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  • June 27, 2013
  • 09:04 AM

Engineered Bacteria Becomes Biofuel Precursor

by Geetanjali Yadav in United Academics

Global population explosion puts us in a very difficult stage where it is very important to have alternatives to modern day fuels like gasoline that fuels million of cars with internal combustion engines as our current biofuels sources are exhaustible. In a recent finding published in PNAS, Scientists at the Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering at Harvard University and the Department of Systems Biology at Harvard Medical School have engineered a bacterium which is capable of producing biofuel precursors that is reported to have high-octane fatty acid moieties.... Read more »

Torella JP, Ford TJ, Kim SN, Chen AM, Way JC, & Silver PA. (2013) Tailored fatty acid synthesis via dynamic control of fatty acid elongation. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America. PMID: 23798438  

  • June 27, 2013
  • 06:05 AM

Can fingers and limbs self-regenerate after a grievous injury or accident?

by Patrick Meyer in United Academics

Instead of creating scar tissue through an immune system response, extracellular matrix responds to injured areas by creating new cells that in turn divide and reproduce on top of themselves, creating a cellular foundation for new tissue to form.... Read more »

  • June 25, 2013
  • 09:59 AM

Dust Escaping from Black Holes May Form Stars

by Emily Brown in United Academics

Matter escaping from the clutches of mysterious black holes may be responsible for forming stars, according to new research that explores how galaxies are formed. Much has been learnt about black holes – which lurk at the centre of all large galaxies and suck up anything in their vicinity – over the past two decades. Yet the phenomena remain largely unexplained.... Read more »

Hönig, S., Kishimoto, M., Tristram, K., Prieto, M., Gandhi, P., Asmus, D., Antonucci, R., Burtscher, L., Duschl, W., & Weigelt, G. (2013) DUST IN THE POLAR REGION AS A MAJOR CONTRIBUTOR TO THE INFRARED EMISSION OF ACTIVE GALACTIC NUCLEI. The Astrophysical Journal, 771(2), 87. DOI: 10.1088/0004-637X/771/2/87  

  • June 25, 2013
  • 09:08 AM

Testosterone Improves Woman’s Brain Functions

by Alvin Lin in United Academics

It’s been said that hormonal young men with high levels of testosterone are constantly thinking about sex. Certainly, as we age, our libido decreases. Whether this is a result of a natural decline in testosterone or of cognitive maturity is open to debate. It’s also been reported that hypogonadal men are more depressed and perhaps not as sharp cognitively speaking. Some studies even show a benefit to testosterone replacement in such men with low testosterone levels.... Read more »

Davis S, et al. (2013) ransdermal testosterone improves verbal learning and memory in postmenopausal women not on estrogen therapy: a randomized placebo-controlled trial over 26 weeks. ENDO . info:/

  • June 25, 2013
  • 04:49 AM

Want to Learn How to Think? Read Fiction

by Tom Jacobs in United Academics

Are you uncomfortable with ambiguity? It’s a common condition, but a highly problematic one. The compulsion to quell that unease can inspire snap judgments, rigid thinking, and bad decision-making. Fortunately, new research suggests a simple antidote for this affliction: Read more literary fiction.

A trio of University of Toronto scholars, led by psychologist Maja Djikic, report that people who have just read a short story have less need for what psychologists call “cognitive closure.” Compared with peers who have just read an essay, they expressed more comfort with disorder and uncertainty—attitudes that allow for both sophisticated thinking and greater creativity. “Exposure to literature,” the researchers write in the Creativity Research Journal, “may offer a (way for people) to become more likely to open their minds.”... Read more »

Maja Djikica, Keith Oatleya . (2013) Opening the Closed Mind: The Effect of Exposure to Literature on the Need for Closure. Creativity Research Journal. info:/

  • June 25, 2013
  • 04:47 AM

Let's All Re-virginise: Double Standards and Hymenoplasty

by Meredith Nash in United Academics

More and more women are requesting surgery to replace their hymens, in an effort to “fake” virginity. But virginity is a psychological state, and a hymen is no reliable indicator it exists.

The idea of virginity is firmly anchored in religion and influenced by a variety of social forces that have led to its circulation across cultures for centuries. It popularly refers to a state of sexual inexperience, but has historically been primarily associated with women.... Read more »

  • June 24, 2013
  • 11:17 AM

Silver Bullets Kill Bacteria, Not Werewolves

by Anouk Vleugels in United Academics

Science shows us that silver bullets kill bacteria, not werewolves.... Read more »

Morones-Ramirez, J., Winkler, J., Spina, C., & Collins, J. (2013) Silver Enhances Antibiotic Activity Against Gram-Negative Bacteria. Science Translational Medicine, 5(190), 190-190. DOI: 10.1126/scitranslmed.3006276  

  • June 22, 2013
  • 01:06 AM

Working dogs working together

by Cobb & Hecht in Do You Believe In Dog?

Hey Julie! It's the weekend and I'm racing about catching up after an amazing past fortnight! It's been a whirlwind and by gee, do I have some super fun things to tell you about! Working dogs, working together My first news is what has been keeping me flat out busy over the first half of this year, and ESPECIALLY for the past fortnight.  I'm excited to introduce to you, the Australian Working Dog Alliance!You know all about my work with the Australian Animal Welfare Strategy (AAWS) working group and working dog research projects over the past six years, but I might not have mentioned that this year, the project team were given seed funding by AAWS to actually implement the first year of activities outlined in the Australian Working Dog Industry Action Plan. To do this, we realised that we needed to have an administrative home - an organisation that could drive the initiatives and partner with other groups and sponsor companies to maximise our reach - and so, the Working Dog Alliance has been founded. It is a registered not-for-profit organisation, that works with a diverse industry stakeholder network to improve the welfare of Australia's working and sporting dogs. The organisation will publicly launch in August, after the next national AAWS workshop. The Alliance's industry hub (and resource-filled!) website will launch then too, but if you want to keep in the loop, you can register on the webpage for email updates here or keep track of our progress on the Facebook page.For the past two weeks, I've been travelling interstate with my colleague, Dr Nick Branson, visiting many groups to talk about the Working Dog Alliance, the Australian Working Dog Industry Action Plan and inviting them to be part of it all. I'm so happy to report that we've had the most positive and enthusiastic welcome we could have hoped for! We've met with over ten representative groups and bodies from various government, assistance and sporting dog, animal advocacy and rescue group industry sectors so far, and all have been keen to talk about their work and how the Alliance can help in sharing the best bits around the industry. We'll continue these meetings with many more working and sporting dog groups in the coming months. G2Z In other exciting news, I'm really looking forward to speaking at the annual Getting 2 Zero Summit in September. If you haven't heard of it, G2Z is a model that"details the principles, structures and strategies for achieving zero killing of healthy and treatable cats and dogs (more than 90% of all incoming stray and surrendered cats and dogs) in whole communities"I'll be there to share some of the things (science things, personal things, silly things, etc.) I've learned about social media in the year that we've been blogging together here on Do You Believe in Dog? - it will be great fun to join this group of highly committed and resourceful attendees. I'm sure I'll be learning lots of things! Dog bearding Now, it IS the weekend here, and I have to admit that my fancy has been somewhat tickled by the recent trend of dog beard photos. I'd love to invit... Read more »

Bik Holly M, & Goldstein Miriam C. (2013) An introduction to social media for scientists. PLoS biology. PMID: 23630451  

  • June 21, 2013
  • 05:23 AM

Study: That Tattoo Makes You Look Promiscuous

by Anouk Vleugels in United Academics

Study shows that men are more likely to approach a woman with tattoos.... Read more »

Guéguen, N. (2012) Tattoos, Piercings, and Sexual Activity. Social Behavior and Personality: an international journal, 40(9), 1543-1547. DOI: 10.2224/sbp.2012.40.9.1543  

Nowosielski, K., Sipiński, A., Kuczerawy, I., Kozłowska-Rup, D., & Skrzypulec-Plinta, V. (2012) Tattoos, Piercing, and Sexual Behaviors in Young Adults. The Journal of Sexual Medicine, 9(9), 2307-2314. DOI: 10.1111/j.1743-6109.2012.02791.x  

  • June 20, 2013
  • 10:19 AM

New Improved Allergy-Treatment Developed

by Pieter Carriere in United Academics

Charlie Chaplin once said: “The saddest thing I can imagine is to get used to luxury”. Strikingly, being accustomed to ‘luxurious’ health care in the developed world is associated with more prevalent ‘saddening’ allergic disorders. In the developed world, about 25% of the population suffers from allergic disorders, like hay fever, asthma, eczema and anaphylaxis (which is a life-threatening allergic reaction) (As reviewed by Galli et al., 2008).... Read more »

Dhaliwal B, Yuan D, Pang MO, Henry AJ, Cain K, Oxbrow A, Fabiane SM, Beavil AJ, McDonnell JM, Gould HJ.... (2012) Crystal structure of IgE bound to its B-cell receptor CD23 reveals a mechanism of reciprocal allosteric inhibition with high affinity receptor FcεRI. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 109(31), 12686-91. PMID: 22802656  

Galli, S., Tsai, M., & Piliponsky, A. (2008) The development of allergic inflammation. Nature, 454(7203), 445-454. DOI: 10.1038/nature07204  

Gould, H., & Sutton, B. (2008) IgE in allergy and asthma today. Nature Reviews Immunology, 8(3), 205-217. DOI: 10.1038/nri2273  

Chen BH, Kilmon MA, Ma C, Caven TH, Chan-Li Y, Shelburne AE, Tombes RM, Roush E, & Conrad DH. (2003) Temperature effect on IgE binding to CD23 versus Fc epsilon RI. Journal of immunology (Baltimore, Md. : 1950), 170(4), 1839-45. PMID: 12574349  

  • June 20, 2013
  • 05:20 AM

Lunar Crater Discovery Helps Unlock Moon’s Secrets

by Sunanda Creagh and Francisca Gallardo in United Academics

In a new paper published in the Journal of Geophysical Research: Planets, the researchers described using a technique called “gravity mapping” which tracks the movement of satellites to make calculations about surface terrain. “As a satellite passes over a set of dense lunar rocks, it gets pulled toward the moon, so by tracking its orbit, scientists can deduce the gravity field of the moon. We also looked at the shape of topography and, together with the gravity, made our deduction,” said lead author of the new study, Professor Will Featherstone of Curtin’s Institute for Geoscience Research. “If you have something that looks like an impact basin with a gravity anomaly, then it is likely it really is an impact crater.... Read more »

Featherstone, W., Hirt, C., & Kuhn, M. (2013) Band-limited Bouguer gravity identifies new basins on the Moon. Journal of Geophysical Research: Planets. DOI: 10.1002/jgre.20101  

  • June 19, 2013
  • 11:55 AM

What is Foreign Accent Syndrome?

by Lyndsey Nickels in United Academics

In the past few days, a great deal of media attention has been paid to Leanne Rowe, a Tasmanian woman who has lived eight years with a French accent she acquired after a car accident. This phenomenon is known as foreign accent syndrome, a rare disorder that usually arises after brain damage as a result of, for example, stroke or head injury.

Foreign accent syndrome has always been the source of much media interest and the stories often sound sensational. There has been, for example, an American who spoke with a British accent, a British Yorkshireman with an Irish accent and another British man with a Russian accent.... Read more »

David Stehling. (2009) Foreign Accent Syndrome (FAS): The Speech Characteristics of Foreign Accent Syndrome. Grin. info:/

  • June 19, 2013
  • 10:58 AM

Sons and daughters of same-sex couples grow up as good as in traditional families.

by Simone Munao in United Academics

Sons and daughters of same-sex couples grow up as good as in traditional families. That's what Australian research shows us.... Read more »

  • June 19, 2013
  • 10:36 AM

Kids of Same-Sex Couples Are Just as Happy As Those In Traditional Families

by Simone Munao in United Academics

They live with two mums or two dads, and they are on the same level as their school friends regarding self-esteem, emotional behavior and time spent with their parents. But they seem to have the edge over the average regarding overall health and familiar cohesion. Kids that grow with homosexual couples grow up as good as in traditional families, and even better in some aspects. This seems to be confirmed by a study conducted by a group of researchers of the University of Melbourne on 500 minors living in Australia: member of same-sex families are closer to one another –the research suggests- since they have to face attacks that come from society, digest them and give them an explanation.... Read more »

  • June 19, 2013
  • 06:45 AM

Rotten America - Big Prison, Arrest Quotas, and What Education Really Pays For

by Ryo in Skeptikai

America is being eroded by greed. More schools are being closed, more prisons are being built, and money is changing hands in all the wrong places. From limiting the potential of the future generations, to arresting innocent people for personal gain, America has become rotten.

Like a rat in a Skinner box, when you give the right incentives, they're motivated to get the cheese. But unlike in the Skinner box, the cheese taken in America is at the expense of others.

This article explains it all, from incentives to education. ... Read more »

  • June 19, 2013
  • 05:02 AM

Are you really at risk of attack by someone with schizophrenia?

by Rebecca Syed in United Academics

A violent attack by someone who is mentally ill quickly grabs the headlines. And it’s usually implied that mental illnesses are a preventable cause of violent crime. Tackle that and we can all sleep safer in our beds. But by pressuring mental health services to focus on the risk of violence we are in danger of actually increasing it.

Most of the debate around risk and offending has centred around schizophrenia – the bread and butter of community psychiatry. But what is the evidence relating to the risk of violence in those diagnosed with schizophrenia? It’s tricky because schizophrenia varies so much in character and severity. And other factors known to have an association with violent crime, like migration and social disadvantage, are often also implicated as a part of the cause or consequence of schizophrenia.... Read more »

  • June 18, 2013
  • 12:09 PM

Even ‘environmentally protective’ levels of pesticide devastate insect biodiversity

by Anouk Vleugels in United Academics

Pesticide levels considered environmentally friendly in Europe and Australia are, in fact, having a devastating effect on invertebrate insect biodiversity in nearby creeks and streams, a new study has found, showing the need for an urgent overhaul of the way pesticide risk is assessed. Water-dwelling invertebrates like worms, snails, crustaceans, mites and insects play a crucial role in regional ecosystems because they provide food for fish, birds and platypuses.... Read more »

Beketov, M., Kefford, B., Schafer, R., & Liess, M. (2013) Pesticides reduce regional biodiversity of stream invertebrates. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1305618110  

  • June 18, 2013
  • 03:55 AM

Explainer: Why Do Women Menstruate?

by Dyani Lewis in United Academics

For half the population, it comes three to five days each month, 12 months each year, for 40 years of our lives. Menstruation can be debilitating, relieving, disappointing, or simply an inconvenient fact of life.

But why do humans menstruate, when most animals don’t? When you shake the tree of life, you find that only a handful of mammals aside from us – primates, a small number of bat species, and the elephant shrew – have opted for the monthly bleed.... Read more »

Blanks, A., & Brosens, J. (2013) Meaningful menstruation. BioEssays, 35(5), 412-412. DOI: 10.1002/bies.201300022  

  • June 17, 2013
  • 09:32 AM

No Sex Drive? There’s A Pill For That

by Alvin Lin in United Academics

In my mind, pills are like apps. Do you have a common problem to solve? There’s an app for that, as Apple has trademarked. Do you have some health related issue? There’s probably a pill for that. Blood pressure? Check. Cholesterol? Check. Social anxiety? Check. Erectile dysfunction? Check. Obesity? Check. Female libido? Oops! No check! But just wait! Big Pharma is working on that! As far back as January 2005, as published in the British Medical Journal, attempts have been made to develop a misnamed female Viagra.... Read more »

  • June 16, 2013
  • 06:04 AM

Short Bursts of Exercise Key to Feeling Full

by Fron Jackson Webb in United Academics

Short bouts of intermittent exercise throughout the day may be better than one vigorous workout in convincing your brain that you are full, according to a new study published in the journal Obesity.

The researchers, from the United States and Murdoch University, set out to find how the appetite-regulating hormone Peptide YY (PYY) fluctuates with intermittent or continuous exercise. The research team asked the 11 participants to do no exercise on day one, to do a one-hour morning exercise session on day two, and to do 12 five-minute bouts of exercise throughout the third day day. Blood was drawn every 15 minutes to assess hormones and the subjects were asked to rate their levels of hunger.... Read more »

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