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Updated: 31 min 52 sec ago

The Pollution In Toronto's Subways

April 25, 2017 - 12:00pm
Though subways reduce overall pollution emissions in cities, what is good for society may not be good for the poor people who ride mass transportation. A new study finds that Canadian subways personal exposure to certain pollutants, and that Toronto has the highest levels in Canada.

Sounds awful for city dwellers, right? Breathe easy, the pollutant they measured has yet to be linked to any harm, and no acute deaths, outside government claims when they want to restrict businesses. 
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Emotional Feeding Leads To Emotional Eating

April 25, 2017 - 11:31am
If you hand food to a child when they are sad, or angry, or anything else, they will begin to associate food with those feelings. As adults, this emotional eating will be a tough habit to break. In youth, it will be even more difficult because kids aren't always aware that good things can be bad for you in excess.
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Government: There Is More To Science Than Government-Funded Jobs

April 19, 2017 - 7:32pm
For the better part of this century, the federal government has promoted the notion that only government-funded science is real science, and the private sector is the icky kind that, let's face it, the kind of people who overwhelmingly prefer to stay in academia dislike. (1)
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Can IARC Be Salvaged?

April 19, 2017 - 3:29pm
The IARC monograph program on Evaluation of Carcinogenic Risks must be reformed and brought into the 21st century – or it should be abolished

The World Health Organisation’s International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) monograph program is an outmoded cancer classification scheme that has remained fundamentally unchanged since the monograph program was established in the early 1970s. In the intervening 45 years, scientific understanding of cancer causation has deepened and provided decision makers with an evolving appreciation of how effects seen in laboratory animals should be used to protect human health.

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LHCb Measures Unity, Finds 0.6

April 18, 2017 - 3:15pm
With a slightly anti-climatic timing if we consider the just ended orgy of new results presented at winter conferences in particle physics (which I touched on here), the LHCb collaboration outed today the results of a measurement of unity, drawing attention on the fact that unity was found to be not equal to 1.0. -->

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Predicting Methane Rise, Using A Hydroxyl Radical Estimate

April 17, 2017 - 10:56pm
In the late 2000s, after natural gas uptake caused American carbon dioxide emissions to plummet, panicked environmentalists began to scramble for new ways to campaign on ending so-called fossil fuels. Methane, with 23X the warming power of CO2, was ideal, but they had just spent a decade insisting methane could explain increased warming, because it did not persist long enough.

And it would have started long before then, if the methane were linked to global warming by frozen tundra melting and releasing its methane. But it wasn't detected.
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Kuphus Polythalamia: Giant Sulfur-Powered Shipworm Is The Stuff Of Science Fiction

April 17, 2017 - 8:12pm
A newly named species, a giant, black, mud dwelling, worm-like animal, doesn't seem to eat much, instead it gets its energy from a form of sulfur. 

The public is often confused what 'discovery' means in science. It means it is being identified as a new species, not never seen before. The three- to five-foot long, tusk-like shells that encase the animal were first documented in the 1700s and are fairly common, it's the living animal inside that is being identified as a new species.  
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Bee Science Could Help Dismantle Terrorist Networks

April 17, 2017 - 3:42pm
A new bio-inspired algorithm seems to use the social behavior of bee colonies, which allows them to attack in an optimal way, could help dismantle social networks linked to organized crime, jihadist terrorism, or facilitate the design of vaccination strategies capable of containing the spread of a pandemic.

The tool automatically detects and identifies the most dangerous actors or nodes within a given social network and the density of the interconnected relationships between them, which may help law enforcement authorities make their decisions and act in the most efficient way possible.
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Starbursts In Virgo

April 16, 2017 - 9:01pm
Starburst galaxies are where stars are forming at such a breakneck rate that the galaxy is eating up its gas supply faster than it can be replenished. There are several different factors that can lead to such an ideal environment in which stars can form at such a rapid rate. Crucially, there has to be a sufficiently massive supply of gas. This might be acquired in a number of ways -- for example by passing very close to another galaxy, in a full-blown galactic collision, or as a result of some event that forces lots of gas into a relatively small space.
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Science And The Structure Of An Argument: How To Sort Good Information From Bad.

April 16, 2017 - 10:19am

    This content of this blog is adapted from my lecture on Cognitive Bias in Decision Making, for the module Cognition and Emotion. I present this lecture to third year Psychology students at the University of Roehampton, London.

The Structure of an Argument

How to sort good information from bad!

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Waiting For Jupiter

April 14, 2017 - 6:05pm
This evening I am blogging from a residence in Sesto val Pusteria, a beautiful mountain village in the Italian Alps. I came here for a few days of rest after a crazy work schedule in the past few days -the reason why my blogging has been intermittent. Sesto is surrounded by glorious mountains, and hiking around here is marvelous. But right now, as I sip a non-alcoholic beer (pretty good), chilling off after a day out, my thoughts are focused 500,000,000 kilometers away. -->

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Glutamine Deprivation As Therapy For Cancer? Not So Fast

April 14, 2017 - 2:59pm
Since cancer tumors are thought to depend on  large amounts of glutamine to achieve rapid growth, some have speculated that glutamine deprivation is a therapeutic approach.

A new study casts doubt on that. 

Numerous studies have indicated that tumore cannot survive without glutamine, and this has fueld the idea that preventing “glutamine addiction” could be a potential therapeutic strategy. A study now concludes that while glutamine deprivation will halt the proliferation of certain tumor cells, most of them will not be killed, raising questions of whether such a therapeutic intervention will lead to remission in cancers. 
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Accelerating Universe Expansion Without A Need To Invoke Magical Dark Energy

April 12, 2017 - 10:14pm
The umbrella term for the 68 percent of the universe that we can't detect and know nothing about has been given the umbrella term "dark energy." Like wormholes 30 years ago, it is more MacGuffin than science. You could call it aether or magic or any deity name and be just as valid.

But inference says something, or a variety of somethings, must be causing the universe to expand when gravity says it should contract. So dark energy it is.

Except maybe it isn't
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How To Control The Opioid Epidemic In The US

April 11, 2017 - 3:21pm
The opioid epidemic has exploded into the national consciousness in the last two years. While anti-medicine groups seek to lay blame on pharmaceutical companies and doctors who give out prescriptions too easily, other groups wonder why the crack epidemic, which was far worse, got less attention, and suggest it is because addiction is exculpatory when the victims are white.
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SourceWatch: A Website For Political Conspiracy Theorists

April 7, 2017 - 8:08pm

In today's hyper-politicized culture, honest disagreement is a challenge. Social media, which has become a sewage pipe of blatant political partisanship and unscientific propaganda, has accelerated this disturbing trend. If two otherwise intelligent people disagree on something, accusations of being a liar, fraud, or paid shill are often quick to follow.

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Massachusetts Health Care Expansion Increased Thyroid Cancer Surgeries

April 5, 2017 - 9:46pm
Health care expansion in Massachusetts, which became a model for the controversial Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) caused a surge in surgeries for thyroid cancer.

What that means depends on who is doing the framing. One side can argue that surgeons now had the state government paying for everything, so more were done, while another can argue that people were more likely to go to the doctor.

Thyroid cancer diagnoses have gone up about 5 percent per year over the last decade. Some is over-diganosis, some may be that the effects of lifestyles in previous generations are catching up to people, but few argued it was due to health care expansion. 
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Truvia Doesn't Kill Houseflies, They Starve To Death

April 5, 2017 - 4:46pm
Activist groups have continually perpetuated claims about artificial sweeteners, without noting that they are in animal models - and a billion rats have been killed by chemicals found in every food - and that to get similar risk in humans, you would need to drink 7,000 diet sodas per day.

But animal models are not fans of the "natural" sweetener Truvia either. A study tested survival rates of house flies (Musca domestica), on erythritol--the main ingredient in Truvia--compared to natural sugar, agar, and water alone. They found that the flies both strongly preferred high-calorie natural sugar when presented with the choice and, when fed only erythritol, they died no faster than when fed only water or agar.
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Betel Quid Chewers May Give Chantix Users A Safer Way To Kick The Smoking Habit

April 5, 2017 - 12:58pm
Betel quid is areca nuts mixed with betel, and sometimes tobacco, leaves. It creates a sense of euphoria so many of the 600 million users are addicted, even though it can cause harm. Quids are prepared by mixing sliced areca nuts with slaked lime (calcium hydroxide), spices, sweets and in some cases tobacco, and wrapping the concoction in leaves from the betel vine.

Quid chewing turns users' teeth bright red and forces them to spit out a lot of red saliva, which discolors local sidewalks and buildings. Quid use is addictive and leads to serious health effects including oral cancer and cardiovascular issues.
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Winter 2017 LHC Results: The Higgs Is Still There, But...

April 4, 2017 - 5:32pm
Snow is melting in the Alps, and particle physicists, who have flocked to La Thuile for exciting ski conferences in the past weeks, are now back to their usual occupations. The pressure of the deadline is over: results have been finalized and approved, preliminary conference notes have been submitted, talks have been given. The period starting now, the one immediately following presentation of new results, when the next deadline (summer conferences!) is still far away, is more productive in terms of real thought and new ideas. Hopefully we'll come up with some new way to probe the standard model or to squeeze more information from those proton-proton collisions, lest we start to look like accountants! -->

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Long Telomeres Linked To Higher Cancer Risk

April 4, 2017 - 10:30am
Telomeres, repeated sequences of DNA that shorten every time a cell divides, have been linked to an increased cancer risk. The length of the telomere “caps” of DNA that protect the tips of chromosomes may provide an avenue for future therapy.

The researchers presenting at American Association for Cancer Research analyzed blood samples and health data on more than 28,000 Chinese people enrolled in the Singapore Chinese Health Study, which has followed the health outcomes of participants since 1993. As of the end of 2015, 4,060 participants had developed cancer.
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