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Good Science Is Not Enough: To Succeed In Academia, Grad Students Need To Work The System

November 4, 2014 - 6:55pm

There are a number of government-funded campaigns to promote more participation in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) fields, with the promise that a PhD means basic discovery and improving the human condition.

Yet what is left out of expensive marketing efforts is that there are now 6 PhDs for every job in academia - just because more people want to work at a university does not mean the government will increase funding to pay for it.  Instead of selling STEM careers to students, the National Science Foundation would be doing a greater service by showing students that academia is a lot like the corporate world - you will have to compete to get ahead, otherwise you will be trapped in a low-end job in a lab forever.


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Gut Bacteria Blamed For Heart Disease

November 4, 2014 - 6:29pm

It's hard to have our steak and eat it too. Red meat was once implicated in a wave of studies and linked to heart disease and other maladies, before being absolved.

But the microbiome and the surge in advertising for probiotics to promote 'healthy' gut bacteria has implicated red meat again - this time by correlating a nutrient that the authors say is changed by gut bacteria into an atherosclerosis-causing metabolite, which means hardening of the arteries.


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Oops, Just Lab Contamination: GMO Genes Do Not Pass From Food Into Blood

November 4, 2014 - 5:06pm

In 2013, when PLoS One published a research paper, Complete Genes May Pass from Food to Human Blood, anti-GMO activists claimed they had proof that GMOs can “transfer” into our bodies, and threaten human health.

Now it turns out the hysteria they tried to generate was based on a study that its researchers believe went awry.

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Nature Loves Genetic Modification

November 4, 2014 - 3:55pm
There is concern about pollution, overfishing and even climate change when it comes to reduced wild fish populations.

Farmed fish is the obvious solution but critics have a response for that also - they contend that hatchery-raised fish won't be as well adapted to their new environments or that the wild population will be "tainted" by breeding with domesticated counterparts.


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No Brain Differences Between Autistic And Typical Individuals Over Age 6

November 4, 2014 - 3:45pm

In what they are terming the largest MRI study to date, a group of researchers writing in Cerebral Cortex have found that the brain anatomy in MRI scans of people with autism above age six is mostly indistinguishable from that of typically developing individuals and, therefore, of little clinical or scientific value.


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Here's A Brainwave – Magnetic Pulses Could Treat Autism

November 4, 2014 - 3:34pm

Repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation can help alleviate symptoms of autism, such as anxiety. AGUILA_JONATHAN/Flickr, CC BY-NC-ND

By Peter Enticott, Deakin University

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Banning Greenhouse Gases Is No Magic Bullet For Global Warming

November 4, 2014 - 2:01pm
It has slowly dawned on climate researchers that promoting the belief that curbing CO2 will prevent climate change has been a bad idea. American and European CO2 emissions have gone down, for example, but Asia's has risen, and we went beyond the 'point of no return' and not much has changed.

It was once the case that any mention of other climate-forcing gases got vitriol and hostile emails but now it is recognized that soot particles also contribute to global warming, along with methane. They just disappear quickly from the atmosphere. Short-lived climate pollutants (also known as Short Lived Climate Forcers - SLCF) also include sulfur dioxide, and to a much lesser extent fluorocarbons, but can have a measurable impact on the climate.

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The Violent Events That Formed Asteroid Vesta's 'Belt'

November 4, 2014 - 1:52pm

NASA's Dawn spacecraft visited the asteroid Vesta in 2011 and it showed that deep grooves circling the asteroid's equator were probably caused by a massive impact on Vesta's south pole.

A super high-speed cannon at NASA's Ames Research Center has shed new light on the violent chain of events deep in Vesta's interior that formed those surface grooves, some of which are wider than the Grand Canyon.

"Vesta got hammered," said Peter Schultz, professor of earth, environmental, and planetary sciences at Brown and the paper's senior author. "The whole interior was reverberating, and what we see on the surface is the manifestation of what happened in the interior."


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Half Of Liverpool Stop Smoking Services Users Tried E-Cigarettes

November 4, 2014 - 1:44pm

Over 51 percent participants in the Liverpool Stop Smoking Service have tried electronic cigarettes and almost 46 percent are currently using them.


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ATLAS Seeks Invisible Particles With Top Quarks

November 4, 2014 - 10:24am
Results of a new search for single top production and large missing energy have been published by the ATLAS collaboration in a recent preprint. I think it is worthwhile to have a look at the idea behind this new search, as the signature of invisible particles produced in LHC collisions and escaping the detectors is important in many of the current and future investigations of beyond-the-standard-model physics.
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Two Photons Strongly Coupled By Glass Fiber

November 4, 2014 - 4:01am

Two photons in free space do not interact. Light waves can pass through each other without having any influence on each other at all. For many applications in quantum technology, however, interaction between photons is crucial. It is an indispensable prerequisite for transmitting information through tap-proof quantum channels or for building optical logic gates. At the Vienna University of Technology (TU Wien), scientists have now succeeded in establishing a strong interaction between two single photons. This opens up completely new possibilities for quantum optics. The experimental results have now been published in the journal "Nature Photonics".


Interaction Usually Requires Bright Light



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Human Gut Bacteria Much Different Than Apes

November 4, 2014 - 2:45am

The microbes living in people's guts are much less diverse than those in humans' closest relatives, the African apes. What does that mean? No one knows, but the microbiome is all the latest rage in marketing, with probiotics advertised on television and a segment of the research community rushing to create studies to capitalize on that.


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Why We Can't "Backup Earth" On Mars, The Moon, Or Anywhere Else In Our Solar System - Opinion Piece

November 4, 2014 - 12:49am

Elon Musk says he wants to create a backup of Earth on Mars - and Stephen Hawking also says that humans have to move into space to survive long term. This is hardly ever questioned in the media.

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If You Are Against Abortion, People Are Less Likely To Tell You They Had One

November 3, 2014 - 8:54pm

Abortion has been federal law in America for over 40 years, yet every election cycle politicians in Democratic Congressional districts campaign on the issue - and sociologists write about this common medical procedure. How common? So common it happens more often than miscarriages, according to a new paper.

Surveys are not telling us much new at this point but a sociologist writing in Sociological Science analyzes a survey and finds that anti-abortion people are less likely to hear about the abortions women they know have had than are pro-abortion Americans.


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Gulf War Syndrome - CoQ10 Antioxidant Helps In Small Study

November 3, 2014 - 8:13pm

Over 200,000 United States troops who fought in the 1990-1991 campaign to liberate Kuwait from Iraqi invaders have been diagnosed with a set of chronic health problems dubbed Gulf War Syndrome. The symptoms range from fatigue, muscle pain and weakness to decreased cognitive function and gastrointestinal and skin problems, even decades after the conflict. 


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Terminal Illness: The Top 5 Things To Talk About

November 3, 2014 - 7:50pm

What are the most important discussions to have among doctors, patients and families?

It seems obvious to just ask but there is a gap between what patients would like and the care they actually receive, according to a paper in the Canadian Medical Association Journal.

Current guidelines list 11 key elements for health care providers to discuss regarding end-of-life care, although these are based mainly on expert opinion and not on patient and family feedback.


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Designer Babies: Screening For Intelligence Is A Long Way Off

November 3, 2014 - 7:46pm

Credit: SAN_DRINO/Flickr

By Meredith Knight, Genetic Literacy Project

Melinda developed breast cancer early in life, age 29. She tested positive for BRCA1, a gene that increases the risk of breast, ovarian and prostate cancers significantly.

So, after her treatments and chemo, when she and her husband Matt were able to consider starting their own family, the decision weighed heavily upon them.

Then they learned about pre-implantation genetic diagnosis or PGD.

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M-Theory Repositions: Now You Can Thank Us For Quantum Mechanics Too

November 3, 2014 - 7:27pm
String theory is a hypothetical framework where particle physics is replaced by one-dimensional objects called strings. It was originally proposed as a way to explain the strong force, then advocates re-purposed it for quantum gravity, and now it is being reconfigured again, with "commutation rules" of quantum mechanics.

The heart of what became string theory began in the early 20th century and then got jumbled in with a lot of philosophical ideas - 'what if there are dimensions we can't see?' A fifth dimension was a nice discussion, but without being detected it was just that. As the century moved on, Kaluza-Klein theory, S-matrix theory, everyone kept coming up with new stuff and it all eventually became what we now know as String Theory.
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Is Truthy Truthful Or Truthiness?

November 3, 2014 - 6:40pm
Imagine a site where the lead developer supported the Discovery Institute, the Tea Party, the Mitt Romney campaign, Greenpeace, Joe Mercola, Just Label It, and various other political activist and anti-science groups.

Would you believe it was really neutral about science?

Perhaps. It depends on how many other people are involved in the project, but it would certainly bring a higher level of scrutiny.
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MRSA Bugs In Hospitals - Livestock Implicated

November 3, 2014 - 5:46pm

A recent study has found that some Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) bugs in United Kingdom hospitals can be traced back to a type of bacteria found in farm animals. A strain of drug-resistant bacteria carried by some livestock –Staphylococcus aureus CC398 – has also been found in patients. 

People and animals generally harbor distinct variants of CC398, which the team say evolved from the same original bacteria. However, the CC398 strain found in livestock can be transmitted to humans, and the study shows that this has happened on many occasions. It provides new evidence that the livestock-associated CC398 strain could spread in hospitals, including those with newborn babies.


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