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Science and Other Wild Affairs
An eclectic mix of articles about our world and the universe we live in, with some political commentary
Curated by Pamela D Lloyd
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Autoimmune trigger explained (ScienceAlert)

Autoimmune trigger explained (ScienceAlert) | Science and Other Wild Affairs | Scoop.it
Infection can trigger autoimmune disease through a weak link in our body's immune cell creation system, new research has found.
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Living bird species mapped (ScienceAlert)

Living bird species mapped (ScienceAlert) | Science and Other Wild Affairs | Scoop.it
The first family tree for all known living bird species has been developed by a team of international researchers.
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Stimulating Brain Cells with Light

Stimulating Brain Cells with Light | Science and Other Wild Affairs | Scoop.it
The work will be conducted on laboratory rats modelling Parkinson’s disease. The transplanted cells will be derived from skin from an adult human and will have been “reprogrammed” as nerve cells.
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Discovery of Two Opposite Ways Humans Voluntarily Forget Unwanted Memories

Discovery of Two Opposite Ways Humans Voluntarily Forget Unwanted Memories | Science and Other Wild Affairs | Scoop.it
If only there were a way to forget that humiliating faux pas at last night's dinner party. It turns out there's not one, but two opposite ways in which the brain allows us to voluntarily forget unwanted memories, according to research.
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Study shows gender bias in science is real. Here’s why it matters. | Unofficial Prognosis, Scientific American Blog Network

Study shows gender bias in science is real. Here’s why it matters. | Unofficial Prognosis, Scientific American Blog Network | Science and Other Wild Affairs | Scoop.it
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New Caledonian crows reason about hidden causal agents

New Caledonian crows reason about hidden causal agents | Science and Other Wild Affairs | Scoop.it

We have generally believed that animals are not capable of very complex thought, even though many species use tools and engage in other complex behaviors. This study looks at whether New Caledonian crows, that were caught just for this experiment, are capable of attributing actions to a hidden cause, when they see that possible cause come and go.


Via Sakis Koukouvis, Dr. Stefan Gruenwald
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Gene patent case could impact patients, research - Baltimore Sun

Gene patent case could impact patients, researchBaltimore SunEvery time a woman is tested for gene mutations linked to significantly higher rates of breast and ovarian cancer, her blood is sent to a lab in Utah.
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Quantum evolution › Science Features (ABC Science)

Quantum evolution › Science Features (ABC Science) | Science and Other Wild Affairs | Scoop.it
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Biohybrid: Scientists have combined a spinach photosynthetic protein with silicon technology

Biohybrid: Scientists have combined a spinach photosynthetic protein with silicon technology | Science and Other Wild Affairs | Scoop.it

An interdisciplinary team of researchers at Vanderbilt University have developed a way to combine the photosynthetic protein that converts light into electrochemical energy in spinach with silicon, the material used in solar cells, in a fashion that produces substantially more electrical current than has been reported by previous “biohybrid” solar cells.

 

“This combination produces current levels almost 1,000 times higher than we were able to achieve by depositing the protein on various types of metals. It also produces a modest increase in voltage,” said David Cliffel, associate professor of chemistry, who collaborated on the project with Kane Jennings, professor of chemical and biomolecular engineering.


Via Dr. Stefan Gruenwald
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The Human Body as Ecosystem: A Way to Revolutionize Medicine

The Human Body as Ecosystem: A Way to Revolutionize Medicine | Science and Other Wild Affairs | Scoop.it

Looking at human beings as ecosystems that contain many collaborating and competing species could change the practice of medicine


Via Sakis Koukouvis
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Infrared Light Offers Promise Of Laser-sharp Cancer Therapy - Science News

Infrared Light Offers Promise Of Laser-sharp Cancer Therapy - Science News | Science and Other Wild Affairs | Scoop.it
Technique zaps tumors with reduced risk of side effects...
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If we are to cope with climate change we need a new moral order

If we are to cope with climate change we need a new moral order | Science and Other Wild Affairs | Scoop.it

"There’s a first class article in Nature this week on the reasons Americans reject the science of climate change. It has wider implications for a lot of the ways in which we think and talk about rationality."


Via Laurence Serfaty, Hans De Keulenaer, vidistar, SustainOurEarth
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98 percent of Canadians believe in climate change: Do they know something we don't?

98 percent of Canadians believe in climate change: Do they know something we don't? | Science and Other Wild Affairs | Scoop.it
The survey, conducted by Insightrix Research, Inc. found that 32 percent believe that global warming is man-made while 54 percent think it's a combination of factors.
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The top 20 scientific data visualisation tools scientists and teachers should know about

The top 20 scientific data visualisation tools scientists and teachers should know about | Science and Other Wild Affairs | Scoop.it

From simple charts to complex maps and infographics, Brian Suda's round-up of the best – and mostly free – tools has everything you need to bring your data to life. A common question is how to get started with data visualisations. Beyond following blogs, you need to practice – and to practice, you need to understand the tools available. In this article, get introduced to 20 different tools for creating visualisations.


Via Lauren Moss, Baiba Svenca, Goulu, Dr. Stefan Gruenwald
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Randy Rebman's curator insight, January 28, 2013 9:33 AM

This looks like it might be a good source for integrating infographics into the classroom.

Louise Robinson-Lay's curator insight, March 12, 2013 12:40 AM

A great tool for building infographics.

Caroline Matet's curator insight, April 22, 2013 1:08 PM

Le top 20 des outils pour faire ses propres data visualisations

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Zapping Nuclear Waste With Laser Beams Could Actually Be A Great Idea : NPR

Zapping Nuclear Waste With Laser Beams Could Actually Be A Great Idea : NPR | Science and Other Wild Affairs | Scoop.it
The world's most powerful laser beams are going to be built in Europe. Scientists say that a blast from them could destroy nuclear waste in seconds — meaning it wouldn't have to be stored for centuries.
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HIV Evolves Vulnerability | The Scientist Magazine®

HIV Evolves Vulnerability | The Scientist Magazine® | Science and Other Wild Affairs | Scoop.it
In mutating to evade immune detection, HIV becomes susceptible to detection by different antibodies, suggesting new strategies for vaccination.
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Unprecedented: Amateur astronomers discover a planet with four suns

Unprecedented: Amateur astronomers discover a planet with four suns | Science and Other Wild Affairs | Scoop.it
Two volunteer astronomers have confirmed the existence of a Neptune-like planet that has four suns, making it the first quadruple star system ever discovered.
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Swapping DNA in the Womb | The Scientist

Swapping DNA in the Womb | The Scientist | Science and Other Wild Affairs | Scoop.it
Swapping DNA in the Womb |...
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Six Potential Habitable Exoplanets Now (September 2012)

Six Potential Habitable Exoplanets Now (September 2012) | Science and Other Wild Affairs | Scoop.it

Currently there are six potential habitable exoplanets -- four of these objects have been detected in the last year, from September 2011 to September 2012. Gliese 163c is a rock-water world of 2.4 Earth radii, however, it could be as small as 1.8 Earth radii if composed mostly of rock, like Earth.

 

New data suggests the confirmation of the exoplanet Gliese 581g and the best candidate so far of a potential habitable exoplanet. The nearby star Gliese 581 is well known for having four planets with the outermost planet, Gliese 581d, already suspected habitable. This will be the first time evidence for any two potential habitable exoplanets orbiting the same star. Gliese 581g will be included, together with Gliese 667Cc, Kepler-22b, HD85512, and Gliese 581d, in the Habitable Exoplanets Catalog of the PHL @ UPR Arecibo as the best five objects of interest for Earth-like exoplanets.


Via Dr. Stefan Gruenwald, Pamela D Lloyd
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Evolution is as complicated as 1-2-3

Evolution is as complicated as 1-2-3 | Science and Other Wild Affairs | Scoop.it

A team of researchers at MSU has documented the step-by-step process in which organisms evolve new functions. The results are revealed through an in-depth, genomics-based analysis that decodes how E. coli bacteria figured out how to supplement a traditional diet of glucose with an extra course of citrate.

 

“It’s pretty nifty to see a new biological function evolve,” said Zachary Blount, postdoctoral researcher in MSU’s BEACON Center for the Study of Evolution in Action. “The first citrate-eaters were just barely able to grow on the citrate, but they got much better over time. We wanted to understand the changes that allowed the bacteria to evolve this new ability. We were lucky to have a system that allowed us to do so.” Normal E. coli can’t digest citrate when oxygen is present. In fact, it’s a distinct hallmark of E. coli. They can’t eat citrate because E. coli don’t express the right protein to absorb citrate molecules.

 

To decipher the responsible mutations, Blount worked with Richard Lenski, MSU Hannah Distinguished Professor of Microbiology and Molecular Genetics. Lenski’s long-term experiment, cultivating cultures of fast-growing E. coli, was launched in 1988 and has allowed him and his teammates to study more than more than 56,000 generations of bacterial evolution. The experiment demonstrates natural selection at work. And because samples are frozen and available for later study, when something new emerges scientists can go back to earlier generations to look for the steps that happened along the way.

 

The first stage was potentiation, when the E. coli accumulated at least two mutations that set the stage for later events. The second step, actualization, is when the bacteria first began eating citrate, but only just barely nibbling at it. The final stage, refinement, involved mutations that greatly improved the initially weak function. This allowed the citrate eaters to wolf down their new food source and to become dominant in the population.

 

“We were particularly excited about the actualization stage,” Blount said. “The actual mutation involved is quite complex. It re-arranged part of the bacteria’s DNA, making a new regulatory module that had not existed before. This new module causes the production of a protein that allows the bacteria to bring citrate into the cell when oxygen is present. That is a new trick for E. coli.”


Via Dr. Stefan Gruenwald
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This is the week to see winking 'Demon Star' in night sky - NBCNews.com

This is the week to see winking 'Demon Star' in night sky - NBCNews.com | Science and Other Wild Affairs | Scoop.it
NBCNews.comThis is the week to see winking 'Demon Star' in night skyNBCNews.comAlgol's variability was rediscovered in 1782 by the English amateur astronomer John Goodricke, an 18-year old deaf mute.
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Venus the Two-Faced Cat Still a Mystery

Venus the Two-Faced Cat Still a Mystery | Science and Other Wild Affairs | Scoop.it
Just how Venus the cat—whose face is divided in two colors—got such a striking coloration is still a mystery, an expert says. (Most famous cat on the planet Venus is still a mystery. Why is she such a two-face?
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Wisconsin Science Festival

Wisconsin Science Festival | Science and Other Wild Affairs | Scoop.it

"Innovation–new ways of thinking, probing, working, learning, living–Wisconsin Science Festival 2012 explores innovation from every possible angle. In Madison and around the state on September 27-30, the festival welcomes people of all ages to look, listen, feel, touch, taste and discover the wonders of all aspects of the sciences, arts and more through interactive exhibits, hands-on workshops, lectures, demonstrations and conversations with leading researchers and creative thinkers.

"So, unleash your curiosity and discover your inner innovator!"

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With Genome Sequencing On The Rise, Ethical Puzzles Creep Up

With Genome Sequencing On The Rise, Ethical Puzzles Creep Up | Science and Other Wild Affairs | Scoop.it

In laboratories around the world, genetic researchers using tools that are ever more sophisticated to peer into the DNA of cells are increasingly finding things they were not looking for, including information that could make a big difference to an anonymous donor. The federal government is hurrying to develop policy options. It has made the issue a priority, holding meetings and workshops and spending millions of dollars on research on how to deal with questions unique to this new genomics era.

 

The quandaries arise from the conditions that medical research studies typically set out. Volunteers usually sign forms saying that they agree only to provide tissue samples, and that they will not be contacted. Only now have some studies started asking the participants whether they want to be contacted, but that leads to more questions: What sort of information should they get? What if the person dies before the study is completed?

 

The complications are procedural as well as ethical. Often, the research labs that make the surprise discoveries are not certified to provide clinical information to patients. The consent forms the patients signed were approved by ethics boards, which would have to approve any changes to the agreements — if the patients could even be found.

 

Sometimes the findings indicate that unexpected treatments might help. In a newly published federal study of 224 gene sequences of colon cancers, for example, researchers found genetic changes in 5 percent that were the same as changes in breast cancer patients whose prognosis is drastically improved with a drug, Herceptin. About 15 percent had a particular gene mutation that is common in melanoma. Once again, there is a drug, approved for melanoma, that might help. But under the rules of the study, none of the research subjects could ever know.


Via Dr. Stefan Gruenwald
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Past tropical climate change linked to ocean circulation

Past tropical climate change linked to ocean circulation | Science and Other Wild Affairs | Scoop.it
College Station TX (SPX) Aug 27, 2012 - A new record of past temperature change in the tropical Atlantic Ocean's subsurface provides clues as to why the Earth's climate is so sensitive to ocean circulation patterns, according to climate s (Past tropical...
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