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D-brief

First Video of DNA Organization Settles Scientific Debate

By Nathaniel Scharping | February 22, 2018 1:52 pm

For all its precise helical structure, the DNA inside our cells is a mess.

When a cell isn’t preparing for the process of splitting itself in two, our DNA lies in a massive tangle inside the cell nucleus; a strand more than six feet in length jumbled like an earbud cord. But when it comes time to undergo cellular division, this disorderly strand must be packaged neatly into chromosomes to be passed onto daughter cells — stuffed into a space much tighter than before.
Around and Around
 …

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Health & Medicine, top posts
MORE ABOUT: genes & health

D-brief

Neanderthals Were the Original Artists

By Carl Engelking | February 22, 2018 1:00 pm

If you still think Neanderthals were dull-witted brutes, you simply aren’t woke.

In 1856, laborers in a limestone quarry in Germany’s Neander Valley unearthed a skull cap that belonged to our closest evolutionary ancestor, and from the start we asserted our intellectual superiority over our thick-skulled cousins. To this day, the hunched-over, doltish caveman stereotype persists, an image that likely stems from Marcellin Boule’s reconstruction of a mostly complete, geriatric Neander …

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Uncategorized
CommonSense Robotics envisions micro fulfillment centers that rely heavily upon robots to sort inventory and retrieve boxes filled with products. Credit: CommonSense Robotics

Lovesick Cyborg

Grocers Get Robotic Help to Compete Against Amazon

By Jeremy Hsu | February 21, 2018 11:54 pm

“What happens if grocery retailers can help you put a fresh dinner on the table faster than pizza delivery and cheaper than restaurant delivery?” That vision comes from CommonSense Robotics, an Israeli startup with plans to open its first AI-run fulfillment centers staffed by both robots and human workers in Israel, the United States, and the United Kingdom before the end of 2018. Such a service could help local grocery stores survive the coming onslaught from Amazon’s aggressive expansi …

CATEGORIZED UNDER: technology, top posts

Neuroskeptic

Human Chains: "Prayer Camp" Psychiatry Study Raises Ethical Questions

By Neuroskeptic | February 21, 2018 3:12 pm

A new medical paper raises complex questions over ethics and human rights, as it reports on a study that took place in a religious camp where mentally ill patients were chained up for long periods.

The paper’s called Joining psychiatric care and faith healing in a prayer camp in Ghana and it’s out now in the British Journal of Psychiatry. The authors are a Ghanian-British-American team led by Dr Angela Ofori-Atta.

In Ghana, the authors explain, there are just 25 psychiatrists to cater  …

D-brief

Is It Possible to Forecast Evolution?

By Nathaniel Scharping | February 21, 2018 1:37 pm

Can we predict the course evolution will take?

That’s the question an international team of researchers decided to tackle, using a quarter-century of stick insect observations. Comparing the first half of the data set to the latter half, they set out to see if they could forecast the path of natural selection.
Take A Guess
As it turns out, it’s really hard. The researchers were able to predict some simple evolutionary changes, but the rest were subject to forces they couldn’t account fo …

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Living World, top posts
MORE ABOUT: animals, evolution

D-brief

Study Adds Weight to Benefits of Genetically Engineered Crops

By Nathaniel Scharping | February 21, 2018 12:10 pm

A review of the research on genetically engineered corn concludes that the benefits appear to outweigh the drawbacks.

In a meta-analysis, where researchers synthesize the findings of many studies, researchers from the University of Pisa and the Sant’Anna School of Advanced Studies look at papers on genetically engineered (GE) corn from between 1996 and 2016. They were looking for research on crop yields, grain quality, impacts on other organisms and how well the corn degraded in fields a …

MORE ABOUT: agriculture

D-brief

Red Wine Could Yield a Better Toothpaste

By Carl Engelking | February 21, 2018 11:34 am

Red wine colors your tongue, but your teeth may not mind a little juice of the vine.

Sipping moderate—keyword, moderate—amounts of wine on a regular basis can be good for your colon, heart, immune system and mental health. Wine, after all, was at the core of the so-called “French paradox,” or the observation in 1980 that cardiovascular disease was far less prevalent among the French, despite their penchant for saturated fats, low activity levels and cigarettes. The outlier: The Fr …

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Health & Medicine, top posts
MORE ABOUT: personal health

D-brief

Why Partisanship Is Such a Worthy Foe of Objective Truth

By Charlotte Hu | February 20, 2018 4:18 pm

The truth is out there, but if it doesn’t come from “my side” who cares?

In an era of “fake news” our relationship status with factual knowledge, and a shared reality, has changed to “it’s complicated”. Democracies depend on informed populations, but objective truth has of late taken a back seat to partisanship. In an essay published in Cell Press Reviews, New York University psychologists Jay Van Bavel and Andrea Pereira attempt to demystify how partisan bias has skewed t …

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Mind & Brain, top posts
MORE ABOUT: psychology

Seriously, Science?

Running roaches resolutely ram right-angles for rapid reorientation.

By Seriously Science | February 20, 2018 6:00 am

We here at Seriously, Science? really respect roaches. Not only do rambling roaches require receivers to run ’round roadblocks, but recently, researchers reproduced resourceful running of roaches to rapidly reorient running robots by ramming right into restrictions rather than retarding and reorienting. Never mind, just watch these videos of cockroaches running into things. It will help you relax.

Transition by head-on collision: mechanically mediated manoeuvres in cockroaches and sma …

CATEGORIZED UNDER: fun with animals
Terra/MODIS image of the Sinabung eruption on February 19, 2018. NASA.

Rocky Planet

Sinabung's Massive Explosion Seen from Space

By Erik Klemetti | February 19, 2018 12:48 pm

Today, Indonesia’s Sinabung had its biggest blast in its nearly 5 years of eruptions. I reported on the initial reports of the blast and now we have some pretty stunning images from space on the eruption. It really captures the power of the blast and how the ash spread mainly to the north over Sumatra (rather than the west as predicted). Sinabung appears to have settled down since the explosion, but with this change of character, volcanologists will be looking for signs if this change will b …

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Rocky Planet, Science, Science Blogs
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