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  • May 13, 2013
  • 09:45 AM

A Quantum Version of Google

by Carian Thus in United Academics

A team of computer scientists in Spain applied a quantum PageRank algorithm to a network with 7 webpages. They found that the quantum PageRank sometimes ordered the webpages differently in terms of importance, but averaging the quantum PageRank score over time recovered the classical ordering.... Read more »

Paparo, G., & Martin-Delgado, M. (2012) Google in a Quantum Network. Scientific Reports. DOI: 10.1038/srep00444  

  • May 9, 2013
  • 11:05 PM

Stop to smell the flowers. Especially lavender.

by Cobb & Hecht in Do You Believe In Dog?

(source)Hi Julie, WOW!Dogs in clothes.  Corgis in bikinis at the beach. Greyhounds in onesies.  We people do some weird things to our canine friends, no?! I'm pretty sure I wouldn't enjoy being dressed up in a padded outfit all day long, so I think I'll pass on sharing that experience with my dogs. As you said, cultural perceptions, ethics and expectations add a whole layer of extra consideration. It's not always easy to work out what dogs want or need. That's why I like science. It helps us work this stuff out.I've been super busy this week - working hard (as always!) and still thinking a lot about dogs living in kennel facilities. So I wanted to pull your head away from dogs dressed as flowers, back to dogs getting the opportunity to smell the flowers.  No, really. Lavender in fact.(source)Dogs should stop to smell the flowers. Especially lavender.When I talk to people about the body of research that's been conducted in the area of environmental enrichment for dogs housed in kennels, they never fail to be amazed at what has been studied. Or what hasn't. One topic that usually results in a snort, a laugh or a quizzical raised eyebrow is olfactory (smelly) stimulation. Which is kind of weird. Because we know that dogs can smell on a level that's basically in another galaxy compared to our smelling experiences. Research conducted in a rescue shelter kennel in 2005 exposed dogs to five different diffused aromas: - a blank control, or essential oil of- chamomile - lavender - peppermint- rosemary The study showed that olfactory stimulation had a significant effect on behaviour.  Dogs were more likely to rest and less likely to bark when exposed to the smells of lavender and chamomile. Peppermint and rosemary exposure resulted in more active and noisy behaviour. The researchers suggested that the welfare of dogs in shelter kennel environments (and also their attractiveness to potential adopters) could be improved by using this kind of aromatherapy.  What a dog's nose knows.Further research has shown a similar effect of lavender in effecting the behaviour of dogs with travel-induced excitement in cars: they spent more time sitting, resting and less time vocalising when they were exposed to the smell of lavender.Interestingly, human studies show a similar effect of lavender on us: reduced mental stress.So if a dog is in a kennel environment and can't get out to romp in a field of flowers, or chomp them up (as dogs tend to do!), perhaps we can help them out by giving them something... Read more »

Wells Deborah L. (2006) Aromatherapy for travel-induced excitement in dogs. Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association, 229(6), 964-967. DOI: 10.2460/javma.229.6.964  

MOTOMURA NAOYASU, SAKURAI AKIHIRO, & YOTSUYA YUKIKO. (2001) REDUCTION OF MENTAL STRESS WITH LAVENDER ODORANT. Perceptual and Motor Skills, 93(3), 713-718. DOI: 10.2466/pms.2001.93.3.713  

  • May 9, 2013
  • 12:15 PM

Gut Bugs against Diabetes

by Pieter Carriere in United Academics

A new discovery regarding the relationship between gut bugs and disease... Read more »

Markle JG, Frank DN, Mortin-Toth S, Robertson CE, Feazel LM, Rolle-Kampczyk U, von Bergen M, McCoy KD, Macpherson AJ, & Danska JS. (2013) Sex differences in the gut microbiome drive hormone-dependent regulation of autoimmunity. Science (New York, N.Y.), 339(6123), 1084-8. PMID: 23328391  

Flak, M., Neves, J., & Blumberg, R. (2013) Welcome to the Microgenderome. Science, 339(6123), 1044-1045. DOI: 10.1126/science.1236226  

Turnbaugh, P., Ley, R., Mahowald, M., Magrini, V., Mardis, E., & Gordon, J. (2006) An obesity-associated gut microbiome with increased capacity for energy harvest. Nature, 444(7122), 1027-131. DOI: 10.1038/nature05414  

  • May 8, 2013
  • 09:42 AM

Can Probability Explain Gravity?

by Simone Munao in United Academics

According to Dutch theoretical physicist Erik Verlinde, there is a new theory for gravity: Entropic gravity is a hypothesis in modern physics that describes gravity as an entropic force.... Read more »

  • May 6, 2013
  • 05:01 AM

Is it impossible to drown yourself?

by Anouk Vleugels in United Academics

Kind of a morbid question, but apparently one that is on many people’s minds. Suicide by drowning is definitely not impossible, although it is not the easiest method. Due to the body’s natural tendency to come up for air, drowning attempts are most likely to succeed in deep waters.... Read more »

Byard, R., Houldsworth, G., James, R., & Gilbert, J. (2001) Characteristic Features of Suicidal Drownings. The American Journal of Forensic Medicine and Pathology, 22(2), 134-138. DOI: 10.1097/00000433-200106000-00005  

  • May 3, 2013
  • 05:23 AM

New Insight into Meat vs Fish Debate

by Mark Fonseca Rendeiro in United Academics

The benefits of taking fish oil and the harm caused by eating red meat, these two nutritional nuggets of wisdom have been passed around so much over the past few decades, we rarely stop to ask if they really do what people claim they do.

This month, two new papers on the subject of fish and meat have come forward from the University of Western Australia. The first examines the real impact of taking fish oil supplements on the diets of obese people.... Read more »

  • May 2, 2013
  • 03:29 PM

Gender, language and economic power: another spurious correlation

by Sean Roberts in A Replicated Typo 2.0

A recent paper finds a correlation between speaking a language with grammatical gender distinctions and the economic empowerment of women. Is this another case of a spurious correlation caused by historical accident?... Read more »

Victor Gay, Estefania Santacreu-Vasut and Amir Shoham. (2013) The Grammatical Origins of Gender Roles. Berkeley Economic History Laboratory (BEHL) Working Papers. info:/

  • April 30, 2013
  • 09:30 AM

Are Vocal Homophobes Really Just Homosexuals in the Closet?

by Ryo in Skeptikai

Homophobic protestors of gay rights assert things like "homosexuality will lead to the breakdown of civilization," and other such notions. But research is finding that some of these avid protestors are homosexuals themselves. Why is that?

Recent research looks at how cultural influences regarding homosexuality affect the psychology of homosexuals who are "in the closet." A new study is contrasted with information on pornography consumption, showing widespread hypocrisy throughout the world.... Read more »

  • April 29, 2013
  • 09:08 AM

Twitter Maps the Mood of the UK

by Kate Blanchfield in United Academics

Researchers have mapped the moods of Twitter users from the UK and found that they follow a daily pattern of anger, fear, joy and sadness.

The research paper, posted online last week, was based on approximately 120 million tweets collected during the summer and winter of 2011.

The researchers counted the number of times a tweet expressed anger, fear, joy or sadness and normalised this by the total number of tweets in that hour. This corrected for the inevitably higher use of Twitter during certain times of the day. They then assigned a mood score to the tweets using a standard database of emotionally-charged words.

The research shows a clear morning peak for all four moods—anger, fear, joy and sadness—but the afternoon patterns differ, giving a glimpse into the shift of moods during the day.... Read more »

Vasileios Lampos, Thomas Lansdall-Welfare, Ricardo Araya, & Nello Cristianini. (2013) Analysing Mood Patterns in the United Kingdom through Twitter Content. Social and Information Networks. arXiv: 1304.5507v1

  • April 29, 2013
  • 03:35 AM

Do Women Really Want Nice Guys?

by Annemarie van Oosten in United Academics

It’s a familiar story: women who say they are looking to date a kind, sensitive and emotionally expressive guy often end up dating a macho man or a jerk. This leaves many ‘nice guys’ feeling they always finish last. For many decades, researchers have tried to get a grip on this so called ‘nice guy paradox’.... Read more »

Urbaniak, G.C., . (2003) Physical Attractiveness and the “Nice Guy Paradox”: Do Nice Guys Really Finish Last? . Sex Roles, 413-426. info:/

  • April 29, 2013
  • 03:29 AM

Hybrid Chimps in European Zoos

by Gunnar de Winter in United Academics

Our close evolutionary cousin, the common chimpanzee, comes in four subspecies, each one named after its location along an East-West band in Africa. Yet, there are chimps outside of Africa as well. Many European zoos possess a group of chimpanzees, which often plays a part in conservation plans. After all, the populations of our primate brothers are in steep decline. Habitat destruction, bushmeat hunting, pet trade and disease all take their to... Read more »

  • April 26, 2013
  • 10:46 AM

A Lab-Grown Kidney on Demand

by Pieter Carrière in United Academics

A research team in Massachusetts made a promising start to solve the enormous deficiency of donor kidneys. ... Read more »

Tasnim, F., Deng, R., Hu, M., Liour, S., Li, Y., Ni, M., Ying, J., & Zink, D. (2010) Achievements and challenges in bioartificial kidney development. Fibrogenesis , 3(1), 14. DOI: 10.1186/1755-1536-3-14  

  • April 25, 2013
  • 12:43 AM

A room with a view: what do dogs want?

by Cobb & Hecht in Do You Believe In Dog?

Putting the woof in tweet! (source)Hi Julie,Wow! Thanks for sharing the amazing fun tweet-week we had posting for @realscientists on Twitter. It was great to engage with so many people about so many areas of dog (and other animal!) behaviour and research. And poo. So many questions about dog poo!  Some things can be relied upon in life; it’s good to know people are always curious about dog poo.If you want to revisit any of those posts or links we exchanged as part of the Real Scientists project, check out the amazing collection of our tweets, compiled via Storify by the fabulous Sarah, genius behind Science for Life . 365. This week, they have an astrophysicist/cosmologist who studies exploding stars and dark energy tweeting – so interesting! He has a beagle named Bagel who has learned to open doors on everything – the house, the fridge, the microwave – he’s keeping himself and everyone following on Twitter entertained!Over recent weeks I have been talking to working dog industry groups and visiting a variety of kennel facilities as part of my ongoing work with the Australian Animal Welfare Strategy. It’s been great being back around the wagging tails and eager faces of working dogs again. Seeing a wide range of kennel facilities has been fantastic and has given me some good motivation to complete my PhD research in the area of kennelled working dogs.(source)Kennel facilities (including shelter, boarding/breeding and working dog kennel contexts) are often built to house as many individuals as they can in the space available and to be easily cleaned (usually via chemical wash down and hosing) in order to maintain a hygienic environment. This has historically resulted in spaces formed in concrete and metal that we (as people) readily perceive as barren and sterile. (source)Modern facilities are often built with different materials, and can seem more pleasing to our eye, but I wonder if they’re actually any different in meeting dogs’ behavioural needs? It’s been interesting while visiting the recent facilities to consider the dogs’ experience of living in them. One point of difference that I noted was that some facilities offer the dog/s a view. Others didn’t. (source)This view might be limited to the dog opposite their kennel run, or fairly open to many other dogs, people, surrounding scenery, traffic, animals, etc. especially in areas where dogs have a choice to be in- or outside. The limited research in this area suggests that in situations where dogs are housed singly and have the opportunity to view other dogs, they take it. I find it interesting that human studies have illustrated positive effects of proximity to windows with a view in hospital and workplace environments: improved recovery times and reduced job stress. A review paper by Taylor and Mills (see below) suggests that sensory overstimulation may occur in kennel environments, so what does that mean when we consider what provision should be made for dogs to see outside of their kennel?Someone thinks it's important, with a fence porthole having been launched for pet dogs a few years ago. So is this marketing to the dogs' needs or the people's perceptions? Dogs certainly seem to actively seek out visual information about the world around them.... Read more »

  • April 23, 2013
  • 06:15 AM

fMRI lie detection and the Semrau case

by Know Your Images in Know Your Images

Semrau is a psychologist accused of committing fraud to Medicare and Medicaid. The case became mostly famous, because he asked that fMRI lie detection would be a evidence in court. The judge had to decide if fMRI was admissible and after hearing scientists advocating for both sides, he has decided not to admit such evidence. However, the question is: Will it be possible to use fMRI lie detection one day?, because the reason for not admitting it has been based on the error rates and acceptance by scientific community and that can change any day...Image from here So how does fMRI lie detection work at the moment?- A deception task is presented to the volunteers: they have to lie about the object they have taken from a box (or similar, such as a card from envelope).- The volunteer goes inside the scanner and structural MRI is performed and a motor task can also be performed to make the volunteers more familiar with the MRI itself.- The deception task starts and the volunteer is asked questions about the stolen object among other questions. The volunteer has to lie about stealing the object. During this time, EPI (Echo Planar Imaging) images are acquired. - Processing of data starts, which includes reorientation and motion correction. Brain patterns are analyzed to detect lying. Findings have shown that there are specific activated areas (anterior cingulate and the prefrontal cortex) in subjects in the task of deception when a group study is performed. This is a group study, but for fMRI to become a lie detector, it has to stand in individual studies. This has been difficult, because fMRI is a technique with a low signal-to-noise ratio, but some studies have been done. Moreover, deception tasks in these studies are still simple ones, while more complex ones (like the Semrau case) have not been performed.One of the studies which presented results on individual basis (the one referenced here at the bottom) has led that a company has been formed to sell this type of service (CEPHOS). This was the company involved in the Semrau case and the CEO of this company is the scientist advocating for the fMRI lie detection. The two scientists which advocated against the fMRI lie detector were Marc Raichle, PhD (Wash. U. St. Louis, Neuroscience) and Peter Imrey, PhD (Cleveland Clinic, Statistics).Anyway, my personal belief is that fMRI should be on the service of health and not of law...Other Links:, F., Johnson, K., Mu, Q., Grenesko, E., Laken, S., & George, M. (2005). Detecting Deception Using Functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging Biological Psychiatry, 58 (8), 605-613 DOI: 10.1016/j.biopsych.2005.07.040... Read more »

Kozel, F., Johnson, K., Mu, Q., Grenesko, E., Laken, S., & George, M. (2005) Detecting Deception Using Functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging. Biological Psychiatry, 58(8), 605-613. DOI: 10.1016/j.biopsych.2005.07.040  

  • April 23, 2013
  • 05:50 AM

Why We Love When Losers Win and Heroes Fall | The Paradox Explained

by Carian Thus in United Academics

An unemployed neighbor wins the lottery, a friend who regularly boasts about his good health becomes ill. We are highly sensitive to changing fortunes of others. We want to know who’s doing worse and who’s doing better than before, as these shifts in our social environment may have implications for our own well-being. In particular we are drawn to unexpected changes: underdogs that beat the odds and top dogs that fall from grace. Whether we witness the creation of a hero or the demise of a hero – we love it.... Read more »

Brosnan SF, & De Waal FB. (2003) Monkeys reject unequal pay. Nature, 425(6955), 297-9. PMID: 13679918  

Vandello, J., Goldschmied, N., & Richards, D. (2007) The Appeal of the Underdog. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 33(12), 1603-1616. DOI: 10.1177/0146167207307488  

  • April 17, 2013
  • 06:24 AM

How Can I Avoid Procrastination?

by Esther Ghijssen in United Academics

Procrastination is a common behavior in 95 percent of people ( Ellis & Knaus, 1977) and in 15 to 20 percent of that group it can be considered chronic and problematic (Harriot & Ferrari, 1996). Recent research shows that men are more likely to procrastinate than women, that procrastinators tend to be less educated, and that their marriages are more likely to fall apart.

Considering procrastination has little benefit, why is it such a common way of behaving? One of the possible causes is performance anxiety. Being afraid you will never get that job discourages you from sending out your resume, while worrying about your grades makes you not want to study for that exam. In other cases, perfectionism is the root of the problem: setting standards for yourself that you will never be able to meet – and therefore don’t even bother. And then there are those who are just plain lazy; lacking the discipline to force themselves to take care of their tasks.... Read more »

  • April 17, 2013
  • 05:03 AM

At the Mercy and Fury of Our Parent Star

by Zach Urbina in United Academics

Nearly every organism that’s ever lived and died (certainly every person you’ve ever met) owes their continued existence to the steady flow of charged, particulate energy that originates from the thermonuclear fusion of our star. It is the most perfectly spherical object ever observed in nature. The Earth, by comparison is lumpy and bulging, not a sphere, but an oblate spheroid (flat at its poles, bulbous around its equatorial regions). Once thought of as average and relatively banal, scientists now know that our star is unique, brighter than 85% of the rest of the those in our Milky Way galaxy. It has become scientifically fashionable, as a clearer picture of the chaotic nature of our star has emerged, to regard the sun as a menace, a looming threat. However, while solar dynamics do occasionally put technology in their proverbial crosshairs, without our star, Earth would be little more than a cold, desolate rock... Read more »

Kuhn, J., Bush, R., Emilio, M., & Scholl, I. (2012) The Precise Solar Shape and Its Variability. Science, 337(6102), 1638-1640. DOI: 10.1126/science.1223231  

Charles J. Lada. (2006) Stellar Multiplicity and the IMF: Most Stars Are Single. Astrophys.J. 640 (2006) L63-L66. arXiv: astro-ph/0601375v2

  • April 16, 2013
  • 01:28 PM

Don’t Worry about Your Liver!

by Geetanjali Yadav in United Academics

How would you feel if you would have an eternal liver, a liver that lasts forever? Recently, researchers have found gene targets which will boost the regenerative capacity of your liver cells. This means a complete cure for all your liver related problems!... Read more »

Wuestefeld, T., Pesic, M., Rudalska, R., Dauch, D., Longerich, T., Kang, T., Yevsa,T.,, Heinzmann, F., Hoenicke, L., Hohmeyer,A., Potapova,A., Rittelmeier, I., Jarek,M., Geffers,R.,, Scharfe, M., Klawonn, F., Schirmacher, P., Malek, N., Ott, M., Nordheim, A., Vogel, A.,, & Manns, M. . (2013) A Direct In Vivo RNAi Screen Identifies MKK4 as a Key Regulator of Liver Regeneration. Cell, 153(2). info:/

  • April 16, 2013
  • 08:39 AM

5 Ways You’re Wrong About Surviving Disasters

by Anouk Vleugels in United Academics

Everybody remembers the kind captain in Titanic, drowning in his own guilt when he realises he has comprised safety regulations for fame, and his decision to go down with the ship. Before meeting his demise, he first makes sure the women and children make it off the ship. Surely this is the proper thing to do in such situations – women and children first- right? Research suggests otherwise.... Read more »

Bruno S. Frey, David A. Savage, and Benno Torgler. (2010) Behavior under Extreme Conditions: The Titanic Disaster. Journal of Economic Perspective. info:/

  • April 15, 2013
  • 06:53 AM

Understanding Continuous High Shear Wet Granulation in Pharmaceutical Production

by Ashish Kumar in Pharmaceutical Solid State Research Cluster (PSSRC)

Continuous processing is a promising approach for solid dosage manufacturing. High-shear wet granulation is performed in continuous mode using twin screw granulators (TSG), characterized by a modular screw profile including a sequence of different screw elements with various shapes, orientation and functions. For process engineers it is a challenge to come up with prediction models to establish the relationship between equipment and material attributes, process data and the end-product testing results. If a reliable model is available which is able to predict the quality of the product, it can be inverted to obtain the design space, corresponding to that set of operating conditions required for achieving the target product quality. Such a modelling framework combined with in-process measurements, can provide a good mechanistic insight into the important parameters of continuous... Read more »

Fonteyne, M., Vercruysse, J., Díaz, D., Gildemyn, D., Vervaet, C., Remon, J., & Beer, T. (2013) Real-time assessment of critical quality attributes of a continuous granulation process. Pharmaceutical Development and Technology, 18(1), 85-97. DOI: 10.3109/10837450.2011.627869  

Vercruysse, J., Córdoba Díaz, D., Peeters, E., Fonteyne, M., Delaet, U., Van Assche, I., De Beer, T., Remon, J., & Vervaet, C. (2012) Continuous twin screw granulation: Influence of process variables on granule and tablet quality. European Journal of Pharmaceutics and Biopharmaceutics, 82(1), 205-211. DOI: 10.1016/j.ejpb.2012.05.010  

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