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Climate change resulting from increased atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2) and other greenhouse gases could also have other consequences.
Scientists are concerned that the absorption of atmospheric CO2 in the oceans could have an impact on marine ecosystems. This would result from absorption of atmospheric CO2, which causes a decrease in seawater pH and carbonate ion concentrations, while increasing CO2 and bicarbonate ion concentrations.... Read more »
Kroeker KJ, Gambi MC and Micheli F. (2013) Community dynamics and ecosystem simplification in a high-CO2 ocean. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America. DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1216464110
In our more and more individualistic societies we eventually need robots to fight loneliness. That is at least what the team members of Kibo Robot Project expect. They therefore sent their little walking and talking robot on his first mission last sunday, to accompany astronaut Koichi Wakata in space.... Read more »
Marian R. Banks, Lisa M. Willoughby, and William A. Banks. (2008) Animal-Assisted Therapy and Loneliness in Nursing Homes: Use of Robotic versus Living Dogs. jamda. info:/
Professor Paul Piff at UC Berkeley recently conducted a study attempting to see if there was some type of correlation between a person’s socio-economic status and the way they conduct themselves morally and ethically. Piff felt compelled to disprove the popular conservative stereotype that people in lower socio-economic positions tend to act out of greed and personal benefit.... Read more »
Piff PK, Stancato DM, Côté S, Mendoza-Denton R, & Keltner D. (2012) Higher social class predicts increased unethical behavior. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 109(11), 4086-91. PMID: 22371585
All scientific evidence points to the fact that, if you go far enough back, all life on Earth is related through common ancestry. Turns out that applying the same sort of analysis shows that all humans alive today are descendants of one man and one woman who walked our planet thousands of years ago.
For several decades, there has been debate about when these ancestors, popularly known as Y-chromosomal Adam and mitochondrial Eve, existed. Two studies published this week find that there is a good chance Adam and Eve may have existed about the same time, evolutionarily speaking.... Read more »
Stepping on a banana skin or spilling coffee over your shirt does not normally sound like something we would wish to happen in front of a potential lover. But if the one you are aiming for already fancies you a little, blundering might just be the perfect thing to do.... Read more »
Helmreich, Robert; Aronson, Elliot; LeFan, James. (1970) To err is humanizing sometimes: Effects of self-esteem, competence, and a pratfall on interpersonal attraction. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology. DOI: 10.1037/h0029848
Many trials discussed in the media today sooner or later come to the question of insanity. Could the suspect be excused for his crime because of any mental disorder? It seems as though the use of this defense is growing together with the scienftic field of psychology. Or was it always like this?... Read more »
Could you ever imagine that one day testing a protein in your tiny sample would be so easy, just like performing a pregnancy strip test at home. Yes, this is made possible by a group of chemists from Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz (JGU). They have developed a new method for multiple protein analysis that is, in principle, capable of identifying hundreds or even thousands of different proteins.... Read more »
Rosman C, Prasad J, Neiser A, Henkel A, Edgar J, & Sönnichsen C. (2013) Multiplexed Plasmon Sensor for Rapid Label-Free Analyte Detection. Nano letters. PMID: 23789876
More and more scientific articles are being retracted because of misconduct. Diederik Stapel, of the anti-social meat eaters, is not even the recordholder. An interview with Adam Marcus, who blogs about retractions.... Read more »
Ferric C. Fang, R. Grant Steen, and, & Arturo Casadevall. (2012) Misconduct accounts for the majority of retracted scientific publications. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America . DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1212247109
In China the lightest material on Earth has recently been invented. Its weight makes it so light that it can be sustained by a blade of grass or a stalk of a flower. It’s an aerogel that has the form of a paper sheet and has the width of a carbon atom. Thanks to its characteristic shape, the material can take on many forms and dimensions. Also, it has the remarkable capability of absorbing liquid substances up to 900 times its weight.... Read more »
Sun H, Xu Z, & Gao C. (2013) Multifunctional, ultra-flyweight, synergistically assembled carbon aerogels. Advanced materials (Deerfield Beach, Fla.), 25(18), 2554-60. PMID: 23418099
In Lewis Caroll’s Through the Looking Glass, Alice wanders into a garden with flowers that can talk — the “garden of Live Flowers”. Of course, all plants are alive, but here the flowers are called “live” because they can talk. One of the greatest examples of human arrogance might be our attitude towards plants. We treat plants as objects, as part of the background, as mere things without any agency. We tend to forget that they’re dynamic, complex living creatures that react and respond to their environment — just in unfamiliar ways and on a different timescale.... Read more »
Sugimoto K, & Arimura GI. (2013) Maize plants prime anti-herbivore responses by the memorizing and recalling of airborne information in their genome. Plant signaling , 8(10). PMID: 23887489
With the help of futurologists and technology specialists journalist Nicole Yorkin wrote an article in 1988 about a regular day in 2013. Some fantasies still sound a bit too enthusiastic. Five examples:... Read more »
While people cheating on their partners is frowned upon in modern society, monogamy among mammals is something of an evolutionary puzzle. Some stick to one sexual partner for a lifetime. That is why the evolution of monogamy among mammals is hotly debated. Two studies published this week, including one I worked on, weigh in on the debate.
Evolution dictates that genes have the final say. And if there is one thing genes want, it is to spread as far and wide as possible. That is why monogamy is rare among mammals.
Females have to wait for a long gestation period to have a child, where as males could go and inseminate many other females in that time. Most male mammals behave in this manner, but some don’t, and are monogamous.... Read more »
Christopher Opiea, Quentin D. Atkinson, Robin I. M. Dunbarc, and Susanne Shultzd. (2013) Male infanticide leads to social monogamy in primates. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America PNAS, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1307903110
Genetics is becoming a bigger and bigger part of modern medicine as our knowledge increases. From diagnostics, to research, and even potential treatments, advanced biotechnologies are becoming more common.
Each of these medical fields requires precise analysis and often manipulation of human DNA. Diagnostics may require mutating certain genes to see what the effect is, in the hopes of identifying disease risk. For research and drug testing scientists need to have cell cultures that mimic the genetic characteristics of various diseases. And for many conditions with a genetic component, gene therapy is being researched as a potential cure. The issue was that scientists didn’t have a standard tool for manipulating DNA in this way, until now.... Read more »
Pablo Perez-Pinera et al. (2013) RNA-guided gene activation by CRISPR-Cas9–based transcription factors. NATURE METHODS. DOI: 10.1038/nmeth.2600
Think of the happiness of your friends and family. Aren’t some of them enjoying in everything around them while others always appear somewhat sadder, whatever happens? What is that? For a large part it is genes, studies show.... Read more »
Meike Bartels, Dan Benjamin, David Cesarini, Magnus Johannesson, Phil Koellinger, Bob Krueger, Patrik Magnusson, Jan-Emmanuel de Neve, Nancy Pedersen, Niels Rietveld, and Henning Tiemeier. (2013) Molecular Genetics and Subjective Well-Being. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS). DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1222171110
Never has “feeling blue” carried such a sense of finality. A new study has revealed the simple worm (Caenorhabditis elegans) meets its death in a flash of azure. And, according to researchers, the blue light shows that dying may be a coordinated process that could probably be delayed.
Scientists have known for many years that cells can die in two ways. Necrosis occurs when either the cell’s machinery breaks down with age, or exposure to trauma damages the cell beyond repair. Apoptosis is a programmed process triggered on demand, by which even healthy cells can undergo a series of changes resulting in an orderly death.... Read more »
Cassandra Coburn et al. (2013) Anthranilate Fluorescence Marks a Calcium-Propagated Necrotic Wave That Promotes Organismal Death in C. elegans. PLoS Biology. DOI: 10.1371/journal.pbio.1001613
Damaging hurricanes are familiar along the US east coast, with the recent hurricane Sandy a dramatic example. In Europe we are unused to such dramatic weather and the widespread destruction that hurricanes can, and do, cause. However, our new research suggests that this is likely to change as Earth’s climate warms over the next century.
Hurricanes are powered by warm sea water and characterised by heavy rainfall. The energy that is released during this rainfall is the thriving force of hurricanes. They originate during late summer in the western part of the tropical Atlantic where the sea water is sufficiently warm.... Read more »
Reindert J. Haarsma, Wilco Hazeleger, Camiel Severijns, Hylke de Vries, Andreas Sterl, Richard Bintanja, Geert Jan van Oldenborgh, Henk W. van den Brink. (2013) More hurricanes to hit western Europe due to global warming. Geophysical Research Letters. DOI: 10.1002/grl.50360
Researchers have been able to consistently create a “false memory”.... Read more »
A speaker’s social status can affect how we interpret their words, a study has found.
The study, published in the journal PLOS ONE, involved researchers showing the study’s 18 German participants videotapes of a powerful politician (the German Federal Minister of Finance at the time of the experiment), and an unknown person, making both true and false statements.
Examples of true statements shown to the German participants included “Michael Jackson is a pop singer”, and “The chancellor advocates a later entry of the Ukraine into the NATO alliance.”... Read more »
Ina Bornkessel-Schlesewsky, Sylvia Krauspenhaar,Matthias Schlesewsky. (2013) Yes, You Can? A Speaker’s Potency to Act upon His Words Orchestrates Early Neural Responses to Message-Level Meaning. PLoS ONE. DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0069173
An overcast sky is rarely a welcome sight for snorkelers on the Great Barrier Reef. But a generous cover of clouds could be exactly what’s needed for the future survival of the magnificent corals that make the reef the biodiversity wonder that it is.
The Great Barrier Reef hugs the north eastern coastline of Australia across more than 2600 kilometres, earning it the distinction of being the world’s largest coral reef system. A considerable portion of the nearly 3000 individual reefs and 900 islands lies within the protected waters of a marine park, yet human impact is still keenly felt.
Global warming has seen consistently higher sea surface temperatures over the past 45 years. These higher temperatures are the source of one of the greatest threats to reef survival – coral bleaching. Corals are made up of colonies of millions upon millions of tiny marine invertebrates that cement themselves together by secreting a calcium carbonate exoskeleton.... Read more »
Leahy SM, Kingsford MJ . (2013) Do clouds save the Great Barrier Reef? Satellite imagery elucidates the cloud-SST relationship at the local scale. PLoS ONE. DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0070400
Most people might think of a shower as a daily ritual that is equal parts hygiene and relaxation: as soap bubbles and cascades down both body and drain, the warm water eases both muscle and mind in its heated caress. However, a small amount of scientific and medical research has hinted that cold water showers have several health and environmental benefits.... Read more »
Tipton MJ, Mekjavic IB, & Eglin CM. (2000) Permanence of the habituation of the initial responses to cold-water immersion in humans. European journal of applied physiology, 83(1), 17-21. PMID: 11072768
Siems WG, Brenke R, Sommerburg O, & Grune T. (1999) Improved antioxidative protection in winter swimmers. QJM : monthly journal of the Association of Physicians, 92(4), 193-8. PMID: 10396606
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