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Cherenkov Effect Improves Radiation Therapy For Patients With Cancer

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.


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EEGs Predict A Movie's Success Better Than Surveys

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. 


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Why Early Triassic Swimming Reptile Fossil Tracks Preserved So Well

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.  -->

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Great Barrier Reef Corals Eat Plastic

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.


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Bonobo: The Forgotten Ape Is Getting Some Spotlight

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.


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Shake It Off Is Not So Easy For People With Depression

March 1, 2015 - 7:53pm

Rejected by a person you like? Just "shake it off" and move on, as music star Taylor Swift says. But while that might work for many people, it may not be so easy for those with untreated depression, a new brain study finds. The pain of social rejection lasts longer for them -- and their brain cells release less of a natural pain and stress-reducing chemical called natural opioids, researchers report in the journal Molecular Psychiatry.

The findings were made in depressed and non-depressed people using specialized brain-scanning technology and a simulated online dating scenario. The research sheds new light on how the brain's pain-response mechanism, called the opioid system, differs in people with depression.


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How Brain Waves Guide Memory Formation

March 1, 2015 - 7:36pm

Our brains generate a constant hum of activity: As neurons fire, they produce brain waves that oscillate at different frequencies. Long thought to be merely a byproduct of neuron activity, recent studies suggest that these waves may play a critical role in communication between different parts of the brain.

A new study from MIT neuroscientists adds to that evidence. The researchers found that two brain regions that are key to learning -- the hippocampus and the prefrontal cortex -- use two different brain-wave frequencies to communicate as the brain learns to associate unrelated objects. Whenever the brain correctly links the objects, the waves oscillate at a higher frequency, called "beta," and when the guess is incorrect, the waves oscillate at a lower "theta" frequency.


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Locations In The Human Genome That Harbor MicroRNAs Tripled

March 1, 2015 - 7:36pm

According to the public databases, there are currently approximately 1,900 locations in the human genome that produce microRNAs (miRNAs), the small and powerful non-coding molecules that regulate numerous cellular processes by reducing the abundance of their targets. New research published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) this week adds another roughly 3,400 such locations to that list. Many of the miRNA molecules that are produced from these newly discovered locations are tissue-specific and also human-specific. The finding has big implications for research into how miRNAs drive disease.


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Misconceptions About The Psychology Of Food Choice

March 1, 2015 - 5:45pm

In a symposium on social psychology, psychologists are challenging the beliefs of other psychologists about the effectiveness of traditional strategies for encouraging healthy eating. 

A paper in the Journal of the American Medical Association observed whether or not photographs of vegetables on a school lunch tray had an impact on the amount of vegetables eaten. The study found that placing photos of carrots and green beans did increase the amounts of vegetables eaten during lunch, but it still was not at levels consistent with government-recommended dietary guidelines. 


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Fixing Outdated Guidelines For Human Vaccine Trials

March 1, 2015 - 4:04pm

A volunteer receives a trial Ebola vaccine at the Centre for Clinical Vaccinology and Tropical Medicine in Oxford, southern England January 16, 2015. Eddie Keogh/Reuters

Recently, Phase II and III trials of two vaccines for Ebola started in West Africa. The development of possible vaccines is welcome news. Like most vaccine trials, the current Ebola trials are being conducted under ethical guidelines derived from US standards for clinical research in human beings.

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Intranasal Radiology Treatment Breaks The Migraine Cycle

March 1, 2015 - 3:05pm
After an interventional radiology intranasal treatment, migraine patients report using less pain-relief medicine for headaches, according to a paper at the Society of Interventional Radiology's Annual Scientific Meeting.

Clinicians used a treatment called image-guided, intranasal sphenopalatine ganglion (SPG) blocks to give patients enough ongoing relief that they required less medication to relieve migraine pain.
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Where Emperor Penguins Survived The Last Ice Age Interglacial

March 1, 2015 - 2:49pm
Too cold for a penguin? An Ice Age brought on by global warming so severe penguins had to move?

Indeed. During the last interglacial, what is colloquially called an ice age though it has been such non-stop for a few million years, only three populations of emperor penguins may have survived, because much of the rest of Antarctica was uninhabitable due to the amount of ice. 
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Cyberbystanders: Most Don't Try To Stop Online Bullies

March 1, 2015 - 2:38pm

In a new study, 221 college students participated in an online chat room in which they watched a fellow student get "bullied" right before their eyes.

Only 10 percent of the students who noticed the abuse directly intervened, either by confronting the bully online or helping the victim.

The abuse wasn't real - the bully and the victim were part of the experiment - but the participants didn't know that.

"The results didn't surprise me," said Kelly Dillon, lead author of the study and a doctoral student in communication at The Ohio State University.

"Many other studies have shown bystanders are reluctant to get involved when they see bullying. The results disappointed me, as a human, but they didn't surprise me as a scientist."


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Methods To Multiply Pluripotent Cells For Potential Therapies Raise Worries About Cancer

March 1, 2015 - 2:38pm

The therapeutic promise of human stem cells is indisputably huge, but the process of translating their potential into effective, real-world treatments involves deciphering and resolving a host of daunting complexities.

Writing in the February 25 online issue of the journal PLOS ONE, researchers at University of California, San Diego School of Medicine, with collaborators from The Scripps Research Institute (TSRI), have definitively shown for the first time that the culture conditions in which stem cells are grown and mass-produced can affect their genetic stability.


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Danceroom Physics: Seeing The Atomic World Through Art

March 1, 2015 - 2:30pm


by Marsha Lewis, Inside Science

(Inside Science TV) – Scientists often examine matter that is invisible to the naked eye. This hidden atomic world is a mystery for most people, but now a scientist created a way for people to imagine what they might see as their own bodies interact with the atoms that surround them.

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The Diversity Challenge Facing Universities

March 1, 2015 - 2:00pm

Academia could take some lessons from Silicon Valley about diversity. Credit: Wikimedia

Last week, MIT released a report that closely examines the state of diversity within the university.

The report considers MIT’s diversity not just in terms of students and faculty, but also looks at the Institute’s non-faculty research staff who represent approximately 28% of the institution as a whole.

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Sun's Impact On Climate Is Greater In Cool Periods

March 1, 2015 - 1:30pm
The activity of the Sun is an important factor in the complex interactions that control our climate. We don't really even understand the impacr of the sun - it is not constant over time, but has greater significance when the Earth is cooler, according to a new paper in Geology.

There has been discussion as to whether variations in the strength of the Sun have played a role in triggering climate change in the past, but more and more research results clearly indicate that solar activity - i.e. the amount of radiation coming from the Sun - has an impact on how the climate varies over time.
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The BBC Must Wake Up To New Media Realities

March 1, 2015 - 4:11am

Ariel between Wisdom and Gaiety. Wikimedia

My advice to the BBC: ignore the House of Commons Culture, Media and Sport committee report on your future at your peril.

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Storks Could Be Poisoned By Pesticides During Migration To Africa

March 1, 2015 - 2:10am

Not all storks migrate to Africa, many spend the winter in the Iberian Peninsula, where landfills have become a permanent source of food. Scientists from Extremadura have analyzed the presence of pollutants and pesticides (some prohibited in Spain) in the blood of nestlings from three colonies, two of which are close to landfill sites, and the results reveal that the main source of contamination can be due to the use of insecticides still used in African countries where the birds migrate to, who transfer their contaminated load onto their offspring through their eggs.


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Tagging Drugs To Stop Counterfeit Medicine

March 1, 2015 - 2:10am

The U.S. and other countries are enacting rules to clamp down on the sales of fake pharmaceuticals, which pose a public health threat. But figuring out a system to track and authenticate legitimate drugs still faces significant obstacles, according to an article in Chemical & Engineering News (C&EN), the weekly newsmagazine of the American Chemical Society.


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