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Updated: 51 min 3 sec ago

A Flawed Science Journalism Article Provides Good Education On How We Can Do Better

Jan 25 2019 - 08:01
Anti-science activists are having a field day on social media, happy that a rather poorly designed study can let them claim that human sperm is being damaged by modern pesticides, even though the study found nothing of the kind. 

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Yawn: The Doomsday Clock Created By Anti-Nuclear Activists Is Still Close To Midnight

Jan 24 2019 - 12:01
The Doomsday Clock, a public relations stunt created by Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists (1) remains stuck at two minutes until midnight. Just like it was in 1953, the height of the Cold War, when school kids did drills about hiding under desks and everyone built bomb shelters.

Today their worry is still nuclear bombs, they assure us, but also global warming and President Trump, and that is why they have solemnly announced that the Doomsday Clock is still at 2 until midnight, with midnight being the End Of The World.

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Diseases In Sneezes: Just How Well Do They Transmit?

Jan 23 2019 - 15:01
When a sneeze happens, around 100,000 contagious germs for things like the common cold, influenza and tuberculosis move through the air at speeds of up to 100 miles per hour. 

It sounds scary, but there are numerous environmental factors that impact the actual transmission of disease, and a new study sought to determine those right down to the level of a single aerosol particle and a single bacterium. 

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Keck Futures Initiative Communication Awards Nominations Now Open - Excellence in Communicating Science, Medicine and Engineering

Jan 23 2019 - 15:01

The Keck Futures Initiative will award four $20,000 prizes in 2019 to individuals or teams (up to four individuals associated with the creation of the work being nominated) who have developed creative, or

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Of Microbes And Milk Allergies

Jan 23 2019 - 10:01

In the past 30 years, food allergies have become increasingly common in the United States. Changes to human genetics can’t explain the sudden rise. That is because it takes many generations for changes to spread that widely within a population. Perhaps the explanation lies in changes to our environment, particularly our internal environment. 

Shifting lifestyle practices over the last half-century – increasing antibiotic and antimicrobial use, surface sterilization, air filtration and changes to diet – have changed our internal environment and wiped out important bacteria with beneficial health effects.

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Why We Fail At New Year’s Resolutions, And What To Do About It

Jan 23 2019 - 08:01

The new year has only just begun, yet by Valentine’s Day some 80 percent of us will have already given up on those well-intentioned commitments – at least according to University of Minnesota researcher Marti Hope Gonzales. Why is that?

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Marie Kondo With A Catch: The KonMari Method Of Tidying May Make You Feel Worse

Jan 22 2019 - 16:01

Have your friends recently begun obsessively folding their t-shirts, or explaining how they have got rid of a book that no longer “brings them joy”? If so, they’ve probably been caught up in the new craze from lifestyle guru and “tidying consultant” Marie Kondo.

Kondo’s book, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, and her new Netflix series, Tidying Up with Marie Kondo, describe the “KonMari” method. This is a series of simple ways of reorganizing your home to get rid of clutter and mess. According to the author, following her method will not only lead to a cleaner, more organized household, but also to a more positive and happy lifestyle overall.

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How Minority Report Could Happen: Your Behavior Can Be Predicted By Social Media Even If You Don't Use It

Jan 22 2019 - 14:01
You may be told that you have individual choice about whether or not social media privacy (or lack thereof) affects you; don't join social media, or delete your account. 

Not so, according to a new study. Big Data can essentially triangulate your behavior, by using the data of your friends.

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It's Not Planet Nine, Planet X Or Planet 12, It's Just Gravity

Jan 22 2019 - 13:01

After two percent of astronomers threw out one arbitrary definition of planet and replaced it with another arbitrary definition of planet, our solar system went from nine planets to eight. Pluto became instead a dwarf planet because the the International Astronomical Union said a planet must have "cleared its neighborhood" of other orbiting bodies and since Pluto did not clean out the entire Kuiper Belt full of asteroids it did not qualify.

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How To Hurt The Environment: Elect A Democratic President, Says Sociology Paper

Jan 22 2019 - 11:01
A team of sociologists say they know of a sure way to hurt environmental protection: Elect a Democratic president. 

An analysis of over 20,000 people from the General Social Survey between 1973 and 2014 found that support for environmental spending consistently plummeted during the administrations of Presidents Jimmy Carter, Bill Clinton and Barack Obama. There are other known factors in regulatory support; the older people get the less they support more regulations, but it is a surprise to find that relative support for environmental regulation changes depending on which party is in the White House.

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One More Thing About The Myth Of The Desert

Jan 21 2019 - 17:01
In the previous post I discussed, among other things, a purely empirical observation on the mass spectrum of elementary particles, which I summarized in a graph where on the vertical scale I put the year of discovery, and where I only cared to plot particles with a mass above a keV - in fact, we know that neutrinos have non-zero masses, but we have not measured them and they are of the order of an eV or below. Okay, for simplicity I will re-publish the graph below.

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Zicam And Other Homeopathy, Supplements; 51% Of Parents Say They Give Them To Kids Though They Know They Don't Work

Jan 21 2019 - 12:01

Thanks to social media, advice on how to prevent a cold is everywhere and 51 percent of parents taking the  C.S. Mott Children's Hospital National Poll on Children's Health admit to believing in folklore and homeopathy even though 99 percent of them accept scientific approaches as well. 

Welcome to 2019.

Colds are caused by viruses and spread most frequently from person to person. The most common transmission is mucus from the nose or mouth that gets passed on by direct contact, coughing, sneezing, doorknobs, etc. Therefore the most effective method for preventing colds is encouraging children to wash hands.

It won't work in stopping them all.  Kids will probably experience three to six colds each year. 

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False Claims In Particle Physics

Jan 20 2019 - 15:01
I have long been of the opinion that writing about science for the public requires the writer to simplify things down to a level which is sometimes dangerously close to mislead the uninformed readers. I think is a small price to pay if you want to keep open the channel of communication with the general public, but it is indeed a narrow path the one you sometimes find yourself walking on, and fallacy is always a possible outcome.

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What Is A ‘Super Blood Wolf Moon’? Just Our Shadow On Distant Moon - No, World Won't End - False Prophet Paul Begley At It Again

Jan 19 2019 - 09:01

Another post to help people scared of perfectly normal harmless events because of the sensationalist press and false prophets. This is just the moon passing through Earth’s shadow as it does usually once or twice a year. It’s done it for billions of years. Usually it passes above or below Earth’s shadow at full moon, and occasionally it passes through it, and that’s the lunar eclipse.

Half the world can see a lunar eclipse, the entire night side of Earth at the time of the event. It is far easier to see than a solar eclipse which needs you to live on or travel to a narrow eclipse track where the Moon’s shadow briefly touches the surface of the Earth.

Here are some guides about how to observe it. In the US:

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Fear Memory - An Epigenetic Difference Between Genders

Jan 17 2019 - 14:01
Is there sex-specific epigenetic regulation of fear memory?

A new study says yes, for mice anyway, and if it later is found to be similar in humans it could explain why fear and stress-related disorders affect men and women differently.

Fear and memory produce changes to genes that modulate gene expression, called epigenetic modifications, some contend. In a mouse model of traumatic memory, epigenetic activation of  gene important for creating fear memories and stress behavior, called cyclin dependent kinase 5 (Cdk5) increased naturally in males, but not in females, after the mice recalled a fear-related memory.

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A Biological Reason For Body Paint?

Jan 17 2019 - 12:01
Some indigenous peoples wear body paint, and most most of the indigenous communities who paint their bodies live in areas where there is an abundance of bloodsucking horseflies, mosquitoes or tsetse flies. 

Where insects bite people there is a risk of bacteria, parasites and other pathogens being transferred. More insects, more risk. Did paint come into popularity for protection it might offer? A new study set out to find if the two were linked, and not just cultural decoration. 

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Scientists Left Behind

Jan 17 2019 - 07:01
As the well-informed readers will realize, I am hat-tipping Hank Campbell and the catchy title of his best-selling book "Science Left Behind" with the title of this post, for lack of more imagination. What I want to discuss is, however, something only partly in line with the interesting topics of Hank's book. It is something that I see happening around these days, and which I ache for: the dumbing down of our decision making in science.

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Using Artificial Intelligence On The Genome Uncovers New Missing Link In Evolution

Jan 16 2019 - 14:01
A recent study using deep learning algorithms and statistical methods discovered the footprint of a new hominid who cross bred with the ancestors of Asiatic individuals tens of thousands of years ago.

Modern human DNA computational analysis suggests that the extinct species was a hybrid of Neanderthals and Denisovans and cross bred with "Out of Africa" modern humans in Asia. This finding would explain that the hybrid found this summer in the caves of Denisova - the offspring of a Neanderthal mother and a Denisovan father - was not an isolated case, but rather was part of a more general introgression process. 

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Malaria Mosquito Anopheles Stephensi Found In Ethiopia For The First Time

Jan 16 2019 - 13:01
Anopheles stephensi, a malaria disease vector, is normally found in the Middle East, Indian Subcontinent and China. But now it has been found in Ethiopia, where over 68 percent of the population is already at risk for malaria and an average of 2.5 million cases are reported annually.

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Junior Investigator $25,0000 Science & PINS Prize for Neuromodulation

Jan 16 2019 - 10:01
Science magazine and PINS Medical of China are giving a prize for research that modulates neural activity through physical (electrical, magnetic, optical) stimulation of targeted sites in the nervous system with implications for translational medicine.

This prize was established in 2016 and is awarded annually based on a 1,500 word essay about research that has been performed in the past three years.

The winner is awarded $25,000 and publication in Science magazine.

PINS is from a Chinese word for acupuncture but they say is stands for “Patient Is No.1 always”. They make deep brain stimulation systems, what they call brain pacemakers, and claim efficicacy for Parkinson's disease, dystonia, and more.

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