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Sally Brown

Methane basics

Sally Brown | July 27, 2016 | Science
What do you, cows, digesters and landfills all have in common? You all/ we all make methane gas. The methane in landfill is the same as 'clean fuel' natural gas. It is the same as the gas in anaerobic digesters. It is the same stuff that cows and people produce...
Linda Bergthold

The Limits of Google: How Patients Can Find Out What Works In Medical Care

Linda Bergthold | July 27, 2016 | Politics
We are all supposed to be "engaged patients". We are supposed to research our symptoms and diagnoses. But "patient engagement" is one of the most overused and least understood terms in health care discussions today.
The Conversation US

The Science Behind Hillary Clinton's Problems With Trust

The Conversation US | July 27, 2016 | Politics
Research, including new work from our Human Cooperation Laboratory at Yale, suggests Trump may be successful precisely because of his hotheadedness and lack of carefully thought-out proposals. Being seen as uncalculating can make people trust you.
Marc Dantonio

NASA Cuts Feed!

Marc Dantonio | July 26, 2016 | Science
I have spent much time in postings discussing the anomalous objects seen on the International Space Station feeds and I think its time to put it into an article so I can stop repeating myself.
Jan Millsapps, Ph.D.

Why We Are Not Ready For Mars

Jan Millsapps, Ph.D. | July 26, 2016 | Science
Before we go to Mars, certainly before we soil another planet, let's reframe the human associations we live with daily, with an eye toward how we will represent our species when we travel to other worlds.
Mario Livio

The Remarkable Photograph Of The First Solvay Conference

Mario Livio | July 26, 2016 | Science
The first of the celebrated Solvay Conferences was an invitation-only conference, held at the Hotel Metropole in Brussels, Belgium, in the fall of 1911.
Meg Lowman

Tracking Big Cats in India

Meg Lowman | July 25, 2016 | Science
When the last individual of a race of living things breathes no more, another Heaven and another Earth must pass before such a one can be again.--William Beebe Celebrate International Tiger Day--July 29, 2016 In awe, we stopped dead in our tracks to gaze at the enormous impression in...
Max Galka

How Obesity Rates Around The World Have Ballooned

Max Galka | July 25, 2016 | Science
Over the last 40 years, obesity rates around the world have ballooned. The average adult today is three times as likely to be obese as the average adult in 1975. This map shows how it happened, country-by-country.
Dr. Douglas Fields

Ectoplasm -- Ghostbuster To Science At The Fringe

Dr. Douglas Fields | July 25, 2016 | Science
"He slimed me!" Peter Venkman spits out in disgust, writhing in sticky ectoplasm in a memorable scene from the 1984 movie Ghostbusters. Ectoplasm, the mysterious stuff of the supernatural world has long intrigued some of the world's greatest scientific minds....
Nathan Gardels

Weekend Roundup: The Last Gasp of Atatürk

Nathan Gardels | July 22, 2016 | World
If the aim of the coup plotters was to derail Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan's march toward autocratic rule and restore the country firmly on the secular path envisioned by its modern founder, Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, their failure achieved the opposite result. The last gasp of Atatürk has breathed new life into Erdogan's troubled and troubling tenure. (continued)
Marjorie Woollacott

The Nature Of Consciousness: Resonance Between Ancient Philosophies And Current Science

Marjorie Woollacott | July 22, 2016 | Science
Neuroscientists, like myself, are asking questions about the essential characteristics of consciousness, and the extent to which it is dependent on activity in the brain.
Medical Discovery News

A New Patient Zero

Medical Discovery News | July 22, 2016 | Science
A New Patient Zero By Drs. David Niesel and Norbert Herzog New viruses are becoming part of the human experience more often. Who can forget the rise of HIV around the world in the early 1980's? In the 1987 book, "And the Band Played On," the author identified flight attendant Gaëtan Dugas as "Patient Zero," the person who introduced HIV into the US. However, a recent genetic analysis reveals that this was wrong. In June of 1981, the Centers for Disease Control published a report of five previously healthy gay young men in Los Angeles with a rare lung infection with Pneumocystis carnii or PCP. This infection is indicative of a weakened immune system. Little did we know that this was the start of the US AIDS epidemic. In addition, doctors also reported cases of a rare, aggressive form of skin cancer called Kaposi's sarcoma in some gay men. On June 8th, the CDC began to look for risk factors and to create case definitions for this new disease. By the end of 1981, 270 gay men were diagnosed with severe immune deficiency and 121 of them had died. On September 24, 1982, the CDC coined the term AIDS, Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome. In the 1987 book, the original carrier of HIV who brought AIDS into the US was named as Gaëtan Dugas, a Canadian flight attendant. Mr. Gugas died of Kaposi's sarcoma in 1984 at age 31. It was claimed that he was Patient Zero who spread HIV to the gay bath houses in San Francisco and Los Angeles, sparking the AIDS epidemic. Evolutionary biologist Michael Worobey at the University of Arizona has compiled evidence proving that Dugas was not Patient Zero. After the AIDS virus was identified, scientists tested for HIV in stored blood samples taken from gay and bisexual men in the late 1970's in San Francisco and New York. Worobey determined the sequences of the genomes of those HIV viruses. When HIV replicates its genome, errors are made producing mutations. Using these sequences, it was determined how these HIV's are related. Results indicated that the epidemic most likely started in New York City around 1970. The US HIV resembles older HIV isolates from Caribbean countries and that HIV reached San Francisco in 1975. Although Dugas did visit Haiti in 1977, he does not appear to be the key person in starting the US epidemic. In fact, the virus he carried fell in the middle of the family tree, not at the beginning. So Dugas was wrongly vilified in the book, "And The Band Played On" and in the press. Two of his doctors are quoted accusing Dugas of being a "sociopath" for his large number of sexual partners.. However, it was not until 1983 that there was consensus that AIDS was transmitted sexually and in contaminated blood. So Dugas was not aware he was passing on AIDS as the result of his sexual activity until the year before his death. Now we also know that he is unlikely to have been the man who brought HIV to the US. Unfortunately, his lifestyle likely led to him infect many partners contributing to the scale of the epidemic. Medical Discovery News is hosted by professors Norbert Herzog at Quinnipiac University, and David Niesel of the University of Texas Medical Branch. Learn more at...
Medical Discovery News

More About Unibrows

Medical Discovery News | July 22, 2016 | Science
By Drs. David Niesel and Norbert Herzog My mother used to say that I was going to give her grey hair, but what actually caused it was a reduction in the amount of a pigment called melanin. Scientists have now identified 18 genes that are associated with features and characteristics of hair including turning greying, thin eyebrows or a unibrow or why some men need to shave by early afternoon and why others cannot grow a beard at all. Hair is thought to serve many purposes including camouflage, thermal regulation, sensation and in social cues. Approximately 83 billion dollars is spent annually on hair care products globally, not to mention haircuts, wigs and other hair associated expenses, so obviously it is something we humans value. Humans have lost the vast majority of their body hair but we have retained a substantial amount on our heads and it comes in a vast variety of colors, textures and types even before we start fooling with it. Natural hair color is an inherited trait. Variations in hair can be restricted by geography, for example, different hair colors are essentially restricted to Western Asia and Europe. Straight hair is all but absent in sub-Saharan Africa. Genes have been identified for baldness, hair colors and curliness. Two different genes have been found associated with straight hair, one in Europeans and another in East Asians suggesting that this trait arose independently at least two times. The latest study involved a genome wide association study or GWAS in people of mixed European, Native American and African ancestry to identify genes associated with variations in hair. GWAS is a rapid method to scan genomes for genetic variations that are associated with diseases or other traits. Natural hair color is determined by the amount of dark brown eumelanin and reddish pheomelanin. If a person makes a great deal of eumelanin, their hair will be black while a person with little will be blonde. Shades of red hair depend on the amount of pheomelanin compared to eumelanin. Genes for hair color include MC1R which determines how much pheomelanin is made. Now for the first time a gene for the graying of hair has been identified, IRF4, which turns on the TYR gene resulting in melanin production. One type of TYR gene leads to reduced melanin levels and lighter hair or the graying of hair. Stem cells in hair follicles renew the melanocytes that make melanin. These same proteins also appear to maintain melanocyte stem cells offering two possible mechanisms for going gray. A gene called EDAR regulates the developmental location, size shape and density of hair follicles, particularly for beards. All told, 18 new genes associated with various features of hair were discovered. Most interventions to correct or change hair appearance rely on products that act on hair outside of the hair follicle. A furthering of our understanding of how and where hair grows could lead to the development of products that act on the hair as it grows. Could we block the graying of hair, change the shape, type and location of hair? Who knows, maybe we both could regain the hair we have lost over the years. Medical Discovery News is hosted by professors Norbert Herzog at Quinnipiac University, and David Niesel of the University of Texas Medical Branch. Learn more at...
Rick Tumlinson

From Apollo To Frontier

Rick Tumlinson | July 22, 2016 | Technology
Our system works. Free people in a free economy who are free to exercise their dreams can do anything. WE can do anything. It is time to return to the Moon, open Free Space and go to Mars. It is time to open The Frontier.
Dana Parish

"It's A Scandal" -Daryl Hall on Doctors Denying Chronic Lyme

Dana Parish | July 22, 2016 | Science
Growing up a musically-obsessed child in the 80's, Daryl Hall was one of my biggest inspirations. A masterful, inventive songwriter with an ocean of soul, he set me on the path to being an artist, to never waste a...
Kevin S. Weiner

Brain mapping: Getting it right

Kevin S. Weiner | July 21, 2016 | Science
This post was written in collaboration with Randy Gollub, Jeanette Mumford, Panthea Heydari, Leonardo Fernandino, and Cyril Pernet, as well as was approved by the entire Communications Committee and the Council of the Organization for Human Brain Mapping. Scientific publications generate a written conversation that evolves over time. Each...
Lab Notes

Bracing For Fire

Lab Notes | July 20, 2016 | Science
This summer, throughout the West, higher temperatures and decreased precipitation brought on by climate change have ramped up the frequency of wildfires -- big, catastrophic fires -- while a century of fire suppression feeds the flames with a thick tangle of fuel in our overgrown forests.
Anna Leahy

On The Anniversary Of The First Moon Landing

Anna Leahy | July 20, 2016 | Science
On July 20, 1969, Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin landed on the Moon. Six hours later, on July 21, they stepped out onto the lunar surface, the first humans to do such a thing.
Sheyna E. Gifford, MD, MA, MS

Moments Of Silence, Broken: Thoughts About Nice From 'Space'

Sheyna E. Gifford, MD, MA, MS | July 20, 2016 | Science
Being human is remarkable. We have the way. All that's needed is the will. The will to help each other through this and not hurt people. How do we find the will? Someone once wrote that all things began with a word.
John C. Wathey

The Night We Landed on Mars

John C. Wathey | July 20, 2016 | Science
Image credit: NASA/JPL Exactly forty years ago today I experienced one of the greatest thrills of my life. It was the fulfillment of a childhood dream, the realization of a fantasy that had often drowned out the most tedious moments of my grade...
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