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Updated: 49 min 11 sec ago

Would Your Dog Help You Stop Being Upset? Apparently Yes

Jul 24 2018 - 08:07
While cats are generally regarded as being aloof and uncaring, dogs are called "man's best friend." They are in tune with our emotions, it is said. "Lassie" had a level of connection with her humans that only television could write, but there has always been anecdotal evidence that dogs will do whatever they can to help.

A new experiment shows that not only do dogs care if their owner is upset, they will overcome obstacles in a hurry to provide aid. The results in Learning&Behavior showed that dogs with strong bonds to their owners hurried to pushed through a door when they heard their person crying. 

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How Do You Estimate The Economic Value Of A Clean Beach?

Jul 24 2018 - 08:07

Millions of Americans head outdoors in the summer, whether for a day at a nearby lake or a monthlong road trip. For environmental economists like me, decisions by vacationers and outdoor recreators offer clues to a challenging puzzle: estimating what environmental resources are worth.

In 1981 President Ronald Reagan issued an executive order that required federal agencies to weigh the costs and benefits of proposed major new regulations, and in most cases to adopt them only if the benefits to society outweighed the costs. Reagan’s order was intended to promote environmental improvements without overburdening economic growth.

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3.5 Billion Years Ago, Life Could Have Developed On The Moon Instead

Jul 23 2018 - 15:07
The moon is just a big rock in Earth's orbit now but things could have gone a lot differently in the distant past. In fact, there may have been two early windows of habitability for Luna.

In a new paper, astrobiologists say conditions on the lunar surface were sufficient to support simple lifeforms shortly after the moon formed from a debris disk 4 billion years ago and again during a peak in lunar volcanic activity around 3.5 billion years ago. During both periods, planetary scientists think the moon was spewing out large quantities of superheated volatile gases, including water vapor, from its interior.

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How To Gamify Getting A Tenure Track Job

Jul 23 2018 - 07:07
If you are up for a job, and four other candidates are weak, your chances are obviously better than if four other candidates are strong. In the World Cup just completed, statistically there will always be a 'Group of Death", wherein a round-robin group will have three strong teams but only two can advance, meaning a world-class squad will be eliminated. 

Poker players know to bet low when the odds are only modestly better and to bet high when the statistics show the cards in hand are strong. Timing matters, in jobs, in games, in lots of things. 

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Age-Related Wrinkles And Hair Loss Reversed In Mice

Jul 23 2018 - 07:07
Wrinkles and hair loss are perfectly natural aspects of aging - but science is all about defeating the nature that wants to kill us off.

One aspect of aging is a decline in mitochondrial function.

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A Hoax Academic Paper About How Politicians Wipe Their Butts Was Published - And I Did It

Jul 22 2018 - 07:07

I had what seemed like rather a good idea a few weeks back. Building on some prominent findings in social psychology, I hypothesized that politicians on the right would wipe their bum with their left hand; and that politicians on the left would wipe with their right hand.

Ludicrous? Yes – absolutely. But for once my goal wasn’t to run a bona fide scientific study. Instead, I wanted to see if any “journal” would publish my ass-wiping “findings”.

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Science 2.0 Explains: How Water Exists In Two Different Forms At The Molecular Level

Jul 21 2018 - 09:07
Everyone knows that water is a molecule in which a single oxygen atom is linked to two hydrogen atoms - H20.

But the story of water gets a lot more scientifically interesting the deeper you go. Water actually exists in two different forms, called isomers, at the molecular level.

They have almost identical physical properties, you can't tell the difference, but chemists can tell them apart by the relative orientation of the nuclear spins of the two hydrogen atoms.  They are called ortho- or para-water depending on whether the spins are aligned in the same or opposite direction.

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Marine Litter: The Public Mistakenly Trusts Environmental Groups, And That Impedes Progress

Jul 21 2018 - 08:07
Across Europe, 95 percent of people claim to have seen seen litter when they visited the coast - yet they say they don't litter. And they don't trust scientists, corporations or government to solve it, which leaves environmentalists who don't ever actually send people into the wilderness to clean up litter.

Marine litter is a big deal thanks to environmental publicity but it is highly exaggerated - think mercury in salmon, alar on apples, floating barges of garbage, estrogen in drinking water and more to get an idea of how these issues get magnified. 

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Hepatitis B In Africa Might Be Solved With A $20 Test

Jul 21 2018 - 07:07

Sub-Saharan Africa has around 80 million people infected with hepatitis B, a liver infection caused by the hepatitis B virus, but it infects around 250 million people worldwide. It can be a mild illness lasting a few weeks or a serious, lifelong condition. It is transmitted through blood and bodily fluids.  

An accurate diagnostic score that consists of inexpensive blood tests costing around $20 could help diagnose thousands of patients with hepatitis B in need of treatment in some of Africa's poorest regions, far more affordable than the $100-500 for current tests.

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Diabetes Raises Risk Of Cancer In Women, And Men, Sometimes

Jul 20 2018 - 13:07
A review of data on nearly 20 million people has concluded that having diabetes significantly raises the risk of developing cancer.

For women the risk is even higher, not just of cancer but also leukemia and cancers of the stomach, mouth and kidney. Men, however, had less risk for liver cancer. If none of that makes sense, you see the flaws in replacing science with epidemiological statistics.

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Medicaid Expansion Boosts Employment Among Disabled People

Jul 20 2018 - 09:07
States that have expanded Medicaid coverage as part of the Affordable Care Act have higher numbers of individuals with disabilities employed that states that did not.

Medicaid is a taxpayer-funded program that provides free or low-cost health coverage to low-income people, the elderly, and people with disabilities.  As many states are considering work requirements for Medicaid eligibility, the authors of a new paper believe Medicaid expansion is acting as an employment incentive for people with disabilities.

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Why The Young Get More Infections Than Adults - Evolution

Jul 20 2018 - 07:07
It isn't just human adults who regard youth as disease factories, in many species the young are often more susceptible to infection than adults, even after accounting for prior exposure to infection.

Evolution has an explanation for that. But like a lot of things in evolution, it may seem puzzling.

It shouldn't make sense, since dying young or becoming infertile due to infection means organisms will be unable to reproduce, but many species may have evolved to prioritize growth over immunity while maturing. And that complexity may be why immunity varies with age in different species.

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Vaping Helps Smokers Quit - Even If They Don't Want To

Jul 20 2018 - 06:07
A new study shows that smokers who switch to nicotine vapor alternatives (e.g. e-cigarettes or iQOS) may be better able to stay smoke-free in the long term - even if they didn't set out to quit smoking. 

And that even people who didn't want to stop smoking have eventually quit because they found vaping more enjoyable.  E-cigarettes contain nicotine, which is the addictive component of cigarettes also, but it's toxic chemicals in smoke that cause the harms of smoking. That is why e-cigarettes have caught on as an aid to help people quit smoking for good, whereas patches and gums are only effective for about 10 percent. 

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Prescription Opioid Use By Congressional District

Jul 19 2018 - 17:07
If you want to map opioid prescription use, you can do it, right down to Congressional district. The highest rates are in the southeastern U.S., Appalachia and the rural west, all areas where there is more manual labor, according to an analysis in American Journal of Public Health.

The authors believe this could help policy makers at the federal and state level better target intervention and prevention strategies, though statistics have shown prescription use is not the problem, illegal recreational use is.

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Your First Memory May Not Be Real

Jul 19 2018 - 12:07

Neuroscientists believe that people's earliest memories date from around three to three-and-a-half years of age but many people report memories much earlier than that. It's likely just as fake as claims of repressed memories from the 1980s. 

At least according to surveys, which are just as unreliable as science claims about memory. 

Survey results of people's first memories found that 38.6 percent of 6,641 people claimed to have memories from two or younger, with 893 people claiming memories from one or younger. This was particularly prevalent among middle-aged and older adults.

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More Government Grammar Schools Don't Lead To Better Outcomes For Poor Kids

Jul 19 2018 - 12:07
Over 25 years ago, members of Congress saw statistics showing that U.S. people with college educations made more money, and they declared that college education should be a right. The solution was indicative of government - change student loans to being unlimited.

Are young people all making more money? No, they are buried in debt, but schools that were once foundering are now doing quite well. An entirely industry built up around universities for under-achieving students with money. And on the other end, credentialism came into play. A bachelor's degree became what a high school diploma was. 

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It's A Social Media World, But The Real World Is Still Local

Jul 19 2018 - 11:07

Social media is king. It can run pizza chain founders out of their companies, it can be used by anti-science activists to mobilize well-meaning science advocates against other science advocates, but what it can't do is change human nature. And human nature says people will visit those nearby.

Even when people have well-connected social networks state lines, they are still most frequently interacting with people who are geographically close. Except in Los Angeles. Apparently everyone is looking for a reason to leave Los Angeles. 

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Obese People Show DNA Methylation Related To Liver Disease

Jul 19 2018 - 11:07

DNA methylation is a molecular process that helps enable our bodies to repair themselves, fight infection, and get rid of environmental toxins, but new research has shown one way it can go awry: Obesity. 

Scholars identified how DNA methylation is associated with a condition known as non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD), which can lead to liver cirrhosis and death. 
Their evidence is that DNA methylation has a role in the initiation of NAFLD-related fibrosis, 

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Cirrhosis Deaths Due To Alcohol Jump Among Young Adults

Jul 19 2018 - 09:07

Between 1999-2016, young adults had substantially higher deaths from cirrhosis in 49 of 50 U.S. states. The deaths linked to the end stages of liver damage jumped by 65 percent with alcohol a major cause in adults age 25-34.

The data published in BMJ shows young adults experienced the highest average annual increase in cirrhosis deaths -- about 10.5 percent each year and driven entirely by alcohol-related liver disease, the authors say. Researchers studied the trends in liver deaths due to cirrhosis by examining death certificates compiled by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's Wide-ranging Online Data for Epidemiologic Research project.

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Sawtooth Swings In Fusion Plasma Stabilized

Jul 19 2018 - 07:07
Up-and-down ripples, swings that rise and recede like the teeth on a saw blade, are found in everything from stock prices on Wall Street to ocean waves; and they occur periodically in the temperature and density of the plasma that fuels fusion reactions in doughnut-shaped facilities called tokamaks. If the swings combine with other instabilities in the plasma they can halt the reactions. Why some plasmas are free of sawtooth gyrations has long puzzled physicists. 

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