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  • February 20, 2014
  • 10:17 PM
  • 269 views

Smart Materials from Nanotechnology for Global Challenges

by JNSM in JScholar Publishers

There are several open challenges that our society has to address in the near future: produce sufficient amounts of clean energy from renewable sources, design new technologies that enable a sustainable economic growth, address some relevant environmental issues like quality of air and water or waste recycling, improve our standard of life via more accurate diagnostic tools and new medical treatments, just to mention a few. Most of these challenges deal with the design, synthesis, characterization and industrial production of new smart materials. Smart materials are defined as materials with properties engineered to change in a controlled and desired way. This can be obtained by applying a specific external stimulus like a temperature change, an external voltage, a force, a magnetic field, a change in pH, or a change in concentration of chemical species. Nanoscience and nanotechnology today offer an incredible potential for the conceptual design and the practical realization of radically new smart materials that can help solve some of the aforementioned global challenges.... Read more »

Gianfranco Pacchioni. (2014) Smart Materials from Nanotechnology for Global Challenges. Journal of Nanotechnology and Smart Materials, 1(1), 1-1. info:/1: 101

  • February 12, 2014
  • 07:47 PM
  • 179 views

Scientific Approaches to Enriching the Lives of Sanctuary Wolves and Wolf-Dog “Hybrids”

by Cobb & Hecht in Do You Believe In Dog?

Hi Julie and Mia, I wanted to update you on some unique but exciting research that I conducted while working toward my Ph.D. at the University of Florida’s Canine Cognition and Behavior Lab. This particular research focuses on the welfare of wolves and wolf-dog “hybrids” in private sanctuaries.The common use of the term “hybrid” is perhaps the first indication of how poorly we understand these animals. The term “hybrid” is technically inaccurate – as wolves and domestic dogs are considered taxonomically the same species, so “wolfdog” or “wolf-dog cross” is more accurate. It is estimated that there are 300,000-500,000 wolfdogs in the United States, but a solid census – as well as reliable means of identifying them – is sorely needed. Hundreds of wolfdogs are either euthanized or surrendered to sanctuaries - permanent residences for unwanted, abused and neglected wolves and wolfdogs that cannot be adopted out by shelters. Although typically filled to capacity, private sanctuaries have little funding opportunities, often relying only modest private donations and volunteers to keep the facility running and ensure that the animals’ needs adequately met. Consequently, the cost of implementing traditional enrichment items (e.g., toys, objects, scents) to keep the animals stimulated may neither address this goal or prove to be financially feasible. In many cases, the goal of enrichment for captive animals is not only to increase species-typical behaviors and activity levels, but to reduce or eliminate undesirable behaviors as well. Interaction with regular, experienced volunteers, however, is an alternative approach. Many animals arrive at sanctuaries with long histories of human interaction, having been obtained by their former owners from breeders at a young age and raised in an environment similar to our pet dogs. The ResearchWe observed three pairs of wolfdogs and one pair of wolves, all of which resided for at least six months at Big Oak Wolf Sanctuary in Green Cove Springs, Florida. For years, owners John and Debra Knight and their volunteers have prioritized daily human interaction sessions to their animals without the use of food-based reinforcers. This provided a unique opportunity for me to examine the effects of human interaction alone on the animals’ behavior. Was there any scientific merit to my observations, or did I simply just want to believe that these animals were responding positively to their new lives? This also seemed to be an ideal opportunity to investigate whether human interaction was a a legitimate enrichment strategy for a captive animal population. The FindingsFor all subjects, the levels of positive, species-typical affiliative behaviors increased, as did their overall increased activity levels. Remarkably, subjects spent significantly more time playing with the other animal in their enclosure when human interaction was provided. In this way, it appears that human interaction also enhances the behaviors between the paired animals.Three wolfdogs also exhibited pacing (widely considered a stereotypic behavior in captive animals) in initial baselines. The pacing was reduced substantially or eliminated for during a human interaction sessions.These findings, published in the most recent issue of the Journal of Applied Animal Welfare Science, collectively support the notion that human interaction is in itself enriching for well-socialized wolves and wolfdogs. Needless to say, these results did not come as a surprise to volunteers at Big Oak (or the other sanctuaries I have worked with) – who have spent countless hours closely interacting with their animals. More data is certainly needed to determine if this effect is true for other wolves and wolfdogs at other sanctuaries, as well as the long-term effects of human interaction on behavioral welfare. Although the lack of scientific studies on wolfdog behavior leaves many opportunities to scientists interested in studying them, it poses a difficulty for the general public who seek objective, reliable information on wolfdogs. So, I think it’s worth ending with some recommendations for future reading.You will likely come to find that everyone has their own opinion on wolfdogs – and that is because no two wolfdogs are the same; nor are any of our experiences with them identical. I hope you’ve enjoyed reading, and I look forward to research that continues to examine ways of further improving the welfare of these wonderful – but often misunderstood – animals. Best,Lindsay R. MehrkamPh.D. CandidateCanine Cognition & Behavior LabUniversity of Florida  PS: Big Oak Wolf Sanctuary is in need of donations. Details here: http://www.bigoakwolfsanctuary.org/donate.aspFurther Reading:... Read more »

  • February 11, 2014
  • 02:49 AM
  • 188 views

Is Parapsychology a "Taboo" Subject in Science?

by Scott McGreal in Eye on Psych

An opinion piece recently published in Frontiers in Human Neuroscience, endorsed by 90 signatories calls for a more “open-minded” consideration of the subject. What particularly struck me about this piece was the claim that investigation into the subject is not just controversial, but actually “taboo”. Examination of the history of parapsychology indicates that the scientific mainstream has shown considerable open-mindedness towards the subject, and that claims that it has been treated as some sort of “forbidden” topic are both hyperbolic and disingenuous.... Read more »

  • February 4, 2014
  • 06:50 AM
  • 189 views

Stereotypical dogs: repetitive and pointless?

by Cobb & Hecht in Do You Believe In Dog?

"I'm a labrador" does not = "I'm hungry" (source)Hey Julie,it's great to get an updated view of what's on the canine science cards for you in 2014 - looks like we're both going to be keeping busy - and wouldn't have it any other way!I can't believe we're already into February, to be honest. There are so many great new publications coming out, it's quite exciting to be able to share them with you here! You know I'm always thinking about the welfare of kennelled dogs (because PhD!) and I noticed a new study from the University of Bristol titled Repetitive behaviour in kennelled domestic dog: Stereotypical or not? (reference given below). Now of course, you know we're not talking about "all labradors are greedy" or "all little dogs are yappy" kind of stereotypes here, we're talking about describing a specific type of behaviour.I know you're interested in stereotypical animal behaviour too, so I wanted to share this with you! As you know, stereotypical behaviours have traditionally be thought of as repetitive and invariant behaviour patterns with no obvious goal or function.  Typical stereotypies that many people would be familiar with, include elephants in zoos/circuses swinging their trunks and/or swaying side to side; horses 'weaving' in stables; and bears route tracing when in captivity:In these situations, it's generally understood that the behaviour is the result of the animal feeling frustrated, fearful, restrained, stressed or lacking stimulation and when seen frequently, is often considered an indicator of poor welfare. Determining whether such behaviours are 'without function' has proven difficult. Research over the past decade has shed more light on the reasons animals might develop these behaviour patterns, and suggests that performing the behaviour is not always without a function, but can actually serve a role in helping animals to cope. We have discovered that the animals showing frequent stereotypical behaviour may not be the individuals suffering the most (you know that old saying - it's the quiet ones you've got to watch!).   As such, a refined definition better separates 'abnormal repetitive behaviours' from 'stereotypical behaviours' (which are considered to be caused by inadequate housing that causes frustration and may be overcome with appropriate change of environment including social and/or environmental enrichment). Dog-focussed research in this area has shown that kennelled dogs kept in restricted environments (such as laboratories or rescue shelters) may show behaviour as pacing, circling, spinning, wall bouncing or barking:The new research from Bristol set out to investigate if every dog observed in a working dog facility showing repetitive behaviour could really be described as stereotypical (which would suggest they were experiencing compromised welfare). The researchers examined the behaviour and physiology (using the urine's cortisol/creatinine ratio) of 30 German Shepherd Police dogs. They saw repetitive behaviours in over 40% of the behavioural samples in response to ten deliberately arousing activities (such as a kennel staff member standing outside the kennel yard, clicking the clip of a leash - indicating exercise time; or a full food bowl being placed outside the front of the kennel enclosure; or a stranger walking through the kennel complex). Only two individual dogs were not observed performing any repetitive behaviour.The study confirmed that dogs housed in kennel facilities long-term commonly exhibit repetitive behaviours when presented with a variety of routine activities as stimuli; also showing that individual dogs differ in the way that they respond.Some dogs only engaged in repetitive behaviours only during husbandry events when a person was there. Most dogs showed more than one of: circle, spin, bounce, pace, generally in some kind of combination (the spin an... Read more »

  • January 30, 2014
  • 03:29 PM
  • 166 views

More Money, More Votes?

by Nura Rutten in United Academics

How a politician’s income influences our votes... Read more »

  • January 22, 2014
  • 09:10 AM
  • 172 views

Shy Women At Risk Of Poor Sex Life

by Flora Brils in United Academics

While it is a taboo to talk about, a lot people face troubles in their sex lives. A new study explored whether female sexual dysfunction is related to certain personality traits and coping strategies. Introvert women seem to be at a greater risk for sexual problems.... Read more »

Crisp, C., Vaccaro, C., Pancholy, A., Kleeman, S., Fellner, A., & Pauls, R. (2013) Is Female Sexual Dysfunction Related to Personality and Coping? An Exploratory Study. Sexual Medicine, 1(2), 69-75. DOI: 10.1002/sm2.16  

  • January 15, 2014
  • 09:52 AM
  • 192 views

Drug Labeling Influences Effects Of Painkillers

by Agnese Mariotti in United Academics

Researchers discovered surprising placebo effects. For example, properly labeled placebo had a painkilling effect; this observation indicates that the ritual of taking a pill contributes to the treatment’s effect.... Read more »

Kam-Hansen S, Jakubowski M, Kelley JM, Kirsch I, Hoaglin DC, Kaptchuk TJ, & Burstein R. (2014) Altered placebo and drug labeling changes the outcome of episodic migraine attacks. Science translational medicine, 6(218). PMID: 24401940  

Finniss DG, Kaptchuk TJ, Miller F, & Benedetti F. (2010) Biological, clinical, and ethical advances of placebo effects. Lancet, 375(9715), 686-95. PMID: 20171404  

  • December 23, 2013
  • 05:43 AM
  • 276 views

Dr. Kevin Beaver the Apostle

by nooffensebut in The Unsilenced Science

Dr. Kevin Beaver followed my advice and was able to show that black men with MAOA-2R are especially likely to shoot or stab. Self-righteous critics sternly wag their fingers.... Read more »

  • December 8, 2013
  • 10:03 AM
  • 287 views

The Stupid Stupidity Surrounding the Warrior Gene, MAOA, is Stupid

by nooffensebut in The Unsilenced Science

This is a thorough review of everything stupid ever said about the warrior gene, MAOA.... Read more »

  • November 23, 2013
  • 04:24 PM
  • 274 views

Poo Power! Global Challenge

by Cobb & Hecht in Do You Believe In Dog?

Hey Julie,it's not every week I get to issue an invitation to the entire world, but that's exactly what I'm doing today! MiaStudents invited to compete in global dog poo competition:Poo Power! Global Challenge launches Monday 25 November 2013Students and classes will be pitched against each other to see who can identify the most and largest dog waste 'hotspots' in their local neighbourhood in the 'Poo Power! Global Challenge'. Participants use a GPS-enabled iPhone to download the free Poo Power! App from the App Store. Their task is to identify and map dog poo 'hotspots' in dog parks and public spaces from their neighbourhood from Monday 25 November 2013.  While the initial competition is being run for students and schools, anyone, anywhere can participate and contribute to this citizen science initiative.Duncan & Diesel from Poo Power!This eyebrow-raising project is a collaboration between dog poo entrepreneur Duncan Chew from Poo Power! and me (!), as a way to say thanks to all the students who voted for me to win I'm a Scientist, Get Me Out of Here! in Australia recently. The collected information will be uploaded onto the Global Poo Map and provides a platform for students to discuss the scientific, social and environmental issues of dog waste. The students are then encouraged to write a letter to their local Government representative of their findings and recommendations. Citizen science at it's finest! Scientific American are currently featuring Poo Power! on their Citizen Science website"From our research only 3% of Australians see uncollected dog waste as an environmental concern," explains Duncan Chew. "When it rains, uncollected dog poo gets washed down drains, effecting water quality and habitat for native animals, as well as making rivers and creeks unpleasant for us to visit."  I just think this is a great way to utilise the prize money from winning the I’m A Scientist – Get Me Out of Here! competition; it raises awareness of new sustainable energy sources, environmental issues and responsible dog ownership, all while increasing student engagement in a citizen science activity.The collated information has the poo-tential to identify sites for biogas-powered lights for parks as proposed by the Melbourne-basedproject, Poo Power!, currently in development. The methane that is released from the dog waste as it breaks down inside a 'biogas generator' can be used as a viable renewable energy source.Photo: Steven PamCompetition prizes and giveaways are up for grabs for students whose submissions are received between 25th November and 9th December 2013. After this initial competition period closes, the project will continue to run, collecting ongoing hotspot data worldwide.... Read more »

Okoroigwe E.C., Ibeto C.N., & Okpara C.G. (2010) Comparative Study of the Potential of Dog Waste for Biogas Production. Trends in Applied Sciences Research, 5(1), 71-77. DOI: 10.3923/tasr.2010.71.77  

Nemiroff Leah. (2007) Design, Testing and Implementation of a Large-Scale Urban Dog Waste Composting Program. Compost Science , 15(4), 237-242. info:other/http://montrealndgdogrun.org/image/downloads/compost studies.pdf

  • November 22, 2013
  • 05:15 AM
  • 246 views

Humpback Whales Share Songs Over Lunch

by Dyani Lewis in United Academics

Whales learn new tunes at shared Antarctic feeding grounds.... Read more »

  • November 14, 2013
  • 08:46 AM
  • 310 views

God’s Existence Theorem Is Correct

by Simone Munao in United Academics

“If God is possible, then he exists necessarily. But God is possible, therefore he exists”. This is the extreme synthesis of Gödel’s most famous result. Two researchers -Christoph Benzmuller and Bruno Woltzenlogel Paleo- just confirmed the result thanks to the help of a computer-assisted proof.... Read more »

Christoph Benzmüller and Bruno Woltzenlogel Paleo. (2013) Formalization, Mechanization and Automation of Godel’s Proof of God’s Existence. preprint arxive . info:/

  • November 11, 2013
  • 09:53 AM
  • 273 views

You Use Nanoparticles Everyday: 4 Examples

by Chiara Civardi in United Academics

Whatever our opinion on nanotechnology may be, what we don’t realise is that we are exposed to nanoparticles in our everyday life, not only through pollution, but by means of the products we use daily. So, here’s a short list of some of these hidden engineered nanoparticles.... Read more »

Blasco C., Picó Y. (2013) Nanoparticles in Foods, Determination of. Encyclopedia of Analytical Chemistry. DOI: 10.1002/9780470027318.a9285  

Cristina Buzea, Ivan I. Pacheco, & Kevin Robbie. (2008) Nanomaterials and nanoparticles: Sources and toxicity. Published in Biointerphases Vol. 2, issue 4 (2007) pages MR17 - MR71. arXiv: 0801.3280v1

Mueller M., Nowack B. (2008) Exposure modelling of engineered nanoparticles in the environment. Environmental Science . info:/

Nohynek GJ, Lademann J, Ribaud C, & Roberts MS. (2007) Grey goo on the skin? Nanotechnology, cosmetic and sunscreen safety. Critical reviews in toxicology, 37(3), 251-77. PMID: 17453934  

Peters R, Kramer E, Oomen AG, Rivera ZE, Oegema G, Tromp PC, Fokkink R, Rietveld A, Marvin HJ, Weigel S.... (2012) Presence of nano-sized silica during in vitro digestion of foods containing silica as a food additive. ACS nano, 6(3), 2441-51. PMID: 22364219  

  • November 11, 2013
  • 07:34 AM
  • 293 views

Biology of Love: are we made to live happily ever after?

by Koko Beers in United Academics

While we learn from songs, movies and fairy tales that life is all about finding the perfect partner, about romance, soul mates and lifelong relationships; biology tells us otherwise.

Neuroscientists and neurobiologists have looked at the neuronal correlates of love, using brain imaging techniques and animal models. Reviewing various studies, Dutch researchers explain the evolution and neurobiological factors of our romantic love. Learn what evolution, biological substances and the course of relationships tell us about human relationships. Is romance and monogamy nothing but a myth?... Read more »

  • November 4, 2013
  • 06:31 AM
  • 244 views

How To End HIV in Africa

by Patrícia Fonseca Pedro in United Academics

South Africa is known to have a major burden of HIV infection cases. As Pieter Fourie put it in 2006: “AIDS is killing South Africans at a rate equivalent to one September 11th attack every three days”. The situation still is as serious as this: life expectancy should have reached 64 years by now, but with the HIV pandemic it has regressed to about 47 years.... Read more »

  • October 31, 2013
  • 02:30 AM
  • 311 views

Give Your Halloween Candy a Flavor Boost with Psychological Science

by amikulak in Daily Observations

Late on Halloween night, with candy strewn across the dining room table, millions of children across the United States will enjoy the hard-earned fruits of their trick-or-treating labors. After picking […]... Read more »

Vohs, K.D., Wang, Y., Gino, F., & Norton, M.I. (2013) Rituals Enhance Consumption. Psychological Science, 24(9), 1714-1721. DOI: 10.1177/0956797613478949  

Cole, G.G., & Wilkins, A.J. (2013) Fear of Holes. Psychological Science, 24(10), 1980-1985. DOI: 10.1177/0956797613484937  

  • October 27, 2013
  • 06:56 AM
  • 260 views

When equipment fails: paws and assess

by Cobb & Hecht in Do You Believe In Dog?

Photo: Steven PamThere is an industry in Australia that relies on an integral piece of equipment, but the system behind product development process is flawed, and lives are at stake. From farm dogs to military explosive detection dogs, guide dogs to greyhounds, Australia’s working and sporting dog industry claims a 50-70% fail rate as normal. The welfare of these dogs is intimately linked to their working performance. It can be an emotive topic, so let’s take the emotion out of it and objectively consider current practice.A diverse industry, with four sectors operating in different domains, is dependent on one key piece of equipment. A tool that can vary in price from free to $40,000, can be purchased new or second hand, but is unequivocally required to get the job done. Hundreds of thousands of units are currently used daily throughout Australia in government, human health, sporting and private operations.SourcePractitioners invest resources in this equipment, only to find that the tool doesn't work. It’s unsuitable. It operates at the wrong speed. It breaks. It just doesn't do the work it was meant to - at least half of the time! In some industry sectors, the equipment fail rate is estimated as high as eighty percent. Waste units are disposed of and new ones sourced. Perhaps from a large scale manufacturer, perhaps from a private artisan, or some people go ahead and take a crack at making their own. Recycling within the industry is extremely low, at less than ten percent. The production of this equipment is currently inefficient; the industry has no validated minimum standards in place and the product lacks quality assurance. From an industry business and performance perspective, what should be done? A review of the purpose and production life-cycle analysis for this tool seems indicated? Absolutely. A review of how the equipment is being employed, handled, maintained and stored by practitioners? Yes. Perhaps a review of the training courses and educational materials available to the practitioners and the people who train them? For sure.SourceWithout objective review and subsequent improvement, this industry is leaving itself open to scrutiny by the media and risks losing public support. Review of this kind is common. In industrial design and quality management fields, validation of product integrity, ongoing review and updating of evidence-based best practice are standard. Re-purposing of surplus or malfunctioning stock into other areas rather than directly to landfill may require additional resources. However, this extra spend is important as tolerance for unnecessary waste in the 21st century is limited. Indeed, the sustainability and economic viability of this industry into the future relies on improved accountability, higher transparency and demonstrated responsibility.We owe this commitment to review and refine the production, management and education surrounding this device to the industry, the people involved and the tasks they achieve. It’s sound business practice. And we owe it to the dogs.Hi Julie,I wrote this because I wanted to consider if there was a good case to be made for improving the welfare of working dogs, without the emotion or emotive slant often inherent in animal welfare discussions. This came about after recent conversations with people who have suggested my work towards improved working dog welfare is based on me 'loving dogs' or having bleeding-heart, idealistic expectations about the way dogs should be cared for. I hope I have been able to demonstrate that this is a) not about me, and b) that a good argument for objective review and assessment of how working dogs are produced can be made, even before adding consideration for the fact these are sentient animals with capacity to thrive or suffer as a result of how we manage their lives.I'm looking forward to continuing these conversations at the Working Dog Conference 2013 next week.Wish you were here,... Read more »

  • October 24, 2013
  • 08:00 AM
  • 237 views

To Call a Player’s Poker Hand, Look to the Arms

by amikulak in Daily Observations

Professional poker players rely on the ability to divorce their facial expressions from their emotional state – no matter how good, or how bad, their hand is, they have to maintain an inscrutable “poker face.” But new research suggests that they may do well to focus on another body part: The arms. The research, published in Psychological Science, suggests that homing in on only the player’s arms may be the most reliable way to call a bluff.... Read more »

  • October 24, 2013
  • 04:16 AM
  • 372 views

Black Suits, Gowns, & Skin: SAT Scores by Income, Education, & Race

by nooffensebut in The Unsilenced Science

The latest SAT and ACT data show record declines for men, whites, and Native Americans. Analysis of state SAT data suggests that family income does not significantly affect scores when controlled for parents’ education and race.... Read more »

Anonymous. (2008) Why Family Income Differences Don't Explain the Racial Gap in SAT Scores. The Journal of Blacks in Higher Education, 10-12. info:/

  • October 19, 2013
  • 06:29 AM
  • 439 views

The Selective Clearance of Senescent Cells – a Promising Target for Ageing

by Robert Seymour in NeuroFractal

When cells are put under stress (e.g. UV light, ionising radiation, reactive oxygen species) they undergo a process known as cellular senescence in which cell division (mitosis) is arrested. This is thought to contribute to ageing. In their 2013 paper Naylor and colleagues outline a strategy to selectively remove in vivo senescent cells expressing p16Ink4A .... Read more »

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