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Updated: 24 min 53 sec ago

Coronavirus Risks In Public Bathrooms

Jun 05 2020 - 13:06

Most public restrooms are grungy in the best of times. Now, we have the coronavirus risk to contend with, too. There are lots of risks – dirty sinks and door handles, airborne particles and other people in small, enclosed spaces who may or may not be breathing out the coronavirus.

So, how do you stay safe when you’re away from home and you’ve really got to go?

As a medical doctor and epidemiologist, I study infectious diseases involving the gastrointestinal tract. Here are four things to pay attention to when it comes to any public restroom.

What goes into the toilet doesn’t always stay there

Have you ever thought about what happens when you flush a toilet?

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Who Is Surgisphere And How Did They Get Into A Lancet Hydroxychloroquine Paper?

Jun 04 2020 - 15:06
Surgisphere, a company that bills itself as having one of the largest and fastest hospital databases in the world, was riding high a few days ago. Their data had led to papers in both New England Journal of Medicine and The Lancet, they moved WHO to stop clinical trials because their data showed no benefit but some risks of hydroxychloroquine.

Not bad for a company with three employees and 170 Twitter followers.

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FMRI Images Are Just Pretty Pictures

Jun 04 2020 - 14:06
Ten years ago science journalists talked about functional MRI (fMRI) scans all of the time. Because if a part of the brain lit up when someone did, said, or read something, it went into a paper. Few asked who was doing the interpreting, how legitimate the scale was, and if it had any scientific relevance. We got media claims that fMRI would predict behavior and the resulting media attention caused scholars to rush to produce even more fMRI papers.

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Some Good News: Yellowstone Won't Blow Up This Year

Jun 04 2020 - 12:06
From Australian wildfires to COVID-19 to murder hornets to race wars in Manhattan, 2020 looks to be a challenging year. It could still get worse, but science shows it won't be due to Yellowstone blowing its top. 

Yellowstone is one of those scenarios doomsday "preppers" worry about. They are right to be concerned if it does happen, but they don't understand hazard (what could happen) and risk (the likelihood of the hazard) any better than environmentalists worrying about weedkillers do. 

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One Hydroxychloroquine A Day Does Not Keep The Doctor Away

Jun 04 2020 - 10:06
As the search for an effective COVID19 treatment goes on, one therapy keeps re-appearing in the headlines: hydroxychloroquine. Early, observational studies on the use of hydroxychloroquine to treat patients with COVID19 failed to show any real benefits of the drug. The ability of hydroxychloroquine to prevent the development of COVID19, however, remained largely untested. But a study on the effectiveness of hydroxychloroquine to prevent COVID19 has been published and the results are not what anyone was hoping for.

The Set-Up

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Do No Harm? Doctors Are Giving Out 9X As Many Hydroxychloroquine Prescriptions, And That Puts People Who Need It At Risk

Jun 04 2020 - 06:06
The antimalarial drug chloroquine (analogue hydroxychloroquine) is also successfully used to treat lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, and autoimmune diseases said to have similar biological mechanisms as COVID-19 and, lacking any remedies besides what can be done for the flu, in March the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) granted emergency use authorization for those compounds as treatments.

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Cover Crops Lead To Better Decomposition Rates And Increased Mineralization

Jun 04 2020 - 01:06

Cover crops are touted for their soil and water quality related benefits. A new paper found that incorporating cover crops with tillage results in increased cover crop decomposition rates and increased mineralization of nutrients from cover crop biomass.

Other studies have reported mixed results for corn-soybean grain yields when planted after cover crops.

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Randomized Double-Blind Trial Of Hydroxychloroquine Finds It's In The Placebo Range

Jun 03 2020 - 17:06
A randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial to test hydroxychloroquine as post-exposure prophylaxis found that it does not prevent illness. 

Enrollment began on March 17th, 2020. To be eligible, people had be enrolled within 3 days after confirmed exposure. 821 asymptomatic participants, 719 who had reported a high-risk exposure to a confirmed Covid-19 contact, were enrolled.

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Business Insider Takes A Trip Down 2019 Chemophobia Lane

Jun 03 2020 - 13:06
Thanks to COVID-19, the public has gotten a lot more skeptical about claims that chemicals, food, and medicine are corporate conspiracies created to replace natural products that worked just fine. Even more ridiculous has been the belief that millions and millions of people are dying from these newer products even though there are no bodies to be found.

Science is back, and that may be why Business Insider published what can perhaps be described as an advertorial for environmental groups who have to be sweating now that their campaigns against the modern world are being laughed at.

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Baryon Acoustic Oscillations, Dark Energy, And Cosmic Expansion

Jun 03 2020 - 12:06
A new paper uses a combination of cosmic voids – large expanding bubbles of space containing very few galaxies – and the faint imprint of sound waves in the very early Universe, known as baryon acoustic oscillations, that can be seen in the distribution of galaxies, to show how large structures in the distribution of galaxies in the Universe can provide the most precise tests of dark energy and cosmic expansion yet.

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The Emperor Has No Clothes: The Failure Of Hydroxychloroquine As A COVID-19 Treatment And The Science That Explains It

Jun 02 2020 - 15:06
The antimalarial drug hydroxychloroquine, touted as a miracle cure for COVID-19, has hit another roadblock, and this time it is heartbreaking. A new study published in the Lancet analyzed the records of patients from 6 continents and found that not only is hydroxychloroquine not an effective treatment, it’s cardiac side effects are potentially dangerous.

The Study

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New Flu? Coronavirus Might Become Cause Of A Seasonal Illness

Jun 02 2020 - 10:06
The flu kills over 600,000 people each year and in 2020 another virus exploded in public health circles for the third time in 17 years; coronavirus.

SARS-CoV-2, which causes the COVID-19 disease, has killed nearly 400,000, and given the risk factors it is hard to say how people would have been killed by any respiratory disease, but one question is not philosophical: is this the new normal? 

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The Purell Of The Future May Be A Handheld UV Light Device

Jun 02 2020 - 10:06
Though "energy medicine" and "oxygenated herbs" promoted by CNN's Chris Cuomo are woo, one notion ridiculed by journalists has merit; using light to disinfect areas and kill coronavirus.

Though chemicals are most common, they are not always practical or portable. Ultraviolet radiation in the 200 to 300 nanometer range will destroy the virus, it just requires UV radiation sources that emit sufficiently high doses of UV light. Current devices are things like expensive mercury-containing gas discharge lamps, which require high power, have a relatively short lifetime, and are bulky. 

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Females And Alcoholism: Blame Estrogen?

Jun 01 2020 - 17:06
A new paper posits that fluctuating estrogen levels may make alcohol more rewarding.

The giant caveat is that the study was in mice, and despite what you may read in corporate media, mice are not little people, so this research is firmly in the "exploratory" part of science. 

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Riot Or Resistance - Media Framing And Bias Shapes The Public's View Of Protests

May 30 2020 - 12:05
A teenager held her phone steady enough to capture the final moments of George Perry Floyd’s life as he apparently suffocated under the weight of a Minneapolis police officer’s knee on his neck. The video went viral.

What happened next has played out time and again in American cities after high-profile cases of alleged police brutality.

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Does Your Dog Really Want To Rescue You? Yes

May 29 2020 - 17:05
We know dogs will try to rescue humans, those Lassie stories were based on events that have happened for as long as humans and dogs have co-existed, but simply observing dogs rescuing someone doesn't tell you much about dogs' actual interest in rescuing humans

So psychologists at Arizona State University set up an experiment assessing 60 pet dogs' propensity to rescue their owners. None of the dogs had any kind of rescue training. 

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X And Y And Meiosis: Some Progress In The Sex Chromosomes Science Mystery

May 29 2020 - 09:05
In high school biology you learned that in humans, a normal cell contains 23 pairs of chromosomes; 22 autosomes, which are the same in both males and females, while in the 23rd, the sex chromosomes, females have two copies of the X chromosome while males have one X and one Y.

Their differences don't stop there. Chromosome pairs are numbered according to size, pair 1 being largest and 23 the smallest. And the Y is tiny compared to the X. X contains thousands of genes critical for life while the Y provides the instructions for initiating male development and making sperm.

Exactly how they work together during meiosis, the form of cell division that creates sperm and egg, contains a science mystery.

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Kampecaris Obanensis:Move Over Nessie, Scotland Is Now Home To The World's Oldest Bug

May 28 2020 - 15:05
A 425-million-year-old Kampecaris obanensis millipede fossil is the world's oldest "bug." It is older than any known fossil of an insect, arachnid or other related creepy-crawly and it was found on the Scottish island of Kerrera.

It's about 75 million years younger than the age other scientists have estimated the oldest millipede to be using a technique known as molecular clock dating, which is based on DNA's mutation rate. Other research using fossil dating found that the oldest fossil of a land-dwelling, stemmed plant (also from Scotland) is 425 million years old and 75 million years younger than molecular clock estimates.

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Domestic Violence Incidents Rise In Los Angeles, Indianapolis During COVID-19 Lockdown

May 28 2020 - 15:05
Two cities, Los Angeles and Indianapolis, reported higher than usual domestic violence incidents once COVID-19 stay-at-home restrictions were implemented in March.

For their paper, the scholars analyzed police calls for service before and during the coronavirus pandemic; from Jan. 2 to April 18 in Los Angeles and from Jan. 2 to April 21 in Indianapolis.School, restaurant and bar closures were ordered in both cities on March 16th. Los Angeles implemented government lockdown orders on March 20th and Indianapolis enacted similar orders on March 24th. 

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