Science and Other Wild Affairs
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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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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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Rare Immune Cell Involved in Multiple Sclerosis - NIH Research Matters - National Institutes of Health (NIH)

Rare Immune Cell Involved in Multiple Sclerosis - NIH Research Matters - National Institutes of Health (NIH) | Science and Other Wild Affairs | Scoop.it
A unique type of immune cell may contribute to multiple sclerosis, researchers report. The discovery helps explain the effects of one of the newest experimental therapies for the disease and could lead to improved treatments.
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Surprising finding: Tree's leaves genetically different from its roots

Surprising finding: Tree's leaves genetically different from its roots | Science and Other Wild Affairs | Scoop.it

Black cottonwood trees (Populus trichocarpa) can clone themselves to produce offspring that are connected to their parents by the same root system. Now, after the first genome-wide analysis of a tree, it turns out that the connected clones have many genetic differences, even between tissues from the top and bottom of a single tree. The variation within a tree is as great as the variation across unrelated trees. Such somatic mutations — those that occur in cells other than sperm or eggs — are familiar to horticulturalists, who have long bred new plant varieties by grafting mutant branches onto ‘normal’ stocks. But until now, no one has catalogued the total number of somatic mutations in an individual plant.

 

In one tree, the top buds of the parent and offspring were genetically closer to each other than to their respective roots or lower branches. In another tree, the top bud was closer to the reference cottonwood genome than to any of the other tissues from the same individual.The tissue-specific mutations affected mainly genes involved in cell death, immune responses, metabolism, DNA binding and cell communication. Olds think that this may be because many of the mutations are harmful, and the tree reacts by destroying the mutated tissues or altering its metabolic pathways and the way it controls its genes, which leads to further mutations.

 

The findings have parallels to cancer studies, which have recently shown that separate parts of the same tumor can evolve independently and build up distinct genetic mutations, meaning that single biopsies give only a narrow view of the tumor’s diversity.


Via Dr. Stefan Gruenwald
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Genetic rearrangement of DNA induces knots with a unique topology: implications for the mechanism of synapsis and crossing-over

Abstract

"We have determined the topological sign of the knots produced by a cycle of phage lambda integrative recombination. To insure that these knots reflect intrinsic features of the reaction mechanism, the substrate was constructed so that random interwrapping of segments of DNA played a minimal role in the topological outcome. The knotted DNA was coated with the bacteriophage T4 uvsX gene product and examined in the electron microscope to determine the nature of each crossing point or node. All of the knots were identical; they were trefoils with three nodes of positive sign. We interpret this result to mean that one recombination site, which previous work had indicated is organized into a nucleosome-like structure, is wrapped with a handedness identical to that found in nucleosomes. Therefore, this wrapping may explain the dependence of recombination on supercoiling of the substrate DNA. Moreover, we show that the topological result sharply limits acceptable mechanisms for the details of strand exchange."

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UBC postdoc strikes deal to turn 2,000 academic journals into data mine | The Ubyssey

UBC postdoc strikes deal to turn 2,000 academic journals into data mine | The Ubyssey | Science and Other Wild Affairs | Scoop.it
Text-mining helps researchers find patterns across the huge number of research papers published each year, which was previously difficult and tedious to do without the use of computers.
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Scientists find new human species

Scientists find new human species | Science and Other Wild Affairs | Scoop.it
Fossils from Northern Kenya show that a new species of human lived two million years ago, researchers say.

Via Sakis Koukouvis
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Orchids and Dandelions: Parenting the Flowers and Weeds

Orchids and Dandelions: Parenting the Flowers and Weeds | Science and Other Wild Affairs | Scoop.it
My seven year old daughter has a necklace I made her that says “Dandelion Girl” . I made it for her because she remains enamored with these cheerful yellow flowers despite other people’s best attem...
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Chemical makes blind mice see instantly by turning ganglia cells light sensitive themselves

A team of University of California, Berkeley, scientists in collaboration with researchers at the University of Munich and University of Washington, in Seattle, has discovered a chemical that temporarily restores some vision to blind mice, and is working on an improved compound that may someday allow people with degenerative blindness to see again.

 

The approach could eventually help those with retinitis pigmentosa, a genetic disease that is the most common inherited form of blindness, as well as age-related macular degeneration, the most common cause of acquired blindness in the developed world. In both diseases, the light sensitive cells in the retina — the rods and cones — die, leaving the eye without functional photoreceptors.

 

The chemical, called AAQ, acts by making the remaining, normally “blind” cells in the retina sensitive to light, said lead researcher Richard Kramer, UC Berkeley professor of molecular and cell biology. AAQ is a photoswitch that binds to protein ion channels on the surface of retinal cells. When switched on by light, AAQ alters the flow of ions through the channels and activates these neurons much the way rods and cones are activated by light. Because the chemical eventually wears off, it may offer a safer alternative to other experimental approaches for restoring sight, such as gene or stem cell therapies, which permanently change the retina. It is also less invasive than implanting light-sensitive electronic chips in the eye.


Via Dr. Stefan Gruenwald
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The cat’s out of the bag…

The cat’s out of the bag… | Science and Other Wild Affairs | Scoop.it
If you met me, you’d be forgiven for thinking that I might be an animal-rights activist. With my anti-capitalist views, vegetarianism and armpit hair, it might be easy to imagine me pouring blood o...
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Chemicals Used in Plastics Linked to Diabetes in Women: Scientific American

Chemicals Used in Plastics Linked to Diabetes in Women: Scientific American | Science and Other Wild Affairs | Scoop.it
Phthalates as much as doubled the rate of diabetes in women with the highest exposures...
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Experiment to discover whether an astronaut can imitate the falling movements of a cat, 1968

Experiment to discover whether an astronaut can imitate the falling movements of a cat, 1968 | Science and Other Wild Affairs | Scoop.it
An experiment to see whether a person in a space suit can imitate the falling movements of a cat, to find out how astronauts can move in space.
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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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Immune Disorders and Autism

Immune Disorders and Autism | Science and Other Wild Affairs | Scoop.it
Future doctors will need to correct the postmodern tendency toward immune dysregulation. (My future.
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The biology of dreaming

"To Sleep, Perhaps to Oxygenate

"A long-simmering debate over the purpose of dreaming takes a surprising turn with a Columbia ocular physiologist's hypothesis. Whether or not REM sleep exists to stir the eye, David Maurice has stirred up several disciplines"

 

Would our retinas suffocate without REM sleep?

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Graphene creates electricity when struck by light | ExtremeTech

Graphene creates electricity when struck by light | ExtremeTech | Science and Other Wild Affairs | Scoop.it
Oh graphene! The cheap, easy-to-manufacture one-atom-thick sheet of carbon can add yet another weird, fantastical, and possibly life-changing ability to its list of characteristics: it has an incredibly sensitive thermoelectric response to light.
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Murder by Physics

Murder by Physics | Science and Other Wild Affairs | Scoop.it
Judging by murder mystery novels, physics is a safer science than chemistry and biology (or even psychology!). Sure, you could say that any murder involving gunshots involve ballistics, but the det...
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Designer Babies – Like It Or Not, Here They Come | Singularity Hub

"Long before Watson and Crick famously uncovered the structure of DNA in 1953, people envisioned with both horror and hope a day when babies could be custom designed — free of inherited disease, yet equipped with superior genes for good looks, intelligence, athleticism, and more. Now the beginnings of the day of designer babies have finally come."

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DNA explains why women live longer (ScienceAlert)

DNA explains why women live longer (ScienceAlert) | Science and Other Wild Affairs | Scoop.it
Mutations to the DNA of the mitochondria explains why women, on average, live longer than men, research has found.
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The Einstein Refrigerator: Built to Last 100 Years

The Einstein Refrigerator: Built to Last 100 Years | Science and Other Wild Affairs | Scoop.it
What happened when the author of the world’s most famous equation set out to redesign a common household appliance?
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Pictures: "Important" Aztec Child Burials, Sacrifices Found in Mexico City

Pictures: "Important" Aztec Child Burials, Sacrifices Found in Mexico City | Science and Other Wild Affairs | Scoop.it
Ancient corpses—including 11 children—found at a Mexico City apartment site are offering clues to a little-known Aztec group.
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The Elements Revealed: An Interactive Periodic Table: Scientific American

The Elements Revealed: An Interactive Periodic Table: Scientific American | Science and Other Wild Affairs | Scoop.it
Whether gas, liquid or solid; radioactive or stable; reactive or inert; toxic or in your vitamin pill, the 118 building blocks each has its own chemically idiosyncratic characteristics--and certain commonalities.
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Project AFFETTO - the most advanced affectional baby robot from Japan

Having previously developed several baby robots, the researchers at Osaka University’s Asada Lab are using that know-how to build the most realistic infant robot ever made. It has been about a year and a half since we saw Affetto, which was just a head capable of making a few expressions. Now the researchers have published a video showing the robot’s new upper-body, which contains 20 pneumatic actuators to move its arms, neck, and spine. This is in addition to the 12 degrees of freedom in its head. Although pneumatic actuators are more difficult to control compared to electric motors, they are flexible, allowing for direct physical interaction (a big plus if you want to be able to cuddle it).

Via Dr. Stefan Gruenwald
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