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  • September 2, 2013
  • 07:25 AM

Sip on This: Do Diet Drinks Make You Fatter?

by Joseph Proietto in United Academics

Diet drinks are no help in the fight against obesity and may actually encourage over-eating, according to a US academic who recently argued this point in the journal Trends in Endocrinology and Metabolism.

Susan Swithers reviewed studies that suggest normal or mildly overweight people who consumed artificially-sweetened drinks were more likely to gain weight when compared to those who did not.

The studies showed that, in two separate groups of adolescents, drinking artificially-sweetened drinks was associated with increased body mass index and body fat.... Read more »

  • September 2, 2013
  • 05:35 AM

Five Edible Insects You Really Should Try

by Joost van Itterbeeck in United Academics

Edible insects are great alternatives to conventional sources of meat as they’re cheap, plentiful and excellent sources of protein and fat, as well as vitamins and minerals.

In many countries, eating insects doesn’t raise eyebrows. How palatable they appear to a person is largely determined by culture.

Analyses of insects also show huge variation in nutritional value and composition – between species, their stages of development and even due to the insects’ diet.

With around 2000 edible insect species worldwide, the below are some of the better alternatives to eat... Read more »

  • August 30, 2013
  • 08:27 AM

Unfriend: Facebook Oversharers Lose Out in Real Relationships

by Josephine Lethbridge. in United Academics

We all have that Facebook contact (if not, in the old sense of the word, friend) who is subject to oversharing. Incessant updates about relationships, jobs, holidays; very public demonstrations of affection; insistent “liking”: the site is full of serial offenders. But for most, this generally amounts to a minor annoyance or something to laugh about. A recent study, however, has argued that sharing photographs on Facebook can, and does, have a direct impact on our personal relationships offline too.... Read more »

David Houghton, Adam Joinson,, & Nigel Caldwell and Ben Marder. (2013) Tagger's Delight? Disclosure and liking behaviour in Facebook: The effects of sharing photographs amongst multiple known social circles. Birmingham Business School. info:/

  • August 29, 2013
  • 11:14 AM

Understanding the Basis of Human Intelligence

by Sedeer El-Showk in United Academics

From Siri answering our questions and Watson advising nurses to smart apps that aggregate information to help us out (or spy on us), artificial intelligence is transforming our world. Despite incredible advances, somehow these amazingly “intelligent” systems sometimes seem profoundly stupid. Hector Levesque, a professor of computer science at the University of Toronto, likens them to savants. He was recently awarded the Research Excellence Award at the International Joint Conference on Artificial Intelligence in Beijing; he used his acceptance speech to highlight important questions about our approach to artificial intelligence and what it can tell us about ourselves.... Read more »

Rahman, Altaf and Ng, Vincent. (2013) Resolving Complex Cases of Definite Pronouns: The Winograd Schema Challenge. Proceedings of the 2012 Joint Conference on Empirical Methods in Natural Language Processing and Computational Natural Language Learning. info:/

  • August 29, 2013
  • 10:58 AM

Human Gut Micro Flora Gives an Index of Obesity

by Geetanjali Yadav in United Academics

With easy access to energy-rich junk food and modern living with a sedentary lifestyle, more and more people are becoming slaves to excessive fat consumption. Yet being a couch potato is dangerous for our health. Studies on the human genome variation show there are significant differences in the genome of bacteria that live in our intestine. A latest research published in Nature reveals that the bacterial population in the intestine varies significantly from obese to thin bodies. This indicates that people with fewer bacterial species in their intestine are more likely to develop complications, such as cardiovascular diseases and diabetes.... Read more »

Emmanuelle Le Chatelier, Trine Nielsen, Junjie Qin, Edi Prifti, Falk Hildebrand, Gwen Falony, Mathieu Almeida, Manimozhiyan Arumugam, Jean-Michel Batto, Sean Kennedy, Pierre Leonard, Junhua Li, Kristoffer Burgdorf, Niels Grarup, Torben Jørgensen, Ivan Br. (2013) Richness of human gut microbiome correlates with metabolic markers. Nature. DOI: 10.1038/nature12506  

  • August 28, 2013
  • 05:26 AM

Why Is the Mediterranean Diet Good for You?

by Samantha Gardener in United Academics

A recent study published by Italian researchers shows that adhering to a Mediterranean-style diet can offer protection against type 2 diabetes. The paper is just the latest in a long line of research pointing out the wonders of this diet – so what are we to take from these latest findings?... Read more »

  • August 27, 2013
  • 08:00 AM

How do students figure out whom to trust in a scientific controversy?

by Marie-Claire Shanahan in Boundary Vision

So what do high school students do when they want to trust researchers but those researchers disagree with each other?... Read more »

  • August 27, 2013
  • 04:41 AM

Language Learning Begins in the Womb

by Josephine Lethbridge in United Academics

New research from the University of Helsinki suggests that humans begin to distinguish between sounds before they are even born. Eino Partanen and colleagues explored how prenatal experiences influence learning. “We wanted to find out what kind of material foetuses can learn in the womb, what kind of neural representations they form,” he said.... Read more »

Eino Partanen et al. (2013) Learning-induced neural plasticity of speech processing before birth. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America. DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1302159110  

  • August 26, 2013
  • 05:23 AM

Five Misconceptions About the Benefits of Antioxidants

by Guillaume Cote-Maurais in United Academics

Antioxidants are part of our daily diet in fruits, vegetables, spices, and herbs, and their intake is the focus of increasing attention. More recently, designer foods have been enriched with antioxidants, and antioxidants are commonly taken as supplements. Here is five misconceptions about the benefits of antioxidants.... Read more »

Bast, A. . (2013) Ten misconceptions about antioxidants. Trends in Pharmacological Sciences . DOI: 10.1016/  

  • August 22, 2013
  • 07:22 PM

I'm a scientist, (don't!) get me out of here!

by Cobb & Hecht in Do You Believe In Dog?

Julie Julie Julie!How awesome was Heather's guest post about her black dog syndrome research in shelters? There's something extra fun about hearing about the latest research, straight from the researchers own fingers (well, mouth seemed wrong seeing she typed it?!).I'm keeping myself busy this week, organising everything ahead of the Working Dog Alliance's website going live (any day now, annnnny daaaaaay!). I'll be sure to put a link up on Facebook and Twitter when it does go live, or you can keep an eye out over at Here's a sneaky peek: There will be some exciting reveals about the first Australian working dog industry conference (4-5 November in Sydney if you want to come over?) once the website is up - fun times! Australia's National Science Week 2013 just wrapped up - there were so many things happening and going on - YAY SCIENCE! You should take a look over the website. Being a fan of citizen science, I think you'll really like Explore the Sea Floor - it's like Google Maps for the ocean floor all around Australia and you can help identify everything you see as a citizen scientist.  Totally amazing! I'm getting my competitive scientist metaphorical lab coat on next week for Australia's I'm a Scientist, Get me out of here! Which is kind of a weird title, because I quite like being a scientist and think I'd like to stay here, actually. It's a science engagement activity with school children aged 10-18, who chat online with a bunch of scientists from different areas and ask questions, then get to vote us out one by one in an idol-style competition. The winning scientist will receive $1000 to use for science outreach - if I win, I'm thinking of a global citizen science project that students everywhere can participate in - of course, it will also involve DOGS! Only students from the registered schools can vote, so don't bother trying to stack the odds my way... I'm in a Zone with mixed scientific disciplines (there's also a Brain Zone and a Micro Zone in my competition). So I'm up against a wine chemist, an explosive chemist, a computer architect and an instrument scientist who builds bits for telescopes - it's going to be fun! I'm the only female scientist in my zone, so that's interesting - I think I also feel a little bit extra competitive, just because of that! So wish me luck!Here's a neat 60 sec video about #IAS from the UK version: I hope you had a fabulous birthday and look forward to hearing about your Summer break - what have you been up to? Mia Further reading:Laursen S., Liston C., Thiry H. & Graf J. (2007). What Good Is a Scientist in the Classroom? Participant Outcomes and Program Design Features for a Short-Duration Science Outreach Intervention in K-12 Classrooms, Cell Biology Education, 6 (1) 49-64. DOI: 10.1187/cbe.06-05-0165... Read more »

  • August 21, 2013
  • 11:21 AM

How Plants Smell Smoke

by Sedeer El-Showk in United Academics

n response to my recent post about the dynamic life of plants, reader tmso asked about whether plants can sense and respond to smoke. I still haven’t found anything about an immediate response to smoke, but I’ve learned quite a bit about how smoke and fire affect germination. ... Read more »

Flematti GR, Ghisalberti EL, Dixon KW, . (2004) A compound from smoke that promotes seed germination. . Science (New York, N.Y.), 305(5686). DOI: 10.3410/f.1020027.228427  

Chiwoca, Sheila DS, Dixon, Kingsly W, Flematti, Gavin R, Ghisablerti, Emilio L, Merritt, David J, Nelson, David C, Riseborough, Julie-Anne M, Smith, Steven M, . (2009) Karrikins: A new family of plant growth regulators in smoke. Plant Science. DOI: 10.1016/j.plantsci.2009.06.007  

Guo Y, Zheng Z, La Clair JJ, Chory J, & Noel JP. (2013) Smoke-derived karrikin perception by the α/β-hydrolase KAI2 from Arabidopsis. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 110(20), 8284-9. PMID: 23613584  

  • August 21, 2013
  • 03:55 AM

New Carnivore Species Discovered in Ecuador

by Alex Reis in United Academics

It’s been seen in the wild and presented in zoos around the world, but yet, a mysterious creature has been victim of mistaken identity for over 100 years!... Read more »

Kristofer M. Helgen, C. Miguel Pinto , Roland Kays, Lauren E. Helgen, Mirian T. N. Tsuchiya, Aleta Quinn, Don E. Wilson . (2013) Taxonomic revision of the olingos (Bassaricyon), with description of a new species, the Olinguito. . Zoo Keys, 1-83. DOI: 10.3897/zookeys.324.5827  

  • August 20, 2013
  • 10:41 AM

Facebook May Reduce Happiness

by Guillaume Cote-Maurais in United Academics

Online social networks are rapidly changing the way human beings interact. Over a billion people have a Facebook account, and over half of them log in daily. Yet, no research has examined how interacting with Facebook influences subjective well-being over time.... Read more »

Kross E., Verduyn P., Demiralp E., Park J., Lee D.S., Lin N., Shablack H., Jonides J. . (2013) Facebook Use Predicts Declines in Subjective Well-Being in Young Adults. Plos One, 8(8). DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0069841  

  • August 18, 2013
  • 12:16 PM

Being Hangry: The Science behind Hunger and Mood

by Caitlin Kirkwood in United Academics

What happens to our mood when our body is running low on glucose a.k.a. sugar? Researchers at the University of Kentucky were interested in the link between low glucose levels and aggressive behavior, so they designed a devious study to investigate the sugar-mood association.... Read more »

  • August 16, 2013
  • 08:04 AM

Researchers Discover New Strategy to Prevent Influenza Infection

by Geetanjali Yadav in United Academics

Research shows microRNA based strategy to fight against viral pathogens.... Read more »

Langlois, RA, Albrecht, RA, Kimble, B, Sutton, T, Shapiro, JS, Finch, C, Angel, M, Chua, MA, Gonzalez-Reiche, AS, Xu, K.... (2013) MicroRNA-based strategy to mitigate the risk of gain-of-function influenza studies. . Nature Biotechnology. DOI: 10.1038/nbt.2666  

  • August 15, 2013
  • 11:41 AM

Skinny Jeans and Cocaine: Why cocaine users tend to be skinny and why it won’t last forever

by Patrícia Fonseca Pedro in United Academics

“I’ve heard stories that some modeling agents encourage girls to do speed and cocaine in order to speed up metabolism and eat less,” Russian model Kira Dikhtyar told Fox News.

It’s an alarming phenomenon that many models and socialites use cocaine to stay thin. And this is not just a lady thing. Nowadays, prevailing beauty standards also influence men in a way some opt to use the same method to lose weight.... Read more »

  • August 14, 2013
  • 05:07 AM

Cutting Out the Middleman In BioHydrogen

by Q Dragon in United Academics

Hydrogen is one of the most promising alternative fuels being investigated. Not only because burning it only produces water but because it can act as a sort of chemical storage for more intermittent sources of energy. While there are many ways to chemically produce hydrogen gas, most involve expensive metals like platinum as a catalyst to make the process at all economical. Another approach borrows from biology, and in particular the enzyme hydrogenase. As with many things borrowed from nature it’s extremely good at what it does, the issue is extracting the enzyme from a living organism for use on its own. Fortunately some researchers from Germany (Ruhr-Universität Bochum) have managed to do the next best thing.... Read more »

Esselborn J, Lambertz C, Adamska-Venkatesh A, Simmons T, Berggren G, Noth J, Siebel J, Hemschemeier A, Artero V, Reijerse E.... (2013) Spontaneous activation of [FeFe]-hydrogenases by an inorganic [2Fe] active site mimic. Nature chemical biology. PMID: 23934246  

  • August 13, 2013
  • 11:31 AM

Explainer: What Are Surgical 'Never Events'?

by Jane Reid in United Academics

The point of surgical procedures is to save or improve the quality of our lives, but things can and do go wrong because of system or human errors. In too many cases patients are failed because of so called “never events” – serious incidents that should never happen because they’re entirely preventable.

The official list of never events in surgery includes operating on the wrong part of the body, performing the wrong procedure, leaving instruments or swabs inside the body, or having the wrong prosthesis or medical device implanted.

Never events, such as having the wrong testicle removed, can be devastating, while others prove fatal.... Read more »

Mehtsun, WT, Ibrahim, AM, Diener-West, M, Pronovost, PJ, & Makary, MA. (2012) Surgical never events in the United States. Surgery, 153(4). DOI: 10.1016/j.surg.2012.10.005  

  • August 13, 2013
  • 07:27 AM

Scientists Love Facebook: 8 Effects They Found

by Katja Keuchenius in United Academics

Blaming Facebook is a popular train of thought, also for scientists. They already conducted many studies on the, mostly negative, psychological effects of the social network. Here are 8 findings, some of them contradictive.... Read more »

Clayton RB, Nagurney A, & Smith JR. (2013) Cheating, Breakup, and Divorce: Is Facebook Use to Blame?. Cyberpsychology, behavior and social networking. PMID: 23745615  

Nitzan U, Shoshan E, Lev-Ran S, & Fennig S. (2011) Internet-related psychosis−a sign of the times. The Israel journal of psychiatry and related sciences, 48(3), 207-11. PMID: 22141146  

  • August 13, 2013
  • 05:37 AM

Objectively Evaluating the Taste of Food – It’s Possible

by Guillaume Cote-Maurais in United Academics

Objective quantification of taste intensity would be extremely useful for product development and quality control in the food industry. The tastes of industrial food products in development are still usually discriminated by trained food panelists that sense and score the tastes of foods by tasting the products themselves. Therefore there is a limit number of products that can be evaluated in a single sitting, and this limitation poses a crucial disadvantage in the case of quality control in an industrial production area.... Read more »

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