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Humans Have A “Natural” Lifespan Of 38 Years

Dec 15 2019 - 06:12

Humans have a “natural” lifespan of around 38 years, according to a new method we have developed for estimating the lifespans of different species by analyzing their DNA.

Extrapolating from genetic studies of species with known lifespans, we found that the extinct woolly mammoth probably lived around 60 years and bowhead whales can expect to enjoy more than two and a half centuries of life.

Our research, in Scientific Reports, looked at how DNA changes as an animal ages – and found that it varies from species to species and is related to how long the animal is likely to live.

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Cancel Culture: Two Arguments To Help Decide

Dec 14 2019 - 06:12

While definitions vary, to “cancel” in today’s lingo means to remove people and cultural products from consumption and popular conversation. This is done in light of actions that make them unworthy of praise or critique.

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A Happy 150th Birthday To Mendeleev’s Periodic Table Of The Elements, Courtesy Of NYU

Dec 13 2019 - 07:12

In March of 1869,  the chemist Dmitri Ivanovich Mendeleev made a presentation to the Russian Chemical Society and outlined patterns in elements that led him to postulate his periodic table of the existing 63 elements. Since a new one was being discovered about once per year, he also made sure to leave room for additions and even hypothesized a few more.

Chemistry was the future, understanding elements was key, he and others believed, and they turned out to be right. If you are reading this article on a cell phone, notes New York University, you're holding at least 30 different naturally-occurring elements, including lithium. 

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Grinch Science: Mistletoe Is A Tree-Plundering Parasite

Dec 12 2019 - 16:12

Christmas and mistletoe: have you ever simply asked yourself … why? I have studied plant parasites like mistletoe for almost ten years, and I’m here to tell you that the answer is absolutely fascinating.

In Norse mythology, Baldur (younger brother to magic-hammer-wielding Thor), was the subject of a premonition from his mother Frigg, who could see the future: he would be killed. Frigg tackled this head on, extracting an oath from every object on Earth, to avoid harming her son. This was agreeable to all … except mistletoe, which was overlooked.

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Sometimes It Is Lupus - And Here Is What Cancer Scientists Just Discovered

Dec 12 2019 - 11:12
Blocking a key regulator of the immune system helps unleash the body's natural defenses against several forms of cancer, a discovery which opened up a new era of cancer immunotherapy. 

Now researchers have flipped this script and found that, when impaired, a molecularly similar regulator can cause the damaging immune system attacks on skin and organs that are the hallmark of the autoimmune disease lupus. Though still just in the exploratory stage, mice are not little people so this does not translate to humans, the work suggests a way to restore function of this inhibitor which could one day provide new therapy to treat the disease.

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Jamming 'Health' Food Stores Into So-Called Food Deserts Doesn't Change Buying Habits

Dec 11 2019 - 13:12
A joke in nutrition circles is that while you once needed to be rich to be fat, now you need to be rich to be thin. Scientific progress has given us cheap food, anyone can afford to eat well, and after an existence of worrying about food availability it takes generations for culture to change to not eating as much as we can. Rich people, though, have gym memberships.

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Holidays Are Prime Time For Elder Abuse And Scams. Here's How To Prevent It

Dec 11 2019 - 06:12

The holiday season brings up memories and emotions for people of all ages, but elders are often overlooked. This time of year also can provide an opportunity to become more alert to signs of elder abuse, aware of how to help and available to begin sincere conversations with older adults about their perceptions of abuse and the remedies they recommend.

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Lyme Disease Claim Lines On Medical Forms Up 117% Since 2007

Dec 10 2019 - 11:12
Since 2007, claim lines with diagnoses of Lyme disease increased nationally 117 percent, according to a new white paper.

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Astrological Bloodletting - Medieval Physicians Used Star Alignments For Phlebotomy Insight

Dec 10 2019 - 06:12

Medieval doctors had to acquire a range of skills including an ability to read Latin texts, a working knowledge of the bodily “humours” and an understanding of the rudiments of blood circulation. Their diagnostic techniques were largely limited to examining a patient’s urine: they could match the colour of the urine to that on a chart, such as one now in the Bodleian Library, which offers an alarming spectrum of hues. After diagnosis, one of the most important treatments was bloodletting, for which physicians used detailed astrological charts.

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The Fake News Source Is ... You

Dec 09 2019 - 18:12
A new study found that people given accurate statistics on a controversial issue misremembered those numbers to fit commonly held beliefs.

That means the source of fake news is often not malevolent organizations manipulating social media, it is people convinced they are correct

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The Origin And Evolution Of The Homunculus

Dec 09 2019 - 17:12
How did the most famous concept devised in neurobiology--the homunculus of neurosurgeon Wilder Penfield - originate?

Some answers derive from assessing Penfield's archives at the Osler Library of McGill University, as well as the only known copy from which the beginnings of the homunculus may be traced--Edwin Boldrey's 1936 McGill master's degree thesis supervised by Penfield.

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Just The Tip: How Maristem Biotech Could Lead To Higher Food Yields

Dec 09 2019 - 16:12
Biotechnology is the future of plant optimization, because ecology and people demand more sustainable food development, and that means embracing progress.

A roadmap of the genes which drive plant architecture in maize will help, because plants grow throughout their entire life, controlled by a small structure at the tip of the plant’s shoots, known as the meristem.

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How Injuries Related To Cell Phone Use Changed Over 20 Years

Dec 09 2019 - 14:12
A cross-sectional study has found that head and neck injuries related to cell phone use increased steadily over a recent 20-year period.

But that may not be meaningful in a relative risk way. The sample was just over 2,500 cases from 1998 through 2017. Media will trumpet 300 percent since 2007 but that doesn't make injuries common. It just means that as phones changed from phones to messagers to full-on portable televisions and computers people are able to walk and be distracted more.

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Limitations Of Cross-Sectional Epidemiology Studies And What That Means For Endocrine Disrupting Chemicals

Dec 09 2019 - 10:12

Although I’m a trained and credentialed epidemiologist, and an ardent supporter of the professional discipline as a foundational science that underlies legitimate public health efforts, several of my past blogs (Bond 2016 and Bond 2017) have remarked on the many limitations of observational epidemiology1 research for establishing disease causation.  

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Art And Science In Venice

Dec 08 2019 - 10:12
Last month the Museum of Natural History of Venice hosted, in the last room of the exhibit called "room of the cetaceans" (where a large skeleton of a whale hangs from the ceiling), an exhibit of artwork produced by high-school students from the Venice area. The event, which belongs to the "Art and Science across Italy" project, was the culminating point of a series of lectures on particle physics, on science in art, and related topics which involved the students and INFN personnel from the Padova section.

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North Korea’s “Christmas Gift” - Door Open For Talks - Maybe Alternative Is A Geostationary Satellite? No WWIII Risk Ever

Dec 06 2019 - 06:12

First whatever happens - Kim might do something dramatic maybe but his aim would be to get the talks back on track. It would not lead to war no matter what. Neither side has any benefit from a war. They are trading threats again, but they are empty bluffs.

The US can't invade North Korea because it would lead to impossible levels of casualties in South Korea.

Meanwhile, North Korea only wants to defend itself against invasion and doesn't want to attack anyone. There is absolutely no point in them shooting bombs at the US or South Korea or Japan or anyone. That would be a disaster for North Korea. Tests yes, actually attacking anyone, no way.

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Biofuels Are A Negative For The Climate And We Can Thank Environmentalists For That

Dec 06 2019 - 06:12
When Al Gore was Vice-President in 1994, he forced the U.S. EPA to mandate ethanol in gasoline by by breaking the Senate tie in favor of environmentalists who had been pushing ethanol as 'sustainable biofuel' for decades. His vote forced gasoline manufacturers to include it despite science concerns it would drive up food prices and increase pollution. While biofuels were and are a viable field of study, the concern was that dumping money into corporate subsidies was going to hold progress back.(1)

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Neanderthals Were Dumb, Camels Store Water In Their Humps, and 15 Other Science Facts No Longer True

Dec 06 2019 - 05:12
Science changes over time, that is no secret. We used to think we understood black holes, and that wasn't really true, and unless we use Dark Matter as a vague black box like aether, 100 years from now what we believe today in that regard will likely be regarded as quaint.

Even on more terrestrial topics, as our understanding gets greater the facts change. We once weren't sure what set off the dinosaur extinction, now that is known, but there are still lots of mysteries. And Darwin's evolution led to an Upright Man understanding of homo sapiens, where Neanderthals had underdeveloped brains and Cro-Magnon was us, the next step, but now science has shown that evolution is a lot more random and fickle than that, just like it should be. 

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Congratulations To Radiolab Host Robert Krulwich On His Retirement

Dec 05 2019 - 14:12
Robert Krulwich, "the man who simplifies without being simple", has announced he is retiring, at least from his recurring gig at RadioLab, where he has been for the last 15 years.

Not many people graduate from Columbia Law School and then immediately quit to cover the Watergate hearings as a journalist but Krulwich has lived his life the way he approaches science. At an obtuse angle, searching for a better way. 


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How A Social Media Lie Avoids Condemnation - Repeat Offending Early And Often

Dec 05 2019 - 06:12
Sometimes lies on social media get immediate condemnation and sometimes they are even spread by people who should know better - X is a fascist or even entire science websites are fascists.

How does that happen? Four experiments, with participants such as from Prolific Academic and Amazon Mechanical Turk, published in Psychological Science provide some insight. The quicker a lie can be made to "go viral" the less blowback due to being unethical it will receive. Seeing a fake-news claim times reduced how unethical participants thought it was and even to share that headline when they saw it again—even if it was clearly labeled as false and they disbelieved it.

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