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DDT Linked To Obesity In Female Mice Long After Exposure

July 31, 2014 - 3:27pm

DDT, the first modern pesticide, has been banned in the United States since 1972 but it is still commonly used in places where malaria is prevalent. The United Nations recommends it because it is far less harmful to people than malaria is and remains superior to replacements. Malaria drugs have become less effective over time so it's better kill pests before they infect people.


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Gulf Oil Spill: Microbiology Approach Worked But Toxic Contaminants Remain

July 31, 2014 - 3:04pm

The Deepwater Horizon oil spill, a BP project in the Gulf of Mexico, began in April of 2010. The oil rig collapsed and it took some three months to cap the gusher. During that, concern was also on how to clean up the over four million barrels of oil in the environment

Among other approaches, the government used the Corexit oil dispersant, which emulsifies oil into balls and microbes, such as the genetically modified marine bacterium Alcanivorax borkumensis and the Colwellia species of bacteria, to consume it. And it worked, but a new paper says some of the more toxic components still remain.


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"Extraordinary Claims, The 0.000029% Solution" And The 38 MeV Boson AT ICNFP 2014

July 31, 2014 - 7:11am

Yesterday I gave a lecture at the 3rd International Conference on New Frontiers in Physics, which is going on in kolympari (Crete). I spoke critically about the five-sigma criterion that is nowadays the accepted standard in particle physics and astrophysics for discovery claims.

My slides, as usual, are quite heavily written, which is a nuisance if you are sitting at the conference trying to follow my speech, but it becomes an asset if you are reading them by yourself post-mortem. You can find them here (pdf) and here (ppt) .

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Artemisinin Resistance: Malaria Drug Changes Need To Be Made

July 31, 2014 - 3:00am

Resistance to artemisinin, the main drug to treat malaria, has become widespread throughout Southeast Asia.

Resistance among the Plasmodium falciparum (P. falciparum) parasites that cause the disease is likely caused by a genetic mutation in the parasites, but a six-day course of artemisinin-based combination therapy, as opposed to a standard three-day course, has proved highly effective in treating drug-resistant malaria cases, according to a study in the New England Journal of Medicine. DDT has also been effective for the last 70 years.


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Vape 'Em If You Got 'Em: Benefits Of E-Cigarettes Outweigh Risks

July 31, 2014 - 1:58am

Electronic cigarettes have gained considerable popularity over the past few years - for most they are another form of the nicotine patch, and a way to curb harmful cigarette smoking but critics contend they make smoking cool.

No one thinks they are cool, they are in Google Glass territory among the public, just a moment away from leading to insults, so research instead focuses on the well-documented health benefits of smoking less versus any possible risks.

Governments want to regulate them to generate revenue so the onus is on the industry to try and prove they are safe, an impossible task. Yet if they show they are not harmful, it will be harder to convince the public they should regulate those when alternative medicine is unchecked.


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Bees Know Their Business: They Learn Which Flowers Have The Best Pollen

July 30, 2014 - 11:51pm

Bumblebees can glean differences in pollen quality based on floral features like petal color and that informs their decision on where to land.

Bees do not sample pollen so it has been unclear how they determined quality. The new study in the Journal of Experimental Biology found that they are able to form associative relationships between appearance and pollen quality. Bumblebees can individually assess pollen samples and discriminate between them during collection, quickly forming preferences for a particular type of pollen.

Pollen foraging behavior involves learning and individual decision-making, which may allow bees to quickly learn which flowers provide the most nutritious pollen rewards for rearing their young, the authors write. 


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Long After Acute Attacks, Diverticulitis Patients Have Psychological, Physical Symptoms

July 30, 2014 - 8:42pm

Diverticulitis was once the refrain of a Saturday Night Live skit but it isn't funny to people who have it.  

A paper in Quality of Life Research has interviews with diverticulitis patients and it confirms that many suffer psychological and physical symptoms long after their acute illness has passed.


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To Live And Die In Berkeley: Monitoring Schrodinger's Cat In Real Time

July 30, 2014 - 7:07pm

Schrödinger's cat is one of the famous examples of the weirdness of quantum mechanics  

The thought puzzle is that you put a cat inside a box and make its life dependent on a random event, when does the cat die? When the random event occurs, or when you open the box?


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Seniors At Risk Of Financial Abuse - Often By Family

July 30, 2014 - 5:38pm

Millennials are redefining adulthood by living at home and getting supported by their parents longer than ever - and in the future it may turn into outright exploitation.

It used to be that family watched out for shysters out to bilk their parents but now the nearly 5 percent elderly American adults being financially exploited are often exploited by family members - poor and black people the most. 

Dr. Janey Peterson of Weill Cornell Medical College led one of the largest American studies ever done on elder abuse and the results appeared in the Journal of General Internal Medicine


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Many Depressed Preschoolers Still...Wait, What?

July 30, 2014 - 4:49pm

Toddlers who did not frolic and smile and laugh were once called pensive or shy or quiet but now a Preschool Feelings Checklist
can label kids as depressed at 3 years of age. 

Using that as a factual basis, a paper in the American Journal of Psychiatry has found that depressed preschoolers were 2.5 times more likely to suffer from the condition in elementary and middle school than kids who were not diagnosed as depressed at very young ages.

Doctors and scientists maintain that children as young as 3 or 4 can not be clinically depressed. 


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Off The Grid: All-In-One Trigeneration System Offers Greener Power With Energy Storage

July 30, 2014 - 4:18pm

A trigeneration system fueled entirely by raw plant oils could have great potential for isolated homes and businesses operating outside grid systems.

Combined Heat and Power units have been used by large businesses for many years, producing electricity from a generator, and running heating off the engine cooling system and exhausts. But on small premises, where turning on an appliance such as a pump or a kettle can increase the electrical load several fold in a matter of seconds, attempts to match the competing demands of electricity and heat can seriously undermine the units' efficiency.


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Ancient Mystery: European Mosquitos Trapped In Asian Amber

July 30, 2014 - 4:08pm

A comparison of Baltic Sea region amber with amber from Asia could be significant - rather than being found just in Mecklenburg, Poland or Belarus, European species have been found almost 10,000 kilometers away in Fushun, even though Europe and Asia were divided by the Strait of Turgay, a wide arm of the ocean, 50 million years ago.  

The pieces from the Baltic region are younger than the ones from Fushun and the assumption has been that this body of saltwater prevented species migrations between the continents.  



Golden coffin: An insect is trapped in Fushun amber. Credit:
(c) Bo Wang / Universität Bonn


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Tree Nuts Linked To Decreased Blood Fats And Sugars - Systematic Review

July 30, 2014 - 3:41pm

A systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized clinical trials on the effects of tree nuts for metabolic syndrome found a "modest decrease" in blood fats known as triglycerides and blood sugars compared to those who ate a control diet. 

 Tree nuts are such things as almonds, Brazil nuts, cashews, chestnuts, coconuts, hazelnuts, pecans, macadamia nuts, walnuts, pine nuts and pistachios and appear to help reduce two of the five markers for metabolic syndrome, a group of factors that raise the risk for heart disease and other health problems such as diabetes and strokes, a new research paper says. 

Sorry Mr. Peanut, you are not on the list because you are a legume.


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Blood Test Biomarker Could Help Prevent Spina Bifida

July 30, 2014 - 3:08pm

Folate is a naturally occurring form of vitamin B found in food, while folic acid is synthetically produced and used in fortified foods and supplements. Taking folic acid before and during early pregnancy is linked to a reduction in the risk of neural tube defects like spina bifida. The current recommended dose is 400 ìg (micrograms) a day though it is unclear how much daily folic acid is needed to prevent neural tube defects.


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Science 2.0: Big Data Shows Temperature Swings Are Here To Stay

July 30, 2014 - 2:46pm

One of the most promising aspects of a Science 2.0 future is not just being able to analyze trillions of data points or getting the public to help with biology, but making more accurate models using much larger data sets. Big data.


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Reading Glasses Are So 1,000 A.D. - Let's Have Vision-Correcting Displays

July 30, 2014 - 12:00pm

For older people, and farsighted people, watching television while also reading this article can be challenging experiences because the eyes do not adjust. So people wear glasses down on their nose to read while they watch something farther away.

It's the 21st century, The Future of Back To The Future is a year away, it's time to ditch spectacles and make the computer screens wear the glasses instead of people.


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Medicaid May Be Why So Many Mentally Ill People Are In Prison

July 30, 2014 - 10:30am

In the 1800s, mentally ill people were in jail. Then they were put in more humane mental hospitals. But then mental hospitals got vilified in mainstream news stories and horror movies and they were closed and now mentally ill people are back in jails, 10 times as many as are in mental health facilities.

Policy makers don't buy that psychology has value any more, and they feel only slightly better about psychiatry. Scrutiny and abuse has led politicians to demand tighter Medicaid policies governing antipsychotic drugs and a new paper links those tighter policies to increased incarceration rates for schizophrenics. 


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In The Arctic Ocean, Researchers Measure Waves The Size Of Houses

July 30, 2014 - 9:30am

As the climate warms and sea ice retreats, the North is changing. An ice-covered expanse now has a season of increasingly open water which is predicted to extend across the whole Arctic Ocean before the middle of this century. Storms thus have the potential to create Arctic swell – huge waves that could add a new and unpredictable element to the region.
A University of Washington researcher made the first study of waves in the middle of the Arctic Ocean, and detected house-sized waves during a September 2012 storm. 

"As the Arctic is melting, it's a pretty simple prediction that the additional open water should make waves," said lead author Jim Thomson, an oceanographer with the UW Applied Physics Laboratory.


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The 2008 Financial Crisis Was Not Caused By Short Selling

July 30, 2014 - 8:00am

In the summer of 2008, the US economy was clipping along as well as it had ever been. There were people in the know who recognized that actual economic output was down and the drivers were housing sales, including President Bush and his economic advisors years earlier, but they got little attention as long as GDP kept looking higher.


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Rural Studies Show Informal Child Care Works

July 30, 2014 - 6:00am

Scholars studying the child care sector in Kansas, particularly in rural areas, have found that informal child care services create a large economic impact in the state. 

Informal child care services include unlicensed facilities, unreported day care services run from homes, and child care performed for trade rather than money.
The authors estimate that
the informal child care industry created more than 128,000 jobs and added about $971.5 million in total value to the state of Kansas in 2005.


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