disappeared into the mists of history.

Israeli researchers now think they also may have developed a unique telegraph system to let everyone know when a catered funeral was underway and were among the first people to put up grave markers.

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College Student Marijuana Use Highest Since Survey Began

September 3, 2015 - 12:30pm

Both daily and less frequent use of marijuana among college students has risen sharply, to the highest prevalence since the Monitoring The Future study began.

In a silver lining aspect, cigarette smoking continues to decline - marijuana use surpassed daily cigarette smoking in 2014.  Smoking tobacco using a hookah (a type of water pipe) in the prior 12 months rose substantially among college students, from 26 percent in 2013 to 33 percent in 2014. 


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Elderly Men Have The Highest Suicide Rate: Ageism Stops Us From Doing Something About It

September 3, 2015 - 12:00pm

The most recent Australian suicide statistics from 2013 show that, out of the whole population, men aged 85 years and over have the highest suicide rates. While the attention these figures have garnered is a positive sign, this is hardly a new phenomenon.

Over 38 men in every 100,000 of that age group die by suicide, which is more than double the rate among men under 35. The rate is around seven times higher than in women of all ages.

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Neuron Responsible For Alcoholism Found

September 3, 2015 - 11:30am

Scientists have pinpointed a population of neurons in the brain that influences whether one drink leads to two, which could ultimately lead to a cure for alcoholism and other addictions.

A new study finds that alcohol consumption alters the structure and function of neurons in the dorsomedial striatum, a part of the brain known to be important in goal-driven behaviors. The findings could be an important step toward creation of a drug to combat alcoholism. 

"Alcoholism is a very common disease," said Jun Wang, M.D., Ph.D., the lead author on the paper and an assistant professor in the Department of Neuroscience and Experimental Therapeutics at the Texas A&M College of Medicine, "but the mechanism is not understood very well."


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A 3 TeV Dielectron Event By CMS !

September 3, 2015 - 10:56am
The first really exciting thing from Run 2 at the CERN Large Hadron Collider (at least for me) has finally appeared. A 2.9 TeV dielectron event was recorded by CMS on August 22. At this mass a new Z' boson is not excluded by Run 1 searches.... And in the whole Run 1 data the highest-mass dielectron event collected by CMS was only 1.8 TeV. So by raising the centre-of-mass energy by 60% we collect a 60%-higher-mass event, but with 0.5% of the collisions. It is nice to think that the event might really be the first hint of a new resonance ! -->

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After Palmyra, Global Concern About Protecting Cultural Treasures

September 3, 2015 - 1:50am
There has been much public condemnation of the destruction of the Temple of Bel at Palmyra by Islamic State (IS), as well as the wider devastation being inflicted on the cultural heritage of Syria and Iraq by both IS and its opponents in Syria’s civil war.

Both Syria and Iraq are party to all relevant treaties protecting cultural heritage, but this has not stopped the rampant violations. This implies that the problem doesn’t lie with inadequate laws, but rather with compliance and enforcement.

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Superconduction With Stinks — A New Temperature Record

September 2, 2015 - 8:38pm

Back around 1960, at school I enjoyed a laboratory lecture on liquid nitrogen, watching a deep frozen squash ball being shattered at a temperature well below that at which it turns from a rubber into a glass, and then seeing a nail being driven into a block of wood with a hammer whose head was made of frozen mercury.  The repeated impacts left an impression of the nail head in the soft metal.

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Frogs Make Irrational Choices - And What Means For Understanding Animal Mating

September 2, 2015 - 5:45pm

In the attempt to choose a mate, it's no surprise that females will select the more "attractive" of two males, but now a new study reveals that female túngara frogs are susceptible to the "decoy" effect, where the introduction of a third, inferior mate results in the female choosing the less attractive of the first two options.

The results of this study counter the rational choice models that are currently used in sexual selection theory, suggesting they may prove inadequate to explain decisions in socially complex and dynamic mating arenas.

To detect the occurrence of the decoy effect in frogs' mating choices, Amanda Lea and Mike Ryan conducted experiments using 80 female túngaras, which are known to be attracted to male calls of low frequency and long duration.


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