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  • 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 »

  • June 14, 2013
  • 10:23 AM

5 Unusual Ways to Reduce Crime

by Anouk Vleugels in United Academics

For the past 70 years or so, crime has mainly been explained through socio-economic factors such as housing or level of education. Currently the focus has shifted more to neuroscience and biology – and the idea that a chemical imbalance might also cause someone to be more violent or prone to criminal behavior.... Read more »

Keizer, K., Lindenberg, S., & Steg, L. (2008) The Spreading of Disorder. Science, 322(5908), 1681-1685. DOI: 10.1126/science.1161405  

  • June 13, 2013
  • 11:22 AM

Body Dysmorphic Disorder puts ugly in the brain of the beholder

by Ben Buchanan in United Academics

When people think of mental problems related to body image, often the first thing that comes to mind is the thin figure associated with anorexia. Body dysmorphic disorder is less well known, but has around five times the prevalence of anorexia (about 2% of the population), and a high level of psychological impairment. It’s a mental disorder where the main symptom is excessive fear of looking ugly or disfigured. Central to the diagnosis is the fact that the person actually looks normal.... Read more »

  • June 13, 2013
  • 09:40 AM

Scientists Discover How to Trigger the Fruit Growth Hormone

by Geetanjali Yadav in United Academics

If someone told you to put your rock hard green McIntosh apple with a banana as that would make it ripe, you sure would scoff a little. But, believe your ears and do that yourself. It’s an easy way to get that red juicy goodness without spending a single penny! It sounds like magic – but it’s pure science. A very recent study by scientists from the Salk institute for Biological Studies have published their finding in the online international journal eLIFE – stating that the plant hormone ethylene alone activates thousand of other genes in a plant.... Read more »

Katherine Noelani Chang, Shan Zhong, Matthew T Weirauch, Gary Hon, Mattia Pelizzola, Hai Li, Shao-shan Carol Huang, Robert J Schmitz, Mark A Urich, Dwight Kuo, Joseph R Nery, Hong Qiao, Ally Yang, Abdullah Jamali, Huaming Chen, Trey Ideker, Bing Ren, Ziv . (2013) Temporal transcriptional response to ethylene gas drives growth hormone cross-regulation in Arabidopsis . eLife. info:/

  • June 13, 2013
  • 07:47 AM

Stress Leaves Its Mark on Dad’s Sperm

by Anouk Vleugels in United Academics

For the first time, researchers have found that stress can leave an epigenetic mark on sperm, which then alters the offspring’s hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis, a part of the brain that deals with responding to stress. The study was published in the Journal of Neuroscience.

The experiment was conducted with preadolescent and adult male mice, in which stress was induced – for example by confronting the mice with predator odor (fox urine) or foreign objects in their cages.

Their offspring, both male and female, turned out to have abnormally low reactivity to stress. Whenever the stress pathway is deregulated – this can be both an extreme high reactivity, as well as a very low activity – this means an organism cannot respond to changes in its environment. In people, this might cause stress-related mental disorders.... Read more »

  • June 12, 2013
  • 11:58 AM

New Method Images Single Molecules and Atoms

by Akshat Rathi in United Academics

The ultimate dream of nanotechnology is to be able to manipulate matter atom by atom. To do that, we first need to know what they look like. In what could be a major step in that direction, researchers have developed a method that can determine the shape of a single molecule and identify its constituent atoms.

The laws of nature limit what can be seen with the help of light alone. Only objects separated by more than half the wavelength of the light that illuminates it can be observed as separate objects. To overcome this limit, in 1928, Edward Hutchinson Synge came up with an idea of imaging things too small for the naked eye. The idea was to shine light on a small particle and study the scattering when reflected back, making the wavelength of incident light irrelevant.... Read more »

Zhang, R., Zhang, Y., Dong, Z., Jiang, S., Zhang, C., Chen, L., Zhang, L., Liao, Y., Aizpurua, J., Luo, Y.... (2013) Chemical mapping of a single molecule by plasmon-enhanced Raman scattering. Nature, 498(7452), 82-86. DOI: 10.1038/nature12151  

  • June 12, 2013
  • 06:16 AM

Social Media Use Linked to Narcissism

by Anouk Vleugels in United Academics

According to a new study published by researchers at the University of Michigan, social media might just be the perfect way to express our narcissistic tendencies. “Among young adult college students, we found that those who scored higher in certain types of narcissism posted more often on Twitter,” said Panek, leading author. ”But among middle-aged adults from the general population, narcissists posted more frequent status updates on Facebook.”

For the first experiment, 496 young college students (average age 19) were asked to answer some questions concerning their social media use. In addition, they took a personality assessment measuring different aspects of narcissism; exhibitionism, exploitativeness, superiority, authority and self-sufficiency.... Read more »

  • June 11, 2013
  • 08:37 AM

Mysterious Underwater Structure Discovered in Israel

by Anouk Vleugels in United Academics

Researchers stumbled upon the cone-shaped monument, that weighs about 60,000 ton, while executing geophysical research in the southern Sea of Galilee.

Expected is that the structure was built 6000 years ago. According to Prof. Shmulik Marco, who took part in the research, this is an impressive accomplishment since the stones had to be carried more than a mile – and be arranged according to a specific plan.... Read more »

Paz, Y., Moshe, R., Zvi, B., Shmuel, M., Tibor, G., & Nadel, D. (2013) A Submerged Monumental Structure in the Sea of Galilee, Israel. International Journal of Nautical Archaeology, 42(1), 189-193. DOI: 10.1111/1095-9270.12005  

  • June 10, 2013
  • 09:04 AM

Blood Test Sets Therapy for Advanced Cancer Patient

by Agnese Mariotti in United Academics

A recent paper published in Nature reports the employment of blood tests for cancer patients to capture circulating tumor DNA that is subsequently sequenced and analyzed, the goal being to identify mutations and characterize the tumor genomic profile.... Read more »

Murtaza, M., Dawson, S., Tsui, D., Gale, D., Forshew, T., Piskorz, A., Parkinson, C., Chin, S., Kingsbury, Z., Wong, A.... (2013) Non-invasive analysis of acquired resistance to cancer therapy by sequencing of plasma DNA. Nature, 497(7447), 108-112. DOI: 10.1038/nature12065  

Forshew, T., Murtaza, M., Parkinson, C., Gale, D., Tsui, D., Kaper, F., Dawson, S., Piskorz, A., Jimenez-Linan, M., Bentley, D.... (2012) Noninvasive Identification and Monitoring of Cancer Mutations by Targeted Deep Sequencing of Plasma DNA. Science Translational Medicine, 4(136), 136-136. DOI: 10.1126/scitranslmed.3003726  

Leary, R., Sausen, M., Kinde, I., Papadopoulos, N., Carpten, J., Craig, D., O'Shaughnessy, J., Kinzler, K., Parmigiani, G., Vogelstein, B.... (2012) Detection of Chromosomal Alterations in the Circulation of Cancer Patients with Whole-Genome Sequencing. Science Translational Medicine, 4(162), 162-162. DOI: 10.1126/scitranslmed.3004742  

  • June 10, 2013
  • 03:57 AM

The SAT-ACT Score Map

by nooffensebut in The Unsilenced Science

Using multiple regression, I animate state college entrance exam scores controlled for state participation levels and test preference. Then, I review a study on “noncognitive predictors” of college outcomes, which might eventually replace the SAT and ACT.... Read more »

  • June 9, 2013
  • 01:32 AM

The touching things about dogs

by Cobb & Hecht in Do You Believe In Dog?

Hi Julie,(source: The Blue Dog)WOW! May was a seriously jam-packed month for dogs! I'm just as amazed as you are that it's already June. I think I'm in denial, although June means lots of fun things happening, like the SPARCS conference, so maybe it's actually OK that it's here.I loved your last post. So much great information - thank you for sharing! You mentioned how you avoid touching dogs if they don't want to interact and that got me thinking about a sense I haven't written about yet. We've covered views, smells, music and now, I'm going to touch on, well... touch. Not the bitey kind of touch, but the soothing, calm, stroking kind. The outside of a dog is good for our insides...It's true. Patting a dog is something we enjoy. The tactile experience of touching something soft and warm is inherently pleasing. Research has shown that human oxytocin (=happy/social/feel good/"love" hormone) levels rise when we interact with our dogs. Our blood pressure and heart rates lower when we pat dogs, as do our cortisol (=stress hormone) levels.(source)These are just some of the reasons there is so much interest in researching further benefits of human-animal interactions and animal-assisted therapies....and we can be good for a dog's insides too!(source)Interestingly, other studies have shown that dogs' heart rate, cortisol levels and blood pressure can lower when we groom and pat them. Of course, this is not universal. Dogs are individuals and their preferences will vary. Not all pats are equalResearch suggests that dogs prefer to be patted in a soothing way. Not really surprising - think of how we like to be touched and compare a back slap with a gentle stroke. I know which would be more likely to lower my heart rate and relax me!A study that examined the reinforcing value of physical contact by grooming to dogs showed that length of grooming (longer=better) was more important than location of grooming in reducing heart rate. What are you doing this week? I'm off to Sydney for a few days to meet with loads of different working dog groups to talk Action Plan. I'll be sure to tell you all about it next time.  Right now, I'm going to go give my dogs a nice long pat! Mia... Read more »

Bergamasco Luciana, Osella Maria Cristina, Savarino Paolo, Larosa Giuseppe, Ozella Laura, Manassero Monica, Badino Paola, Odore Rosangela, Barbero Raffaella, & Re Giovanni. (2010) Heart rate variability and saliva cortisol assessment in shelter dog: Human–animal interaction effects. Applied Animal Behaviour Science, 125(1-2), 56-68. DOI: 10.1016/j.applanim.2010.03.002  

O'Haire Marguerite. (2010) Companion animals and human health: Benefits, challenges, and the road ahead. Journal of Veterinary Behavior: Clinical Applications and Research, 5(5), 226-234. DOI: 10.1016/j.jveb.2010.02.002  

  • June 6, 2013
  • 07:34 PM

Thule on My Mind: Deep Water Port and Air Force Base

by Andreas Muenchow in Icy Seas

I am an air force brat. My father and my father-in-law enlisted in the German and US Air Forces, respectively. They served during the Cold War when I was born in 1961 a few month after the Berlin Wall went … Continue reading →... Read more »

Elwood, N.J. and J.W. Gaithwaite. (2007) Perpetuating a Pier. Civil Engineering, 77(5), 62-67. info:/

  • June 6, 2013
  • 09:40 AM

A Possible Cure for Multiple Sclerosis

by Pieter Carriere in United Academics

It is better to travel well, than to arrive. This quote that arguably comes from Buddha partly explains why we focus on cell migration in Multiple Sclerosis (MS). MS is an incurable disease that affects 2,5 million people worldwide (As reviewed by Ransohoff, 2012). The onset usually presents in young adulthood and it is mostly diagnosed in women. What causes this devastating disease?... Read more »

Odoardi F., Sie C., Streyl K., Ulaganathan V.K., Schlaeger C., Lodygin D., Heckelsmiller K., Nietfeld W., Ellwart J., Klinkert W.E.F., Lottaz C., Nosov M., Brinkmann V., Spang R. Lehrach H. Vingron M., Wekerle H. Fluegel-Koch C. . (2012) T cells become licenced in the lung to enter the central nervous system. . Nature, 675-682. info:/

Ransohoff, R. (2012) Immunology: Licensed in the lungs. Nature, 488(7413), 595-596. DOI: 10.1038/488595a  

  • June 5, 2013
  • 09:22 AM

Darwin’s Theory Inadequate? Evolution by Subtraction

by Simone Munao in United Academics

So far we have always thought that evolution proceeds by addition, but nobody has ever proven that, at least in some cases, it may evolve by subtraction. In nature, in determinate phases of evolution, complicated organs may be formed, due to certain genetic assets. Sometimes the complexity of the formed tissue can be so high that prevents it from working in an optimal way. Evolution then would do its course by eliminating what is superfluous.

This is the content of the research conducted by the scientists D. McShea and W. Hordijk, recently published on Evolutionary Biology. The authors have proposed a model of evolution called “evolution by subtraction”: some species adapt themselves to the environment evolving form being roughly complex to becoming efficiently simple.... Read more »

McShea, D., & Hordijk, W. (2013) Complexity by Subtraction. Evolutionary Biology. DOI: 10.1007/s11692-013-9227-6  

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