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Palorchestes Azael: Wombat Ancestor Weighed 2,000 Lbs.

Sep 15 2019 - 14:09
When we think of marsupials (carrying young in a pouch) they are small and cute (opossum, wombat) to a little more menacing (kangaroos in boxing gloves) but nothing like Palorchestid marsupials, an extinct group of Australian megafauna, who were large, had strange tapir-like skulls, and large claws.

Over the course of their evolution, palorchestids grew even larger and stranger. Using limb proportions as a proxy for body size, these authors estimated that the latest and largest of the palorchestids weighed over 2,000 lbs. Furthermore, their forelimbs were extremely muscular and were likely adapted for grabbing or scraping at leaves and branches.

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Climate Change: Electrical Industry's 'dirty Secret' Is Only 0.11% Of UK's Greenhouse Gas Emissions - What The BBC Left Out

Sep 14 2019 - 12:09

It's only 0.11% of UK greenhouse gas emissions and there are replacements already in use industrially as we ramp down to zero emissions by 2050.

This is a known problem, the technology to solve it has been in development since 2016 and in commercial use since 2016. Although it's only a fraction of a percent of emissions, it is important for the future as we ramp down to zero emissions. There is nothing here to be scared of, and we can still use renewables. This is another click bait article by the BBC that’s being shared widely on twitter today. Dozens of shares.

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Vikings Blamed For Disappearance Of Icelandic Walrus

Sep 14 2019 - 07:09
No matter how far back in recorded time you go, you were once an intruder. Native Americans of 1800 were genetically different from the natives who lived in North America of 1600, who had little in common with those 1400. Yet none of them were original settlers.

And when we think of Vikings, we think of ancient people hundreds of years before that, but they were once intruders too, and they caused a unique population of Icelandic walrus to disappear 1,100 years ago as they expanded. 

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How Far Away Is Immortality?

Sep 14 2019 - 06:09

It was quite unlike any other acceptance speech of the UEFA President’s award. In a rather philosophical address before the Champion’s League draw in Monaco, former football player and actor Eric Cantona claimed: “Soon the science will not only be able to slow down the ageing of the cells, soon the science will fix the cells to the state, and so we become eternal.”

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Proton Radius Puzzle Defused - No Secret Physics Makes Protons Shrink In The Presence Of Muons

Sep 13 2019 - 13:09
In 2010, physicists reported an exceptionally precise measurement of the size of the proton, the positively charged building block of atomic nuclei, using special hydrogen atoms in which the electron that normally orbits the proton was replaced by a muon, a particle that’s identical to the electron but 207 times heavier.

They found the muon-orbited protons to be 0.84 femtometers in radius — 4% smaller than those in regular hydrogen, according to the average of more than two dozen earlier measurements. Which would mean protons really shrink in the presence of muons due to unknown physical interactions between protons and muons.

Hundreds of papers speculated about the possibilities.

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Science Not Hype: EPA Confirms Again That Food Has Safe Pesticide Levels

Sep 13 2019 - 13:09
The final results of of the latest annual Pesticide Residue Monitoring Program found that samples are again below the tolerance levels set by the EPA.

The FDA evaluates foods annually for pesticide residues. Final results from the surveys are released after they have undergone a thorough quality assurance review.

But organic pesticides are not separated out. However, there is no reason to believe organic farmers are under any less cost pressure than regular farmers. Both have to maximize yields while minimizing costs and for farmers that often means real-time data on soil conditions and problems in order to use as few costly chemicals as possible. 

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Get Ready For Phyjama - A Pajama That Can Monitor Heart And Respiration While You Sleep

Sep 13 2019 - 13:09
At the Ubicomp 2019 conference,University of Massachusetts Amherst graduate students Ali Kiaghadi and S. Zohreh Homayounfar debuted health-monitoring sleepwear they call "phyjamas."

The electronically active garments contain unobtrusive, portable devices for monitoring heart rate and respiratory rhythm during sleep.

The inventors designed a new fabric-based pressure sensor and combined that with a triboelectric sensor - one activated by a change in physical contact - to develop a distributed sensor suite that could be integrated into loose-fitting clothing like pajamas. They also developed data analytics to fuse signals from many points that took into account the quality of the signal coming in from each location.

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Government Programs Claiming To Help Disabled People Marginalize Them With Paperwork

Sep 13 2019 - 11:09
Projects and welfare systems established to provide support by normalizing disabled people instead contribute to their further marginalization, finds a new analysis.

The paper in Organization Studies investigated a program that allocated computers to disabled people, to help people improve sociability through electronic interactions.

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Quark Nuggets Of Dark Matter As The Origin Of Dama-Libra Signal ?

Sep 13 2019 - 08:09
Sometimes browsing the Cornell ArXiv results in very interesting reading. It is the case with the preprint I got to read today, "DAMA/LIBRA annual modulation and Axion Quark Nugget Dark Matter Model", by Ariel Zhitnitsky. This article puts forth a bold speculative claim, which I found exciting for a variety of reasons. As is the case with bold speculative claims, the odds that they turn out to describe reality is maybe small, but their entertainment value is large. So what is this about?

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Bruce Springsteen: An American Aristotle

Sep 13 2019 - 06:09

In the recently released film Blinded by the Light, Pakistani teenager Javed discovers commitment and courage through the music of Bruce Springsteen. Based on journalist Sarfraz Manzoor’s 1980s memoir, the dreams and frustrations of a working-class boy from Luton, North London are given wings by the experience of another working-class boy from Freetown, New Jersey.

Inspired, Javed shares his writings and his feelings.

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Happy 40th Birthday To The Official Eradication of Smallpox

Sep 13 2019 - 06:09
In December 1979, smallpox was officially declared eradicated but it had already happened by then, thanks to the efforts of giants like Drs. Don Henderson and Bill Foege, not to mention 150,000 international workers pushing the disease first out of Europe and Asia, then to the Horn of Africa, and finally out of existence.

The last case was known in 1977 but no one was willing to raise any glasses, yet by early 1979 everyone knew the clocking was ticking. Finally, by the end of the year it was official. Smallpox was gone, and vaccines had done it.

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Like Diversity? Thank Mountains

Sep 13 2019 - 06:09
In 1799, Alexander von Humboldt set sail on a 5-year, 8000-km voyage through Latin America. His journey through the Andes Mountains, captured by his famous vegetation zonation figure featuring Mount Chimborazo, canonized the place of mountains in understanding Earth's biodiversity.  

One puzzle for scientists since von Humboldt 250 years ago, and certainly later with Darwin, Wallace, and Mendel, was global pattern of mountain biodiversity, and the extraordinarily high richness in tropical mountains in particular.

Two new papers focus on the fact that the high level of biodiversity found on mountains is far beyond what would be expected from prevailing hypotheses.

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Ecologists Say Neonicotinoid Seed Treatments Give Birds Anorexia

Sep 12 2019 - 20:09
A team of ecologists exposed Zonotrichia leucophrys (white-crowned sparrows) to the seed treatment known as imidacloprid (in the class of insecticides known as neonicotinoids) and say the measured weight mass declined in just a few hours, which led to the birds delaying migration. But their study was so small it can only be considered exploratory.

Neonicotinoids are seed treatments, they were created to reduce broad spectrum spraying, like the dichloro-diphenyl-trichloroethane (DDT) that Nixon appointee William Ruckelshaus banned domestically over the findings of experts in 1972.  But this new paper claims the replacements for broad spraying may be just as harmful. 

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The 'Lovers of Modena' Skeletons From 1,500 Years Ago Were Both Males

Sep 12 2019 - 14:09
Skeletons found in a Modena necropolis that dates back to between the 4th and 6th centuries A.D. were assumed to be male and female but they are both male, an analysis reveals.

The "Lovers of Modena,” as they came to be called, got their sex reveal thanks to tooth enamel - a protein that is present only in the tooth enamel of males.

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Happy 80th Birthday To Marvel Comics #1

Sep 12 2019 - 12:09
On this date in 1939 Marvel Comics #1 was on newsstands, featuring Human Torch and Namor the Sub-Mariner (he was Aquaman before Aquaman.) 

So why does the cover say October? Comic books did what magazines did (and do), and instead of a publication date they put a pull-date on the cover, which would be the date the issue was to be removed and returned to make way for the new issue on newsstands. There was no direct sales then, like dedicated comic book stores are now, you went to the rack in a store or on the street and purchased them. So on that Tuesday in 1939 while Germany was about to wrap up its takeover of Poland, and the USSR was about to take its cut, this comic appeared.

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Baum Hedlund Knows As Little About Monsters As They Do Science

Sep 12 2019 - 09:09
Baum Hedlund, which collaborates with organic industry trade groups like U.S. Right To Know and hand-puppets they control, like the so-called "Industry Docs" fifth columnists embedded inside U.C. San Francisco, exists to make money. They are lawyers, after all.

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Sorry, Fans Of Indigenous Knowledge, Knives Made Of Poop Don't Work

Sep 11 2019 - 20:09
I recently watched the History Channel show "Alone" and for all but one season(1) it is just what it sounds like. They take 10 people and throw them into a difficult situation where they have to survive alone.

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13 Year Old Forced Onto Vegan Diet Escapes Home, Parents Charged With Felony Child Endangerment

Sep 11 2019 - 11:09
While a vegan diet is fine for adults, in children it is a human rights violation - and it can send parents to jail.

John P. and Katrina Miller of of Crestline, Ohio, have been indicted on one count of kidnapping, a first degree felony; one count of felonious assault, a second-degree felony; two felony counts of child endangerment, one second-degree, one third-degree; and a first-degree misdemeanor count of child endangerment. They face up tp 22 yeards prison.

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Fluoroquinolone Antibiotics Linked To Heart Problems In Patients With Cardiac Issues

Sep 11 2019 - 11:09
A recent paper has linked two types of heart problems and one of the most commonly prescribed classes of antibiotics.

Data from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration's adverse reporting system plus a private insurance health claims database in the U.S. that captures demographics, drug identification, dose prescribed and treatment duration, identified 12,505 cases of valvular regurgitation with 125,020 case-control subjects in a random sample of more than nine million patients.

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Amino Acids: 1 In A Billion Or Was Biology's Optimal 'Molecular Alphabet' Preordained?

Sep 11 2019 - 09:09
One of biology's most fundamental sets of building blocks may have special properties that helped bootstrap itself into its modern form - or it may be "cui buono?" thinking where people find an event, find a fact, and assume the fact caused the event, much like we get in endocrine disruption and too much modern epidemiology.

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